Where I Read

NextGen #11: November 1995

Almost caught up with where we are in Nintendo Power Magazine.

Our cover game this issue is Virtua Fighter, with some hype for the interview with Yu Suzuki.

Industry Interview: Speaking of that interview – we get a focus here on AM2’s past arcade titles, along with the differences on Sega’s other AM divisions – AM2 being the team working with high-end 3D hardware. We also get a bunch of questions about Virtua Fighter 3 (not 2, 3), and what that could look like. The key that Suzuki gets into is the games are based around a design philosophy that keeps the game approachable, without introducing new game mechanics like super gauges or weird parries, and similarly designing the characters so they’re also avoiding any weird mechanics like stance shifting.

There’s also some questions on what Suzuki-san does in his spare time, along with this overall design philosophy. It bears mentioning that Suzuki is publicly critical – mildly so, but still critical – of the design decisions made with the Saturn’s hardware, particularly with the dual CPU setup.

News: Lockheed-martin is using Sega’s Model 2 board and the Saturn to design training simulators – mainly because Sega licensed the graphics tech from them in the first place. It’s interesting at this point where video games and the military-industrial complex are intersecting.

Meanwhile, in Europe, there has been the European Computer Trade Show. There we get looks at the PS1 version of Doom. Id is also showing Quake in advance of its release, but we have no screen shots. Meanwhile, 3DO is desperately trying to hold on.

Oh, and we get an ad for a VR headset!

In other sectors, Phillips and Sony are duking it out over what form the DVD format will take.

On a bigger, and longer-lasting note, Microsoft is working on a new suite of SDKs for software and game development, specifically the DirectDraw, DirectInput, and DirectSound kits. These would later be combined under the umbrella of DirectX. We will get more into this later.

Finally, at Siggraph, Silicon Graphics has unveiled their new 3D software animation platform – Maya – which is still around and supported by Autodesk.

Arcadia: Sega is adapting the Saturn hardware for arcades as a low-cost platform, to server as an answer for the Neo-Geo.

Joyriding: Best way to play online in 1995? On a PC.

We have our first ad for Twisted Metal, with a few images from the first-person POV.

Artificial Intelligence: We have an article on artificial intelligence in computer games, or rather where it is in 1995. This includes some choice quotes from Peter Molyneaux, Sid Meier, and a few other less-known people, like Marsh Gardiner of the Madden team.

There’s an ad for Ultimate Doom, which includes episode 4, “Thy Flesh Consumed”.

75 Power Players: These are the names to (theoretically) know in video games in 1995.

The names are broken down by category (creatives, corporate execs, etc.). Some of the names are still active (Shigeru Miyamoto, Eugene Jarvis, Tim Schafer, Jeff Minter). Some are still around but less relevant (Al Lowe, Peter Molyneaux, The Stamper Brothers). Some have retired from games entirely (Ken & Roberta Williams, Tom Kalinske). Some have passed on (Jack Tramiel, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Gunpei Yokoi).

There’s also one name in the list of “outsiders” who will later on become very much an insider – Bill Gates.

Alphas (Previews): We’re starting with a big one here – Daggerfall, the sequel to The Elder Scrolls: Arena, and which started to turn Bethesda into something of a juggernaut. Sega Rally is also getting ported to the Saturn.

We’re interrupted by a EA promotional insert, showcasing a few upcoming titles, including Shockwave 2 and Shockwave Assault, along with Soviet Strike.

Returning to the regular releases, we have the Saturn release of Virtua Fighter 2. On the PC, Interplay has the D&D license now, and are starting with a stumble, with Descent to Undermountain: Flame Sword of Lloth – designed using the Descent Engine, and I’m pretty sure this is the only Interplay AD&D game that GOG isn’t carrying, and I suspect it’s not because the can’t get it to run. In any case, going from the art, it looks like they’re trying to make the game more of an “Ultima Underworld” style proto-immersive sim.

We also have a last desperate gasp of an ad for the Jaguar.

Finals (Reviews): There’s a DBZ fighting game on the PlayStation. Now, the show isn’t on wide release on cable in the US yet. Thus, as far as NG’s editors are concerned, because the game is otherwise pretty middle-of-the-road as far as fighting games are concerned, it’s never going to get any interest, because they don’t know what DBZ is, they don’t think anyone else knows either, and they don’t expect anyone else to ever know what it is. Um, yeah.

More significantly, we have the first installments of Sony’s WipeOut series, and Konami’s Winning Eleven series, both of which are praised for their graphics and controls.

On the Saturn, we have the superior version of Street Fighter: The Movie The Game. The 3DO has a console port of SSI’s Panzer General (the PlayStation will get that port later). Microprose has Apache for the PC, and 32X has that system’s port of Virtua Fighter.

The SNES has a variety of games I’ve covered (or will shortly be covering) on Nintendo Power Retrospectives, like Secret of Evermore, Big Sky Trooper, and Mechwarrior 3050.

Towards the end of the issue we have an ad for Wizards of the Coast looking for game developers – not for video games, but for their card, board, and tabletop role-playing games.

Finally, in the letters column, we have a really good letter from an arcade proprietor talking about the difference in relationships between arcade and console games, compared to cinema and home video, in response to a column from an earlier issue.

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