Where I Read

NextGen #15: March 1996

We’re continuing to get closer to catching up with the Nintendo Power Retrospectives.

NextGen #15: March 1996

Our cover for this issue is a game called HyperBlade, and I have no way of knowing if this is meant to be concept art, an artist doing a piece inspired by the game, or an actual screen shot.

Industry Interview: This time we’re looking at an interview with Marty Hamlish of SCEA. He gives his thoughts on the N64 (particularly how it stuck with cartridges). All in all, he’s very confident in the performance of the PlayStation on the market, possibly to the point of smugness. On the one hand – it’s better to be a graceful winner than a smug winner. On the other, if anyone has the right to feel smug after beating Nintendo, it’s Sony.

News: The M2 is totally coming out you guys! (No, it isn’t). The N64 is totally coming out this spring! (My Nintendo Power Retrospectives episodes for this month takes us to May 1996, and it’s not out yet, so no.)

Joyriding: Larry Ellison of Oracle is advocating eliminating computers to replace them with low-cost dummy terminals that connect to remote servers where the major processing is dones. The problem with this is in the ‘90s, most of the heavy lifting on computers is done client side, as the connection speeds can’t support the heavy data usage needed for what we would now describe as cloud gaming. Large parts of the country still don’t 15 years later. We’re getting there, but it’s still going to be a very long time.

Gaming Lexicon: Stumped with all the buzzwords and technical terminology? Here’s a jargon file! We have a mix of terms that are in still in use (anti-aliasing), and others are certainly depriciated, like “Doom-like”.

Alphas (Previews): We have a look at HyperBlade, our cover game, which appears to be a sci-fi hockey game. It looks really abstract, and at this point is kind of rough looking. There’s also a look at Betrayal at Antara – the spiritual sequel to Betrayal at Krondor, without the Midkemia license.

Also, Scavenger is working on their take on the Dungeon Master-style first-person party based real-time dungeon crawler, with Into the Shadows. However, probably one of the more high-profile titles this issue to be previewed is Virtual On.

Finals (Reviews): Doom has come to the PS1. Also, NHL FaceOff from Sony, but Doom!

There’s also an ad here for a PC Game contest from Enix.

I kinda wonder who won.

The Saturn has a port of X-Men: Children of the Atom, and a port of Toshinden. The 3DO still is skating by with Starfighter.

However, the biggest titles of this month, though, are on the PC – in particular Warcraft II from Blizzard and The Dig from Lucasarts. Also, just in time for the sequel to be out, the Mac is finally getting the original Warcraft – which is the story of Mac Gamers’ lives.

Chris Crawford Column: Crawford’s gripe this issue is putting graphics over gameplay. I was with him, up until he got to saying that thinking spatially isn’t important, particularly in game design.

There are absolutely merits to deliberately choosing to go with lower resolution graphics, or less graphically intensive gameplay environments in order to reduce overhead, to avoid crunch, or out of a deliberate stylistic choice, among others that I didn’t even bother to mention.

Also, even text adventures are about thinking spatially. Just because you’re not in a generated graphical environment doesn’t mean you don’t need to think about your route through the world, where you’ve been, where you’d like to explore, what objects are present that are containers that can hold things and what items you can interact with.

You’re even doing this when you’re playing tabletop RPGs in Theater of the Mind. Honestly – stuff like this makes me really wonder why people thought Crawford was such a big deal. Looking at his Mobygames profile, everything he did was a strategy game. Even Gossip is an abstracted simulation of a social circle where your goal is to become the most popular person.

All of this in combination makes it feel like Crawford just doesn’t like the games being made today, and rather than looking at it and coming to the conclusion that tastes in games have broadened, and with more games being made for more genres and on more platforms, there will be games made that aren’t for him and that’s okay – he’s presenting the perspective that everyone else is Doing It Wrong.

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