John Romero and Craig Johnston's Apple II podcast

November 4th, 2013 7:47 PM
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The Open Apple podcast launched to complement the existing podcasts dedicated to the Apple II — but with the hiatus of 1 MHz and the cessation of A2Unplugged, the community's first and second ever podcasts respectively, Open Apple has become the Apple II podcast. Other shows such as the Retro Computing Roundtable, RetroMacCast, and Floppy Days are all excellent shows that feature the Apple II, but it's not their focus. It leaves me a bit uncomfortable to have no podcast besides our own offering a dedicated, unique perspective on the machine.

Finally, we are in good company. Last week saw the launch of Apple Time Warp, a podcast hosted by KansasFest 2012 keynote speaker John Romero and blogger Craig Johnston:

John Romero and Craig Johnston talk about the early days of games on the Apple ][, interview Apple ][ game programmers, and generally cover topics relating to Apple ][ games and history.

The pilot episode (also available on iTunes) clocks in at 49 minutes of Romero — creator of Dangerous Dave, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake — reminiscing about the launch of his game programming career on the Apple II and the celebrities he met along the way, such as Nasir Gebelli. The tales may be familiar to the audience of his excellent KansasFest keynote speech, for which he interviewed Jordan Mechner, Will Wright, Bill Budge, and more.

As I discovered in this podcast, those interviews may've been part of a larger project I'd never heard of: The Romero Archives. Founded in 2009, it is a collection "dedicated to preserving the work of game designers and the history of game design… The Romero Archives is currently in the proposal stage with plans to launch in 2015. Online archiving is in progress." Those archiving efforts can thus far be seen in video interviews Romero recorded in 2010 with Gebelli, Ralph Baer, and more.

With only one episode published thus far, Apple Time Warp is too young to indicate if it will be a permanent addition to the Apple II airwaves. But the first episode is a promising and enjoyable interview that has already broadened the community's horizons. I wish my fellow podcasters the best of luck!

The evolution of gaming

July 30th, 2012 3:14 PM
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At this month's KansasFest, John Romero spoke at length about the role the Apple II has played in the evolution of computer gaming and the development of specific programmers, such as Will Wright and Jordan Mechner. The research Romero conducted for this speech, and the awareness of his audience he demonstrated by focusing on his pre-Wolfenstein 3D experiences, made for one of the most engaging and memorable keynotes KansasFest has had the pleasure of hosting.

As further exemplified later in the week by Wayne Arthurton's presentation, franchises and influences that had their start on the Apple II have echoed throughout several generations of game design. This truism is succinctly demonstrated in this montage on the evolution of computer games. How many Apple II games can you spot — and how many descendants can you identify?

(Hat tip to John Walker)

Bill Budge & John Romero on the 6502

March 19th, 2012 9:10 AM
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Bill Budge has been a programmer extraordinaire, from the early days of his Pinball Construction Set to his more recent work with Sony and Google. Now he gets to pontificate upon those experiences to Jason Scott as part of 6502: The Documentary.

This preview joins the previous footage of Joe Grand, as well as this video of KansasFest 2012 keynote speaker John Romero:

Jason the documentarian explains:

These are untouched clips … right out of the camera and rendered out for you. I will probably tweak, push and pull for the final works, but I wanted you to see, clearly, the quality of image and sound you helped me achieve, and maybe even start to see how these subjects might play out. I have a very long way to go, but it's happening, for real, and you're seeing it. Thanks so much.

Did you not preorder your copy of 6502? Jason will be at KansasFest 2012; maybe he'll take your money then… or just put you in front of the camera for his next film!

Apple II gaming in Retro Gamer

June 17th, 2010 12:07 PM
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As recently mentioned on the Juiced.GS blog, and as first told to me by Andy Molloy, Retro Gamer magazine issue #76 features an eight-page profile of the Apple II as a gaming machine. As not just an Apple II user but a long-time gamer, I enjoyed this retrospective, which featured many of the games I grew up playing. The text focuses on the Apple II and its history and fate, while high-quality pictures of dozens of games capture the unique look of the era and genre.

I especially enjoyed reading quotes from Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia), Bill Budge (Pinball Construction Set), and John Romero (Wolfenstein 3D) reminiscing about developing for the Apple II. As luminaries who acknowledge their origin, they're in good company. In my role as KansasFest marketing director, I'm often the first contact with potential keynote speakers. Everyone we've approached has always been kind enough to respond to our invitation, and of those who did not accept, each has cited scheduling or personal conflicts. Never have I heard anything akin to "Sorry, but the Apple II doesn't interest me anymore." The gentlemen interviewed in Retro Gamer are proof of the magnanimous spirit of those whom the Apple II made famous.

The article includes a Top Ten list of the best Apple II games, all of which I believe are 8-bit:

Retro Gamer #76

  1. The Bard's Tale
  2. Pinball Construction Set
  3. The Oregon Trail
  4. Karateka
  5. Choplifter
  6. Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness
  7. Lode Runner
  8. Prince of Persia
  9. Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
  10. Taipan!

Seven of the games spawned sequels and franchises, some of which exist to this day. That's a powerful legacy. The article's last two pages consist of a collage of 56 different Apple II games, many of which I've never played but am now desperate to. Apparently, I'm not the only one, given how popular the trend is to port Apple II games to the iPhone.

What are your memories of growing up gaming on the Apple II? How did it compare with other computers of the era?