IndieSider goes French — sort of

January 26th, 2015 11:26 AM
Filed under Game trail;
1 comment.

On July 2, 2014, I launched the IndieSider podcast. This biweekly show pairs gameplay footage with developer interviews. It's a unique combination that allows me to interview indie game developers while experiencing their creations. I try to focus on games that are doing something unusual, such as This War of Mine, which simulates the reality of being a civilian in a war-torn country; or developers working in uncommon situations, such as Dan Dujnic, who releases a new version of his twin-stick shooter, Breakers Yard, to the web every week.

Recently I discovered the puzzle game Cubot and was charmed by its calming aesthetic, uncomplicated gameplay, and challenging levels. I reached out to developer Nicolas Pierre-Loti-Viaud of Nicoplv Games for an interview. He liked the IndieSider format and wanted to participate, but his spoken English is as good as my French — which is to say, nonexistent. On those grounds, he regretfully declined.

Fortunately, I don't take "no" for an answer! I figured if I could just get a translator, then the interview could proceed. Who did I know who could serve as a bridge between these two languages?

I didn't have to look far.


Vive le Juiced.GS!

Antoine Vignau of Brutal Deluxe recently translated an entire issue of Juiced.GS into French. The resulting special edition was mailed for free to all the magazine's French-speaking subscribers. I asked Nicolas: may we conduct the interview via email in French? And Antoine: would you translate to English and provide me an audio recording of the translation?

All parties were game. The interview was on!

IndieSider #16 went live last week and is available in audio and video editions, with French and English transcripts. The voice you hear is Antoine's, but the words are Nicolas'. Antoine and I recorded our tracks separately, which made for a fun time editing, since he never heard the exact tone or phrasing of my questions and responses until after the show had aired!

While the content of this interview had nothing to do with the Apple II, it nonetheless would not have been possible without the Apple II community and this unique collaboration. My thanks to Antoine for lending his expertise and for being willing to play such an unusual role!

Unboxing Zéphyr

May 13th, 2013 9:53 AM
Filed under Game trail;
1 comment.

Back in November, with no scripting and little forethought, I shot an unboxing video. Those outside the tech world may be unfamiliar with the genre, which is essentially a step-by-step documentary of the opening and unpacking of a new product. My product was the Nintendo Wii U, a video game system released on November 18. Much to my surprise, viewers were enthralled with the product and my stream-of-consciousness narration — that, or I had really good SEO. Either way, the video is now nearing a staggering one million views. Despite being only 1.4% of the videos on my YouTube channel, this single video accounts for 78% of my channel's total views.

Not that popularity makes me an expert, but I decided to revisit the genre when I purchased Zéphyr, a new, physical game for the Apple II. Once my copy arrived via international mail from Brutal Deluxe, I touted it, my Canon Rebel T2i DSLR, and my tripod to my office, where resides my Apple IIGS, and recorded my experience with the game. The camera is good for only ten minutes of consecutive video, which was more than enough for the six cuts I shot, which when edited together happened to add up to exactly ten minutes.

It'd be disingenuous for me to not acknowledge the influence of Brian Picchi, aka TanRu Nomad, who has produced dozens of excellent video reviews of Apple II hardware and software. His reviews are more stylish and edited than my "start rolling and see what happens" approach, so there really is no comparison between the two — otherwise, I'd lose! (Horribly.) But the idea that one could produce a video about the Apple II and have fun doing it was enough of a precedent for me to try. (Now if only I could get the hundreds of views he does!)

Although the Zéphyr video was openly posted to YouTube, it was primarily promoted on Facebook, where users were invited to "like" Juiced.GS's Facebook page to view the video. I don't know if anyone found that "fan gate" cumbersome or pretentious, but I received no complaints. Nonetheless, I figured two weeks later, the promotion has run its course, and I won't be cutting into the page's appeal by sharing the video here.

There aren't many opportunities to shoot unboxing videos of new Apple II products, especially one of a sort that aligns with my YouTube channel's other gaming content. I enjoyed this experience, even if there won't be another one like it. I hope the Internet enjoyed it, too!

The art of the crack

August 22nd, 2011 3:29 PM
Filed under Hacks & mods, Software showcase;

Piracy is as much an issue today as it was thirty years ago: gamers who pay for their software are often penalized for the actions of those who won't. But somewhere between the DRM and the theft is the actual hack. Today, that often amounts to little more than releasing a torrent of a disk image — once you've acquired and installed the warez, the experience is little different from a legitimate one. That wasn't the case with the Apple II.

When the hacking medium was not DVD but 5.25" floppy, hackers had to break a different copy protection scheme for each piece of software. They demanded acknowledgement for their hard work, often placing their byline in the opening splash screen, even if it meant removing the programmer's or publisher's credit. Some especially creative hackers went beyond that simple substitution by editing the screen at large, producing original works of art.

Arkanoid 2 cracked

Jason Scott has compiled an extensive collection of these crack screens. As far as I can see, there's 794 screens, though fewer total games are represented, as often the same image is displayed in both color and monochrome; I would estimate the gallery includes 572 unique games. It's fascinating to see both the art and the creative handles by which the pirates were known.

There's little I can say about the Apple II pirate scene that hasn't already been presented more exhaustively and eloquently by Scott in this presentation from Rubicon 2003.

However, there have been new developments since then. At KansasFest 2010, Martin Haye hacked Wizardry, producing his own splash screen for the occasion. With so much work being put into the crack itself, a programming genius such as Haye shouldn't have to work even harder to leave his visual mark.

Antoine Vignau of Brutal Deluxe agrees and, at the request of Daniel Kruszyna, has created T40, a 40-column text-based editor. Itself a 24-hour hack job, T40 runs on any Apple II and offers an impressive array of keyboard commands with which to design and save ASCII art.

"Krüe" has started compiling images created in this program and welcomes your submissions via email. The collection thus far can be seen online, where you can also download an Applesoft BASIC self-running slideshow to display the artwork natively on your Apple II.

I make no commentary on the legality of ethicality of piracy — but the ones who engage in it are capable of amazing works of genius and artistry, which have just been made a bit easier.

(Hat tip to Mark Pilgrim)