Tour de Microzine

May 27th, 2019 9:53 AM
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Filed under Software showcase;
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I've been collecting Scholastic Microzines for years — not only the ones I played in elementary school but all the ones I never got to try as a kid. It's been so hard to assemble a complete collection (I'm still missing issue #32) that it seemed all the more important to preserve and archive these disks, to ensure that somewhere, a collection did exist.

So, four years ago, I took my Microzines for a ride.

My mode of transit supported this use of their vehicles.

The disks' destination: Paul Hagstrom of the Retro Computing Roundtable. Although we most frequently see each other 1,419 miles away at KansasFest, Paul and I are both residents of the suburbs of Boston. So, four years ago, when he offered to archive my disks using his Applesauce floppy disk controller, I was happy to make the loan.

Those of you following this timeline may be objecting: the Applesauce didn't exist four years ago. True! When I gave the disks to Paul, other means of archiving were in play. But I was in no rush to get the disks back, and the delay allowed better archival methods to appear.

This past Monday, a WordPress meetup I was speaking at happened to be in Paul's neighborhood. Rather than haul my disks to Kansas City to make the handoff, he hoofed it to the event venue. Afterward, as we walked back to Coolidge Corner, he humored me with a selfie of our clandestine exchange.

Paul handing Ken a bag of disks

It was worth every penny.

Thank you, Paul, for serving as custodian to my edutainment for nearly half a decade. The fruits of your efforts will be appreciated for generations to come!

Dungeons & Microzine

April 23rd, 2018 11:45 AM
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Filed under Game trail, Musings;
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Earlier this month, I attended my ninth annual PAX East, a video game convention held here in Boston, Massachusetts. The event offers panels, game demos, competitions, and merchandise. That's roughly the order in which the parts of PAX appeal to me, as I try to save my money and avoid the merch table. But there's one kind of merch I can never resist: dice.

When my age was in the single digits, I found my older brother's Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, complete with polyhedral dice. I'd never before encountered dice with more than six pipped sides and was fascinated to discover dice could have any number of sides: four, eight, ten, twelve, and twenty! I eventually saved my pennies and bought a one-hundred-sided die from the TSR Hobby Shop.

Dice

A fraction of my collection.

These days, every trip to PAX East includes a stop by the Chessex booth, where I pore over dice of different shapes, colors, and materials. Even though I no longer play D&D, I usually go home from PAX East with a few additions to my dice collection.

I want my nephews to experience some of the same awe and fantasy I did as a kid. When I saw one of them randomly rolling dice last month, I decided to expand his horizons with more dice acquired at PAX East.

But what was he to do with these dice? Rolling them at random without purpose or structure would be entertain for only so long. So I set out to find some games he could play.
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More Steamed Apples

July 31st, 2017 10:40 AM
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At KansasFest 2016, I presented parallels between classic gaming and modern Steam games. The session was called "Steamed Apples" and was largely based on indie games I'd encountered while researching and hosting the IndieSider podcast.

That podcast ended earlier this month, but not before I discovered several more games reminiscent of Apple II software mechanics and aesthetics. That combined with unused notes from last year's presentation led to its follow-up at KansasFest 2017: "More Steamed Apples".

Unlike last year, I no longer constrained myself to games available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, as some of the below games are Windows-only (such as Lode Runner Legacy) but were too good a fit to pass up. Also, as I did last year with Plangman, I accidentally slipped one non-Steam game in when I included Leadlight Gamma, which is available from itch.io only.

I've recategorized the genres since the presentation to make them a better fit, and to be more consistent with last year's categories.

GenreClassic gameSteam gameIndieSider?
ActionCrystal QuestEllipsisYes
ActionDino EggsDino Eggs RebirthNo
AdventureOut of This WorldOutlandNo
ActionLode RunnerLode Runner LegacyNo
PuzzleLemmingsInklingsNo
PuzzlePipe DreamWorld of GooNo
SurvivalOregon TrailThe Flame in the FloodYes
Text AdventureZorkLeadlight GammaYes
Choose Your Own AdventureScholastic Microzine TwistaplotOpen SorceryYes
Choose Your Own AdventureScholastic Microzine TwistaplotEmily Is AwayYes
Choose Your Own AdventureScholastic Microzine TwistaplotThe Warlock of Firetop MountainYes
Choose Your Own AdventureScholastic Microzine TwistaplotFirewatchNo

As IndieSider has now concluded its run, I don't expect there will be a third session in this series. But the games included in these tables should be enough for any Apple II user to get their entertainment fix in a modern computing environment.