The World According to John

Friday, February 19, 2010

Some life still left in my blog :)

Some updates to my favorite games not in my earlier post: (add this to my last post!)

Warlords (2600)
Omega (C64)
Modem Wars (C64)
Rise of the Triad (PC)
Total Anihalation (PC)
Battlefield 1942 (PC)
Steel Battalion (Xbox)
Steel Battalion: Line of Contact (Xbox)
BZFlag (PC)

Games I strongly enjoyed (until I finished them or moved on to something better):
Conquest of the World (O2)
Star Wars Jedi Outcast (PC)
Star Wars Ject Knight (PC)
Doom 1 and 2 (PC)
Command and Conquer (PC)
Warcraft 2 (PC)
Quake II (PC)
Baldar's Gate: Dark Alliance (GC)
Tron 2.0 (PC)

Biggest hits with my kids:
Animal Crossing (GC)
Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)
Marble Madness (Wii)
Burnout Series (Xbox)
Sphinx (GC)
Tomb Rader Aniversary (PS2)
Lego Star Wars (PC)
Lego Batman (PC)
Lego Indiana Jones (PC)
Wii Fit / Wii Fot Plus (Wii)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lifetime Video Gamer - List of Favorites

I havent't posted for a long time, so I thought it would be fun to post this...


First Generation Consoles:
Atari 2600 - Adventure (mostly due to the secret Easter egg hidden by its author Warren Robinett)
Odyssey 2 - Quest for the Ring (the very first Board/video game combo)

Home Computers:
Commodore 64 - Modem Wars (first ever multiplayer RTS)
Arati 800 - Ultima III
Early PC - Mechwarrior 2
Modern PC - Half Life 2
Multiplayer PC - Tribes

Last Generation Consoles:
PS2 - Shadow of the Colossus
XBOX - Star Wars Battlefromt Series
GameCube - Star Wars Rogue Squadron Series
GameBoy Advance - Metroid Zero Mission

Current Generation:
XBOX 360 - Mirrors Edge
Wii - Boom Blox

Now Playing:
XBOX 360 - Ace Combat 6
XBOX 360 - Portal
XBOX 360 - Mirrors Edge

Monday, December 17, 2007

Robots, Joysticks and Simulators!

Latest additcion = games with BIG controllers and Robots:

Ace Combat 6 - XBOX360

Steel Battalion XBOX x2 (using system link)

There is something about the added complexity that makes the game more real! I was addicted to Activisions Mechwarrior 2 in the middle 90's and Steel Battalion brings me back, not to mention that it is the next best thing to the Arcade Battletech simulators. Having been an Avionics Technician (AT) back in my Navy days, being attracted to games like this comes as no suprise.

Thanks to e-bay, I have 2 Steel Batallion controlers and two old XBOX systems networked together running in system link mode running the add-on called "Line of Contact".

I'm also excited about my latest toy: RoboQuad

My last robot toy i-Cybie was cool but it was blind as a bat. (purchased several but all are now in a box along with all of the custom power adapters and charging stations - I even have some software where they can use coded personality cartriges.) These were nice for their time but had a short rechargable battery life from 15 to 35 minutes.

RoboQuad is more advanced. It scans the room and can see objects and determine the best place to go. My kids and I have run it for at least 4 or 5 hours and the batteries are still going strong! It reminds me of something from Star Wars and even sounds like R2D2. I highly recommend this "Toy" for any geek who grew up hoping that robots would be as common as cars. We are almost there!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why I switched to consoles from PC’s

I am a video game-aholic. I’ve been addicted since the early 70’s (the first time I played pong on a friends TV). Growing up with this addiction has exposed me to most video games platforms ever marketed. From the first home pong systems and countless hours lost in smoky video arcades to home consoles like the Atari 2600, Maxnavox Odyssey2, Intellivision and the 1st Nentindo NES on and on up through the current cluster of GameCube, Playstation2, Xbox, Xavix Port and the even newer Xbox360 and Wii systems. Throw into this mix Gameboy Advance SP, building my own Arcade cabinets and purchasing a ton of those TV plug and play $20 joystick thingy’s.

In 1985 I purchased my fist computer Commodore 64 computer system and decided then and there that computer gaming was where it was at. I moved to the PC platform (386) after some time working as a computer repairman in 1992. I’ve been a strong PC gamer throughout the birth of games with more than 4 colors, 5.25” to 3.5” floppies, Hard drives, CD Rom Drives, the birth and explosion of shareware companies (ID, Apogee, Epic, 3D realms), FMV, 3D graphics, FPS, RTS, network multiplayer, the internet and MMO’s. I loved my computer games, but throughout this experience I had many challenges, operating systems changing, hardware requirements changing, driver updates, game patching, firmware upgrades etc… with each new iteration of my PC, older games were being lost because the newer hardware/software platforms no longer supported them. My shelves were growing heavy with games I never had the time to finish before a newer game forced an upgrade making the older game obsolete. If I got nostalgic I would feverishly search for a patch or even go as far as building an older system just to play it on. Needless to say this was becoming very expensive.

Going through all of this, I finally realized that I was spending more time (and money) tweaking my PC to actually run and install these games than I was spending playing them… This made me a pretty good PC support guy but I was missing out on all of the fun inside these games. Over time and after having kids, my free time became very limited and if I got two hours once a week to play a game, I didn’t want to spend 1.5 hours of that just installing/upgrading and tweaking my system. I also noticed that many of the newer games also game out on console platforms at the exact time as the PC release.

Once I put two and two together, I decided that consoles gave me the same fun experience without 99% of the aggravation. I am now actually finishing games. They boot up in moments, play just and smooth (if not better) than their PC counterparts since all consoles are the same hardware, the programmers squeeze every ounce of performance out of them completely optimizing them for the console hardware. Newer consoles have hard drives so you can now save your game anywhere just like on the PC. In reality, today’s consoles are simply PC’s repackaged and optimized for pure gaming, They come with a 3 to 5 year life span in which you can play all of the latest games without upgrading. They eliminate all of the hardware, driver headaches and maximize on all of the game play and fun. Oh, and one more thing… I can get an entire console system including all of the bells and whistles for less than the cost of the latest and greatest PC video card upgrade!

Sure PC games are bleeding edge. This bleeding edge (which is much narrower now more than ever) comes at a great cost in both money and in time lost. I would rather give up this small edge, for more time to enjoy and play the games rather than getting lost in the system hardware, software installation, drivers and configuration.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pinball Dreams!

For the last few years somewhere just before spring, I get inspired to build something. This year is no different. This year, I chose to build a pinball machine. Inspired by Visual Pinball, and the growing hobby to build arcade machines based on M.A.M.E. (multiple arcade machine emulator) I decided that Visual Pinball needed to have a machine built around it. Playing pinball on a PC is fun but it was missing that real arcade feeling. Having already built two arcade cabinets for my home I decided that no arcade was complete without a full-blown pinball machine.

I wanted the machine to look like a pinball machine so I searched ebay for a set of pinball machine legs. I found a set for $8! I found some pinball shipping diagrams on the web and was able to determine the exact dimensions of a typical pinball table. I quickly diagramed it out to determine the materials I’d need from the hardware store on a budget of about $150.00 (not counting the computer and monitor).

Once I had the materials and a borrowed circular saw I started to put it all together. It took less than 3 hours to completely assemble and a few more hours to paint (3 coats).

You can read more about it here (

Monday, March 06, 2006

My place in History

It's now official. My early games from the 90's are being memorialized on a web site dedicated to CLassic DOS Games! Out of the 5 DOS games I wrote and released as Shareware in the 90's, the one I'm most proud of is a game called 'The Dungeons of Grimlor II'. This game was inspired by games I was downloading (and playing) off the the local BBS's (pre-internet) that were written by Apogee, ID and Epic Megagames. I am very honored to have my works placed on a web site dedicated to works of these great game making giants! I tip my hat to the webmaster of this web site for the work he is doing to keep the memory of all of these old games alive.

They have a complete list of every DOS game I made including their full registered versions online and available for download.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Is there a God? Creation vs. Evolution

This is a classic World According to John moment. I am growing tired of all of the people falling all over themselves in their attempts to justify either side of this argument. Consider this, perhaps the truth may lie somewhere in between!

To me it’s so obvious. I am a programmer; we have the power to create worlds. Inside of a computer we can define rules and parameters that our worlds follow. We create intelligent objects that exist within these worlds. We can give these objects freedoms to pursue their own paths within the limits of the universe that we create. If we can do this, why not God?

Our universe follows some basic laws. We call them physics. gravity, time and the elements. Out of these basic building blocks everything else exists. In a computer program we also have some basic building blocks, electrons, cycles, pixels… but as we all know, computer programs do not write themselves. Random electrons, cycles and pixels do not create working worlds. For a computer program (or our universe) to work we need order. Order that is created through and with much thought and design.

I’m pretty sure that a complex universe like ours, built on these seemingly simple building blocks must have been designed by a creator with a very high and complex intelligence. For this design to lead to intelligent adaptive life, it needed to be perfectly conceived.

A nerd as old as me can remember a movie named Tron. In Tron a programmer gets sucked into a computer system and gets to be an eye witness to the worlds within. In these worlds the programs go about their daily work. Some silly programs actually believe in a religion that believes in entities called ‘Users’. Most of the other programs think that this is a silly religion and there is no proof of these so-called ‘Users’.

Back to my point... I believe that the stories about God creating the universe are true. I believe that he did. I also believe that evolution is true. I think that this is how God went about doing it. God is the creator of the things we call science. I believe that what we are observing when we study the sciences are all Gods engineering. We learn more and more about how he has designed the universe and the technologies that he uses.

Now for another leap… I believe that our universe may be just one in an infinite number of universes that God has created. Our single universe has trillions of galaxies; each galaxy has billions of suns. Each sun seems to have many worlds. And the numbers seem to support that the probability of life on other worlds is excellent.

For those hard-core fundamentalists: news flash: The earth is not Flat! Give God some credit. His creation is awesome, perfect and very complex. You can see the physical evidence that supports the science just as clearly as the evidence that you exist. Many of you trust your doctor to treat you when you are very sick. Why? His works are based on science…

For those scientists who are skeptical about the existence of God, I submit these questions: Why did the big bang happen? Where did all of this matter come from? How can all of our universe come from Nothing? Perhaps it was God simply booting up his computer!