Saturday, November 24, 2018

Gaming Ads: Origin Systems

Origin Systems was founded in 1983 by Richard Garriott and his brother Robert, their father Owen, and Chuck Bueche. Of course, Richard Garriott is quite famous in the world of computer games having created Alkabeth (1979), one of the earliest commercial role-playing games, and then the Ultima series that began in 1981. There are nine main entries in the Ultima series, plus spin-offs, including the very successful Ultima Online that launched in 1997. The space combat simulation Wing Commander is the company's other big series with more than a dozen main entries and expansion packs released in the '90s.

Electronic Arts (EA) acquired Origin Systems in 1992 and the developer would expand quite a bit in the mid-'90s. However, following the success of Ultima Online and the poor sales of Ultima IX, EA canceled a number of projects and shifted the studios' focus toward online only games. Richard Garriott left soon after and Origin Systems, simply referred to as Origin by this time, floundered under EA, eventually disbanding in 2004. The Origin name is still in use but not as a development studio, it is instead the name of EA's online game store and service for launching all of its games.

Origin Systems albums: Facebook - Google Photos

(2021 Update: I left the below text in but I've since had to move ads to Facebook in 2019 and then uploaded them to Google Photos in 2021.)

This might be the last ad update this year as I look for a new location to host the ads and then upload them all again. I wrote to Flickr looking for a compromise since my images are small but I never heard back and I don't expect its new policy is going to change in any way. I'd rather not move them and probably cannot find something better; I just can't put more money into this project that is only for fun at this time (and probably forever). This is a good temporary stopping point as it is the end of the "O" publishers and Panasonic will be up next when I continue.  

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Year 2: November Update

It's shopping season...
Today is a holiday in the U.S. so if you celebrate it: Happy Thanksgiving! Some big game news hit last week when Sony announced it would not be attending E3 2019. That is quite surprising as that's the week gamers around the world wait for. At this point I assume Sony doesn't feel it's necessary, and really, its press conferences have not been too entertaining the past couple of years, at least not for those of us watching from home. I guess there likely aren't any big PlayStation 4 announcements remaining as Sony is probably focusing most of its efforts on the PlayStation 5. E3 did begin as a retail trade show and I think it still is one, and while the PS4 is hugely popular, Sony should still want to promote its current console and games. I have to believe Sony will have some sort of presence even if it is behind closed doors for retail meetings and possibly select press outlets.

Another month and another two games completed. I was able to finish Red Dead Redemption II and Hitman 2, plus I played a little Tetris Effect. While most of the press reviews of Red Dead praise the game quite highly, there is a rather mixed reaction from players. It took me a while to warm up to it as the pacing can be slow and there are a number of things that frustrate. However, many of the realism features such as eating, bathing, and caring for your horse, aren't necessary. They may help improve your character a little but you can ignore them. I'd also suggest not spending too much time trying to earn money since you'll get more than enough from the missions and selling items you find. You really don't need to donate to the gang funds often either; I'd say stop donating after buying the second set of camp upgrades. I also suggest tying up any loose ends and doing all the side content that's available in Chapter 4 because things start heading downhill after that and you begin the epilogue with no money and a different horse.

Hitman 2 is a lot like the 2016 release and is certainly meant to be replayed numerous times. There are only six campaign missions though I tend to spend around two hours in each one the first time through. Of course, Red Dead and Hitman are rated "M" for mature, primarily for violence though Red Dead has some bad language too. I'm going to start Fallout 76 later today. The PC version does not include a disc (50GB download plus I just downloaded a 15GB patch) which might be a signal to the end of computer game discs in the U.S. (U.K. gets far more PC retail releases than North America). Bethesda was one of the remaining few still publishing computer games at retail and one of the very last to release them on disc. Ubisoft seems to have stopped physical PC products while EA, Activision, and 2K typically put codes in a box. THQ Nordic does still publish discs though it often puts the U.K.'s PEGI-rated boxes in U.S. stores.

Tetris Effect
Tetris Effect

I've got two Tetris videos ready to go which I should have up in a couple days if not sooner. I put together about 10 minutes of footage for Tetris Effect with no commentary. It is a great rendition of Tetris that adds a lot of music and graphical flair to make dropping blocks more exciting. One problem I have is that the various graphics effects do sometimes obscure my vision but that's not a big deal and I expect puzzle fans will love it. The other Tetris video is a combination of an unboxing and gameplay for the Commodore 64 game that released in 1987. That's right, my Commodore 64 is back in action! It has been a frustrating year of things breaking and unfortunately that hasn't ended. To get the C64 fixed I mailed it to someone for repair but the USPS crushed it on the return trip which was heartbreaking. I know it's only a material object and not very important. However, it's something that has been in my family for over 35 years and while the electronics portion thankfully survived, the plastic shell that holds the keyboard and computer components did not. Physically the item had been in near perfect condition and I had little hope of getting a pristine replacement. Fortunately, Ray Carlsen, the Commodore expert that repaired mine, had some extra cases so I got a refund from the Postal Service and purchased a case from him. Commodore didn't make them all the same though; the color of my new one is a bit different (more brown than gray) and it's actually a quarter inch shorter than my original. If you have a C64 make sure you do not use the original power supply as those degrade over time and are prone to damage the computer which is likely what happened to mine.

Commodore 64 after the USPS handled it.

The latest item to break is my printer which is also my scanner. I get an error regarding the wrong print head being installed, a common occurrence with some older Canon printers (mine is the MP510). What's odd is that I cannot even use the scanner when receiving the printer related error and I use the scanner far more than the printer. I've got a temporary replacement for now so that I can at least continue scanning. Also, I'm still trying to figure out what to do about the game ad scans since Flickr is going to begin charging $49.99/year for accounts with more than 1,000 images which over time would add up quite a bit. Too bad they don't charge by storage space as my images are much smaller than high resolution photos. I probably can't find another service with the presentation and tag system of Flickr. Ultimately, I expect to have around 4,000 ads which is a lot to manage, and I don't know if Facebook would be a very good choice for that though it's one of only two I am currently looking into. My other option is Google though that was my first choice when I started the blog but I opted not to use it for a reason I can no longer recall. Hopefully I'll have a solution soon though I may have to delay new uploads for a bit as re-uploading 2,000 images will take some work.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Gaming Ads: Omnitrend Software and Backfilling #6

This week's ads update is rather brief. I've got three ads for Omnitrend Software which was founded in 1979 and is still in business today developing software for communications, cellular, and network management industries. Based in Simsbury, CT, Omnitrend made computer games for just over a decade beginning in 1983 and released nearly a dozen games.

For backfilling I'm adding two ads for Empire Interactive and two for Capcom.

Omnitrend albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Sunday, November 11, 2018

[YouTube] The A-Team

The A-Team was an action-packed television show that aired on NBC from 1983-87. It followed four former members of an Army special forces unit that were found guilty of a crime they didn't commit. Of course, they escaped military prison but were then on the run and each week as the team traveled around North America in a GMC van they helped out civilians that were in need of help that the law couldn't or wouldn't provide. John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard) is the strategist and leader of the team; Templeton "Face" Peck (Dirk Benedict) is the con man that can get the team whatever they need; B.A."Bad Attitude" Baracus (Mr. T) is the muscle/driver/mechanic who refuses to fly; and H.M."Howling Mad" Murdock is the crazy helicopter pilot. Sometimes a fifth character would help out the squad, including reporter Amy Allen (Melinda Culea), reporter Tawnia Baker (Marla Heasley), and special effects expert Frankie "Dishpan" Santana (Eddie Velez).

In 1984 Galoob released a series of action figures based on the show that were slightly altered versions of its 1982 toys called General Patch and Evil Enemy (basically G.I. Joe vs. Cobra). Galoob made 3 3/4" action figures of the team and generic bad guys that are very similar to Hasbro's G.I. Joe. Even the enemies have snake names: Cobra, Viper, Rattler, and Python. Those were sold in four packs, with vehicles, and in a "Combat Headquarters Set" which is what I have, though I'm missing some of the accessories. Six inch figures and a larger Mr. T doll were made by Galoob as well. Also, like G.I. Joe, The A-Team got a train set from Tyco and a variety of other products popular licenses of the '80s often had, such as Colorforms, a board game, comic book, die-cast vehicles, walkie talkies, and trading cards. Although The A-Team may feel like a relic of the past, the franchise has been brought back a coupe times somewhat recently with a 2010 movie that has a similar story as the TV show but doesn't feature any of the original actors aside from post-credits cameos by Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict. Plus, just a couple years ago an A-Team pack was actually released for the LEGO Dimensions video game that includes a B.A. minifigure and the van.

Here are photos and scans of the items that appear in the video above:

Combat Headquarters Set
This is a set from Galoob that includes the four 3 3/4" action figures and a variety of accessories. A few items are not pictured, including a sandbag wall, bazooka, detonator, raft oar, and American flag. I'm going to drop a link here for a website that has some good information on the Galoob toys and photos with the packaging: Toy Mania.

B.A. Baracus 6" Action Figure
B.A. is one of five six inch figures Galoob made.

ERTL and LJN Battery Operated GMC Vans
The LJN toy is a Rough Rider, not a Stomper which I completely flubbed in the video.

 The A-Team Colorforms Adventure Set

The A-Team Board Game
Parker Brothers' A-Team game puts B.A. front and center as he is the only character to appear on the board and in the deck of cards. However, he isn't playable as the pieces are Hannibal, Face, Murdock, and Amy. The objective is rather odd as the team is helping a soft drink company recover its soda formula from a madman with an island fortress.

Puzzle and Maze Book

Rubber Stamp Set
This set from Stampos includes four stamps but Face is excluded and replaced with a second B.A. stamp.

The A-Team might have been my favorite show as a kid, though I always enjoyed Magnum P.I. and Knight Rider quite a bit as well. All of the primary characters and their actors are great. Murdock, played by Dwight Schultz, was my favorite character and the actor later had a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation, another one of my favorites. I'm a big fan of Mr. T too who was an icon in the '80s as he also appeared in Rocky III and WWF wrestling, had his own cartoon, and there was even a Mr. T breakfast cereal. He had a reality TV show in 2006 called "I Pity the Fool" that had a very positive vibe but it didn't go beyond six episodes. It's too bad that show didn't last as it was a breath of fresh air, especially when it came to reality TV.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Gaming Ads: Ocean of America

Initially founded as Spectrum Software in 1983 by David Ward and Jon Woods, Ocean Software was one of the largest computer game publishers in the U.K. through the early '90s. Although it published numerous original games, it might be best known for its many licensed games and arcade ports of Konami, Taito, and Data East games, such as Batman, The Transformers, RoboCop, Miami Vice, and Rambo III. Ocean of America was founded in 1990 as a subsidiary that published computer and console games in North America. In 1996 Ocean was acquired by Infogrames and in 1998 it was renamed Infogrames UK.

Most of the ads are from Ocean of America though there are a couple that say Ocean Software with Electronic Arts as the distributor.

Ocean of America albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Gaming Ads: Nuby and Backfilling #5

This week will be a small update with only hardware ads. There is not a lot of specific information available on Nuby. From what I can gather from the ads and the Nuby Game Boy case I own, it was a division of Curtis Manufacturing which was based in New Hampshire. It made video game accessories during the '90s with a strong focus on portable gaming, specifically Nintendo's Game Boy.

For backfilling I'm adding four game controller ads to Acclaim, Bondwell, and Epyx.

Unfortunately, as I posted my images at Flickr today I was greeted with the announcement that it will now cost $49.99/year for accounts that contain over 1,000 images. I chose Flickr because Google didn't have everything I wanted and I like Flickr's presentation. There are also far too many images to jam into the blog so I'll probably have to move them eventually. Paying one or two times is okay but I want to keep these online for a long time and would rather not spend hundreds of dollars, especially on something so few people are viewing. I'll write more on the subject during the next blog update.

Nuby albums: Facebook - Google Photos