Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Blog at 200 Posts

Blog Stats

According to Blogger, this blog has had almost 220,000 page views.  So far I have published 205 posts, not including posts that I have removed because they were not up to snuff.

Many of my most popular posts tend to be about flash carts.  Those are some expensive posts!  People have been generous enough to lend me hardware.  The Framemeister and Turbo CD posts would not have happened otherwise.  This is expensive hardware, and requires me to treat it respectfully and return it when I am done.  I would like to thank anyone who has ever donated anything to me for review.

The trouble with flash carts is that once you buy one, in a year they release a more advanced one.  The Mega Everdrive has a v.2 which adds support for battery backed saving.  With the v.2 you will not longer need to reset in order to retain your save in Phantasy Star II or Sonic the Hedgehog 3.  Of course, when you have a v.1, an upgrade feels like a necessity but is more of a luxury.

As some of the more dedicated readers of this blog may have noticed, the number of blog entries has increased dramatically over the past two years.  When I started this blog in 2010, it took over four years to publish 100 posts.  In just over a year, I have passed the 200 mark.  With this increase in content has come an increase in pageviews.  I now get 10,000 page views a month.  While most of my readers are based in the United States, I have a sizable number of pageviews from Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Russia.

Video is not for me

I tried putting up a Youtube channel and did make some videos showing off some of my vintage hardware but took all the videos down.  I'm no good with video, I simply do not have the equipment for it.  My smartphone camera just is not up to the task of taking professional video and none is.  I do not have any devices to capture video directly from my consoles or computers.  I do not even have a good quality condenser microphone.  I tried using written captions but that took forever.  Nor do I have proper lighting, so my videos always look grainy.  Moreover, I do not have access to good free video editing software or the training I need to make effective video edits.  My particular talent, to the extent I have one, is with the written word. This does not mean that I would never post a video, but I generally would keep them short and blog oriented.  I have made audio recordings, something that can be done easily with Audacity.  Even though hosting the clips on Soundcloud is cumbersome, it works well enough.

Favorite Youtube Channels

Although I watch many Youtube channels fairly consistently as they pertain to retrogaming and retro PC and console hardware, there are a few channels dedicated to the PC side of things which deserve a special mention.  The number of people seriously interested in vintage PC gaming and hardware is rather small compared to the Atari 2600 or the NES or the Genesis or the SNES.  There are a few well-produced channels focusing on vintage PC gaming which I believe are worth noting.  While I like AVGN's stuff, he has 1.8 million subscribers and does not need my endorsement.  These guys and girl do :

1.  Ancient DOS Games : https://www.youtube.com/user/Pixelmusement

Ancient DOS Games (ADG) is run by Kris Asick, who has been running the ADG series since 2010.  Kris' background is in game design.  He has had games published and he knows how to program.  He approaches his reviews focusing on the game design, highlighting what works and what doesn't.  He also gives advice on how to set up games in DOSBox and tells you where you can find these games.  I really hope GoG supports him on Patreon.  In his canonical series, he has reviewed some 164 DOS games.  His reviews include well-known classics like King's Quest and System Shock, crap console to PC ports like Mega Man and Mega Man III, edutainment titles like 3-D Body Adventure and Math Rescue, and obscure games like Thor's Hammer and Moraff's World.

Prior to 2013, Kris hosted his videos on blip.tv  A bit later than most he saw that the handwriting was on the wall as far as blip's long-term viability (Flash has no place in the tablet-centric world of this decade) and began uploading his old videos to Youtube.  Now he has fully transferred his whole series where I hope a much wider audience can find and enjoy them.

2.  Lazy Game Reviews : https://www.youtube.com/user/phreakindee

Clint Basinger, (no relation to Kim), has been making game and hardware reviews and videos and posting them to his Youtube channel, Lazy Game Reviews, since 2008.  Clint is as engaging as he is knowledgeable, and unlike many other people who focus on all things DOS, he actually has a very respectable collection of hardware and is not afraid to show it.  His PC software collection would inspire almost anyone with envy.  He also captures footage from real hardware, which is very special in this day and age.  There are also reviews of non-IBM PC hardware and even console hardware.  Clint can be trusted to give a concise talk about the subject of his video.

Clint has recently been doing Let's Plays with Kris and PushingUpRoses, and is a huge Sims and SimCity fan.  He has many, many videos of both these series, but I have no interest in the Sims and little interest in SimCity past SimCity 2000. He has taken his knowledge of the history of the PCs and has made videos on various interesting stories from its history.

3.  Pushing Up Roses : https://www.youtube.com/user/pushinguproses

Did you know that women used to play DOS games?  Like every other type of video gaming, PC gaming was typically a male-focused interest.  However, many women did play DOS games back in the day, I know one very well.  Certain categories of DOS games, like point and click adventure games and puzzle games had a much stronger appeal toward women than the sidescrollers and the shoot-em-ups of NES, Genesis and SNES or Wolfenstein 3-D and DOOM on the PC.  Pioneering women like Roberta Williams, Lori Ann Cole, Jane Jensen and Lorelei Shannon made their mark in the adventure game genre and have indisputable classic series to their names.  (Is it a coincidence that all three of these game designers made their mark at Sierra?)

Only a very few female fans only a very few have been known to venture into vintage DOS gaming (its so annoying to feel like you are constantly being hit on.)  One of those who have is PushingUpRoses.  She has reviewed many DOS games and always brings a fresh and often times rather feisty perspective to the table.  She also does Let's Play videos of DOS games, sometimes with LGR.  I tend to avoid these because I don't like spoilers, even if I probably won't get a chance to really play the game for the next five years.

Quest Studios RIP?

On a sadder note, the once mighty Quest Studios site has gone down.  It hosted an extensive Sierra sound track library, both recordings and MIDI files take directly from the games.  It also had many arrangements of Sierra tunes and a lot of information about the MT-32 and MIDI utilities for it and other old sound cards. This was the site where I first really understood what an MT-32 was and why it was so special.

The site had been merely maintained for years, but it was on its the forums that ignited an interest in retro PC hardware.  In its day it was the place where new discoveries were made.  On that forum, the differences between the generations of MT-32 hardware became generally known.   I made many a trade using that forum as well as my best online friend.

However, by 2012 the forums were not seeing much action, most of the interest in vintage hardware having gone to VOGONS and the trading gone to Amibay.  The forum's software was not updated, leading to a mostly-broken search function.  Links on the main site to files started to break and repairs were not quick to come.  In late April of 2015, the site was hacked, causing people who followed a Google link to be redirected.  The hack looked simple and at first seemed to be repaired, but searching the site or forum using Google saw the user encounter the hack again.  The ISP recommended that they upgrade their hosting software, but that may not have worked with the site files compromised.  The other alternative was to reload the existing clean SMF software, then upgrade.  While this may or may not be done, the site has been taken down in the meantime.  The site owners are older and may not feel it is worth the trouble to put it back up. All that remains currently is a simple placeholder page directing the user to the owner's Youtube channel, with no Sierra or vintage hardware content to be seen.

MobyGames : New Management but No Interest

I knew that Trixter had founded MobyGames way back in 1999, but it never really sunk in that he had not been actively administering the site for years.  I contributed a few screenshots and reviews here and there, but I was not going to win any contribution awards.  Then in September of 2013 the site received a massive resdesign that essentially destroyed most of its usefulness.

Fortunately, this state of affairs lasted for less than three months.  In December of 2013, a redesign was launched which has persisted with some minor changes to the present day.  However, I have never felt the desire to contribute to the site since the bad redesign.  The pre-September 2013 design was not particularly friendly to portable computing, but the bad redesign satisfied neither the traditional desktop or the tablet/smartphone crowd.   The December 2013 redesign can be lived with and I often go to MobyGames for research or because I need screenshots and am too lazy to take them myself.

Before the redesigns, I found the contribution approval system to be slow and fickle.  I had trivia or even whole games waiting for over a year for some action.  There were screenshots that needed review by someone higher up the chain.  Of course, when you are an expert, it is very annoying to have to wait for a second opinion from someone who is unlikely to be as well-informed.

10 comments:

Raifield said...

Well, for what it's worth, I've been a reader for a year or two and have always enjoyed your posts. They've been informative and about a fairly wide variety of topics. I can't think of a time I thought one was boring. Here's hoping you continue on for quite some time.

idspispopd said...

I appreciate that you write proper articles instead of making Youtube videos. IMO videos have a place, but for looking up information they are impractical.

Trixter said...

Was any mirror of Quest Studio's content made? That forum was a GOLDMINE of sound card MIDI info.

Great Hierophant said...

Jim - Just at the Internet Archive as far as I know. The forum topics may be visible, but the messages are not. I do not know how reliable the downloads are.

Brandon Blume said...

The whole website is being archived at this website. The content is being rereleased bit by bit.

http://www.midimusicadventures.com/queststudios/

Brandon Blume said...

Though, not the forum.

Trixter said...

The website is already archived at archive.org IIRC. The forum wasn't. Is anyone working with the original owner to ressurect the forum, even in read-only mode? The Forum had a ton of original research in it.

Emu-France said...

Anyone got a database backup ? There's lot valuable infos in this forum. I've tons of free space on my dedicated servers. I can put a ready-only smf forum online.

Andrew said...

As far as I know, from what Tom and Dianne have told me, unfortunately, there was no backup of the old forum from when the site was last hacked. I know there was a lot of stuff in there that was great tips for people with some of the gotchas on their synths... However, I am hopeful, that we could eventually have something on the sites' new forums or information pages witch we could bring back some of that help for people.

~Andrew

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