June 22, 2017

Apple ][GS - Pool of Radiance

I grew up with computers, when I was very young, we had an Apple ][, and I would watch my brothers play games on it. As Personal Computers expanded beyond Apple, so did the games. We had an Apple ][gs, and there was a blight of retail games available for that computer. On visiting the local software store, they had a game for the ][gs, Pool of Radiance. It looked intriguing, and though I was eleven or twelve, I bought it. I didn't end up playing it much initially, but eventually when I figured it out, I spent many long hours cleaning the streets of Phlan and beyond, listening to 'alternative music.'

This game was the first stand alone, retail, boxed game that I remember buying for the Apple ][gs. It was the first outing of the D&D ruleset to a computer game, and was set in an somewhat paned 3D city, with top view isometic battlefields, and also a rarely used map screen.

The most important thing I remember about the game itself was getting silver weapons, and how they made a considerable difference in fighting the nasties early in the game. The game also featured a paper decoder wheel ring to unlock the copy protection.

June 11, 2017

Apple ][GS - Music Construction Set

I detested piano lessons. I was enrolled (somewhat involuntarily) into lessons for several years growing up. At one point, I was making remote control airplanes, and glued some of my fingers together with superglue. That did not deter my piano teacher from having our lesson. I was not a fan of piano. I once printed off the music from our IIGS and demanded that my piano teacher play some of the following music; proving she was piano worthy. The following year, I was under a different piano teacher, but my enthusiasm had already waned.

I remember  my piano teacher playing some of Frédéric Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, Op 66. This was the versions from Will Harvey's Music Construction Set. It's much easier for a computer to rip through some proto-midi than for a human being to learn some Chopin. She deserved much credit for a ornery pupil.

I spent much time playing with the Music Construction Set: not really composing music, as that was beyond a untrainable ten year old. Rather, soaking in the synthesized notes and early electronica.

non-midi version

June 10, 2017

Arcade - Pac-man

The great videogame craze of the 1980's was perhaps started by Space Invaders, but Pac-man was the avalanche that brought arcade games and arcades to pizza restaurants, grocery stores, and t-shirt shops everywhere.

The player drove Pac-man, navigating through a maze, being chased by ghosts. The purpose of the game was to clear the maze of pacs (pellets). When the ghosts were closing in, Pac-man could eat the power-up pac, and then turn the tables on the ghosts temporarily. Occasionally, fruit would float through the maze, and if gobbled by Pac-man, it would give extra points toward your high score. My favorite part of the game was the 'tunnel,' which would allow Pac-man (and the ghosts), from one side of the screen to the other.

waka waka waka

June 7, 2017

Summer Reading

I've been reading many, many books.  Most for the two courses I've been taking this summer.  This is the reading on the docket for my Judaism course: Introducing Judaism, by Segal, Eliezer. Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith, by Marvin R. Wilson. Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice, by Mark Washofsky.

For my Isaiah course, these are the required texts: A commentary on Isaiah, by John Goldingay, Robert Hubbard, Robert Johnston. An Introduction to the Study of Isaiah, by Jacob Stromberg. And The Book of Isaiah and God's Kingdom: A Thematic-Theological Approach, by Andrew Abernethy.

I also picked up One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss, for some variety.

March 31, 2017

Arcade - Time Pilot

A strong contender for my favorite arcade game of all time is the unassuming Time Pilot. We used to have an arcade in Boise called Pojo's Nickel Palace. They had a swath of older arcade games which you could play for a nickel (or two). They had newer, more expensive games also. For ten dollars worth of nickels, you could play Time Pilot for a long time.

In the game, you command a fighter jet, equipped with a time travel device, and guns. The game is a multi directional scrolling shooter, where your jet is positioned in the middle of the screen, and you control the direction of movement with a joystick. The jet is always moving, like an airplane does to stay in the air. There is one button, for shooting your guns. And the game requires shooting continuously.

You must fight your way through different eras of aerial combat. From biplanes, to fighters, to helicopters to jet fighters, to UFOs. As you progress in each level, you eventually destroy enough of the little planes to summon the boss airplane. After destroying the boss, your time travel equipped jet is warped to the next era. After the UFO's you warp back to WWI and the biplanes, but with harder combat. Occasionally, you can pick up a parachuting ally for bonus points. As well, squadrons will appear, and destroying the whole will grant bonus points.

A classic button mashing shoot-em-up favorite

March 29, 2017

Biblical Theology & Reading

I've been quite busy reading for my courses this spring. For one course, Understanding Biblical Theology, I've been reading several books about Biblical Theology. Among the many books are the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology by Graeme Goldsworthy, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence, Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice by Edward W. Klink and Darian R. Lockett, and God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants, by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. All of the books for this course I went Kindle/digital with, except the dictionary.

For the other seminar course that I am in, Biblical Theology of Worship and Ministry, there are many books as well. Engaging With God: A Biblical Theology Of Worship, and Encountering God Together: Leading Worship Services That Honor God, Minister to His People, and Build His Church by David G. Peterson, Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell, True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God by Bob Kauflin, Recalling the Hope of Glory by Allen Ross, and For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship by Daniel I. Block. For the seminar course, I went physical paper, as we are required to bring our books with us to the class (and it's nice to have paper to share a reference).

March 27, 2017

Apple ][ - Sabotage

One of the earliest games for the Apple ][ that I remember playing by myself was the game of Sabotage. After a fair bit of training, I loaded the 5 1/4" floppies into the machine and turned it on, listing to the clunking of the drive heads in the floppy disk drives, as they read data.

The game of sabotage was relatively simple, you operated a canon. You could pivot the canon left or right, and shoot. The game used either the keyboard, or the analog input from the apple paddle controller. The less rounds you shot, the higher your score. The goal was to defend your base from incoming paratroopers. You could shoot the paratroopers, helicopters, jets, and even bombs. But when four paratroopers landed on a side of your canon, they would jump up and demolish your canon.

The game did have an alternate play mode, where pivoting the canon would also cause the bullets to steer. This was helpful as shooting the parachutes off of incoming paratroopers, plummeting them to the ground, sometimes smashing troops below.

Shooting off the parachutes of the incoming paratroopers may be some type of virtual war crime. .

March 26, 2017

Arcade - Moon Patrol

On of my all time favorite games is the arcade masterpiece Moon Patrol. Moon Patrol brought together good music, interactive side scrolling parallax game-play with multiple areas of focus, and driving a moon buggy. A six wheeled moon buggy with loaded guns!

There were two main areas of concern in the game. One area was the terrain, which featured craters, rocks, mines, boulders, and speeding alien ships. The other area was the skies, which featured an array of different bomb laden spacecraft. The spacecraft came in stages, with the grape looking craft launching bombs that created craters.

The player controlled the speed of the moon buggy with a two direction left/right joystick. You also could make the buggy jump, and fire its guns (which fired unlimited shots both forward and upward). The player progressed through checkpoints, from A towards the goal of the letter Z. After the first course (blue), the player then progressed to the challenge course (pink), with a repainted red moon buggy. Always a fun game to be had driving the moon buggy through alien landscapes!
Moon Patrol had an awesome soundtrack for the golden age of arcade games.

March 24, 2017

Arcade - Joust

One of the best two player games of the golden age of the arcade was the game of Joust. Joust put the player (or players) against wave after wave of flying knights armed with lances. The players rode an flying ostrich or a flying emu. The computer players rode upon buzzards. The players could attempt to work cooperatively, but had to take care not to dismount the other player; which then may escalate into a discordant spiral of retribution between the players.

The game had relatively simple input controls. There was a joystick that allowed for left and right movement, and a button that would flap your mount's wings. It took great practice to be able to hover your mount effectively.

If you wren't fast enough in dispatching the computer enemies, the screen would be invaded by speedy and near invincible pterodactyls. There was the lava troll, that would attempt to reach up and snag you into the lava.  You could attempt to break free, by feverishly pound the flap button. As well, after every few levels, a platform would disappear until you were left with a laissez-faire aerial melee. The enemies got faster and more adept as the levels went on. This game kept its players on their toes.

Some high scores from long ago and far away...

March 21, 2017

Apple ][ - Castle Wolfenstein & Beyond Castle Wolfenstein

In the History of video games, Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, marked the first time I remember of a computer making somewhat analog voices. We used to play the games on the Apple II, and the shouting of the guards over those apple speakers was something else. In the first game, Castle Wolfenstein, you were to escape from the Nazi prison, Castle Wolfenstein. In the second game, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, you were to infiltrate the Fuehrer's underground bunker, find a hidden briefcase bomb, find the secret conference room, set the timer, and escape! You have to use security passes, bribes, gunfights, elevators, alarm tool-kits, and your memory (to remember your way out). All of which make for an exciting game on the first personal computer, the Apple ][!

Ihre papiere, bitte!