Jan 31, 2007

The esteemed Game Design Wikiversity

A (more precisely the) Wikiversity is a Wikipedian version of a University, thus a Wiki that tries to avoid cataloguing Mortal Kombat fatalities or Star Trek bloopers and remains focused on something slightly more interesting. Also, and that's comparing it to proper Universities and not proper Wikis, it is highly improbable that a (the) Wikiversity will ever grant anyone any degree, which, frankly, is quite fine as degrees will never make you a rich man (or woman).

The School of Game Design, a young cyber institution consisting of two departments and affiliated to the School of Computer Game Design, is a proud new part of the (not a) Wikiversity. You can visit it simply by following this most academic of links. Expect to find quite a bit on ludology, game design or critique and other game related subjects, just don't expect to find tons of content. Not yet, at least. Oh, and, apparently you can help out too, preferably by contributing and editing content.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Interactive Storytelling Sanitarium, The Art of Computer Game Design PDF, Kudos (review)

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Sam & Max: Season 1 - Episode 3: The Mole, The Mob and The Meatball Walkthrough

[Dear readers, not-particularly-brave adventures and hapless passers-by, what follows is obviously a walkthrough to the brilliant Sam and Max episode 3. You don't really need it though as it's an easy game. Give it another try. Still stuck? Ok, read on...]

The Beggining

Right, the introduction just finished and Max dropped a card. An Ace of Spades. Pick it up and leave the office. Ride the Desoto to the Casino, where Lovey Bear will greet you and give you some tokens. Insert one into the whack da ratz thingy and shoot at least 20 of the orange rats. You've just won a Ted E. Bear refrigerator magnet. Pick it up, pick it up.

Now, to the poker table where Leonard is waiting. Have a go at his Indian Poker and lose. Know why? Well, he's a cheating little bastard... Leave the game and proceed towards the exit. Notice the huge clown's shiny nose right above the door? Lovely. Stick the Ace of Spades on it, return for another hand of poker with Leonard and win 10 million tokens. Horrah!

Leave the casino. Go to Bosco's Inconvenience Store. Ignore his French disguise and marvel at the installed anti-delivery system. Ask him what he's got to sell. Buy the miniature listening device/bug and return to the casino.

Walk towards the guard guarding (as nature intended) the Back Room Door. Talk to him. Use the organic listening device/bug on him and go play a game of one armed bandit (insert a token). Pick up the listening device, learn the password ("Leave the gun. Take the cannolis"), say it to the guard and he'll let you pass.

Joining the Mafia

In the Back Room ask to join the Mafia. You'll be assigned 3 tasks: deliver a teddy bear to Bosco's, whack Sybil (now a pro-witness) and recover the original Meatball Sandwich.

Getting the sandwich

Head back to the Sam and Max office. Leonard will be waiting. Switch to Max and tell him "Is that a cap gun?". It is, apparently. Now to interrogate the guy and torture him using yo' mama jokes. Sam will be saying the first part -the setup- and Max will be delivering the punchlines. Here are enough correct combos to reduce Leonard to a sobbing sad wreck:

-Yo' mama's so fat ... she has more folds than an origami accordion.
-Yo' mama's so radiant ... if she fell in nuclear waste no one would notice.
-Yo' mama's so punctual ... she showed up early for her own funeral.
-Yo' mama's so vulgar ... her mouth would make a longshoreman blush.
-Yo' mama's so perky ... only time she's lo is at a limbo contest.

You've got the cap gun and the one armed bandit's single arm. Go to the casino. Use the arm on the one armed bandit, enter a token and pick up the famed sandwich.

Whacking Sybil

Visit Sybil's place. Chat a bit. Take her precious coffee cup and bring it to Bosco's. Off to the condiments now. Use the coffee cup on them and fill it with ketchup. Return to Sybil's and give her back the cup. Now take out your gun and shoot the cup. That's that.

Bosco's Delivery

Drag the duo back to Bosco's store. Talk to him and tell him to "Look, it's the Toy Mafia!". He gets completely distracted. Now, put the Ted E. Beat refrigerator magnet on the anti-delivery camera. Place the teddy bear box on the Sale Table and voila... you're mafiosi.

The final Countdown

Enjoying the mob initiation celebrations? How about the car chase? To survive it, take out your gun and shoot one of them hanging signs as you approach it. The following pic should help:

Back in the Back Room (heh), enter through the sinister door into the factory. The boss will try to hypnotize you and you'll need to convince him he did. Shoot Max using the cap gun and avoid injuries. Now, walk to the one armed bandit. Pick up the screwdriver and use it on the one armed bandit. Get the voice box. Place the voice box in the hopper, take the altered teddy bear and use it on the boss (a.k.a. Harry). Now pull the lever. That's it. Game over.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the Wii-ing lagomorph, Broken Sword 2.5, Monkey Island stuff, the walkthrough archive

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Jan 30, 2007

Tetris 1d

Tetris in one dimension. Ingenious and pointless. Play it and try to beat the amazing 999,999,800 points highscore somebody actually achieved. Oh, yes, the link.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Infinite Mario Bros., E. Ultima Online, mutated retro remakes

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The Wii-ing lagomorph

Sam and Max, lovely, psychotic and hilarious Sam and Max, are definitely coming to the Wii. Oh, yes, it's quite obvious, as Telltale Games (the creative minds behind Sam and Max Season 1), having already promised Wii versions of Sam, Max and Bosco, have just announced a job opening for a Wii developer. That's how:
Wii Systems Programmer
We have an immediate opening for a Wii Systems Programmer. This position will be responsible for implementing our core 3D graphics and audio systems on the Wii. This is a full time position at our San Rafael location.
  • Responsibilities
    • Migrate core components of D3D based PC game engine to the Wii
    • Implement additional platform specific features
    • Modify and support existing art and production path to accommodate Wii production
    • Contribute to the design and direction of Telltale Technology and products.
Related @ Gnome's Lair: 3 lovely new Wii screenshots, Blackwell Legacy DEMO, Oh no! more free games!

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Jan 29, 2007

Another Wii post and 3 lovely new games to cuddle with (when you're all alone)

I know I haven't blogged much about the Wii recently and I know I should be reviewing the games I've already enjoyed, but the voices do indeed seem to have other plans. They've already forced me to post the pictures -screenshots some might call them- you see above and mention three quite promising forthcoming Wii games. Apparently only one of them a Nintendo release.

Nasty voices aside, let me ...uhm... swiftly introduce Looney Tunes, Driver and Super Paper Mario, a game that promptly got the Zelda treatment and made the jump from the Gamecube to the Wii. Here, that's them introduced then and me moving on to actually starting writing some proper reviews. Oh, and please let me thank the Wii Experience blog, as it was the source of them nifty piccies. Please? Thanks!

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the Wii compared to the Gamecube, Twilight Princess PDF Guide, a post about a Wii

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Museum Monday #44

Monday. And besides feeling slightly tired and quite a bit sleepy too, nothing abominable has intruded my private space, which -frankly- is quite a happy change. Oh, and this Monday's Museum Monday is one I've enjoyed quite a bit, as it's none other than the excellent TSR Archive.

The TSR Archive sports a rather huge database of Dungeons & Dragons, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, D&D 3rd edition, Alternity and other TSR books and products, all of them properly indexed, described and showing off their lovingly scanned covers. By the way, did anyone know of Alternity Starcraft edition? Oh, and of course every DnD setting is covered, starting from the 1st edition of the Forgotten Realms to the spanking new Eberron.

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Jan 28, 2007

Decker's Delight Links (28.Jan.07)

Gnomes just love picking flowers, hand-picking free games and displaying links in intricate hand-painted vases. Deckers on the other hand are simply fictional glorified hackers. What follows is (surprisingly) a collection of gaming links.

Just Adventure +, the classic adventure gaming mega-site that narrowly escaped server death, posted a smart How to Get Unstuck in an Adventure Game article.

The History of Computer Role-Playing Games (via the brilliant Vintage Gamer blog) should help get game historians off the streets and drooling over Akalabeth and Ultima.

More history lessons are provided by the Wikipedian History of the board game Monopoly, which is brilliantly accompanied by Red Bull's Panoply of "Opolies".

Oh, and Ghacks eloquently adds to the historical discourse by linking to the Top 10 free retro games for your PC, which thankfully include such gems as Barbarian, Alien Breed and Marble Madness.

Greg Costikyan, on the other hand, published the amazing I have no words & I must design article, in order to teach the masses the differences between games and toys and to preach ludology to FPS heretics.

Racketboy -the retro blogging boy- wonders How SEGA All But Ruined Sonic the Hedgehog.

The Elderly Gamer, having just hired a leprechaun, started investigating the sinister God of War Threesome. Results have not been publicized yet.

Contra Gears mentioned both the Amiga CD32 and Amstrad's GX4000 in the aptly but shockingly named post The Game Sytems that Flopped.

J -using his impressive Wii abilities- reviewed Legend of Zelda: Windwaker for the Gamecube (and apparently Wii).

Bits, Bytes, Pixels, Sprites unearthed a game called Communist Mutants from Space. A gnome discovered this.

As for me, your humblest of gnomish servants, well, I've been doing Retro Mags and text-adventures over at Siliconera, and Sam and Max at Independent Gaming. Oh, yes, and a Game Boy Color feature too.

Others (Saturn obsessed Krishnas mainly) have been going mad over Segata Sanshiro.

And now for something quite similar. Quick links:

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Jan 27, 2007

Infinite Mario Bros.

Merely click this puny link and you'll be transported to a Super Mario World remake of sorts, that interestingly features randomly generated -thus infinite- levels. Don't expect intricate level-design, but do expect a fun platformer and extensive use of the a and s buttons.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Advanced Strategic Command, Rick Dangerous I & II, Kinky Zombie Golf Action

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8-bit Edutainment

Pictured above (thank you, myatari.com) is AtariLab and it's as obscure a retro thingy as it gets. Before I send you off to read all about it in an Atari praising magazine piece of yore though, I'll give you some hints of what you should expect. Here goes: edutainment, physics, 8-bit, modules, biofeedback and science classes. Got it? Great! Now read the article.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: TI 99/4A, Chip's Challenge, the history of the FPS

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Jan 26, 2007

Battle for Skull Pass Review

The Battle for Skull Pass, the box-set heralding the 7th edition of Warhammer, was obviously designed as a rather enticing entry point to the world of Games Workshop and fantasy miniature wargaming in general, but also as something veteran gamers would consider buying over/along the proper 7th edition Rulebook. Apparently GW did a pretty stellar work too, as for less than 60 euros (or 40 pounds or even 60$) you get all the stuff pictured (unpainted of course) above, meaning you get:
  • 1 getting started booklet
  • 1 pocket-sized Warhammer 7th edition Rulebook
  • 2 (pretty shitty) standard plastic rulers
  • the 3 plastic templates required for Warhammer
  • 10 six-sided (d6) dice
  • artillery and scatter dice
  • 40 Night Goblin Spearmen
  • 20 Night Goblin Archers
  • 10 Forest Goblin Spider Riders
  • 2 Night Goblin characters (Big Boss and Shaman)
  • 1 Troll
  • 12 Dwarf Warriors
  • 10 Dwarf Thunderers
  • 8 Dwarf Miners
  • 1 Dwarf Cannon with crew
  • 2 Dwarf characters (Thane and Dragon Slayer)
  • Dwarf and Night Goblin themed scenery
The miniatures themselves are all in plastic and quite frankly they really do add value to Battle for Skull Pass. To give you an idea just how cheap the box set set actually is, I'll let you know this pretty little secret: 2 new Night Goblin boxes and one Spider Riders unit -if bought separately- will cost you more than 80 euros. Granted these expensive minis will definitely be better, more detailed and featuring quite a few more options and extra decorative pieces than the ones you'll get here, but, still, the Night Goblins included in the box are beautiful enough to be included in any Warhammer army, and you'll be roughly getting 500 points of them, enough for quite a few small scale skirmishes, as 500 points is the standard WHFB "small" army.

The Dwarfs (another 500 points worth of troops) unfortunately aren't of the same quality, even though they will make a decent starter's army, especially if painted to an acceptable standard. Oh, and you won't be finding their outstanding pirate-y cannon anywhere else... The included scenery pieces, on the other hand, a Goblin Idol, a Dwarfen wall and a silly treasure-pulling pony, are of pretty high quality.

Interestingly, all of them models, be they Goblins, Dwarfs or ponies don't have to be glued together. No, they push together without any need for glue. Damn! [still, glue should make them quite a bit sturdier]

That's the miniature part of the box set covered then. As for the books, well, both veterans and beginners will be pleased to know that the included pocket-sized Warhammer Rulebook covers every single rule the full book does. Rulewise, there's absolutely nothing left out. Then again, its 128 pages cover almost nothing but rules and are printed in such a small font anyone over 60 should have trouble reading them, even though the layout is ace, the imagery grim and Gothic and the sheer compactness of the book will make it a must among tournament players. As for the rules themselves, they are easy to grasp and quite elegant, being more of an update and clearing-up of the latest edition, than a complete rewrite.

The Battle for Skull Pass booklet, the one subtly subtitled Read this First, on the other hand, is what will mostly be of interest to new players. In its 32 full-coloured pages they will get to know the key Warhammer rules through excellent examples and while playing, basic modelling and painting skills, a few things about the Warhammer universe and finally experience their first battle. Cunningly avoiding a couple of ad filled pages, they should then head on to the Battle for Skull Pass website for further battle scenarios (and other freebies), that'll have them use every miniature included in the box.

A word of advice though, before you (the ones thinking about getting into Warhammer) go and spend your cash on this one, regardless of what an excellent product this is... Warhammer is a very (and I do mean very) expensive hobby. Getting a PS3 should probably be cheaper than a fully painted army. If you are ok with this, then, by all means... be my guests (yes, all of you).

Veterans... uhm.. you lot don't need any advice, do you?

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Warhammer 7th edition FAQs, White Dwarf issue 1 PDF, WHFB begginer's tactics

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SEGA silliness and Segata Sanshiro

If you thought putting a SEGA Genesis on a SegaCD and promptly adding some Sonic cartridges, a 32X, a Game Genie, a Master System thingy and other obscure stuff to the towering mix is obsessive (pic via Joystiq), then you obviously haven't visited Father Krishna's Saturn Junkyard. There, you'll see a certain amazing Segata Sanshiro and will even have the dubious pleasure of reading Segata Sanshiro lyrics in English. Joy!

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Cry of Xaz (DC), The HiSaturn Navi, Video Game pr0n archive

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Jan 25, 2007

The Glorious Future of the Video Game

There's a certain combination of mushroom-swallowing and toad-licking that generally tends to grant true clairvoyance, as the following nice gif obviously proves (via). According to wise sources, it (the gif/picture thingy, that is) is a scan from the 1981 book Usborne Guide To Computers and has absolutely nothing to do with pr0n. Interesting, isn't it? Click on it for a proper read. Here's a toad...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Texas Instruments TI 99/4A, Ahhh, Art!, NES Deconstructulator

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Jan 24, 2007

The Blackwell Legacy Demo

Wadjet Eye Games, the brilliant indy adventure game creators, have been kind enough to release a nice playable demo of their first episodic horror point-and-clicker: The Blackwell Legacy (already mentioned here). You can get it here, in order to enter the shoes of Rosangela Blackwell (a medium) and heed the advice of her spirit guide Joey Mallone.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Blackwell Legacy walkthrough, Broken Sword 2.5, Linus and Samorost

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TI 99/4A... Sniff...

TI 99/4A, usually referred to (well by us gnomes at least) simply as the Texas Instruments, was the first computer I ever touched and the only computer of mine I just can't remember where to find. Damn! This Space Invaders cartridge was so utterly amazing, and so unbelievably better than its Atari 2600 version, I'd just love to play it again... Show it to them silly Atari loving kiddies. Take it out for a beer even. Ah, the days, the days...

Nostalgia aside though, the TI 99/4A was also a rather impressive machine for its time. It was 16-bit, could output 256-colour graphics, had an almost proper keyboard, could use Atari's digital and quite lovely one-button joysticks, could load programmes via tape or cartridge, was immensely expandable and had loads of RAM (that was 16Kb actually). As for the games, well, a visit to the TI-99/4A videogames house should convince you. For the rest, watch this commercial (and please avoid the dreaded Bill Cosby one):

Interested for more? Great, here are some sites you might just enjoy:
Related @ Gnome's Lair: the Batari BASIC, the Dragon 32/64, the history of the FPS, retro features archive

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Peace, Love and Advanced Strategic Command

One upon a time there was a brilliant middle-aged strategy game series called Battle Isle (see it @ Wikipedia or MobyGames). Apparently it's no more, and that's why Advanced Strategic Command was such a joy to discover. ASC besides looking the part, also comes suspiciously close to playing like a proper Battle Isle game. It's a hex-based, turn-based, 100% old-fashioned strategy game released under the GNU license, thus quite freeware and tweakable. Download it here and don't forget that PbM (Play by Mail) multiplayer battles are all the rage these days...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Colonization, Reunion, Kudos, selected free games archive

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Jan 23, 2007

Cry of Xaz and the Dreamcast

There are a myriad of reasons why anyone and everyone (their dogs too) should actually own a SEGA Dreamcast and five of 'em reasons have already been detailed here. Now, here's a reason for existing and/or ecstatic DC gamers to feel even happier with their fantastic SEGA dominated lives... Crystals of Xaz, a very interesting 80s-styled defensive (!) shmup, which might soon undergo a name-change, and already has a nice video-featuring little website.

Here's a few things the developer has to say: "Crystals Of Xaz (not its final name) is a Dreamcast game that I started back in September 2006. I've always wanted to design a shooter (or "shmup" as they're currently called) in which the player takes on more of a defense role than an offensive one. I also wanted to include many of the gameplay elements that I loved in 80s arcade shooters like Astro Blaster, Galaxian/Galaga, Moon Cresta, and others. After more than four months of steady work, I finally have an alpha version of my game engine ready, and it is currently in testing. It's not complete, as I'm adding other elements to the game (such as boss battles; gotta have SOME offensive gameplay there), better graphics (the current ones are borrowed), music (already there, just turned off), and some other tweaks to make it better."

Watch this space for further info and a complete preview... By the way, the early alpha version I'm playing is most promising and quite addictive.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: 2007 Dreamcast shmups, Dreamcast 2? No, batari BASIC

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No comments. Happy Birthday.

Someone better check for emails...

Jan 22, 2007

Museum Monday #43

Monday. Ahh... What if Mondays were all fine? What if museums were broadcasted and everyone enjoyed proper SEGA tunes? What if people stoped having to work? What if Mondays just weren't so impressively annoying? Well, it would be a better world, I'll tell you that. A world filled with nymphs, leprechauns, Saturnians and ...uhm... tequila rivers.

Then again Museum Monday's as good as it gets, really. Especially when it's all about game music and net-based broadcasting. So, better check out RadioSega for your retro-flavored Sonic and Afterburner tunes and then have a look at the utterly amazing Game Music Box, that features 80 soundtracks from brilliant games such as Fallout, System Shock, Full Throtle, Warcraft 2 and Quake.

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Jan 21, 2007

The Batari BASIC

Batari BASIC, a BASIC programming language named after its beloved creator's nickname, is the only way for a modern young person to program on the quite classic and rather well-known Atari 2600. Thus, the batari BASIC, is a fully working freeware compiler for creating Atari 2600 games on a modern (or not so modern) PC. Get it here, and while getting it, do have a look at some sample code, documentation files and other useful freebies.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: NES dancing, Chip's Challenge, the history of the FPS

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Get a First Life!

Click here for First Life (TM), the ultimate alternative to Second Life and you'll get all the answers you'll ever need to such trendy questions as:
Are five senses enough?

What's this body thing, and what do I do with the dangly bits?

Related @ Gnome's Lair: MMO Gnome, Art (not art), I Cthulhu

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Jan 20, 2007

Designing Arcade Computer Game Graphics

Ari Feldman's Designing Arcade Computer Game Graphics book, a 13 chapter long guide to gaming graphics, designed for both the game programmer and the visual artist (apparently, the blogger too), has magically gone all PDF and free! Lovely! Oh, and don't forget to thank RetroBlast for pointing it out.

Now, show us all how truly interested you are and educate yourself in the ways of the bookworm. Download the e-book here. Do keep in mind it can get quite technical and 2D oriented, though.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Art of Computer Game Design, On interactive storytelling, Gory Games

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Jan 19, 2007

Behold the party power of the NES

8-bit consoles are here to stay, even if discotheques have eclipsed and people don't listen to Europe music anymore. What follows though, is more than a video of an impressive real-time demo running on a Nintendo NES (or Famicom, whatever suits you really), featuring some rather funky music and a silly name: Quantum Disco Brothers. It's a wamma creation, presented at the Stream 2006 demoparty, and it's a full-blown, cutely tasteless 80s cultural counter-attack. Oh, and it fits in only 64k.

Oh, and since the video quality is slightly shite, better download the demo and run it yourselves. You know, by using an emulator...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the Dragon 32/64, Newcomer: a new C64 game, the Commodore 64 demoscene

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Colonize freely...

The white devil, the accursed European man, the slaughterer of continents, the rapist of the seven seas, the ravager of worlds, the daddy of imperialism and bringer of colonization. Colonization... Then again, Colonization (thankfully not a TM just yet) isn't necessarily a bad thing, provided of course one's referring to Sid Meier's excellent and quite retro Civ-clone usually referred to as Colonization. Now, according to the pretty excellent Ghacks.net blog Colonization is making a freeware comeback in the guise of FreeCol, which apparently is to Colonization what FreeCiv is to Civilization.

[As an homage towards Monty Python this post is dedicated to the men who died in order to keep China British]

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Games, freeware Ultima-ish EUO Online, 30 hand-picked free games

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Jan 18, 2007

Enter (feed, even) the Dragon 32/64

Compared to the rather pop and massively remembered 8-bit home computers of yore, the Dragon 32 or 64 does feel slightly obscure. Then again it was never quite popular, even back in 1982 when it first hit the stores featuring a proper keyboard and a processor (Motorola's MC6809E) almost running at 1MHz.

Still, the Dragon, by Dragon Data no less, was a fine Welsh computer, sporting an impressive OS and BASIC, lots of professional programs (like Publisher) and programming languages, and even a few great games. AstroBlast, Return of the Ring, Jet Set Willy (of course), Chuckie Egg, Joust and Airball were some of the best. For those gamers either nostalgic or curious enough to game the Dragon way, Xroar, the free Dragon 32/64 and Tandy CoCo emulator should be quite a treat.

Other interesting Dragon-related things to click on include the History of the Dragon Computer, the Dragon Archive, the Dragon Data Archive, some tech and documentation stuff and Dragon 32 @ Vintage Computers. Better click them then...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Rick Dangerous I&II, HiSaturn Navi, C64 demoscene

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Gnomes and Zombies visit Siliconera

Just a short post to let you -yes, all 3 of you wise and insightful Gnome's Lair readers- know that I've already started contributing to the prestigious Siliconera gaming blog. You can read my fist post here. Please, do. It features Zombies.

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