We give a hearty congratulations to David Vulich, of Fresno California, who has put hard work and incredible skills into becoming the newest member of the Max-Out club, joining such luminaries as Jonas Neubauer, Harry Hong, Alex Kerr, Ben Mullen, and a few others. Credit due to Alex Kerr, whose ‘Kitaru’ persona keeps a great record of these things over at TetrisConcept
I’d like to take this wonderful opportunity to introduce everyone to John Hancock, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting a couple of years back on a trip to the gaming expos up there during the promotions of Ecstasy of Order. John is one of the most kind and generous people I’ve ever had the honor of coming across in all of my years. Not only is he a legit lifetime gamer, but his heart is even bigger than his collection. He tirelessly works in the service of others, performing counseling and support for local youth, and he also takes it to a whole new level with a local Expo up there that raises funds for Childrens Justice and Advocacy Center (CJAC), a tremendous charity organization that has immense value. He does all of this while raising his own little ones. Truly a wonderful human being, if you ever have the opportunity to meet with him at PRGE or Cowlitz Gamers for Kids shows, definitely do so, the expos are great, and John is a gamer’s gamer.
Without further ado, here is the interview that I put together with a Q&A session. Thanks for looking, and be sure to check out the pics of his ludicrously amazing collection of classic gaming goodies! If you have the chance, he also has a wonderful series of DVDs on collecting that are very worthy indeed.
Question 1 : Tell us a bit about yourself and how you discovered gaming.
My earliest memories of gaming go back to when my father bought us a TV scoreboard Radio Shack Pong clone. Between that and going to my cousins house to play Atari 2600, that is what I consider my first gaming experiences. About the same time, I got to experience some great arcades in town, but those rarely happened. I consider myself, part historian, part serious collector, and 100 percent passionate about videogames. I have been lucky to have began a journey of collecting retro videogames nearly 20 years ago. I started off collecting videogames by myself in Northern California in the mid 90s. I mostly was collecting games to add to what I already owned, which was some Sega and Nintendo games that I had in high school. By 2002, I connected with other gamers online and pursued some more obscure gaming consoles and systems, such as the bally astrocade. I focused my collecting on entire released US sets, and scoured the West Coast looking for items to add to my collection. Nearly 98 percent of my collection was purchased in person, and not online. In 2005 I moved to Washington where I got connected to Rick Weis. I started helping with video game conventions which made my game collection grow substantially more. It is a hobby that I am passionate about in which I have got to gain many great friends and experiences that I will never forget.
Question 2 : What were some of the favorite games you played growing up, and do you still go back and replay them now?
Growing up, my favorites were Berzerk for the 2600, Castlevania on the Nes, Blue Max on the Atari 800, Herzog Zwei on Genesis as well as Dark Wizard for the Sega CD. I still make time to play Berzerk for the 2600 and occasionally play Blue Max when I can. Of course, I still love to play pong like I did when I was a child and am up for a game with anyone who wants to play. The game still does not get old to me.
Question 3 : How do you think gaming has evolved over the years?
Gaming to me has evolved to encompass a wide variety of gameplay and options. In the beginning, games were limited by graphics significantly. What you saw on the cover of a videogame was nothing like the experience that you played. Now the game can look BETTER than the cover. At the same time, I also think that games have come full circle. Some types of games(many indie titles) have gone back to the simple mechanics of 2D games that were easy to get into but difficult to master. We have so many choices of what type of games to play, that it is a great time to be gamer.
Question 4 : You have THE most profoundly awesome collection I’ve ever seen in classic gaming. How many years did it take to get where it is?
Thank you for your most kind words. I am just happy to have amassed what I have done over the past 20 years on a budget.
Question 5 : How do you think the recent and current systems will be on a collectible basis?
In time, I think that the current crop of systems and games will be collectable. I think that there will be an added bonus to find a non modded original 360 system that still works lol. There are so many system variants compared to the previous generations that just collecting hardware alone will be a fun and challenging project.
Question 6 : What would be some examples of absolutely amazing games that are hidden gems that many/most don’t even know about?
So many games on so many systems that get overlooked. I will narrow it to 10 that I consider underappreciated. I could easily have a 100 list but here it goes:
Atari 2600: Gravitar
Intellivision: Hover Force
Colecovision: War Room
Odyssey 2: Freedom Fighters
Sega Genesis: Jewel Master
Sega CD: Android Assault
Super Nes: Choplifter III
Sony Playstation: Silent Bomber
Nintendo DS: Retro Game Challenge
Question 7 : What advice would you give to an aspiring collector?
Collaborate and network with others. Join a local facebook group as well as videogame forums. Collect because you want to. There needs to be alot of patience involved, as alot of games I got were over many years. Dont fret if you cant get every game you want right now. Educate yourself before any buying so that you know what you are getting and what a fair price is.
Question 8 : As parents with kids of our own now, how do you involve gaming in their lives?
My son is now almost 5, and is starting to get a little more into games. I started showing him classics such as pong and atari when he was younger. I think for me, the answer is gradual. I know that my hobby will probably be different than my sons, but I am happy to share with him if he wants.
Thank you John Hancock for spending time with us today! Readers, check this out :
And finally, to close it out after that epic collection : John at work doing what he was born to do! Helping people AND being a cherished member of the gaming community!
Hi readers! Welcome to LostHammer and thanks for coming to visit with us!
I have an observation that I think bears consideration and celebration in our industry, one that is very easy to skim over and forget about, but one that really will be a gigantic boon to all of us, developer and gamer alike.
This secret sauce is : x86 platform becoming the de-facto standard for serious gaming!
Think about the history of gaming overall, it’s been dominated by drastically varying platforms and architectures. Even when more than one system used the same CPU, a lot of times there were wildly different special supplemental chips to consider which were crucial to making games for the platform. Well, all of that is about to go out the window in a big way!
With the current-gen stuff, you had :
PC with x86 CPU / Direct3D / OpenGL + Varying GPUs
Playstation 3 with Cell CPU + Nvidia GPU
Xbox 360 with IBM Xenon CPU + ATI Xenos GPU
What did all of this mean for developers? To start with, to do things right they had to take into consideration their weakest target platform when planning development, as being too ambitious with the design might make their plans impossible otherwise. Following that, they had to allocate very significant resources into merely getting the title ported to work correctly on each platform, even before any optimizations were undertaken. As far as optimizations, this was another round of expenses and delays, to get the title working optimally on the target platform. For gamers, this meant that there were often delays in getting versions of the titles they wanted released, and that in the $50-$60 that they spent on that title, a decent chunk of that money actually went into the resources necessary to even port the title. Lastly, less ‘proven’ titles, or entries from smaller publishers might not even see releases on multiple platforms due to the obstacles in expense and manpower.
Unification to the rescue!
What we have now moving forward with the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC gaming platforms is a dramatic improvement at every level. Both the PS4 and XboxOne have hardware in the exact same families and generations even, and all of it is made up of variants of ordinary PC gaming lineups. There remain differences in capability, and some unique oddball considerations such as Xbox One’s 32MB embedded cache (which remains, sadly, too small and too slow to compete with GDDR5 for top-tier 3D performance), but by and large, one can very easily develop for all of these platforms with a minimum of effort in contrast to the current status quo.
The Playstation 3 was a prime example in the negatives of having a very unique system architecture. Although a handful of titles such as Uncharted 3, The Last of Us, and so on do show the PS3’s full capabilities, far too many are simply disappointing, and this shows most clearly in cross-platform ports. Even the Xbox 360 was fairly unique in it’s own rights, however it was indisputably easier to produce titles on by comparison, and closer to the PC in terms of being able to port over easily.
Both the Xbox 360 and especially the Playstation 3 also held up game development due to their very limiting RAM setups. Even for 2005/2006, 512MB of total memory was already becoming quickly obsolete in the PC gaming world. Even taking into consideration the large overhead of the Windows operating system and APIs such as DirectX, there was still a lot more RAM to work with on PCs. This led to many PC titles showing enormous capability when coded to take full advantage of high end hardware, but much more often what happened were terrible ‘consolized’ ports that were written for systems with tiny amounts of memory, and with barely an effort at all to give PC gamers the advanced modeling/AI/maps/content that their systems were truly capable of achieving.
With the move to 8GB, these consoles are much further ahead of the curve in contrast to the 360/PS3 were at launch, even as their CPU/GPUs are somewhat weaker in the big picture compared to those days. At launch, the 360 and PS3 had GPU power that rivaled the best gaming systems out there, and only eclipsed by super expensive PCs. This time around, the GPU power in the new consoles is a bit more sedate. Still, with the large system ram and hugely updated graphics power, games should look amazing on the new consoles by comparison to PS3/360.
Perhaps the largest bonus, depending on how they roll this into their business models, will be in the reduced costs of porting titles across platforms for the developers. Now, the same budget will allow for a lot less time worrying about system X, Y, and Z, and this will shave dollars, labor expenses, and scheduling allocations out of the equation. Not only will this make more multiplatform titles almost inevitable, but it will make developers more profitable. To a team given the same amount of resources, this should enable a better final product. Instead of spending a huge amount of time optimizing for other systems and architectures, much more time can be spent making a good GAME.
This is great news for everybody. The only outlier in this regard is the Wii U, which remains on non-x86 hardware. This bodes poorly for cross-platform gaming on the WiiU moving forward, but Nintendo above all should be able to rely heavily on top-quality 1st party titles as long as they can move them along. If they get at least one full-fledged Mario/Zelda/Kart/Metroid/Smash/etc every 3-4 months at the longest, they will stay in the game as a very vibrant 3rd place. If they drop the ball, or try too much filler such as the Windwalker remake (hardly a Nintendo gamer alive wouldn’t MUCH rather see an actual new Zelda adventure before they re-skin an old title!), they may find themselves in trouble.
All in all, we’re in for a unique generation, and the potential to have the best gaming lineups in history! Thanks for reading, and comments and feedback are always appreciated!
Youtube personality and overall hilariously awesome guy AlphaOmegaSin has a reaction to the Microsoft’s policy changes regarding their new console. Definitely worth a watch 🙂
Hi readers! It’s been great getting the feedback from the last few posts, and now it’s time to dive into the WiiU.
As someone most known for being a Nintendo champion, one might expect me to have a pretty positive opinion on the newest flagship Nintendo console. Overall the answer is yes, though I really have to explain the reasons why, as well as some issues I have with it. Let’s boil it down into separate sections!
Hardware and History
The Wii U is an oddball in every sense of the word. Compared to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, it’s fairly competitive, and even leads them in many crucial ways. If the Wii U had launched instead of the original Wii, it would have made for a very interesting race back in those days. It’s important to realize that Nintendo nearly universally designs consoles to be profitable from the start on a unit-by-unit basis, and has never pushed hardware specs to the limit. This has worked fairly well for them, and the proof is in the profits and respect from longtime gamers. They have some problems though, and that is perception amongst the newer generation of gamers that look at them as childish compared to Xbox and Playstation. There is a serious number of people who dismiss Nintendo as a children’s-only company.
While I agree that Nintendo has a very family-oriented focus, I don’t really see this as a really true criticism. While there may always be something ‘cooler’ than playing Nintendo titles, things like Halo, Call of Duty, etc, tend to come and go over the years, with older titles becoming very stale and not much worth replaying, even ancient Nintendo first-party titles are ludicrously fun with tons of depth. Fire up Super Mario Bros. 3 for a great example. The NES was about as powerful as a pocket calculator, and the CPU wasn’t even 5(!!) MHz, but that game has insane amounts of depth, deft playcontrol, and sublime level and character design. By and large, this has remained true through the years, with some lesser outings along the way, but the overall quality of 1st-party Nintendo titles is VERY high.
Getting back to the hardware for a moment, there is plenty of power on tap to make for some great games. Theoretically cross-platform titles from 360/PS3 should look and play great, but there are some problems with expecting those. For one, the kind of gamers looking for those titles aren’t usually looking for those titles ON a Nintendo console these days. Secondly, it’s a bit late in the current-gen battle to expect many great releases with the devs shifting almost exclusively towards new releases on PS4/Xbox One. Thirdly, with the new PS4/XB1 using X86 and AMD GCN technology along with 8GB of memory, cross-platforming against those guys will mean HUGE amounts of developer work and expense, and it’s just unlikely to expect that moving forward.
In retrospect, I would have preferred somewhat if Nintendo made the ‘tablet’ an option (or simply used 3DS instead), and put those resources into making the CPU/GPU/Memory a little more stout. I guess it’s not a huge deal in the end considering that the existing power will be more than enough to have some great Mario/Zelda/Smash/etc on there, but it’s a thought, and a crucial key in what to NOT expect. Don’t expect many big next-gen titles to show up from PS4/XBox One. That’s okay, they won’t have Mario/Zelda and company 😉
With prices varying from $299 to $349 commonly for the current sets, I have a hard time recommending them as an investment right this minute when the current small library is concerned. I expect a price drop, and perhaps some great new bundles this fall however. Perhaps something like a $229 16GB SKU, along with a drop to $269 or so for the 32GB. This is purely a guess, but prices around there along with a bundled game or two, and of course, more GAMES in the library, will make this pretty attractive to us long-time fans of the Nintendo franchise titles.
Currently we have a side scrolling Mario which is pretty fun, Zombie U, Monster Hunter 3, and a handful of others, but things are about to get a lot better :
Super Mario 3d World
Super Luigi U
Zelda Windwalker HD Remake
Mario Kart 8
Super Smash Bros
Brand new Zelda
Donkey Kong Country
Scribblenauts DC Comics
So, a pretty cool lineup of stuff. If they can keep their price point competitive, and keep their legacy as always having fun titles for all ages, it can be a vibrant and fun platform for years to come. The Wii sold a ton of consoles due to the initial hype, but I think a lot of the buyers simply used the Wii Fit or a handful of games and never went further. WiiU doesn’t have to set sales records to be a profitable platform and a fun place to go for titles that you can’t find anywhere else. If you already have a 360 or PS3, and don’t yet have a Wii or WiiU, it might be worth picking one of these up instead for a lot less than a PS4/XB1, and you can enjoy a great number of fantastic Wii and WiiU titles while waiting for some of the dust to settle on those new consoles. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years on consoles, it’s that waiting for the platforms to mature and for more games to show up along with revisions and price drops, it’s always rewarding. Comments and feedback always appreciated!
Valhalla Rising is a 2009 film from director Nicolas Winding Refn, who also penned the script along with a relative unknown by the name of Roy Jacobsen. Nicolas Refn is a quickly rising star on the critical and commercial success of the film ‘Drive’, currently in theatres.
This film really is a world apart. Let me first say that this isn’t for everyone by any means. This is a gritty, brutal, sparse, and phenomonally beautiful piece of work. You could probably fit the entire dialogue of the film on a single typewritten page or two, and there are only a few moments of any significant action. If you’re prepared for it, it’s truly a monumental achievement as a film.
The story, for what it is, follows the mute Viking slave known only as ‘One Eye’, who in the opening sequence is shown to possess such qualities of violence and fortitude that he seems hewn from the same craggly rocks and severeness of the very landscape that he inhabits. He does not celebrate, he does not mourn, he simply exists as a silent and resolute testament to the strength of his own will. As he moves through the story, he is drawn by a series of visions towards his destiny, and the sheer magnitude of his character is the undeniable center of the world in which the others revolve around. He is said to have been raised up from hell, and that’s where he aims to return.
The photography is absolutely stunning, the direction impeccable, and the music highly effective. The performances didn’t have any flaws that I noticed whatsoever. There are many scenes and indeed portions of the film with no dialogue at all, it simply is almost a dreamscape that is inhabited by these disparate and mostly violent souls. One can interpret certain elements a number of different ways, and it’s a testament to the skill of Nicolas Refn that this all comes together and works as well as it does.
I can imagine that this was a hard sell, and indeed it never saw a real theatrical release. Without a doubt this is not for everyone, I can’t stress enough that this is NOT a typical film by any measure. Think of it as a two hour exercise in the art of film, and do not expect any conventional elements.
I rate the film 10/10 for me personally, which aside from Casablanca, Citizen Kain, and Schindler’s List, I have never considered a film utterly perfect as what it was. For most viewers however, I would imagine a much lower reaction, as this couldn’t be more opposite of what dominates the box office.
I’m headed to the 2013 ScrewAttack Gaming Convention later this afternoon. It runs through this weekend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Dallas, Texas.
I will appear as a guest on a panel featuring the great Patrick Scott Patterson and historic gaming champion Ben Gold. You should check out the SAGC website at http://www.sgconvention.com/ and always check in to see the great stuff cooking and attitudin’ at http://www.patrickscottpatterson.com