Stay Awhile and Listen – The Book About Blizzard Entertainment

I was searching for something new and fresh to read. I don’t remember exactly on what website was it that I found a book about Blizzard Entertainment that was recommended as a good read for a gaming fan. The words I used for this search might have been something like “good gaming books to read”. I used this phrase and made a search through Google and I immediately found a website that recommended about five books. Some of these were already familiar for me and some of them I had already read. But a book about Blizzard? That sure sounded interesting to me.

As I started to read this book, it was titled “Stay Awhile and Listen”, I first noticed that text was written with a large and somewhat loose font. I didn’t let it bother me and kept reading. This book managed to capture my attention very efficiently. It introduces the people that were actually behind games like WarCraft and Diablo. It describes how they got inspiration from games like Dune II and UFO – Enemy Unknown and from earlier role-playing-games, not so graphical rogue-likes, and also from Dungeons and Dragons.

Diablo was very different than those other role-playing-games that were released on PC in the 90s. It defined a whole new genre of games combining action and traditional role-playing elements. It focused also in gathering different kinds of items that could be weapons, armor, rings or amulets that had special attributes. There could be, for example, an axe that gave, once equipped, more strength and maybe more resistance to enemies spells to its user. At first Diablo was designed to be turn-based but eventually it was made to be real-time. It featured an ability to play with multiple players through internet. Back in 1996 that was something revolutionary.

There have been two sequels made for Diablo and there was a whole genre of these new kinds of role-playing-games that many of us gamers have had the joy to play. I wasn’t so excited about traditional role playing or Dungeons and Dragons. To me Diablo was about the first RPG that I played, ever. I remember it being released for PC and PlayStation. The game that brought me closer to enjoying RPGs was definitely Diablo II. I liked Diablo 3 also very much. WarCraft then made something out of the genre that was initiated by Dune II. This genre was called real-time-strategy. WarCraft made some improvements to Dune II.

Before releasing these legendary games the guys of Blizzard were involved in computer technology as programmers and visual artists. They were working in this field already. They had some other interests also. It is told in this book that they really much enjoyed playing games like Sega Mega Drives NHL 94. Back in the 90s they were very young and very talented. So the book describes also their other activities and tells something about how this team worked and who was responsible for visual look, animation and programming. This was an effort of the whole team so you couldn’t tell so much about which member was actually responsible of the whole game. It was more like about they working as a team and every ones effort was needed.

I can recommend this book for any fan of 90s video games and especially for a fan of WarCraft, Diablo or them both. It was actually for me a fast read and I read it in about two weeks. At least that’s a fast read for me. It wasn’t a pricey book. It cost me about 20 euros and I bought it from a Finnish web store. So you should definitely read this book.

Importance of Nintendo to Console Gaming

Nintendo was founded in 1889. It was originally named as Nintendo Karuta. As you can probably conclude – the end of 1800s wasn’t yet the time for this company to develop a gaming console to be played at thousands of living rooms worldwide. But it was the same company that brought NES or Nintendo Entertainment System to markets in 1983.

NES wasn’t the first video game console that was introduced to consumers. Atari brought their very popular console to the markets at the end of 1970s. It was very popular device but it got into real problems as the quality of games that were released did drop. These games included a game that was well-known and often named as the worst game ever made. It was a game based on Steven Spielbergs movie “E.T.” . This and many other games were buried to wasteland. And this is a true story. When Nintendo released NES the industry started to get over this crisis of games that didn’t have a good quality. Nintendo was making sure that only good and playable games would be released to the system.

If you have to name one game console you probably get your mind to NES. I remember clearly that it also was the first gaming device that I remember seeing ever. In the 1980s we had Commodore 64 but what Nintendo offered was something that revolutionized gaming.

Nintendo had to compete with Sega and later with such big names like Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo has been in gaming industry for a long time. Somehow Nintendo kind of missed mobile gaming and approached handheld gaming by bringing new handheld consoles to the market. Lately there was introduced a new handheld device and this device is the one I acquired very recently – Nintendo Switch Lite. Thinking about this makes me puzzled. I bought this for about 220 euros. A new smart phones price is from about 150 to 400 euros. Would you buy a handheld device for gaming if you have your smart phone already? This is something to think about. Although I have been very satisfied with my purchase this far.

So Nintendo was the company that brought 8-bit gaming to our living rooms. It might not have been the first but in my opinion it had the strongest impact on this culture that was already starting to rise it’s head. This brings out the question – Why are games so popular? I think Nintendo has come up with the answer and they are, after all these years, still coming up with new innovative devices and games to gamers worldwide. So the impact to the whole industry is undisputed.

 

Sega vs Nintendo – What was it all about?

Nintendo released a maximum mega hit gaming console back in the 80’s. It was called NES or Nintendo Entertainment System. Atari had released gaming consoles targeted to use inside customers living rooms. It was about the time when arcades were quickly challenged by these kinds of devices you could easily set up inside your own home. The trend was there. Personal computers, PCs, were becoming more and more popular also.

While Sega Master System wasn’t a very bad console it couldn’t fully challenge NES. Sega knew they had to release a better, more powerful, gaming console to compete with Nintendo. Mega Drive, or Genesis as it was called in the USA, was released at the end of 1980’s and in Europe right at the beginning of 90’s.

I remember clearly the commercial of Mega Drive. It was a promise to bring arcades to homes. It delivered graphics and sound at 16-bit quality instead of earlier gaming consoles 8-bits. If Master System didn’t have so many hit games Sega promised also to bring good quality software in the form of great games. Sonic The Hedgehog and Golden Axe II were some of the most popular titles back then with not forgetting some greatness that was brought to paying customers by games like Splatterhouse, Streets Of Rage and for example Kid Chameleon.

Nintendo had Super Mario. Can someone say seriously that Super Mario wasn’t a great game? I think no one would say or think that way. So he was the mascot of the whole NES and also Nintendo. The battle for the gamers hearts (and money) was ultimately bloody and sweaty. You can have, if you wish, a great debate about which console had better games then the other.

As the battle continued Nintendo seemed to take in consideration how violent some games were. They started to deliver fighting games with no blood, hockey games without fights and cute characters that might seem to appeal to younger audience. Sega instead was reaching for customers that wanted this kind of rawness in their games. They didn’t remove the blood or the violence. You have to remember that things were a bit different back then since games in general weren’t so realistic. Sega was also paying more attention to the packaging of their games since Master Systems games were catching critic on that issue.

So who won the battle? You can definitely say that both consoles and companies were doing great. Sega was successful and so was Nintendo. Later, Sega made some bad decisions and started to be in trouble. The last console that was released was Dreamcast. Nintendo instead has been bringing gaming consoles up to this day as Switch is their latest console. Dreamcast was released in the end of 90’s and Switch was released 2017.

 

The Story Of Remedy Entertainment

I chose to write this post about Remedy Entertainment. It was formed in Finland and I am born and living now in Finland. This makes me somewhat proud because I loved Max Payne series and Alan Wake. I evenn played Death Rally back in the days. I am not so familiar with latest releases but I can believe that they are of high quality. Latest games that were released include Quantum Break and Control.

Remedy was formed in 1995 in initiative of Samuli Syvähuoko. It was based on Future Crew that was a demo group. Demos were small multimedia type programs that actually didn’t have any interaction so they weren’t full games or anything else you could play. Demos we’re developed by underground coders, graphic artist and electronic musicians. This scene was popular in Finland in the 80s.

Remedy started working in Syvähuokos parents garage and there was no salary offered to the team developing their first game. Their first game was called Highspeed. Apogee became interested in this game. So it was later released by Apogee. The name was changed to Death Rally as Apogee wanted at some more content to this game. This is also the first game of Remedy that I got my hands on. I remember playing this with keyboard that I shared with my friend. The game was good and very entertaining. It ended up selling over 100 000 copies. This was only the start for Remedy.

As Remedy was successfull they started to form ideas for new games. In 1996 they started to develop first game of Max Payne trilogy. The game was first introduced to public in 1998 at E3 fair. The game was 3D and it reminded of Tomb Raider. Max Payne was released 2001. I remember the first time that I played it and I remember it clearly. Graphics were good, games environment was appealling and “bullet time” had me shaking my head on how good the game actually was. I couldn’t understand how this kind of piece of art did actually come from my home country.

Max Payne became a brand. There were two more games released in this series and there was a movie called Max Payne also. So it was a big thing all over the world. Then came a game called Alan Wake. That I remember playing on PC and later on Xbox 360. The game was good but in my opinion it didn’t have same feeling in it as Max Payne, a police working in New York, had. Game was althought good and I liked it. So there was lots of work that they did together with Microsoft as Alan Wake was released only on Microsofts gaming systems (PC and Xbox 360). The year was 2010. Alan Wake sold about 4,5 million copies worldwide.

In 2013 Remedy was already working with Quantum Break which was finally released in 2016 to Xbox One and PC. It is the biggest production in history of Finnish videogame industry. After that they started working with their next game that was called Control. This game was released last year (2019) and was very anticipated by gaming fans all over the world.

I have been interested in gaming since beginning of nineties. Remedy makes me still proud as it was formed in Finland – my home country. It made me have fantasies of becoming a game developer. But I found out that I’m not the only one that wants to work there and it is a big company. I have to admit that since they have office in Finland I have submitted some job applications, believe it or not, there. It is very hard to get to work there and you definitely have to have talent and skills if you really want to work there. This might not be a surprise since I have a background in programming and Remedy is very popular company and even bigger in Finland.

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