The Life & Times of Video Games

The Life & Times of Video Games

A documentary-style podcast about video games and the video game industry, as they were in the past, and how they came to be the way they are today. ... Show More

Episodes

I've been having some trouble finishing the script for episode 12, on Microsoft's pre-Xbox games efforts, so while you wait I thought I'd release some bonus material. First up, here's a new soundbite. This is from my interview with Jon Kimmich, who worked as a "product planner" and "program manager" in Microsoft's games group in the late 1990s and then in Microsoft Game Studios until 2004. He's since continued to work in bizdev rol... Read more

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Mark as Played
July 19, 2018 20 min

On June 11th, 2018, character designer and artist Shoji Mizuno passed away. He was a key figure back in the 1990s at the now-defunct Hudson Soft, a renowned Japanese games publisher — having directed art or design, or sometimes both, on more than a dozen games in the popular Bomberman franchise as well as providing original character designs for the Beyblade anime series. Since this year is also the 35th anniversary of the release ... Read more

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Mark as Played
June 14, 2018 32 min

Frustrated by the unjustified furore that surrounded his tame interactive movie game, designer Rob Fulop turned to Santa for help. And with a clever business model he and his team at PF Magic invented a new kind of game, one in which you adopt and care for a digital animal -- a virtual dog or cat, or something more exotic, with a personality and needs and quirks not unlike a real one. Petz hexing is a deep rabbit hole to fall down,... Read more

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Mark as Played
March 27, 2018 30 min

On the late Mike Singleton and the importance of Midwinter and The Lords of Midnight, his two great works. After switching from high school English teaching to professional game development in the 1980s, Mike quickly rose to the top of the industry. His games pushed the limits of what was possible, and he routinely crafted worlds that were way ahead of their time. Here, based on archival research and old magazine interviews, I pre... Read more

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Mark as Played
February 18, 2018 37 min

Continuing the story from Part 1, this is how the original Tomb Raider's grid-based engine/level editor impacted on the series, on Lara Croft's rise to fame, and on the shifting sands of blockbuster game development. This episode also discusses the place that such a grid system has — or might have — in game design today. Featuring input from former Core Design artists and level designers Heather Stevens and Andy Sandham as well as ... Read more

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Mark as Played
December 23, 2017 31 min

Every aspect of the original Core Design Tomb Raider series (and by extension the franchise's success post-Core) comes back to the grid that lies beneath it — the majority of the puzzles; the platforming; the cavernous chambers and ruins and outdoor areas that provide a sense of isolation, of solitude and discovery; and Lara Croft's iconic acrobatic movement style. And yet it never would have happened if not for one pragmatic choi... Read more

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Mark as Played
November 11, 2017 37 min

At the dawn of emulation and the World Wide Web, a group of fans discovered the Nintendo and Super Nintendo games that never made it over from Japan. One of them decided to hack into a few of these and translate them, unofficially, with help from some friends -- starting with Final Fantasy II for the NES. Featuring quotes from Steve Demeter, founder of one of the first fan translation groups, Demiforce, who was the driving force be... Read more

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The story of a cancelled X-Men TV controller game, as told by former LucasArts illustrator Mark Ferrari, who is a world-renowned and innovative pixel artist responsible for popularising multiple graphical techniques — including dithering, colour cycling, and palette shifting. And an inside look at the downside of having marketing-focused gatekeepers in charge of what products hit store shelves. Music by Kai Engel (http://freemusica... Read more

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Mark as Played
October 23, 2017 32 min

A story from the dawn of 3D sports games, and the forgotten link between the 16-bit isometric and 32-bit 3D EA Sports games — this is how FIFA 3DO transformed the way sport was represented in video games. Music Credits: * Lee Rosevere - And So Then, Theme from Penguins on Parade, and Old Regrets from the album Music for Podcasts 3 (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rosevere/Music_For_Podcasts_3/), and Small Steps and More On Th... Read more

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Mark as Played
October 15, 2017 32 min

How a marketing guy at shareware game publisher Ambrosia Software ended up eating bugs in front of hundreds of people at Macworld New York 2000. If you have an old PowerPC Mac or the Sheepshaver emulator, you can get Escape from Jason Whong via VintageAppleMac.com (http://vintageapplemac.com/software-pages/games/e/). Almost all of Ambrosia's games are still available for purchase direct from the Ambrosia Software website (https://w... Read more

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Mark as Played
October 1, 2017 31 min

This is the story of illustrator Mark Ferrari, whose artwork was so good it forced Lucasfilm Games to figure out how to make a graphics technique called dithering compress to fit on floppy disks — in the process winning awards and triggering the use of dither in the wider games industry — and who pioneered the use of two background illustration tricks that gave the illusion of animation. He became world-renowned for his colour cycl... Read more

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Mark as Played

Steve Capps, one of the creators of the Macintosh and a Microsoft executive in the 1990s, tells a story from his days of working alongside Bill Gates. Unused material from an interview conducted while researching my upcoming book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, which is publishing in 2018 (during northern hemisphere Spring/southern hemisphere Autumn). More info about the book at unbound.com/books/macgaming (https://unbound.com/b... Read more

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Mark as Played
September 15, 2017 24 min

The story of the one of the earliest flight simulator games, Airfight, a favourite among the PLATO community back in 1973, based on an interview with its creator. Airfight was a multiplayer flight combat sim with wireframe graphics and real-time chat, and it was an influence on the first home computer flight simulator, subLOGIC's fittingly-named 1980 game Flight Simulator for the Apple II and TRS-80. Related links: * Ars Technica a... Read more

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Mark as Played

[re-uploaded as mono] An extended interview with Pocket Gamer co-founder Jon Jordan, who these days writes mostly about the business of mobile games at Pocket Gamer's sister site PocketGamer.biz. These full interview postings will normally be for Patreon backers only, but since I've only just launched the show I thought it'd be good to give you a taste of what you'll be getting when you make a monthly pledge of $3 or more. We cover... Read more

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Mark as Played
September 5, 2017 30 min

In the early days of the iPhone App Store, game developers found themselves locked in a race to a $0.99 price point that none of them wanted to become standard. This is the story of how that happened, and how it affected mobile games going forward. Featuring interviews with Pocket Gamer (http://pocketgamer.co.uk) and Pocket Gamer.biz (http://pocketgamer.biz) co-founder Jon Jordan and Brian Greenstone, the main man behind Enigmo and... Read more

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Mark as Played

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