Livestream 7/28/2022 – Dungeon Siege

The hack n slash genre isn’t exactly new. It’s been around for a long time and we’ve seen numerous games on virtually all platforms giving it a go. Usually with some light RPG elements that allow you to custimize your character as you progress through a world that slowly but surely ramps up the difficulty. Monsters and enemies keep up with you as your character grows in power. Diablo arguably perfected the formula with the second game in the series. So come the year 2002 Diablo 2 is the reigning champion and played by millions on, and offline.

Chris Taylor (of Total Annihilation fame, among others) and his studio Gas Powered Games releases the first Dungeon Siege. A full 3D Diablo style action RPG with some key features that make is unique. First you have no skill tree but level simply by using the appropriate skillset. If you want to increase your character’s melee ability simply keep swinging away with a weapon. You’ll grow as a character accordingly. Second you can have quite a party of NPCs with you! Where other action RPGs tend to favor the lone hero, occassionally with a trusty sidekick, Dungeon Siege gives you the option to recruit fully fledged party members. They grow in skills and can use equipment exactly the same as your main character. They even give you a controllable pack mule party member to haul all your ill gotten gains from busting through the nearest crypt. It lends a dynamic, and strategy, to the game that other action RPGs of the era didn’t quite have.

Lastly on the technical side the game does something really unique. Once the game has started there are no loading screens! You can traverse the vast majority of the game without ever seeing a loading screen. This means you can go from moving along the outdoor path to going into a dungeon without a single stop for the game to load or break the immersion. I can’t think off the top of my head any other games that pulled this feat off back when this came out in 2002.

The game does have some shortcomings in that it gets to feel pretty “samey” very quickly. You keep clicking and killing. Not saying other action RPGs don’t do this very thing but having a good, in the moment, gameplay loop is very important. Dungeon Siege may be a bit weak here. That said it’s still a really fun game so check out the replay of the stream below!

Livestream 7/22/2022 – Super Game Boy on the MiSTer

The MiSTer is the device/platform that keeps on giving. New features are constantly rolling out since so many developers are active in the community around it. Arcade cores drop all the time and the highlight in recent time would be the launch of the full PSX core. We keep seeing new additions to existing cores as well like enhanced MSU support for the SNES one, just to name one example.

A recent addition also is the new Super Game Boy core. It may seem like a small jump from the already existing Game Boy, or SNES one but it does need it’s own custom core. Not only does it have to run the native Game Boy emulation the Super Game Boy provided but it also has to provide all the functions the SNES normally does in that scenario.

So here we have yet another platform to explore and enjoy. The Super Game Boy has some really neat games that were enhanced for it such as the gem that is Donkey Kong ’94. Enhanced colors, custom borders and extra sound effects are just some of the enhancements you can see. Not all games feature all of these but there are quite a few to try out. And you can do so today on your MiSTer. Check out the replay below!

Livestream 7/8/2022 – SimCity 3000

There is something delightfully charming about city builders. There have been many fine games in the genre but none hold quite the same esteem as the original: SimCity. While the series has languished in purgatory since the ill fated soft reboot from 2013, there was a time when it was still the undisputed top player. SimCity 2000 was a huge hit and I remember spending countless hours fine tuning my city for maximum growth. The bzzt, from the powerlines forever etched in my memory.

The sequel then had high expectations. Originally intended to use a full 3D engine that allowed you to get down on the street level, it was later considerably pared back. What we were left with was a true form, SimCity experience, that stuck to the “basics”. More or less SimCity 2000 expanded with modern features. While it lacks some of the complexity the successor had, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable game to waste the hours away with.

During the stream I did learn the hard way what happens when you still have disasters turned on however. Regardless it’s a game that holds up beautifully well even today. Highly recommended and check out the replay below.

Livestream 6/23/22 – Radeon DDR

The video card landscape was a bit all over the place in the late 90s. 3dfx with their Voodoo series were at the top of their game but their dominace was waning with competitors coming out with constantly improved solutions. nVidia had hits with their TNT and TNT2 lines and had welcomed board partner manufacturers after 3dfx shunned them. ATI had seen success with their Rage 128 series but by 2000 that was pretty long in the tooth.

ATI decided to make a new video card architecture from the ground up which resulted in the very first Radeon card: The Radeon 64 DDR. While the card was not usually at the top of the benchmarks it was a very solid card. Above all it handled 32 bit color with little performance hit which would have been a decent selling point. ATI took some creative liberties with the different version of the card and it wasn’t always clear which one you were buying. For example the 32 MB version ran at a lower clock rate than the 64 MB version sent out to reviewers. Likely not the first time benchmark results were skewed but it left a bad taste with customers.

Today the 64 DDR in retail format is the one to have as it runs at the highest clock available. It’s still a very solid card albeit without anything in particular standing out. That said it made for a very interesting GPU June stream so check out the replay below.

Livestream 6/2/2022 – 3dfx Banshee

GPUJune 2 is in full swing! Videos are dropping fast on the official playlist for the event for everyone to check out. As a reminder GPU June was started by Nathan, aka Pixel Pipes, last year asking content creators to focus on retro GPUs. It was a big hit and a lot of really cool videos came out of that.

One of my contributions to the even is that during the month my livestreams will focus on a GPU each time. Normally I might stream a single game or an entire console library. However for the first one that landed on the, frankly gorgeous, Voodoo Banshee from Gigabyte. The Banshee cards came at a time when 3dfx was attempting to make all in one cards that didn’t need a stand-alone 2D card like the previous Voodoo 2. There were some concessions to not cannibalize sales however and it’s missing some features. A higher clock speed is the compensation for that and this model from Gigabyte was the fastest version.

It makes for a terrific 1998 video card and allows you to play a ton of games at respectable performance, all while enjoying that broad compatibility afforded by the Glide API. It’s a great card and the stream was a lot of fun so check it out below.

GPU June 2 Playlist: