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Gaming Controllers illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Piepacker Launching on Kickstarter

New Social Gaming Platform with online multiplayer and video chat, Piepacker, Launching on Kickstarter

Over 100,000 users have already tested the platform, helping developers create something never seen before.

Piepacker, the new free social gaming platform that allows users to play officially licensed retro games with friends online, will launch on Kickstarter on April 6th.

At the crossroads of online multiplayer gaming and video chatting, Piepacker is a free and legal platform that provides instant access to officially licensed retro video games from a web browser, without any download.

Through its Kickstarter campaign, Piepacker is offering early access to its platform along with an exclusive piece of technology developed for nostalgic retro gaming: the PieReader. This new retro gaming dock is equipped with adapters to import one’s own retro game cartridges to the multiplayer world of Piepacker and play with their friends online, with only one cartridge.

Piepacker’s video chat features video game-themed 3D masks and filters as a fun way for players to (re)discover the greatest titles of retro gaming among friends as well as new indie and exclusive games.

Currently, most retro video games are acquired on pirate websites with direct downloads. Piepacker brings to the world of video games what Spotify brought to the world of music, making retro gaming accessible to all, for free and legally while guaranteeing a high quality of service.

“While many are limiting their face-to-face interactions due to the ongoing pandemic, connecting with others and remaining socially active has never been more important,” said Benjamin Devienne, co-founder of Piepacker. “Piepacker provides a fun way to interact. This innovation is at the forefront of transgenerational pop-culture, mixing gaming, video chat, 3D filters, and masks in augmented reality. It’s exciting for everyone.”

Under development since March 2020, Piepacker opened its beta version to the public in late December. Before the beta closed, 100,000 people had taken the opportunity to try out the platform and contribute to its development.

Piepacker provides access to games that have been featured on a variety of platforms: arcade machines, NES, Super NES, Saturn, Mega Drive, NeoGeo, and PlayStation with more to come. Piepacker has partnerships with publishers Codemaster, Team 17, and Interplay and indies like Bitmap Bureau or Morphcat. The catalog continues to grow with plans to add modern indie as well as original exclusive cards and board games.

For German indie studio Morphcat, Piepacker is currently “the easiest way to enjoy multiplayer games with your friends over the internet”. British studio Bitmap Bureau is “extremely impressed with the range of features that Pie Packer has to offer, most noticeably the ability to play Xeno Crisis with another player remotely, and believe that retro gamers around the globe will be especially interested in this new technology, with many classic games making their way to the platform.”

There are currently over 60 games including 2 cloud gaming exclusives available for free on Piepacker. Among the available titles are the iconic Worms World Party, Earthworm Jim 1 & 2, Xeno Crisis, and Micro Mages.

The Kickstarter campaign will close May 7, 2021, and the platform itself will be accessible to the public later this year.

About Piepacker

Piepacker was created by two friends, Benjamin Devienne and Jules Testard, two Frenchmen who expatriated long ago and share a decade-long friendship. Benjamin, the face of Piepacker, has an outstanding track record. Before graduating, he was at the head of an academic research project that led him to participate in a major TEDx in Canada, along with many celebrities. Benjamin was also a distinguished guest lecturer in several universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies (MIT). He founded the data science department of Gameloft, a French mobile game giant, and became a leader in that field. Facebook convinced him to step outside the video game industry to manage key teams of their data science department as Head of Analytics. The giant of video game streaming, Twitch, a company belonging to Amazon, was next in recruiting him as Head of Research Strategy on machine learning-oriented projects. Benjamin was not yet 30 years old.

When starting Piepacker, the pair recruited some of the world’s most talented experts in the field. They assembled a team of former employees of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, EA, Blizzard-Activision, and Twitter.

After just a few weeks of development, Piepacker got noticed and backed by Y Combinator, the startup accelerator that has engineered the birth of Airbnb, Twitch, Dropbox, and even Reddit. Thanks to their key support, Piepacker’s development has been accelerated and also helped the two founders gather an elite group of advisors from the industry.

On the list of video game veterans advising them, one finds Kenji Matsubara, former president of SEGA, Justin Waldron and Tom Bollich, co-founders of mobile gaming gem Zynga, Kun Gao, co-founder of Crunchyroll, the platform dedicated to Japanese anime and Jeffrey Rosen, co-founder of video game distributor Humble Bundle.

360 MAGAZINE illustration for online gaming by Symara Briel Wilson

Forgotten Vintage Gaming Consoles

The video game console scene these days is quite settled, boring even. Sony and Microsoft have a stranglehold on the market, with the PlayStation enjoying a healthy lead on the Xbox. And then you have Nintendo doing their own thing with the Switch on the handheld segment, despite the rise of mobile gaming. 

All this is a far cry from the early decades of video game consoles. Consoles had some crazy innovations in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, as the designers were experimenting quite a lot. Naturally, the technology was also quite primitive in terms of computing power, graphics, and display, resulting in some extra weirdness. 

These are some of the vintage gaming consoles that never made it to the big leagues in the cut-throat video games market. Some were from small brands while others are from the big names we still see churning out consoles and games today.

Fairchild Channel F 

Despite being the first home console to use cartridges and a microprocessor, the Fairchild Channel F failed in the console market. Pitted against the legendary Atari 2600 (home of Pacman), the Channel F ended up decidedly second-best. 

Before the Fairchild, other consoles like the Magnavox Odyssey came with games built-in, which severely limited choice as well as graphics quality. The Channel F came with two built-in games and a library that eventually expanded to include over 26 games. 

The cartridges for these games were called “videocarts” and had games like Tic Tac Toe, Space War, Spitfire, and Shooting Gallery. Though it had a decent list of games, the Fairchild Console could not match Atari’s popular arcade games. 

And the controllers were also decidedly poor quality, breaking rather quickly. The F in Channel F stood for “Fun.” The fun stopped for Fairchild in 1983 as sales declined and they ended production after a six-year run that started in 1976. 

Radica Games Consoles

The modern handheld consoles like PSP, GameBoy, and Switch are designed to play many different games. But in the past, we had consoles that were basically one-trick ponies – they only came with one or a few handfuls of in-built titles. 

Radica Ltd is a name that many who were kids in the 1980s and 90s may not remember. Though not as famous as Sega or Nintendo, the US manufacturer was quite prolific in the handheld consoles market, mass-producing devices between 1983 and 2006. 

Though they became famous for consoles that carried titles from the biggest brands like Sega and Taito, Radica actually started in the gambling business. The company initially launched collectible game consoles for casinos. 

These had classic games like Blackjack 21, Poker, and Solitaire. Though thoroughly outdated by modern standards, the vintage feel of the games does make Radica consoles great from a nostalgic POV. Online variations have been designed to model modern blackjack tables as found in top land-based casinos.

Radica did not do anything innovative in the design department. Their consoles largely copied the design set by others. The company was eventually acquired and fully absorbed by toy giant Mattel in 2006. 

The Vectrex

We take screens for granted these days – be it on handheld consoles or mobile phones. But there was a time when consoles had to depend entirely on an outside video output source (and they still do for PS5 and Xbox Series X). 

The Vectrex was an idea that came far too soon – in an era when screens were still bulky, monochrome, and highly pixelated. Launched in the early ’80s, the Vectrex came bundled with its display, which was like a mini-TV. 

The display was black and white, with a series of plastic color overlays that you could place on the screen to make the objects look red, green, or blue. Though it had way better graphics than contemporary consoles, thanks to vector graphics instead of bitmaps (smooth lines), the console was ultimately a failure. 

For one, it was incredibly expensive. And the allure of not needing a TV for gaming was not huge in those days, especially as this was not a portable device. It was one of the major casualties in the great market crash of the video game industry in 1983.

Virtual Boy

Virtual Reality is a cutting edge technology that holds a lot of promise in gaming. Yet in 2021, it is still a niche in the video games landscape – a fast-growing one at that, but still in need of evolution. So you can imagine how primitive a VR-based console must have been way back in the 1990s. 

Launched by Nintendo in 1995, Virtual Boy was a good 20 years ahead of the technology. The 3D game system came with a cool VR headset and a connected controller, and games in full monochrome glory. 

Yes, Virtual Boy games had to be enjoyed in red, as the hardware was not capable of outputting in any other colors. It had a real “Terminator vision” vibe to it, which was probably intentional given how popular those movies were back then. 

The hardware was quite bulky, with the headset being quite cumbersome. And it was also quite notorious for causing headaches and eye strain to users. The one major game available on the Virtual Boy was Mario’s Tennis. 

Though the stereoscopic 3D was quite impressive for its time, the console was widely panned by critics and users. It was a commercial failure as well, due to insane pricing. Nintendo did try to make it more appealing by dropping the prices but to no avail. The Virtual Boy sank without a trace. 

The Gaming Revolution Started in the Noughties – Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise

The gaming industry has had many significant turning points over the years. According to an article @ theverge.com, the first real digital video game was Stephen Russell’s 1962 creation, Spacewar! For others, it was the Brown Box after it offered a way to connect a computer (of sorts) to a TV and play. For those with shorter memories, names like Atari, Nintendo, and Sega have all been instrumental in the evolution of gaming. However, it’s possible to argue that things really changed for the better at the turn of the millennium. Since 2000, a few things have happened to make gaming bigger and better than it ever was.

Now, we could go back to the 90s and the first-ever mobile games. Tetris has been around on mobiles since 1994, while Snake really put the wheels of progress in motion back in 1997. However, these early offerings were seeds that, while sown, didn’t have much potential to grow until smartphones came along. Because of that, the real starting point for what we’ll call the “next generation” of gaming was poker and casino sites. As the 90s were coming to an end, a new concept in gaming emerged.

Old Games Become New Forms of Entertainment

By combining random number generators (RNG) with some preexisting games, developers were able to create the first online poker and casino sites. The idea quickly struck a chord with gamblers, gamers, and competitive types. Within a decade, the market was booming. The main reasons for the industry’s spectacular growth were unpredictability, diversity, and entertainment. Casino games have always been popular. Taking on the house in a game where anything can happen on the turn of a card or spin of a wheel is exciting. Software companies simply took this and ran with it.

However, what the early pioneers also understood was the power of diversity. Even in the early noughties, the internet was a place for all tastes. As such, developers needed to take a standard selection of games and build on them. So, alongside blackjack and roulette, slots started to gain prominence. With scope to invent new features, bonuses, and themes, the library of options quickly expanded. This strategy has been used ever since. For example, inside the online casino @ Betsafe.com, the lobby is now stocked with more than 1,700 games.

If You Build It They Will Come

From slots with a space theme like Starburst to virtual sports, Slingo, and live dealer tables, there is something for everyone. This level of variety is not only a testament to the evolution of gaming software but the state of the industry. In other words, modern online casinos are no longer reserved for gamblers. Today, they’re entertainment hubs where everyone, from the novice to the pro, can have fun. This is the reason the industry is now worth more than $50 billion according to the data @ statista.com. Why are modern casinos like that? Because more people have access to games than ever before.

When the first iPhone came out in 2007, it paved the way for mobile apps and, thus, games. 13 years later, in 2020, there are thousands of mobile games and more than 210 million players in the US alone. With more people no more than a touch away from some action, the market has opened up. Gone are the days when you needed a PC or console to indulge in virtual fun. This shift in dynamics is, in part, due to the rise of online casino sites and, subsequently, mobile gaming. There have certainly been many significant turning points in the industry over the years. However, in recent times at least, the noughties changed the game more than any other.

NIGHTMARCHERS

Nightmarchers – Alpha Preview Invitation

Wyrmbyte Studios invites you to join us in paradise! Well, sort of… Nightmarchers will be hosting interviews and previews in the coming days. We’d love to get you into an early build of the game, connect you to Wyrmbyte for a tour, and see what you think of our Hawaiian epic.

Nightmarchers is an open world RPG shooter which crosses the glory of Hawaiian mysticism with the post-apocalypse of destruction. In this Moana meets Mad Max RPG you will explore the island paradise to rid the land of deadly raiders and unlock the secrets of the gods. Using weapons and abilities to build your character, play through the story and explore our vast world. Resources, weapons, and choices make Nightmarchers exciting for players who want action mixed with an in-depth storyline.

Take a look at what the game has to offer below:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kceKBnbTEJA

NIGHTMARCHERS

OPEN WORLD HAWAIIAN RPG NIGHTMARCHERS COMES TO FIG

Its like Moana meets Mad Max in a sprawling 3rd person shoot

Wyrmbyte today announces that its post-apocalyptic Hawaiian RPG is coming to Fig. A open world hybrid RPG shooter that plays a bit like Far Cry meets Zelda, Nightmarchers is set on the island of Oahu after a cataclysmic event leaves the archipelago cut off from the rest of the world. You play as Kai, a man blessed (or cursed) by the forgotten gods of Hawaii to take back the island from the ravenous Kamapua’a.

Nightmarchers kicks off today on Fig (www.fig.co) offering both equity and rewards opportunities, with an overall goal of $100K. Backers can support by investing in Fig Game Shares that pay a return based on the game’s future sales. Stretch goals add additional features, quest lines, powers, and more.

Nightmarchers has been a passion project of ours for years now, said Wyrmbyte CEO Scott Brown. Hawaii means a lot to all of us at Wyrmbyte, both as a place we love to visit and as a culture. Weߣre thrilled to explore the mythology of Hawaii and reimaging it as part of our world in this sprawling shooter RPG.

As Kai, you’ll wield real world weapons and the powers of gods like Maui and Pele to make Oahu a safe place for its people once more. Take to the skies as an owl and scout ahead or identify new mission opportunities. Take to the sea as a Shark and find hidden items on the ocean floor. Craft and customize dozens of weapons, or use your Uhane powers to strike silently from the bushes with your bow. There are dozens of outposts to reclaim, hundreds of missions to undertake, and six rival factions to work with to retake Oahu from Kamapua’a. His corrupted Nightmarchers and possessed islanders and wildlife will be gunning for you, so you’d better make good use of the factions knowledge and expertise if you hope to survive.

For more information on Nightmarchers, and its campaign visit http://www.fig.co/campaigns/nightmarchers

About Wyrmbyte

Established in 2013, Wyrmbyte LLC was formed by a group of experienced developers all passionate about building amazing game experiences. Wyrmbyte’s first title, Dragons and Titans, brought short session social gaming to the MOBA space with over 1 million players worldwide. Wyrmbyte has also built a VR experience in DragonWingsVR. Wyrmbyte’s extensive MMO experience worked for years helping Star Citizen to improve its backend services and the networking layer. Now the team exclusively focused on bringing Nightmarchers to market in 2018