Here at GeekOut, we love to play board games. During our meetups, we love to get out the pen and paper, the dice and the figurines. We’re big fans of being traditional and enjoying games that gets people talking. In the 80s, video games were just about hitting their height in popularity. Some would even call it the golden age of gaming. Today, I’m happy to announce next week’s GeekOut Bristol Meet is dedicated to those games. We’re going back to the 80s with our 80’s themed retro party! Join Timlah to find out more.
I often think, before indulging in a series of reviews, we need to take a little look into history to see what has come before it. We did this with our series on Dungeon Keeper and now I’m choosing to do something similar with games that revolve around Hacking. So join me in a little history lesson about the first few games that simulate the process of hacking and attempt to make it ‘fun’.
We start our historic trip with a game called System 15,000 which was released in 1984. It was originally made for the Commodore 64 and later ported to both the ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro. Now remember that I have not actually played this game for about 30+ years so forgive me if my memory is a little hazy. I admit that I did have to do some digging to find more public information about the game which included the Wikipedia entry. According to that System 15,000 is actually the first game to depict hacking in any way. You play a friend of a friend who is commissioned to retrieve the missing sum of $1.5m from a company. In the instructions you are given a single lead in which to start with and from thereon in as Sherlock Holmes might say “The game is afoot”. The game then simulated dialling into various BBS systems in order to find out information where this money may be. I admit that I never actually finished the game, but I do remember very distinctly there was one point where it simulated your system being investigated by an external entity. During this time your not actually allowed to use your system and it makes you wait for an incredibly long time to continue, it was most odd.
System 15,000 – Dial screen – Spectrum
In 1985 we find a game called Hacker which was released on a fair amount of the systems available at the time. Hacker took a very direct approach with it’s storyline, the cassette inlay had instructions on how to load the game and that was pretty much it. The World Of Spectrum archive page will give you the exact copy that went into the actual inlay. I have to admit I do love how this was done, and so did a lot of other people because the game was very critically acclaimed. Eventually you gain control of a robot that traverses tunnels deep within the earth guiding it towards some bits of documentation that have been shredded and distributed for security reasons. Your robot visited spies dotted across the world to acquire these bits of the documentation, all of which you would have to bargain with using money or one of the various other tools you gain in the game. It’s of note that the Wikipedia article mentions that different copies of the same game have different items that the spies want which is very inventive gameplay for the time. Like many of the games in the 80’s the game had no save so if you failed then you had to start from the beginning, failure was hard in the 80’s.
Hacker – Using the tunnel – C64
Just a year later Activision followed up on the success of the first game and released a sequel Hacker II. It was notably more difficult than the original and once again you’re put in charge of controlling the robot to retrieve the “Doomsday Papers”. It follows on from the first one presuming that you were successful in your task. It appears that the U.S government took an interest in your previous activities and hired you for this particular job against the Soviet Union. Those off you who were alive in the 80’s will remember that the focus on the main threat during that time was Russia whereas in today’s games it’s all about the middle east being the main threat. Once again you are assigned a robot which has been smuggled into a high security Siberian base. Your job is to manipulate the robot through the base using your hacking skills to change the video surveillance system in order to not be spotted by the security guards. The game was again very critically acclaimed for it’s realistic (at the time) looking video system.
Hacker II – Video manipulation – C64
Then there was Neuromancer a game based upon the William Gibson novel of the same name but sadly I never actually played it. I am a big fan of Mr Gibson’ work and feel like I have missed out on a part of hacking games history here. Maybe one day somebody will release it as freeware and I can play it.
I have three articles planned where I intend to visit some of the newer iterations of this genre starting in two weeks time. We shall start with Uplink by successful UK developer Introversion Software who you might know from the more recently released Prison Architect. Following that I’m going to look at Hacker Evolution Duality by Romanian developers Exosyphen Studios. Finally we will take on indie developed Hacknet, made by a single developer in Adelaide, Australia going by the name of Team Fractal Alligator.
Have you played any of the games we have mentioned or any other games that focus around Hacking? We’d be really interested to know about them, what made you play them and what your experience was with them? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
If you’re a fan of Pac-Man, cute little toys and tricky little things to build, then this is the article for you – Several attempts, but I got there – And I have a cute little addition to my collection of misfits. Join Timlah as we look at the Blinky I built from the Pixel Block range.
Hello one and all, in this article I talk about the latest two episodes of GeekOut Plays Stonekeep, Episodes 22 and 23, where we’re making amazing progress. No GeekOut Plays Beyond Good & Evil this week, as I’ve been feeling poorly. Sorry about that! So, onwards with this weeks Stonekeep episodes!
We’re back for another week of GeekOut Plays Stonekeep. Last week I forgot to upload these two episodes, so here they are, a week late. I’ll try to get two more episodes up than usual for later this week to compensate for the lack of the Let’s Play. In the mean time however, let’s look at what I did this week.
Rescuing princesses from the clutches of evil witches who are jealous of a happy couples relationship, along with pummelling baddies with a sidekick that makes an ‘oink’ like noise, whilst simultaneously going splat? Wearing the dandiest of all capes, whilst gliding gracefully through the skies and being unyieldingly slimy? This can only be an older game and it is: Superfrog HD. But is this game as super as its title makes it out to be?
Do you like retro video games?
Do you like new twists to retro styled video games?
Do you just like video games in general?
Then you needn’t look any further, it’s time to take a look at an up and coming video game about all that is super and retro, courtesy of a Kickstarter Highlight.
Technology and the way games are published and made is very different today from how it was 30 years ago. You could say the same for any other industry, however the games industry I think has moved way faster than any other. Recently there has been a resurgence of games programmed by very small teams or a single developer with the re-birth of the indie scene. This may have something to do with the fact that computers are a much more consumable commodity and of course owe a little something to distribution services and easy ways to pay, like Steam. Thirty years ago these people were dubbed bedroom coders and I need you to imagine yourself back this far. Put yourself back in the year 1985 and in the mind of the then 18 year old, sole developer and self confessed college drop-out heralding from Taunton named Clive Townsend.
Stonekeep is a classic RPG adventure game. You take the helm of Drake, a brave young man who saw his home ripped apart before his very eyes by the evil Khull-Khuum. Drake is encouraged by the Goddess Thera to defeat Khull-Khuum by returning to his home of Stonekeep. Khuul-Khuum however has other plans, as he imprisons Thera. Join Timlah as we play though this exciting classic adventure.
In this weeks GeekOut Plays, I manage to lop the top bit of the videos off. Aren’t I smart?
Episode 10 – Shoo Snakes Don’t Bother Me
In this episode of GeekOut Plays Stonekeep:
- I run into a lot of snakes.
- I kill a lot of snakes.
- I have a lovely chit-chat with the audience.
- I use the journal a lot…
- And I pick on Farli.
Episode 11 – The Cylinder Has A Use
Episode 11 is already here (How is this going by so quickly?!) Here’s what it looks like:
- We uncover a bucket.
- We kill way more snakes.
- They kinda look like mini Loch-Ness Monsters.
- There’s a use for that bucket after all.
- I edit out a lot of boring stuff.
- ‘Quirky Dog’ makes a return
- We find out what that Cylinder is for – And it relates to something I did not think about, but makes so much sense!
As always, let me know what you thought of these episodes in the comments below, over on Facebook and Twitter. Whilst you’re at it, please remember to go and subscribe to our YouTube channel and show us some support. These episodes are fun to make, but there’s a lot of work involved. Next week, I’ll do an article on how I make my episodes and the work that goes into them. Thanks again!