DREAMM 3.0 is Looking for Testers

DREAMM, the Lucasfilm Games emulator created by Aaron Giles, is looking for testers for version 3.0. It adds support for the following games:

  • PHM Pegasus (1988)
  • Battlehawks 1942 (1988)
  • Strike Fleet (1989)
  • Pipe Dream/Pipe Mania (1989)
  • Their Finest Hour: Battle of Britain (1989)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game (1989)
  • Night Shift (1990)
  • Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (1991)
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: The Action Game (1992)
  • MasterBlazer (1992)
  • Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1989)
  • Super Star Wars (unreleased prototype) (1989)
  • Star Wars Chess (1993)

If you want to check it out, you can download it here.

Indie Game Roundup (Feb. 9, 2024)

Here’s what I’ve been excited about this week. Let me know if you’re working on something that I missed!

two cartoon mice sitting at a table
Screenshot from Esther’s

Indiepocalypse 49
The newest edition of the monthly indie games compilation zine is out and features a lovely assortment of games. I recommend Esther’s, a really cute interactive fiction game.

Threes is now available on Steam! It’s probably my most played iOS game so I hesitant to fall down that wormhole again, but it’s really a great little game.

futuristic looking platformer
Screenshot from Q.P.I.D.

Digital Eclipse has released another game in their Digital Eclipse Arcade, a series of small games inspired by 80s arcade games. Digital Eclipse is much more known for rereleasing old games but these are pretty neat too and this one is free.

3 characters climbing steps in a dungeon
Screenshot from Stairup

Stairup is the newest game from the anonymous game dev collective Domino Club. It’s a very short turn based rpg made with RPG Maker MV where you climb a series of stairs and stuff happens. It’s got some very good writing and I thought it was funny. Playable in the browser on Itch.

The classic endless runner has been ported to HTML 5 and the source has been posted to Github. You can play it in the browser/download it for free on Itch.io.

TTRPG Bundle for Trans Youth
A game developer is raising funds for their local trans youth group Emerge and has put together a bundle on Itch featuring tabletop rpgs from a ton of different game developers. You can buy it on Itch for $5 or more.

Cookie Cat Grandma
A local game developer has started working on a chill platformer game and I think it looks really nice! Follow them on YouTube for further updates on the game.

(Per Person) Refillable
(Per Person) Refillable (playable in browser) is a very short and lovely interactive fiction filled with nice art about ordering too many lemon ice teas.

Nesterin Trail
We got a new text adventure for the Commodore 64! Available as pay-what-you-want, it’s also playable on modern computers.

person's face in a chair saying "welcome to ur internship"

Meatverse is a short horror adventure developed for a game jam about an office made from humans.

a pixel art cave with spiders and frogs

Mushroom Soup
Mushroom Soup is a new platformer for the ZX Spectrum 128. Available for free on Itch.io

man telling a woman "This hospital is strangely silent for a medical facility"

Devil’s Hideout
Devil’s Hideout is an upcoming horror point-and-click adventure by Cosmic Void. I’ve enjoyed everything else by this developer so I know I’ll pick this up when it comes out too.

Mops & Mobs: A Sweeping Dungeon Novel
Mops & Mobs is a prototype of a game where you have started working in a dungeon and helping the various creatures with tasks that need to be done. It controls a lot like your traditional dungeon crawlers like Dungeon Master but is essentially the opposite of those. Instead of walking around and murdering everything you see, you’re cleaning and decorating the dungeon, and talking to the creatures that have defeated previous adventurers. It’s a really good game and I’m looking forward to future versions of the game. I actually just started a YouTube channel to get footage of various tiny indie games and you can watch my Let’s Play of the game here, although the game is only 15-20 minutes long and I highly recommend it.

Other People Talking About Games

There’s also lots of cool people talking about indie games elsewhere. The Adventure Games Podcast has put out two videos this last week. The first video is about adventure games released this month and the second video is about games that aren’t adventure games but are very narrative focused.

On startmenu Kate Robinson hightlights some of the best sleeper hits Of 2023.

The Pixel Prophet has a regular newsletter that highlights indie games and other folks talking about indie games.

Adventure Game Hotspot has done a massive roundup of demos for adventure games in the Steam Next Fest.

The Museum of Screens regularly highlights browser games you should play as well as preserving browser games of the past.

Indie Hell Zone highlighted some demos from the Steam Next Fest.

Bobbins’ Olde Tomb of Videogames continues to do an excellent job highlighting new arcade games.

NeoHabitat Meetup

A few weeks ago I posted about how there was a meetup in the game Habitat hosted by the streamer BogusMeatFactory. After getting pushed back a week due to illness, the meetup happened and we had a really good time. Here are a couple screenshots that I took.

I’ll post about it when it’s much closer to the date, but I think we’re going to do another Habitat meetup on Feb. 9th at 7pm EST. Of course, people can play anytime they want since it’s a free game that’s playable in the browser

Habitat has also come up on the YouTube channel Conversations with Curtis, in their series of interviews. Here are the links to the interviews, with it at the timestamp where the game comes up:
Aric Wilmunder
Gary Winnick
Ken Macklin

Lost Game: The Games of T.H.E.S.I.S.

While digging around for local software companies in Michigan a while ago, I stumbled across this ad in the first issue of the Atari magazine Analog for an educational software company called T.H.E.S.I.S. in Garden City.

ad for a software company called THESIS, which lists a variety products.

From looking at the ad, it seems like it’s mostly educational software but there’s a couple of games as well lie CON*PUTATION and TONAL ENCOUNTER. For a longer time than I’d like to admit, I thought there was basically nothing about this company and struggled to find anything. I don’t know what changed in those last two years, but it seems like I was just researching it poorly and it turns out that actually, most of their catalog is available for download.

First of all, this clipping from InfoWorld explains what T.H.E.S.I.S. is actually short for.

screenshot showing that THESIS is short for Timely Home Educational System and Informational Software

And then it looks like they were also referenced in this catalog of Atari educational software makers, which you can download here (link opens a pdf).

This was all I knew of for a while and assumed there was just nothing else, until a couple of years later when I decided to take another swing at looking up this company and it turned out I was just doing a poor job the first time. Searching for Tonal Encounter gave me a page on Atari Mania showing that the game is missing but the additional info that it was developed by Linda Schreiber.

It turns out, she has worked on a ton of games. This was a delight for me to find as someone who has an interesting in local game developers. It looks like most of the games that T.H.E.S.I.S. made have also been preserved as well. It’s really nice finding out that a company you figured was lost forever, was actually mostly preserved and you just didn’t do a good job researching them. IN MY DEFENSE I think it was made harder by the company’s name. It does look like a couple of the games by them are still missing but it is significantly less than I had assumed a few days ago. There’s still a few missing like Tonal Encounter, Math Facts, and Hidden Words, but most of them seem to be on that Atari Mania page.

screenshot from Spellbound showing a bunch of little blue guys and the word Necessary.
Screenshot of Spellbound, taken from Atari Mania

Not only did Linda make a ton of games, she also wrote a few books, with most of them focused on programming for Atari computers. She was an instructor for a long time but is mostly retired now, other than still writing and having a course on Udemy for making wine. While it’s not active now, she also had a blog where she wrote about her experiences as the co-founder of T.H.E.S.I.S. and in 2017 ANTIC: The Atari 8-Bit Podcast interviewed her.

Not really sure what the lesson learned from this whole experience was. I need to look harder when researching lost games? But I’m glad it has a happy ending.

Credit goes to Karen and BogusMeatFactory in the Michigan Games History Colletive discord for finding the InfoWorld clipping and educational catalog. It’s a little discord I started where I’ve been dumping Michigan game developer history research before writing about it somewhere more public facing. It’s not the busiest discord but you’re more than welcome to join here if you have an interest in Michigan game dev history.

Indie Game Roundup (Jan. 12, 2024)

It is the 90s and there is time for games. If you recently released something that you want included, always feel free to send me an email, message me on social media (see About page), or just reply to this post with a link to your thing to let me know it’s out. Or even if you didn’t make it and you just think it’s neat, let me know!

screenshot from Itch of various game covers

Solo But Not Alone 4
This is the fourth in a series of charity bundles on Itch that are made up of solo tabletop rpgs. The proceeds from these bundles go to mental health related charities and you can click on the bundle link for a description of who it’s going to this time. It’s an incredible bargain for a collection of great games and I’m proud to have my KLF-inspired game Chill Out in here.

XYZZY Awards
The winners of the 2022 XYZZY awards have been announced. If you want to see what people in the modern IF scene are up to, this is a great way to see some of the games coming from there. Since the page doesn’t link to where the winning games are available, hopefully no one minds too much if I basically copy the post but link to the games.

Best Game: According to Cain (Jim Nelson)
Best Writing: The Absence of Miriam Lane (Abigail Corfman)
Best Story: Fairest (Amanda Walker)
Best Setting: Prism (Eliot M.B. Howard)
Best Puzzles: The Bones of Rosalinda (Agnieszka Trzaska)
Best NPCs: Lady Thalia and the Rose of Rocroi (E. Joyce, N. Cormier)
Best Individual Puzzle: the escape room in The Little Match Girl 2: Annus Evertens (Ryan Veeder)
Best Individual NPC: Computerfriend in Computerfriend (Kit Riemer)
Best Individual PC: Bell Park in The Grown-Up Detective Agency (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Best Implementation: According to Cain (Jim Nelson)
Best Use of Innovation: The Bones of Rosalinda (Agnieszka Trzaska)
Best Technological Development: Inform 7 build 10.1.0
Best Use of Multimedia: Gent Stickman vs Evil Meat Hand (AZ / ParserCommander)

Independent Games Festival
The finalists for the 2024 IGF have also been announced. This is another great way of discovering games you may have previously missed.

New Games Everywhere
I enjoyed this video covering upcoming games that Dani Lavandula is looking forward to this year. It’s only 10 minutes long and has a lot of stuff I didn’t know about

view of a tram from the driver seat

This is a new game on Steam in Early Access where you are a driver for Hakodate, Hokkaido’s tram service. This cohost post does a better job explaining what the game is and the future plans for it, plus it has a link to the Steam page.

a girl in a robotic diner

Psycutlery is a platformer game that has been in development for a few years but has finally been released, and for free! It’s a beautiful looking game and I think it’s worth downloading off of Itch.

conversation between a player character and a jester

HalOPE is described on the Itch page as a surreal exploration/”puzzle-ish” RPGMaker game about breaking cycles and becoming whole. I haven’t played it yet but it looks lovely and is available for free.

person flipping through a horror game magazine

PC CURSED is an anthology of horror games as well as a magazine, all for free. The Itch page lists all 20+ games that are included in the anthology.

Thinky Games
If you’re looking for more puzzle games to play, ThinkyGames.com has a good post covering games from two recent game jams.

DUSK is a new sci-fi rules-lite tabletop rpg from Gila RPGs. DUSK uses the LUMEN 2.0 system, and is a diceless RPG focused on resource management rather. The core rules for the game are available for free!

a little guy with a jetpack in a cave

Amiga Games
It also felt like a lot of new games for the Amiga were released this week, at least from looking at Indie Retro News. There was Ami-H.E.R.O, an update of Activision’s H.E.R.O., a port of the arcade version of Tetris, a news update about a top-down arcade game called Hyperborea Resurrected, and news about a dungeon crawler called Dungeonette.

If you enjoyed this post, you can find ones from previous weeks here

Voyage of the Mayflower

In an effort to cover more Michigan and game dev history on here, I thought I would mention the game Voyage of the Mayflower. This was a game designed by Ken Ludwig and published by Cadmean Corp. in Ann Arbor in 1984 for the Commodore 64. The game is actually playable in the browser on the Internet Archive.

screenshot showing a boat sailing across the ocean
Screenshot taken from MobyGames

The designer of the game also uploaded the design and marketing notes to the University of Michigan’s library, which anyone can read here. Ken is currently a lecturer at the University of Michigan and in 2021, Austin Yarger interviewed Ken for a WolverineSoft virtual meetup about the game and its history. They even play the game for a little bit.

ScummVM 2.8.0 is Out

A new version of ScummVM is out and this one is a big release to me. The biggest part of the release for me is that it supports more games made with Director, which are a massive headache to play today. So now I can easily play games like The Dark Eye, Gadget, and Classical Cats, which has a very good post about getting it to work in ScummVM.

Here are the new games that it supports:

  • Adibou 1
  • The Dark Eye
  • Dark Side
  • Escape From Hell
  • Gadget: Invention Travel and Adventure
  • Gobliiins 5
  • The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow
  • Kingdom: The Far Reaches
  • Might and Magic Book One
  • Muppet Treasure Island
  • Nancy Drew: The Final Scene
  • Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion
  • Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill
  • Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger
  • Nancy Drew: Treasure in the Royal Tower
  • Primordia
  • Reah: Face the Unknown
  • Schizm: Mysterious Journey
  • Shardlight
  • Strangeland
  • Syberia and Syberia II (macOS versions only)
  • Technobabylon
  • The Vampire Diaries
  • Whispers of a Machine
  • Wrath of the Gods and four other Director titles.
  • 14 AGS titles by Stranga and Cloak and Dagger

Blog Post Grab Bag

Here’s a bunch of recent blog and website posts that I really enjoyed. I doubt this is a thing I’ll be doing every week. There’s just been so many posts I’ve enjoyed lately and didn’t know where to talk about it. As usually, these are places I follow through Inoreader, a free RSS feed reader for the web, and I think they’re worth adding to your RSS feed reader of choice.

Did you know there’s a lot of RPGs? Deep Hell lists 50 of them

Over at A Critical Hit, Kate Willaert goes into how a Popeye game became Donkey Kong and the origins of Mario.

Misty talks about getting Classical Cats to work in ScummVM’s Director engine.

Indie Tsushin has a nice interview with Japanese indie game developer HesoRider.

Bobbins’ Olde Tomb Of Videogames has another post highlighting great games this week. The highlight for me was the Joust remake since I feel the need to play every version of Joust that I can find.

If you liked this post, Critical Distance does a much, much better version of it. Follow them and check out their most recent roundup of posts about games.

Retro Gaming Roundup (Dec. 13, 2023)

A bunch of various retro gaming related things happened that I thought were worth posting about so instead of creating a dozen posts, here they are.

In addition to announced that Jeff Minter collection last week, Digital Eclipse also added 12 more games to their Atari 50 collection for free. It’s been fantastic seeing the company doing so much fantastic stuff this last year.

The MSX game Illusion City is getting an English translation. It’s still in the testing phase before release but it looks great.

gif of Illusion City showing a top down view of an office and an option menu in english

The Video Game History Foundation released a video yesterday showing the levels that never made it into Sonic 2. They’ve been showing off great stuff every day this month in order to raise funds so if you’re into games preservation, consider supporting them by clicking the donation link in the video.

Footage from the game Habitat has been found! Habitat was an online game created by Lucasfilm Games/Lucasarts in the mid 80s. There really wasn’t much footage or screenshots from it until now. This post goes into detail about how the footage was found but if you want to start watching it, you can do so here. The other parts have also been uploaded to the channel. If you’d like to play the game, it’s actually been relaunched as NeoHabitat and available for free.

Jennell Jaquays, most famously know as the designer of the D&D modules Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia as well as her work on computer games like Age of Empires and Quake 2/3, has a GoFundMe to help pay for the medical costs she has while recovering from her illness. Consider supporting it if you can afford to do so.