Posts Tagged ‘Nolan-Bushnell’

Battleswarm: Field of Honor, Bushnell’s Revenge

Nolan Bushnell, the Old Man Of The Mountain Of Videogames, whom we saw chat to a crowd in London recently, has put his name to a new, free TPS/FPS/RTS hybrid game: Battleswarm: Field of Honor. I know! Here’s the lowdown: “Battleswarm allows up to six players to take control of soldiers in team-based, first- or third-person shooter mode, arming themselves from a huge arsenal of high-tech weapons and armor. They compete in discrete missions versus up to four Alien Commanders, who control hundreds of bug-like units in real-time strategy mode. The Alien Commanders must build hives, breed units, and manage their forces in missions to overwhelm the human opponents. Players can create guilds, buy and sell items, and level up their characters.” The game has a rather strong Starship Trooper vibe, with armoured space-types fighting large, insectile bugs. You can check it out in the rather poor-quality trailer below. But we can better than that: the beta is already in progress, so you can go sign up. I’ll have a crack at it later and see if I can come up with some useful impressions.

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Nolan Bushnell: “Games Are Good For You”

I’ve just had the pleasure of sitting in on a talk by Nolan Bushnell, co-creator of Pong and founder of Atari. He’s currently in That London to collect his BAFTA videogames fellowship, which is of course richly deserved. As Will Wright, in a pre-recorded appearance, puts it, “It’s hard to overstate Nolan Bushnell’s influence in the videogame industry.”

Highlights of the great man’s cheerful words are below, hot off the presses (i.e. transcribed ASAP from my scruffy notepad).
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All Downhill Since Pong

Well, this is a little disheartening. Nolan Bushnell, creator of Pong and founder of Atari, reckons we’re all wasting our time. “”Video games today are a race to the bottom,” he reckons in this interview at Electronic Design. “They are pure, unadulterated trash and I’m sad for that.”

While I’m with him in so much as the distressing popularity of Halo 3 makes me pray for the polar icecaps to melt and flood the planet as soon as possible, and it’s hardly a novel occurence for an older generation to decry the hobbies and lifestyle of a younger one, the sweeping generalisation of his statement is massively depressing. The man who pioneered a brand new way to entertain and to socialise doesn’t recognise any of the ways communities and skills and discussion have developed thanks to games over the last 30 years. Perhaps he just doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on. If only we could sit down with him for an afternoon, and show him Portal and Peggle and Frets on Fire and Dwarf Fortress and The Sims and whatever. Unfortunately, as the interview reveals, he’s too busy launching restaurants people can play electronic multiplayer boardgames in at the moment.

More entertainingly, he attempts to attach a moral message to Breakout:

“It was like breaking down walls. And it was a metaphor. The world is better when you break down walls. Walls separate people. The more inclusive we can be, the better we can be as a species.”

And what was either side of Breakout’s wall? Nothing. By playing Breakout, we are uniting nothing and nothing, thus creating nothing. Except the next level, which also contains nothing but a wall. Sorry Nolan, but I’m going to go with Breakout as a message of nihilistic futility myself.