The Vagabond Gamecast is on Hiatus!

Well, well, well! It looks like a certain member of the Gamecast just couldn’t help but create more life! And as we all know, in order to create one life, another must come to an end.

We hope to resume in the future, but Matt’s gonna be a busy little beaver for an undetermined amount of time… so to all our faithful listeners… thanks for all the fish!

Oh, and congrats, Matt!

TVG: 1.23 – The Best Games (Sorted By Console) Pt. 2

Surprise! It’s part 2 of our little tour through our favorite games on gaming consoles of times past. We’ll (roughly) follow the chronological ordering for these systems right up into the present through this series.

After a bit of chatting about recently gaming (including Rockman X 1 and 2 for Matt, and Final Fantasy Tactics and A King’s Tale for Stephen) these brothers hop into some game listin’ and discussing…

This week we run through the 32-bit / CD age and end with a brief touch on the Gameboy Color. Details inside!
Read More >

TVG: 1.22 – The Best Games (Sorted By Console) Pt. 1

Alrighty-roo true believers, welcome to the multi-part “Best Games” series of Vagabond Gamecasts! Matt and Steve are going to be sitting down for the next little while and catching up on just what their favourite games were on each console.

Let’s be honest here… our two heroes are in their early 30’s which means that they practically missed out on the first two console generations. For this reason, we’re going to be skipping ahead straight to the Third Generation and even then we’re going to be skipping a lot of the consoles as we go.

So in this week, we’ll look at the Third and Fourth Generation of consoles. Our top quintesential titles? Click the Read More button to quickly skim or, obviously, listen to the podcast! Read More >

TVG: 1.21 – Death

Ever stop and consider a game’s treatment of death? We’re talking death as a game mechanic, death as a story element, or maybe death as a game theme. Death abounds!

This week, we look at death in games and how it’s incorporated into a variety of genres. We also explore how the treatment of death in games has evolved over time, and how our preferences for its inclusion as a game mechanic have changed as we’ve become stuffy adults with full schedules. Various salient examples of death handled trivially or in a frustrating manner are discussed and contrasted with what we think are some better approaches.

We also go over some other fine video game traditions such as permadeath, limited vs infinite continues, forced backtracking as punishment for player death, uninformed choices that lead to instadeath, and inconsistencies with narrative death and game mechanic death (we’re wincing at you, Final Fantasy VII).

Also, how many times can you say “death” in one podcast description?

TVG: 1.20 – Tomas Guinan and Eskimo Bob

Eskimo Bob is an upcoming game by Tomas Guinan for the NES

After having a couple of podcasts where we discussed the indie homebrew scene and ROM hacking, we decided to hone in on one magical source of nerd power known as Tomas Guinan who has delved into both of these worlds.

In this week’s special episode of The Vagabond Gamecast we conduct our very first interview! Can you smell that Nova Scotian musk yet? That’s right folks, today, we’ve got not one, not two, but THREE of Truro’s finest current/former citizens in your ears today. Tomas joins us for over an hour of chatting about his ongoing Kickstarter for the Eskimo Bob NES game.

Eskimo Bob for the NES is an arcade-style puzzle-platformer with 64 levels, 15 enemy types, two playable characters, two support characters, and a fully functional password system allowing you to save your progress the good old-fashioned way.

Come along as we discuss things such as:

  • ・Who is Tomas Guinan?
  • ・What is Eskimo Bob?
  • ・What experience did he have before this project with game development?
  • ・What was Tomas’ inspiration for starting this project?
  • ・How long has it taken?
  • ・How does one develop for the Nintendo Entertainment System?
  • ・How does one go about making physical carts for the NES?
  • ・ROM Hacking / Translating
  • ・What’s it like to have a Kickstarter?

Let’s go!

TVG: 1.19 – Gear and Homebrew

Lots to talk about this time around everybody!

The hacker bug has bitten Stephen these days and he’s devoted some funds to a new computer purchase to feed his hobby. And thus sets up our discussion this time around about homebrew and independent development!

After a little catch-up chatter, we talk motivations for getting involved in a burgeoning development community and being part of that movement (in this case, VR) before lightly touching on some future projects in the works.

We contrast indie projects that look to create new experiences (again, VR) with those that recreate classic experiences (dev on older systems), which is a great segue into an introduction to a project Matt’s childhood neighbor and pal, Tomas Guinan currently has up on Kickstarter. It’s for an NES game he’s built based on a popular Newgrounds series of flash cartoons he created in the early 2000’s called “Eskimo Bob” that has hit its funding goal and is a great example of a successful retro game console-dev project.

We also spend a morsel of the ‘cast on the homebrew dev scene that includes GBA and PS1 dev tutorials out there, and Brian Provinciano’s classic console ports of Retro City Rampage.

Finally, Contra 4 (“Dual Spirits” in Japan) for Nintendo DS is impossi-hard and Matt can’t beat it, to his shame. Woo-hah

TVG: 1.18 – A Zelda NDS/NES Audio Comparison

Hope you’ve got a great set of headphones to go along with this week’s gamecast! Today we’re sitting down to do a side-by-side audio comparison of the Famicom Disk System / Nintendo Entertainment System editions of the original Legend of Zelda thanks to the YouTube video that was put up by Clyde Madelin in support of his Legends of Localization, Book1: The Legend of Zelda.

It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole, if you’re interested in learning more about the audio hardware on these old consoles. Definitely an intersting world to delve into!

TVG: 1.17 – Reading Material

There’s nothing quite like curling up by a fire on a cold, cold, Canadian, winter night with a heartwarming book. Which is why it’s a shame that video game companies have given up on the practice of including fine literature with their titles. This week, our two heroes embark on a journey of nostalgia (what else is new) for the long lost days of instruction manuals that were ready and willing to bring us up to speed, and make us feel at home before launching us into hundreds of hours of electronic ecstacy.

No, but seriously, if you weren’t around in the early era of gaming (or even if you were!), do yourself a favour and go get your paws on some of those old papers that were filled with fun stories and artwork. Some of our favourites, which we mention in this podcast, include:

Some other interesting things to check out is this talk on Gamasutra about how long it takes to get into Zelda games.

Also be sure to check out this analysis by Egoraptor on how Mega Man X teaches the player how the game works without relying on explicit dialogue.

TVG: 1.16 – Over Encumbered

There’s few people who would contest that great characters, a compelling story, and challenging puzzles make a game great, however sometimes it’s the little things that can make a game fun or tedious. In this week’s episode of The Vagabond Gamecast, Matt and Steve take some time to discuss some of what makes a great or poor inventory system. Our heroes cover some simple mechanics such as what was used in earlier platforming titles such as Adventure Island, Castlevania, Super Mario Bros 3, and Super Mario World to the more in-depth RPG sytems such as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Suikoden. We talk about the over-encumberance featured in Skyrim vs the Tetris-like layout of systems in Ultima VII and Day Z and even the less approachable but flexible systems in text parsing games such as Quest for Glory.

So come on over, get un-encumbered, and let’s talk what’s in our inventories!

TVG: 1.15 – Catching Up

Sometimes our actual recording sessions get jumbled up and separated out over the course of a couple weeks as we get time to record them. They don’t quite align with publication time, meaning things can sometimes get a little out of sync.

No big deal; this time around, we mix things up and pause on the solid game topic discussion. Instead, we have a random chat about recent happenings in our lives as gamer parents with broad tastes but restricted schedules. Stephen touches on some recent gaming and a teaching project he has in the pipeline, and Matt has started a new job and is adjusting to the new daily routine (and trying to figure out where to shove in project time!).

Both muse over some recent film watches and how we’re sharing film and other cultural product with our kids, as well as how to best use the commutes we’ve had at our various jobs.