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    The GameGuy: The “Small-time” Edition

    By Mark H. Walker (

    I’ve got a new book on the way. Tentatively titled The 100 Greatest Games of all Time (and the folks who made them), the book discusses everything from Monopoly to Doom, Magic the Gathering to Bridge. Central to its success is input by the games’ creators. What inspired Romero when he coded Doom, did Larry Harris have any idea that Axis and Allies would sell three-quarter of a million copies?

    The publisher and I were discussing the challenges in drawing meaningful comments from such a diverse lot when I stumbled on a simple truth. The big names are never difficult to reach. They want to tell their story. When I was writing The Video Game Almanac, Romero called me out of the blue to discuss video game history, Sid Meier eagerly contributed his thoughts with little more preamble than an email to his publicist. Conversely, my battery of calls and emails to recalcitrant smaller companies remain unanswered to this day.

    I still write the occasional review. I love voicing my opinion, and reviews well suite my writing style. What I don’t like is prying review product from tight-fisted companies. Again, Microsoft will send me betas of their latest games and it only takes an email to Blizzard or Activision to get whatever assistance I need, but God forbid I should ask for dinner scraps from the small-time folks. There’s a lesson to be gleaned from the 236 previous words, and it applies to everything from computer games to collective security. Big-time companies act big time; small-time companies act small time. That’s why they stay that way.

    Tight Takes

    No one said my Tight Takes have to be about computer games. Heck, truth be known, no one ever says much of anything about them. So in this column my words wander through a game, and a movie. Not in that order.

    Underworld… beware yuppette critics with painted lips and pretty boy reviewers who stayed awake during The English Patient. They will not like this movie and their lives will be smaller for it. Moody, stylistic, and fast, this is one of the best action movies of the year. And Kate Beckinsale? What can you say about an actress who plays the lead in a romantic romp (Serendipity), subtle British comedy (Cold Comfort Farm), and this gem of an action-horror flick with equal skill? She’s awesome.

    Silent Storm 2… nah, it isn’t out yet, but the demo sure looks good. Think World War II vintage Jagged Alliance and you’ll get the picture. Graphics as lovely as Ms. Beckinsale and a challenging turn-based tactical combat engine bode well for this strategy-RPG hybrid. The game is due out in 2004. If Nival can string together a bunch of interesting missions in a reasonably sound story line, Silent Storm 2 could go places.

    Finally, long time gamers will remember Wasteland, an RPG that many claim spawned Fallout. Well, guess who now owns the rights to that name? InXile Entertainment. That’s Brian Fargo’s (the former CEO of Interplay) new company. Only Mr. Fargo knows if there is a Wasteland 2 in the wings, but if he decides to do it, at least he is ready. I like the way he thinks… it’s big time.

    © Mark H. Walker, LLC 2001

    Mark H. Mark H. Walker is a veteran interactive entertainment journalist who has written over 40 books and designs games including his soon to be released Lock ‘n Load

    " "

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