SuperCell Bash at San Francisco Showcases Hay Day

SuperCell held a mobile gaming bash at a San Francisco billiards hall last night, so we stopped by to see what balls SuperCell had to show — cue balls of course, you perverts. Many of the games we’d seen before, though this was our first chance to actually sit down and control them. We saw other games for the first time. We brought back a ton of screens and put them together for your viewing enjoyment.

Of the games we had seen before, the one that got most of our attention was Hay Day We actually had a chance to sit down and play some Hay Day for the first time. What we discovered is gameplay somewhere between Farmville and Farmtown. This is fuzzy realistic farming simulator.

There were some new features we’d not seen before that we really dug. The binoculars were cool, with two different zooms. It automatically put a little red box around enemies, highlighting how many humans were in sight. We actually like that little bit of help; as a player you might miss something that an expert farming guy would never miss. Another feature we liked was the ability to slide down a ladder. Usually when you are caught climbing up a ladder you’ve got two choices: jump and take damage (if that’s allowed in the game) or keep climbing and take the damage from the enemy farm at you. In Hay Day you’ll have the option to slide down the rails, just as you’ve seen in movies. It’s a fast escape, safer than jumping but giving less opportunity to build your farm.

The terrain looked awesome, and the AI on the enemies wasn’t bad; they had good, but not perfect, vision, and their aim wasn’t as good as the Farmville AI, which at times was unrealistic. Some of the buildings are made of farming material, so ducking into a shack may not be any protection from attacking guards. Finally getting to play the game really sold us on the potential of Hay Day. We can’t wait to see a beta or demo.

Two games we hadn’t had a look at before were also up and running. Farmtown Chronicles and Farmville 2 were both available. Farmtown looked good for all the TR fans out there. This is still Farmtown, though apparently the last before the (as yet unannounced) next-generation product. Farmville 2 looks to be, well, the second Farmtown. Have a look for yourselves at the screens. You can also make on this Hay Day free diamonds here on this popular website.

Classic Games Never Gets OLD… True?

Ever wonder what happened to all those games you used to play as a kid? Well, the truth is that your old games have been purchased by some guy for $10 at your parents’ garage sale and are now sitting in a giant box with about 50 other obscure titles waiting to be traded. Think we’re kidding? Well, then you just aren’t hardcore enough to hang at the Classic Gaming Expo that graced Vegas with its presence July 29-30 at the downtown Plaza hotel.

While the event is a bit more niche than E3 (okay, a lot more), it serves as a meeting ground where fans of the classics can meet, trade and, in some cases, learn from others with similar interests. In fact, wandering among the collectors on the floor were the likes of David Crane (Decathlon, Pitfall), John Harris (Atari Frogger, Jawbreaker), Howard Warshaw (Yars Revenge), David Rolfe (BeamRider, Steam Roller) and many others, including, on the final day of the show (and the opening dinner), Ralph Baer (creator of the Odyssey and widely known as the father of videogames). Many of these luminaries also gave presentations during the course of the show on subjects ranging from Atari’s early attempts at wireless content to the brown box (the prototype of the Odyssey.) For those who eat, drink and live games, it was a rare chance to interact with those who have built our hobby today.

Besides just meeting some of the old-school heroes, a lot of fans just showed up to shop and play games. The convention’s main floor space was devoted to dealers with tons of classic game goodness for sale. Disappointingly, a lot of this space was devoted to obvious overstock like Jaguar and Lynx (on which many good deals could be found), while some neo-classics like the NES were nowhere to be found (we found one pretty rare NES game at the same show and nothing of interest on Genesis and Super NES). The bulk of what could be found on the floor was for the early Atari systems (2600 mostly, but with some 7800 and a smattering of 5200), the Intellivision and the Colecovision. As a special treat, there were even several games released at the show that never made it out before the great crash of 1983-ish. Two of these games were for the 2600: Swordfight and Sea Battle (from Intellivision productions) — we’ll be reviewing both of these later in the week. And three were for Colecovision: Steamroller (from Intellivision Productions again), Power Lords and Lord of the Dungeon (both on sale from the CGExpo guys themselves). Trust us, for collectors this stuff is pure gold. Of course, the most remarkable release of the show might have been Pinball for the Odyssey 2 by none other than Ralph Baer (some were lucky enough to even get it signed — the bastards!)

If you got bored with shopping, you could always play in the videogame tournaments sponsored by the Twin Galaxies guys or just play one of the many classic arcade games that were set on free play. Titles of interest that you don’t see too often anymore included Cliff Hanger, Thayer’s Quest, Zoo Keeper, Toobin’ and Vanguard. Personally, we played a lot of Dragon’s Lair but couldn’t finish off the damn dragon.

The final attraction of the show (not including the mini events like the swap meet) was the amazing museum of classic systems, displaying such incredibly rare systems as the Adventurevision, the Microvision, the his-and-hers Lynxes and a whole host of other crazy rare collectibles (including unreleased systems like the hologram-based Losmos).

So, while the show may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, it was one of the few gatherings where fans of classic games could get together, hang out and even learn a thing or two. Not a bad way to spend a weekend (although it was a bit mellow by Vegas standards). Adding to long list of Classic Games is the SimCity series with its new title. Now it is on mobile which is very flexible platform.

DataPlay: 21st Century Storage Medium?

Earlier this year, at the Spring Internet World 2000 conference in Los Angeles, I decided to attend an unveiling of a new portable digital storage media, dubbed “DataPlay.” The concept sounded intriguing enough: an affordable, multi-use optical medium about the size of a quarter, which can hold up to 500MB of data — obviously something that desperately wants to give Sony’s “Memory Stick” a run for its money.

These tiny discs, when used with devices that support them, can store videogames, digital music, e-books, movies, photos, wireless info and any other computer-based data. They will ship in two formats: pre-recorded with content or purchased as blank media, with the latter option as cheap as $5 to $10 each — but these are one-time write-only disposable media (unlike CD-RWs).

With blank DataPlay discs, users can record up to four hours of CD-quality audio (copied over from a PC), then play it back on a Walkman-like device. Or how about buying a full semester’s worth of university textbooks, carrying around thousands of images of your sweetie(s) or storing two full Hollywood movies — all of which could be viewed on a color PDA?

There’s also a clever e-commerce application for DataPlay’s pre-recorded media, aka “ContentKey” technology. Say a gamer purchases Tomb Raider VI on a DataPlay disc next year; the first five Tomb Raider games may also be embedded on the disc. The content is already stored on the media, which can only be unlocked once a credit card is given out to the DataPlay site or other supported websites.

Early strategic partners include Samsung, Panasonic, Universal Music Group, Toshiba and Diamond Multimedia/S3 Corp. Time, of course, will tell if this promising media can deliver, but the applications for DataPlay discs seem virtually endless.

We here at Daily Radar wanted to learn more about this emerging technology, so we interviewed DataPlay’s President and CEO, Steve Volk, in a recent email interview.

Daily Radar: What does DataPlay’s technology offer that Sony’s memory stick can’t?

Steve Volk: DataPlay Digital Media is able to offer consumers an affordable, universal and portable solution for consumer electronic devices. Priced at between $5-10 each, the DataPlay Digital Media disc offers 500MB of permanent memory. Flash memory is much more expensive, while offering only a few MB of space. In addition, DataPlay Digital Media is masterable and permanent, unlike Flash. Flash and DP are complementary technologies, not competing, though.

DR: Because it is “spinning” technology and not skip-free such as Flash cards, how will DataPlay devices ensure a smooth-running portable experience?

SV: DataPlay is skip-free. This advancement is achieved through improved data compression ratios from those of CD technology. On a CD, the compression ratios require the disc to spin constantly, raising the possibility of noticeable skips. DataPlay’s higher compression ratios require that DataPlay Digital Media discs spin only about 1/60th as often as CDs. In other words, CDs must spin for one minute for every minute of music played, but DataPlay Digital Media spins for one second for every minute of music played.

The music transferred in that second resides temporarily in buffer memory, where several minutes of music at a time can be stored. The result for the user is that there are no skips. The transfer quality can be compared quite favorably to Flash memory.

DR: Lastly, what are some of the most practical applications for DataPlay’s technology? Digital music players? Digital cameras? Game Boys?

SV: All of these are practical applications. DataPlay is pursuing the music market first, and will aggressively pursue other forms of digital content entertainment in the near future.