Friday, 23 February 2018
Rocket Jump and other games history books on Unbound
(For any people just now discovering this book, the special backer-only hardback edition is sold out BUT the trade hardback edition is not. You can pre-order that on Amazon UK and elsewhere ahead of its official March 22 release. The differences between the two are few: the trade edition drops the blue page edges, uses lower-quality paper stock and binding, and has a subtly-different finish on the cover.)
I'm delighted to see that UK people are starting to get their copies; with luck, it won't take much longer for everyone in the US, Australia, Europe, and everywhere else to get theirs too. It's been a long journey, and a big wait, but we're right at the end of it now. And I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks — to borrow a quote from Cliff Johnson, "this is what I've been waiting for; to experience other people's experiencing of what I've done."
While you all either dig in and start reading or wait this last little bit before you can do the same, I thought it'd be nice to point out the other wonderful games history books Unbound has in funding right now.
Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters by David L Craddock
From the author of Stay Awhile and Listen, which is a fantastic deep-dive history of Blizzard's hit dungeon-crawling hack-and-slash RPG Diablo, Rocket Jump is a humungous 130,000-word/500-page tome detailing not only the history of id Software's seminal FPS Quake but also its immense influence on the games that followed and the history of a few key games that predated it (like Duke Nukem 3D). Like my book, it also has a lovely design to accentuate all these lovely words.
I highly recommend this one. The excerpt is excellent, and David always does great research, so you can count on it being a cracking account of the era. He was in touch with me before his campaign launched about some tips and tricks for crowdfunding, which he seems to have taken to heart. He even came up with this nifty FAQ idea. His funding target looks to be even higher than mine was, so he could certainly use your help in keeping the early momentum rolling.
I'm sure many of you will be familiar with the Hardcore Gaming 101 website, which jam-packed with in-depth articles on hundreds of 80s/90s games and game series from around the world — many of which are largely forgotten today (and some of which were forgotten even then). Here we have a whole book on 101 rare, weird, and important Japanese games from the guy who runs that website.
I'm sure it'll be an interesting read for games history buffs, although the style and tone of the excerpt suggests that it'll be a tough one to understand for those of you with more limited existing knowledge. This is a different kind of games history to what David and I do; it's not a development narrative rooted in interviews and research, but rather more of a collection of game descriptions that go into culture, impact, core game mechanics, etc. And it has lots and lots of images from the games. It's been funding for quite a while now and is still at only 44%. I'd love to see you lot bump it over 50% and give it some serious upward momentum.
Fact Hunt: Fascinating, Fun & Downright Bizarre Facts About Video Games by Larry Bundy Jr
I'll let Larry's description speak for itself: "A bumper collection of facts about video games from YouTuber extraordinaire, Larry Bundy Jr (yes, "That Guru Larry" from TV)! This book will debunk myths and urban legends, delve into developer's biggest successes and failures, explore the odd characters behind the games and unearth the obscure, the forgotten, the cancelled and the abandoned aspects of the video game world."
I'm not familiar with Larry, but apparently he's rather popular. And the excerpt is good fun (the UEFA misspelling notwithstanding). Looks to me like an accessible and lighthearted book of games history trivia, which sounds like a winning concept.
Also available, though it funded last year and is now published, is Stuart Ashen's Attack of the Flickering Skeletons. I haven't really checked this one out properly yet, but I have his previous book Terrible Old Games You've Probably Never Heard Of and found that to be a very entertaining romp through some of the worst home computer games of the 1980s and 90s. Each entry was a short essay explaining things like how the game works (and doesn't work!), why it's terrible, how it might have been less terrible, and what horrors he went through trying to master it. This is meant to be more of the same, but longer, and with some guest contributions. Stuart has a great knack for turning painfully-bad games into entertainment without belittling or insulting their developers, so I'm sure it'll be a fun read.
And in case you were wondering, I'll be launching my second Unbound book campaign in a couple of months. I'm digging into another fascinating, important, and neglected area of games history, and doing it in much the same style as The Secret History of Mac Gaming. More on that to come when we've got it ready.