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Tom

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  1. Try "The Daedalus Encounter" for an example of what this kind of ultra-90's, "you're-an-ROV-pilot-investigating-mysterious-aliens" FMV game can be like when the designers actually put some damned effort into its script and puzzles, and even come up with a decent, possibly even original excuse for why you're having to interact with the world via a flimsy ROV with incredibly crude controls in the first place. Oh, and I think Ross might just like the soundtrack too. Uh, that's if you can cope with a grisly, show-the-literal-flesh-to-technology-grafts-inside-your-own-brain cyberpunk player interface that looks like THIS, but Ross has played Phantasmagoria, so I'm sure he'll be fine: The game's still a 1995 FMV, so inherently limited, but it's got very high production values and the designers were clearly pushing right up against the boundaries of the medium. Yes, that's Tia Carrere; apparently she really loves sci-fi and had a blast making it.
  2. Looking at all these pretty pictures, I've no idea why it didn't occur to me to attach a picture to my own post before! God I miss this thing. EDIT: Earlier post where I mentioned it.
  3. My sincere apologies. I can assure you that I did, carefully and repeatedly, but somehow missed it every time. My brain gets very literally stuck in a loop sometimes, and if it missed something the first time around, it'll generally miss it on every subsequent pass as well. It's as frustrating to me as it is to you, I promise.
  4. One semi-personal point I think may be of interest: I find the traditional "Desktop Metaphor" GUI works best for me, switching to command prompt when necessary, but one thing that stuns me is how few people ever actually attempt to use one like a real, physical desktop, which was the whole point of the thing in the first place. Much like my actual desk, I regard the "desktop" folder on my system as the space to put what I'm dealing with right now - work in progress (and stuff to be processed ASAP, which on a real desk might go in an "in" tray) sits on the desktop, and whenever possible I try to have the desktop totally cleared and tidied away by the end of the day or when I shut down. Once you get back to the fundamental inspiration for designing the "Desktop" GUI in the first place, I feel a lot of design decisions for the default installed configuration, most likely to feel "natural" to the maximum number of people, immediately become pretty obvious; for example, permanent launcher icons for programs have no place on such a desktop - you wouldn't drill a hole right in the middle of your actual desk and install a button there - but temporary folders you're working on today, and mounted volumes of USB sticks and removable drives, do. Desk tidys like "my computer" are more of a matter of taste; some people have sitting neatly on their desk, others prefer to keep everything in a drawer.
  5. Sorry to practice thread necromancy, but since nobody's mentioned it yet and you were openly wondering about it in the video, Ross, I wonder if the large, magically self-opening gratings in the pavement in this game are a nod to the iconic scene in the classic David Lean film "Hobson's Choice," where alcoholic Charles Laughton, wandering home late at night in a stupor (chasing the reflection of the moon in puddles in the street) falls down an open ground-level loading hatch and ends up sleeping it off in someone else's shop cellar, promptly getting done for criminal trespass the next morning.
  6. I don't know if it's ever been done anywhere else, but the radial menu interface you depict at 1:06 was implemented, pretty much exactly as it looks here, on the tragically short-lived Tapwave Zodiac, way back in 2003. This contraption was conceived as a hybrid PDA, games console and multimedia system, and it was a thing of beauty. It ran a highly customised fork of the Palm 5 operating system, pretty well back-compatible with applications written for standard Palm PDAs, with a traditional Palm-style stylus and touchscreen (An old-style resistive touchscreen, that is, so the stylus was actually reliable, fast and accurate. I miss those) for handwriting input using the Graffiti system and other PDA-like operations, but it also had a left analogue thumbstick and right gamepad buttons either side of the screen in landscape mode, shoulder buttons, two SD card slots, stereo speakers, 128mb RAM, and ATI hardware graphics acceleration. Why am I mentioning this here? Because, in their fork of Palm 5, some conscientious engineer who surely thinks the same way you do had clearly taken a long, hard look at the Zodiac's controls, and then expressly designed an OS user interface around them, most specifically the joystick. There was a hierarchical radial interface that functioned almost identically to what you've got in your video here, and it elegantly combined both subfolder navigation and action buttons into its radial lobes; you used the thumb-stick to move around the ring of blob icons, not entirely unlike playing the game Tempest. If I remember correctly (it's been a while, I accidentally smashed my beloved Zodiac in an accident years ago), moving the stick outwards from its centred position to a subfolder blob would open that subfolder out into the ring; moving it to a program/action icon and clicking the joystick once would launch it (no double-clicking; I'm sure you'd approve), clicking the joystick in the centre neutral position would back up into the root folder/menu. It was clean, elegant, intuitive, didn't require colossal precision, didn't really give you opportunity to make any mistakes, and you'd better believe it was lightning fast. It was also back-compatible for those who didn't favour the joystick; you could click on the radial blobs just like normal touchscreen icons with the stylus, and they were the right size and separation from each other, surely deliberately, that you could even do it with just a pudgy finger, if you just had no class at all, but the joystick was by far the best, in my experience. So, what happened? Well, there were some utter bonehead launch decisions (or possibly just sheer, run-out-of-time-and-money desperation) made elsewhere in the company. After lovingly creating this wonderful games platform, I think they had a grand total of three release titles; two of which were ports of Tomb Raider 1 and Duke Nukem 3D, ancient games everyone had already long played to death, and Spyhunter, a bare-bones racing-shooting game that got boring after one level. The stock multimedia player was also crippleware, and rigged to only play a proprietary video format that basically doesn't exist any more and required you to shell-out for the windows-only PC software to pre-convert your videos before you could play them on the device. Furthermore, even though the ATI graphics chip could do hardware video decoding, there was no software capable of actually using this properly at launch. In other words, the launch software line-up comprehensively failed to show anyone what the device was truly capable of. The open-source community raced to fill the gap with TCPMP and a native port of ScummVM, but it all came too late. I believe the device even had a product placement as a prop in the Stargate TV series, but even that was in vain. Maybe it never stood a chance anyway, because even though the Zodiac and the PSP were announced simultaneously and Tapwave then beat Sony to market by just over a whole year, as soon as the PSP shipped, it just buried them. I still miss mine. It was a lovely machine.
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