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California Extreme 2008 Musings

This was my 9th CAX (8th in a row) — hard to believe!

My talk went pretty well and was surprisingly well-attended for something that started at 7:45pm. Thanks to everyone who showed up. It was nice to really have a chance to tell folks in person exactly what motivates people like me to work on MAME, and also to clear up some misconceptions people have about the project. Hopefully there will be some means for everyone to see it eventually.

Got the chance to have dinner afterwards with R. Belmont, Tim Lindner, and Mark G. I was so wired after talking that it was really nice to sit down and talk shop over some beers and pizza.

If you ever go to the show, make sure you stick around until it closes on Saturday night. People start clearing out in the early evening, and by 10-11 you can pretty much play anything you want without a wait. Sundays are also less crowded, though games start disappearing late Sunday afternoon as people who have a lot of games to move like to get a jump on getting it all packed up.

Loved meeting up with so many people this time. I usually keep a low profile, but because I had a talk on Saturday, it was hard to avoid people knowing who I was.

Thanks to Steve for coming down, playing some games, and driving us to In-n-Out for lunch!

Backbone Entertainment was there showing off their Capcom HD remixes. I have to say they looked quite impressive, especially the 1942 game with proper 3d terrain underneath and impressive shader effects (though to be fair, it was more Raiden than 1942, but as a Raiden fan I can forgive that). If I owned a NG console, I'd probably pick that one up!

Yes, your monitor can be too big. They had a Raiden Fighters there that was just unplayable because the giant monitor meant that you could not rely on your peripheral vision to see what was going on enough to survive.

Got the Mappy high score (~145,000) during the first half hour of play on Saturday, fully expecting it to be bested by later in the day. But the coin door was locked, and it wasn't on free play, so the credits ran out and the score stuck around all day. Eventually someone turned it off. Woohoo, I am teh Mappy champion!

Got to play a one-of-a-kind driving game prototype made by Phantom Systems. It was a hoot. Really cheesy early 3D polygons, terrible physics (100% friction means no sliding), tons of Z fighting. Definitely a "so bad it's good" moment. Maybe we can track down the owners and get it in MAME someday for others to enjoy.

There was a really nice mix of games this year. It definitely felt different from the last couple, where it seemed like the same folks brought the same games. Of course, some of my favorites were missing (Moon Patrol, Elevator Action), but there were some new ones to play, like Jack the Giantkiller, Rescue, Space Lords, Xybots, Arm Wrestling, and NARC.

There were many Asteroids machines, but they all seemed to be playing freakin' Asteroids Deluxe (which I dislike). Eventually, I realized that at least a couple of them had a multigame installed. Once that was sorted I was able to play the original in all its glory.

Panic Park was there again. What a great game. Somebody has to put that in MAME, though it won't be nearly the same without the controls.

Looping and Up n' Down win this year's awards for Can't Even Get Past the First Level, joining Defender and Super Zaxxon. I'm not much of a game player, but come on, usually the first level is doable after a few tries in most games.

Once again I reaffirmed that I completely suck at pinball, though there was one there that was being really nice to me (and not so much to my friend Steve, whom I think I beat 36 million to 2). Wish I could remember which one it was (maybe The Shadow). Also saw an awesome old school Ted Nugent pinball, which ironically seemed to make the girliest sounds. Cracked me up while playing.

Lesson learned: never, ever forget to bring your universal hard disk-to-USB converter again. *sigh*