Worth Sharing #12
June 13, 2016
John Madden Hockey
I absolutely pored over John Madden Hockey from Read-Only Memory. An enthralling history of how NHL ’94 (eBay) came to be as part of Electronic Arts’ rise to sports video game powerhouse in the early 1990s. NHL ’94 is universally considered the best hockey video game ever created. ESPN rated it the #2 sports video game of all time.
My favorite bits are about Mark Lesser, the sole programmer on NHL ’94:
But little did they know, Lesser had a dirty little secret: he’d never once watched a game of hockey in his life.
And there was one more advantage, he thought, to approaching something with a naïve point of view: wonderment, a sensibility he hoped to stitch through the game.
Lesser attended practices, studied the playbook and had long conversations with the coach; anything, really, to see the sport through his eyes.
What he had created in the game was technically correct: it matched the physics of what he’d seen at the practices, on the ice and in the videos he watched in slow motion. But, still, it didn’t feel right. It was accurate, but it wasn’t authentic, and that kept him going.
After the meeting, Lesser went back to his cabin in Maine. That’s where he thought best, and that’s where he would be doing the majority of his work on the game.
—John Madden Hockey by Blake J. Harris
Lesser on perfecting the one-timer:
In fact, most of the work on that game was done in a barn in Brooklin, Maine. Around 2:30 in the morning, I was playing and hit the one-timer button and it was a perfect one-timer. When I forget everything else about NHL ’94, I'll remember that moment. It was a moment of real joy.
—Mark Lesser from EA's NHL ’94 remains landmark game after 20 years
Aside: After skimming to confirm it interested me, I printed out John Madden Hockey and ended up devouring it twice, distraction free.
Weekly Driving Tip: Parking Garages
Parking garages present some challenges for driving. They are dark, close quarters, and have blind corners. But there are a few easy things you can do to make your vehicle more visible and better spot other vehicles.
Turn On Your Headlights
While I recommend driving with your headlights on all the time, it’s especially useful in a dark parking garage. It really helps with blind corners. Other drivers will see your headlights before they see your car.
Take Off Your Sunglasses
Every bit of contrast you can get will help. If you’ve been wearing sunglasses while driving, which I encourage, your eyes will be used to bright light and will take some time to fully adjust to the darkness in a parking garage. Even once they've adjusted, sunglasses will still hinder your eyesight. Take them off.
Turn DOWN The Radio
Your attention should be on checking corners, scanning parked cars for signs of backing out, and listening for pedestrians and running vehicles. Turn the radio down or even better, off. Besides driving more safely, you might score a parking spot when you hear an engine start you’d have otherwise driven by.
Roll Down Your Windows
Weather permitting, roll down your windows and take in the sounds of the garage. Scanning your environment is key to better driving, and listening is a cornerstone of that.
Loki The Wolfdog
A short, succinct story about a man, his wolfdog, and their adventures in nature. Loki The Wolfdog showcases a dog in its natural element — a reminder to get out there and explore our planet.
I know that dogs weren’t built to live out their days behind a fence or in a house.
Loki challenges me in this way, and I like to think that I challenge him, by bringing a bit of structure into his life. In a way, it has brought balance to both our lives.
What I’ve been watching —
I’ve been watching the final season of Downton Abbey (Wikipedia IMDB Amazon).
What I’ve been reading —
I’m rereading Masters of Doom (Wikipedia Goodreads Amazon) about John Carmack, John Romero, and the origins of id Software.