Quite frequently, I get email from around the world asking a common question, "Just what is Game Bytes anyway?" Hopefully, this short message will help explain just what this is, where it comes from, why it's here, and where it is going!
Game Bytes started out as an idea of mine to produce a high-quality, user-supported gaming magazine that utilizes the electronic networks prevalent in the world today. I didn't want to create "just another" paper newsletter; instead I wanted to create an electronic magazine, something that made use of the capabilities of modern PCs and the high- speed networks that connect them. Truly, I wanted this to become the "Computer Gaming World" of the networked age.
With some programming help and some hard work, we succeeded in creating a "magazine" program that ran on a PC, one in fact that not only could display text -- game reviews, previews and tips, industry rumors, news and interviews -- but also graphics: actual screen images from the games being reviewed. So, not only did the readers get a comprehensive review of the games, they got to see exactly what the games look like -- on their own screens! Needless to say, this has since become a very popular feature.
Through the gracious efforts of several people on the Internet, we had enough articles to publish the first issue. Looking back, it wasn't as strong as we wanted it to be, but it was a start.
Since then, the magazine has grown and improved, and now we're really beginning to exploit the capabilities of a PC-based magazine. The interface lets the reader view all articles rapidly and jump directly to the article he or she's interested in, and it lets him or her view screen shots to see exactly how the game will look on his or her screen. The electronic format lets us distribute it by ftp over the Internet and other networks and over bulletin boards, so that 48 hours after the magazine is done it can be available in Russia, South Africa or Singapore. Electronic distribution also lets us publish with much shorter lead times, so that if we're on the ball we can get reviews of new games and reports from industry shows out weeks or months ahead of the paper magazines. (It's great fun to "scoop" the big guys...)
But more important than the format sophistication is the growth in the content of Game Bytes. Our support from bulletin boards, from the Internet community and from the Usenet comp.sys.ibm.pc.games newsgroup readership has been tremendous. Our reviews -- written by volunteers from the networks -- have gotten steadily better, and now we can give some of the paper magazines a real challenge when it comes to presenting a straightforward, informative review. We're also doing well in providing industry news, rumors, and interviews with game-design luminaries such as Sid Meier or Chris Roberts. We really do owe it all to the support of our readers and our reviewers who've volunteered their time and ability to make the magazine what it is.
Game Bytes isn't sponsored by any game publisher or vendor, and there's no fee, subscription requirement, or other price tag for it. We are beginning to look for advertising, however; we have learned painfully that there are real costs in money as well as time in producing a quality magazine -- hardware, phone bills, travel, postage -- and we can't continue to take a loss on each issue forever. Eventually, we hope to be able to not only cover the costs but give a stipend to our reviewers as well, both to compensate them for their work and to let us more reliably produce a magazine with top quality writing.
Each issue of the magazine follows a standard naming convention to assist you in finding the issue you're looking for.
is the general format, where XX is the issue number (ie. 09, 10, 11, etc.). This contains only the article files and the reader. It does not contain the graphics for viewing screenshots. Those files are stored in a file called
Other types of issues such as a much larger 'Internet' issue may also be produced in the future.
Game Bytes is distributed over the following facilities:
a) FTP sites - as many as possible, but first and foremost on:
ftp.uml.edu (18.104.22.168) in the /msdos/Games/Game_Bytes directory -- all issues of Game Bytes to date can be found here. wuarchive.wustl.edu (22.214.171.124) in the /pub/msdos_uploads/game_byte directory and also mirrored to /systems/msdos/Games/Game_Bytes.
If you live outside of the USA, and there's a local ftp site that you'd like to get Game Bytes from, please let us know and we'll upload it there. Conversely, if you're already getting it from a local site, please let us know that so we can tell others from your area who ask. (Email us if you have questions about anonymous ftp or need help with it.)
b) Mail server - For a while we had a mail server to email issues to those who couldn't get the files by ftp, and then the kind soul providing the server had to move. (If you would like to help out, let us know.) For right now, if you don't have anonymous ftp access and would like to get Game Bytes, your best bet is to use ftpmail. Email email@example.com with the single word
in the message body for instructions. (Email us if you need help with ftpmail.)
c) America On-Line
On AOL, the issues can be found in the general file section. Search on the filename 'gb*.zip'.
d) Compuserve - Game Bytes is archived in Gamers (GO GAMERS) forum in the 'Other Magazines' library section (#16).
We also hope eventually to move onto GEnie and Prodigy.
e) BBSs - At this time, we upload each issue to several large BBSs, including EXEC-PC (the world's largest BBS), and actively encourage those who download it to spread it to their local BBSs. The number for EXEC PC is:
414-789-4210 - 2400 Baud
414-789-4352 - U.S. Robotics Courier HST protocol
414-789-4360 - V.32bis 9600/14.4
414-789-4500 - Hayes V.FAST 28.8 Kbaud
Game Bytes is produced once a month, for the time being. You can find an index of articles and special features to date in issues 10 and later, or as the independent text file "gb01-##.idx", where ## is the latest issue number. The most recent issue published as of this writing was #13.
Game Bytes coverage includes IBM/MS-DOS games in the diskette and CD-ROM formats, Super Nintendo cartridges, and Sega Genesis cartridge and CD-ROM formats. For popularity and space considerations, we are not covering the old Nintendo (NES), the portable cartridge game systems, or the Turbo Graphics 16 systems at this time. We will be considering other types of platforms as well, such as the 3DO system, if they catch on in the market.
Game Bytes, in a nutshell, presents the following "types" of information:
So, where do we go from here? There are a lot of opportunities to take this even further. If all phone lines were set up for ISDN, and if everybody had CD-ROM drives and multimedia-ready machines . . . but they aren't and you don't, so we'll proceed slowly. We don't intend to change our strategy much over the coming months. We simply want to be known as a solid source of regular gaming information. If you feel you have something to say or add to Game Bytes, please do feel free to contact me and we'll most certainly consider it. I want to publically say thanks for the very warm welcome many of you have expressed to me about Game Bytes. Your response has been overwhelming. We hope to hear from many more of you, too. As an open invitation to all: PLEASE consider writing some reviews/previews or gaming articles of any kind to be published in Game Bytes. Without you, we have nothing. Thanks again for your consideration.Ross Erickson, Editor, Game Bytes magazine firstname.lastname@example.org