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Where are the 'Construction Set' Games?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the lincoln-logs dept.

Games 567

mbishop asks: "After reading an the article on games decreasing brain activity, I thought back through childhood to when there were an abundance of 'construction set' games. I owe much of my music education to 'Music Construction Set'. These games were unique in that you could not only save a creation, but you could compile it into a standalone program that someone else could play even if they didn't have the original software. Creation was very easy, no programming necessary, and fun. My guess is that these sorts of games do much to increase the brain activity of the player. What are the 'Construction Set' games of today? Is there still a market for them?"

"I know that most PC games today have editors where a player can create their own levels and share them but users still need the original software. Even worse, consoles, which have the larger market, don't have enough storage (except maybe for the XBox) and aren't open enough to encourage players to create their own games and share them."

C :I think I see mbishop's point. Legos are still alive and well, but I don't see as much evidence on these types of toys in today's TV commercials. It seems those commercials are more interested in pushing the latest licensed crap instead of pushing toys designed to stimulate your child's own imagination. Of course, a simple Google search may yield a result or two, but that still doesn't answer the real question. Computer-based sets, would be a nice alternative, but nothing beats the real thing where children can use their own hands to create something they can show their paernts. Where have all of the Heathkit's, the chemical experiment toys and the other types of "builder" sets gone, and are they due for a revival, soon?

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567 comments

wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896532)

construction sets... aw forget it, i just wanted first post...

fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896535)

first post!!!!!!!!!!!
first post! first post!

Try Morrowind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896540)

Many games come with construction sets these days, including Neverwinter Nights and Morrowind. There is also a 3d game construction set available from a small company, saw it in a gaming magazine- I ordered it and it seemed okay, but was more than I wanted to commit to at the time :)

The Morrowind Construction Set is pretty good though.

Re:Try Morrowind (1)

Frank of Earth (126705) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896617)

And there are always old school MUDs. Being a DM or even a builder on a MUD requires a lot of different skills such as creative writing, unix skillz and probably most of all, patience from whining players.

I can't think of a better game that you can build, create and then let all your friends play on for free [open source code]

*dust slashdot

Mods? (4, Insightful)

mellifluous (249700) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896541)

In many ways, I think that the mod community is a more grown-up version of kids using these types of games to build their own creations.

Re:Mods? (5, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896746)


In many ways, I think that the mod community is a more grown-up version of kids using these types of games to build their own creations.
But that misses the point. The idea of, say, Halflife or Quake is not to build something but rather run around shooting at bots and other online players. Sure, to the right person its the basis for building a great hack. But it takes dedication and a steep learning curve to begin building. And it takes someone with a slightly different outlook to see Quake and think "build world" instead of "frag llamas".

Go back and re-read the description of Music Construction Set. Look at the other tittles listed in the link (Adventure Contruction Set and Pinball Construction Set). Mod-friendly engines, while very cool, are not the same.

gizmos and gadgets! (1)

Bigbambo (8887) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896543)

I remember playing a game like that on my parents 286 when i was young. Definitly more educational than the crap thats produced these days.

This is not the first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896545)

And I would just like to say that the new post-limiting karma system is poor. Slashdot is supposed to be all about free speech.

Free speech? Heh. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896595)

Slashdot is only about free speech if you are a athetist and a MS-hater. Being Pro-Linux is best, but Apple Users are acceptable too. Don't kid yourself.

After all, is it free speech if everytime you say something you are drowned out in a flood of shouts?

Re:Free speech? Heh. (1, Offtopic)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896640)

After all, is it free speech if everytime you say something you are drowned out in a flood of shouts?

Yes. It is free speech unless the government locks you up for what you say. Being drowned out in a flood of shouts is not the same as the government locking you up for saying something.

Give it a rest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896684)

Slashdot is not about free speech, in the way that you probably want it to be. This is not your site, and I think it's fair to say that CmdTaco and gang are doing a good job at running it the way THEY want to run it. If you don't like it, go run your own site. Have fun.

Box art (1)

precize (83096) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896549)

Those screenshots are awesome...takes me back to the days when the cover art was beautiful, and there was a reason there were no screenshots on the outside of the box. Phooey on these new game engines :

your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896606)

You are the least unintelligent person it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting.

FYI: double negative = positive

therefore: least unintelligent = most intelligent

so you resent smart people and you try to avoid meeting them?

Re:your sig (1)

rfitzge (591644) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896667)

That's a Douglas Adams reference. It's slightly paraphrased, but the original quote is said by a human-hating, constantly depressed robot, so it all makes sense. In other words, he resents all people and tries to avoid meeting them.

Re:your sig (0, Troll)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896712)

there are actually 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (count 'em!) negatives in that sig.

1. least
2. un-
3. lack
4. not
5. avoid

let's deconstruct, shall we?

"you are the most intelligent person it has been"...

SIG FAULT. CORE DUMP.

ouch. those last 3 are a doozy. let's try with MORTAR COMBAT 2.0 this time.

"you are the most intelligent person it has been my profound displeasure"...

SIG FAULT. CORE DUMP.

hrm. one more try with MORTAR COMBAT 3.0.

"you are the most intelligent person it has been my profound displeasure to be able to meet."

you're right. just because we can eventually parse the sentence, doesn't mean it should be used. and who knows what they are actually trying to say, anyway.

Chemical Experiment Toys (4, Funny)

errxn (108621) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896550)

The kids still have 'em. They just call 'em meth labs nowadays.

Re:Chemical Experiment Toys (5, Insightful)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896698)

My guess is the main reason you don't see more chemistry sets and similar 'toys' for children is fear of litigation.

I can remember when I was about 8 or 9, my grandmother bought me the Mr. Wizard's Chemistry Set, which came with real glassware and real chemicals.

Within a couple of years, I had progressed to more advanced chemistry sets that came with glass tubing and instruction on how to heat it up in an alcohol flame and bend your own custom glassware. Can you imagine the amount of disclaimers you would need to include in this day and age to protect yourself (legally) from children burning the house down or seriously injuring themselves?

I used to buy all the chemistry experiment books I could find at garage sales and I can remember seeing experiments involving mercury and other experiments that would make a corporate lawyer's hair turn white if you tried to distribute them today!

I think the legal issues combined with the 'if it doesn't use batteries or hook up to the TV, it's a sucky toy' feelings that are so prevalent today have killed off the toys that we all enjoyed when we were children.

Oh, and for what it's worth, because of my interest in chemistry, I grew up (well, I grew older!) and I got a job as a research scientist for a major medical diagnostics company, and I've been there for over 13 years now.

Robocode is pretty cool (1, Informative)

cs668 (89484) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896552)

You write the code that controls your robot which then battle against one another.

Hey Remember core wars anyone?

Re:Robocode is pretty cool (2, Interesting)

Bingo Foo (179380) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896591)

Mail order monsters rocked by 8-bit world.

Re:Robocode is pretty cool (0)

Hack Shoeboy (441994) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896748)

Different concept. In M.O.M., you still control the monster with the joystick.

But there was Robot Odyssey [aol.com] on the Apple ][. Now that rocked worlds. You got to program your robot by designing your own TTL logic circuits, and even package routines into reusable chips. I would Love to see a game like that again.

Alas, the attention span of the child seems to follow Moore's law.

Did somebody say Lego? (3, Informative)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896561)

http://leocad.org/ [leocad.org]

It was a real joy to see I could build with all the lego pieces my mother always threw away when I was a child because they weren't recognizable as legos.

Did somebody say "Didn't read the article at all"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896714)

The guy is looking for programs that make standalone games, not something like Lego... sheesh.

Re:Did somebody say Lego? (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896734)

That is so cool and it has debs. I think I'm going to cream in my pants. In any case thanks.

Game Construction Sets (2, Insightful)

JanusFury (452699) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896564)

While there aren't any Music Construction Sets around, and I personally wish there were, there is a definite abundance of Game construction sets and there have been for years. A large community of homebrew game developers has sprung up around various programs from companies like ASCII and Clickteam, and there are dozens if not hundreds of freeware game construction sets that people use to make their own arcade games and RPG's. Programs like Acid from Sonic Foundry also fill a niche in the music industry by allowing people to start creating music without formal music instruction or lots of resources.

Re:Game Construction Sets (1)

UCRowerG (523510) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896706)

A large community of homebrew game developers has sprung up around various programs from companies like ASCII and Clickteam, and there are dozens if not hundreds of freeware game construction sets that people use to make their own arcade games and RPG's.

Yep. My brother and I are hooked on RPG Maker 2000 [phantomrpg.com] !

You spoiled brats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896565)

We played with rocks when I was a kid!

And we liked it!

ZZT Was an awsome game, along the lines of a (2, Interesting)

mystik (38627) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896568)

construction-set game. I used to build elaborate

worlds in ZZT and have great fun. The script editor was kinda klunky, but once you got used to it, it was really powerful

Of course, once you learned how to edit the levels, and you got the unlocker that could unlock the shipped levels, beating the game was pretty easy ;)

Re:ZZT Was an awsome game, along the lines of a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896657)

I remember ZZT!!! On AOL (back in the day, before we all got smart and left), there was a good-sized ZZT community, and people would form "companies" to get together and promote their games. Some of that stuff was really well-done, and it's surprising what people did with such a primative engine. I'd still play it if I found a working version for Linux... :(

Re:ZZT Was an awsome game, along the lines of a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896676)

it's still around... and apparently still being worked with... http://zzt.the-underdogs.org/ [the-underdogs.org]

suprising... (2, Insightful)

colster (530611) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896569)

...they should be easier to make with the more recent use of middleware in the games industry. I mean, that is what a "construction set" is really - a very high level middleware.

The closest today is the simulator games you get on sourceforge that allow you to program robots.

The web is an example... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896570)

...of an erection construction set.

For this simple reason (1, Insightful)

theolein (316044) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896571)

I think your chances of actually learning to think with a computer are much better with a Shell command line than with a GUI that does everything for you.

Flash (1, Offtopic)

Sludge (1234) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896574)

Isn't this what flash is? The player is cost-free, and you can play games created with it. However, the software to create the games is not.

Computer based? (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896576)

No, there is absolutely no replacement for hands on building. To put something together on the computer would not be anywhere near the experience you get from building an "igloo" out of Construx around yourself and screaming for your mom to come lift it off you w/o breaking it (heeh).

How about spending hours playing w/roller coaster kits and watching the roller coaster fall upside down time after time because it was just about impossible to make it do a loop.

I used to love building forts, using construx, etc. I was never a fan of Legos (parts were too small?) nor was I a fan of any "computer level builders". Roller Coaster Tycoon lasted about 3 days in my house as a college student. Even w/all the cheats it wasn't fun.

We need to bring back hands on experience. Computers rot your brain ;-)

Re:Computer based? (2)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896668)

Building on a computer lets you do more spectacular things, work in more abstract domains, and never have to deal with issues like buying parts or having them fail. Civil engineering isn't the only kind of "construction" to be done! There are construction kits for all sorts of things: video games, mazes, robots, circuits, music...

I rather give my kid "Rocky's Boot" than a soldering iron and some ICs!

what about adventure/logic games? (2)

MarvinMouse (323641) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896579)

Well, I miss the old construction games (albeit you can still find a few music construction ones on www.shockwave.com and a few other shocked sites.) I also miss the old adventure games where you really had to think and use logic to proceed. Unlike most of the modern games where you can fight and use other methods to continue on. The old King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, etc. series were great little games for encouraging creative thought.

I remember how frustrated I used to get when I would get caught trying to figure out how to complete that one last task. I miss those games, unfortunately a few bad apples killed the genre (KQ7or8 anyone). Perhaps some new gaming company will decide to revive it, and perhaps even make it better so you can have different endings, different ways to win and lose, a less linear lifeline, but still all of those great little realistic and funny puzzles.

I loved the nursery rhyme and folk story puzzles in King's Quest, and the great space jokes in Space Quest.

But, these build it yourself games I have found still exist online in a lot of shockwave sites, like www.shockwave.com. Just no one has bothered making a large scale version... yet.

Re:what about adventure/logic games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896643)

mmm adventures games

Your can still play/author adventure games (2, Informative)

BoVLB (552171) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896705)

You can still find and play the old adventure games; there even seem to be ports to the Palm. By the same token, you can still write your own versions. See Inform [inform-fiction.org] .

Re:what about adventure/logic games? (1)

Proaxiom (544639) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896717)

You might be interested in what these guys [tierragames.com] are doing.

I played their remake of King's Quest, and it wasn't too bad.

Always (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896580)

Imagine a Beowulf of these...

Offtopic: Anti-spammers Please read. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896585)

Call this guy:
Barry C Deuschle, Sr.
BCD TECHNOLOGIES WEST INC.
1535 OAK INDUSTRIAL LANE SUITE A
CUMMING, GA 30041
866-655-3475 ext. # 61

Just tell him you don't appreciate companies that send spam and hang up.

I would be most appreciative!

Slashdot isn't allowing me to post the full headers:
Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.

Pinball Construction Set! (2)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896586)

Yeah Baby!

My Atari 400 KICKED ASS.

What was his name? Bill Budge? Now that was a cool creation.

Re:Pinball Construction Set! (1)

UCRowerG (523510) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896726)

I think there was even a version made for the Commodore 64. At least I remember loading something like it up every day. It was great, but I always had some trouble lining up the little rails and bars.

Neverwinter Nights (4, Informative)

topham (32406) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896600)

(website looks down at the moment, but...)Neverwinter Nights [neverwinternights.com]

Contains an 3-D RPG Engine with toolset to create your own campaigns. Supports it's own C/C++ like scripting language, and includes a good integrated environment for developing maps, Non-Player Characters, and source code changed.

So go get creative...

Sigh.... (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896682)

He mentioned he knew about the games with editors.. But after you make a mod with NWN you still need to own the software to play them. Back in the day, game construction sets made games that anyone could play regardless if you owned the creator or not.. It compiled it all for you.

As an aside, NWN is one of the most bug ridden games to come out lately. Pathing is terrible, and all the stats have bugs. Attack modifiers are messed up and randomly change between saves, etc .. It shouldn't have been release with such glaring bugs.

What about Racing Destruction Set? (1)

COBOL/MVS (196516) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896604)

It fits into this genre; you designed a track and then you drive it alone or with a friend. My friends and I used to play that all the time.

Re:What about Racing Destruction Set? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896624)

This was a great game.

ACS and PCS (0)

maf212 (448756) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896607)

I played both Adventure Cons Set and Pinball Cons Set, and I would have to say that I learned many things from them.
Using ACS I think I created my first "D&D" module with it. Then gave it to my friend to try playing it.
I think we could use more of these games that encourage thought, and not just 1st person shooter.
Neverwinter Nights would be a good example. As a DM you create your own modules and in the process polish up on your code writing abilities.

Unfortunately.... (2, Interesting)

graphicartist82 (462767) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896608)

a lot of these toys have forcefully deprecated because one idiot kid did something stupid with them and their parents had a fit.

This brings to light a bigger problem:

What ever happened to natural selection? You know, the kid who swallows too many marbles doesn't grow up to have kids of his own?

Why are parents now making kids wear a helmet for everything but jerking off? All of the fun toys had "swallowable parts" so they aren't popular anymore because some parent raised a stink over it...

*steps off soap box*

Rokenbok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896614)

rokenbok [rokenbok.com] lets you build stuff and then has remote controlled trucks to play in what was built.

variety ... (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896616)

... it ain't just the spice of life. when i was a kid, we played "number munchers", "math blaster", etc, because those were the only games available to us on our apple ][. now kids have "Kill a Hooker part 3" on their PlayCubeBox 3. how is "math blaster" going to compete with that.

and don't try suggesting that parents shouldn't get "Kill a Hooker part 3" for their kids. Because the parents know that the kids will stop loving them if they don't buy them all the things they want.

construction-type games are a limited market, because they have to compete with the promises of instant gratification which other games provide. why spend hours constructing something when you can press the power button and be killing cops in less than a minute?

Nope. (1, Flamebait)

Gannoc (210256) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896622)


Because stupid kids can't figure it out and smarter kids are the ones kicking your ass in WC3.

Money. (3, Interesting)

Desco (46185) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896625)

Yes, this article is without merit. There are plenty of construction sets, they exist within games. Neverwinter Nights and Morrowinds are AWESOME in their capabilities to make adventures. Quake III also comes to mind-- yes, modmaking requires programming, but map making doesn't.

The reason they don't make any "stand alone construction sets" anymore? Well, for one, the name "___ Construction Set" just isn't cool enough for mainstream consumer. But the biggest reason is money. If you can make a standalone NWN game, the people you distribute it to don't have to buy the original game. Game companies don't want that. They're in business to make money.

how bout The Incredible Machine... (2, Insightful)

dr_canak (593415) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896630)

The Incredible Machine, More of The Icredible Machine, and Sid and Al's Crazy Toons (I may be wrong on this exact title) were all about constructing Rube Goldberg machines that were pretty neat, had multiple solutions, and allowed you to mess with gravity, friction, and the like to understand fundamental priniciples of physics while still having a good time sitting at a computer.

They Exist... (3, Informative)

Tadrith (557354) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896634)

I think the "Construction Set" aspect still exists in many games, but it's taken new form. With the rise of First Person shooters and RTS as the more popular forms of entertainment, I think that sort of thing has moved into customizing the game. It takes quite a bit of talent to build really good levels, or brand new campaigns, and also quite a bit of devotion.

I see your problem though. Those sorts of activities are very much confined to the geek. Level design and game mods take quite a bit of computer expertise, and I get the feeling you were thinking along different lines. Games like The Incredible Machine come to mind. I'd be hard pressed to give you references, but one "Construction Set" games comes to mind. If you're interested in the game of pinball, I recommend Visual Pinball [randydavis.com] . It's a complete pinball game construction program, and it works beautifully. Much to the dismay of most of the Slashdot crowd, though, it's main drive is VBScript. Very fun and easy to use, however. The programming is basic enough that I think a beginner could learn to use it very easily.

Other than that, there's lots of software out there for music creation and whatnot. It may not be presented in game form, but if you have an itch to do it, I'm sure those would serve just as well!

RCS (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896636)

I remember Racing Construction Set and Adventure Construction Set on the Commodore 64 .. The hours spent playing those games and building my own. I don't know about using more brain activity, but it sure added many extra hours of fun to a game. I think with Adventure Construction Set you could build stand-alone games and distribute them to your friends.

Re:RCS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896730)

Aye.

It was Racing _Destruction_ Set.

Re:R*D*S (1)

Mordaximus (566304) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896741)

I believe you are referring to Racing Destruction Set, a very popular game by Electronic Arts released in 1984. Many of my pre-teen hours were wasted creating tracks for this game. Many more waiting for it to load! For those interested a remake is underway. [planetflibble.com]

Have a look at Zome (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896639)

I'm highly impressed by a Zome set I picked up a while back. The kids love to build intricate geometric shapes with it, and I get to sneak in some basic points about topology at the same time. See http://www.zometool.com for more details.

Favorite 'construction' game.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896642)

Without a doubt it was 'Racing Destruction Set' for the Commodore 64. You had a variety of cars, wheels, engines, track types, track elevations and gravities to change around. You could construct a ton of different tracks and all of the permutations kept me riveted as a youngster.

Nothing like using the indy racer with moon gravity going up a monster hill and launching off into space! Now that was a fun game!

Aside from the obligatory c64 emultaors. Did this ever get ported to any other platform?

Answering your own questions (4, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896646)

> ... commercials are more interested in pushing the latest licensed crap ...

Which one is more profitable?

A license agnostic computer game where the value is in the interactivity .. high replay value, no need to go back to the store for a few years?

Or the uber-franchisable, horizontal-marketing-up-the-ying-yang licensed toy that does so little, you're practically forced into buying the next toy, which does a tiny bit more (now you can move his head! now you can move his foot! now he talks! buy this .. now he talks more!)

This is so obvious, its probably taught verbatim in business or marketing schools.

Construction/Puzzle/Brain Exercise (-1)

perl_god (578135) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896648)

My favorite games were always the ones which required you to construct or manipulate the environment somehow
to solve a puzzle. The obvious example is the "Incredible Machine" series (pure construction); but the coolest puzzle
game ever, IMHO:Dongleware's "Oxyd", which, although not involving construction per se, got you to really understand
the game's environment in a more than superficial way.

focus of today's PC games (1)

ffa (104185) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896654)

well, not only those type of "construction set" games are missing, but also a lot of other styles of games are missing from the PC, arcade and console platforms...

I remember back in the day (late 80s, early 90s) there was a lot of variety: we had platform games where you had to look for hidden gems, trade coins for weapons (ie Wonderboy), there were loads of excellent Sierra games, where you went on an adventure and learned a lot... there were the affore mentioned educational games, etc.. etc...

Today, some of those are totally gone, and the ones that are around (like the Sierra style role playing games) are either 100th sequels of older games that are done to death, or ultra complicated and require a lot of dedication and focus. No longer can you just pick up a game and get right into it... games have become very complex and I find that those sort of games only appeal to a niche market now days...

And then the rest of it is all Doom style 3D shoot them ups or Virtua Fighter "beat them ups" ... focus has shifted from exploring and learning to just quick beating and gratification.

Hence I have not played a game in years ;) Last game that really appealed to me was Sims... but even then, nothing is as fun as the original Sim City :) Simple, yet draws you in for hours...

I think more games that are easy to get into and require the user's creativity are much needed. Too much focus is being put onto the latest graphics and sound technology and not enough on the actual game and the playabality... think Tetris.. simple, yet it makes you think and you can play it for years and never get bored.

just my 2 cents :)

-f.

same old story (2)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896658)

Legos are still alive and well, but I don't see as much evidence on these types of toys in today's TV commercials.

Im 34 and I dont remember them being prevelent when I was growing up either, so this is nothing new, why market a toy to a child that they can be creative with and use for years when you can market a toy to a child that will be obsolete in 6 months... can you say Stretch Armstrong?

Remember CAR BUILDER on MAC ? (1)

kingkade (584184) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896659)

That was a cool program, that i used to spend hours on: design, build, and test your own car. Had aerodynamics, cornering, top speed, aceleration, etc, etc.
Really really fun.

S.E.U.C.K. (1)

TheDick (453572) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896661)

Anyone remember the Shoot-em Up construction Kit for the Amiga? I loved that thing :)

Made some really retartded games if I remember :)

You have the ansa glasshoppa! (1)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896663)


It's right there in your post: "C" is the ansa to you silly question, glasshoppa! Must I do all you thinking for you? *bonk*

RPG Maker 2000 (2, Informative)

alek202 (462912) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896670)

Altough the title of that application (Windows-based of course) sounded a bit strange, it's a solid application to create (but not limited to) RPG games. There are also some nice games. I'm now thinking about pulling my old (cancelled) Phantasy Star V project out of my shoes and looking for some guys who help me. When I started the project back in 1997, I cancelled it half a year later since nobody really wanted to contribute.

Wait a second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896671)

What about games like The Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Sim City and the like? In all of these games you use pieces and widgets to build things. These are the next generation of 'toolkit' games.

Heck, I'd sumbit that they are better than legos and blocks since thy make you think in four dimensions instead of three.

reminicing: Adventure Construction Set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896680)

Recap: The Electronic Arts Adventure Construction Set was a game building.. game which would output Ultima 4 type.. games. The user could either edit the few pre-made worlds, or create their own from scratch, including weapons, magic, puzzles, character attributes, music selections etc.

This was my favorite game when I was using my C64 at around age 12. It didn't teach me anything about music, or adventuring, or anything really, but what a good time. Too bad I was the only one with a C64 for miles around, and had to play my own games.

AC

Really cool construction set (1)

genkael (102983) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896685)

There's a really cool construction set out there and I call it the "Build Your Own Linux Distro Construction Kit". All you need is an extra machine that Linux supports, a machine with ftp capabilities and a whole bunch of free time.

If only I had time...

Debunked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896686)

The article you refer to has received some criticism. New Scientist has an article describing the criticism:

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns9 99 92538

Not quite correct story (2)

jvmatthe (116058) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896687)

I don't recall that Music Construction Set could make stand-alone music executables. Maybe I've got it wrong.

The other biggie, Adventure Construction Set, I believe also required an original disk to play.

Not that these were hard to come by. I owned originals of both, but they were trivial to copy and distribute, i.e. pirate.

The exception that I'm aware of is Garry Kitchen's Gamemaker (by one of the Kitchen brothers of Activision fame). This could be used to create stand-alone games and it was really a pretty freaking intricate design system that they came up with. It had scripting, sprite editing, background design, music design, and sound effects. Out of the box, you could create a fully functional reproduction of Pitfall! and use that as a basis to learn the system. Amazing stuff for the time.

Incidentally, all of the above is based on my recollection of the C=64 world. Other platforms may have had different limitations, but I recall ACS and Gamemaker as both being C=64 only. Perhaps I'm forgetting details in my old age. ;^)

Re:Not quite correct story (1)

Jadsky (304239) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896754)

Music Construction Set had two file extensions, *.MCD and *.MCS. Though it had its own little DOS-like shell, I don't remember that it ever made standalones. It was one of those funky-boot disks where you could never do a DIR.

Pianoman, on the other hand, was a shareware program that made standalone files if you had the right version. It worked with a regular one-bit speaker by playing lots of sixty-fourth notes. It had trouble with more than three voices, obviously, because you could start to hear the distortion.

But Music Construction Set worked on my PCjr with all three voices wonderfully! Those were the days....

IBM has this for you.. (4, Informative)

JTFritz (15573) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896688)

Two words:
ROBO CODE [robocode.net]

You can learn java, and you can beat the crap out of some IBM engineer at the same time! What more do you need?!

For those craving old games... (1)

aftk2 (556992) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896690)

...check out The Underdogs [the-underdogs.org] . It's a game site dedicated mostly to those games of yesteryear that went largely unnoticed (sometimes for good reason.) They have hundreds (if not thousands) of games available for download (if the game is abandonware), as well as maps, manuals, etc... Some of them are fairly recent (but the archive goes back to the early 80s.)

On topic: if you use the select menu on the left-hand side of the page that says "Search by Theme" you can choose "Design Tool". This takes you to a list of construction set games.

vast conspiracy? (3, Informative)

MiTEG (234467) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896694)

Maybe it's some vast conspiracy by the game publishing companies to force consumers to pay $59.99 for the latest piece of entermainment? Hm.. probably not.

The best thing I could think of was Hypercard for the Macintosh, it allowed games like The Manhole [useit.com] to be created with very little programming. Sure, it needed a significant amount of computer knowledge to create something enteretaining, but it was nothing like programming a game like Quake III in C.

My all-time favorite game construction kit was the Pinball Construction Kit [mobygames.com] . It came out in 1985, and it allowed for the creation of personalized pinball tables inside the game. The only problem is that the game required to play any pinball table you design.

Try searching google for game creation kit [google.com] . It came up with a ton of results, and this one [madmonkey.net] looks promising.

Capsela and 200-in-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896697)

Screw the "construction" video games-- try real construction games.

I don't know the manufacturer, but Capsela toys were fantastic-- you had these clear, spherical "blocks" with 6 connectors. Some connectors had little axles in them, and inside the blocks themselves, there were gears connected to those axles. There were also floats, propeller blades, wheels, and other little goodies you could attach to the blocks. And, of course, a small motor and battery pack.

Any links?

Also: go to your local Radio Shack. Pick up one of the 200-in-1 project kits for kids. Even as an adult, these things can be fun. Transistors, resistors, capacitors, relays, switches, inductors-- everything you need for some really cool projects... IN ONE PLACE. I loved mine. I just gave one to a friend's 8-year-old son, and he absolutely loves it.

If you really must go for a "construction" game, look for an old Apple or DOS emulator and find a copy of Omega. It's a game where you do basic AI for a virtual tank that then goes into battle against other tanks.

Plastic Bubbles (1)

fishlet (93611) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896699)

I really liked that constuction kit with the plastic bubbles you could hook together. There was all kinds of neat stuff... modules with motors, pontoons, fans, etc. I can't remember the name though... If anyone remembers please let me know.

My little sister... (3, Interesting)

Liora (565268) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896700)

I am happy to say that my little sister is four and she plays with legos. She is mostly into building cars so they roll the fastest across the floor in my dad's kitchen, but like I said, she's four. I think that proof that this has stimulated her creatively because the other day she was telling me that she had designed and then her mom had helped her cut out all of these pieces to put together to make a 3D basket. It's just a basket, I know. But it seemed amazing to me that a kid so young was designing things in 2D to be put together in 3D.

I can only hope that there are still toys like that available when I have my own kids. I don't have my legos anymore (my mom sold them when I was away for a summer), but maybe I can convince her to keep hers so that the next generation has all of those neat little pieces that always seem so scarce when you really need them... like the ones that transfer the block stack from up/down to right/left. And the pulleys. Must have pulleys.

Wow...never ceases to amaze. (1)

soulctcher (581951) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896703)

"After reading an the article..." Something seems stragely odd about that grammar... eh...I am not care about it.

Map Editors (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896708)

map editors, like for starcraft and the such, are better than you may think. just imagine what they have to think of when first making those fledgling moves to create their own universe. they must think about how placing objects and obstacles will affect gameplay. this helps a child think empathetically (see things from another's point of view, for you 12 y/o /.'ers).

i have a nephew, and they let him play outside in the dirt, he has his over-sized legos, and they still build things in pre-school with glue and popsicle sticks and painted macaronni. it's not dead to play with stuff like that, just not as common.

i don't see people making their dolls and toys like they used to. i bet the forums of the 40s talked about how "back in my day, we had to make our own lincoln logs by whittling them down with our pocket knives!" bah, it's nothing new, just an aspect of the changes our generations have been going through.

SimToons (2)

kisrael (134664) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896709)

Thinking in terms of Music Construction Set...SimTunes was a great, if somewhat obscure game. Maxis rebranded version of "Musical Bugs" by Japanese artist Toshio Iwai. (demo here? [kidsdomain.com] ). The idea was you had a big blank grid, that you could paint with colored blocks. 4 "bugs" would walk over the grid, and when they passed a color would play the pitch (or percussionish noise, if that was the type of voice you set the bug to) corresponding to that color. Other blocks would warp or otherwise redirect the bugs. You could focus on making a cool picture, a cool sound (it really could be used as a 'poor man's sequencer') or both. Very powerful, with "kiddy" and "advanced" (but still pretty friendly) interface settings.

They released this 5 or 6 years ago, recently rereleased in a pack of Kid-oriented Sim games. The original was fairly cranky in its need for certain DirectX drivers (windows of course), I bought the rerelease but haven't yet installed it to see if they improved the driver situation.

A great creative musical toy...maybe better for kids/teens/adults with a smattering of musical experience. (They have some cool music theory embedded in there, like you can constrain the notes to the blues or other scale...)

Software Robotic Construction (1)

Hawat (266650) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896711)

Anybody remember "Chipwits"?

It was a Mac game that had a visual programming interface (sort of a flow chart). I don't think it caused brain damage - you really had to think about condensing the "code" (even with (sort of) called subroutines) and it made you think quite carefully about how you programmed your litle robot for navigation, fuel and defense.

Toys (2)

dalassa (204012) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896716)

You can't get any cool chemicals in them today because of safety concerns. What is the point of a chemistry set if you can't take off your eyebrows?

All that aside, my favorite toy when I was young was my handed down set of wooden blocks. I had enough of them that I could build massive structures, and I learned enough of basic enginerring that they didn't colapse on me. I couldn't choke on them and as long as my mother kept half an eye on me while I was young I never got more than a small bruise from the colapses.
All of my children will have old fashioned block sets. Simple toys that don't force play in one direction are the best.

Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set (5, Interesting)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896721)

I spent HOURS+ making a multitude of pinball games with that software for the Apple 2.

You could wire flippers, bumpers, everything with your own point system. PBCS would also let you 'paint' your selected parts any of 5± colors including 'erasing' the part. Using 'invisible' bumpers was quite entertaining.

It was also possible to adjust gravity, bounce, and friction of the ball, IIRC.

The coolest feature of all is that you could take your finished game and 'compile' it to run stand-alone! Trading pinball games was great...ah, Apple 2 memories....I also had a program for the Apple 2 called Gamemaker. It let you create simple games like 2600 Pitfall clones and the like. Never got the hang of it....

The best 'Constructon Set' in recent memory was the level editor in Crack Dot Com's sidescroller, 'Abuse'. It used a lisp driven engine to allow you to make levels easier than anything I recall at the time. Just like wiring a simple circuit. (Much like PBCS!)

What's Bill Budge doing these days?

not quite construction... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896722)

but I just bought toontalk for my 4 year old, uses robots to teach the fundamentals of programming, iterations, variables, and garbage collection, and you can output the results as working java code too...

when you first mentioned construction, I thought of his current favorite game "Tonka Digs and Rigs"

I think I may know... (1)

doppleganger871 (303020) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896723)

...where all the chemical sets went to. Right into lawyer's pockets. I'm sure there have been more than a few lawsuits from careless parents buying kids a chemical set and then finding their kid injured from improper use. If it's even remotely possible for a kid to be injured from the improper use of a toy, then they won't bring it out. I think Lego's helped my interest in computers (Commodore computers from 1982 on up). I used to write simple "niche" programs in BASIC way back when. Same idea with Legos... take a bunch of pieces (commands) stick 'em together, and viola! ::sigh:: Time to put my C128 system back on the desk, I need some simpile computing time. 8-Bits at a time for me, thank you.

Sure... (1)

BishopCMB (592102) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896729)

Sure, Neverwinter Nights, case modding and ldraw are phat, but I think the author was specifically asking about products aimed towards kids... Lego, Construx, KNEX... these are still around in some form or another, but it seems like they're getting more and more expensive and the focus is shifting to older adolescents/adults who have time to play with toys... I suppose the resurgence of Legos and robots in the classroom is a start tho'...

LEGO alive and well? (2)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896733)

Legos are still alive and well
Is LEGO ("please refer to our products as LEGO toys or bricks, not 'Legos'...") really still alive and well? Back when I used to extort hundreds of dollars out of my parents to buy new LEGO sets, the name of the game was building things. You want a knight on horseback? OK, we'll give you the knight, but you have to build the horse. You want a spaceship? OK, that's going to take about an hour.

These days it seems like LEGO has become little more than a lame re-working of Playmobil, with barely a nod given to the idea that these things are meant to be built, not just looked at. They seem to be more interested in competing with action figures and other more "mainstream" toys than in making products like the LEGO I used to know -- Mindstorms being perhaps the only exception. I'm the first to admit that if I had Star Wars LEGO when I was a kid, I never would have left the house. These days, though, I just see more corporate branding tie-ins from a company that markets products to kids. This doesn't seem like the LEGO I grew up with.

Mapmaking (1)

flonker (526111) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896736)

I'm not sure how closely this relates, but Crossfire [real-time.com] is a nice open source online CRPG. And being open source, it has an open source mapmaking utility or two.
ObDisclaimer: I'm more than just a player, but not a full-fledged developer.

Racing Destruction Set. (1)

edbarrett (150317) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896740)

I don't know about all this "construction", but Racing Destruction Set [emuunlim.com] for the C64 rocked. You built your track, gave it gravity characteristics, and then loaded up your car with oil slicks, land mines, etc., and proceeded to bomb the crap out your opponents. This guy [planetflibble.com] is currently working on a 3D version for the PC [planetflibble.com] . Of course, he also rewrote the C64 version of Bruce Lee [planetflibble.com] , the Best C64 Game Of All Time...

plus, the fall of household BASIC (3, Insightful)

kisrael (134664) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896747)

Another thing that has been lost is that computers no longer boot into BASIC...ok, stop laughing, I'm a little bit serious here. Home computers booting into BASIC, plus hobbyist magazines (some oriented at kids) I think were a great boon to budding programmers/designers in the early 1980s. While the Web has a huge host of new opportunites, it doesn't provide the ramp up the learning curve that BASIC did...it's relatively tough to make a decent graphical game with javascript/DHTML, and other languages are even more obscure for the total newbie.

Adventure Construction Set (1)

47Ronin (39566) | more than 11 years ago | (#3896749)

I remember ACS back when it was on the Amiga, but you could only save files onto fragile floppy disks. That was my first stab at creating my own game, and I spent weeks toiling away at making sprites and maps. It may have been primitive but the interface was surprisingly intuitive. AFAIK copies of the software are almost impossible to find now, and I don't know what platforms are supported. Any clues?

Xcom, Warcraft, Civ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3896750)

Maybe first person shooter games decrease brain activity, but I can't see how more intricate strategy games like XCom (what a classic), Warcraft, and Civilization can't end up making a kid smarter. Especially in the case of XCom, you had to think about base placement, how much to allocate to research, scarcity of materials, etc. The other games I've mentioned are similar. What better skills to learn than dealing with supply/demand and scarcity? And sure, having tough aliens (or orcs, etc.) just makes it all the more fun.

And you can design your own maps/campaigns on most of those games.

You ask me, that takes much more thought than jamming a bunch of blocks together. Not that I didn't love Lego's too. I'd just be thrilled to be a kid now. The complexity of the 'virtual' construction sets are amazing.
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