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Details on the nature of his death are yet to be made public.
Sachs may be better known to you guys, though, as the voice of Lord Pyral Harrowmont in the first Dragon Age, or the cranky old mercenary Zaeed in the Mass Effect series.
Tragic News [robinsachs.com]
Chris Priestly [Twitter]
FlameofWesternesse has made this terrific short film, which catalogues some of the memorials placed throughout Azeroth in honour of World of Warcraft players who have passed away during the game's tenure.
Maybe you've seen them and wondered what they were for, maybe like me you've barely played the game and had no idea it could do stuff like this, either way it's a surprisingly moving video.
A Tribute to World of Warcraft Memorials [YouTube]
Sol Yurick, the writer whose 1965 novel "The Warriors" was adapted into a film 14 years later—which then became one of the best adapted works ever in video gaming—died this weekend. He was 88.
Yurick's work itself was a loose adaptation of a story told 2,300 years before: Anabasis, which chronicles the journey of Greek mercenaries through hostile territory after the death of their leader. Yurick's book, and The Warriors both open with a grand council of street gangs, convened in the Bronx, and the murder of the leader who called for the gathering (Cyrus, a direct reference to the leader of the Greeks in Anabasis). But the stories then diverge significantly.
Walter Hill, the director of The Warriors, strove to give a comic-book depiction of the gang's flight from the Bronx back to their Coney Island turf. (Indeed, in Yurick's book, the gang's mascot, Junior, reads a comic book version of the story throughout the escape.) In the film, each faction was given a name and a costume theme invoking it, typified by the iconic "Baseball Furies" the protagonist Warriors fight in Riverside Park. After making their way through rival gangs' turf in Manhattan and then back to Coney Island, the Warriors defeat the gang responsible for Cyrus' death.
The Warriors became a cult hit, partly because its exaggerated portrayal of New York City's lawlessness fit with the image of violent crime and decay that blighted the city in the late 1970s. A staple of Saturday and Sunday afternoon movie programming on UHF stations, the film faded from popular memory until Rockstar resurrected it as a video game 26 years later.
The Warriors, released in 2005 for the Xbox and PS2, began with a three-minute recreation of the film's opening sequence (shown above). Set to the blood pumping guitar and synthesizer of Barry Vorzon's original soundtrack, it's one of the best openings a video game has ever had. Critics familiar with the film swooned, and The Warriors reviewed very well in a year full of big hits. Primarily a brawler, with some limited open-world features, the game also served as a canonical prologue to the all-gang meeting in the Bronx. It is playable only on the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox; a version for the PSP was released in 2007.
RIP Sol Yurick [Rockstar Games Twitter]
Oscar nominated actor Michael Clarke Duncan passed away earlier today. The 54 year-old died from complications from a heart attack he had earlier this summer. Duncan is best known for his roles in The Green Mile, Armageddon, and Talladega Nights—among many, many other films.
The actor did more than movie work. Blessed with powerful pipes, Duncan was also a voice actor, lending his vocal talents to an array of video games as well as cartoons. One of his first roles was actually in a 1995 adventure game.
After establishing himself as a Hollywood actor, Duncan continued to work in games. He voiced the character of Atlas in God of War II, Benjamin in the first Saints Row, a crime lord in survival horror game The Suffering: Ties That Bind, the character of Ygori in fantasy game Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, and SEAL Operative Wardog in tactical shooter SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs. Other games he did voice work for include first-person-shooter Soldier of Fortune and Star Trek Klingon Academy.
One of his first professional acting gigs, however, was appearing as a security guard in Panic in the Park, with BayWatch star and Playboy Playmate Erika Eleniak. The PC adventure game had Erika play a set of twins—one evil, one not—in a potboiler about an old amusement park. You can see Duncan's debut in the gallery above as well as clip from God of War II.
Whether it was a cheesy PC adventure game or a big Hollywood production, Duncan's work was engaging, spirited, and often funny as well as moving. He will be missed.
(Top photo: Actor Michael Duncan Clark attended the premiere of 'Elektra' at the Palms Casino on January 8, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
Paul Steed, an artist whose video game career spanned design, publishing and even console development, died unexpectedly, according to The Jace Hall Show. Steed was perhaps best known for work on Wing Commander and Quake and also for controversies arising in his time ad id Software.
Steed was most recently the executive creative director of Exigent, a 3D art company he founded. Prior to that, he had worked for publishers such as Atari and Electronic Arts, with Microsoft on the Xbox 360, and at id. He got his start at Origin Systems as an illustrator for the Wing Commander series and had credits on other games such as Privateer and Strike Commander.
At id, he worked on Quake and Quake II. According to John Carmack, id's co-founder, in 2000 Steed was fired (over Carmack's objection) in retaliation for his insistence on working on what would become Doom 3, a project then opposed by two of the firm's co-owners. Steed also was notorious for releasing the "Crackwhore" player skin for Quake II, a model apparently intended as a tribute to a clan by that name but controversial for its name and appearance. Steed also was noteworthy for giving the keynote speech of Game Developers Conference 2008.
Jace Hall called Steed "a close friend" and "simply one of the first cutting edge low-poly 3D modelers to ever exist in the industry." The circumstances of Steed's passing are unknown. Steed is survived by his wife and children.
Goodbye Paul Steed [Wing Commander Combat Information Center]
Quake, Video Game Industry Legend Paul Steed has Passed Away [The Jace Hall Show]
Image via Wing Commander Combat Information Center
In May of 2006, months before I started writing for Kotaku, my then girlfriend and I went to the pet store to buy her a kitten. There were cages filled with various mewling beasts, fluffy, bright-eyed animals eager to find a good home. And then there was Rande. I didn't like him at all.
A tuxedo cat wearing a black Batman mask with eyes like obsidian, the kitten my girlfriend chose was, in my opinion, a little freak. For the first two weeks after we brought him home he'd sit in the corner of the living room while I played video games, his eyes melding so perfectly with his black fur I couldn't tell if he was staring or not. It was unnerving.
Over time we bonded, and soon he was following me around our apartment. If I sat down he was on me, digging his razor-sharp claws into my legs lovingly. If I was at my desk he was under it, curled up around my feet. When my girlfriend and I parted ways he stayed, and for the past five years he's been my constant companion.
He's been a part of Kotaku as well. He first appeared in 2007, when I attemped to photograph a copy of Pokemon Snap for an article and he decided it was his. He's shown up in unboxings, he's helped me review food for Snacktaku, and he's put up with incredible amounts of shit for the sake of your entertainment.
Last night my wife bundled up the twins to come and pick me up from the airport following my trip to E3 2012, Rande slipped out the door unnoticed. When we got home he was nowhere to be found. I stayed up for hours calling him, and when I finally slept I did so on my front porch, in hopes that I'd wake up with him curled up in my lap.
Around 5:30 AM my brother, who lives close by, called to ask me if Rande was in the house. He had just passed a black and white cat in the middle of the road that had been hit by a car. I ran outside and down the street, and there he was.
I bundled him up and drove out to my mother's house, made him a space with shovel and bare hands, and now he's resting peacefully in a place where they've hopefully got plenty of ice pops and E-Z Cheese.
Rande was a large part of my life, and he was a part of Kotaku as well. I'm glad I got to share him with our readers, and that our best moments are preserved here, where years from now someone will stumble upon a video of a twisted creature shooting ninja stars out of its rear end and experience just a small fraction of the happiness he's brought me over the years.
Sleep well, Rande, you freakishly wonderful cat.
This has been a brutal year for many people's fondest childhood affections. First Star Wars visionary Ralph McQuarrie dies, then French comics legend Moebius passes away, and now we have the sad news that Maurice Sendak, the creator of children's stories such as Where the Wild Things Are, has died at age 83.
Sendak will of course be primarily remembered for the above-mentioned classic (it never ceases to blow my mind it was first published in 1963), but for me, his most lasting contribution was in writing my absolute favourite book as a small child: In the Night Kitchen.
About little more than a boy dreaming about a magic kitchen, where dough becomes fantastic contraptions like aeroplanes, it's been strangely controversial in the US (thanks to the star sometimes showing his naked little butt), but was cherished in my home due to the ridiculously charming story and artwork - also provided by Sendak - which looked good enough to eat.
In a career spanning over 50 years, the Brooklyn-born Sendak would not just write and illustrate children's stories, but also work in books and TV, where he once teamed up with, who else, Jim Henson.
Sendak passed away at his home at age 83 following complications after a recent stroke he suffered.
Fans of his work, or those interested in finding out more about one of the legend's in children's literature, should check out Gregory Maguire's Making Mischief, a recently-released collection of artwork and writings on Sendak's work.
While he never made it back, Taylor decided to go ahead and get a tattoo done anyway, only now it would be done as a memorial.
Because the pair bonded while playing Final Fantasy XI - "it was the thing that made me see him more as my brother and not just a guy dating my sister" - Taylor got his brother-in-law's character emblazoned across his shoulder, complete with dog tags around the chocobo's neck.
Apr 9, 2012
When I was four years old, my father took me out to a local electronics store and said we were buying a computer. OK, I thought, not really knowing why that was such a big deal. Twenty-seven years later, I now know it was one of the most significant days of my life.
That day we brought home a Commodore 64, my first ever video game system, the device which first kindled my lifelong passion for video games and which, ultimately, has led to who I am and where I am today.
So it's sad to learn today that Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore International, has passed away at the age of 83.
Born in Łódź, Poland in 1928, Tramiel's early life was, like that of fellow video game pioneer Ralph Baer, dominated by the aggression of Nazi Germany. Following Poland's rapid defeat in 1939, he would spend the next six years in German captivity, first working at a garment factory and later as a labourer.
Liberated from his work camp by US infantry, Tramiel would, again like Baer, end up in the US Army, where he specialised in the maintenance of office equipment and typewriters.
This experience enabled him to establish the Commodore Portable Typewriter Company in 1954, and when the typewriter business began to go sour a few years later, he deftly switched both his operations and company name to Commodore Business Machines, Inc., and began producing calculators instead.
Then in 1977 Tramiel was able to switch lanes again, and recognising that the future of home electronics lay in computers, had Commodore (now known as Commodore International) engineer Chuck Peddle come up with the PET (Personal Electronic Transactor), an all-in-one device which was popular in institutions like schools.
Schools alone wouldn't pay the bills, though, and Tramiel's now-famous line "We need to build computers for the masses, not the classes" led to two of Commodore's greatest successes.
In 1981, they released the VIC-20, which at the time became the biggest-selling computer of all time. Its success was based on its versatility: it could play games, yes, but it could also be used for more practical purposes like family budgets. At USD$300, it was also "affordable", at least by the standards of the day for such equipment
In 1982, though, they went one better, and released the Commodore 64. It was, for the time, the perfect machine, striking a balance between performance and affordability that would see it sell over 20 million units. To this day it remains the single biggest-selling personal computer system of all time.
What made the C64 so impressive was the way it blew away the competition in terms of both graphics and, more importantly, sound (indeed, the C64's unique architecture means its still a favourite of chiptune artists today). This led to some of the most memorable games of the 1980s appearing on the platform, from Last Ninja to GI Joe, Elite to Little Computer People, Summer Games to Way of the Exploding Fist. And that's before I even get to Cities of Gold, Pirates! and Aztec Challenge.
I adored my system, and its massive catalogue and raw performance meant it survived as our home computer until 1992. Even then, people were trying to make the system relevant, with ports of contemporary games like Street Fighter II.
Tramiel left Commodore in 1984, and in a strange quirk would go on to buy the remains of Atari. It was Tramiel's son Sam, in fact, who oversaw the development of the Atari Jaguar, the company's last important contribution to the home video game market.
A lot of farewells, and as this medium matures we're only going to need to write more of them, end up either sad or, sadder still, acts of discovery as the masses only find out about how important a person was when they pass.
This time, though, I just want to say thank you, Jack. I know you weren't the only person involved in the creation of the C64, but you were the man in charge, and without you I wouldn't be who I am today. So, yeah. Thanks.
Jack Tramiel, a Holocaust survivor and the tech visionary who founded the company that created the legendary Commodore 64 computer, died on Sunday at the age of 83, Forbes reports. We'll have more on Tramiel's great legacy later.