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dgrubb last won the day on November 26 2017

dgrubb had the most liked content!

About dgrubb

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  1. That put me off a lot of really great stuff for years. I enjoy a lot of 8 and 16-bit era platformers but it seemed like so much time and work to make any progress, just to have it scrubbed at the end of each play. Those games didn't become viable for me until emulation allowed save states. I really begrudged the first PlayStation back in the day. At the time I perceived it as a force for corporate power overwhelming creativity, where Sony were using their massive resources to swamp a market and drive out a lot of innovative players. At the same time wider consolidation in the industry meant many smaller game developers were being bought out, home micro-computers stopped being viable platforms, bad/early 3D muscled out really great 2D styled games and the rising cost of development led to commercially safe games being the ones which received the funding and marketing attention. Basically, I blamed Sony for all the problems of the modern gaming industry by starting those trends. In retrospect I was being very unfair, especially now I know a lot more about the internal management problems at Atari, Sega and Commodore. Now I'm revisiting the library a little bit and am discovering just how good the port of Doom was, and how good Symphony of The Night is, for instance, I can't attribute the console's success to corporate bullying. There's a lot there which earned success. The economics are definitely in the collectors' favour. Running for so many years, selling so many units, and getting such good developer support has resulted in a flooded second-hand market.
  2. A common sentiment found among retro-computing enthusiasts is that there's nothing quite like the real thing. It's understandable, computers and game consoles (i.e., computers disguised as toys and appliances) are physical items and our happy nostalgic memories are complimented by recollections of touch and heft: the feedback of button clicks, shunting cartridges into slots, and so on. However, there's a particular aficionado - we've all met him, he's a member of every fan group and forum - whose affection for real hardware gives way to an unpleasant snobbery. A "true fan" would never emulate, he says, implying that a gaming community is only a place for those with disposable income, space, and a nihilistic acceptance that the platform will die with the original hardware. I'm certainly not arguing against the value of hardware and experiences which come with it, we're all in agreement of its importance, but I do insist that emulation is also a first class citizen without which a platform has no future. Ashes to hardware ashes Take the Atari Jaguar; fewer than 250,000 are known to have been produced, with even fewer numbers of accessories such as CD-ROM drives. Of that number a great deal will have been owned by people with no interest in preservation. Many Jaguars have likely been dumped in the trash along with an avalanche of VCRs. Of the survivors many will suffer electrical faults due to old-age (the dreaded open-circuit capacitor problem). Many more will simply be damaged in accidents. This is already a serious problem for CD-ROM units which were produced in much smaller numbers than the console itself and are notoriously failure prone - although, arguably, no more so than other CD-ROM drives from the time. Taking the long view there will be a time when, for most people, original hardware will no longer be a viable way to access the content produced for the platform! New developments This is perhaps the strongest argument in favour of emulation. New content is vital for a platform and emulation is key to lowering the barrier in producing new content. In the late 70s it took highly skilled programmers with excellent design sense (a very select cross-section of personality) months to produce new games for the Atari 2600 using mainframe computers costing thousands of dollars. Today, a cheap PC with the Stella emulator, which includes an excellent debugger and the ability to step through program execution and inspect the emulated Atari's emulated state. Imagine what those original Atari and Activision programmers could have achieved in an afternoon with such capabilities! Imagine what today's programmers, of all kinds of skill levels, can achieve! A more thoughtful perspective I highly recommend that anybody with an interest in retro-gaming listen to Frank Cifaldi's GDC talk on the subject of emulation. It's witty, thought-provoking and quite brilliant. There's a lot to unpack, but in under an hour he touches on numerous relevant subjects such as preservation, the ethics of piracy, and how emulation can be leveraged in the most positive (and commercial!) ways:
  3. dgrubb

    Jaguar USB Tap

    Resources associated with the Jaguar USB Tap project.
  4. The Jaguar library receives a fair amount of criticism, and I don't think it's all unwarranted, either for wasting the system's potential with 68K based ports or for attempting to compete with later systems like the PS on their own terms. In contrast, I feel a game like Tempest 2000 works because, beyond just being a fun game concept, Minter was very careful to craft his implementation to the system: lots of pixel shattering effects, abstract polygon 3D, transforms and rotations etc etc. So, what other games, or game concepts, would have suited the special abilities and limitations of the platform? My vote goes to The Lawnmower Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p64uiKnhAQM It's a mix of platforming levels and 3D zones. I think it'd work on the Jaguar because the movie established an aesthetic which followed what the popular impression of what virtual realty was going to be like, rather than how it actually ended up being. That is, the movie tries to portray a virtual world as an extension to reality, rather than mimicking the real-world with real textures and shapes so it's all very polygonal and abstract. It's exactly the kind of 3D which could have been achieved well on the Jaguar with its proclivity towards things like gouraud shading. Also, the platform levels include a lot of pixel shattering effects (enemies and objects don't explode conventionally, they shatter, because ... umm ... stuff is like, all digital now, or something?) and would have benefited from embellishment of colours and scrolling effects.
  5. Yep, all Nintendo handhelds up until the DS Lite are region free, which I was surprised to find out considering how particular Nintendo are about protecting the integrity of their platforms. Because the screens are all LCD you don't have to worry about region specific video signal encoding either (i.e., PAL vs. NTSC). Are you sure the printer is working correctly? You can print a test message by holding down the "Feed" button while powering it on.
  6. Thanks for posting this, the Metroid series constitute most of my desert island games.
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