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120

Paratrooper was originally a “PC booter”. All PC booters run without DOS or any other operating system¹ — to start them, you would insert the floppy into the drive, and switch the computer on (or reboot it). There was nothing for such a game to exit to — once you’d finished playing, you’d switch the computer off, or reboot it from a different floppy (or from ...


111

When CD-ROM games were first introduced, game developers didn’t take any measures to prevent users from copying them, for two main reasons: CD-ROMs could contain more data than most hard drives at the time; CD writers were rare, and extremely expensive. The Wikipedia page on CD-R gives some idea of the expense involved: in 1990, CD recording systems cost ...


93

Bootable game disks do exist for the IBM PC. Conflict in Vietnam is an example of such a game. As can be seen on page 8 of the manual, the game boots directly without loading DOS first. The main reason it wasn't common was for compatibility. A self booting game has to have its own drivers for all the hardware it wants to support. As PCs quickly diversified ...


87

How does the Sonic & Knuckles cart detect another cartridge? It checks the serial numbers of games; they can be found in the ROM's header. It probably detects all preceding Sonic the Hedgehog games since they all result in specific effects when locked-on. Are the game ROMs merged in some way when connected? It seems both games are simply mapped onto ...


77

well, if you really want those games back, just buy the tape. Then buy a cassette player (they're cheap, you can try to get a high quality one) or find a friend who still has one. Now: Make sure to clean up the player heads with isopropyl alcohool before using it. Rewind the tape Extract it and use 2 pencils on the reels to gently tighten the tape so it's ...


77

They're called paddles because they let you play (electronic) table tennis. :) This article from CREATIVE COMPUTING VIDEO & ARCADE GAMES VOL. 1, NO. 1, 1983 explains. The reason this control is called a "paddle" in the personal computer industry is that it originally got its name from the control which moved the paddies[sic] on the screen in ...


71

Interestingly enough, I stumbled in a related article, that hints firstly the (cross)development at Sinclair was made on CP/M machines, (which corroborates the Matthew Smith Manic Miner development in the TRS 80 reference on the OP question), and later on using CP/M emulated under a VAX for (re)using the original binary (cross)toolchain. At Sinclair, a £60,...


71

DOOM itself doesn’t do anything special to benefit from PCI graphics cards. It runs faster with PCI graphics cards (and VLB, AGP, and PCI Express cards) than with ISA graphics cards because the supporting bus is faster, so reads from and writes to video memory take less time. PCI goes to great lengths to preserve backwards compatibility with ISA-based VGA, ...


70

Did every programmer of every game implemented all possible various API's that old graphic cards supported? Yes - but it went even deeper than that. Early graphics cards had virtually no callable code associated with them at all, the concept of "drivers" had not quite become a reality yet. There was the concept of a Video BIOS, which were extensions to the ...


68

So, why was this so widespread? Was it simply because it was easier to do than anything else (and, you know, limited hardware of the day), Exactly that. To make a sprite blink, all you've got to do is to set it to be not displayed and then displayed again. Usually by just writing a single register or pointer or setting a flag to skip drawing it. No ...


56

This is quite a wide-ranging question. There are some resources online which help: Jonathan Cauldwell, author of various Spectrum hits, has a How to write games for the Spectrum" guide, which seems to mainly cover modern Speccy development. The Oliver Twins (authors of many Codemasters-published titles back in the day) detail some of their development ...


50

Your assumptions about timing and interrupts are correct. Actually, it is surprisingly easy to add SID music to games because they tend to follow a basic pattern. Compose the tune in a C64 SID editor. There are many of these. The SID editor generates a SID file, which actually includes both the data and code for playback. This file is easily incorporated as ...


47

We had some software delivered on a CD in which the vendor purposely put a defect on a specific track. If that defect wasn't there, the software could say it wasn't an original CD. Since defects are not copied, even on low level track copies, an exact replica could not be created.


46

TL;DR: In the US Channel 3 was preferred as it was in the midst of the continious 2/3/4 assignment. By lifting or lowering the carrier by 6 Mhz either channel 2 or 4 could be offered as alternative. Another-Dave already answered the basic issue of avoiding collisions. The reason why it was channel 2/3/4 is due historic channel assignment (in the US, *1). ...


43

I'm putting CHIP-8 forward. This system is essentially a virtual machine developed for some reason. There are games written for the CHIP-8. It has a few opcodes, a stack, a couple of timers, and a low resolution bitmapped display, but it's simple enough that the first few emulators fit in a few kilobytes on early 8-bit computers. There are more than a few ...


42

TL;DR: Is this a real system? Which one? No, it's most likely not a specific machine but a setup to look contemporary. In Detail: I've come across several computers. (They all look extremely similar.) The usual way of game designers to speed up development: Reuse of props. [or] is it just designed in the style of a DEC That seems to be the purpose. ...


39

The problem is simple. At initialisation, Nibbles measures the time it takes to perform 1000 empty iterations of a FOR loop with a DOUBLE counter in order to determine how many such iterations are required to produce a ½ ms delay. Back when this code was written, CPUs were pretty slow (and FPUs even more so, if they were available at all), so it was ...


38

Why tune the TV to a channel at all? Early consumer television sets were built for one purpose: to watch broadcast television. The only input was for an antenna. The idea of using your television set for any other purpose simply wasn't yet conceived, so there were no connectors for any other kind of signal. The first additional uses for household ...


38

On the PS1 the lack of perspective correction when applying textures means that geometry will always retain its correct silhouette but the inner pixels may be displaced. Coupled to that, the most common texture format is paletted 16-colour. That suggests one obvious way to minimise perceived texture warping: make sure your textures are low-contrast. Then it’...


36

DOSBox, with the default CPU speed of 3000 cycles on this Linux box, runs nibbles.bas without problems.


35

Back in the '80s, I wrote a couple of games too. A few years ago I have found the old cassettes with those games, but I had no tape deck at all. I bought a "USB walkman" Basetech BT-USB-TAPE-100 on eBay for a few dollars. Then I just plugged this deck to my PC and record my old tapes to uncompressed WAV (at full possible sample speed, 48 kHz, 16 ...


34

In addition to the other answer and comments, a character would often enjoy a brief period of invulnerability after sustaining damage — this period was indicated with the character blinking. The blinking effect here helps suggest an ethereal state where you can’t suffer more physical damage.


33

There are two elements: The background The sprites The background is very straightforward: The vanishing point never changes so you have one graphic with a checkerboard in perspective. That graphic takes 2 bits per pixel so that you have the 2 checkerboard colors and the edges of the field color. It just needs to be the width of the screen + 4 tiles (2 ...


33

The first game sold for use on the IBM PC was Microsoft Adventure, which was available on the day the IBM PC was released (it was part of the launch, along with VisiCalc, Easywriter etc.). It was developed by Gordon Letwin (later of OS/2 fame) in 1979, based on the Colossal Cave mainframe game. It didn’t run on DOS though, it was a “booter” — you booted the ...


31

The nicest DOS emulator for macOS is Boxer, which is a macOS-specific version of DOSBox. Not only is it free, it's free software (or open source if you prefer); its source code is available and freely modifiable. There is currently no “official” 64-bit build, which means the distributed application won’t work on the latest versions of macOS, but there are 64-...


31

Answering the first part: why does Quake not have +mlook by default? John Romero thought mouselook was too advanced to be the default. https://twitter.com/romero/status/719115335488708608 John Romero: when we released Quake I thought mouselook was too advanced as a default so made it an option. Defaulted on in later update. https://twitter.com/romero/...


30

Excess capacity. ROM chips come in standard sizes based on powers of 2 and it is quite unlikely a particular size will be exactly what a game needs. For example, suppose a game displays numbers that are 8 x 8 pixels in size. It will need the digits from 0 to 9, each digit needs 64 bits so a ROM of 640 bits is required. That could be accommodated with a ...


30

(When selecting an answer, use Stephen's - I just put this here because it is too much text for a comment) Most Important: It's a Game of Raw Numbers. We can ignore more complicated stuff and simply go for bandwidth: ISA had at the time a bandwidth around 16 MiB/s (*2) VLB (*1) and PCI offered up to 133 MiB/s bandwidth. A 320 x 200 screen needs 64 kB (...


30

I'm going to say Operation Body Count from 1994, which was a Capstone Software game that used a slightly updated Wolfenstein 3D engine. It has a lot of sewers, and a lot of rats.


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