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125 votes

Why did some old MS-DOS games lack the ability to exit them?

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 ...
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112 votes
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How was copying prevented when the first CD-ROM games were introduced?

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 ...
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94 votes

Why weren't bootable game disks ever common on the IBM PC?

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 ...
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91 votes
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How exactly does Sonic & Knuckles' 'Lock-On Technology' work?

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 ...
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78 votes

Back in 1984 I wrote some games for Spectrum - Will they still be playable?

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 ...
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77 votes
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Why are paddles called paddles?

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 ...
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73 votes
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Looking for a PC 2D platformer game from the mid-2000s or earlier

That sounds exactly like my memory of Dangerous Dave. A playable version is hosted on the Internet Archive.
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72 votes
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How were the first ZX Spectrum games written?

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 ...
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72 votes
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How did old MS-DOS games utilize various graphic cards?

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 ...
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71 votes
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How do DOS games like DOOM benefit from a PCI graphics card?

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 ...
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69 votes
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Why do old games use flashing as means of showing damage?

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 ...
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  • 173k
56 votes

How were the first ZX Spectrum games written?

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 ...
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55 votes

Why weren't 80s arcade games programmed in C?

I think the question I would ask is why would you program arcade gamers in C back in the 80's. Firstly, C was not nearly as popular in the world of microprocessor programming as you might imagine back ...
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50 votes

How did C64 games handle music during gameplay?

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....
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  • 57.3k
48 votes

How was copying prevented when the first CD-ROM games were introduced?

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 ...
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  • 489
47 votes

Simplest system to create an emulator for

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 ...
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  • 34.8k
46 votes

Why did early game consoles need the TV to be tuned to channel 3 or 4?

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. ...
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45 votes

Why did the monsters have "infinite invisible pillars" of hitboxes vertically in all versions of the DOOM engine?

Doom maps and locations on the maps were essentially 2D. This makes a lot of stuff much cheaper to calculate that a general 3D solution but has some limitations: objects can't stack, you can't jump ...
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43 votes
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What is 'Adaptive Tile Refresh' in the context of Commander Keen?

"Adaptive Tile Refresh" is the strategy of maintaining a software-drawn tilemap in memory in place by redrawing only the tiles which differ after moving a logical camera across a grid of ...
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42 votes
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Is this a real system? Which one?

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 ...
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  • 173k
41 votes

How can I play QBasic Nibbles on a modern machine?

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 ...
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  • 17.2k
39 votes

Why did early game consoles need the TV to be tuned to channel 3 or 4?

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 ...
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  • 14.2k
38 votes

Why were early 3D games so full of muted colours?

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 ...
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37 votes

How can I play QBasic Nibbles on a modern machine?

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

Why do old games use flashing as means of showing damage?

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 ...
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35 votes

Back in 1984 I wrote some games for Spectrum - Will they still be playable?

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-...
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34 votes
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How did "Ballblazer" pull off fast, smooth, first-person, solid-model 3D on Atari 8-bits?

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 ...
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  • 3,592
34 votes

Why did the monsters have "infinite invisible pillars" of hitboxes vertically in all versions of the DOOM engine?

Allowing two objects to occupy the same position in XY space but different elevations would create the possibility that one object might collide with another from above or below. While this might not ...
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  • 28.1k
33 votes
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First commercial DOS game?

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 ...
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