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 Post subject: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:27 pm 
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It seems a trend nowadays to appreciate old 8bit and 16bit times. I'm thinking mainly of games here, but of course that applies to OSs, too. See the many people wanting to use the BIOS interrupts...

I appreciate both old-times-games with a good mood and modern games with a 3D engine. I can't get interested in virtual reality yet. But maybe I will try that one day.

What do you think about retro computing? And about modern monster-big games running on monster-big graphics-cards?

Greetings
Peter

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:40 pm 
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PeterX wrote:
It seems a trend nowadays to appreciate old 8bit and 16bit times. I'm thinking mainly of games here, but of course that applies to OSs, too. See the many people wanting to use the BIOS interrupts...

I appreciate both old-times-games with a good mood and modern games with a 3D engine. I can't get interested in virtual reality yet. But maybe I will try that one day.

What do you think about retro computing? And about modern monster-big games running on monster-big graphics-cards?

Greetings
Peter


I love retro computing, I grew up in the ‘80s and there were loads of different systems, in a typical week in the late ‘80s, I’d use both an Acorn BBC and Acorn Archimedes at school, an Atari ST at one friend’s house and a 286 IBM-PC compatible at another, and come home to my own Amiga 500... I also knew someone who had an Apple Macintosh II, but we rarely used it. Wel all had various 8bit Commodore/Atari/spectrum machines, but those were old hat once the 16bit machines arrived.

I’m my office I have a large collection of classic machines. But they are mostly just museum pieces now, as I don’t have any display hardware compatible with their video output... My quality time, retro computing is done via Emulation. I’ve written a few emulators too.

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:16 pm 
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PeterX wrote:
What do you think about retro computing?
It is likely nostalgia for the "good old days". Most enthusiasts I see are children of the '80ies, remembering the days of their childhood with all the rose-tinted glasses previous generations used. God help us when my generation gets ahold of those, and suddenly the airwaves will be flooded with reruns of the Street Sharks.

Anyway, partly it is an appreciation of the simpler times. Although it appears non-programmers overestimate the complexity of those systems, and severely underestimate the complexity of modern systems. Go to any YouTube video by RetroGameMechanicsExplained, and scroll to the comment section. You will find scores of people wondering how anyone could wrap their heads around, say, the transformations possible with HDMA on the SNES. While those were impressive, they pale in comparison to anything a modern rendering pipeline does. The complexity of older systems was still impressive, I mean they had grown out of 40 years of computing history. But that complexity was still manageable; a single person could still understand most aspects of those things. Look at a more modern systems, and there is no single person that still understands all of what's happening in there.

The flipside, that is filtered out entirely by the rose-tinted glasses, however, is that in those days you also had to understand a lot more about your computer, in order to set up your ISA cards without conflict. Pretty much everywhere, when you automate a problem away, knowledge of how to fix the problem manually ceases to be relevant and is phased out. Look at navigation: How many people can still read maps? (And how many people care that they don't know how?) I still learned how to use map and compass in school, but the number of my classmates remembering that to this day can probably be counted on the fingers of a retired bomb disposal expert.

That is not to dismiss the retro community. I admire the enterprising spirit most of the subculture is exhibiting, with the C64 community going as far as making new semiconductors just to fix the PLA problem. (A certain chip in most C64s is slowly going bad. It is a proprietary chip and no longer manufactured. Buying an actual PLA is prohibitively expensive, emulating the thing with a PROM does not work, so basically, the only options left are discrete logic gates or FPGAs.) And the Gotek floppy emulator, which is pretty much exclusive to the modern retro community, is also a thing of beauty. But still, all of these are attempts to keep obsolete systems running, pretty much only for their own sake, and for nostalgia. It won't last. In the struggle against entropy, everyone fails sooner or later.

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:36 am 
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Hi,
PeterX wrote:
What do you think about retro computing?
I think there's more to it than nostalgia, and that aspect hasn't been mentioned yet. In the "good old days" you paid money for a software and then that software become yours. These days no matter how much you pay, you never really own a software. The companies can take it away from you any time (by banning your cloud account or by deleting the app remotely for example), and if that's not enough, they are spying on the users all the time (OSes, games, all). No wonder people are looking for solutions that do not take their freedom away.

PeterX wrote:
And about modern monster-big games running on monster-big graphics-cards?
Not the monster-big-cards raise the problem IMHO. Old games were made with love. Their main purpose was to entertain the user. Resources were limited, and the programmers had to care a lot about the code to run smoothly. Graphics were very limited too, so designers had to care a lot to make a game beautiful. Can you imagine that Gobliiins was made with 16 colors only for example?
Image(Yes, this is EGA graphics!)
And excellent game play and creativity were used to made up for the lack of shiny 3D effects. Those old games were full with ideas. There were so many games that started new genres: platformer, puzzle, strategy, adventure, point-n-click, fps shooter, duel fighters, simulators etc.

Modern games on the other hand are product of slavery. Programmers and designers are under lot of stress, short deadlines, bad wage, sometimes even sexual harassment etc. The capability of modern cards to display more video-like effects is amazing, however there's no time to create genuine game plays any more. A slave cannot and won't put heart into the games. All games are alike, there are just a few genres in AAA games (and most of those games are fps shooters with bad or mediocre background stories). The purpose of the games shifted from entertaining to abuse users and make them literally addictive and robbed (just think about the loot systems and micro-transactions). It's not just you can be banned from your game any time, but you can never know the TCO any more. So both the creators and the users are technically slaves to the modern games.

I think this is the same reason why indie gaming is on the rise. It is driven by the same desire as retro gaming.

Cheers,
bzt


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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:02 am 
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nullplan wrote:
PeterX wrote:
What do you think about retro computing?
It is likely nostalgia for the "good old days". Most enthusiasts I see are children of the '80ies, remembering the days of their childhood with all the rose-tinted glasses previous generations used.


While undoubtedly true, I feel you are being perhaps a little harsh. In the ‘80s these fancy computer things were quite exotic! This was before the homogenisation of hardware and software, there were few standards and with many things there wasn’t a “right way”.

Retro computing, especially with respect to Operating Systems, show some really innovative and unusual architectures! Most of these paradigms died out due to non obvious limitations or just because the computer industry moved in a different direction.

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:41 am 
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I remember GEM with a mixture of nostalgia and pain! :lol: It remains the worst GUI I've ever used. However, the font looked so futuristic to my teenage self, and now after decades of eye-tripping color icons I rather appreciate GEM's monochrome ones.

8-bit Atari home computers impressed me with their style and their sophisticated OS. When I learned what MS-DOS was like, I was shocked at how kludgy it was by comparison. However, Atari's OS was rather overspecified for the hardware, causing some serious problems for the BASIC implementation.

Perhaps more than anything, I'm nostalgic for computers which boot to an interpreter by default, and simple, easy to learn references for the interpreter's language. POSIX shell is cumbersome and the commands are immensely bloated now. It takes more attention than I typically have to read the simplest available documentation for any one command. Plan 9 shell is 1000 times better in both these specific areas, but getting the different commands to work together is cumbersome; a ridiculous problem when each command is so limited.

I also agree with pretty-much everything bzt wrote above. Most of the entertainment I've chosen in the last 30 years has been "indie" in one way or another for exactly those reasons. (Virtual reality is all sorts of indie except when it isn't. ;) ) I'm not overly concerned with megacorps stealing my data, but I'm still disgusted by their apparent attitudes and don't want to feed them. I'm revolted by the recent trend of open-source devs imitating their methods, (perhaps to gain popularity or something,) but thankfully there's still stuff outside that.

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:51 am 
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As I have mentioned before, in addition to genuine retro hardware and software, there are a number of neo-retro-computing projects around as well such as COSMAC Membership Card, PE6502, Color Maximite, or Commander X16, There are also any number of SBC retro-software projects such as the many various Raspberry Pi BASIC implementations such as IchigoJam BASIC.

How relevant this is in this discussion is left as an exercise for the readers.

There is also this previous thread which definitely seems relevant.

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:25 am 
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Schol-R-LEA wrote:
There is also this previous thread which definitely seems relevant.

Fun thread! I wish I'd been here for it. I would have been all, "My first multitasking computer had only 384KB for user programs!" ;) It had Windows 3.1 which ran only in 286 or 386 protected mode and put all user programs above the 1MB boundary, running on a 286 with only 1MB total RAM. I learned a bit about window systems from that thing, watching windows redraw so slowly. "You see the windows peel off the screen," as someone very aptly said.

Funnily enough, I have almost zero nostalgia for Windows 3.1. I haven't got much for QBasic either, it was unnecessarily awkward where Atari Basic wasn't at all.

Edit: I'm not sure how I missed this above my last post:
bloodline wrote:
Retro computing, especially with respect to Operating Systems, show some really innovative and unusual architectures! Most of these paradigms died out due to non obvious limitations or just because the computer industry moved in a different direction.

Such innovations fascinate me! :) I've used a few here and there. Plan 9 I think everyone knows I used. Oberon a bit, having a similar executable text concept to Plan 9's Acme, but it's not quite so flexible because there are fewer places to enter text. Pie menus are amazing things when done right. Used some curious things under Linux/X11 too, but I'm forgetting them now. I tried every window manager I could get my hands on, XD but most weren't terribly exciting. Old programs were more interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:27 am 
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eekee wrote:
Funnily enough, I have almost zero nostalgia for Windows 3.1. I haven't got much for QBasic either, it was unnecessarily awkward where Atari Basic wasn't at all.

Windows 3 was terrible! I loved Windows95 because it was really an improvement from DOS and Windows 3. I could call the MIcrosoft support for the first two or three weeks after buying and drive them crazy... I bought actually 3.5 inch diskettes (approx. 10 or more of them).

QBasic was cool except that the graphics were hardwired into the language, so it couldn't grow when more powerful graphics were available.

Dunno Atari Basic. Was it from Microsoft? (C64 Basic and Amiga Basic were from Microsoft, not directly from Commodore.)

Greetings
Peter

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:32 am 
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eekee wrote:

Edit: I'm not sure how I missed this above my last post:
bloodline wrote:
Retro computing, especially with respect to Operating Systems, show some really innovative and unusual architectures! Most of these paradigms died out due to non obvious limitations or just because the computer industry moved in a different direction.

Such innovations fascinate me! :) I've used a few here and there. Plan 9 I think everyone knows I used. Oberon a bit, having a similar executable text concept to Plan 9's Acme, but it's not quite so flexible because there are fewer places to enter text. Pie menus are amazing things when done right. Used some curious things under Linux/X11 too, but I'm forgetting them now. I tried every window manager I could get my hands on, XD but most weren't terribly exciting. Old programs were more interesting.


In engineering the really interesting/pretty stuff happens when the engineers know how things should work but haven’t quite figured out how to make it work... with aircraft that happened in the 1950s/60s with some amazing examples of just how creative engineers could be to overcome the technological limitations of the time.

With computers I feel this era was the late 1970s through to the 1980s, by the ‘90s memory became so cheap and CPUs so powerful it was easy to implement the dreams of computer scientists without compromise, innovation stopped.

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 Post subject: Re: Retro computing (games and OSs)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 4:23 pm 
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PeterX wrote:
QBasic was cool except that the graphics were hardwired into the language, so it couldn't grow when more powerful graphics were available.

Dunno Atari Basic. Was it from Microsoft? (C64 Basic and Amiga Basic were from Microsoft, not directly from Commodore.)

Atari wanted to use Microsoft Basic, but they'd made their OS so big, there wasn't room. There was only 8KB left, and MS Basic for the 6502 was almost 8KB without the necessary OS drivers. They had to get a company to write a Basic specially for them. It had a very regular syntax which suited me very well. I don't know what MS Basic for 8-bits was like, but QBasic had these syntax foibles I hated. They were meaningless, hard to remember and sometimes hard to type. Granted, it might have been a bit easier if I'd had a book instead of trying to read documentation and write code on the same 80x25 screen at the same time, but half the statements in Atari Basic were just simpler altogether.

Still, I plugged away at QBasic and did have some fun with it in the end. I don't clearly remember, but I think I found a way to use that pattern fill feature for drawing text. ;) More recently, I partially made a font with the drawing string thing but it was too much like hard work. But with both those things, if you're going to work that hard, you might as well write assembly language. And in assembly, you can pass x-y coordinates as pairs if you want to. I remember getting very irritated with QBasic because you couldn't do that although the syntax made it look like you could. ;)

bloodline wrote:
In engineering the really interesting/pretty stuff happens when the engineers know how things should work but haven’t quite figured out how to make it work... with aircraft that happened in the 1950s/60s with some amazing examples of just how creative engineers could be to overcome the technological limitations of the time.

Eh... yeah, but that's not what I'm talking about with pie menus and executable text. Regular menus are just painful for me, unless the lines are huge. The trouble is lots of devs hate pie menus because they can't cram a billion features in, but even if that's desirable, they're still just not thinking. There are ways to have the best of both worlds.

Executable text is very much power to the user, bringing some of the best aspects of command lines into the GUI. It's true an incautious click can get you into trouble, :lol: but that happens far less often than you'd think because most incautious clicks or even spastic drags just get garbage.

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