Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

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The Great Irony

Posted by Trixter on July 26, 2015

I am very active in one area of the electronic entertainment digital archival movement.  Prior to that, I co-founded MobyGames, and prior to that, I was a major factor in getting abandonware off the ground.  For two decades, I’ve spent more time handling games than playing them.  This is the great irony of working in this field, like the composer who is so busy writing music that he doesn’t have time to listen to any new music.  It is a quick way to become myopic.

When my team won the oldskool compo at Revision, I felt like I could finally exhale and relax in my hobby time.  So, what happens when you’ve been putting off games for several years while you work on other projects?  This happens:

capture_26072015_221547 capture_26072015_221557 capture_26072015_221606 capture_26072015_221610

The game archivist finally spent 210 hours of free time playing games.  Felt really good to use those muscles again.

Now that that is out of my system, time to return to more traditional projects!  (At least, until Fallout 4 is released.)


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Aftershocks and future plans

Posted by Trixter on June 23, 2015

After dropping the mic in April, I’ve been suspiciously quiet, haven’t I?  Truth be told, I got a little burnt out.  Winning Revision was a dream come true, but afterwards my free time and I really needed a break.  I ended up playing a LOT of games on the bucket list (Skyrim, Broken Age, replayed Fallout a 7th time) and generally caught up on movies.  So, sorry I’ve been quiet.

Some random interesting things that happened between then and now:

Since 8088 MPH, the crew has been working slowly but steadily on a final version that improves the sound and video quality a little, but more importantly, works on a wider range of hardware (ie. you should be able to use any CGA card instead of the first IBM revision).  Clone 6845 chips might also be compatible with the final version; we’re working on it.

As for me specifically: Before the end of the summer, you will see at least one of the following three things from me:

  1. An article series exploring the PC speaker and how to thoroughly abuse it (has information relevant for other platforms too, most notably lightweight compression/decompression schemes)
  2. A method to much more easily enjoy vintage games on vintage systems
  3. A vintage PC podcast (I’m still flabbergasted there aren’t any!)

Suggestions welcome if you’d like to nudge me in a particular direction.

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CGADEMO by Codeblasters

Posted by Trixter on November 22, 2014

I don’t normally reblog other people’s blogs, but my own blog has been neglected lately due to work on other vintage computing and programming projects, so I thought I would share a post by my friend Scali that covers a vintage programming problem just as well, if not better, then I would have covered. Enjoy.

Scali's OpenBlog™

Today I want to talk about a rather obscure, yet interesting demo, namely CGADEMO by Codeblasters, from 1992:

As you can read from the scroller, what’s interesting about this demo is that it runs at full framerate (60 Hz) even on the original IBM PC (8088 at 4.77 MHz with CGA). And that there are 16 colours on screen at the same time.

Unstable rasters

To start with the 16 colours… They use a trick similar to my palette switching in the 1991 donut. Namely, they change the background colour of the CGA palette at every scanline, which gives a rasterbar effect. This is very similar to what I have discussed on C64. This demo does not use a stable raster however, since that is very difficult to achieve on a PC anyway. Instead, they use polling of the hblank status bit to determine when a scanline is…

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Dev journal, day 19

Posted by Trixter on May 20, 2014

Dev journal, day 19

Before you ask, this *IS* a bug. Always make sure your pointers are normalized, kids!

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Dev journal, day 18

Posted by Trixter on May 18, 2014

Dev journal, day 18

Why, this almost looks like a compiler.

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Dev journal, day 11

Posted by Trixter on May 11, 2014

Dev journal, day 11

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Dev journal, day 10

Posted by Trixter on May 10, 2014

Dev journal, day 10

NP-hard problems are hard.

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Dev journal, day 9

Posted by Trixter on May 10, 2014

Dev journal, day 9

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Dev journal, day 8

Posted by Trixter on May 8, 2014

Dev journal, day 8

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Dev journal, day 7

Posted by Trixter on May 7, 2014

Dev journal, day 7

And before anyone asks:  This is not a bug, but an intentionally-designed profiling display.

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