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Memory Lane: Videogaming
Posted 03 December 2001 - 03:36 PM
Gaming has always been a pastime with me. The one regret I have is that my old TV I have can only handle up to three videogame systems without all that wiring filling up space in my family room. So last night, I went to a website that was like going down memory lane for me. It's Atariland and they have input on systems as well as actual ROMs that you can download to your PC and play old games from Atari 2600 to even the old Atari PC's from the past. Now...I had owned old games from Atari that are from the 2600 and the 7800, so it is legal for me to download the ROMs to my PC.
If you are looking for an emulator that easy to download and install (remember....if you do not own games from the system you are emulating in your PC, it's illegal to use the emulator), try MESS32 for Windows that emulates the Atari 7800. It comes with 5 games, but I have to stress that the install is so simple; the download is only 2MB; and its compatible with even Windows XP.
Now....whats the drawback to using MESS32? Well...for one thing.....you will get small area on your desktop to play the games. Its kinda small trying to manuever a car through Pole Position 2 or even shooting aliens in Galaga. Also, if you are used to using one button and one joystick to play games, you will have to get used to certain buttons for certain games. The bad part is that the games do not come with any instructions on what buttons to press, etc. So, its really a search and discover situation. I found out through trial and error that you have to press 'Ctrl' to start the game and also function as the "Action" button in most games.
Posted 03 December 2001 - 08:19 PM
That sounds great Brian. I will definitely check it out. I am always looking for a good emulator for old gaming systems. I am still searching for a good Amiga emulator. Not necessarily a gaming system, but a great computer/gamer.
Posted 03 December 2001 - 11:02 PM
I found out that Stella is very easy to install too. I have already close to 60 ROMS downloaded from the 2600 era and all 42 from the 7800 era. How big are the downloads??? Well...I will say this...some of the games are at each averaging only 7-18kb each. Thats right....they are that small!!
So my recommendations:
1)MESS32--Its easy to run. Make sure you follow the instructions on how to install. All you really do is run the executable file (Id also make a shortcut on the desktop if I were you) then right click "Atari 7800" and choose properties. Uncheck "Full Screen". This way it makes things easier if you want to get to the menu for further hacking. Note: You are running the EXE file. Nothing gets installed!!
2)Stella-- This is for emulating the Atari 2600. You will have over 400 games to choose from. There are games from every category...even Adult (I counted 2 Adult games so far). You run the EXE file and you are given a choice of 5 games to choose from. Some of the games are recent. So, you will end up getting BIN files as your game ROMS. Its simple to get the games running. Download a game of your choosing (for example......'Wizard Of Wor', a favorite of mine...or better yet 'Yars Revenge')All you do is go to the Zipped download file which contains the BIN file, choose 'Extract to....', then Stella and then ROM. Then go run Stella and and click the game you want and then click 'Play'.
I have not figured out yet how to get the Atari5200 emulator or the Atari 800 emulator to work yet. Once again, you wont go wrong with the two emulators I mentioned. By the way, you can get emulators for BeOS and Mac too for playing Atari games on those systems as well.
Posted 04 December 2001 - 11:14 AM
I myself built a MAME Machine. Mame lets you play almost any ARCADE game ever made (the games are direct from the roms of the video games so they are exactly like the arcade game!)
I purchase a real Arcade Joystick which seen at www.hanaho.com/products/HotRodJoystick/ this joystick gives me the real arcade feel!
What a want now is a cabinet for my mame machine, here is the one I am hinting to my wife I want for Christmas.
To find out more about mame go to www.mame.dk
Posted 06 December 2001 - 02:49 PM
Scott, I have been running MAME32 and absolutely love it. The catch for me is that I can only find games that are compatible with MAME. Some of the games I have downloaded came up missing some files, so I couldnt run them after the Audit process. One favorite game "Wizard Of Wor" comes in great with MAME32, but the sound sometimes does the Rice Chrispies effect (Snap, Crackle, Pop). However, what did I expect from playing a 21 year old arcade game on my PC....perfection???
Posted 19 December 2001 - 04:34 PM
I have been playing MAME32 game emeulations for over a year. I love it. I feel a little guilty because I don't own some of the games myself so I am in technical violation of copyrights. But the games I play aren't available commericially anymore anyway. So sue me!
Posted 19 December 2001 - 07:52 PM
First of all, videogaming companies do not mind distributions of their old software. The legality issues basically fall on sale of those roms to others. If you download those roms to your PC and do not sell them back to make a profit, youre gonna be fine. If you sell them and make a profit, then thats when you'll be in hot water with the software companies. Secondly, I know that it says that if you dont own the software, then its illegal. However, how would the software companies find out that you dont own a cart?? You could always say that you previously owned a cart of the game you downloaded.
Posted 19 December 2001 - 08:53 PM
2 Trivia questions:
1. What was the first commercially-manufactured video game?
2. What was the first coin-operated video game?
I've played both of them, the latter at an arcade in Hampton Beach, Hampton, New Hampshire, in the early 1970s.
No fair doing a web search first!
Posted 20 December 2001 - 12:41 AM
I would guess that the answer to both is Neil Bushnell's PONG, but I am probably wrong.
In 1969, I played a spacewar-type game on a DEC PDP-15 (whcih was actually before the PDP-11) but the system cost about $20,000 at the time. I remarked to the DEC engineer that it would be fun to have such games in the home on TV. He thought it was the most ludicrous thing for anyone to have a computer in the home, much less to play games. I gues thats why the PC revolution kinda passed DEC by.
Posted 20 December 2001 - 07:07 AM
Part of the first guess is correct. The part that says it is probably wrong.
Neither of these games used a computer. They depended on a clever TTL-logic circuit called the "slipping counter". There was no such thing as a mass-produced microprocessor at the time.
Early video games used a television "color burst" crystal as a time base and divided it by two a bunch of times until it got down to a television's "horizontal sync" frequency, which is a little over 15Kz. The position of the ball on the screen was determined by the slipping counter. The position of the paddles in the pong game were determined by an SE555 timer circuit.
For those who remember playing Pong, and how ticked people would become when the ball went "under" the paddle, that was a design mistake. The paddle was supposed to go to the bottom of the screen, but the SE555 timer could not receive the correct voltage to place it there, because the designer had not factored in the "forward drop" of a certain diode (about 1/2 volt) in his calculations. A friend of mine redesigned the circuit for me and changed it on my Pongs (I owned a route of coin-operated games at the time).
Some of you may even remember that the "net" was never in the middle of the picture. That was also a design mistake. When the engineers estimated how to place the net in the middle of the screen, they measured from the leading edge of the horizontal sync pulse to the center of the screen, but devised a circuit that referenced it from the trailing edge (or was it vice versa?). The amount that the net is misplaced is equal to the width of the horizontal sync pulse. When other companies started manufacturing their own versions of this game (there was no software and no copyright: just an unresolved patent issue), they actually copied these mistakes into their own circuits, kind of like the allegorical kid who copies the name of the "A" student sitting in front of him off his test, along with his answers.
There was an excellent book published around 1974, written by Bill Arkush and Jim Snead and published under the name "Kush 'n' Stuff", as I recall, that explained how this circuitry worked. I attended a seminar that they conducted at Bally Northeast that year and bought their book shortly thereafter. I now wish I hadn't thrown my copy away. A person who understood logic circuitry could actually follow the circuit and figure out how it developed and moved the images, if one was so inclined.
Bushnell was a colorful character who took someone else's idea (Ralph Baer's) and ran with it, kind of like an early Bill Gates, who bought MS-DOS from someone else.
I once read an interview with Bushnell in which he said that Bally had given him some R&D money to develop a prototype ping pong game, but when he showed it to them, they passed on it. Their critique was that it would be a loser for two reasons. It did not have a single-player mode, as nearly all successful arcade games had previously, and the paddles were not interesting to look at (A review that reminds me of "Can't sing. Can't act. Can dance a little").