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Shaun.Bebbington

Appeal of new 8-bit software.

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Doesn't everybody, who is interested in 8 bit computers as relevant to their lives, want to see the machines do new stuff?

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Yes. It's exciting to get and play new games, that are currently being produced. The 8-bit scene is good, and the 2600 scene is really bustling. Look at the store here at Atari Age and browse through all the homebrews and the reviews. People are excited to play new games on old systems, to see what can be done, and to see what's never been seen. And simply to play something new.

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Part of the appeal for me is that anything produced on the system is unique based on the limited graphics capabilities, sound capabilities, processing power and available memory. Nothing like them (the software) will be produced on any newer systems, without faking the limitations.

 

From a programming, graphics/sound design standpoint, part of the appeal is in the challenge. The challenge to create something within the limitations and to push the hardware to see what it's really capable of, since often times this was not done due to limited time, resources and knowledge available to the companies that were producing software back in the day.

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Doesn't everybody, who is interested in 8 bit computers as relevant to their lives, want to see the machines do new stuff?

No, apparently not. Most people just like the nostalgia, and only a minority like actual new games on old systems. Check out Retro Gamer's forums, amongst other places for evidence of this.

 

Also consider that, if this was the case, the real-media games would sell more units than, say, 100 on a Commodore 64 - apparently the world's best selling single-spec personal computer. There must be more than 100 working C64s in the world?

 

Regards,

 

Shaun.

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basically it's a fixed platform. That C64/Atari 800/48K spectrum is the self-same machine that you had last year/decade/in 1983. If the software is getting better it's because the people are getting better at it rather than throwing a faster CPU/GPU/more RAM at the problem and hoping it will go away.

 

I just like that problem-solving element of it.

Edited by sack-c0s
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Well you did ask what the appeal is. My answer was qualified with the word relevant.

 

There are a lot of working retro computers and game systems; however, there aren't anywhere near as many that are relevant.

 

To a lot of people they are a curio. To them a new game is off the radar, unless it is made relevant. E

 

I dont think doing that is very easy given the diversity of experiences we have today.

 

100 copies of real media is good! It is a small hobby. IMHO, that is a good thing.

 

One thing I find notable is similar kinds of numbers happen in embedded land. A few hundred units of some custom game device happens all the time. Tens of people will develop for them. Small.

 

The learning and or appreciation for the increasingly lost art of drives a lot of this stuff and there are just not that many focused at that level.

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Well you did ask what the appeal is. My answer was qualified with the word relevant.

Yes, I see. For a colleague of mine, who wouldn't be working in IT today without owning a Sinclair ZX Spectrum all of those years ago, is somewhat bemused by new software - games or otherwise - for it. The Spectrum is extremely relevant to his career choice and his life, but he's not interested. It's too 1983 for him, and he wants the here and now.

There are a lot of working retro computers and game systems; however, there aren't anywhere near as many that are relevant.

This is true. So, if a computer system is relevant to you and your life, you either want to own the original hardware as a collector, to look at, to preserve, but not to use, or you want to use the original hardware, but only 'play the classics', or use the hardware and see what new developments are out there, and how programmers are pushing the boundaries, or emulate for any of the reasons mentioned. Or, it's just old hat to you and regardless of how relevant the system might be, it's in the past where it's staying.

To a lot of people they are a curio. To them a new game is off the radar, unless it is made relevant. E

Indeed, new games can only exist on new hardware for most gamers.

I dont think doing that is very easy given the diversity of experiences we have today.

 

100 copies of real media is good! It is a small hobby. IMHO, that is a good thing.

Exactly my point. And yours was that if a system is relevant to someone, they'd automatically want to see the latest games or demos. This is clearly not the case. Retro computing and gaming comes in many guises.

One thing I find notable is similar kinds of numbers happen in embedded land. A few hundred units of some custom game device happens all the time. Tens of people will develop for them. Small.

 

The learning and or appreciation for the increasingly lost art of drives a lot of this stuff and there are just not that many focused at that level.

Err... okay. I'm not sure if I quite understand you on that point.

 

Many thanks,

 

Shaun.

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Doesn't everybody, who is interested in 8 bit computers as relevant to their lives, want to see the machines do new stuff?

No. I have almost no interest in new software. For me, the A8 is a time machine.

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An 8-bit game is the result of Man Versus Machine. Players get to experience this personal result and grade the both the man and machine. It's personal.

 

Modern console games, are committees of programmers, 99% of the time lacking true understanding the hardware they write for. The real blood and sweat was done by the people which make the actual tools that the committee of programmers use to dool out games. The tools come with a lot of overhead by necessity, rarely pushing the machine or challenging the programmers. The environment/industry they work in wants marketable, proven, and safe. Now, fighting the machine as little as possible. The same tools reused to the point where all its product have haunting familiarities and lack that original spark that can lead away from vapid norm. [without apology, this is just my opinion, and I know it doesn't always apply]

 

New 8-bit game? It never gets tired of grading the results of Man versus Machine. Ageless and priceless.

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Well you did ask what the appeal is. My answer was qualified with the word relevant.

Yes, I see. For a colleague of mine, who wouldn't be working in IT today without owning a Sinclair ZX Spectrum all of those years ago, is somewhat bemused by new software - games or otherwise - for it. The Spectrum is extremely relevant to his career choice and his life, but he's not interested. It's too 1983 for him, and he wants the here and now.

There are a lot of working retro computers and game systems; however, there aren't anywhere near as many that are relevant.

This is true. So, if a computer system is relevant to you and your life, you either want to own the original hardware as a collector, to look at, to preserve, but not to use, or you want to use the original hardware, but only 'play the classics', or use the hardware and see what new developments are out there, and how programmers are pushing the boundaries, or emulate for any of the reasons mentioned. Or, it's just old hat to you and regardless of how relevant the system might be, it's in the past where it's staying.

To a lot of people they are a curio. To them a new game is off the radar, unless it is made relevant. E

Indeed, new games can only exist on new hardware for most gamers.

I dont think doing that is very easy given the diversity of experiences we have today.

 

100 copies of real media is good! It is a small hobby. IMHO, that is a good thing.

Exactly my point. And yours was that if a system is relevant to someone, they'd automatically want to see the latest games or demos. This is clearly not the case. Retro computing and gaming comes in many guises.

One thing I find notable is similar kinds of numbers happen in embedded land. A few hundred units of some custom game device happens all the time. Tens of people will develop for them. Small.

 

The learning and or appreciation for the increasingly lost art of drives a lot of this stuff and there are just not that many focused at that level.

Err... okay. I'm not sure if I quite understand you on that point.

 

Many thanks,

 

Shaun.

My drawer full of new games would say otherwise...

also just finished playing "Moon Cresta" on my Atari 7800, a NEW game for that system. Much prefer nre "Old" games to new games on a tablet or pc

Edited by atarian63

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Re: Embedded land

 

Microcontrollers. AVR, PIC, Propeller, etc... People can and do build games for these, sometimes entire systems, emulations, etc...

 

Limits in the hardware align really well to retro computing and gaming. Similar things are possible. Similar expectations are in play. Similar man / machine contests happen.

 

If I were you, I would break this question down by geographic region. The US is different from the EU, etc...

 

IMHO, there is one element of the appeal, where it exists, and that is one person can understand things. It was mentioned above, but I thought it worth teasing out a little more. When somebody does something cool, I the non-pro game development amateur, can understand it. That's cool. I strongly suspect it's cool when people thought it was cool then too, having some technical interest or other. Just players might not even be aware, nor care.

 

That was stated above too. Damn interesting question.

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basically it's a fixed platform. That C64/Atari 800/48K spectrum is the self-same machine that you had last year/decade/in 1983. If the software is getting better it's because the people are getting better at it rather than throwing a faster CPU/GPU/more RAM at the problem and hoping it will go away.

 

I just like that problem-solving element of it.

I do too.

 

At one extreme, WizWor is only interested in original hardware and software. I am mostly interested in seeing what software can be created for old hardware, and at the other extreme some are interested in combining new hardware with old.

 

For me the coolest thing is finding ways to write "impossible" code.

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Some folks enjoy the musical styles of their youth, and some just enjoy the songs they listened to back in the day. Same thing here.

 

I see value in the old gaming styles beyond nostalgia reasons, so having new games to play with the old aesthetics is awesome. Kudos to those that are trying to keep the old forms alive on modern platforms, like mobile - I enjoy them there too!

 

Even with the nostalgia angle, new games on old systems let me recapture that retro feel, without having to play the same 20 or 30 games from my youth over, and over, and over again.

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Even with the nostalgia angle, new games on old systems let me recapture that retro feel, without having to play the same 20 or 30 games from my youth over, and over, and over again.

I look at it this way:

 

When I had an Atari 8-bit back in the early '80s, I loved getting new software for it. If I'm into that same system today, why shouldn't I still love getting new software? I see it as a continuation of the same hobby.

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Nostalgia is the first reason I enjoy all my old systems, and the classic games from my youth. But I enjoy new games, especially on old Atari systems becuase I never felt that they got the support they deserved back in the day, seeing many more games come out for systems like the C64, I was always disappointed that my favorite Atari systems didn't get a lot of great software, or that they were sub-par ports that didn't take advantage of Atari systems. Seeing games being finally made and released for my favorite systems gives me a long lost feelings of finally getting what I missed out on back then and all new original games being made that do take advantage of my Atari's abilities finally give me satisfaction of seeing the systems used to their full potential. When I show these new games to people in the future, it will be like re-writing history as they won't know these games were made decades later, and give me the satisfaction of better comparisons to other systems of that era. I can finally show stuff and it's like; "see, my humble Atari can do all that the others did, and in many cases do it much better" (for example games like Tempest Xtreem, Space harrier and Crownland )

 

it's great personal fun to have new games on my old Ataris! I wasn't finished with them just because the industry was, and thanks to devoted fans, I can go back and finally be fulfilled with my Atari's I wasn't fullfilled with decades ago.

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My drawer full of new games would say otherwise...

also just finished playing "Moon Cresta" on my Atari 7800, a NEW game for that system. Much prefer nre "Old" games to new games on a tablet or pc

That's very anecdotal. I've been writing about new games on old systems for a decade now - just because you have a drawer full of new 8-bit games does not mean that's the norm. Most people just like the nostalgia, reliving age-old arguments of this format is better than that, or playing the classics on a particular system.

 

What I'm asking is what is the appeal of 8-bit games. I'm not interested in anything else other than this. So, why do you have a drawer full of newly published 8-bit games then? Do you collect them, or play them? To do worry about how good those games are? Or would you buy them anyway because it's something new on your favourite old system(s)?

 

Regards,

 

Shaun.

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If I were you, I would break this question down by geographic region. The US is different from the EU, etc...

The question should work in any part of the world, and it is simply this: "What is the appeal of new 8-bit games?" - to clarify what I'm getting at, what I mean is, if you like new 8-bit games, why do you like new 8-bit games?

 

Regards,

 

Shaun.

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Although I've never bought or played any new games on the platform, I am intrigued by what people can come up with.

 

If you look at Xbox Live Arcade and the Xbox Indie Games, retro is very much in vogue. But try comparing something like Orbitron Revolution to Dropzone and I know which one I'd rather play and on which system. I like Orbitron and am pleased with my purchase but I'm dying to find the time to play Dropzone again.

 

I think that's a pretty good reason for it. People like retro games and retro games are best played on retro machines.

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In the more general sense then:

 

1. Scope of experience. 8 bit games tend to have sharp limits on overall depth.

 

2. Pixel art. 8 bit hardware has sharp limits on graphical capability. We get to see the pixels, and there is some great art in that.

 

3. Chiptunes!! 8 bit sounds have a distinct flavor, tone, or color The music works like pixels do, and there is art there too.

 

4. Often obvious game mechanics mean easy adoption of the game. Simple, fun things are often featured prominently in the game. "hard" isn't "call of duty" hard, but more "timing it juuuust right hard", more often than not.

 

5. Abstractions. Often, limits overall require abstractions, with much of the game playing in one's theatre of the mind.

 

6. Cultural relevance. We are older now, and this filters down like things do. Our kids are picking up bits and pieces from us, and 8 bit expressions in general are part of the cultural lexicon. Retro is pretty big in this way, with iconic bits and pieces seen on signs, t-shirts, etc.... this brings general relevance to the games on new devices / platforms.

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Thanks chaps. I'm rather curious about the Atari XE/XL simply because it didn't get much commercial support much after 1986 from what I recall, at least here in the UK, whereas the big publishers did support other 8-bits such as the Amstrad CPC, C64 and ZX Spectrum. And yet the Atari scene seems much more active than the Amstrad - unless I'm missing something.

 

I'll be using some of the points here for an article I'm writing for a UK-published magazine, so if you don't want your comments to be used or referenced then please contact me or edit your posts appropriately.

 

I will contact anyone if I plan to quote them directly to make sure that it's okay for me to do so.

 

Many thanks,

 

Shaun.

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