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pixelpedant

A somewhat silly/hacky/obsessed approach to displaying TI games

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I've never been one to "display" a "collection", when it comes to games.  I have a fair number of games. But they're mostly just stacked inconspicuously in book shelves and cassette racks, and/or kept in my storage room.  And none of them (TI or otherwise) are particularly valuable.  

 

But I really like the look of the classic red box TI games.  The way the manual art is on full display, and often quite wonderfully detailed/interesting.  So I decided to decorate one of the walls of my den with a few of them, a while back. A couple, I'm nostalgic about, a couple I actively play, and a couple others somewhat arbitrarily thrown in.  

 

Now, I have the clear covers for all of the games for which I have the shells, I think, but they tend to be broken or badly aged.  And they get in the way of the beautiful manual art regardless.  

 

So this was my rather silly/hacky solution for displaying some TI 99/4A games as close-at-hand, functional wall art.  

 

The ugly hack, basically, is just thick nylon thread and clear tape affixing it inside the box, to create a loop at each of the lower corners of the box which the manual can sit in.  A $0 solution which gets the job done, as far as that goes.  

 

 

tigames1.jpg

 

 

For me, it feels like a nice way to give my computing space a TI 99 flavour and put up some classic game art.  Even though most of the rest of it's pragmatic rather than pretty. 

 

Of course, it would be easy to display the manuals without the shells and games, or display them with the beat-up and broken clear covers. But I feel like keeping the carts and manuals together makes sense. And I feel like the box really frames them nicely.

 

 

tigames2.jpg

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If definitely looks nice and I really like seeing these kinds of displays.

 

I resist the urge to display stuff because I do not like having to dust, and I really am not that good at arranging wall displays as I tend to obsess too much over the details.  I only have a few small things on my walls and they generally have some kind of personal meaning.

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That's one thing I kinda miss about that era-- Lovely painted cover art was the norm.  Not so much these days.

 

Strangely, some of the people I have mentioned this to are 'glad' this is not the case any more, because they want to judge the book by its cover. To me though, those are lovely little works of art, that you just don't get anymore. It's like people forget that you are supposed to imagine while playing these old games, and instead want the game to imagine for them.

 

 

Now I wonder how good a job waifu2x will do with one of these painterly images for upscaling... (these boxes are done with lithograph style processes, and increasing the scan resolution will not give the results you want.) Size E prints might be fun.

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1 hour ago, wierd_w said:

Strangely, some of the people I have mentioned this to are 'glad' this is not the case any more, because they want to judge the book by its cover. To me though, those are lovely little works of art, that you just don't get anymore. It's like people forget that you are supposed to imagine while playing these old games, and instead want the game to imagine for them.

I have always thought of the boxes as false advertising. I guess I'm one of those people. ;)

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46 minutes ago, Asmusr said:

I have always thought of the boxes as false advertising. I guess I'm one of those people. ;)

I always gave them credit for trying to enhance the visuals in your mind as you play.  At least it worked that way for me as a kid.  Take the cover art for Barbarian, for instance.

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I understand that the cover and the game itself are not anywhere close to the same thing... But that level of quality was simply not possible.

 

Like OLD CS1, I viewed them as what the game makers envisioned when they made them, and how you are supposed to 'think' when you play them. Mechanically, many of those old games make absolutely no sense unless you read the manuals, and understand the story elements they provide.

 

Take for instance, the 2600 Yar's Revenge.  It came with fancy cover art, but also a fancy mini-comic inside as part of the manual.

https://www.atariage.com/comics/comic_thumbs.php?MagazineID=48

 

Lovely, and beautifully made. It showed that the game's designers intended there to be much more than just a buzzing noise, some static, and lots of bloops an nibbling sounds. There's only so much you can do with the 2600, but what they could not put in the game itself, they put in the box with it. 

 

These days there's this view that the makers of games aren't out to tell dramatic stories, just out to fleece your wallet with microtransactions and in-game eyecandy. It was a completely different aesthetic.

 

 

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I feel like the notion of “deceptive” manual/box art doesn’t really make sense until the era when game art as a central visual feature of boxes and manuals is actually a widespread phenomenon.  With Unreal having been one of the vanguard there, with real game art featured pervasively and conspicuously (“actual gameplay screen”) as branding, with everything else really just window dressing for it.  Where before that, you might get a few stills on the back, even in the TI-99's time, but they’re information rather than branding.  

  

I guess you could say Nintendo’s use of pixel art in its black box titles is prototypical to this approach of centrally featuring real game art as branding, but given the art is blown up, cropped, selective, and often straight up “reimagined”, I don’t feel like anybody looked at those as “screenshots” per se, even if they sometimes accurately represent the game’s pixel art.  So I’m not sure they really go much further than the box art for Tombstone City or Hunt the Wumpus or Tunnels of Doom (with their semi-accurate artistic portrayal of gameplay).  


But yeah, in the TI 99/4A era, or really any time before the late nineties, I just look at game art as imaginative context, unless specifically represented otherwise.  You can hardly accuse a text adventure of misrepresenting its graphics. And if someone looks at the cover for Moon Mine pictured above or the cover of Death Star Battle and thinks they’re looking at a gameplay still, I suppose there’s just no helping them :P

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I think i am in the category that like dream with Manual Covers 😛 i am agree that them are really nice graphic arts on the TI manuals.

When i can and feel inspired i always try to do something for new developed games too :) 

 

IMG_20190923_163617.thumb.jpg.0a0b33f425878841bd74912a897537ba.jpg

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Yeah, I love to see the art we get here for new community games.  Even when it's just a cartridge label somebody cooks up.  But all the more so, when a developer goes above and beyond. 

 

Like Tursi did with the Dragon's Lair pack-in items, for example. 

 

I will say one thing against the original era TI 99 manuals, incidentally: as pretty as the cover art is, the insides sure aren't 😕

 

The colourful 2600 Buck Rogers and Star Trek: SOS manuals (and the Star Trek: SOS joystick overlay), put next to the plain old text of the TI-99 ones, do not flatter the latter:

 

manualcompare.jpg

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21 hours ago, ti99iuc said:

I think i am in the category that like dream with Manual Covers 😛 i am agree that them are really nice graphic arts on the TI manuals.

When i can and feel inspired i always try to do something for new developed games too :) 

 

IMG_20190923_163617.thumb.jpg.0a0b33f425878841bd74912a897537ba.jpg

These are amazing covers! 

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On 9/23/2019 at 1:01 AM, Asmusr said:

I have always thought of the boxes as false advertising. I guess I'm one of those people. ;)

One of the biggest offenders back in the day was the Magnavox Odyssey². They had some really great cover art for games that were nearly always lacking, with a few exceptions. I know because I had one, and as an 11-year-old, I was sucked into the games that had awesome covers (at least 11-year-old me thought so) but whose game-play was terribly lacking. Like this one:

 

i_aS4yaAZn53VV8nNfOPEwFEr3HlwrmXa8FsjTva

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5 minutes ago, majestyx said:

One of the biggest offenders back in the day was the Magnavox Odyssey². They had some really great cover art for games that were nearly always lacking, with a few exceptions.

No argument there!  That game machine is less sophisticated than an Atari 2600, so it follows most of the games seem to suck.  I have an O2 that has been in my closet for a number or years now, it's in great shape, but probably because I never play with it.

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6 minutes ago, --- Ω --- said:

That game machine is less sophisticated than an Atari 2600

 

Sssshhhhhh!!  "They" might hear you!

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In that regard, I vote Hunt the Wumpus for TI-99 game with the greatest contrast between cover art awesomeness and gameplay disappointment:

 

image.png.9e0ca97ca55586f85dda5b6c688414d6.png

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Even though the game graphics in Hunt the Wumpus suck, the TI version was one of a very small number of Wumpus implementations that had graphics in the game at all. Most of them were text games. . .and I do enjoy the occasional game of TI Hunt the Wumpus.

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Just imagine a low-budget 1980-ish B-movie based on the artwork for the TI version of Hunt The Wumpus.

Don't know about you people, but i'd pay for a ticket to that show.

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