I think I spent most of my childhood -- and a large part of my life as a young adult -- desperately wishing I was in a video game arcade. When I finally obtained my driver's license, my first thought wasn't about the girls I would take on dates, or the road trips I'd take with my friends. Sadly, no. I was thrilled that I could drive myself to the arcade any time I wanted. I distinctly remember my first encounter with each watershed game of the arcade era: my first Space Invaders, my first Pac-Man, my first Donkey Kong, my first Galaga, and so on. I kept a running mental inventory of where each unique arcade machine I discovered was in order to feed my burning arcade urges. I was always strangely eager to visit the unimaginably tacky tourist trap South of the Border because that was the only place I had ever found that had my beloved Crazy Climber. I can't say I know every single game on the KLOV, but I'm no stranger to many of them.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2008/04/rediscovering-arcade-nostalgia.html
Who can say if if was the insidious influence of the arcade that turned me from my anticipated career path in medicine and made me write “Computer Science” on my college application instead. Regardless, I think I made the better choice. And I actually got to live the dream for 11 glorious years in game development. Oh, sure, my kids didn’t see me for all of 1994, but the ride was fun while it lasted. Here’s to the games we love and the late, lamented studios that used to make them. Long live the memory of Access Software!
Well, being a bit younger, I wasn’t forced to write my own games, but I do anyways. The first console I owned was my Nintendo DS and I write my own games (in C/C++) for it. My, the differences are staggering. I can hardly imagine writing a program with only 63 characters (those poor Atari people); I regularly place more than that on a single line.
As far as arcades go, I don’t think I’ve ever been to one. The only one that’s not at least 40 minutes away closed down several years ago, and that was before I was aware of it.
The first game I wrote was a copy of PAC MAN using high ASCII characters on the PET CBM (Model 4032). Later I moved on to the Atari 800 where I tried to write a version of ZORK. It didn’t work too well but it got me started.
I remember sitting in middle school programming Theseus and the Minotaur for my TI-83. That was the first major program I built and the one that started it all
As for the first “written” game, I wrote down the example listing from the BASIC book for the Schneider CPC 128 (the German version of the ZX Spectrum, this thing: http://twisti.brokenmacro.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/320px-schneider_cpc6128.JPG ), a “thief” game where you had to steal diamonds from a house while at the same time avoiding a dog.
Hey, I usually take a look at your blog through iGoogle and guess what? today it wasn’t updated. I couldn’t belive that there’s no new entry and… I was right.
Something’s wrong here… There’re usually zillions of comments to each posts, now I’m seeing four… like I Am Legend or something…
"Hey, I usually take a look at your blog through iGoogle and guess what? today it wasn’t updated. I couldn’t belive that there’s no new entry and… I was right.
Something’s wrong here… There’re usually zillions of comments to each posts, now I’m seeing four… like I Am Legend or something…"
It was just made a few minutes ago. It’s on my iGoogle RSS reader.
Note: KLOV link is broken:
I’ve done the MAME thing (and the Commodore 64 simulator thing) and I came to the conclusion that these games just aren’t as much fun as I remember when I was a kid. Mostly because they’re so un-freaking-believably HARD. Sure, the nostalgia’s there but I’ll take a modern remake of Galaga or Loderunner any day over the old ones. As for writing games… I got a couple rooms down in my imitation-Zork on the Commodore 64 before moving on to other things
Booya… First game written was a choose your own adventure type game on the Tandy MC10:
Of course, my dad totally deleted it when he re-saved it (hit record on the tape player) because he had the volume to low.
And that ended my self-made game career.
Jeff, I assume you’ve seen The King of Kong? If not, you should go rent it now. Right now.
I’ve done the MAME thing (and the Commodore 64 simulator thing) and I came to the conclusion that these games just aren’t as much fun as I remember when I was a kid.
No doubt; that’s part of the learning process. Plus having infinite credits drains some of the excitement, as well.
But a few dozen of them do hold up and can legitimately be called timeless classics.
Yep, I missed this because of iGoogle as well. Good post. My first game was making my own version of the game Pitfall (spaceship down a hole, not the jungle thing) that was popular in my high school “programming” class. Wrote it in Turbo Pascal, and was hooked ever since.
Don’t forget the classic book “Game Over: Press Start to Continue” (http://www.amazon.com/Game-Over-Press-Start-Continue/dp/0966961706/)
My introduction to computer “video” games was in 1974 – before pc’s. At Carleton College (Northfield MN), we had a network (!) of DEC PDP 8’s. Some of them had a storage tube (not even a CRT), along with a joystick and a TTY (that’s teletype for you young-uns). Someone (not me) had written a Asteroids-type game for it. You would turn down the intensity of the storage tube, and the program (in assembler) would refresh the screen. One player would bang away on the TTY and another on the joystick. Go into the computer room on a Saturday night, and you would invariably have guys playing this in the dark - the green light of the tube washing the room, spaceships swimming around, shooting dots at each other.
Anyone reading this know how to get legal licenses for arcade roms?
I built an arcade cabinet, which I thought would be great to bring to work (Other developers were talking about how great it would be to have one at work). However, I can’t bring it in so long as there are unlicensed games on it.
Star Roms is defunct. I have not found an alternative (Other than loading it with the freeware roms.)
I am in NO way asking for where to locate roms, in case there is any confusion.
I’ve come to the conclusion that iGoogle sucks… so far as getting to Coding Horror on time anyways.
I was an avid Pac Man player, like a lot of folks. A couple of non-arcade games that got me hooked early was Battleships and Pinball. When newer games came on the scene, you could find me around StreetFighter and Mortal Kombat- I’m talking the very firsts. And, I also thought the early Nintendo magazines were awesome… cool literature about gaming!?
Hmm… but nowadays all gaming I do is conducted on a 64 square checkerboard, Chess.
Great article man. Very enjoyable.
I was just thinking about building a cabinet over the summer after buying DK on my Wii. I started to look for resources and information and you saved me all the legwork! Thanks Jeff.