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Selecting Save On The Games We Make, Part 2
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Selecting Save On The Games We Make, Part 2

March 16, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

McGinley emphasizes that he is not a TRS-80 emulation expert nor has he preserved any TRS-80 heritage, he credits Ira Goldklang, Matthew Reed, and George Phillips with helping preserve the TRS-80 legacy.

He does highlight that the current emulators don't come with the operating system, making them unusable.

"If you do get the operating system, running the emulator is not simple. It requires arcane TRS-80 knowledge that few people remember (like DIP switches in MAME). The TRS-80 had two major models (Model I and Model III), with two seperate operating systems (cassette and disk).

"Games only support one variation, and there's no way to tell which one aside from trial and error. In some cases, I have nine versions of a game and I need to try each model and operating system combination to figure out which is best."

Then, of course, there are the copyright issues at hand that legally prevent the games from being played. McGinley also discovered that playthroughs of many TRS-80 games have not been recorded and are non-existent for viewing on YouTube.

Why is this relevant to today's indies? He thinks that his experience digging through piles of hard-to-play ROMs for the TRS-80 (he found over 3,000) will also be experienced by the kids of day when they're ready to look back.

"Nostalgia will eventually drive today's generation to seek out old games. While the most famous games have been emulated/captured/documented, some great games will be lost. Specifically, a generation was raised on crappy cell phone games... but some were great. Trying to find and play those games presents all the same problems as the TRS-80. i.e. need an emulator for the old cell phones, need to remember the names of the games, copyright issues prevent them from being preserved."

Petri Purho of Kloonigames (Crayon Physics) also agrees that some companies are too protective of source code, or could potentially lose source code altogether if they shut down operations:

"The source code is 'film' of the games. If you lose the source code, you're screwed. You can get by with binaries and emulators, but if the source code is gone, the game is always going to be limited to some degree to the hardware it was published on.

"Emulators do help, but you still need someone to do the ROM dump. And hardware has an expiration date. The problem is that companies cling to the source code. They don't want to open source it, because that would 'allow' anyone to take advantage of their IP. And that's going to be biggest problem in preserving video games. The companies will go down and the source code will be lost."

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity

McGinley expressed the importance of staying organized. When indie developer Dejobaan Games (AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity) was asked how it preserves its work, founder and president Ichiro Lambe had coincidentally just completed a cleanup of his office space, and had to make some tough choices:

"Your question comes about a week after I went through all of our old papers to figure out what to keep and what to toss. Awards? Keep. Magazine articles about us? Keep. Artwork? Keep. How about obsolete devices we developed for, for companies that have long since passed? The tricky thing is that we don't have much room to keep everything. Toss.

"Source code? Keep, and occasionally move off-site in case my office burns to the ground. I still have a CD with the tongue-in-cheek title 'Killgame Alpha,' which became Inago Rage, the first of our 'modern' games. When I'm done with our current round of games, I'm going to unearth it and see what it's like. I'm sure it'll bring me back to 2003 -- I'll laugh at it for its simplicity, yet I'm sure there'll be something delightful and elegant there."

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

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