Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Archive for January 2012

Supplemental: Remembering the Sega 32X

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In 1994, the 16-bit generation in America was dwindling and gamers were ready for the 32-bit generation to emerge.  With discussions of interactive CD-ROM consoles, the emergence of early 32-bit  CD consoles like CD-i and 3DO and everyone wanted to know what Sega and Sony had in store for the future.  Super Nintendo was only three years into its life and riding strong while the Genesis was having a tougher time competing.  Not only did its age (it’s two years older than the SNES) hinder it, but with the introduction of the failing Sega CD, the Genesis still didn’t have the kick it wanted.  In early January 1994, Sega CEO Hayao Nakayama wanted a 32-bit cartridge console to be released that Christmas, codenamed “Project Jupiter” (Sega used planets for its projects).  Sega shortly decided that CD-based technology would be better suited for this project and it was renamed to “Project Saturn” – it would later go on to be the Sega Saturn console that released in 1995.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Emulation: The Secret Multiconsole

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On our most recent episode of The B-Team Podcast a listener wrote in to ask about whether or not we consider it right to emulate a game that was more than eighteen years old.  While my rant was less than ideal, I felt it was time to discuss the often unwritten world of emulation.  We will discuss what emulation is, reasons why it exists and what ethical and legal choices you may need to make prior to diving in.

What is emulation?

The word itself says it all: emulation.  Emulation is defined as “the act of imitating” and that is precisely what emulation means in terms of video games: different hardware attempting to imitate other hardware.  In the beginning this was limited to computers because they were the only format capable of re-creating consoles effectively, but lately this has been expanded to portable and home consoles.  Thanks to most consoles having limited hardware due to cost issues, early consoles were capable of being emulated on computers of the day.  This all changed starting with the 3D generation, consoles like the Playstation and Saturn and technical specs.  Recent consoles like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 strip away the processing power core and have high-end graphical processors, which makes emulation on computers difficult.  It is true that Crysis looks better on PC, but to have a PC try to re-create a Playstation 3 and then try to run the PS3 version of Crysis is just an overuse of resources and requires too much power to be worth it.

ePSXe enhances Playstation graphics

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Emulation, Lessons

Your 2012 History, on the 5s and 10s

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Well here we are, 2012, and yet another prediction for the end of the world (haven’t we been getting those yearly since 1999?).  But just like the world, history moves forward and everything gets another year older.  In celebration – yes, I celebrate age, but I would as a retro gamer – I’m going to pick up an old Retronauts tradition: we’re celebrating the incremental years on the 5s and 10s.  This means that we go all the way back in history as far as we can and reflect on the relevant years in 5 and 10 year intervals.  In this year’s case it would be the 2s and 7s, for example: 1952, 1957, 1962, etc.  I’m not sure if Parish and the crowd are doing an episode like this but I’m guessing they are not, however don’t hesitate to drop by the site and see if 1up is actually going to attempt a call in episode on this subject.  Without further ado, I present your history on the 5s and 10s (or should it be 2s and 7s?):

Behold the EDSAC

1952: Debate over what the first video game was is endless thanks to the ambiguity of a video game itself.  The technology is still so new that proper definition and documentation is mostly nothing more than a semantic debate amongst scholars rather than industry standard.  Some people consider MIT’s Spacewar! to be the first video game, but prior to its inception came a little game called OXO or naughts and crosses in 1952.  It was developed by Alexander S. Douglas at the University of Cambridge and is most notable for being the first game with a digital display.  Basically an Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) had a stored program that allowed it to play tic-tac-toe, although I couldn’t find any confirmation I’m pretty sure it was you versus the calculator/computer.  It used a rotary phone for its controller.

1957: Fairchild Semiconductor was established when eight very intelligent engineers left Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory after only one year.  Shockley had assembled the best and brightest right out of engineering school to develop diodes that would work faster than traditional transistors.  The “traitorous eight” (Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugene Kleiner, Jay Last, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce and Sheldon Roberts) established the company with funding from Sherman Fairchild to make silicon transistors and eventually ended up making microprocessors and even an early video game console.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Blog