Over the last couple of months, I’ve been posting a series of videos about early PC gaming and programming on my YouTube Channel. It’s been quite a fun journey and I thought I might write a few words about it.
I have a lot of nostalgia for early games, which makes sense since it was how I spent most of my free time in the 80’s and 90’s. Times were boring before the Internet :)
Early PC architecture is so simple compared to modern computers. Any program, regardless of language, can write to any part of memory or port. The memory and processing power of the systems at the time are limited, but your ability to harness them is not!
Don’t get me wrong: I’d never want to go back to the time when you could only run one program at a time, and that program could crash your computer by doing something it shouldn’t. Modern systems and tools are so much better.
The first video I posted in the series is about how Sierra game graphics worked, and my attempts to upscale them. It’s the most popular thing I’ve posted so far and I’ve been delighted with the reception.
Sierra games were amongst my favorites growing up, and as an adult I was very curious about how they worked, so after much googling I found myself on the ScummVM AGI Specifications page. Once I discovered that the formats were vector based, I had to make an attempt to upscale them. It was a lot of fun to work on and I’m glad people enjoyed it.
My next video was much more personal. I decided to revisit a childhood game of mine and upgrade its graphics. My first attempts were within the limits of the PC architecture of the time and I explored strategies like palette cycling and 8086 assembly language code for performance.
The video culminates with me throwing away the old techniques and rebuilding it in the Godot engine.
This was my longest video yet, and I experimented with more animations and lengthy transitions to give it more of a documentary feel. At first very few watched it, but it’s picked up quite a few more views over time. I’m proud of it.
Godot has been such fun for me to work with. I wondered if I could use it to bridge backwards and emulate old games within the engine. That exploration led to me learning GDNative and using C to embed old AGI games within it.
Again, this video hasn’t done the rounds as the previous two, but I love the result anyway. It’s so cool to boot up the 3D computer, flip the switch and hear those PC sounds as the Sierra game loads up and plays perfectly.
Even though it’s not popular, I am quite tempted to keep working on it. I have a few ideas of other retro projects that could load within it.
As for the future of my channel - I’m not quite sure! I’ve found the algorithm and what people will be interested in watching quite unpredictable. I am currently working on a puzzle game and I know that in the future I will be featuring that. Otherwise, I’ll see what random moods and thoughts inspire me.