Hot on the heels of portable apps and games, i wanted to write about specific applications which are not only portable, but also fun, at the same time talk about something which is somewhat of a passion of mine. Gaming. and not quite current generation gaming but old school, retro stuff. Stuff that many of the kiddies these days are passing by. It's important because it's the history of gaming, and where modern day games came from. I know i know, it might be boring for some, and all you "core" gamers probably couldn't give a shit. but history is important. and if you're the type that considers games as art, well this art history lesson might just let you experience some of the masterpieces of the gaming days of yore. Here we go...
Emulation, and old system emulators specifically are programs which replicate the logic of old microchips, and operating systems in a current generation operating system. There are tons of emulators out there, emulating different things, and one that i've already mentioned is DOSBox. DOS, or Disk Operating System, was the operating system that ran in most IBM PC compatible machines between 1981 and 1995. There were many versions of it including MS-DOS, PC-DOS, DR-DOS, FreeDOS, PTS-DOS, ROM-DOS amongst others (Thanks to wikipedia for the linkage.) but the most common of these was MS-DOS. MSDOS (which stands for Microsoft Disk Operating System) ran on intel x86 based machines until it was abandoned for more user friendly operating systems with a Graphical User Interface or GUI. Now instead of quoting and misquoting from wikipedia, i advise you to read up on DOS and what it was and where it came from to understand how DOSBox works and what exactly it is doing, Or not. but suffice it to say that back in the day, before windows, and computer mice, and fancy graphics and rainmeter and windows 7, there was DOS, and back in the day, that was the environment that games were run in. Which brings us to DOSBox.
DOSBox, as i've previously mentioned is a DOS emulator. Designed to run within current operating systems (Windows, OSX, OS/2, Linux) it allows users to run programs that were designed to run in DOS. (my that's a lot of running.) and why is this useful you may ask. Well it's useful because, there were a multitude of games that ran in DOS. Wasteland being one of many. Now DOS isn't that hard to learn and DOSBox makes it very easy to run games that maybe your older brothers or your dad played. and believe me, there are classic games out there (still) that are probably waiting to be discovered by a whole new audience. Games, that may be dated graphically, but can still bring the fun. I mean back in those days, games had to be fun to keep your interest because of the lack of eye candy. And many of them were. To this day i'd much rather play Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy rather than Half Life 2, cos you and i both know, that if you've played one shooter on rails, you've played them all. Ironically, you don't need DOSBox to play hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy anymore, cos well they've put it online here. (probably using a flash version of a z machine emulator) Anyway, bottom line is that DOSBox is an example of one emulator, Winfrotz, (a zmachine interpreter) is another.
i know i know, you're probably asking yourself what this has to do with the internet, and emulators, and that history's boring, and you want to go call someone gay while playing Halo Reach. Well okay, but here's the thing. there are programs that emulate a lot of platforms for gaming. From old computers, like the IBM PC, to the Amiga32, to the Commodore64, as well as console hardware, like the Atari2600 and the NES, and the SuperNES and even video game boards, and pinball machine chips. This means that there are a crap ton of games that one person can play. with emulation, you can have your own arcade cabinet with games from the dawn of electronic gaming itself. With emulation, your budget netbook can easily be a portable game library letting you challenge that cute girl in the library to a little Ms. Pacman. If you're in the least bit interested in computing history, or video gaming history for that matter. Emulation is something you might want to look into. and guess what? it's all out there on the net for you to have, for free. So Have at it, Go forth and game old school style.