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  Memory, Then and Now  (Read 5516 times)
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Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Posted 2012-08-11 03:54:41 »

Hey, everybody!

I just wanted to get some words and opinions from you guys regarding memory and CPU usage and how they are programmed, comparing present use and the use of, say, programmers in the 70s and 80s who were tasked with performing the incredible feat of creating games out of ridiculously small amounts of RAM and with little enough CPU power to do anything intensive. I'm doing a lot of reading, and though I've known about the disparities for a long time, I'm only now able to really appreciate the hard work that it must have been. I realize that many game programmers now probably take what they're doing for granted and abuse the fact that they have so much RAM and processing to work with. It's amazing to think of the potential we have now on modern-day systems! Anyways, your thoughts! What would you suggest, as a general pointer, for someone trying to make the most out of their system? How can we go about doing with our computers what programmers back then were doing with theirs to create gaming technology?

Best regards,
Colton

Straight flippin.
Offline ReBirth
« Reply #1 - Posted 2012-08-11 04:01:30 »

Developing on small amount RAM device is challenging. Back there developers did lot tricks and wrote code "deeper" efficiently as possible to even put Doom on a floopy. Nowday we have lot of higher API library which take care of everything, we just being ignorant to what happened under hood wheter useful or not.

However this point shouldn't prevent you in developing. This point should be considered at your optimation part (which is last part) of dev. It's pretty tolerable since today RAM is cheap. You can even get free.

Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #2 - Posted 2012-08-11 04:20:18 »

Developing on small amount RAM device is challenging. Back there developers did lot tricks and wrote code "deeper" efficiently as possible to even put Doom on a floopy. Nowday we have lot of higher API library which take care of everything, we just being ignorant to what happened under hood wheter useful or not.

However this point shouldn't prevent you in developing. This point should be considered at your optimation part (which is last part) of dev. It's pretty tolerable since today RAM is cheap. You can even get free.
Oh, aye, I never meant it would keep me from developing; on the contrary, I find it inspiring, if anything!

That link is pretty neat too; I suspect it's some sort of RAM offloading site that handles the load for you to give the impression of more RAM? Seems like it wouldn't quite work very efficiently, but it's an interesting idea I suppose!

Colton

Straight flippin.
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Offline Riven
« League of Dukes »

JGO Overlord


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« Reply #3 - Posted 2012-08-11 04:23:11 »

It... is... a joke. Clueless

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Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #4 - Posted 2012-08-11 04:25:38 »

It... is... a joke. Clueless
Okay, clearly I can't catch dry humor on these forums  Roll Eyes I'm sorry! XD

Straight flippin.
Offline ReBirth
« Reply #5 - Posted 2012-08-11 04:27:30 »

The site is also mentioning on the footer Cool Some people sure have lot of free time and money for make something like that.

Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #6 - Posted 2012-08-11 04:28:29 »

The site is also mentioning on the footer Cool Some people sure have lot of free time and money for make something like that.
Eh, the website looks like it was made by a 12-year old who was bored in class, so who knows :p

Straight flippin.
Offline ra4king

JGO Kernel


Medals: 346
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I'm the King!


« Reply #7 - Posted 2012-08-11 04:40:35 »

It's pretty tolerable since today RAM is cheap. You can even get free.
That link is pretty neat too; I suspect it's some sort of RAM offloading site that handles the load for you to give the impression of more RAM? Seems like it wouldn't quite work very efficiently, but it's an interesting idea I suppose!
I have never facepalmed harder before in my life....



Grin

Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #8 - Posted 2012-08-11 04:45:24 »

It's pretty tolerable since today RAM is cheap. You can even get free.
That link is pretty neat too; I suspect it's some sort of RAM offloading site that handles the load for you to give the impression of more RAM? Seems like it wouldn't quite work very efficiently, but it's an interesting idea I suppose!
I have never facepalmed harder before in my life....



Grin
I'm actually more ashamed because I know why that's ridiculous.  Cry I overanalyzed it without really reading through the site (clearly I missed the joke text at the bottom of the page!) and thought they were going for some sort of virtual RAM thing or other. I mean, even VRAM would be faster on the user's real computer, but who's to stop people from coming up with their own gimmicks? :p

It's okay, I know I'll never let this one be lived down  Grin The horse is already decapitated, but I'm trying to bring him back to life. Emo

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Offline ReBirth
« Reply #9 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:01:19 »

Some thought it's a software to unlock memory addresses. You know, the fact is all size of USB drive in market are lie, they're actually bigger.

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Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #10 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:03:01 »

Some thought it's a software to unlock memory addresses. You know, the fact is all size of USB drive in market are lie, they're actually bigger.
See, now that I've humiliated myself, I'm scared to take anything for granted   persecutioncomplex

Straight flippin.
Offline ReBirth
« Reply #11 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:06:48 »

LoL that's true. Some brands of 2GB USB stick can be unlocked to 8 and so on.

Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #12 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:08:37 »

LoL that's true. Some brands of 2GB USB stick can be unlocked to 8 and so on.
Well then, I learned something very awesome today and will try that whenever I use a flash drive again Cheesy

Straight flippin.
Offline ReBirth
« Reply #13 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:13:53 »

Well then, I learned something very awesome today...
Will everyday if you use internet right Pointing

Look, I'm great on leading a thread to out of topic Yawn

Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #14 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:16:40 »

Well then, I learned something very awesome today...
Will everyday if you use internet right Pointing

Look, I'm great on leading a thread to out of topic Yawn
It's okay, we're in General Discussion :] I'm sure this hasn't ever happened in any other thread in this forum....

Straight flippin.
Offline ra4king

JGO Kernel


Medals: 346
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Exp: 5 years


I'm the King!


« Reply #15 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:38:27 »

LoL that's true. Some brands of 2GB USB stick can be unlocked to 8 and so on.
ReBirth, you are on a trolling roll! High five! Grin

Offline ReBirth
« Reply #16 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:40:06 »

LoL that's true. Some brands of 2GB USB stick can be unlocked to 8 and so on.
ReBirth, you are on a trolling roll! High five! Grin
Dunno if it's sarcasm or not Grin

Offline ra4king

JGO Kernel


Medals: 346
Projects: 3
Exp: 5 years


I'm the King!


« Reply #17 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:44:29 »

That's obviously wrong..........please tell me you're not serious. I even googled this to make sure I'm not being stupid myself... persecutioncomplex

Offline ReBirth
« Reply #18 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:49:13 »

Actually I havent tried it yet, but one of my friend. I dont believe it (I never said it works right?).

Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #19 - Posted 2012-08-11 05:52:47 »

Some thought it's a software to unlock memory addresses. You know, the fact is all size of USB drive in market are lie, they're actually bigger.
LoL that's true. Some brands of 2GB USB stick can be unlocked to 8 and so on.
|
|
|
V
Actually I havent tried it yet, but one of my friend. I dont believe it (I never said it works right?).

Errr..... Clueless

Straight flippin.
Offline ReBirth
« Reply #20 - Posted 2012-08-11 06:01:06 »


Offline philfrei
« Reply #21 - Posted 2012-08-11 06:31:43 »

Speaking of the "good old days"...creak...creak...

When I was in my young twenties, I had a job in a pinball/video arcade. The boss gave me a Sharp pocket computer of some sort, I can't recall what it was, and asked if I could make a game or software on it. I can't recall the exact chain of events, it was so long ago.

Anyway, I put on some typical business math software (calculate compounding interest, for example), using BASIC. And started working for him fulltime at $5/hr! I recall learning how to poke and peek directly onto the LCD display and writing three "games". One was a sort of Pac-man rip, with the 'maze' being 3x3 pixel rooms on the display that was only 7 pixels tall. The other was based on something called Kaboom where you tried to hit/block pixels coming down the screen at you with one of three button paddles. I can't recall what the 3rd game was, maybe a "hangman"? Some one else might have written that one.

Later we got into game writing in Forth. A couple members of our crew spent their time putting Forth on different CP/M operating system desktop computers (Sharp, Fujitsu, can't recall what else), where 64KB of "clean memory" on the disk drive was a big deal! The rest of us wrote games that were sold, mostly in Japan. My boss came to me and said "write a Tank game". So I wrote something called Laser Tanks, with big dumb enemy tanks randomly wandering a city block grid, and the hero tank a bit smaller but faster and maneuverable. The lasers shot clear across the screen. It kinda worked. A couple co-workers liked it enough to beat my high score, so I took that as a compliment.

I helped the other designers come up with ways to simplify their games so they would stay code-able. For example, one fellow had a neat concept with dirigibles flying overhead dropping bombs, and a maneuverable hero below shooting up at them. He was having trouble with response when tracking positions and collision testing, but we figured out that the simplification of making the enemy dirigibles stay on a single altitude would greatly help the collision tests, and he got the responsiveness back to an acceptable level.

It was fun but exhausting. This was 1980's. I recall 60+ hr work weeks and occasionally sleeping under desks rather than going home. Ah, those were the days (NOT). [Something like 2/3rds of the programmers there suffered burnout and extended periods of "never going to program again", self included. I think most are back at it now, in one form or another.]

I don't know. If you have a constraint, there is a lot of ego-less ingenuity that can go into dealing with the constraint. A lot is just figuring out what is essential to a game's playability, and what is fluff. With a tight constraint, one is forced to make merciless design decisions. Nowadays, with tons of RAM and processor speed, there is no need for self-discipline. Or rather, one can't use "limited resources" as an excuse to triage one's ever-so-precious ideas. So, it is easy to get into endless development trying to realize every idea. ("You are only limited by your imagination" -- NOT a quote or concept that I buy into!)

Truly, having something like the Ludum Dare challenge is liberating in a strange way. Having been there/done that kind of sort of, I am less motivated to give LD a go, myself. But I can see where it is a great experience, to program in a tightly constrained environment as relief from the normal where one can drown in the abundance of resources.

There was a really good talk linked to, from this site. When I find the thread again I will post the link. (It was one I "appreciated". Maybe there is a way to track back to one's appreciations? Will look...) The speaker talks about three main constraints in programming: (1) memory, (2) cpu speed, (3) life energy.
[Here it is! Thanks Ultroman! http://www.java-gaming.org/topics/memory-then-and-now/27081/msg/241286/view.html#msg241286]

And it is true, I think, that it is easier to live under these constraints when they are imposed upon us, than to accept that one does not have unlimited life energy.

"Greetings my friends! We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives!" -- The Amazing Criswell
Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #22 - Posted 2012-08-11 06:44:19 »

philfrei,

Damn, what an interesting story! I think you may be talking about something I read from Cas, and I particularly remember the function of life energy part, which resounded pretty well with me. Another thing he said were optimizations during the process of the game's development were usually a waste of time, which I thought was pretty nice to hear too. I figure he was referring to more fine-tuned adjustments than to major tunings, though.

I'm impressed with your history! That's truly amazing. Having only replied to that one post of yours and seen you around on the forums a little, I'd never have thought you had so much experience; it's an honor! It must be a blessing and a curse to have come from the days when there were such constraints and then having plenty of everything that used to be scarce. I could imagine there were a lot of habits that stuck with you!

Colton

Straight flippin.
Offline Roquen
« Reply #23 - Posted 2012-08-11 06:54:31 »

IHMO not enough of the newer generations of programmers understand hardware, so they can't:  "write high level, think low level".
Offline ReBirth
« Reply #24 - Posted 2012-08-11 06:56:59 »

@Roquen
That may be applied to engine/library designer, how about the user?

Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #25 - Posted 2012-08-11 07:03:25 »

IHMO not enough of the newer generations of programmers understand hardware, so they can't:  "write high level, think low level".
A particular example I was intrigued about was the fact that the Atari 2600 had 128 bytes of memory... bytes! That'd be four of Java's ints! Of course, what variables they did use were probably much smaller. I was just trying to wrap my head around how I could write a game like Adventure or Pitfall or some game of equal caliber while keeping such a low volume of information in memory. From what I also read, however, cartridges came often with memory extensions built in to help with that issue, but even still.... it's astounding. It makes me want to fire up an emulator and get to work coding for consoles and computers of old just to acquire that experience. Actually, I do have the Gameboy SDK that I was tinkering with in C a while back; perhaps I can fire that puppy back up ;]

Colton

Straight flippin.
Offline Riven
« League of Dukes »

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« Reply #26 - Posted 2012-08-11 07:34:42 »

128 bytes of memory... bytes! That'd be four of Java's ints!
bits are not bytes. 128 bytes are 32 java ints.

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Offline Roquen
« Reply #27 - Posted 2012-08-11 07:40:39 »

And all the memory was for state data (remember there's a ROM).  You might put some code in RAM for self-modify code.
Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #28 - Posted 2012-08-11 07:42:39 »

128 bytes of memory... bytes! That'd be four of Java's ints!
bits are not bytes. 128 bytes are 32 java ints.
So let's see, I've made myself look like an idiot 1, 2, at least 3 times today! Cheesy I don't understand what's going on with me. I wasn't thinking when I wrote that post, apparently.

Regardless, 128 bytes is still pretty scarce.  Wink

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Offline coltonoscopy

Junior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #29 - Posted 2012-08-11 07:46:24 »

And all the memory was for state data (remember there's a ROM).  You might put some code in RAM for self-modify code.
True. Ordinarily I'd say something pertinent right here, but the trend so far today has been whenever my mouth opens, garbage and feces spill out Wink

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