[stella] Why Cartridge?

Subject: [stella] Why Cartridge?
From: "patrick lichty" <voyd@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 23:07:24 -0600
I think that Kirk's got a really good point here.  I admit to being a
lurker who dearly enjoys this list, and since I've got a burner and a
load of boards on the way, maybe someday I'll have something more to say
than as a tech art mag editor.

However, when I think about the pros and cons in regards to the
cartridge/emu discussion, could we say that there's something that's so
much more experientially 'pleasing' about having a homebrew cart that
you yank out of your box and plunk it in the console and go for it?
You've got this wonderful little hunk of plastic or circuitry that you
can hold in your hand, and it's a PROGRAM.  Plugging the cartridge into
the slot for me is so much more physical than even CD-Roms, and That's
something we miss in our lives.  Personally, I'd live a computer
interface in which we'd have to manipulate objects other than a mouse
and keyboard.

I think that one of the great appeals of the retro 2600 culture is that
in a part of society where operating systems update every couple years,
you have to mess with plugins, fonts, file compatibility, etc.  there's
just something so satisfying about a static system that relies on
ROM-based programs to operate.  You don't have to worry about the iron
oxide peeling off; maybe a little corrosion on the circuit board once in
a while.  

But you can conceivably take those carts and shove em on a shelf for 30
years, and plug em back in, and, "BOOM!" you're playing Oystron again.

But for those who are more interested in plumbing the possibilities of
the 2600's guts from a more abstract level, sure, the emu's and
countless levels are great. I don't think there's anything wrong with
that, either, but I don't think we should conflate one for the other.

The experience of running from a console is totally different than that
of an emu, experientially (if not technically, considering the little
changes between the Heavy Sixer and the other machines, etc.) - no doubt
about it.  But there are a few things it's difficult to do one way or
the other, and to use whatever you need to explore is great.

Myself, I tend to be a Supercharger or ROM type, myself.  For me, EMU's
are only what I use to see if I want to load it up on the 'real' system.

Tangibility in computing?  That's sort of weird, but I like the idea.

Patrick Lichty
Intelligent Agent Magazine
355 Seyburn Dr.
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
"It is better to die on your feet 
than to live on your knees." 
But again, the fact that this *couldn't* be a cart complicates 
things; a PC pretty much has to be in the loop, (or else a discman
or casette player.) And if a PC is in the loop, why not just run
an emulator? And if you're on an emulator, why not play a game
native to the system, or an emulator of a more powerful system
with the "real" Lode Runner?  

I'd like to hear what other people think about this general issue.
I mean, in some ways it goes right to heart of the group's mandate;
I've learned just this past Philly that originally, the list was
all about making stuff to take advantage of the coolness of the 
supercharger; but the rise of emulators and relatively simple 
(from the game author's perspective, Al ;-) cart-burning relegated
the supercharger to the budget way of seeing a game on a real atari,
generally during development.  

And there's another deep issue of what people want to accomplish;
I think it's a spectrum, on one end is people who just love the 
idea of making a cartridge for their beloved childhood system,
and on the other extreme are people who are solely obsessed with 
what the 6507/TIA combo can possibly do, and most people are 
in the middle, though likely nearer one side or the other.
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