DiscoverRetronautsRetronauts Episode 100: The advent of CD-ROM gaming

Retronauts Episode 100: The advent of CD-ROM gaming

Update: 2017-05-22


For our 100th full episode since our crowdfunded relaunch, we complete a long-overdue Kickstarter obligation by inviting backer Daniel Hawks to join us in a discussion of the early days and notable landmarks of CD-ROM gaming.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

this has brought to you by audible audiobook service with more than one hundred and eighty thousand titles to choose from a free audio book and a thirty day trial at audible trial dot com slash game this episode of retro nots is brought to you by our cbox dot com Get One Free extra month of bark box to get our cbox dot com slash game in a trance CD CD is the the the welcome to an episode of retro nuts I don't know this is actually going to be a full return outdoor restaurants micro we're going to kind of player by year and I would say at the end you'll be surprised that we're going to be the ones who surprised you because you have downloaded this from the internet and it will clearly be de Mar Kay did so I guess I kind of takes the mystery out of everything but at least we can all have fun together right that's what it's all about anyway this is a special episode of retro knots because this is completing may be our final Kickstarter obligation we have a guest here who paid four to be a co host on the show finally managed to make it all work out so having this conversation in a hotel room an encore I guess so yes when to introduce explain why or so tardy hi my name is Daniel Hawks I am a retro gaming and desist those are my only qualifications to be on don't like to under fifty dollars I think three hundred three hundred mm and we were most harsh of the It's been four years has been running the four hundred okay um yeah we're at Midwest gaming Classic and this was just an opportune place for us to me and make this happen yes services goes a long way for you to come because you live in Saint Louis that's correct yeah so I guess it makes more sense Milwaukee vs San Francisco although I will say Alexander discover what can you do the the so Daniel put together few different ideas for us to talk about and some of them I don't think Bob and I were really qualify for like being gamers with kids I I don't have children your P G's I play the story of Louie Byrd right yeah his internal nephews but early game with them they basically watch my craft videos at home it's not quite the same but instead we decided to talk about the advent of the CD ROM format and CD ROM game and so that's what we're going to do anyway hi this is retro nuts and I'm Jerry Hirsch co host and with me here is Bob Mackie and I was accosted by a cruel non western classic attendee wow yes I want this on tape recorded for posterity but that was the one that was the one mean person I met in four years of doing this so it has been saying gosh I was there with I witnessed the incident was harrowing yeah just thrown a no no Bob did of keeping his composure and you know being the bigger man is a steely glint in his eye can see the anger yeah don't make me angry I will call too long cause a scene so yes anyway I'm happy that we are finally wrapping up this Kickstarter and I think this is a good time to wrap up all of our cakes are obligations set by the time this goes out the final piece in the Kickstarter obligation puzzle will be complete the CD ROM or DVD ROM sorry the DVD yesterday but we are sending out Deb's so those will have been produced and hopefully will be in the mail very soon so then everything will be great and we can move on to a happy new era of talking about old video game scene read the comments that relate to the rip everybody off yes we totally did buy if you want a man I wish I went to nowhere North Carolina Sunday yes so anyway anyone to tell a soul but a bit about yourself beyond you know what little glib you may comment you made there before like what what interested you in this particular topic yeah so I think Jeremy roughly the same and so um you know this this topic in particular was interesting to me because it was sort of a period in my life where I was kind of earning and I was interested in and I guess the way that that I would describe it is when James started coming out on CD it was sort of like what I people seeing their first talkie was like with with movies when you mention that because of the early Lucas Arts adventure games with audio work all talkies like this is a talkie talkie version so far that terminology back when to go and then you know I'm I'm a software person by trading software product manager nothing to do with games but did you know from sort of technology standpoint I think it's a really interesting topic just because the way that it changed the landscape and it kind of pushed the medium forward so when you when you say this era you know you're talking about you're buying and stuff what exactly do you mean because the advent of CD not happen all at once sort of a slow gradual rollout I mean heck it took Nintendo like an expert in years to get there but you know you look at CD ROM as a format that really started to take off for PC of it started to appear in the late eighties but really became a commercial viable format in the early nineties yeah but then you know you had sort of the main streaming of sea based systems in nineteen ninety five for the PlayStation and Saturn yeah so for me this is this is that sort of middle era where cities have been around for a few years but really they were kind of you know those those when I call the killer apps started appearing on the market so like ninety to ninety three but was interesting about is that you didn't see a lot of PCs that came with CD ROM drives that point so it was you know add on hardware and is typically really expensive too yeah I wasn't there at the beginning of the CD ROM revolution but in the multimedia but didn't jump in pretty early because I just graduated from High School in nineteen eighty three and my parents said you know we can as a gift we can give you either pay for a car if you buy a computer and I said Of course I want the computer so will get checks ma'am s Yeah I like the number one to get me and LC three I gotta get me a Macintosh that's what I did as I took the money jobs and combined it with their gift and bought a Macintosh which did not come with a CD ROM what it did come with was a forty mega byte hard drive which wow did you ever feel that patients but actually no it filled up pretty quickly and so I began looking at ways to expand the system been one of the first way is you know I've spent a few hundred like four megabytes or twenty two megabytes of Ram and then also bought a CD like two x try with some speakers and a copy of missed because it was the hot new thing and that was probably the news toward the end of nineteen ninety four for ninety three I remember when exactly this happened but you know Miss was brand new at the time so based on that and um yeah it really did make a huge difference like it expanded the capabilities and potential of my computer massively and I think I think you kind of touched on a key point there and that is that not only its CDs give developers all this extra storage space to work with NASA that they could do things like full motion video but it also with what you saw is that most computers at the time didn't have built in sound cards so you know when you went to buy a CD out on it typically came bundled with the sound card and so I think that was as live yes or in my case it was a creative labs remember the days of having to calibrate your sound card in choosing all the different did like what's the Ayer que address or whatever these real terms I'm but oh everyday life I think you yet but it was like it was just bizarre just to do that over and over again for the games part some cards yet but I think I think you know once you know the sound card was sort of part of the equation I think that also gave developers a way to start adding this next level production value to their games you know and sound effects and music publishers and developers and manufacturers all like just licked their lips at the prospect of a CD ROM I mean I think to really understand the importance of CD ROM you have to look back to sort of the early days of computing and you know the video game space ROM mask from Silicon chips those were the standard they mean a lot of sense because they were low capacity but they were very durable like a good little kid could slam them into this into a system and they're not going to break or bend and mushy like take a hammer to them they're very durable and video games were sort of a read only application for the most part so it made sense to use those for causes but that was not the only storage format available there are also magnetic media like discounts and take the SATs and hard drives and all of those have their ups and downs like hard drives were fast and they had high capacity but they're very expensive discounts were pretty low capacity but they were very very cheap taking SATs were very very very cheap but extremely and extremely unreliable and so everyone you know hardware had to have to make a trade off they have to say like which format are we going to support and you know what impact this have on our system I think a lot of them say like the British computers of the eighties were really defined by the fact they mostly use cassette tapes because that allowed them to release publishers to release games cheaply like British games were very cheap on spectrum are abstract CPC or whatever but you know you have these incredible loading times so that that was kind of the experience was like lots of floating by you can just buy games by the dozen and as low cost whereas you know on on in the ass or Super Nintendo and Genesis games were very expensive but they were just like these fast instant experiences replying to then you know you're gaining right away and I think it might be a sort of relevant to talk about kind of what was the standard before the software is distributed on CDs so in the PC space you're talking about floppy disks which holds roughly one and a half more to his father excess but mostly floppy disk right and you know I I think the biggest game that I ever had on floppy was King's Quest six and I think it came in like sixteen copies towards the end for the crossover period where they were just games into the wrong games they would commonly go on a bigger Band bundle nothing but discs yes you'd end up buying the boxed product with that weighs like three pass on the spot for the boxes of the great rate and Tino by comparison a single can hold the equivalent of war with them after their one point four know Yeah like it about about four hundred for fifty I think that's a lot of discounts and the cost of manufacturing as he was very very inexpensive I'm sure that I maybe was like a dollar now is pennies or less but you know that's that's overtime but even so manufacturing a scout was much more expensive because they had multiple moving parts you had the plastic case you have the metal detector you have the spindles for the disc itself yeah the spring so like those are a lot of mechanical moving parts the disk CD ROM was plastic and aluminum sandwich together and then you know like a silk screen print over top it's a very very inexpensive to make and see Rob was extremely durable I mean not not as much as you know so like on cartridge buy it unless you scratched up the disc like it wasn't fragile in the way that magnetic media was you could run over a bulk or race or it wouldn't affect the CD ROM at all so there was much less fragility to it was also which meant that eventually you got see writers but initially they were very expensive and software that would yet take a big bite out of software piracy I you know I will confess that you know I of of copying you know fluffy games as a kid this is a sting by we're waiting for that you're on to me I mean I was talking with about the CBI today lunch and it was like there was no copy protection because I'm sure they assume maybe the children of parents who own CD burning factories could hire games but I was off the table for any regular consumer yet it wasn't like you could upload here are a CD ROM to a BBS I so feel like it was it would've taken you long enough to download one point four megabytes of disk at over a twenty hundred baht modem but forget about sixteen or fifty megabytes that was impossible to never download them much info and I think you know kind of given some of the statistics that we've thrown out where you had forty Meg first computer so you know if if if the developer is putting a game unlike floppy disks it's not to install the entire game on the hard drive so with that came in a surreal technical challenges where you know they're they're having to stream data off of the disc in real time and I think that you know that was one of the biggest winners for a technology yeah I mean it away I guess it kinda makes sense that um CD ROM suffering from some of the late same limitations as taking sides because really both were formats designed for music and the AI is that you listen to it straight through uni start the beginning and you listen to the end of the song and CD ROM allows you to jump for it to the next track but you know you can take life as Ford also was very different than the sort of The required for hard drive or disk at and yet first CD ROM as were extremely slow to access and for information there is no faster than cassettes so you know in that sense it was an upgrade but you did have that trade off with a single speed CD ROM is that you were going to have some wait times for sure and that term single speed so of this untold started show notes that you put together but single speed refers to the access speed of the drive pulling data off the disc and what it means as I was an awareness that CD ROM is the exact same format as music CDs and so single speed is at the same speed as a music CD right and you hear things like read book and yellow book and that those are references to standards that were developed so the CD the CD was developed as a joint venture between Phillips and RCA think I care exactly buy it you know the they put together this digital format and it was designed initially for music but it didn't take long for people to like you know we're turning everything into ones and zeros or trans coding music as digital data so this doesn't have to work for just music can also work for storing data and can work differently than a cassette where you have like ones and zeros playback as a stream of noise this can actually just be you know ones and it like a circuit and one of the other advantage is that because you know the music CD format and production facilities were already there publishers could piggyback off of that and be able to produce CD and mass because you know the the the laser riders were already there for writing music right so they started putting together the specifications for the format they sat down and in is in a sort of rare case of like multiple industries coming together and saying Hey let's make something that makes sense for everyone they sat down together separate standards and each of them were that were defined by technical notes in a different colored binder with the group which is like super I don't know you talk about the Red Book a book and it sounds it sounds arcane you like this I mean but it literally just means that the people who put together the specifications put them in this so Red Book audio is you know Steve the CD format like the music format audio like like streaming music as data and has to be interpreted the Green Book is CGI and there are several other format is Alyssa Frank book was created that exact that CD I was a completely separate format it wasn't actually sometime to say like QuickTime or something on my computer was capable of reading the CD i format but not like the CBI you know video games that appeared on the CBI console but rather the CBI standard which was sort of an interactive cross between data and multimedia but it was yeah like those kind of a monkey wrench in things like at the last minute Phillips was like Oh hey check it out we made this other format that's kind of competing with sort of like VHS or Beta or defects are basically everything was going so smoothly until Phillips had to be dicks about it and then you know that would happen later the super new CD ROM Phillips stepped in again and everything went to hell but um those those countries after the gardens of those nether people other than other people to those people from the nether regions um yeah so that was kind of the weird pick up but aside from that the the establishment of the CD ROM format for multiple purposes went pretty smoothly and it took several years for it to sort of come into being I think CD audio players began to appear in Japan in nineteen eighty two wow and you know they started to kind of cured other countries if years later I guess a nineteen eighty three and he started actual CD discs to buy some time after that they were they were pretty uncommon was mostly an audio file format most most people were still buying music on vinyl and cassette rate yeah I mean it was it was very much audio file it wasn't until the very that it started to become The CD ROM format took longer to come together and I don't think that really started to appear until nineteen eighty six eighty seven and I think you got your first real applications designed specifically for CD ROM in like nineteen eighty nine I put in the notes of C A A the very first PC game to be distributed on CD ROM it was one of those of us on CD ROM or discussed was the manhole by Scion of the people who are going to create missed and that appeared in nineteen eighty nine early nineteen eighty nine so as it turns out the CD ROM format was actually actually made its debut not for computers but for video game console is because any C released the PC Engine duo duo but the CD ROM to format for the PC Engine turbo graphics and December nineteen eighty eight I find astounding because I just associate CD ROM games with the early too far behind that but just the idea that that was happening back then is pretty crazy to me it was happening in Japan yet not here right the disconnect between that the PC Engine Marketing the turbo graphics market has a lot to do with the fact that no one in America really cares about river graphics PC Engine for a while was actually out selling family come and pray drive like it was a big deal so you know kind of what what types of games they were making back then because I think we can all sort of think about you know early death and the tight games you know that we saw but you know an eighty eight what what kind of games where the well one of the very first games with the first two games they make their one of them was a very Japanese game that I couldn't find any information about generally without hard but the other one was a little game called Fighting Street which you Street Fighter I don't know why they changed the name but they did but yes the original Street Fighter not three hundred to one red shoes that came to the CD ROM format as as one of the launch games as part of street vendors legacy that no one really thinks or knows about is that it was one of the very first the first two based video games ever I think a lot of these games were just the standard PC Engine games but with much better music usually I mean do anything with video early on or anything like that initially yeah yeah I think I think early with no CD ROM you kind of saw games falling into two categories other than the fact that it had a really high fidelity audio it didn't need to be on C and then you have things that were designed specifically to be on CD maybe to its detriment where you know the game ended up being really boring or you know not interactive because they were trying so hard to shoe horn and you know the full motion video it was a bumpy start but when it actually makes sense that um I guess it's not so that the first CD ROM games were for a console because the idea of sort of out on expansions to councils that sort of push those councils into a bit of a computer space and push them beyond beyond ROM cartridges was and knew you had um the Starr Pass super charger for it are twenty six hundred in like nineteen eighty two where you could um basically plug in a cartridge that could play cassettes and used magnetic media you had you know cool eco with the outcome that could use either discounts like turn to click a vision into a computer could use either discounts or a tape cassette and of course you're the family come disk system which was a pretty big success for Nintendo but only happened in Japan and that was using like literally a three inch desk now two point five inch disk but something format semi standard format to add onto the DS the Japanese in the s and lots exclusively for the family come to system I think that's a really good point I hadn't really considered that but you know there were a lot of technical challenges of developing games for CD on PC and part of that was because you had such a wide variety of technical specifications in people's machines so you know doing on consulate least you know that everybody has the same baseline hardware the same capabilities is if they could if they do it then you know they know that it's going to work on everybody's machine yeah you don't have to calibrate for the eight of the ad lib or whatever I remember hearing horror stories and I think it was the Christmas of nineteen ninety four Disney interactive whoever was publishing his name is really some Lion King CD ROM thing for PCs and it had a ton of compatibility like they basically ruin Christmas for children in such a big story that news magazine for covering I like um actual magazine yeah that was an issue the eleventh hour the sequel to The seventh Guest which is a game I really want to talk about you know a little bit later was notorious in the same way where you know like half of the people who bought the game and tried to install it had had issues because it was a sequel that has been Korea is serious yeah I'm trying to just remember what game that was some guests are all of the said yes yeah I mean that that definitely is something you didn't have to deal with the console is because it was a standard hardware spec it's also worth mentioning that CD ROM was not given as the next you know the successor of of video game format technology you have people experimented of different ideas you had a Hasbro developed an emo system which would have used VHS tape and that's actually where my truck came from so that was it was a platform I old VHS games and likes her shark in Sega CD initially started out as the HS based games I guess that would've worked late Captain Power something trap would work on a v interesting because it's all about switching between different video feed and switch fast so I'm just curious as to how that would actually function and physical media like that on a CD it makes sense because you have the ability to track but on a tape you're having to rewind and fast forward to get to the right section I don't know um that is the question that someone smarter than you can see here the one on either format it's a crappy game oh yeah for sure you also have people looking into the possibility of using laser discs for games and you know that Ed had sort of Advent in the arcades with Dragon's lair and Space Ace and cliffhanger and some other games Sago we mentioned East recently had a racing game okay remember its name but use like as the Sun Road blasters but it looks great it's all it's all first person animated I'm thinking of the is talking about I don't let this game where it's animated but it's all hand from behind the wheel of a car I don't but but I think you're kind of triggering something in me and that's when you say it looks great you have to think that in the early you know when you are finding out about new games was typically in print media so you would see these still shots of these incredible looking games you know with without really any knowledge of like how crappy they what what do they look like in motion with the experience was so I think for me it was you know it was a case where I I associated CD ROM with amazing graphics him yeah yeah it's actually called Road Leicester and encourage our listeners just watch just one last or one multiple ok so just confusion going you to just watch the twenty minutes of animation it is just somebody kill themselves to make this it just looks so good the the
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Retronauts Episode 100: The advent of CD-ROM gaming