Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

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The Laird
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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by The Laird » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:37 pm

antsbull wrote: I would have thought someone who claims to be a Retrogamer would love to know about the history of PC gaming - instead of dismissing it out of hand? I love hearing about the machines I didn't have and the influences they and the people developing games for them had on the industry.
I think half the reason people don't care is that PC's have no personality what so ever. They have been made for years by hundreds of manufacturers, constantly upgraded and are still around now.

They are not like the ST, Amiga, Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc. They don't have any individuality or single identity, no brand and no standard.

Also you have to remember RG is a UK magazine and fact is the PC was not big here until around 92/93 time. There are loads of other machines that sell really well in the UK that deserve more love in the magazine.

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by hydr0x » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:37 pm

Just researched this a bit and while I haven't found a price list from back then I found another interesting number. In 1992 one German store chain alone sold 320.000 PCs to private owners.

Aha, found a catalog scan:

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As you can see, the absolutely best PC available at the time (1993) at the most expensive German chain (competitor Escom was usually ~25% cheaper iirc) was 3300DM (~1200 quid) including everything you could ever need as a gamer. Choose an entry level CPU (which would still run ANY game available back then) and it's only about half that.
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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by AmigaJay » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:01 pm

From that pic the 486/50 which I've been informed is needed to run Doom at a decent rate full screen is about £1000, plus as you say PCs weren't cheap in the UK (just found a US advert for 486/33 PC is $1935, around £1500 back then), so probably more here, but that's exactly why PCs weren't considered mainstream gaming devices until the mid 90s and windows.
And yes I am a retro gamer, and haven't dismissed PC gaming at all, in fact I've asked for obscure PC games feature in the past because I want to know what PC exclusive games are out there.
But as someone said its apples and oranges you can't compare high end pcs to low end Amigas, it's like comparing a Neo-Geo to a Megadrive, there are great games in both but one is obviously more powerful as its costs 4x the price!

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by antsbull » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:32 pm

Coming from New Zealand, where our dollar was worth a third of what the pound is in late 1991 you could get 16 Mhz VGA 286's with 40 meg harddrives and 1 meg of RAM plus VGA monitor for equivalent of 666 UK pounds ($2000 NZD). If we got such cheap machines in New Zealand then its highly likely they were available in Europe also.

I just find it strange when you say that there were no programmers pushing things "to the metal" and no good quality exclusive games when from my experience the opposite was true.

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by Bobinator » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:00 am

The Laird wrote:
antsbull wrote:
I think half the reason people don't care is that PC's have no personality what so ever. They have been made for years by hundreds of manufacturers, constantly upgraded and are still around now.

They are not like the ST, Amiga, Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc. They don't have any individuality or single identity, no brand and no standard.

Also you have to remember RG is a UK magazine and fact is the PC was not big here until around 92/93 time. There are loads of other machines that sell really well in the UK that deserve more love in the magazine.
Again, why make another article about something everybody already knows everything about instead of something new and fresh, with a lot of hidden gems to enjoy? I mean, everybody knows everything about the Spectrum, or Amiga. Not everybody knows about something, like, say, One Must Fall, so if you have an article on that, that's going to be a brand new thing for people to look at and try for themselves. Besides that, I'd personally say that the games matter much more than the hardware. I mean, that's just me, but still.

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by AmigaJay » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:23 am

antsbull wrote:Coming from New Zealand, where our dollar was worth a third of what the pound is in late 1991 you could get 16 Mhz VGA 286's with 40 meg harddrives and 1 meg of RAM plus VGA monitor for equivalent of 666 UK pounds ($2000 NZD). If we got such cheap machines in New Zealand then its highly likely they were available in Europe also.

I just find it strange when you say that there were no programmers pushing things "to the metal" and no good quality exclusive games when from my experience the opposite was true.
Well you couldn't run Doom on a 286!
On most platforms since they were closed programmers pushed the hardware to the limits, this never really happened on the pC since they programmed for the next CPU or GPU that used it which is still evident to this day, no matter what graphics card you buy it can never run every game at full speed, obviously games looked great on the PC but technically that's my view.
I never said there wasn't any good exclusives, I u look above I'm asking for info on some because I missed out back then as did loads of other people, which brings me back to the price....

And why Doom was one of the first games that couldn't be ported at all, not with loss of colours or frame rate as with Wing Commander, adventure games etc (not until 94 and Jaguar version and 95 PSX) hence why people always mark xmas 1992 as a point in history when the PC became a 'proper' gaming platform and not just for rich kids...

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by kleinemaus » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:40 am

The Laird wrote:
antsbull wrote: I would have thought someone who claims to be a Retrogamer would love to know about the history of PC gaming - instead of dismissing it out of hand? I love hearing about the machines I didn't have and the influences they and the people developing games for them had on the industry.
I think half the reason people don't care is that PC's have no personality what so ever. They have been made for years by hundreds of manufacturers, constantly upgraded and are still around now.

They are not like the ST, Amiga, Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc. They don't have any individuality or single identity, no brand and no standard.
They do have personality when they are IBM, and even better ThinkPad, a classic (read the book: A different shade of blue). They even have a standard, IBM originality (remember only IBM are PCs, all other are only IBM compatible).

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by Matt_B » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:53 am

I'd think it's a good thing that PCs have no individual standard; indeed, I can safely say that every machine I've ever built has been a one off with nothing else quite like it, or at most a handful of others where people would have chosen the same components by chance. Beat that for personality with your mass produced boxes.

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by hydr0x » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:02 am

AmigaJay wrote:just found a US advert for 486/33 PC is $1935, around £1500 back then
Wrong. 1935 USD was ~1050 quid in 1992, ~1300 in 1993. Use http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/ to check historic conversion rates. Also keep in mind that you didn't have to buy a pre-built computer by Compaq or whatever. Their prices were usually up to twice as high as the individual components would have cost you if you assembled it yourself. Yes, of course a 400 quid A1200 was the cheaper (although without monitor) alternative for christmas 92, but it was already outclassed by then. Anyways, none of this matters really, all that matters is whether or not people in significant numbers had PCs and used them for gaming. As I said above, one single consumer store chain over here sold 320.000 PCs in 1992. As we had several chains competing for the market I'd bet that a good million or so PCs were sold in 1992. That's a significant installed base.
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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by hydr0x » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:05 am

AmigaJay wrote:
antsbull wrote:Coming from New Zealand, where our dollar was worth a third of what the pound is in late 1991 you could get 16 Mhz VGA 286's with 40 meg harddrives and 1 meg of RAM plus VGA monitor for equivalent of 666 UK pounds ($2000 NZD). If we got such cheap machines in New Zealand then its highly likely they were available in Europe also.

I just find it strange when you say that there were no programmers pushing things "to the metal" and no good quality exclusive games when from my experience the opposite was true.
Well you couldn't run Doom on a 286!
Jeez, he said late 1991. Doom was still two years off. Of course in 1993 you could get a machine perfectly capable of running Doom for the same kind of money.
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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by hydr0x » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:10 am

AmigaJay wrote:On most platforms since they were closed programmers pushed the hardware to the limits, this never really happened on the pC since they programmed for the next CPU or GPU that used it which is still evident to this day, no matter what graphics card you buy it can never run every game at full speed, obviously games looked great on the PC but technically that's my view.
This is not true and is a clear misconception by people that only got into PCs after the 3D accelerator market launched. Before that all major publishers tried to make their games run great on as many outdated specs as possible to increase profits. Almost every VGA game also had EGA or even CGA modes for a good while. Games would usually run even on two generations old hardware (e.g., 486 games would still work on a 286, albeit it slow, but they'd certainly run okay on a 386) and supported all kinds of different sound cards, trying to achieve the best sounds possible, no matter what the user had, even if it was only a pc speaker. Sure, there were exceptions, games that tried to be cutting edge at all costs. But these were the big exception. Some of the most popular genres like Strategy or Adventures didn't care all that much which hardware you had.
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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by merman » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:46 am

I personally think all this talk of specifications and relative prices is missing the point. Yes, it would be good to read more about PC games. There have been several Making Ofs in recent issues. It's now down to the freelancers to pitch ideas and the editors to commission them.
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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by The Laird » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:25 am

Bobinator wrote:
The Laird wrote: I think half the reason people don't care is that PC's have no personality what so ever. They have been made for years by hundreds of manufacturers, constantly upgraded and are still around now.

They are not like the ST, Amiga, Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc. They don't have any individuality or single identity, no brand and no standard.

Also you have to remember RG is a UK magazine and fact is the PC was not big here until around 92/93 time. There are loads of other machines that sell really well in the UK that deserve more love in the magazine.
Again, why make another article about something everybody already knows everything about instead of something new and fresh, with a lot of hidden gems to enjoy? I mean, everybody knows everything about the Spectrum, or Amiga. Not everybody knows about something, like, say, One Must Fall, so if you have an article on that, that's going to be a brand new thing for people to look at and try for themselves. Besides that, I'd personally say that the games matter much more than the hardware. I mean, that's just me, but still.
Yes well this is exactly what I think, hence why I said there are lots of machines that have not been covered that much.

RG is about hardware as well as software and it would be near impossible to talk about the games without mentioning the platform they appeared on, especially if said game was exclusive to that system.

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by Matt_B » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:34 am

merman wrote:I personally think all this talk of specifications and relative prices is missing the point. Yes, it would be good to read more about PC games. There have been several Making Ofs in recent issues. It's now down to the freelancers to pitch ideas and the editors to commission them.
Yes. Given the amount of misconceptions some people seem to hold, I'd think that we could do with a few articles to educate and inform the readership. Some sort of history of the first decade of PC gaming from Bill Gates's Donkey to Civilization, perhaps?

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Re: Much more DOS and old PC gaming coverage please!!

Post by Mayhem » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:43 am

hydr0x wrote:Wrong. 1935 USD was ~1050 quid in 1992, ~1300 in 1993. Use http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/ to check historic conversion rates.
While that might be the case, it was probably still sold for £1,500 here. Such were markups etc. My father bought a 486DX25 in 1992 with 4MB RAM and 120MB HD, and that cost him about £1,500 iirc.
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