keenmaster486 wrote on 2020-03-06, 14:51:
I was watching this video about the making of Crash Bandicoot on the PlayStation. I was enjoying it until this guy started trash talking PCs of the time.
Let's keep in mind 1994 was the year of DOOM. The Pentium had come out the previous year. 3D games had already been out for PCs for a long time. Not complex polygon-based games yet (but the Voodoo was just around the corner), and certainly nobody was using Windows 3.1 as their game platform (DOS was king). And the typical RAM size for that year was way, way more than 640K. Certainly even more than the 2 MB of RAM the PlayStation had.
It really annoys me when people trash talk retro PCs.
"They had 2 millibytes of RAM! They couldn't do anything! I bet their CPUs ran at, like, 3 kHz, dude!"
"I used to have a PC in the 90's and I think the screen resolution was, like, 100x100 or something"
"1985? What was that, like, Windows 1.0? How did people even use their computers if the only OS they had was Windows 1.0?"
CONTEXT. IT'S IMPORTANT TO GET THE CONTEXT OF THE VIDEO. I get really annoyed when people takes things out of context and represent it as misinformation. I watched the entire video and only saw 2 points that were considered disparaging towards PCs of the time - one was about how much of a pain it is to get games working on them, and the other is how they can't use them for developing the game.
When Crash Bandicoot went into development in 1994 PCs were running a mix of DOS 6 + Win 3.1, and yes, people do play games on Windows 3.1 - Solitaire, Minesweeper, Ski, Monopoly, Risk - hell, even Sim Tower was originally released on Win16. Sure, they are casual games, but still games, and Microsoft made millions selling their Entertainment packs to Win 3.0/3.1 customers. Saying that people only game on DOS was just as obnoxious as people claiming that Wiis are not game consoles because they run cartoony casual games.
Andy Gavin was factually correct talking about how DOS gaming on period PCs were not gamer friendly - you had to use boot disks (or set up complex multi-config menus) to make some of them work. Hell, I remember spending hours back in 1994 juggling with my configs just to make Falcon 3.0 work on my DX2/66, and then reworking it so Wing Commander Privateer would work, then rewriting the entire config set so it'll be a boot menu, all this because I want to play games on my DOS machine once in awhile. I can also tell you that it didn't get any better with age - all the fun I had recently trying to get US Navy Fighters to work (gave up on the idea since I need to turn off video BIOS shadowing due to its derpy memory manager, and that's not possible on laptops so I ran it in DOSBox), OR Rowan flight sims to render SVGA graphics on my laptops (only the Thinkpad T21 will work, or yeah, DOSBox). If it's easy there will be no need to retain DOS gaming compatibility charts for VGA cards, write entire tomes on how to load drivers to save a few measly kilobytes of conventional memory (even if my machine has a ton of physical RAM already), or have DOSBox sidestep the issue for us. The worst thing about DOS gaming was really fighting with DOS and its non-existent housekeeping (requiring utils and 3rd party solutions), and then deal with all the hardware inadequacies. I want to play games, not wonder if my game will glitch out because DOS needs to be reconfigured (oh no, I need to load DOS UMB, then HIGH, exclude memory region c000-cfff in EMM386, change stacks to 9, 256 and then make sure the Soundblaster TSR is loaded before MSCDEX or else it won't fit in high memory, and I need another mouse driver because this one uses up 16k instead of 14k, I'll need 572k of conventional RAM to start the game, and it's different for another game that requires turning off XMS memory), the VESA 2.0 video mode implementation was incomplete, or how my audio sounds funny because it's not Yamaha OPL2/3/whatever. I am, as my wife would describe it "an annoyingly pedantic computer nerd" but even I don't like to deal with it back then - don't get me wrong, it's a skill knowing how to tweak DOS, but it's like being good with a slide rule or an abacus...an obsolete skill that some people do for fun. I might have a few old laptops that I can use to run old games, but then I am also more than happy just dropping a few bucks on Steam and clicking on a self-contained DOSBox binary and not deal with all the insanities of the "bad old days".
Now, regarding that comment he made about spending 75k each on SGI dev machines for the 5 Naughty Dog employees rather than DOS machines because they have effectively 640k of RAM...that's unfair, but given the context of developing this title that is targeted to run on MIPS32, that's also understandable. Win 3.1 back then has a 16MB per-process limit, and there are no native OpenGL support (that was pushed out only after Windows NT 3.5 was released in September 1994). So it's either fighting GDI or WinG on Win16 to get tools built, (assuming that other tools you need are even available at the platform - even Truespace and Video toaster ran on Amiga), or if your tools are running on DOS, then you'll have to spend extra time and effort messing with DOS extenders (x86 real mode/memory segmentation was a technical debt from the early 80s that really needed to g0 away). If I had to meet deadlines on the game AND fight with the DOS/Win16 APIs for something not running on that platform anyways, I am getting my corporate card out and calling SGI for a few Indigo2s.
Now, if it's a good set of Win16 tools and a good game engine running in DOS (like Domark/Simis's Flight Sim Toolkit, which I had extensive experience on), that's a different thing altogether, or if you have a Net-Yaroze (which was released in 1997 with very different APIs and toolsets and I had some familiarity with), that's different. What was being offered on the Wintel side for 1994 was not a great developer environment for a PSX dev.