Forgotten knowledge

So I was just browsing eBay and came across an old console listing that (correctly) stated “Will involve tuning into a compatible TV, please only purchase if you're familiar with this process.” and it made me realise that this used to be such an obvious thing - the first TV in my bedroom had to be constantly retuned using the dial on the front like a (equally old) radio to display anything - yet people have legitimately not encountered this once-normal process for decades now. What else used to be common gaming knowledge that has now been forgotten?

The mildly amusing answer that comes to mind: Cutting wires when you needed to plug something into a TV. It‘s not something I’ve done personally, but from what I understand it was stupidly dangerous for both knife and electricity-related reasons.

The mildly depressing answer that comes to mind: Discovering new websites. Social media has clamped down *hard* on the Internet, and besides making it harder to find fun new novelty sites (like the ones listed [here](, it's also had the predictable but still deeply unfortunate side effect of finding alternate venues to socialize with others. Novelty is dead; long live monetization and seriousness.

I‘m not sure it’ll ever truly be forgotten, but the magic of blowing into a cartridge that wouldn‘t boot up the first time certainly feels arcane by today’s standards.

Remember how save data used to be stored on a little thing that went into the console^1^? And if you brought your memory card to your buddy's house but then forgot it in your pocket, it might end up in the washing machine?

^1^ - Or even better... the controller!!

The first console with internal storage was the XBox and that was 20 years ago in November. Wow!

Sure, having memory cards wasn't as convenient as having save data right on the cartridge but it wasn't so bad.

The most funny memory cards were the Nintendo 64's, since most games had save data stored on the cartridge anyway, and most games didn't use them for much other than optional features like Mario 64's ghost data. I imagine there were a good number of people out there who had a Controller Pak for _Legend of the Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon_ and not much else.

Ah, here's something. Extended from that is the feeling of coming upon someone else's save data from a rented cartridge. It's a weirdly voyeuristic experience but it can also give you sneak peeks at future areas or stuff in games. I remember feeling simultaneously enthralled at the idea of finding the fully upgraded Master Sword on someone's Link to the Past save and frustrated I couldn't do much with that information considering there's almost no way to tell how to get it if you've already got it.

@“whatsarobot”#p41413 That idea will die with the last novelty t-shirt featuring a picture of an NES and the words “blow me”

ANSI art

Also loaders, intros, and cracktros.
eg, Ocean Loader

edit: although thinking about it, these are probably more "forgotten artifacts" rather than "forgotten knowledge". oops.

Chaining rf switches will soon be forgotten if it‘s not already. And, perhaps, changing a console’s battery when it dies.

Will multitaps be forgotten or will their legacy live on in USB hubs for wired fighting game sessions?

Oh also!! "home console" and "handheld console" integration, data sharing, and unlocks. The vita was the last handheld to do it, and there wasn't much sharing, just cross play. I'm thinking maybe we should have a separate thread for gba->gamecube, ngpc->dreamcast curio discussion, maybe? And I think the wonderswan was meant to connect to the Ps2?


@“Gaagaagiins”#p41420 The first console with internal storage was the XBox and that was 20 years ago in November. Wow!

[upl-image-preview url=//]

The Saturn and its luxurious 32KB of "system memory" sneer at this scandalous rewriting of history. And there was a capacitor-powered internal memory inside the PC Engine Duo three years prior.


@“Gaagaagiins”#p41420 the feeling of coming upon someone else’s save data from a rented cartridge.

When I was a kid, I lost my Animal Crossing: Wild World DS cartridge weirdly often. I think I had my family buy maybe 3 or 4 copies of that game for me throughout my entire childhood.... In any case, as a cost-saving measure, of course we'd normally get those used! Animal Crossing in particular offers a really intimate look into a stranger's life, with how they dress their character and decorate their house, any nicknames they typed in for the villagers to call them.... It was always really neat checking the saves on those cartridges before starting my own. In a way, it feels like a shame that there's no real parallel to that with modern consoles. It really is a unique experience, glimpsing into someone else's life for a minute like that.

I love coming across old saves when I buy used games! If it‘s an especially good one (right before a final boss or with an obscene amount of time on the clock) then if possible I’ll leave it alone and use a free slot for my own playthrough - it just feels like the right thing to do.


@“Syzygy”#p41432 Less of a joke answer: everything about DIY networking. Configuring a LAN, server browsing, port forwarding, all that kind of thing.

That will be remembered as long as weirdos like me want to load ps2 isos into a slim ps2 via the ethernet port using OPL.
I had to learn how to do that because I didn't want to buy a fat ps2 just to play pirated games.

Anything involving autoexec.bat and config.sys. Dealing with IRQ and DMA conflicts on mid-90s PCs was such a pain in the ass.

People give Microsoft a bunch of arguably deserved flack, but Windows is a legit technical marvel. You can buy a computer in a store today and have a solid chance at running a piece of software written 20 years ago.


@“穴”#p41457 I had to learn how to do that because I didn’t want to buy a fat ps2 just to play pirated games.

I have a fat PS2 and I still learned the ethernet method because the other options were too unreliable.

I don't quite miss this as it still goes on, but I fear the “kids these days” will never experience the joy of sshing into a roguelike server and watching games in progress or fighting the ghost of another player where they died. As Cataclysm called it: the Massively Singleplayer Online Role Playing Game experience

@“Video_Game_King”#p41460 interesting, I thought playing them off an HDD was a better option

@“穴”#p41463 That‘s assuming you can get the HDD working. I was unlucky when it came to buying an HDD, and from what I’ve heard, playing over ethernet actually improves the load times in many cases.

Original Xbox had a memmory card besides the hard drive and some game saves are specifically locked out against using it. Also Some saves cannot be copied to the memmory card either. In some case it was to stop hacking but sometimes its just arbitrary.

The discussion has deviated to a (pretty interesting but) slightly different topic, but to come back to @“Kimimi”#p41408 ’s original question for a bit, I wonder how easy it is for a kid to conceptualise hardware emulation with zero reference point on the real experience.

For instance, say a kid born in 2006, now fifteen years old and with a vague memory of Barack Obama as the first US president they knew of, listens to the Insert Credit podcast and gets interested in MSX2 or X68000 emulation.

How easily can they wrap their head around the handling of multiple floppy disk drives on their emulator of choice? If they try to launch Snatcher or Metal Gear 2, do they figure out how to use the sound cartridge properly? There is a pretty deep layer of abstraction required to figure out what the original hardware logic was, based on the GUI alone.

For some reason the two things that came to mind for me are needing to notch or punch a hole in the side of a 5 1/4" floppy disk to make it double sided (and I guess using floppy disks at all?) and kind of the opposite move of having to break off the little plastic tabs in the top of cassette tapes to keep from recording over what was on them (and I guess also using cassette tapes to load games off of).

I have to confess that this gives me some extremely strong 'I miss physical media' feelings for whatever reason! Floppies and cassettes were often a pain in the ass, because of their inherent limitations, but I really miss the physicality of them.