The Single Button Joystick

Game loading times, anticipation and frustration.

by on Jan.24, 2011, under Amiga, IBM and Compatibles, Retro

Long ago there were long loading times. Now they aren’t so long.

If you want to play a game, you must load it one way or another. This has changed much in the history of personal computers. Once, people had to type in a series of commands to find and execute a game, be it on a tape drive or hard disk. Now people have to merely click on the name of their game of choice and press play.

As well as having to type in commands, I can’t forget the time spent waiting. The earlier iterations of the famed Commodore 64 used a cassette tape for portable data storage, rather than the floppy disk. The ‘Commodore 1530 (C2N) Datassette as’ it was known was how you played games on this, the granddaddy of the affordable home PC (Apple Macs are and never have been affordable).

Casting my mind back, booting up a C64 game like Pit Stop 2 would take the best part of twenty minutes. My cousin and I would spent some time outside ‘shooting hoops’ (as they say on the street) until the game was ready to play.

Comparing the C64 to an Amiga, the load times on the latter were less than a fifth. Two or three minutes loading were normal in my experience. The Amiga also sported better graphics and sound so it was really win/win!

To think I almost preferred the C64 (for reasons I’ll go into later) when I was seven! It took my Dad’s reasoning to convince me that an Amiga would be the better choice. Both Amiga and C64 featured coloured flashes and sometimes psychedelic patterns during the programmes loadings. although it was likely included to cut boredom, I have little doubt that it left some unfortunate Commodore fans twitching on the ground.

Load times will always be with us. Turning a series of 0s and 1s into a moving image on your monitor will always take time. As speeds of computers increase, complexity of programmes will follow. Thanks to digital distribution, the days of buying a physical disc (or disk) may well be numbered. But I know I will always remember the days of opening a box, putting in a disk into a drive and hearing it clunk and grind for a while.

Speaking of that clunk and grind, it’s been included in this remix of a great Amiga game, Lotus Turbo Challenge 2.

Lotus 2: Turbo Challenge 2K3 OC ReMix

Ahh yesteryear.

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