Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Analog video game releases from 1962 on the Pocket

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The world’s first video game is coming to an Analog Pocket near you. Analogue announced today that it is launching Space War!a game originally designed for the PDP-1 mini computer that predates pong with a full decade, on the Pocket as part of its larger strategy to bring groundbreaking video games into the modern era.

The original Space War! was founded in 1962 by a cadre of engineers led by Steve Russell at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Using a PDP-1 minicomputer and a 1024 x 1024 pixel CRT screen, Russell and his colleagues programmed a game in which two spacecraft battle it out in a star’s gravitational source. There are two controllers for the game made with switches for maneuvering and buttons designed to be silent when pressed so that your opponent can’t hear when you fire missiles.

Bring Space War! to the Analogue Pocket, Spacemen3, a third-party developer, used the source code of the PDP-1 computer and Space War! itself, both of which are in the public domain, alongside OpenFPGA software. Emulating 60-year-old software presented some interesting challenges.

“The PDP-1 had some unique features, with a 1024×1024 vector rendering with a unique way of generating the image,” Analogue CEO Chris Taber said in an email to The edge. “It was a little tricky to catch this.”

Alex Cranz from The edge had a chance to play Space War!

Space War! looks a little different on the Analog Pocket. The lines are crisp and clean without the ethereal glow that the original green CRT offered. The AI ​​for your opponent doesn’t exist, but there’s still something really cool about speeding up to a star and then using its gravity to whip around it and take out another ship. Decades later, you still really feel like you’re waging a war in space.

Space War! symbolizes Analogue’s greater mission to preserve and play video games not only from the recent past, but also from the distant past. Games that have never been commercially released, such as Space War! represent some of the lost video game history that Analogue is trying to revive.

“The goal of openFPGA is to open up Analogue’s hardware to developers to help preserve the history of video games… We launched the program that highlights the beginnings of video games with a recreation of the PDP-1s Space War!‘ said Taber.

Space War! launches on the Pocket along with a new software update that adds save states and more.

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