How does the general population think old systems work?

You can talk about almost anything that you want to on this board.

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
koitsu
Posts: 4215
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:28 pm
Location: A world gone mad

How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by koitsu » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:21 pm

Source thread/post: viewtopic.php?p=219530#p219530
psycopathicteen wrote:I still wonder how the general population think old systems work.
You don't really wonder this, yeah? You certainly know the answer...
psycopathicteen wrote:Somebody should get a bunch of people together and ask them to each draw a diagram of how they think the system works, and it will be interesting to compare and contrast their designs with both the real thing, and each others diagrams.
Oh, you mean like this but in bulk? I've been passing that one around for a couple days now. I'm particularly appreciative of the time spent to draw diagrams with descriptions of the components (esp. the 2A03), making complete and total assumptions, despite there being a) tons of technical information freely available on said chip, and b) an entire forum dedicated to talking about said hardware, and c) said forum having pre-existing threads demonstrating the same mindset (e.g. someone they might want to talk to in advance, "hey, how did this project turn out?"). There was a more recent one more like the first link, but I can't find it -- none of my search query terms find it. :\

It all boils down to the same thing: fewer commonplace people these days do actual "deep" research on a subject. Instead, they assume that just blindly Googling and skimming a page of results will get them answers. Or maybe even an assumption like "surely someone else has done this and I can stand on their shoulders!" (I see this often in the open-source world now). They only want to skim the surface. They find "a small gem" (ex. a forum link), then essentially ask others to do the heavy lifting ("deep" research) for them and hand-feed it to them. This isn't necessarily a generational trait either: I've actually seen people in their late 30s/early 40s fit this description, and in one case, a person who used to "deep dive" (doing homebrew) but now doesn't, instead insisting that "oh you don't need to know all that X/Y/Z stuff about Complicated Thing, just use this magical SDK!". Is there something in the water? The soil? (cue Dead Milkmen's "Stuart")

I believe ease-of-access-to-information is partially the blame (re: Internet, search engines), exacerbated by impatience (see: instant gratification syndrome). The former often fuels the latter. I personally feel the more time and effort you put into researching something, the more you can appreciate it, and usually the more rewarding it is. I think back to the hours I spent at Oregon State University's library reading 65xxx and x86 books, or times where I went to Powell's Technical Bookstore in Portland and tried to find (and read) some Apple IIGS technical references I was wanting.

But it goes further than that. How many people do you know who don't read more than 2 lines (or maybe 1 paragraph) of an Email about a complicated subject (even one they themselves may be inquiring about!) citing TL;DR? It's like the modus operandi today is "sorry, you must convey all the relevant information about a complicated thing in under 30 words else I cannot be bothered". I've literally seen people (not just me!) take *hours* to write great Emails or documentation on a subject, trying to cover all facets, only to be told by the recipient "oh, yeah, that? I didn't read it, it was too long". I've run into this in workplaces too, where managers asking loaded/complicated questions don't read the Email responses in full because, for example, "they're on their mobile phone and the mail was too long to read there" (but don't follow up using a computer later).

Things like social media don't help the situation either (incl. things like Twitter's character limits; just look at people who post long stories across 30 Twitter posts, or use several images -- uh, you're using the wrong medium to convey the information!).

The number of people who take the time to understand complex technical things, through either reading or reverse-engineering or any number of other methodologies, seem to be decreasing. I pray we don't see this kind of phenomenon happen in, say, civil engineering.

I appreciate the drive/desire folks have to do things -- it's wonderful and beautiful -- but it's like they don't want to put in the time to learn about something. Again, can't tell if laziness, some weird form of apathy, instant gratification syndrome, ADD, or what... And as someone with OCD, I probably won't ever know or understand it.

Welcome to 2018, although it's been like this for a good 10-15 or so -- probably longer if you asked someone in their 60s-80s the same question. ;-)

User avatar
Dwedit
Posts: 4236
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 7:35 pm
Contact:

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by Dwedit » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:14 pm

The general population thinks it's all farts and magic fairy dust.
Here come the fortune cookies! Here come the fortune cookies! They're wearing paper hats!

User avatar
dougeff
Posts: 2614
Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 7:17 pm
Location: DIGDUG
Contact:

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by dougeff » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:24 pm

The general population thinks Sonic runs fast because of "blast processing".

That being said, I have no idea how Atari 2600 produces graphics.
nesdoug.com -- blog/tutorial on programming for the NES

lidnariq
Posts: 8780
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:12 am
Location: Seattle

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by lidnariq » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:31 pm

The closest approximation is "farts and magic fairy dust" because ... man, I technically understand how all the parts work but the idea of actually drawing something with it just makes me go bugeyed.

User avatar
koitsu
Posts: 4215
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:28 pm
Location: A world gone mad

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by koitsu » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:20 pm

If we're talking about the Atari 2600: yup, same. I've been told random stories (from other 6502 programmers) and it really makes me appreciate nicer-looking 2600 games like River Raid and Yars Revenge. Timing is crazy.

User avatar
Banshaku
Posts: 2328
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:38 pm
Location: Fukuoka, Japan
Contact:

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by Banshaku » Sat Jun 09, 2018 2:27 am

<sarcasm>
TL;DR;
</sarcasm>

Jokes aside (I did read your complete post), I think your comments are spot on. The era of social media brought that instant gratification syndrome and unless you have some result right now people don't make effort anymore. I don't want to participate in those media, especially those that seems to focus on you mostly and to connect to your friends non-stop, it make no sense anymore.

Another thing I experienced but is a little bit different than the current topic is sometime the lack of time discourage you to invest time in those complicated topics. For example, when you have kids, your time become more and more restricted for those kind of subject. 10 years ago I was able to put more time on it and I liked to do research, go deeper and figuring out about it. But now, when sometime I only have 30 minutes or less at night around midnight, just thinking that I may not be able to make any interesting progress just discourage me to work on it.

I guess in my situation I need to learn how to micromanage my task so at least those small burst of research feels like you are moving forward. I miss the days that I could put hours and hours into something. In programming tasks, sometime it takes times before you feel that you are into the beat.

These days I just took Shiru examples, made my own make files, made it compatible with any runtime (for now I need to copy the runtime in the project folder but I will think about a solution later), separated famitone and neslib, wrap them into their on unit, made crt0 the way I like and soon I hope to experiment with limited C and some asm files with it. What I like is I try to figure out why X is made that way for C runtime or why Y what set that way for parameters and try to then set it up the way I like. It's refreshing to learn new things for a change. I hate when I work with code that I don't understand so now my make file should work on windows/linux/mac for small c programs.

The next step will be to use neslib, see what I like and what I don't and make my own.

Rahsennor
Posts: 475
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:09 am

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by Rahsennor » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:07 am

I haven't said anything before because it feels like a really weird thing to say, but I always enjoy your rants/stories, koitsu. I always finish reading them knowing something I didn't when I started, even if it's just that the world really is as bad as my inner cynic keeps telling me it is. If nothing else, it's a relief to know there's at least one other person out there who actually gives a damn.

Just this once, I'm going to add a rant of my own. I probably shouldn't, and I'll probably be flamed to a well done crisp for being the cranky idiot that I am, but whatever. Nobody has to read it if they don't want to.

The internet shouldn't take all the blame for making people not want to learn. At least, not in my part of the world. A good chunk of the blame can and should be placed squarely on our education system. We're teaching our kids to hate learning. We stuff them in a classroom and pound their brains with information they don't care about, then quiz them and rank them so we can humiliate the ones who don't fold to our will.

I see it all the time. I'm a martial arts instructor. Most of my students are kids. And most of them are only there because their parents want them to be. They're downright allergic to learning, and will avoid it at all costs. They visibly switch off the moment the big boss starts one of his lectures. Class has started, time to zone out.

Me, I got promoted to teaching with none of the usual training for the position, and damn near everyone who's seen me in action seems to rave about how good I am.

Everyone who says that is a certified moron.

The one and only reason my students listen to me is because I'm not a good teacher. I'm not there to make them learn anything. If they're doing it wrong, I don't chew them out for it; I explain to them why it's not a good idea. For example, if their stance is too narrow, I just poke them in the shoulder and they put their foot in the right place naturally, to keep from falling over. The only time I get short with them is if they start disrupting the rest of the class.

Some of them really don't care, but some of them eventually start to pre-empt me, and ask why I'm making them do what they're doing. That is the best possible sign any teacher can hope for and should be rewarded with a thoughtful and practical answer. It means they want to know, and that means they will remember not just the answer, but also the reason they asked the question in the first place. The more they ask, and the more they realize how learning benefits them, the more they stop folding up at the first sign of it.

After almost a decade of this, I can count the number of my students that made it to black belt on my fingers. The one thing all of them had in common was patience. Three of the most recent ones all had one other thing in common: they had terrible records at school. Getting detention every day of the week is not the sort of thing you want to see in a respectable martial artist. And yet all of them are disciplined, respectful and intelligent people.

I'm rambling and it's crazy late, so I'm not even sure what point I'm trying to make anymore, but it's food for thought.

psycopathicteen
Posts: 2904
Joined: Wed May 19, 2010 6:12 pm

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by psycopathicteen » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:13 am

Some more guesses at how the general population thinks systems work.

-They think PPUs make CPUs do all their dirty work for them.
-They think VRAM can be accessed all the time and the only limitation is CPU speed.
-They don't understand CHR indexes (for both tiles and sprites) and think you need to individually upload every single block's pattern onscreen, even duplicates, every frame.

User avatar
FrankenGraphics
Formerly WheelInventor
Posts: 2032
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:55 am
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Contact:

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by FrankenGraphics » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:48 am

I think the general population wouldn't be interested in even knowing what the PPU does. Sort of redundant information if you aren't a retro dev :lol: Just maybe, some will take pleasure in being able to play games in an informed way, which makes it easier to appreciate the craft of making them. Or, it may ruin your experience is all you see is the system behind the appearances. Everyone is different.

Btw i think rahsennor is right on point. the school system in general terms is made to fit a relatively narrow band of people. Some of them will feel and act better when they get out of school and into work, but the branding as dumb/lazy/insufficient does those that learn things differently or have different interest no good, with lasting effect. I believe humanity can do better with a more diverse school system.

We're also shaped by our various media around us. Kids start flicking between tube videos, apps etc at the age of 2. It probably trains their capacity to shift focus and adapt quickly, but not their capacity to maintain focus on a single thing for a worthwhile period.
http://www.frankengraphics.com - personal NES blog

User avatar
Sogona
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:54 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by Sogona » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:57 am

Rahsennor wrote:The internet shouldn't take all the blame for making people not want to learn. At least, not in my part of the world. A good chunk of the blame can and should be placed squarely on our education system. We're teaching our kids to hate learning. We stuff them in a classroom and pound their brains with information they don't care about, then quiz them and rank them so we can humiliate the ones who don't fold to our will.
While I don’t disagree with you on our education system seriously lacking, school is just boring in general. Most kids just don’t like learning. There really isn’t much you can do about it. You just have to work with kids and make what you teach as interesting as you can.

I also feel like this whole thing kinda stems from the fact that the average person doesn’t know how to do research. I’d be willing to say that the vast majority of people on here are of above average intelligence. We’re used to having detailed in-depth discussions. But not everybody is like this. Even talking to researchers in a different sub-field of what you study, or a PHD student talking to an undergraduate about an advanced subject, you have to sugar-coat some things, and speak in terms they can understand. But I understand there’s still an overlying theme of ignorance. If I’d have to give an opinion, I’d say it’s always been like this. The average person doesn’t like to work hard. This is nothing new.
FrankenGraphics wrote:We're also shaped by our various media around us. Kids start flicking between tube videos, apps etc at the age of 2. It probably trains their capacity to shift focus and adapt quickly, but not their capacity to maintain focus on a single thing for a worthwhile period.
I do have a strong opinion that children under the age of 5 shouldn’t be constantly staring at devices like iPads, phones, etc. I just can’t help but feel that this has nothing but negative consequences. I remember playing gba constsntly as a kid, before the iPhone revolution, but I remember being at least in kindergarten.

User avatar
Bregalad
Posts: 7766
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 2:49 pm
Location: Chexbres, VD, Switzerland

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by Bregalad » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:08 pm

dougeff wrote:The general population thinks Sonic runs fast because of "blast processing".
This. Also I doubt many people have any idea what a PPU is. If anything, they just have an idea what a CPU is and think it's clock rate is a good measure for how fast games will be (*) or how "powerful" the console is (whathever that means).

It seems most people here really overestimate how educated the "general population" is.

(*) PS: How fast in terms of actual scrolling speed, not processing power.
Last edited by Bregalad on Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
tokumaru
Posts: 11466
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:43 pm
Location: Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by tokumaru » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:39 pm

The general population also appears to think that only newer/more powerful systems are capable of running games at 60fps, while every (NTSC) system ever built outputs video at that rate, and anything with hardware scrolling and hardware sprites can animate objects and the camera that fast. It's true that every generation has its share of laggy games, but most games are supposed to play smoothly.

Scrolling as fast as Sonic on the SNES or even the NES is trivial, and handling one single character with complex physics isn't a lot of trouble either, but a lot of people don't get that, even people that have more technical knowledge than the general population.

tepples
Posts: 21750
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:12 pm
Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
Contact:

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by tepples » Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:00 pm

tokumaru wrote:It's true that every generation has its share of laggy games, but most games are supposed to play smoothly.
With the exception of games designed not to look blurry on a handheld system's slow LCD. These might intentionally drop to 30 or 20 fps so that the LCD can finish changing gray shade before the game pushes the next frame.

User avatar
Quietust
Posts: 1492
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 10:59 pm
Contact:

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by Quietust » Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:40 pm

tokumaru wrote:The general population also appears to think that only newer/more powerful systems are capable of running games at 60fps
The general population is probably thinking of how PC games were back in the MS-DOS days, when 35fps was the effective maximum unless you were playing a game that could take advantage of a 3D accelerator card.
Quietust, QMT Productions
P.S. If you don't get this note, let me know and I'll write you another.

Rahsennor
Posts: 475
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:09 am

Re: How does the general population think old systems work?

Post by Rahsennor » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:22 pm

Sogona wrote:While I don’t disagree with you on our education system seriously lacking, school is just boring in general. Most kids just don’t like learning. There really isn’t much you can do about it. You just have to work with kids and make what you teach as interesting as you can.
What we call school is boring because it's unnecessary. It originated in an age before easy access to libraries and the internet and is now obsolete.

People will learn what they need to in order to do what they want to. If a boy wants to go fishing instead of learning how to read, just show him a book on fish. He'll be literate in no time flat.
Sogona wrote:I also feel like this whole thing kinda stems from the fact that the average person doesn’t know how to do research.
I agree with you, with one modification, which you yourself already touched on:
Sogona wrote:The average person doesn’t like to work hard.
The average person doesn't want to do research. School has taught them that it's hard work, and more to the point, that knowledge is supposed to be spoon-fed to them. That's why it gets on my goat. It's actively making people stupid.

It's entirely intentional, too. Modern society doesn't want smart people. It wants dumb sheep who can be trained to be good little consumers.

I think I should shut up now.

Post Reply