Letters from Somnolescent

 

April 20, 2022

The Great Somnolescent Time Machine

mariteaux

As I mentioned in the final recap, one thing occupying me over the past few months has been the pursuit of classic website restoration. We already have car restoration and computer restoration, but despite websites being similarly satisfying and full of moving parts, I don’t see anyone trying to rebuild old websites and return them to their original browsable condition. With the Somnolescent Archives, I have the perfect reason to do just that.

I wanna ramble about that for a bit, tell you my working methods for getting assets (from the Wayback Machine or otherwise), reassembling them, cleaning things up, and why I find it so enjoyable. Hopefully, you do as well!


April 17, 2022

Cool folder organization stuff

dcb

Traditionally, my files for school have been stored in OneDrive by (academic year)\(class)\(semester, if applicable). Whenever I made a new document, I would file it in that format immediately. This worked okay, but there was a bit of extra time spent finding the file I needed when I set to work. I also wanted to […]

Tags: technology,

April 4, 2022

Winter 2022 – The Final Recap

bulb

What’s this? What’s going on? Why the sudden change? Is Somnolescent falling apart? I bet it is–look, people’s sites are disappearing! Something big is happening. We said it wouldn’t last four months, and hey, three years isn’t too far off–

Grab some wood there, bub. The blog is not going anywhere, nor is the group. This is the final recap in its current form. There’s a very good reason for it, and I think the new arrangement will make my friends in the group, as well as myself (having to write all this…), happier as a result. It’s a good recap though! Lots good happening. Let’s revisit the last three months one last time.


April 3, 2022

The Somnolescent Manifesto, Second Edition

bulb

Today, the new somnolescent.net launches! It’s taken us a couple months, but we all love it here. Far livelier, far cuter, far better matching how we truly are as a group, and far simpler to boot.

With it comes a new manifesto, something I felt everyone should be able to weigh in on rather than the one I wrote in a few evenings back in 2018. While we elected to go with a simpler about page for the moment, I still think the new manifesto deserves a place in the spotlight alongside it. I’ll be looking for a place to link it on the site itself, no worries.

Tags: Somnolescent,

February 23, 2022

2600 Pac-Man: Was it That Bad?

mariteaux

VCS Pac-Man's attract screen

I’ve recently been really enjoying RetroAchievements. It’s a site where you can unlock Xbox Live-like achievements for older games, provided you’re using a hacked emulator logged into the site. It’s a novel concept, and it’s a nice excuse to dig back into some of my favorite Atari games and try “mastering” (getting all the achievements in) them.

When I covered Racing the Beam on this blog back in 2020, I mentioned one of the games covered in that book being Atari’s Pac-Man. It’s a great tale of disappointment, one of Atari’s programmers given a mere 4K of ROM to produce the flagship game of the 1981 Christmas season. The results were not pretty, and along with E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, became the poster children of the glut of low-quality games being produced at the time and later symbolized the “game burial” in the Sunnyvale desert where Atari famously dumped their excess stock.

Game reviews of VCS Pac-Man often don’t dissect it any further than “it’s ugly and plays like crap and you already knew that”. But how does it play like crap? What are the little details that make it such a below-average port? Is it playable on its own merits, despite how alien it is to the arcade version? That’s what I’m here to discuss. You might want to wear ear protection.


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