ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

The Internet Arcade: And Where Are You? —

Yes, that’s right, three Internet Arcade posts in a row.

I usually like to mix things up, but the world is very quickly going nuts over the introduction of the Arcade. Hundreds of thousands of people have played the games in it, it’s been featured in dozens of sites, and it’s even hit TV news in a few markets.

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It also (temporarily) crushed the Internet Archive servers, mostly to my putting up a relatively inefficient page and causing a few components within the system to work too hard. After an excellent and inspiring set of actions with the administration team at the Internet Archive, the hits haven’t stopped by a long shot.

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So, this is great – hundreds of thousands of people are playing the games, the word is out that Emulation is Just Another Thing, and joy has come throughout the land.

However.

Putting up 900 arcade games, 2,300 console games, and 25,000 software titles means I didn’t get a chance to, individually, check every single one. And while I and the many people helping with JSMESS did our best to make stuff work right and fail gracefully, there’s a lot of browsers out there, and a lot of system configurations, and a lot can go wrong when you’re running, say, an entire arcade game inside a window of a browser.

This whole thing’s a proof of concept – a very public, very popular one now.

I am now making a call for you – yes, you – to help with the next round of improvements.

I need:

  • People willing to enter descriptions of games. Just the describing of games turns out to be a long-term thing – with the hundreds of Arcade machines, there’s entries that can be grabbed from (and should be cited), but I am actually kind of shocked that there are plenty of games that are not in any way online and described – there are games that MAME (and therefore JSMESS) emulate for which there appears to be really no canonical paragraphs about. We need those badly.
  • People willing to help smooth out the code. I mean, sure, I’d love if people helped reprogramming MAME/MESS itself so the improved emulation would be transferred over to JSMESS – but in this case, I just mean things like loader code (javascript) which could be more resilient, as well as better error messages for when things go wrong. Do you think you could help with that?
  • People willing to help describe idiosyncratic aspects of these games. Some of these games do not go gently into that good browser – games like Defender and Street Fighter have crazy amounts of keys and could really stand someone to at least document them where possible.

I’m sure we need even more people, but will you be one of the people who comes forward to help with this, to make it better? We’re doing fine on the people playing the games department – that thing’s sewed up. But now we’re building the largest virtual and playable collection of software. Can I get your support?

If you’re interested, either come to #JSMESS on EFNet (IRC), write me at arcade@textfiles.com, or hit me up on twitter, or … well, just scream out a window.


Categorised as: computer history | Internet Archive

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4 Comments

  1. phuzz says:

    It’s interesting that people went more crazy over JSMAME and arcade games than JSMESS and computers. Perhaps it’s because arcade games are designed to be inherently more approachable, it made it easier for people to play one in a web page?

  2. Pete Puma says:

    Hi Jason- not sure if you saw my comment in the first thread, but I’m curious as to how you reached a count of “900 arcade games” for this since I got a rough count of 370 (give or take a handful) on the main page. Love the site- keep up the good work!