Burger Becky Part 2

Matt Barton's picture

Becky's back this week with another segment full of insider info about the earliest days of the gaming industry. She talks about how she learned assembly by reverse engineering Atari 2600 carts, why she thinks Carmack is a better programmer than Romero, why Wizardry was such a great game, and the old debate about text vs. graphical adventures.

Download the audio here (also available on iTunes).

My thoughts on the video--

I'm always intrigued by how the early coders often learned their skills by reverse engineering and hacking together code from whatever source code they could find. I didn't realize that Apple had included so much technical info of interest purely to programmers in their manuals, though--I went back and found some scans of the original Apple II reference guide and was blown away by the amount of technical info in there. You can really tell that Apple felt a large part of their market was professional programmers--or, at least they figured enough of their users would be interested in learning very advanced coding to make it worth the costs of printing all that material for every computer.

Becky's argument that Wizardry was special because of its simplicity seems quite apt. I hadn't really thought of it before, but most other CRPGs of the era were quite cumbersome, with lots of keys and functions. Wizardry focused on grinding, with little else to distract you. Since grinding is what is arguably the greatest joy of a CRPG, it makes sense to make sure that part of your game is as fun as possible. They did that with those color images of the monsters.