The Good Year
December 30, 2022 at 11:10 PM
One thing that seems to always be universally agreed upon is that the current time is an absolute wreck, no matter what's going on. Indeed, given the recent circumstances, there is a lot to be desired. Last year was fucking awful, for sure - loaded with broken promises and some of the worst inflictions I've ever suffered, at least ever since being dragged through school. That was the year when I lost my grandpa, and my grandma had a stroke that has permanently disabled the right side of her body.
This year hasn't been without its own fucked up shit; the notorious incident of Epic Failure delisting Unreal from Steam and GOG would only be scratching the surface. As time goes on and more things crumble, however, at some point one has to start asking "do I just sit there and watch it happen?" Nah... I'm not gonna do that. Getting away from that mess requires self-initiative. At first it seems such a daunting task when the last 15 or so years have had gigantic online platforms seeping through them, but as one moves deeper into creating their own solutions over time, eventually it becomes natural. Shortly afterwards, one begins to realize they never needed to do things the "traditional" way in which they would feed to one large meaningless gob, and it becomes all more liberating.
Even when things seem so bleak, that's really all you have to do to reclaim at least some of what you once thought you had. As you start taking some victories, more will follow.
The Year of Razorback
Although not many static web pages have been published over the course of this year, it should be easy to recount some very significant developments here. For one, after countless years of struggling with YouTube and so-called "alternate" platforms that have consistently failed to deliver desirable results, I eventually decided to say "fuck it" and go the hard route of hosting most of my videos here on this website. Statistically speaking, the returns may not be as large, but over here, I'm able to deliver a far superior viewing experience as opposed to on any platform out there.
Combining this with the ability to publicly submit comments on this site has also eliminated the need for a third-party outlet of mine for discussing any of these posts. I permanently cut off the Discord server tied to Razorback that was failing me and haven't looked back since. It was well worth the effort, as the comments I get over here have tended to be of much higher quality than what I got elsewhere. And, as it turns out, it doesn't need cookies for the job at all!
This was also the year I finally reclaimed the days I had been wanting to get back, the ancient era of 2009 when I was pushing myself to learn how to program and uncover the capabilities of Bash as a tool for making life easier. But this time around, I went far beyond what I had landed on previously, finally creating a complete game from scratch, and later learning how to program the Sound Blaster for the conclusion to Hardcore Windows.
Yeah, that. Ever since I started providing a browsable index of videos on Razorback, it was expected that Hardcore Windows would make its way on here as well. But it wasn't going to be enough to simply repost the videos as they were in a format originally designed for YouTube, where widescreen is king. I dived back into the original project files and reworked every sequence to use a 4:3 aspect ratio, eliminating most of the wasteful letterboxing in the process.
To really make sure this would be the definitive experience, I also recorded a bunch of brand new scenes for many of the revised videos, as well as five new classic-styled segments to completely cover the rest of the stuff I wanted to get put in Hardcore Windows in the past. It ended up taking roughly five months to complete the whole thing, but I think it was worth that time to finally bring proper closure to a series that had stuck with a good number of people for years. I finally got Windows 95's System Policy Editor documented on video, and even found an opportunity to document some really cool functions barely anyone had ever heard of in classic Windows, as well as give Windows ME a more fair chance in the spotlight.
One may say these are so few things, but countless hours have been spent on them, and they'll leave us all much better off in the future. At least now that much of that work is done, I have more room to pursue other things down the road.
The Year of Windows 95
This year has also been a major deal in regards to the history of Windows 95. Thanks to a moonshot of a victory in a tense auction, Blue Horizon has managed to secure not only the complete launch event of Windows 95, but most of the TrainCast as well, which is what compelled me to expand upon Hardcore Windows for Razorback in the first place.
I've already talked about the launch event extensively in an earlier article, but this acquisition has done a lot more that I haven't brought up earlier. For one, the Windows 95 TrainCast was broadcasted on satellite television from January 1995 all the way up to August, which means as it was being produced, Windows 95 was still undergoing development. As such, a large number of Windows 95 builds have been confirmed to exist. I forget exactly how many, but it was definitely the most I've seen turn up personally.
As the launch event was neatly digitized using a high quality VCR and properly deinterlaced, it got the attention of another Windows prerelease enthusiast, who donated yet another gold mine of VHS tapes to Blue Horizon. The most prominent of them was the Microsoft eXtreme series, which screams of a bizarre 90's marketing attitude. This got its start in 1997 with a few Microsoft employees heading off to the then recently opened GameWorks arcade to... play with a Barney doll, of all things. At least more specifically, demonstrate one of the ActiMates products and how it interacts with certain television and computer programs.
Only five segments up to the fall of 1999 have been archived. Presumably, there was a sixth one covering Windows ME in 2000, and it was even available to stream through Windows Media Player, but that seems to have been lost with time, unless anyone's willing to come out and provide a copy of it.
I also finished Windows 95D Lite 1.6, my last refinement of what may very well be the definitive Windows 95 experience.
The Year of Corporate Fragility
I never thought this would come so soon. It's hilarious and exciting to witness some of the tech giants beginning to crack. An entire generation had been indoctrinated into being heavily reliant on them, to which many violations of the online privacy of children have occurred. About time these companies got their own gambles biting their asses!
To start, I had talked a lot about when Facebook, the company, rebranded itself to Meta and proceeded to propose a truly sinister idea of a so-called "metaverse" in which I guess every part of our lives would be blanketed by Mark Zuckerberg's virtual reality. As if it wasn't enough that some people now have to scan QR codes from their phones to get mall hours or restaurant menus... for what? Sanitation? The glass surface on smartass telephones is a paradise for bacteria and other microbes!
Well, that vision is crumbling FAST. Meta's stock has plummeted thanks to that gamble, and even after climbing up just a bit, it's still at its lowest point in the last five years. The company more recently laid off an astonishing 11,000 employees, which, admittedly, is awful for their own livelihoods - especially given how abrupt the layoffs allegedly were. No warnings were given, some emails were just issued saying "Hello, effective immediately, you're fired!" What a corporate way to tank a loss.
But that's not the only bombshell. If you've been on this site before, you should at least know about John Carmack. He programmed Doom, Quake, and the like, and shared his code with enthusiasts and professional game developers alike, propelling the FPS genre many years ahead of where it would've been otherwise. He is a programmer of the same rank as Dennis Ritchie, co-creator of Unix and designer of C.
Well, after ten years, John Carmack has decided to leave Meta, which had ate out Oculus. It's a shame, really, because as far as I'm aware, he was a serious enthusiast of VR technology and clearly wanted it to succeed, but when bureaucratic bullshit takes over the wisdom of one of the most important programmers in history, a disaster is bound to happen.
Already, Meta has failed to attain a large player base; in fact, according to one figure I've been told about - take this with a grain of salt, I don't have a concrete source for this, but it may have less concurrent players than a fan reboot of ToonTown Online. Given this, I really don't think this metaverse in particular is going to last, and all Meta will have to ride on is its existing assets, Facebook and Instagram - the former which has lost the hearts of most of the youth some time ago.
As for Carmack, he's entirely focused on his new startup company Keen Technologies (I see what he did there), which will be devoted to artificial intelligence. I'm interested in seeing where that goes, and hopefully it won't be bought by another company that doesn't know what to do with it.
Now, more on Twitter... basically, it's not doing well. Not at all. And it shouldn't be; it's one of the worst sites to ever exist. In theory, the ability to make short posts that anyone can easily be notified of should be attractive for anyone that wants to push quick updates even when their hands are tied. The way it's been executed, however, has never really been any good. It was shit. Before 2015, it touted itself as more of a mechanism for the peasants to kneel down to privileged celebrities.
It should be noted that Twitter has never been good at giving users only what they want, hence some of them have left for very different reasons. On Twitter, everything is concentrated in one linear feed, no matter whether you follow three accounts or 3,000. Was there even any way for users to organize what they follow? I really think there wasn't! Because of this, it's very easy to inject worthless anger into users with just one post. If it's timed correctly and outrageous enough, it'll get the war zone going once again... even if whatever was posted was not true.
Turbo Assembler Programming 1998
And boy, is there a plethora of not-trueities on Twitter. I don't even have to point to anything political to give you an idea; just search "Windows 95 Launch" on there, and you're bound to find people regurgitating that fucking dance clip that's falsely attributed to the Windows 95 launch event. Steve Ballmer wasn't even there at the real thing!
That's just the small stuff, though. What I'm really wanting to say is that Twitter played a key role in stirring the fire that has turned an entire country against itself to an extremely violent degree, and ripped apart families with outrage propaganda, all to quench its bloodthrist. Fucking hell. It gets me thinking about it again, I wish I had gotten to talk with my grandpa once more in person.
Twitter should not exist. The damage it has caused to society is unforgivable. At least now it seems it's finally going to happen, but of course it had to in the most comedic way possible, because no one on Twitter really gets it. I'm not gonna bother reciting every little thing that's going on in the company now.
Let's just say that abruptly firing a bunch of key staff and turning a company with a very remote work structure into yet another traditionalist 9 to 5 crunch hour office workplace is probably not going to make your employees happy, even if it is more efficient on paper.
Given the absolute clusterfuck, is Twitter going to last? For at least the next year, possibly, given how it's solidified itself in the past as one of those self-proclaimed holy pillars of the internet. But even as people continue to use it, its reputation has been permanently damaged among the general public, which could leave it limping along for the foreseeable future.
It's lost some ground to Mastodon already, which is a significant victory for FOSS. But I find the concept of federated networks to be silly. It's basically recreating the same problematic structures of tech giants, but being at least slightly better by having open codebases and splitting communities apart so that there isn't one gigantic god damn linear feed. Maybe it works a shitton better than it would seem given the altered mechanism, but I've never tried it, nor do I intend to. I still prefer doing things my way. One niche website, isolated RSS feeds.
But what happens when Twitter does inevitably collapse? Some fear that the theoretical containment zone will be breached, and things will play out similarly to the mass exodus from Tumblr where its userbase began populating sites like Twitter and Newgrounds. But... where would the Twitter users go, really? There isn't any site I can think of that is so all-encompassing as it is with similar functionality. When a behemoth like that crumbles, I have reason to believe that users will end up dispersing to all sorts of unrelated platforms, where they may either continue to feed their insanity or begin to dissipate it.
Or, they all will contain themselves into their own little Mastodon instances. Long-term, I envision that the dissolution of Twitter will be better for humanity.
The Year of Other Happensings
Okay... of course that took me a lot more time than I hoped. I guess I've just always been a very politically minded guy, but that's part of the reason why this website exists to begin with. With that out of the way, I think there's a few other really great things I could point out which occurred in this year.
To say the least, I've never really gotten excited about games, as most are just not worth my time. But one release that I was absolutely eager to jump on board with was an arcade-perfect PC port of G-Darius. From 2015-2016, I had been playing a fair sum of different STGs, and the Darius series was always the one I spent the most time on. But it got to a point where I had to give my brother's arcade stick I was borrowing back, and so for a long time, I haven't been able to play these games optimally until I got a new stick for myself years later. And since this was right at the time I had started investing a lot more time into making videos for YouTube, I decided... why bother playing these games anymore?
Come late 2018, I got the news that Darius Cozmic Collection, a compilation of many of the arcade and console games in the series, was going to be released for the Nintendo Switch soon, and would even include a possibly unreleased version of Sagaia (basically a shrunk down version of Darius II for Western arcades). I tell you... I had been effortlessly boycotting Nintendo for the last two years at that point due to their shitty attitude towards fangames, but this one thing... that seriously made me consider getting a Switch for a while there.
I never did get one, thankfully. I don't like consoles, and I have no room for them anymore. I mean, after all, G-Darius was notably absent from the compilation, and that was easily the best of them all. Well, in late 2020, the next compilation, Cozmic Revelation, was announced to include that very game I had been longing for a proper port of. I think that's what eventually got me to acquire a new arcade stick soon enough.
Another year passed, and I was left in the dark on if these ports would ever come to the desktop computer... but sure enough, the wait paid off bigtime! Cozmic Collection Arcade came to Steam in late 2021, followed by G-Darius HD in early 2022. After reading some confirmations that it would work great in Linux under the Proton compatibility layer, all I had to do was hold out a bit longer for Gaben season, and acquire my copies of these games. From there, I made damn sure to catch up on them real good, as evidenced in my couple of 1CC runs.
G-Darius No Miss Clear 22,292,070 (Nu Route)
But later this year, some even more striking news came up: Gimmick, a game that had been unobtainium for so long, was announced to be getting its own port to all the modern systems sometime next year! I still remember the first time I saw a longplay of it, and how truly inspired I was by a game programmed for the supposedly measly Famicom being more than a decade ahead of its time. A game with the bunnyhopping of Quake, the physics of Half-Life 2, in a 3 megabit cartridge???
While the loss of Unreal and its successors is a serious kick in the balls, we at least have this gain to look forward to. This is one of the most important games ever and hardly anyone even had a chance to give it a chance, but now, new generations have the opportunity to discover what it's made of. I think no game is more deserving of a sequel than Gimmick, especially given how short it is.
In regards to Unreal, version 227j did get a partial release from the OldUnreal group, which includes 64-bit Linux binaries - exactly what I needed to get a more up to date Unreal server up and running on Razorback.
There's probably a good chunk of other things I can't really think of at the moment, but in any case, this year has really given me a lot of hope for the future. Razorback's about to make 2023 its bitch!
Cheers for a new year and I hope all this asshole "big tech" companies start to fall for good.
Clucking bells, every year for a while has felt like a single dream -- discordant, wild, and outlandish on so many levels.
Arcane Spy did stuff in 2022 (mostly early 2022), but there's yet to be guide in the database. Maybe 2023 is when a guide gets published there
Blue Horizon: Since archive.org does not hold up well with the JS-filled interface of Twitter and I think having more backups is better here is the same tweet on archive.today:
Well, this is a pleasant surprise! I just heard news from a Microsoft employee that the dance clip actually took place in a hotel from Hawaii, meant to be a motivational meeting for the sales team well before 95 actually launched. Finally, this myth can be put to rest!
From the Eastern world, I wish you a su+'c kho?e do^`i da`o (plenty of health) and a va.n su+. nhu+ y' (everything going well).
Let's hope 2023 is the better year for all of us!
Regarding the launch event, Steve Ballmer appears to have been in one of the seats during a brief camera shot of the audience - at least from the looks of it, but aside from that Windows 1.0 parody video near the beginning, he doesn't appear on-stage during the real event.
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