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The State of the TI Community

Posted on 14 April 1999

The following text was written by Justin Karneges:

Please excuse any bad writing and/or excessive commas. I'm a programmer, not an English major. =)

Ahh, the TI community. Just as everything gets corrupted given enough time, now it's the TI community's turn. I remember back in the days of the regular NES. I got it in 1988 and back then games were good. There were only a handful out there and they were well-crafted. The emphasis was gameplay and design. The NES set the stage for just about every type of genre out there. Then we reach the Super NES which was half-full of innovative games and then many clones. By the time we reach the days of the N64, Playstation, and high-end PC's, we don't have a whole lot. It's kind of sad really, that with all off the new technology, most of the new games suck bad. Doom comes out and then 30 Doom clones are released in the following month. Give me a break! What happened to the creativity? It's turned into money-madness, clones, and who can push the most polygons. Funny I play my SNES more than my N64 and Playstation. Now don't get me wrong, not every game is crap that comes out. It's just that only a few are truly good and show the inspiration of 1988. Metal Gear Solid (the third installment in the Metal Gear series) is about the only original and truly well-done game in the last year that I can think of. I guess you could call me a video game purist. I'm harsher than Roger Ebert panning movies when it comes to me rating video games. It used to be that just about every video game in a game magazine looked good. Now you pick up a GamePro and it's full of look-alike games. Every other month you *might* see a cool game. What ever happened to the good old days?

You're probably wondering how I'm going to compare this to the TI community. Well, I can tell you right now that I'm absolutely not going to bash the games. The games and programs from the TI community are its best part! What I am going to say though, is that just like the video game industry, the TI community is suffering.

When I wrote Joltima back in 1997 (released in '98), I was told that it was one of the better games in a long time. I didn't really get ANY negativity since it was one of the few RPG's even out there. Back when I worked on that, the TI community was a very positive place. Sure there were probably site wars and such, but the community was very tame and open to any contribution a programmer would make. But these days it's no longer like that. When Don Barnes released Super Mario Quest for the TI-89, I scratched my head when I saw that only a couple of the comments (thanks to ticalc.org's comment system) were praises about the game. The rest of the comments were negatives, port requests, or other game requests! Whatever happened to just being happy that you even have a game to play? Super Mario Quest is a programmer's work of art. It took skills to make that and I wouldn't have asked for anything beyond his first release. To the non-programmers out there: Assembly programming takes work. Days, weeks, months.. That's right, months! What were you doing while Bill Nagel was writing Penguins? Probably out having fun while Bill slaved away. Be thankful when these games come out! No offense to Dimension TI, but the description of Penguins should really be changed. It says something like "unfortunately you can't kill the enemies." Huh? When *could* we kill the enemies? When Nagel followed up with Super Mario 86 then we could, but not beforehand.

So not only do many users completely unappreciate what these programmers are doing, but there's also been some other problems with the community. If you look through the ticalc.org comment sections for the news posts (the ticalc.org comment system is just about the only place in the TI community where how all of us think and feel is seen), you'll see that most of them are completely off-topic. Others are hostile. Then there's advertising. And flames. Where did all of this come from? Everything is shown to get corrupted over time (as the books Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, and even Revelation tell us), but I didn't think this could be true for the TI community! I mean.. there's not that many of us. And come on people, these are graphing calculators! I can see that the TI community is taking a toll for the worst, and I don't know how/if it will turn around. I'm not knocking everybody of course. Thank ticalc.org for giving me a place to put this. Thank Dimension TI for an innovative archive index. Thank the TI-Files' friendly environment. Thank all the numerous programmers out there from before and now that have contributed.

I don't know if I really want comments to this article. The TI community doesn't need another 100k+ comment page to sift through. All I ask is that we clean up our act. I'd like to clean up the video game industry if I could, but I think I'd have more of a chance with this one.

-Justin Karneges [Infiniti]

  Reply to this item

Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Nathan Haines
(Web Page)

I, too, remember when games were fun... and not just because of good graphics or otherwise! They used to be fun because they had some special feature that no one had thought of before.

Well, I have the first comment, and I'd like to say that I agree with you completely, Justin, and I too have faith that the TI community will pull out of its slump. I wouldn't work here at ticalc.org if I thought otherwise.

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 06:29 GMT

Re: Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Nick

I agree withwhat has been said. I also think that the programmers are not appriciated like they should be. Every program that I have downloaded that had a text file came with an email address. I don't think the programmers put there emails there so they can get spammed. It's there so people can comment. If I ever finish the games I am working on and Submit them to the Ti-community with my email address, and I never hear a comment good or bad. I can garrentee that I will never release another game.

Reply to this comment    15 April 1999, 04:14 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
iri  Account Info
(Web Page)

Well, I also, like all others, agree with him, but about the e-mail. I think it's good, you can say it when something's wrong or good or stuff.

Reply to this comment    4 February 2000, 23:20 GMT

Re: Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Anon

Hrm... I, for the record, REALLY ENJOYED Penguins. Once you figure out the game (takes a few million tries) it becomes a really fun game to play. Mario 86 I thought was very impressive, but boring. While I recognized the awesome amounts of programming it took for Bill Nagel to code it, I thought that it was basically a very easy version of penguins :) As far as I'm concerned, ports are only good for the community when the game is either A) Multiplayer (take the example of Ztetris-most successful game ever IMHO) or B) at the pinnacle. By that I mean that it never crashes and no one can think of anything more to add. Ztetris fit both categories, so ports were in order. To ask for Zelda 89 to be ported within days of its beta release is just really disrespectful. It's like saying, "Good job Michelangelo, but I need that fresco on another ceiling by tomorrow morning." Give the programmers a break! You should be thankful they don't charge you for all this!

Reply to this comment    18 April 1999, 05:49 GMT


The TI Community
silverscorpion21

I remember when games were as good as gold because of what they did not what they looked like. I don't mean to offend anyone but graphics are not the most important thing (though they do step the game up a level if you know what i mean.) what is important is uniqueness, balance between complexity and simplicity, and most of all a good hard working attitude. I also agree with the article completely you couldn't have stated it better what we need is quality, not quantity

Reply to this comment    10 July 2003, 23:44 GMT


Re: The TI Community
Num Account Info

Definately. Now in 2005, all the new PC games focus on graphics, not gameplay. Since technology has advanced far enough, such as 1 gb flash drives 2 cm long, (people from 2005+ don't laugh, because this was really cool!), programmers focus of graphics. I recall really great games from the past, such as Megaman, Deus Ex, that had bad graphics. But they were fun and memorable; I don't remember most of the recent PC games I've played. Pessimistic I am, but I think the TI community is on it's deathbed.

Reply to this comment    26 November 2005, 20:16 GMT


Re: Re: The TI Community
Ryhan Hassan  Account Info
(Web Page)

I agree... but HA! ONE measly gig! my watch holds 8. My mini-SD (no, not micro) holds 1 gig and is a o.25 cm^2 paper thin thing...

Now 2007+, tell us what humanity hast now created.

Reply to this comment    27 September 2007, 03:32 GMT


Re: Re: Re: The TI Community
y2kbugger Account Info

ha, it's 2011 now, 2GB micro of the same size cost less than 5 dollars. And now 32GB micros are available.

Also 3TB Hard drives are readily available.

As for thumb drives the biggest one on newegg 256GB

So future, what's next?

Reply to this comment    12 April 2011, 14:02 GMT

Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Jason

All I have to say is that I totally agree!

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 06:32 GMT

Re: The State of the TI Community
Tony

Justin, many of the assertions you have made are correct. I think all of us tend to overreact to situations. If one person is having a bad day, and they post a negative comment, then a chain reaction is formed. Many of the visitors to the website probably have good intentions -- but they have strong opinions.
I would agree with you that most of us are after games and that it's _just_a_calculator_. I'm sure that most people are appreciative of the efforts of programmers but become too concerned with other problems and see past the good.
You say "everything gets corrupted" over time - and that may be true - but in this case I feel that if everyone made a positive effort towards the community, we wouldn't even be concerned with this "nit-picking." Others have suggested an open message board or a Java chatroom, and I think services such as these would benefit everyone.
I respect ticalc.org for their allowance of such open discussion and would request to all who want to express their opinions to do so in a relevant and orderly manner!

Thank you and best regards,
Tony

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 06:50 GMT

Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Wells

I have to agree too, and I don't think it could have been put into better words than you put it.

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 06:58 GMT

Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Punk_Head

You are very right about both the video game and Ti community! I for one like to praise and help programers with my e-mails and my comments. I think if people get back to the roots, in terms of being happy that there is programs and stick to makeing and helping people make great programs instead of complaining about what we have then things can change for the better. :-)

Thanks for the great letter
Punk_Head

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 06:58 GMT


Re: Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
ReDDoG

if there is a program i like, i will mail the maker of it. and they usually really appreciate it. only exception i found was the street fighter people who bitched basically. but i have mailed the maker of slippy, and megacar, i can't think of his name right now, and he liked the input and i helped him with a few ideas. also i mailed stf (maker of nibelz) and he and i started to talk back and forth, and i have given him many good ideas to better his game. out of it, i get lots of programming help, the game that i liked became even better, and hell, im now one of his beta testers. and he really appreciated getting the mail from me telling him i liked the game. just as i know once i finish a program i would. im thinking it would be depressing to put a program out, and if your game is special enough, get a news item. and once you read the comments about the news item all you hear is crap about "i don't like it", or off subject crap. and never get email responces. for the most part, if i like a program ill mail them back. sure many people are too busy to read all your mail, but eventually you get a reply. hell, who knows, maybe youll give them ideas that could make the game you like even better. or send bad ideas to make a game you hate, a game you would like. and don't just flame them.

Reply to this comment    15 April 1999, 12:31 GMT

By God, He''s got it!
Steve Koenig
(Web Page)

Wow, hopefully we can all think about what Justin said and draw our own opinions *about this article*. I feel this article is the one that'll help us all see the point of calculators and the calculator gaming scene....

Although the "TI Community" (I put it in quotes because many see the community as only the three major web sites, while it is much more than that) has been in a state of limbo for the past few months, it will stay strong and continue to grow.

Thats all,

-Steve

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 07:16 GMT

Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Jeffrey Malone

Amen! Think about that, ASM programmers spend weeks just trying to learn the language so they can spend more time working on programs for you. Every to to learn ASM? most of us probabley have, and most of us just look at those tutorials and think wtf? Well these people probably started out the same way until they just stuck to it and finalley understood, well why don't we thank them for it? Thanx to any ASM (or BASIC) programmer out there that spent the time to learn the language and write their program.
also to prevent your "corruption" I would say that there should be no more clones, just updates, and programers, don't try to release your programas soon as can start and quit without crashing, give it to BETA testers to get suggestions and make it a good game rather than a series of close updates and then clones...
one more thing, anyone who is starting ASM, don't have your first program be a game, no sense in making a boring game just because you can, wait a month (at least) of programming before making any games :)

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 07:42 GMT


Re: Asm Programming
David Phillips
(Web Page)

I couldn't agree more! Learning asm (or even basic) can take a very long time. If you're not experienced at programming, just the concepts will take you months to grasp. People should be grateful that people are spending many hours a day just so they can have a game to play, rather than insulting it.

About starting out writing a game...I have to disagree. While this is a debatable area, programming is something you have to enjoy to do well at. Not everyone can be a programmer, or at least a good programmer. And if you are lucky to be skilled at programming, you won't spend time writing thousands of lines of code if you don't enjoy it.

If you want to write a game, great! Write a game! My first asm program was Tic Tac Toe for the 86. It took me about a week. Sure, the game sucked, the code sucked and it wasn't worth playing. However, it was simple and fun to do and most importantly, it got me familiar enough with the basics of asm to move on to more difficult programming.

In fact, I didn't even release a compiled version of it when I was done. I uploaded the source to ticalc.org, in the hopes that it might help someone else learn asm. When I started asm, I commented every single line in my programs, mainly because it helped me. But at the same time, this could really help someone else out. Since the game wasn't worth playing, downloading or keeping on the calc, I didn't want to release it as a game. But Bryan bugged me to compile and upload it, so I finally did.

The reason I didn't want to do that was because someone would see it, think it was good, then try it out and get upset because it sucks. I wrote it for me to learn, not for others to play.

The problem with writing games as a first program is that to make a really good game, or even a simple game, takes a lot of knowledge, not just about asm, but about game programming in general. The tendency is to start on something too big, get discouraged and never finish it.

By writing simple programs, rather games or not, you feel like you're accomplishing something and are learning in the process. If it's not good, don't release it! People can't differentiate between these programs that you write to teach yourself something and a great game like Sqrxz or Vertigo.

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 21:00 GMT

Re: Re: Asm Programming
Adam Brooke
(Web Page)

What you've written should be an article in itself. I totally agree with you - much of the source code I wrote to learn ASM is totally useless to others, but yet I did write a game as my first released ASM program - and not too bad, either. I needed something to encourage me to learn more, and obviously reading tutorials and typing up their 40-line programs isn't much fun. Trying to use the tutorials to teach you what you need to know is.
As for starting on too big a project, I've seen many programmers who've started on some "great game" that sounds awesome but then they give up after about a week and a half.
It takes a lot of experience to write a good ASM game, and non-ASM programmers often don't realize that for a beginning ASM programmer, writing even a semi-good game might take a month or more. (That is, if they finish it.)
What I'm saying is, if you don't program ASM, don't criticize ASM programs.

Reply to this comment    15 April 1999, 00:05 GMT

Re: Re: Asm Programming
Jon Clarke

I completely agree with you. Even in BASIC, just knowing what most of the commands do isn't enough, you have to learn yourself or from others the different ways of doing certain things. I have seen countless monlithic pieces of trash spout from my friends calculators written in BASIC that could have been made infinitely smaller and faster if they knew how to do certain things, for instance, use matrices to keep track of lots of stuff at once, instead of having lists pages long for a thousand different variables used in the program.

As for learning from other people's work, that is so true and so useful. I have learned countless things from programs other people have made, not so much in ASM, but even in BASIC do I learn mew things all the time. I used to have an 86, and decided that I would learn to program in ASM for it. I printed out a couple tutorials, but gave up in a week because the tutorial was so crappy.

Anyway, I think the article is very true.

Reply to this comment    15 April 1999, 00:30 GMT


Re: Re: Asm Programming
Viper-92  Account Info
(Web Page)

"The tendency is to start on something too big, get discouraged and never finish it."

I'm afraid I have to agree on this.

Sometimes, I get a really good idea for a game to program. I usually start of quite well but then I get into trouble and loose interrest in the game. This has happened about 10 times so now I have 10 unfinished projects on my harddisk. I did learn a lot though. Also, my advise to programmers is: "Wait with announcing your program untill you know for sure that you're going to finnish it." I once released a demo and I got a dozen of e-mails of people asking me when I was going to finnish it. I would feel guilty if I'm not going to finnish it at all.

Daniƫl

Reply to this comment    5 February 2002, 13:18 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Asm Programming
NightWind Account Info

Absolutely. The same thing's happened to me about four times.
The other brick wall is to start on something, find a bug that you can't freaking fix, and shove it to the back of your mind. Usually, when I have a high-priority project, I keep it grouped right on my calc, so I can work on it anywhere. Transferring it to the computer moves it down on your urgency list, and keeping it in RAM, is, well, too risky.

-NW

Reply to this comment    11 May 2005, 06:06 GMT

Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Travis

I would have to agree for the most part with Mr. Karneges. I too agree that the games were more creative in the good ole day of the NES, but thought there was light at the end of the tunnel when Zelda came out for N64. Don't get me wrong, Zelda was a great game, unbeleivable, and even more than I had bargained for when I purchased my copy. But then came Castlevania for the 64, needless to say, very disapointing coming after the likes of Zelda (although I didn't expect it to be as good as Zelda). Now, back to the TI subject, I have only been visiting this site for a few months since I purchased my graph-link, and have been very impressed with the "TI community." I myself typed in Tetris for the BASIC programming language, and became very appreciative of my graph-link, especially after 3 hours of programming only to recieve error after error. I am also very gratefull that I stumbled over this site, because I was about to bring my graph-link back after playing very disapointing BASIC games. Also, I would like very much for someone to send me information on how to program in assembly language, or at least some sites to learn about it.

The TI community is great and flourishing, partly because of the whole "its a freaking calculator, not a gameboy" business, because, I think for the most part the people using this site are somewhat intellectual. Anyway, the community is thriving, and...back to the Zelda, when is someone going to complete the Zelda project?
Thanks!
Travis

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 07:51 GMT

Re: Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
||ME||

Zelda is the work of CCIA (Calculator Central Intelligence Agency) at the url:
ccia.calc.org/

they're currently constructing a new site. A demo has been released and is available. NO ONE has the right to give them a deadline or ask for a date. it can only get better.
Thanx.

Reply to this comment    14 April 1999, 13:32 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Travis

Hello, This is Travis, the writer from the above comment. Obviously, you didn't understand my comment because I'm very appriciative of the people who are making Zelda, I wasn't trying to put your little deadline on the thing either. I just noticed that no new releases had came out for a while and wanted to know what had happened to the project, that all. Take it easy.

Travis

Reply to this comment    17 April 1999, 17:08 GMT


Re: Re: Article: The State of the TI Community
Dash Riprock
(Web Page)

You hit the nail on the head, especially with the video game industry. I've owned almost every Nintendo system (with the exeption of the Virtual Boy...Mario Tennis was really fun on that though!) Here's my list of landmark video games:

1. Super Mario Bros. (ALL versions, including all 3 NES, ALL GameBoy, BOTH SNES, and N64) How could you go wrong? Each version, Miyamoto works his magic....
2. Tetris (In any and all forms on any and all platforms, as long as it's really Tetris) The ULTIMATE Time Waster. This was also my first Ti-83 game I downloaded :)
3. Zelda (First NES, GameBoy, N64) Great story, great gameplay...and the movies in the N64, DON'T GET ME STARTED :)
4. Virtua Racing (Ok, so it's Sega) This game jumpstarted racing games...I remember when I went to the Indy 500 in 1993, they had a machine there...crappy graphics, poor force feedback...I loved it!

In my opinion, this just goes to show how few superb games we really get these days...I just hope we can keep the Ti community going better than this. (BTW, Ahmed, great games! Love them!)

My 2 bucks.

Reply to this comment    15 April 1999, 03:20 GMT

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