Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Dawoodoz

Storing full games on paper?

Recommended Posts

A musical score can be printed on paper, survive ransomware attacks, be understood by people in a distant future who doesn't speak the same language and be independent of the instrument that plays it. Computer software is however a lot more volatile when storage devices go out of fashion like floppy discs and cloud services get hacked. If someone would make a minimalistic hardware agnostic standard for describing classic computer games in paper format, what would be your preferences?

Syntax: Using a high-level programming language would have all the issues of alternative interpretations, dialects and transpiling that comes with scripted languages. English keywords would be like writing in latin once the standard gets old, so I guess math is the language somehow. Storing byte-codes with scattered error correcting bit patterns would not be human readable, but to mystery games, that might be the point.

File size: A tiny game could be read with a phone camera from a large book and played instantly, but a larger paper only used as a reliable backup could be scanned in a higher resolution and saved on the computer.

Security: Would you trust a game that you downloaded from a physical book to not contain malware? The exploit would be very old compared to your anti-virus, but books in a library can be tampered with.

Material: Would there be a point with only using cheap paper if it cannot withstand the inevitable era of nuclear winters? Would steel and wolfram-carbide printing plates be too expensive compared to opto laser crystal discs which store more data but are harder to decipher?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
1 hour ago, Dawoodoz said:

A musical score can be ... understood by people in a distant future who doesn't speak the same language

Not true at all. If you don't understand western musical notation you're not going to be able to read music written in it.

Why are you asking any of this? If society reaches a point where video games only exist in dusty old tomes I think we have more pressing issues at hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You obviously haven't lived through the 80's and experienced the agony of typing 6 pages of code from a magazine that never worked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah for musical notation to be readable by a future civilization with no connection to our history, you'd have to also include documents on how to interpret that notion in the most basic possible form... maybe including physical tuning forks to illustrate the different notes, etc?

When we sent music off into the eternal darkness, we used the oscillation of hydrogen as the clock reference and binary digits to encode timing values, assuming that anyone who finds it will know enough physics/math to enable space travel, and will have a chance of decoding the symbols:

1024px-Voyager_Golden_Record_Cover_Expla

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, OandO said:

Not true at all. If you don't understand western musical notation you're not going to be able to read music written in it.

Why are you asking any of this? If society reaches a point where video games only exist in dusty old tomes I think we have more pressing issues at hand.

Sure, it might not be mainstream, but we can still decipher hieroglyphs using specialists. Only need one person per generation to write a decoder.

Future civilizations will probably have a lot more advanced games, but eventually they will ask themselves how it all started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Prototype said:

You obviously haven't lived through the 80's and experienced the agony of typing 6 pages of code from a magazine that never worked.

I did that in the 1990s, so I know the pain. Higher languages change and dependencies go missing. The format needs to be minimalistic and stable against dialects by being expressive like a binary. Entering code would be automated by the camera once someone deciphered the document explaining how it works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

14 minutes ago, Dawoodoz said:

... we can still decipher hieroglyphs using specialists. ...

In case of ancient Egyptian we can do so because we had Greek and Roman translations. Maya hieroglyphs, though Spanish transcripts, interpretations, depictions and history are available, is another process and still a field of claims and counterclaims. It would be a guessing game to translate another writing without knowing the connotations and semantics that come with the symbols (though not impossible if the content is very simple, like cuneiforms).

I personally doubt a few sheets of letter/A4 paper has sufficient information density to store a game so that some future AI can generate an executable program out of it. But its a nice play of the mind :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Green_Baron said:

I personally doubt a few sheets of letter/A4 paper has sufficient information density to store a game so that some future AI can generate an executable program out of it. But its a nice play of the mind 🙂

Pong would be easy, but Super Mario would be a heavy book of sprite sheets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paper is a terrible medium for long-term storage.  Which is why book preservation is focused on scanning books into computer systems.

Only a tiny fraction of the books written before the invention of movable type have survived, and even later books have been lost forever.  But the books on Project Gutenberg?  They will probably outlive the human species.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!