Blast from the Past

Last night a friend of mine brought over a ton of old D&D material that had belonged to his late uncle. Included was a few 2nd ed modules, pages and pages of maps and dungeons all hand drawn on grid and hex paper, details about gods and cities, long computer printouts on old continuous pin-feed paper.

Looking through all of this material was a rather interesting experience. The most striking aspect of it all is how much work had been put into meticulously mapping out dungeons and writing down every detail about a city including some advanced math to determine population density by race. It is just amazing to see how much work was put into playing these older versions of RPGs. I definitely appreciate the “rule of cool” and some of the simplicity found in modern gaming, but the efforts of the past impress me a lot. These people really liked what they were doing to have done so much for it.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing to have found in this treasure trove of ancient gaming is a box of 5 1/4 inch floppy disks which no doubt contain more campaign notes and other valuable information, but are essentially lost because the technology is so old that no one has access to anything that will actually read those old disks. I think this highlights the greatest weakness of modern gaming and the huge web-tools focus that has come with 4e. Eventually our technology that is “the wave of the future” will be obsolete and no one will have the equipment required to access the data we have saved on optical disks and USB drives. Things that are written on paper will always be accessible to the literate so long as the paper and the language survive, and given that we have the Dead Sea Scrolls, paper can stand the test of time.


~ by katallos on July 28, 2010.

3 Responses to “Blast from the Past”

  1. You’d think that Best Buy or some similar place would have something that would pull data off of those, as a service if not hardware for purchase. Hold on to them, and I’ll try and get in touch with some people as well.

  2. 5.25″ disk drives are hard to come by these days. So are motherboards that have the old floppy drive connectors on the inside.

    But, if you are comfortable poking around your computer innards and have the right hardware:

    I *may* have an old one sitting in the garage or the attic, too… I’ll check tomorrow. If I do I’ll let you know.

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