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Tape Recovery Simulator 96K (bluesnews.com)
74 points by andy_herbert 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments

> Tape backups are still a thing in some places, but they are generally considered a relic of the past.

Well that's utter BS. Tape is still a dominant backup form, particularly for archival purposes. The market is big and still growing year on year.

You can't get the same data density and portability out of any other form of backup, and it is a format still under heavy development and refreshes, with LTO-9 due out this year introducing 45TB media at 1GB/s.

I think by that they referred to audio cassette tapes specifically, not the custom tapes used for backups these days nor the tape reels of the 60s/70s. They don't use audio as an intermediate format like the 8-bit era tape drives did. As cleaning up this audio is the main gameplay mechanic here, it makes sense that that sentence refers to audio tapes specifically.

Yes, I confirm that. The game will operate on 2 levels: audio tweak and software processing on 8bit era data.

The main appeal about 8bit era is that the data quantity is low, and this allows some nice bit level gameplay mechanics.

This works nicely on 13-byte (104 bits) headers, but it won't work on gigabyte(8623489024 bits) files. It hasn't stopped me to joke about it: http://caffeinewithdrawalgames.com/games.html#TRS185Tb

I learned recently that tapes are also quite common in the pro video world, as backup media and as a way to deliver projects!

For instance, this is the Discovery Channel's delivery tech specs: https://procurement-notices.undp.org/view_file.cfm?doc_id=12...

From page 27:

"Production partners must deliver graphics masters on LTO-5 data tapes formatted using the Linear Tape File Systems (LTFS). [...] The network will not accept graphics masters on other types of media."

One of the biggest things that has been going for tape as archive/backup storage has been that it is proven durability compared to alternatives in regards to bit rot. AT least that was the mantra for decades, not been active for years so may of shifted and price of solid state and storage rotation I would of thought offset things. But then that would be a live backup as opposed to something you want to archive and maybe never touch for eons, maybe for some regulation aspect you just need to archive that data and in a form that is acceptable to the standards of that industry. Which would be another factor and that would be legacy - it works, it has worked for ages and proven and trusted in X use for X industry regulatory needs and as such - ticks an insurance/liability box. Things like that from a technical aspect get overlooked as it is not just the technical aspect but also the whole industry/business/regulatory standards.

I know for one company in the pharma industry we looked at optical storage and for some uses it was fine, but for the long-term archival aspect in your store and 99.999999% forget about storage backups/archives it just didn't tick enough box's due to being unproven and when you get down to use X and if it fails you can say you did all the right things and if you use something that technically may be better and it fails, your head and massive fines and fallout can ensure much more easily. So tape for many been one of those - it works, why change.

Tape still has big advantages over other mediums: it's relatively cheap in terms of price/Gb, it's a lot less complex than hard drives, and a lot more recoverable than SSDs.

On the other side, it has minute-long seek times since the tape needs to be rewonund/ff (that's an eternity compared to already-deprecated milisecond-long HDD seek times) and it's not suitable for many write cycles (some tapes are even sold as WORM (write once read many), same as the old CD-R drives)

Yes, fully agree. Tape has evolved a great deal over the years, and it will further evolve.

Just look at the lto roadmap. They are expecting 480Tb(yes, Tb) tapes https://www.ltoultrium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/lto-ro... http://vrworld.com/2014/05/05/sonys-new-185-tb-tape-drive-ca...

Unfortunately it's just for the professional market. Looking over some local IT shops, the drives cost around 1500E with 15Tb tapes priced around 80E. I was hoping for a portable tape player able to hold together all the world's music at studio resolution, but that's not going to happen.

These are audio cassette backups, Commodore 64 style.

Tape Recovery Simulator 96K will initially focus on audio-casette data, Speccy-style (48K). Commodore 64 and other formats will not be supported, but that could probably change with enough pressure from fans.

Not just backups. I bought software for my Atari 400 on audio cassette, back in the day.

I mean, they're not wrong about the perception. Ask most people, even those in tech, and they will tell you that tape is passé. Personally, while I know it is still used in enterprise backup, I haven't actually seen a digital tape in use in over 20 years.

So it takes 12.5 hours to fill a single tape?

I guess it's hard to wrap your head around data sizes that big. It's pretty impressive when you consider that SATA tops out at 600MB/s, so these tape drives need to hang off of a faster bus.

They do, they are attached via FibreChannel or SAS for example. FC offers 16Gbits since 2011 and SAS 12G since 2013 (and of course even faster versions since then).

Though I would love a SATA-one for home use.

same here. I would love a tape drive at home. My dji osmo action cam is producing films at 100Mbps. A 1Tb drive can only hold 23h. That's 11.5h if you store the data twice for redundancy.

Love the idea, but I'll just say they dev is really missing a trick here. For the UI they should follow Zachtronics lead and go extreme skeuomorphic, lots of dragging tapes into players and connecting cords, clicking buttons.

Feel these are the details and the vibe that make Zachtronics so successful. They give you an atmosphere, aesthetic and world to be immersed into.

So instead of "Virtual tape player" windows and virtual tapes it should be like an actual tape player on the screen and people are posting you actually tapes you drag into the player and stuff along with written letters etc.

Now there's a domain name that I haven't heard in a very long time

Right!? Up there with Adrenaline Vault, VE3D, and the original Shacknews before it got bought out. Good times...

And reminds me once again that .plan files and finger was twitter before twitter.

I love that this is blurring the lines about what the idea of a game is. I bet a lot of people will hate this game and a lot of people will love it (and a lot will just be like huh?).

One thing for sure is that it looks interesting.

I can't tell if this is a joke or an actual game, but I find this blurring of the lines interesting.

Another game that blurred the lines that is actually one of my all-time favorites is Papers, Please. This is a game about being an immigration officer, a bureaucrat stamping papers and examining work permits... and it's brilliant and tremendously engaging. It can only exist as an indie game, of course -- imagine EA saying "yes, let's spend money on building and publishing a bureaucrat simulator".

I feel just about anything by Zachtronics fits this category. Spacechem was the title that got me back into indie gaming in 2012, but almost every single one of their games is essentially programming for fun. They really dropped the facade with Shenzhen I/O and TIS-100. The beautiful part about those games is how much story and narrative is pushed through design docs and specs and hidden man pages.

I feel Factorio also sits right on the edge of this category. You do get to shoot bugs, but in the end, you're really just debugging a giant wafer.

Factorio is amazing and for a brief time I got really addicted to it. Like you said, you're debugging an giant circuit.

In the end I stoppped playing though. It felt like too much work, and rang too close to my day job. Fortunately, I'm neither an immigrations bureaucrat nor a 19th century insurance investigator, so those themes seem more fascinating to me!

I've been playing the demo for a few hours a week over the past month. Any game that gets me to restart on the second level not because I'm dieing but because I think to myself, "No, I can do better than this," is a winner in my book. Also, if I've derived more fun from this demo than I have from many other $30 and $60 games, so I'm already leaving towards paying for the full game.

I understand what you mean about the day job thing. I got about 60% of the way through Shenzhen before walking away. Fortunately, I'm not a chip-designer, so hopefully that horizon is farther away with Factorio.

Don't get me wrong -- I bought Factorio and adored every second of the first level or so. But the thought of going through it all a second time proved too mentally exhausting.

I commend its creators, I just avoid the game now. Who knows, in a couple of years I may get hooked again.

The author of Papers Please also made The Return of the Obra Dinn.

It's another game about bureaucracy. This time you play as an insurance investigator.

Yes, of course, I love Obra Dinn too. But that's a more traditional tale of adventure, by the author's own admission -- that the player is an insurance investigator barely matters. You're on board a mysterious ship and must investigate its fate... sounds intriguing by definition!

I never got around to finishing that one.

There's an article out there about how the 1-bit color rendering works, which I found quite interesting:


You should try to finish it, it's pretty satisfying.

Do note some mysteries have more than one solution. It makes sense, when you think that "who" did "what" to "whom" has more than one possible interpretation, and the game tends to accept most of them as valid!

My recollection is that most of the multiple solutions are actually just cases where you're supposed to identify one correct solution, but how that solution actually maps to the very limited possible choices is ambiguous.

This is most annoying in (I think) chapter 5, which is where you get some of the more difficult characters to identify, dying deaths that are somewhat ambiguous, involving some of the supernatural aspects of the story, all in scenes that can only be visited by going through other scenes (so it's hard to go back and check them).

I know what you mean, but didn't find it annoying. I'm also in the camp of people who enjoy that there's not teleport within the ship -- you must walk everywhere, and if this is tedious tough luck! Walking inside actual ships requires walking.

As for the other ambiguous situation I mentioned, I found it hilarious in the "guns don't kill people, other people do" sense ;)

At this point I have blind faith in anything Lukas Pope creates.

The ship is fairly small and compact, so I didn't mind the lack of teleport very much.

This feels like an elaborate joke that I didn't get.

Doing the real thing is a lot of fun. Just need a bunch of used tapes and a walkman or generic tape recorder. You can convert files using kcs on msdos.

The ultimate experience would be loading an entire program and running it straight out the tape instead of converting wav files back and forth. Sadly the IBM PC tape port is an obscure extension and is totally nonexistent on emulators.

that's funny. I have a project of recovering a game I wrote on Commodore 64 as a kid. It is saved on an audio tape. You can guess I have a strong motivation since it's for getting back something personal. I have the wav files ready, and regular conversion programs fail to recover it.

I have a few ideas, one of them being using a sequence to sequence NN. The intuition is that the output domain has a strong structure (C64 basic program tokens) so the decoder can learn to generate valid programs. It looks like it is going to be funnier than this game :)

Been meaning to resurrect my old vic20 system just so I can wait in anticipation of my "game" to load from the cassette tape. Nostalgia is a helluva of a good drug.

I think you can put the emulators in like a 1x mode? I do not look back fondly on waiting for things to load hahha

Interesting game idea :) I initially thought it could actually read old tapes, I was hoping this because I'm trying to recover some old Atari stuff. But no.

Funny idea though!

Checking my bookmarks, look at wav2cas - http://home.planet.nl/~ernest/atarixle.html - though I haven't actually used it.

Sadly shared too soon: it's not yet released. I hope it doesn't end up as vapourware, it'd be fun just for the nostalia.

actual link to official webpage about the game: http://caffeinewithdrawalgames.com/TRS/details.html

Wow! I lived through that and do not have any nostalgia for tape shenanigans!

Great, where do I sign up?


edit: This link doesn't really answer the burning question, which is "How do I play?". After a bit of looking around it seems that as of today, you don't, it doesn't appear to be released yet.

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