What is a tape and what is it used for ?
A normal tape can store 60 minutes of audio or 600Kb of binary data. Trying to load the latest and greatest 50Gb game would require 87381 tapes and as many hours to load (assuming the tapes and tape player are in perfect working order and no error occurs and the user properly cleans/degausses the tape player every few hundred tapes) Still, what could the 90’s people do with just 600k ? Almost anything we currently do with a 64Gb usb stick. Store software, games, secrets, valuables, hidden treasures, glimpses of a bygone era that some of us were able to experience in our lifetimes.
What was it like using a tape player to listen music to ?
You had to guess the song name based on the tape position and list of songs printed on the cover. Most of the tapes were never stored in their proper cases so the covers were useless most more often than not. You inserted the tape, pressed play and that was it. So no total album time, no song time, no lyrics, no artists, no suggestions, no sharing (ok, ok, you could always share your favorite tape but that meant no listening to it until you got it back). There was always the risk of the tape being (slightly) damaged by a poor quality tape player or by a careless user or by any nearby children. Children were one of the most powerful enemies of tape. They liked ripping away the precious magnetic tape, tie it to sticks and reenact their favorite Olympics event. On the plus side, the tape player didn’t know your precise global location, your eating habits or your gas consumption and didn’t try to sell your data to 3rd parties. Yet, some of the greatest songs we ever listened to were stored on tape. 80’s and 90’s was special from another perspective: Unique, great, quality music was easily available. If you wanted great music you just had to go to the nearest music store and just pick, at random, a few tapes. One in every 3 tapes sold was a masterpiece. In the meantime, music managed to get even greater, but to find gems you need to carefully search for them in a pile of average-sounding albums.
What was it like to be using tape as data storage ?
Audio tape, by itself was never meant to store digital data. Still, being a cheap and widely available medium made it a good candidate. But it was never had great reliability. Yes, you had great recorded tapes that ALWAYS worked, but that was usually the exception, and not the norm.
But you still managed to play games, right ?
Yes, most of the greatest, genre-defining, unbelievable games also appeared on tape. But loading them was not always a breeze. We just became resourceful in our data-loading endeavors. We started tweaking the sound to perfection. We adjusted volume, azimuth, switched to mono, switched back to stereo, played with bass and treble controls, adjusted the tape speed. We had great deals of patience. When everything failed, we borrowed the tape players of our neighbors (This became the norm: the tape player of your neighbor was always a good match for that troublesome tape you could otherwise never load) . Imagine playing a game after 30mins of struggle and another 5-15 minute of loading. It was AMAZING. It was better than your favorite team winning the championship. You just EARNED the right to play the game. There was also the case when we played large games and each individual level had a separate file on tape. You lost all your lives, there was a loading screen telling you to load the first level again. Sometimes you made it to level 3 just to realize level 3 was not loading. (and, sometimes, the error handling of the game just reset the game in such a case). Great times. The games themselves made all the hassle be worth it. What is Tape Recovery Simulator 96K? TRS96K revives the feeling of loading (and eventually succeeding ) data from less than ideal magnetic tapes. In a world full with remakes, clones, rehashes, sequels and prequels, TRS96K brings you an unique gameplay moulded by actual practices.
How do you play TRS96K ?
- First, there’s the tape player. It’s easy to play, hard to master.
- You press play, it plays. You press stop, it stops.
- Deciding when to stop, forward, play, rewind, rewind again is entirely your decision. The tape player never takes any responsibility for what you do with it.
- It just hopes you use its powers for good
Any way you look at it, Tape Loading Error is the nemesis of the Tape Recovery Specialist. But it’s also its destiny. No Tape Recovery Specialist has ever has ever missed encountering it. It’s life. You get the error, cry a little, then take it head on.
The volume button will become your best friend, but it won’t be your only tool in the belt of a Tape Loading Specialist. Unique data corruption patterns will demand unique approaches.
Is there a story behind TRS96K ?
Yes. It’s the classical story: “Boss hires employee. Boss never feels employee is earning his/hers paycheck”. As player, you will work at EES, a small firm committed to recover all the tapes in the world. Until tomorrow. Yes, you guessed it, there’s just one employee doing the actual tape recovery. You’ll need to fend off bad management style and decisions.