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The Great Operating System Games 145

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the remember-.bas-files dept.
harrymcc writes "For decades, the simple little games that come with operating systems have been some of the most-used software on the planet. Legendary geeks such as Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and Andy Herzfeld have tried their hands at writing them. And yet they get no respect — or, actually, attention of any kind. Technologizer's Benj Edwards aimed to rectify that with a look at forty years' worth of bundled OS games, from 1971 Unix text-based ones to Woz's Little Brick Out to such Windows mainstays as Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Reversi." Article is an annoyingly long slide show (would it kill people to put a reasonable amount of content on pages?) but there's some fun stuff in there.
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The Great Operating System Games

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  • Heh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:43AM (#33111038) Homepage

    Anyone remember Hover! [wikipedia.org], a game that came on the Windows 95 disk? Good times, good times.

    • Re:Heh (Score:4, Informative)

      by nelsonal (549144) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:45AM (#33111072) Journal
      I loved that game, and am sad it stopped shipping with windows after 95. Thanks for the wiki link as they have a download.
    • I didn't like it. It didn't' shoot anything...
    • And the music videos. The Weezer one was funny :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Yes! I spent hours playing that. It looks like this is a download of the game: http://www.stanford.edu/~cammat/HOVER/index.html [stanford.edu]

      I'd also like to thank the windows 95 disc for introducing me to Weezer.

    • I work with one of the Hover developers. :-)
    • Anyone know why exactly "Buddy Holly" was put on the disk? Seems like kind of a random video to toss on there.

      • Weezer was a popular band in the mid-90s. They were an obvious choice for a tech demo.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fred Or Alive (738779)

        I'd guess it was just a demo video to show off the multimedia bits of the OS. It's a catchy but inoffensive bit of pop, and the music video is based around an interesting gimmick, so why not use that for a demo? It's not like they were pushed for space on the '95 disc anyway, a full install of the OS itself is only around 100MB IIRC (it's been ages since I've installed it).

        On a related note, I've got a Gateway 2000 system CD somewhere (well, you never know, you might want to install WfW 3.11 on something) t

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          I think it's reasonably common for early CD-ROM releases have random stuff to fill the massive 650MB of space that CD-ROMs gave them.

          Well, yeah, because back then you could do the software, have room for the complete works of Shakespeare, and then possibly a Library of Congress left over. :-P

          Heck, at the time, 650MB seemed like a ridiculous amount of space because all of our files were text files, and barely took any space.

          Nowadays, I can buy a 2GB SD card in the lineup at the cashier in the impulse things

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Anyone know why exactly "Buddy Holly" was put on the disk? Seems like kind of a random video to toss on there.

        One of the Windows 95 buzzwords was "Multi-Media".

    • by MK_CSGuy (953563)

      It was a blast :)
      I remember it as one of the first 3d games I ever saw.
      Thanks for the reminder :)

  • What about Hunt the Wumpus, I always liked it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)

      The article mentioned Hunt the Wumpus. Are you posting just to hear yourself speak? (Or read yourself... comment?)

  • Xbill (Score:4, Insightful)

    by netsuhi.com (1867770) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:45AM (#33111062) Homepage
    Along with the classin Linux game Xbill (named after you know who)
    • Did I miss a memo? When did Bill Gates become the new Harry Potter villain?

      • by jDeepbeep (913892)
        Well, we know he is a Persian cat and a monocle away from being a Bond villain. *


        * apologies to Dennis Miller for botching his quote
    • by kingduct (144865)

      An awesome game. MS was so impressed they named their console after it!

  • Solitaire (Score:4, Funny)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:49AM (#33111124)

    Ah, good old solitaire. That last time I remember playing that game it was on a 386 running Windows 3.1. People still seem to love it though. 2 weeks ago I was browsing around in a pawn shop and someone was looking at a laptop computer running Vista. Was that a problem for him? Nope, but for whatever reason they couldn't find Solitaire (don't know if the link was missing or it had been removed - or if they just couldn't find it - I wasn't looking, just overheard the conversation). The customer was all sorts of pissed. "When you buy a computer it ought to AT LEAST come with Solitaire. What kind of stuff are ya'll selling in here?". Just struck me as funny. Guess he didn't know that on any Windows system even if it has been removed it can be added right back in - or that if you REALLY got desperate Solitaire is one of the most commonly available cloned games out there.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I don't think you can really accuse people of cloning Microsoft Solitaire [wikipedia.org].

      • I don't think you can really accuse people of cloning Microsoft Solitaire.

        That's true, nobody's managed to make one as good.

    • by bami (1376931)

      Windows-r sol enter

      6 keys, and you get solitaire, works from windows 95 to windows 7, assuming it got installed (not always the case with slipstreamed PCs).

      I love the fact that Microsoft provided this great entertainment product (have you seen the stats on Steam? It's brilliant), also, gives me something to do behind the paint mixer computer at the DIY store I work at when there isn't that much to do.

    • The best clone! [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Solitaire (Score:4, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:09PM (#33112224) Journal

      Solitaire is still the best method for getting Grandma & Grandpa used to using the mouse. Or minesweeper if they're clever.

  • The first one I encountered was startrek on an HP 2000 system in the mid 1970s

    • by raddan (519638) *
      I had Star Trek on my TI-99/4A, with the speech synthesizer module. My cousin got a PCjr with the then-incredible King's Quest, but the fact that Star Trek actually read out coordinates in plain English made him green with envy. Of course, I probably would have sacrificed a limb for the kind of graphics his machine could do.
    • Re:Startrek (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mark_in_Brazil (537925) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:02PM (#33112120)

      Some friends and I (and lots of other 6th through 12th grade students) played that on terminals connected to our school's computer in 1980. I think the computer was a PDP-8/some letter, but I don't remember which letter. It was kept in the administrative building, while the student terminal room, which had a noisy teletype-style terminal, a newer and quieter terminal whose display was dot matrix printing, and three or four monocrome CRT terminals, was in a building with classrooms and the school library.

      Trek was so popular at one point that I remember all the terminals surrounded by kids, and even the teletype-ish terminal pounding out the quadrant and sector maps. My friends and I figured out a few different ways of aiming photon torpedoes perfectly. One obvious one was a calculator with trig functions (and inverse trig functions), but at least we understood the trigonometry well enough to figure out how to use the calculator to help us kill Klingons. But I also remember three of us with protractors, rulers, and graph paper, getting the angle without using a calculator. The cool thing was when other kids saw us picking off the Klingons easily (and us celebrating each perfect shot), watched us for a while to understand how we did it, and then went off and did it themselves on other terminals. Some didn't care much about math like my friends and I did, but they cared enough about destroying Klingon ships represented by the letter K that they were willing to learn the math to do it.

  • To test our patience... Too many pages...

    Does game inclusion say something fundamental about the nature of each operating system?

    Yep. The only reason to upgrade to Vista and Win7 is the game graphics..

    Pinball was great.. It worked perfectly on my 25MHz 486SX

    • Solitaire (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      IIRC solitaire was included with windows to help people who hadnt used a computer before get used to the process of dragging & dropping and using the mouse in general.

      • Re:Solitaire (Score:4, Informative)

        by natehoy (1608657) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:03PM (#33111330) Journal

        That may or may not have been its original purpose, but that was the way we trained people to use the mouse at a previous job, back when Windows 3.1 was being introduced.

        I ran several training sessions, helping people play solitaire on a computer for 2 hours. Seemed really, REALLY silly at the time, but we tried training a couple of people using different methods and paying someone near-minimum-wage to play a game that was included with the OS for two hours turned out to be an exceptionally efficient way to get the concepts of cursor movement, click, double-click, click and drag, menu operations, etc across.

        Self-study was not, however, encouraged. We did have one guy try to defend playing with "Vegas rules" enabled as "advanced self-learning" - didn't go terribly well for him. ;)

  • Ski-Free (Score:4, Insightful)

    by adeft (1805910) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:52AM (#33111174)
    I used to stay in from Recess to play ski-free. Never did make it past that abominable snowman....
  • SkiFree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by plasmidmap (1435389)

    There were so many fun little things tied into this game. Cool tricks for points. Setting trees on fire. Knocking over people. And of course, the surprise monster ending!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:58AM (#33111264)

    The Windows game "Where the hell is my file?", or wait, was that a game?

    • The Windows game "Where the hell is my file?", or wait, was that a game?

      Of course, newer Windows versions now play most of that game for you...

  • Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Duradin (1261418) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:58AM (#33111268)

    Why is this slideshow-fest in Apple? Seemed most of the slides were non-Apple.

    • To provide plenty of geek rage to stoke up the fire and generate more page views?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Creepy (93888)

      My only guess is it mentions Breakout. Breakout was conceptualized by Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow at Atari and eventually contracted to HP Engineer Steve Wozniak by Steve Jobs. Those two later worked together to make the Apple and Apple ][ line of computers. One of Woz's driving goals for creating the Apple computer was to make a software only version Breakout, and the version he created was included with the computer, written in Woz's own Integer Basic (the other version of BASIC on the Apple ][ wa

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:59AM (#33111278)

    I used to have this weird text adventure for my old 386. I think it was for Windows 3.1. It'd be all black with these words on it, it was some sort of scary cyberpunk hacking game where you had to investigate files and navigate a directory structure. There was a strange cheat left in it though (was it a beta?): if you simply instructed your character to 'win' (by running WIN.EXE), you'd win right there and then, the game would exit and take you back to Windows!

    Weird, huh?

  • by ronmon (95471)
    It came with Windows 2000. The physics were very realistic and the sounds were spot on.
  • Snipes! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I burnt *many* hours playing Snipes [wikipedia.org] on our school's Novell network.

    • by CormacJ (64984)

      Snipes was one of the two huge time killers for me too... what a classic game.

  • is this article serious? Theres only 2 situations where you play those games. 1. your on a work machine offline and bored out of your mind with no work to do. 2. your a sad loser who thinks solitaire is hours of entertainment. And I think Bill Gates gets enough recognition too...
  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:11PM (#33111436)

    When I first got Red Hat I spent many hours playing 'make-sound-work-in-KDE' :)

  • by turing_m (1030530) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:13PM (#33111472)
    I believe that it was an influence in the epic RPG, Progress Quest [progressquest.com]. As I sat, transfixed by that progress bar, I felt like I was doing something worthwhile for my machine. Now I don't run MS any more, I kind of miss those fun times of defragging, not to mention the periodic reinstalls of everything.
  • Bundled with FreeBSD still. Just a few weeks ago I played that until 1 in the morning...from the console -- xterm ruins the immersion into the underground world.

  • by Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:16PM (#33111514)

    OK, it's not an OS, but Excel had a flight simulator hidden inside it. Getting into it was a pain, but popping it up on someone else's computer was as much fun as the game itself.

  • NetHack! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Iwanowitch (993961) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:16PM (#33111520)

    Probably not installed by default on most OSes, but it should be! First thing I install on a new machine myself.

    I (as student) once argued with our university IT staff that this was essential software for any self-respecting computer science lab, and they agreed and installed it on all machines. :)

  • by sznupi (719324) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:16PM (#33111526) Homepage

    Simple games presented to us while the OS is booting. Kinda like in Tekken (1), where you could play a quick game of Galaga while proper game data are loaded from the CD.

    Something that simple (again, Galaga-like; or, for example, clearing one screen of Frozen Bubble-like game; using as basic GFX/toolkit/etc. as possible) shouldn't burden currently available machines too much. You can either play along for dozen or so seconds it currently takes to, basically, stare at a loading screen...or ignore it, no harm done (hm, or OTOH have an option to continue, clearing few more screens ;p ). Could be fun on mobile phones, too, many recent ones have not exactly instant booting... (and I can certainly imagine Google giving such option in Android; they had Pacman in mainsite logo already)

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Oh well...5 more years to go?

        OTOH the wording in the abstract (it's not like I'm desparate enough about "boot games" to try going through a patent ;p ) seems to be quite explicit about loading another game while the mini one is running, so perhaps that could be a workaround for an OS. Plus with, say, Google even a chance of any legal struggle might be slim - they managed to make a deal regarding Pacman after all.
        Then there's the thing of many places where such patent is irrelevant, and an alternative bootup

      • by Nursie (632944)

        Prior Art?

        Invad-a-load (IIRC, that was the name) was exactly the concept described in the patent, and some games on the Commodore64 had it. You got a quick-loading game of space invaders whilst the other game carried on loading from tape. Sometimes I'd stop the tape so I could carry on with invaders...

        The only game I had that I remember with that feature was called "Slimey's mine", but I'm pretty sure it was available in other games too.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Booting is a game. Kind of like a slot machine. Which port won't work this time?

  • My dad bought us a Tandy TL2 when I was a kid and it came with an assortment of Sierra Online games (Conquests of Camelot: The Search For The Grail, Hero's Quest: So you want to be a Hero?, Thexder, Bubble Bobble and maybe one or two others). Changed my life, literally. I played video games when I was young but those made me a 'Gamer.' Recently bought a complete 'Hero's Quest: So you want to be a Hero?' in the original box with all the inserts (Prodigy, etc). Such awesome games.

  • was the first game I ever played on computer.
    DEC-20 mainframe with a teletype as output.
    It too a full minute to reprint the board after each move. With 60 moves per game it took a while to finish a game...
    1979 it was.
    I still have a soft spot for reversi. Found a fun clone on a Japanese game site a while back which I play when I feel the need for a bit of distraction.

  • by mccalli (323026)
    Later reborn as Virus on the 16bit machines, Zarch on the Acorn Archimedes was a fantastic demo of what the hardware could do. And, for its time, the 32bit RISC-based Arch could do a lot.

    Cheers,
    Ian
  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:29PM (#33111710)
    I always enjoyed a quick round of Global Thermonuclear War. IIRC that was included with the WOPR/OS.
    • by jDeepbeep (913892) on Monday August 02, 2010 @12:36PM (#33111796)
      Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?
    • by Higaran (835598)
      How about tic-tac-toe?
    • by rickb928 (945187)

      Did ANYONE else ever play Balance of Power?

      And while it may not have been dialup in the fashion you're thinking of, every game I played on NovaNET was dialup until Cyber1 came along. Avatar, Spacewar, wow.

      • by PatHMV (701344)

        Yes! I played many, many hours of Balance of Power. As I recall, it was actually a Windows game, and came with a customized version of Windows 1.0 or Windows 2.0 which could be used only to load BoP.

        "You have initiated a global thermonuclear war. No, you will not be rewarded by cool graphics of the earth exploding." Or something like that. Wish I could play it again.

        Did you by any chance play Sun Tzu's The Ancient Art of War (or its sequel, TAAoW at Sea), which was out around the same time?

  • Novell Netware counts as an OS, right? Where's Snipes? It outranks half this list easily.

  • The game that is responsible for consuming the most hours of my life on a Windows box, is Chips Challenge [wikipedia.org] (MS Entertainment Pack). 150 puzzle levels, nerd saves geeky princess-mad-scientist storyline. I'm nearly willing to have Windows again just to play it.
  • > "[W]ould it kill people to put a reasonable amount of content on pages?"

    Yes, the twin demons of page views and banner ad impression counts would indeed kill people. Many non-tech news sites offer a "Single page" or "View all" or "Print" option, but tech-oriented sites generally don't, with a few exceptions like Wired or C|Net.

  • The content and descriptions were certainly not worth the 21 pages of ads I had to step through.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday August 02, 2010 @01:07PM (#33112184) Journal

    When you're stuck with a console, the bsdgames package helps a lot to pass the time. There's a great version of Tetris, ports of the classic games Hunt the Wumpus, Adventure, and Trek, and some assorted puzzle games. My favorite is Boggle. Great way to spend 3 minutes while something downloads/compiles/whatever.

  • Whatever happened to the network version of Hearts that used to be included with Windows?
    • It's still there. Oh, wait.. this is an XP box....
    • I think the obvious answer is "they removed the networking from it", the Windows XP version still has "The Microsoft Hearts Network" in its title bar and about box, even if it doesn't have a network mode. It's probably a mixture of the network code being archaic (it did first appear in Windows for Workgroups), and Microsoft wanting people to use the Internet Hearts (which goes connects via MSN) instead.

  • Anyone who thinks that these games have gotten no attention has never seen the hilarious trailer for Minesweeper: The Movie [youtube.com].

  • I spent many many ..... hours back in 1997 tilting that fucking game. Ah good times, good times.
    • I loved 3D pinball this saved me from boredom during my 4th period computer 101 intro to programming class.
  • I've always heard how the availability of games for the Mac has always been a weak spot. Now I see what they've been talking about...

  • All the Unix systems I used back in the 90s had this great multiplayer shooter with graphics like asteroids. Spent huge amounts of time on that baby. One guy at work did awsomely well until we realised he'd compiled a custom binary with hotkeys for powerups.
  • I will not go through 21 pages of slideshows. I refuse to view 21 page reloads to see this list. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. (21 Nos.)
  • GORILLA.BAS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by djdanlib (732853) on Monday August 02, 2010 @02:23PM (#33113396) Homepage

    How about those games that came with QBASIC?

    You know. GORILLA.BAS

    I used to visit my friends to play that game... my computer only had GWBASIC.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Evidently you didn't bother reading the article given that two pages of it were devoted to Nibbles and Gorilla.

  • If they are including games in Windows Vista and Windows 7, they should include games in major Mobile OSes.

    My BlackBerry came with a Brick Breaker game. Though really I could file this one under "games I love to hate", as this game is to Arkanoid what Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing is to OutRun. Indeed the game is so deplorable and of such atrocious functionality I can't help but wonder if someone from slashdot was loaned to help with its development...
  • Readability often works well for condensing slide shows like this to a single page: http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/ [arc90.com]

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

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