You’ve definitely never seen Quake played like this before

youve definitely never seen quake played like oscilloscope
A Finnish computer programmer has managed to run a playable version of id Software’s 1996 first person shooter, Quake, on an old, analog oscilloscope. The game is rendered on a laptop and then fed into a Huawei V-422 oscilloscope as an audio signal that was translated into two-dimensional, vector graphics.

Pekka Väänänen shared a technical explanation of how he pulled off the feat on his website. In essence, he leveraged the fact that the left and right audio channels can be mapped onto the oscilloscope’s X and Y axes. By carefully controlling the audio input, the oscilloscope can be used to display images. Väänänen cited previous demonstrations of this oscilloscope hack as inspiration for his attempt to play a game live.

With this basic technique available, the trick then lay in figuring out a way to render the game simply enough to be legible and have minimal lag when translated into audio. The result is ghostly and recognizable to anyone familiar with the seminal shooter, reminiscent of the scene in The Matrix when Neo sees the simulated world rendered in its raw code.

Oscilloscopes, developed in the early 20th century to measure and display the frequency of electrical signals, have an important place in the early history of video games. In 1958, physicist William Higinbotham developed a simple Tennis game, Tennis for Two, to be played on an early computer hooked up to an oscilloscope display by visitors to the Brookhaven National Laboratory where he worked. The game is considered by some to be the first video game with graphics.

Translating Quake to play on an oscilloscope is similar to a long-standing practice of hackers getting id Software’s previous, genre-defining shooter, Doom, to run on nearly anything with a processor. Recent examples have included a Canon printer and a Samsung smartwatch. This Quake project is doubly impressive for taking a more advanced game than Doom and rendering it playable on simpler hardware.


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