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(6/1/2003) While QB programmers are always in a battle to push the limits of QBasic, QB webmasters are in a constant battle to keep everything stored.
Contrary to what the videogame industry suggests, I'm not one of those people who believe that bigger file sizes equal better games. In fact, one of the strengths of QB games over commercial products is that the entertainment is compact and easy to store-- it's the reason why many QB sites (including V Planet) can afford to house several QB games without having to close up shop.
However, as programmers continue to become more ambitious and the bar continues to raise, some QB games are going to get much bigger. At one time, LosT SocK Software's QBRPG Wrath of Sona weighed in at 6 megabytes, which was huge for it's time. Now the current record-holder for largest QB demo is the sound/audio version of Frantic Journey, which tips the scales with over 22 megabytes. That's enough to give even the burliest of QB sites a bad case of heartburn.
With the Internet economy continuing to tighten, there needs to be a compromise worked out by both QB programmers and webmasters before this problem of file size vs. game quality begins to take it's toll on all QB sites.
For QB programmers, the key is to sacrifice quantity first before quality. One of the leading causes of heavy zip files is having a ton of graphics tiles or MP3s. Since the graphics and MP3s are already there, instead of downgrading to a lower resolution or going back to MIDIs, check to see if you can convert your files to a smaller file format first without losing significant sound or graphics quality. After that, streamlining programming code, removing unnecessary files from public release, and (lastly) taking out some but not all graphics, sound, or music that are extraneous are all fair game. If a particular tune or graphic really fits the game, keep it there-- but if it's there just there because "every stage should have it's own tune" or "I like the same tile design but with a different color", those ought to be the first graphics or sound effects to be truncated.
For QB Webmasters, cooperation is the most effective gameplan. Full game download sites like NeoBasic and QB45 need to continue to exist, because QB online publications like QBasicNews, V Planet, GBGames, Lovely Pressure, and QB Colony are designed to inform first, while the actual downloads serve as a secondary function. Programmers who host their own projects on their website are even more important, because download sites and other QB sites may need a place to download the original copies in the event that some zip files are lost.
Although the term is used so loosely, successful Internet communities work through coordination. There's no telling how much of a financial burden it will be trying to maintain presence in the Internet down the road, but with some precautions we can all work together to be ready for the good and the bad.
Editor, V Planet! QuickBasic Magazine
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