Visualizing NES RAM with sparklines
January 23, 2018 1:16 PM   Subscribe

5 Seconds of Donkey Kong exhibits plotter printouts of the contents of an NES emulator's memory with a sparkline plot for every location in memory whose value changes.

The developer Micheal Fogleman writes:
The NES only had 2048 bytes of RAM. For each address in memory, I plot its values over time as an individual sparkline. I only show addresses that changed at least once, so there are usually fewer than 2048 sparklines. Because each game developer used the memory in different ways, each game produces its own unique look when plotted.
posted by Jpfed (13 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Well. it doesn't get more nerdy than that.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:25 PM on January 23, 2018

5 Seconds of Donkey Kong? Is that what kids are calling it these days?

All I can hear see is the wonder year's episode where Kevin has to go into the closet with Winnie for two minutes and they don't really know what to do - because stuff...

But 5 Seconds of Donkey Kong? That's solo play...
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:29 PM on January 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I want this in video form with the instructions being executed scrolling up the side of the screen and the spark line updated with the instruction.
posted by Dr. Twist at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Love it.
posted by mondo dentro at 3:12 PM on January 23, 2018

Saw these going around, and they are lovely. Thanks for putting it on the front page.
posted by cortex at 3:34 PM on January 23, 2018

I couldn't quite figure out how on earth you'd print that from the headline, because I'd forgotten that you could have RAM that was small enough to be rendered over time by an array of sparklines visible on plain paper, because here I am using (to my surprise, only) 54MB of memory to read a few hundred words of text on this web page.

It's beautiful. Like a kind of Bach canon or cantata. Or at least something that Hofstadter would have pondered on at length, if it had been around when he was writing Gödel, Escher, Bach.
posted by ambrosen at 3:45 PM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I thought maybe just once he should make one for five seconds of Far Cry 5 at 4K 60fps but he'd need to plot 11 718 750 sheets and 4.5 square miles to display them (assuming A0). Though then if next to that there was just a single one of those NES sheets it would be mindblowing.
posted by yoHighness at 4:08 PM on January 23, 2018

There are videos of the process on twitter
posted by noneuclidean at 4:10 PM on January 23, 2018

you can't put a price on art, but he did choose a price that I find a little high
posted by GuyZero at 4:47 PM on January 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

It's interesting to me how so many of those sparklines seem correlated with one another. A correlation matrix, with each square darkened by how correlated the row location was with the column location (example), could serve as a visual fingerprint for the game.
posted by Jpfed at 7:44 PM on January 23, 2018

Why does Mega Man look so good?
posted by anthill at 6:15 AM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don’t exactly understand it, but it’s only $200!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:26 PM on January 25, 2018

I dunno. The jpegs are free, of reasonable resolution, and lack obnoxious watermarks. You can look at 'em all you like, right now and with a modicum of effort in perpetuity. It might just be me having my head buried in 20th century art history right now but that's a historically remarkable amount of accessibility to niche art that we've all just casually got.

So it's totally okay if you don't want to buy an object for the asking price—I really like these but am also not in a place where I'm going to find two hundred bucks for a print—but there is a kind of absurdity to complaining about the pricing of an object you don't have to purchase to enjoy the work you're literally already able to view.
posted by cortex at 5:15 PM on January 25, 2018

« Older Weird One Character Domain Superstore   |   Those poor, poor skis Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments