GeoCities has been gone for fifteen years now, about as long as it was alive, and it’s still sorely missed. It was shut down by Yahoo, which seems to exist purely to kill good things during downturns. (See also: Yahoo Directory.) It’s just a “brand” now; the company formerly known as that changed its name to “Altaba,” and then itself died.

GeoCities was a place where anyone could make a static website, for free (although with frames and ads). This isn’t the place to recount the full story, but at the time it had kind of a reputation. Since anyone could make a site there, and having a site was a big thing in those heady early World Wide Web days, a lot of people did make them. It was their first site in a lot of cases; in many cases, it was their only site. And before social media and Google’s decay, you could even reasonably expect to find GeoCities sites, if they were good.

So a lot of web newbies made sites, and they perpetrated all kinds of design atrocities in the process. Back then we rolled our eyes and held our noses, but now that time is remembered with fondness.

There are multiple places where you can go back and explore old GeoCities sites, although with varying degrees of stability. Try checking Restorativland or Oocities. Or the Internet Archive’s GeoCities collection.

One of the most egregious of the many sins made by GeoCities users was the overuse of animated GIFs. GIFs themselves are their own throwback to the early era, and actually predate the World Wide Web. The image format was created at Compuserve in 1987, while the first web browser was released on Christmas Day, 1990. Now Compuserve is long gone, although their website, amazingly, is still up, offering an early 2000’s style web portal experience, and while it’s likely no one human is curating its links, some one, or thing, is still updating its copyright date.

I seem to be discursing a lot today, but I am actually closing in on today’s true subject, just with a flight plan best described as a wide, lazy spiral. Here we go. GIFs, that relic of ancient Compuserve, once the subject of an infamous software patent owned by even older pre-web tech company Unisys that threatened to strike the format from the internet, is the only thing of Compuserve that really thrives today.

There are other animation file formats. There’s MP4 and its progeny, of course. Google has a version of webp that has animation, but people don’t trust Google so much anymore. GIFs are also limited: it’s an indexed graphics format that maxes out at 256 colors. But there are many ways to make them, all the major browsers support them, many social media sites support them, and they doesn’t have Google’s sterile, chlorine-like stink about them, so they survive. Improbably, awesomely, people still make, use and view GIFs today.

Google Meetup(?)’s message input bar with GIF button
Discord’s message input bar with GIF button

Google Meetup, or whatever the hell they call it now, has an interface for searching for GIFs to use, and Discord does too. There’s a site, the slightly-incorrectly named GIPHY, that hosts them and lets you search for them. Arguably GIFs are more popular than ever. But the acknowledged Golden (well, maybe Tarnished Bronze) Age of GIFs was the Geocitiene Era.

Well, now the Internet Archive has an amusingly-styled site, GifCities, where you can search through an archives of the GeoCities site collection.

Comic Sans! A spinning rendered dollar sign! Party like it’s 200X!

It doesn’t seem to have a lot to go by when doing its text search? My “Nethack” search only turned up two GIFs, both found from the term’s inclusion in their origin URLs. These are them:

I don’t get that eye one, but the second one’s kind of snazzy, if not really that useful. Still-someone worked to construct each of them, and I like that their work is commemorated, and even available for others to use today. Most of the Old Web, by weight, is lost now, so let’s cherish what remains.

Sundry Sunday: Game Stuff From Internet Funeral

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

Internet Funeral was (is) a subreddit dedicated to surreal images with text within them. Reddit is currently in a Muskian implosion, but fortunately has its own version of Internet Funeral, which is where these images come from.

Luigi and Peach get existential:

Source post

mAsTeR sWoRd tImE:

Source post, by GreenCrush

Oh no I’m not ready:

Source post

“Psychology Warning”:

Source post

You don’t see that every day:

Source post, by RealM

And, a 22-year-old site obituary:

Source post. I’d love to know what site this was, so I could try to pull it from the Wayback Machine.

Let’s Learn About Pixel Scaling and Rotation

When you start using emulators, it won’t be long before you’re brought up against the choice of which scalers to use, a bewildering collection of options with names like Nearest Neighbor, AdvMAME3x, and RotSprite.

Resizing pixel images in an intelligent way is a difficult problem for many reasons. Most techniques intended for use on photographs won’t apply, since they’ll produce unacceptably blurry results when applied to extremely low resolution art. Pixel art is designed so that every dot matters, and adding new pixels carelessly can cause problems, such as Mario flipping us the bird in the right-hand image below:

Mario vs MMarrioo:A possible result of bad upscaling.

Additionally, being done frequently in real-time emulation, scaling algorithms must be fast. Yet the fastest solution, called Nearest Neighbor, produces very blocky results, and also only really works well if images are scaled up to an integer multiple of the original in X and Y dimensions.

A good backgrounder of various issues is available from an old blog post here, but there’s been some interesting advancements in the field since then. RotSprite is a good contemporary solution that also can rotate pixel art images well.

The problem of rotation is made simpler by a nifty trick that’s used by many image editors and libraries. It turns out you can rotate an image by an arbitrary amount with three simple shear operations. (If you don’t know what shearing is, it’s just tilting an image by some amount in a direction. It’s pretty awesome that this works since shearing is easy to do.)

Example image borrowed from the above linked page. I’m amazed this works.

History of Hyrule, Legend of Zelda art in print

Source: Art and Artifacts – Upload credit: Melora of

This is a collection, made by Melora, of various Japanese publications related to The Legend of Zelda and its sequels, including manuals, hint books, strategy guide and manga. There’s a lot to go through! Some of it is translated, a lot isn’t. But it’s all nice to leaf through. There’s four heads to this particular Gleeok: a home page, a blog, a Twitter feed, a Flickr image archive with tons of images, and a substantial amalgamation on the Internet Archive. If you’re as familiar with Zelda games as I am, you might not even particularly need the strategy guides translated!

I still remember the first substantial thing I read about Zelda, long ago, a review in, of all places, Games Magazine. I must have been about 13 at the time. It seemed like an awesome thing to my games-addled brain, but at that moment I didn’t even have an NES. When I first played it, it was amazing. I spent months uncovering every item and secret (finding Level 7 in the second quest was a major roadblock).

So, when I think of The Legend of Zelda, I think of challenging game play, exploring a huge world, finding deviously hidden secrets, and overcoming a formidable challenge purely by my own efforts. All of these side various comics are a bit lost of me, as it is not often that I get into the lore of the series (The Wind Waker was a major exception), but I understand that a lot of other people do, and I think that’s terrific.

I have not had that the kind of experience I got from The Legend of Zelda from many other things since the era of the NES, but two places I did get it from were Breath of the Wild, of course, and Fez. I hear Tunic‘s pretty good, I probably should look into that soon….

Some more images, from various materials related to the first game. All are from this Flickr album, and were uploaded (and many of them, scanned) by Melora of History of Hyrule:

Publication Source: Million Publishing Guide – Contributor Source: Zelda Dungeon

Publication Source: 3 Game Guide
Contributor Source: Donated by Mases of Zelda Dungeon
Originally found in the comic magazine Monthly Shonen Captain May 18, 1986, discovered thanks to
Found by kazzykazcom on Twitter, unknown origin
Source: From the The Legend of Zelda: The Mirage Castle by Akio Higuchi and Yuko Tanaka, 1986