My first ANSI portrait

This animated GIF shows some of the steps along the way to making an ANSI portrait of my daughter.

This animated GIF shows some of the steps along the way to making an ANSI portrait of my daughter.

This summer, my daughter Ludi finally learned to ride her bike. She was the first of my four kids to do it.

This dad milestone impacted me enough that I felt moved to try drawing my first ANSI portrait. I have dabbled with drawing ANSI in the past, but mostly lettering or simple icons.

I drew the whole thing by hand (though I traced the initial outlines from a photo), and honestly it came out better than I imagined. Thanks to the guys in Blocktronics for encouragement. I’m sure my updates on this portrait seemed out of place in their FB group among all other stuff they’re working on.

Anyway, here’s an animated GIF showing some of the major steps along the way to the finished ANSI image.

Converting movie clips to ANSImation

ANSIfied clip from 'The Force Awakens'

Recently I’ve been captivated by the idea of taking video clips and converting them into ANSImations, then making them playable on my BBS.

There are other, better converters, but I wrote my own in Python. It’s called Ansify.

If you’d like to see the results, telnet to my BBS, Guardian of Forever right now! telnet://guardian.synchro.net

In the Externals section, you’ll see an entry called “ANSI Movies.” The ANSI Movie Player will allow you to watch clips I’ve converted from films like “Star Wars”, “The Matrix”, and “The Hobbit”.

There are two versions of each clip. One is designed to be played at standard 80×24 mode. But if you connect at 132×60 mode, you’ll be able to see more detailed, higher resolution versions.

I recommend using SyncTerm as your telnet client. It supports 132×60, and also has the correct colors. If you try this from a stock Windows or Linux command line, the colors (particularly brown) will not look right.

Jon Radoff, creator of “Space Empire Elite” and “Final Frontier”

Jon Radoff is an internet entrepreneur whose career has gone from dial-up to “Beam me up.”

Jon Radoff Headshot

Radoff broke into the gaming business as a teen, writing the BBS door games Space Empire Elite and Final Frontier for the Atari ST in the late 1980s. He built one of the original commercial games on the internet, and founded several gaming and net-related companies since then.

These days he’s the CEO of Disruptor Beam. The company’s latest game, Star Trek Timelines was released for Android and iOS on Jan. 16.

Space Empire Elite is probably the first BBS door game I played as a kid. Did you ever play? Share your memories in the comments. Want to try these old games today? I’ve included links to BBSes at the end.

This interview was conducted by Skype on Jan. 29. It has been edited for length and clarity.

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ANSI mermaid swims in parallax

I made it into an artpack!

It’s no exaggeration to say that as a kid I always admired the guys in the artscene. I saw their work from afar, and they inspired me to dabble in ANSI myself. I didn’t produce anything memorable, and I certainly never tried anything ambitious, like a character portrait.

So I never imagined I’d have anything make it into an artpack. But 20 years later, somehow it has happened!

ANSI mermaid animation

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“From Here to Eternity” launches today

From Here To Eternity

Shooter Jennings’ new BBS door game, “From Here to Eternity” officially launches today, Sept. 28, 2015.

As Jennings told me in our interview, he is offering 1 Bitcoin (approximately $240) as a prize to the “the first player to pass through The Coil (the final gate) with all 20 artifacts.”

The game will last for 30 days, or until someone wins.

You can access Bit Sunrise BBS and play the game over the web using a browser-based client at bitsunrise.com.

If you want a more authentic experience, then fire up a terminal program like SyncTerm, and telnet to bitsunrise.com.

And don’t forget to read my interview with Shooter. We talked about BBSing, retrocomputing, and how writing “From Here to Eternity” helped him after the loss of a close friend.

Shooter Jennings, creator of “From Here to Eternity”

Not many folks are developing new BBS door games these days. But one of the few is Shooter Jennings, who is currently beta testing his game, “From Here to Eternity” on his BBS, Bit Sunrise (Web, Telnet). Make sure you visit his board and try the game!

Jennings is best known for his musical career. The only son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, Shooter began his musical career with the rock band Stargunn in 2001, then released his first solo record, “Put the ‘O’ Back in Country” in 2005.

As he explains during our discussion, Jennings worked with computers from a young age. Later in life, he even developed a point-and-click adventure game in Flash to accompany his album ‘Black Ribbons.’

This interview was conducted by Skype on Sept. 16, 2015. It has been edited for length and clarity.

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Talking BBSes on the Electric Dreams podcast

Earlier this year, a new BBS-related podcast debuted: Electric Dreams.

Host Mike Whalen emailed me to invite me onto the show, and of course I said yes. He interviewed me in March, and I understand he also interviewed other folks like Ken Gagne. The podcast series debuted later that month, and it sounded great!

Unfortunately, it only lasted a few episodes. New opportunities took away Mike’s free time, and that was that. Real life has a habit of getting in the way of BBS projects. I know that all too well in my own life.

My episode never saw the light of day. … Until now!

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ANSI tile map

A screenshot from my ANSI tile map experiment. The map requires a 132x60 terminal window.

A screenshot from my ANSI tile map experiment. The map requires a 132×60 terminal window.

Earlier this year I described how we used Synchronet’s Javascript support plus its Frame and Sprite libraries to produce some pretty cool ANSI animation effects, including a sprite walking in front of a parallax-scrolling background.

Recently I’ve been experimenting with how to make maps.

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Parallax-scrolling effect … in ANSI

This animated GIF shows an animated ANSI sprite walking in front of a parallax-scrolling forest background.

This animated GIF shows an animated ANSI sprite walking in front of a parallax-scrolling forest background.

Every so often I’ve been experimenting with Synchronet BBS’s Javascript capabilities, as I try to figure out how to make a BBS door game with my daughter.

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Merry Christmas … Atari STyle

A screen from the ACE-St. Louis 1987 Christmas demo, captured from the Hatari emulator.

A screen from the ACE-St. Louis 1987 Christmas demo, captured from the Hatari emulator.

One of the Atari ST’s unique features was its MIDI interface.

I never learned to play any instruments as a kid, but I have a feeling that if I had had an electronic keyboard to hook up to the Atari, things might have turned out differently.

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