Tag Archives: ansi

Who needs SVG when you’ve got ANSI?

Presidential election years are great times to work at a news organization. As a designer at a newspaper, I love to explore the cool election maps developed by folks at places like the New York Times or the Guardian.

FiveThirtyEight's Election Forecast map

My favorite is probably the 2016 Election Forecast from FiveThirtyEight.com, which is full of cool visualizations, and great analysis.

The explosion of great apps like this is made possible by modern libraries like D3.js, and formats like SVG. But what if you took away all the visual horsepower?

What would a retro BBS version of such an app look like, with all the inherent limitations of an ancient terminal: few colors (16, with caveats), low resolution (80×24), etc ?

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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.

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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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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Birthday screens using GIF -> ANSI converters

Earlier this year I set up my very own Synchronet BBS. I had been a cosysop for many years as a kid, but I never had my own BBS on my own hardware.

My little BBS is a private one for me and my kids. My oldest daughter uses it the most.

As we got deeper into summer, I thought it would be fun to make some special ANSI birthday screens for my daughters to see when they logged in.

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Telnet to a BBS using a PC terminal program within the DOSBox emulator

Login screen for Digital Distortion BBS as seen in Telemate under DOSBox.

Login screen for Digital Distortion BBS as seen in Telemate under DOSBox.

A few months ago I wrote about my experiences trying to telnet in to Atari BBSes using an emulated Atari on my Mac.

Basically the solution boiled down to this: Use tcpser4j to change a telnet connection to a serial connection, use socat to pipe that serial connection to a file, and set the Hatari emulator to use that file as a virtual RS232 device. After those steps, I could run my favorite old Atari ST terminal programs like ANSIterm and Freeze Dried Terminal.

Recently I decided I wanted to do the same thing with a DOS emulator like DOSBox — but for different reasons.

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bobross

Video: “The Joy of ASCII with Bob Ross”

This awesome new YouTube parody is like nostalgia squared. It imagines the late painter Bob Ross … if he had been an ANSI artist instead (though the video calls it “ASCII” art).

If that whetted your appetite for more ANSI, then check out 8BitMUSH, an intruigingly retro virtual world.

Telnet to a BBS using a terminal program in the Hatari emulator

When I was a kid calling BBSes, I used an Atari ST computer. However, I rarely if ever used the Atari’s native terminal mode: VT52.

The reason is simple. Atari’s VT52 mode offered only 4 colors in medium resolution. PC clones, however had an 80×25 mode with 16 colors and special graphics characters. This was known as ANSI.

ANSI graphics were prevalent on BBSes in the early to mid-1990s. VT52 was not. So I stuck to a program called “ANSIterm” which could approximate ANSI graphics on the Atari using some special tricks.

Anyway, in recent weeks I’ve been thinking about Space Empire Elite, one of the first BBS door games I ever played. SEE was an Atari ST BBS game and did not support ANSI, so I always played it in plain ASCII mode.

How did SEE look in its native VT52 mode? I was curious. But I was also unsure how I might go about experiencing it in VT52 today.

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