Tag Archives: emulation

Hatari, Lantronix, and CosmosEx: My quixotic quest to play “Thieves Guild”

Allow me introduce you to the “Thieves Guild Emulator,” a graphical front-end client for the Atari ST BBS game “Thieves Guild.”

(Update: I have replaced the original video I posted with a new version that includes the game’s sound effects, as well as some gory combat)

It took me a long time to reach the point where I could make that video. In this blog post, I’m going to explain that journey. I’ll also tell you a bit about the game itself. In fact, maybe that’s where I should begin.

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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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Emulation is time travel

Some say time travel is impossible. But they are wrong. You don’t need Doc Brown and a DeLorean; all you need is an emulator.

Lately I’ve been using DOSBox, an awesome cross-platform IBM PC emulator, to try some old BBS utilities from the 1990s.

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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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