Category Archives: Uncategorized

Appreciating the physicality of floppies

As I continue imaging and curating a collection of Apple II software I received last year, I have an increased appreciation for the importance of preserving physical floppy disks.

Multiple labels and overwriting are visible in this scan of an old 5.25″ floppy disk.

I have a floppy which contains a copy of a game called “Nosh Kosh.” To preserve the game digitally, Keith Hacke created a “disk image”, which in this case is a .DSK file that can be played in Apple II emulators.

Hopefully these digital disk images will endure online and in archives long after the last magnetic particles have flaked off the original physical floppy.

But the floppy still has important physical artifacts, particularly the labels.

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“Creaks” scene 45: Goat glitch

This screenshot shows the player character on top of a glitched goat in Scene 45 of “Creaks.”

I have long loved playing games by Amanita Design with my kids, particularly “Machinarium.” They create such stellar worlds with interesting characters, without a single word of intelligible dialogue.

So it was like Christmas in January when I read on Twitter that Amanita had released a game called “Creaks” in 2020, and somehow I had missed the news.

I downloaded it and played through it with my son. It’s a wonderful game: eerie and detailed, with fun puzzles. I managed to solve all the puzzles myself except one.

The game has been out for quite a while, so I’m not going to review it, but I did want to share a glitch/bug that I came across while playing Scene 45.

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A different way to play, part 5: TWTerm

This is the fifth installment in my series “A different way to play” about front-end clients for BBS door games.

TWTerm

TWTerm

I was never a very good TradeWars 2002 player. Sure I would trade, hunt for the StarDock, and fight other players — but I was probably just cannon fodder for the serious players. (Check out the textfile Slice’s War Manual, an incredibly detailed guide to TradeWars, for a taste of what the good players were doing.)

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A different way to play, part 4: GTERM

This is the fourth installment in my series “A different way to play” about front-end clients for BBS door games.

GTERM

GTERM was a front-end for Land of Devastation that enabled an SVGA-resolution interface with graphics, music, and sound effects.

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A different way to play, part 3: OOIITERM

This is the third installment in my series “A different way to play” about front-end clients for BBS door games.

OOIITERM

OOIITERM (also called “Overkill Ansiterm”) was a front-end for Operation Overkill II. Its purpose was to render the game’s interface instantly for users who had slow modems. It also offered optional SoundBlaster sound effects.

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A different way to play, part 2: Pit Terminal

This is the second installment in my series “A different way to play” about front-end clients for BBS door games.

Pit Terminal

A session of “The Pit” as seen in PitTerm.

James Berry’s The Pit was an action game in which players could fight each other in gladiatorial combat. In the normal ANSI version of the game, the player character and his opponent are each represented onscreen by the symbol Ω, the Greek letter omega, which some players remember today as “the little horseshoe”. The player moves this symbol around the arena using the arrow keys, engaging in close or long-range combat as desired.

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A different way to play: front-ends

This is the first installment in my series “A different way to play” about front-end clients for BBS door games.

Silent. Simple. Social.

I think that’s how most people remember BBS door games. They think of quaint multiplayer, turn-based, text games. The games’ lack of sophisticated graphics, music, and sound effects are probably considered flaws. Their social aspect is remembered fondly — it was door games’ primary advantage and marketable difference over video games in the 1980s and 90s.

Today I’d like to dig deep and consider those “flaws.” How did the limitations of BBS technology shape door games? How did door game authors work around those limitations?

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

A screenshot of ANSIterm running in the Hatari emulator.

I’ve written in the past about my adventures telnetting to BBSes from terminal programs running inside the Hatari emulator. I’ve made some changes in my process and I thought it would be good to explain everything, step-by-step. It’s not for the novice, but it is rewarding.

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Slack API documentation mentions BBS door games

I discovered tonight that Slack’s API documentation has a page which uses a list of BBS door games as an example of how to create option fields.

Pretty wild. I would love to know who was responsible for that. Whoever you are, my hat’s off to you!

Screenshot of Slack API example that includes list of BBS door games.

Fidonet archive update

A couple updates with regard to the 300,000 FidoNet messages I archived.

First, I have added my FidoNet message cache as a new Break Into Chat “Special Collection” (similar to the existing AtasciiTube, Door World Magazine, and BBS podcasts collections). I have included a lot supplemental material that adds context; as well as a Python parser that can convert the ExecPC message scrape into individual Fidonet .MSG files.

Second, it appears that Andrew Clarke’s fidonet.ozzmosis.com archive is gone. It has been down for months, unfortunately. It contained millions of messages. While copies of this data still exist inside the Wayback Machine, this is a major loss.

UPDATE: As noted in a comment below, Glenn Rossi managed to save most of the Ozzmosis Fidonet archive before it went down. He is hosting it on the Message Archive section of his BBS Resource Site, along with more than 2 million Usenet messages and other goodies. He is also continuing the work of saving new FidoNet messages (yes, people are still posting to FidoNet!) as they are written.