Unearthed: Dark Fortress for the Atari ST

The title screen from the Atari ST game “Dark Fortress”

Hey Atari ST fans! Want to play something new?

Today I’m happy to share “Dark Fortress,” a previously unreleased game written by Herb Flower for the Atari ST in the late 1980s.

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Unearthed: My Atari 8-bit cassette tape

Side 1 of an old cassette tape I used to store programs for my Atari 8-bit computers.

Last weekend, I was rummaging through my old Atari ST disks when I came across something I hadn’t noticed in 30 years: A cassette tape for my Atari 8-bit.

As I have recounted before, I used hand-me-down Atari 800s, a 130XE, a 410 program recorder, and lots of other equipment and disks from family members when I was a kid before later graduating to the 16-bit ST series. Alas, I got rid of most of it when I was in college.

But here was this little tape … perhaps my only tangible link to my old Atari 8-bit equipment.

Each side of the tape was only 10 minutes long. What was on it?

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Slack API documentation mentions BBS door games

Screenshot of Slack API example that includes list of 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!

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.

Gary Martin, creator of “TradeWars 2002”

Gary Martin created TradeWars 2002, “the granddaddy of all BBS games” which has been played by tens of thousands of enthusiasts around the world.

Gary Martin

In this interview, Martin discusses rocking the University of Kansas campus as a DJ, founding Martech Software, and running one of the biggest bulletin board systems. He also describes two tantalizing projects that never came to fruition: “TradeWars 2112” and “Draconis”.

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Archiving 300,000 Fidonet messages

In 2015, I began looking for archives of networked BBS messageboards, hoping to find contemporary discussions of BBS door games from the 1990s. The best source I found was the fidonet.ozzmosis.com archive.

The Ozzmosis archive is awesome — and it’s still active, archiving any new messages posted to Fidonet. (yes, Fidonet still exists!) But I quickly realized the archive was heavily weighted to the new millenium. I put my data scraping skill to work, analyzing the dates of every message in the Ozzmosis archive. I found that only 7% of the archive was from years prior to 2000.

That realization set me on a search. I began visiting long-running BBSes, looking for caches of old Fidonet messages.

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Using high res on my Atari STe with the CosmosEx and a wire

This image shows a CosmosEx screencast of an Atari Mega STe in high resolution.

Throughout my Atari ST-owning life, I have only ever owned Atari’s color monitor, the SC1224. It can display two of the ST’s video modes: low resolution (320×200, 16 colors) and medium resolution (640×200, 4 colors).

The Atari also had a 640×400 high resolution mode, but it required a different monochrome monitor.

I never had one, but recently I came across some high-res software I wanted to test. What to do?

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Modding an iPod 3G to use a CompactFlash card

interior of the iPod 3G, showing the CF card

This year my family was planning to take a trip to South America. As we prepared, I was struck by the idea of fixing up my old iPod 3G so that the kids could use it to listen to music while we traveled.

I’m talking about my 15-year old touch-wheel iPod 3G. The battery has long been shot, and I have had trouble with the hard drive over the years.

I found quite a few tutorials online about how to install a new battery, as well as some which explained how to replace the hard drive with a CompactFlash card. Sweet! Sounded like a great way to soup up some old hardware: better battery life, more durability, and lighter-weight.

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New ANSImation: Star Trek: The Trouble With The Rangifer Tarandus

In December, I created a new ANSI animation for the holidays called “Star Trek: The Trouble With The Rangifer Tarandus”, which was released in Blocktronics’ “Darker Image #2” artpack.

Here’s a video version of the ANSImation:

But (as always), the best way to view this is to use SyncTerm to connect to my BBS, Guardian of Forever, and watch it there.

So far, each of my ANSImations have been a way to try a new technique in ANSI, whether that’s parallax scrolling, perspective transforms, or whatever. This time was no exception.

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Web browsing on the Atari ST with a CosmosEx

This screenshot shows CAB rendering my personal website. This instance of CAB is running on an Atari Mega STe.

Probably the best retrocomputing purchase I’ve made in recent years is the CosmosEx, a cool peripheral for Atari ST, STe, TT, and Falcon computers.

Soon after I bought it, creator Jookie added “screencasting”, a feature which lets you control your Atari remotely through a web browser. Amazing!

Around that time, Jookie was also working on a replacement STiNG-compatible internet driver. The idea was to provide TCP-IP to the Atari through the CosmosEx. Internet apps which support STiNG, such as CAB, the Crystal Atari Browser, would “just work.”

Fast-forward to this week. I decided to see if Jookie ever got the drivers were working. Turns out he did!

Keep reading to see how I set everything up.

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