Tag Archives: bbs

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 analyzed the dates of every message in the Ozzmosis archive, and 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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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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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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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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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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Introducing my new game, “Doubles”

Remember how I mentioned in a previous post that I was writing two new BBS doors? One was called “Jewel Mountain,” an experimental project I’m making for my daughter; the other was “Sports Stats,” which would let users see standings and scores for baseball and basketball.

Well, a third project came up and leapfrogged those two. I’m calling it “Doubles,” and if you have a Synchronet BBS, you can download and install it right now from my GitHub.

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