Tag Archives: emulation

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

UPDATE (2020-09-03): In the years since I wrote this blog post, I have found some ways to improve this process. Please read my new tutorial on how to telnet to a BBS using a terminal inside the Hatari emulator.

When I was a kid calling BBSes, I used an Atari ST computer. But I seldom used the ST’s native terminal mode: VT-52.

The reason is simple. Atari’s VT-52 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.

PC BBSes with their colorful ANSI graphics were dominant in the early to mid-1990s, while Atari BBSes were dying out. Since I was mostly calling PC boards in those days, I used a terminal program called “ANSIterm” which could display ANSI graphics on the Atari ST using special tricks.

I’ve been thinking about Space Empire Elite, one of the first BBS door games I ever played. SEE was written for Atari ST BBSes. It supported VT-52 as well as plain ASCII, but not ANSI. But I had never seen it in VT-52. How would it have looked? I was curious.

Continue reading