Interactive Fiction and the Lure of Packaging

Voodoo Island

If I recall what really set the hook in the lure of Interactive Fiction for me, it was Voodoo Island by Angelsoft. There were several items of note going for it to make it memorable for me. It was the first Interactive Fiction that I played that was retail software. It had a box with mysterious graphics, and full documentation and flavor text. This was the first time I saw original consumer entertainment software for the Apple II and the packaging that came with it. Just for the record, I would like to note that the time frame here is 1985 and by that time I have been exclusive with Apple II computers for around 8 years.

(Except that one time I had a dirty weekend with my best friends Timex Sinclair, but I NEVER talk about that.)

(I’m serious. It meant nothing to me.)

So running eight years on bootleg software didn’t mean the same thing back then. It wasn’t like I was an underprivileged kid that had to play little league in jeans. Everybody was running a bootleg of something.  It’s just that I had only had a peek at Xeroxed documentation in binders and hand written to dot matrix labels on disks for nearly every piece of software that I owned that didn’t actually come with an Apple II. Packaged Interactive Fiction, well, this was something seductive!

There were so many things here that fed my teenage love of horror fiction and left me working out how Voodoo actually produced zombies on tropical islands. It would be years before The Serpent and the Rainbow would be out, and for now this was the next best thing.  My eyes got lost searching the visual information on the cover; far away Caribbean islands, cryptic symbols, blood-red Voodoo Priestess,  and a shadowy figure at the top of the image who looks as if he is pondering whether or not to tell you to go get your shine box.

Picture of Voodoo Island Interactive Fiction

Featuring Dennis Farina as Dr. Beauvais!  Now go get your shine box.

The Apple II computer was a treasure trove of Interactive Fiction. It was awe-inspiring to me. It was the act of communicating with an inanimate object. I know I was just a boy the first time I experienced that with a cassette tape of  “Dungeon”. It was a strange feeling to be told that you could ask the program to do things and it would respond in a complete sentence. Not a flashing light, or blip to be interpreted. Just plain and simple sentences that would help you form better choices if you made an error. Just by the act of engaging in this activity, you immediately felt important. I really enjoyed exploring the stories and finding the clues. I spent so many hours in different realities: Akalabeth, Transylvania, Race to Midnight, The Wizard and the Princess, Deadline. It became comforting to me, the feel of the keyboard and the glow as I tried to decide the next course of action. The mechanical pencils and graph paper to devise my map. Damn few people even had access to computers, and here I was toying with one and having it respond to my wishes, and that computer may or may not understand me. It never got frustrated. It would chide me to watch my language. It patiently blinked the cursor waiting for my next line.

Forever if need be.

I don’t know why, but I never finished Voodoo Island.

I came across the original disk in my physical floppy disk box the other day, and now I want to revisit the adventure.

Voodoo Island was developed in-house by Angelsoft, Inc. and published by Mindscape. They had a number of other conceptually easy to recognize titles as well including Stephen King’s The Mist, a couple of James Bond titles, a Indiana Jones title and an offering called Forbidden Castle.  These were released during a short span of 1985-1987.

There is a You Tube video of a partial play-through available to see in stunning 1080p is you so desire!

Actual Voodoo Island Gameplay!

Interactive Fiction Software

I was hoping to find a version that I could play in an IF interpreter. As of this writing I have not found it, which means that I will have to play an image of the original disk. I still like playing on original hardware, but the rise of the Interactive Fiction interpreters is wonderful.

The two interpreters that I have experience with are Gargoyle and Frotz. I like both of the platforms and both have their usefulness.  What I really like about both of these interpreters is that you can set the background , foreground, and font in the windows to add an extra layer of authenticity to the adventure at hand.  Both interpreters are fairly platform independent and when you combine their powers with the Interactive Fiction Archive, well, then you have something.  Between the two interpreters there are a bounty of IF adventures for you to explore.

But wait!  There’s More!

Back in my youth, as I explored tropical islands, possibly subjecting myself to becoming the hunted as I searched for escape, I had to carefully keep track of where I had been using a pencil and paper, that I would erase and re-copy in the hopes of keeping it from becoming convoluted.  Sometime I would fail and have to remap my surroundings.

These days, that’s a thing of the past!

Enter my favorite Interactive Fiction appliance, Trizbort.  Holy mackerel, how did I ever adventure without a real-time IF mapper keeping track of my stumbling exploration?  Trizbort is for PC only but Trizbort points out that there are many other mappers out there, and I am sure that one can find something comparable for other platforms.

You know, I never really knew why Interactive Fiction never stayed mainstream as a digital entertainment choice.  I am just glad that the genre is still productive and there are more than enough titles to keep me busy for the rest of my stay on this planet.

Joystick Restoration Video

When I did my joystick restoration, I also wanted to try to document it.  I am finding the video part challenging as I have little experience in this and am trying to find a method that is not too time consuming and give me a modicum of experience.  SO I guess, the video is also part of the experiment.  I also plan to do this for the other Apple II restorations that are upcoming.

My first battle is with the editing software I am using to piece together my splices.  The second battle I have is searching for a plugin that works well for self hosting video and at some point I would like to display as well, but I think I am getting into a can of worms supporting OS and browser variations.  Third, I am still struggling with my methods of rendering video and need good way to host the video and or stream the video as the Quick time movie below is lengthy to download, but for those who do I applaud and thank you for your patience.

Apple Joystick Restoration

Retr0brite Experiment: Final Results

I have the Retr0brite experiment final results.  I woke up this morning and went into the Apple II Lab to see what was cooking.  What I found was the body of my joystick control covered in a crusty Retr0Brite shell.  I gathered a bowl of water and began deglazing the components and giving them a final clean.  I have to say I have found the process to be a worth while venture and am eager to begin the next project.  What do you need to know?  The process is easy, you can get all the information you need to know from Merlin at the Retr0brite Wiki, there is no stink, no nasty chemicals, and now I am positive that the weaker 3% solution is just as effective.  I think that for me the hardest supply to find was a uv light source. I snagged it at Wal*Mart for $10.00.

Image demonstrating Retr0brite Experiment Before and After

This image dramatically displays the transformation from abused to beauty.

Having worked out all the hitches in my Retr0brite experiment and confident that the next process will be very smooth, I am looking forward to what fate may have in store for me by the means of my poll.  In addition to documenting the process with pictures, I am also interested in making a time lapse series of the days I spend refurbishing the next machine.  And I am very eager to see the results I am imagining right now.  You can see more of the results on my Retr0brite Flickr set.  If you are interested you can also help decide what the next thing I Retr0brite will be:

Retr0brite Experiment: The Practice Session

As the results of my polls trickle in, I have been experimenting with Retr0Brite.  My idea is to have a dry run that allows me to work the bugs out of my process before making a formal post.  I am glad that I did, because I am focusing on the process and finding little hitches and solutions to those problems.  I have been taking photos, finding ways into nooks and crannies, and the value of a good art eraser.

I am having a time putting my time lapse films together.  It’s a another process that I have to master and as I continue with trial and error, hopefully I can put together something suitable for viewing.

Picure of Retr0brite mixture.

Preparing a guesstimated mix of Retr0brite.

The Retr0brite recipe that I am using is Merlin’s original formula.  I have some ClaireOxide Volume 40 coming  (soon hopefully) that is going to act as a fairly concentrated source of H2O2 but until then I am using an off the shelf 3% solution.

The first batch I mixed was all guesstimation because I used few instruments to measure.  I took photos, made a film, and cleaned the hell out of a classic Apple II joystick body.  Looking on it this morning, there was improvement, but my forulation was all wrong and I implemented a postage scale to help me get a better ratio.  This second batch was like meringue and was thick, thanks in part to the right amount of xanthan gum and oxy clean.

I’ve posted some pictures of my practice on my Flickr Apple II picture collection.

The second time around I also employed a mirror to help reduce lost photons.  Hopefully this practice session will help be do a quality job on the hardware.

Again, I invite you to participate in the poll that decides the machine that gets the treatment. Vote Early. Vote Often.

Apple II Restoration

I am writing this post from my office, an office that has functioned as some sort of unorganized, dystopian war room for the better part of a year.  I realized what I needed was a APple II restoration project.  My home office environment has been completely Apple II free for the majority of this past time, as I occupied myself with other facets of my life as were necessary, and completely not as interesting as Apple II’s are to me, and, probably you, since you are taking the time to read this post.  You might be thinking, “Why such a big delay in getting on with the Apple II stuff, Dan?” although, you might be thinking, “At some point in history, one brain named itself ‘the brain‘ and all the other brains agreed.”  I don’t know why you would think something like that, though.

You’re weird.

The big log jam was the China trip I made last September.  I have spent a fair amount of time overseas, and typically don’t sweat travel too much.   Although I played Cool Hand Luke about the trip, I was kind of stressed because I never had traveled Asia before, nor a Communist country.  Everything worked out despite the demonstrations in the city I was in, and now I feel like I could go anywhere and not worry too much about it.

So now that the months of work related travel stress have subsided, it’s time for the Apple II restoration to begin.  I have been considering this for a couple of weeks now, and like many things I will probably make this more complicated than it has to be.  For some people, this would be a matter of collecting the Apple II parts, plugging them in and “Shazam!” you’re all set.   Well, let me correct that:  For some people, it would me a matter of collecting the Apple II parts, putting them into deep storage until you thought about them at some later date and then try to part them out on eBay for $350.00 per component because they are a) RARE!!, b) STEVE JOBS, and c) MINT.

I want to do a complete Apple II Restoration of my fleet.  These are my criteria of putting a machine back into service in my area:

CLEAN.  When I first got my hands on one of these beauties, often I was so excited, I half-assed the cleaning of the machine.  I did an OK job, but it could be better.  I want to test the boundaries of how much better it could be.  I want to do a complete tear down, create a discrepancy list of items I notice, and clean all parts thoroughly. Cleaning is the first step in Apple II restoration, my friends.

REPAIR.  I know there are a few solder joints that need attention and I want to be on the look out for problems I might not have seen.  I want the connections to be solid.  I have to admit that although I do have a background in manufacturing, some repairs I face in this Apple II restoration project are going to take some research.  Which I actually enjoy, and it gives mme a nother excuse the growing online archives for information and the realization that some information may be lost forever.

Retr0Brite.  I have been planning on making a batch of Retr0Brite for a while.  I look forward to using this effective but gentle solution.  I have gathered in most of the ingredients I need for a full on Apple II restoration.  In fact, the only component of the recipe I plan to use that I am missing is Xanthan Gum.  I should be able to get that in the next couple of days.  I have to admit, I do like asking the cashiers at the local grocery, “Where the hell you keep the Xanthan Gum at?” in combination with an ignorant look.  Pro tip:  The Xanthan Gum is not next to the Trident and Dentyne.

I want to spend time on a single unit, and picking the machine to start with is the toughest.  My choices are Apple II Plus, Apple IIe, Apple IIc+, Apple II GS, and Apple IIe Platinum.  As far as the usage of this fine line up, the Apple IIe Platinum is my daily driver, followed closely by the Apple II GS.  As far as the effects of what this process may be able to do for these tools the Apple IIe is by far the worst for discoloration.  This is my original machine, used daily for years and even made it’s way to a college campus with my brother in 1991 where papers were written on it.  It still shows the signs of being in a heavy smoker’s environment and could benefit the most dramatically from this cleaning process.  My first inclination is to do the Apple IIe Platinum as I use it the most and it has a serial number engraved in it’s side that I refer to as its Prison Tat.

I would like to document the process and have several ideas on showing the result of the effort, all of which I would like to post here.  I think rebuilding my Apple II is going to be way fun and I’m looking forward to sharing a bit about that with you.  As always, I welcome any suggestions of tips you may have about the process as I go through it.  I know that a blog can be a seriously one-sided conversation, but I try to avoid discussions as much as possible and try to spend as much time as possible in the dialog range, so feel free to share what you like and I will respond appropriately.

The Xanith Diskette Company Sub Net

This past weekend was entertaining to me, as  all real hobbies should be.  There was a lot that I pondered as I researched facts, organized my physical media (like the original Xanith Diskette Company disk) to virtual images, and experimented with my processes.  Lets talk about the set up first:

The Apples that were prominent this weekend were the Apple IIgs, which has dominated my landscape since I first booted it up.  Deep down in my grungy 8-bit heart, I realize it’s too versatile to ignore.  It was acting as a platform for ADTPro and was connected to my Ubuntu platform via Uthernet card.  This was depositing the resulting images into my Dropbox folder so that the images would be propagated across 5 separate computers and a server.  Then I got the idea to fire up my IIe, connected to the network with yet another Uthernet  card, and communicating with a separate instance of ADTPro on another computer that was also depositing the resulting image into a Dropbox folder.  The resulting process was awesome, as I was limited in copying floppies by my physical ability to insert the media and name the disk images.  I was strewing antique bits all over my network and beyond!

Somewhere in this activity I stopped to look over some of my old Newsroom files.  Newsroom was a successful desktop publishing software offering from Springboard.  The idea is that you are the editor of a newspaper and create content, place clip art, do the layout and print up the results.  I consider this software to be my first blog, as I often used it to create family newsletters.  It was amazing to go back in time a see that I had used this tool on the Apple IIe as late as 1994 to create a newsletter.  This made me think about the possibilities of creating me material with this application.  Something, that I will look closer into, as I think I have a way to create a Newsroom product without too much hassle.

I have also been interested in starting a Apple Cat II board, just for the hell of it, but again I am getting into tangents. I was thinking about a SynchroNet BBS I had for a while called The Xanith Diskette Company Sub Net. There wasn’t a lot of activity, mostly me and my brother screwing around on it while he was overseas. I have a good idea about a theme for the board, and you may say that’s dated or whatnot, but what I liked about some of the Apple Boards is that they carried a theme sometimes and it seemed to make it a more interesting place. I don’t know what I will use the board for exactly, and I guess that would depend if I could get a few users. I have this idea that I can’t determine that is would be some sort of software collective type situation, for anything you could create on the Apple II platform. And I mean anything. It’s fun to bang around on an acient platform, but it’s even more fun when you can show your work, and maybe learn a thing or two in the process. Don’t look for it, because like so many others, the Xanith Company Sub Net is gone for now, and that’s a shame. Why? Well, I wanted animate some ASCII and I ended up making the Intro page for their diskettes. I thought I would share it.  If you want to run it on real hardware, you will need 80-columns available.

You can download a disk image or you can launch it in your Browser.

Download Xanith Sub Net Intro disk (Right Click => Save Link As).

Launch Xanith Subnet Intro floppy in Browser

Extreme closeup of The Xanith Diskette Company floppy disk.

Xanith Diskette Company Serial Number PT001, 1982

Floppy Disk Transfer

I am continuing the archival floppy disk transfer of my Apple II disks.  I go from disk to disk and when I find one that was used as data storage, I jump ahead of my planned procedure and look at the data.  I can’t help it.  I am an AppleWorks guy when it comes to vintage Apple II Word Processing, although someday I’d like to make some notes as to other varieties.  The reason is simply that I “got” AppleWorks when I was using it and there wasn’t a lot of hidden commands to remember to get it to do the basic things you needed done.  This is the transcript of an .AWP file I came across an unlabeled floppy whose disk directory was entitled “Storage”.

*                    *                    *

     The first time I was crazy I lay in the floor for hours.  It was the first time I listened to my own laughter, staring across the stained floor of my dormitory room, through the shards of broken glass, the fourteen mattresses of my bed casting the hazy afternoon sun’s shadow on me.  there was always the footsteps of people walking outside the square hall, passing the room, and I had lain there so long I could recognize who they were by the sound of their gait.  In the morning, whichever morning it was that I had waken, I smashed the bottle of Southern Comfort that was in my bed against the other bottles collecting in my room.  That was the last thing I actually did.  At least that was the last thing I actually remember.

That was years ago.

Maybe it was years ago, because I can only remember today, and the dreams I had last night.  I only allow myself to remember today and the dreams.  I doubt I could survive if I didn’t.  And yesterday?  What of yesterday?

Yesterday was only true at the time.  To guide your life by the things you said or believed yesterday can only lead to your ruin.  People don’t.  Oh sure, they say the things you remember them saying yesterday or six weeks ago, but they never mean them.  Not as much as when it first occurred to them.  When they repeat it, it’s more for the sake of their own nostalgia, for if they have a past, then somehow they become more real today.  I haven’t had that problem since I got up off the floor.

That wasn’t the letter William really planned to send to his mother.  He really didn’t even know why he wrote it.  Today, however, he knew that it was the pen trying to betray him.  Pens always had that characteristic and given the least chance, they could always lead to your undoing.  Time and care went into everything William wrote or said.  Oh yes, William knew that the tongue was just as difficult a compatriot as the pen, but to survive you just had to know how to coax them into submission.

William lifted the pages from his writing tablet and removed them.  He took the next blank page, tore it out and ripped it up.  Carrying the pages that the pen had written, he went to the closet, unlocked it, and took out the milk crate where he kept the papers that other pens had written.  When he had the new pages filed, he locked the closet, and went back to the kitchen table to throw the treacherous pen away.

He stopped by the refrigerator and looked in at milk containers.  There were twelve of them and they were the only objects in the refrigerator, besides a dozen or so avocados that rolled sightly on the shelf.  They used to be filled with milk but now they contained avocado juice.  It had taken him hours to fill the containers.  He used the money from the last paycheck he received from being Kroger’s bag boy to buy an electric juicer.  William poured himself a glass of the thick, green liquid and wondered why he hadn’t realized years ago that all life runs on simple sugars, and that must be the easiest fuel for the body to break down.  With all the wear and tear he would save by only consuming simple sugars, he may live forever.  He tried the same principle last week with beer, but he couldn’t remember much about it except the vomit.  There was still a stain on the couch he couldn’t remove.

*                     *                   *

I have no idea where I was going with that story,  I think that the gist of it was a exercise showing a writer slowly losing his sanity and bringing everyone around him into the void.  Now that I’m older, there’s not a lot of appeal to following this start through.  People can get it into their minds, how things are going to be in the world, and sometimes they have no basis.  It can be a painful process to watch, and the worst part is the ability of the mind to rationalize.  You mind wants everything to have a reason, and if no reason is apparent, it will create it’s own reasons that actions have transpired, which is just as illogical as the original series of events.

You know, I like the tautology of that last thought.

Maybe I will continue the story.

State of the Apples

I have had quite a bit of Apple II activity, but haven’t written about it.  I feel that I should make an entry, though, for two reasons.  The first reason is to solidify amorphous, ephemeral, short term project ideas I have.  The second is to share them with you, and maybe get a random comment that lets me see things from a different perspective.

Let’s talk about how and what I am working.  I have the IIGS up and running and am primarily using it to transfer actual Apple II disks in to disk images.  These are the same disks that you may have read about in my previous e-log.  I had a catastrophic file system failure that left me hurting and bitter and almost misanthropic enough to take up fly fishing, but somehow I managed the strength to carry on.  So I am now archiving my original disks locally and via CrashPlan back ups, DropBox, SkyDrive, GoogleDrive, and Ubuntu Unity.  Not counting CrashPlan, I have managed to wrangle about 25GB of free cloud storage.  I imagine that the free cloud storage business has an Eric Cartman-type plan that goes along the line of “Hey guys, give me your info, I’ll hold it for you,” followed by, “Hey guys, I have your info.  Times are tough.  I am holding it hostage, what’s it worth to you?” Between the choices, though, I have distributed the info.  Informational survivalism is like evolution in that the information that adapts it’s form to it’s environment and propagates widely has better odds of surviving in the long term.  I really am enjoying the DropBox DiskBox that I have set up.  I can use emulation to work on hard disk setups and to update across platforms and locations.  If I have an idea, I have instant access to my disk images.

The second thing I have been thinking about is setting up a Cat-fur board, and last week I was actually working to this end.  I was hoping that I could make a connection with a willing Apple-Cat II owner / volunteer and test the system.  I’d also like to work out a way to keep the board up 24/7 but right now the idea I have is that is would have calling hours, but I haven’t solidified that idea as of yet.  I have some ideas for the board, but again I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  I should probably develop this idea as some kind of Retro Challenge.  Early testing though has proven problematic as I have to major roadblocks.

The first obstacle is this:  I have an order in for an undisclosed CF Drive for the Apple II’s that has been outstanding since last November with no clarification as to order status, which is depressing, but understandable, since I expect few things move quickly in the retro world, so the hard drive for the system is up in the air. But here is the thing that gets me.  I am interested in 2 CF card readers.  I have asked to be on the waiting list for one brand, I’ve crossed the six month mark waiting for the other brand, and I am considering ordering a second CF card from anyone that I can get to take my money.  Do I sound desperate?  Because I kinda am.

The second problem that I have to overcome is that three of my Disk II hard drives seem it have stopped reading/seeking floppy data.  My Duo Disk sees the info, but various combinations between the Apple IIe and Apple II+, 2 separate drive controllers and the 3 Disk II drives have proven fruitless.  All have failed overnight.  It’s puzzling and I am now researching how to troubleshoot this.

If I can overcome my data storage and retrieval issues, I can begin to live the dream that all healthy young lads strive for the opportunity to be found fit for:  Apple-Cat II Sysop. For now, though, I am going to be tinkering way at the mundane task of troubleshooting my gear.

Another thing that I have found immensely satisfying for personal reasons was a task I underwent to give me a better idea obout the Apple II timeline.  I have been operating under an untrue but understandable assumption that I know a lot about how the Apple II period went down.  I am kind of being funny there, as really, I have to do a lot of research to find things out.  I was kind of isolated, and I know how things went down on my desert island, but I don’t have good perspective overall.  One of the things I did to remedy that was to make an excel spreadsheet by year that corresponds to A2 History’s time line for software and hardware.  This is a work in progress and as I find new information and have time to do so, I add entries into the spread sheet.  In reality I should begin a database along side.  In many instances I was surprised by the actual dates that things were released and when I experienced them.  This project also gave me more clarity on the programmers that created some of my favorite software, and showed me how I gravitated to certain programmers without knowing they were responsible for the offerings.  Each programmer is very distinctive, like each author, each song writer, each band, and are somehow able to create artifacts that you enjoy rediscovering time and time again.  It also is helping me make my Apple set-up more anachronism free, which jangles my nerves when I realize them.  I am also going to a point when I am categorizing my physical floppies by year of release and only want to operate software on the temporally sensible machine for the job.

Finally I am going to put this here:

Last night I woke up from a dream.  In the dream I was watching a history of Apple II Software.  The documentary detailed the first software protection schemes and also talked about software firsts that occurred in Apple II software and continued to be used today.  The dream/film was incredibly interesting to me and when I awoke, I realized that maybe I had been spending too much time looking at the Top Software by Year at A2 History.

AppleSoft Magnum Opus

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time writing and not enough time working my Applesoft.

It was February 26th, 1986, Third Period Computer Basic Class. This
was the day I would write my greatest Applesoft program ever.  What it lacks in
actual program content, it more than makes up for in setting the stage
for the antagonistic relationship I was developing with the instructor.
I only had to print it a few times for debugging purposes to seal the
deal for the rest of the semester.

 1  REM  *********************************************************
 2  REM  *                                                       *
 3  REM  *                   Copyright (c) 1986                  *
 4  REM  *    Xanith Diskette Company and/or its affiliates.     *
 5  REM  *                   All rights reserved.                *
 6  REM  *                                                       *
 7  REM  *  Redistribution and use in source and binary forms,   *
 8  REM  *  with or withoutmodification, are permitted provided  *
 9  REM  *  that the following conditions are met:               *
10  REM *                                                       *
11  REM * -Redistributions of source code must retain the above *
12  REM *  copyright notice, this list of conditions and the    *
13  REM *  following disclaimer.                                *
14  REM *                                                       *
15  REM * -Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the    *
16  REM *  above copyright notice, this list of conditions and  *
17  REM *  the following disclaimer in the documentation and/o  *
18  REM *  other materials provided with the distribution.      *
19  REM *                                                       *
20  REM * -Neither the name of Xanith Diskette Company or the   *
21  REM *  names of its contributors may be used to endorse     *
22  REM *  or promote products derived from this software       *
23  REM *  without specific prior written permission.           *
24  REM *                                                       *
39  REM * IBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.                               *
40  REM *                                                       *
41  REM * The SUMS program impliments an application that simply*
42  REM * allows a third party (hereby referred to as "user") to*
43  REM * assign numeric values to variables, which are held in *
44  REM * memory, called upon, and used to calculate a total    *
45  REM * sum.  No claim of ownership will be brought against   *
46  REM * the user values and such intent is neither implied or *
47  REM * expressed for the term in which the user values are   *
48  REM * contained in memory.                                  *
49  REM *                                                       *
50  REM *                                                       *
51  REM *                     SUMS                              *
52  REM *                                                       *
53  REM *                      by                               *
54  REM *               Daniel McLaughlin                       *
55  REM *                  Third Period                         *
56  REM *               February 26, 1986                       *
57  REM *                                                       *
58  REM *                   STARRING                            *
59  REM *                     The                               *
60  REM *               DECLARED VARIABLES                      *
61  REM *         A$ as User Numeric Input No. 1                *
62  REM *         B$ as User Numeric Input No. 2                *
63  REM *                                                       *
64  REM *********************************************************
67  C = A + B
68  PRINT  
69  PRINT A;" + ";B;" = ";C
70  FOR I = 1 TO 2500 : NEXT I
71  TEXT  : HOME
72  END

Fantasy Wargaming

It’s was no secret at the time, that I spent an inordinate amount of my attention to creating fantasy wargaming worlds to explore.  I guess it’s no secret now, either.  So why am I blurting this out now?  I was cleaning and organizing things, trying to reign in my uncontrolled accumulation of stuff, and opening up my Applesoft textbook from high school, entitled “A Guide to Programming in Applesoft” by Bruce Presley.  I remember the class.  It was taught by an abnormally masculine girls sports coach, and was pretty much a sleeper class for me.  I remember that the instructor (who may have only paged through the textbook that summer) had a problem with me keying in “?” for print statements.  That was the first time it was suspected that I may be engaging in hacker-like activities.  I never did show her that I could edit my code with ESC + I,J,K,M.  Oh well.

At this time, it was my dream to capture lightning in a bottle and pick up where Richard Garriott left off.  It’s true, I was going to be the next Fantasy Wargaming superstar.  “Fantasy Wargaming” was a book by Bruce Cordell that I found infinitely more interesting than all other D&D books, with the exception of the “Grimtooth’s Traps” series for 2 reasons: The first was that depth of historical detail and breadth of research that went into compiling the source material for the gaming rules.  It’s seemed every detail was covered, and actually led me into reading historical thesis based on medieval day to day activities.  The second is that the rules were not coherent and complete nor were they by any means playable in any enjoyable fashion.  It took me a while to catch on to that second fact, but in the mean time, I would continue to operate in my deluded milleu, trying to eke out a playable game.  As other students learned how to make student rosters, and report semester grades, I worked on making a gaming master piece.

So why haven’t you heard of this marvelous endeavor?  Because, as I just discovered, it only exists on a few sheets of paper jammed in my High School text book.

I present the hand written notes for Fantasy Wargaming, scribbled during my Computer Basics class of the 1984 Fall semester.

Fantasy Wargaming Programming Notes

A User and his Digital Companions Adventure in the Greatest Computer Age Mankind Has Ever Known

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