A while back we promised inverted colours; that's light text on a dark background, as opposed to the (now usual) dark text on a light background. Of course, the original games were all played in this light on dark mode, so it's pretty cool - even if you don't have a black iPhone to go with it.
The Magnetic Scrolls interactive fiction of the 1980's had pictures. This was a new thing! Interactive fiction - or text adventures back then did not (generally) have pictures; and those that did were usually quite poor.
The idea was that a picture worked like an illustration in a book, and would...
If you've written a game in ChoiceScript, you can now run it under Brahman and turn it into a deployable product with a graphic UI for both desktops and mobile.
The Guild of Thieves (1987) was the second game published by Magnetic Scrolls. It was very popular and did a lot of things right.
The Guild has a simple overall game mechanic and was what Scrolls called a "collect the treasures game". Although this phrase somewhat oversimplifies the story, there are some important aspects to this approach that significantly contribute to overall popularity;
Here we have possibly the only surviving backup tape of the source code to 30 year old historical game data being put into an oven and baked!
Have we gone raving mad? Have we totally lost it? What is this insanity?
The dish is: Baked tapes! Done nicely in your normal kitchen oven. Cook at 45C for 8 hours, take them out, wait to cool then server them (in your server, of course) to hopefully make a good source.
No, we're not quite totally crazy (yet). Amazing as it seems, this is the way to restore certain old tape backups. I kid you not.
Read on, for the madness...
Rob Jarratt has been doing an absolutely amazing job at persuading these old tapes to read again - and it's not easy. The picture above shows his TK50Z tape drive dismantled.
I thought I would cover a high-level overview of the Brahman system.
Brahman is a collection of technologies that together make a game system. Here, we're covering just the runtime and not the authoring tools.
Is that him, in the picture? No no, surely this is just your friendly, local neighbourhood inflatable dinosaur juggler!
No, fred23 was a program not a person. To understand what fred23 was, it's is necessary to explain a bit about the Magnetic Scrolls' world model.
This is Rob Jarratts' DECstation 2100 with a TZ85 tape drive. He's been trying really hard to restore data from our old TK50 backup tapes made by our DEC MicroVAX back in 1988.
The first tape we tried was, unfortunately, not readable. This might be for any number of reasons. Old tapes tend to...
Some days ago, Hugh managed to recover a bunch of files from a ZIP disk. Among the files there was this one special archive file:
VAX.ARC. So close, yet so far.
Despite all the efforts Hugh had taken to track down, compile and run the ARC 5.21p tool, the file has blatantly withstood all extracti...
There are four DAT tapes altogether. These are the newest media in the box and appear to date from 1993 (going by the labels). Two are DDS-2 PDP-120 and one is an older DDS-1, DDS-60. The last is unlabelled, and may well be blank.
It's possible that these DAT tapes contain a backup of the old st...
Whilst investigating the recovery of the other media, I happened to find a ZIP 100 drive. You may remember ZIP as the Iomega attempt at a high capacity floppy disk. It was a good idea, but was unfortunately surpassed by rewritable CD and DVDs.
There was one blank looking ZIP 100 disk in the back...
Following on from the Magnetic Scrolls Easter egg theme, here's an interesting one from Corruption.
The picture above, drawn by Alan Hunnisett, is actually the Alphabeta Building (formerly known as Triton Court), an office development in Finsbury Square, London EC2.
Yesterday I had a great meeting with Rob Steggles, author of several original Magnetic Scrolls games.
We talked about the possibilities of making expanded, extended, updated or even sequel versions of some of the original Scrolls games; things Rob always wanted to do back then but we couldn't be...
This is a TK50, a DLT tape used to backup data on the DEC microVAX minicomputer used by Magnetic Scrolls during the 1980's.
I have 29 of these recovered from the backup hoard. The 5.25" floppy disks have already been recovered. They contained some interesting data but not the good stuff.
The good stuff will be the release versions of the source code to all Magnetic Scrolls' games, plus the source code to the build tools used.
Magnetic Scrolls wrote all its build tools in-house in "C". So if the tools and game code can be recovered, it's eminently possible that the tools can be made to compile on modern machines and the games themselves be rebuilt.
Quite an interesting possibility.
Today, the first public beta of The Pawn by Magnetic Scrolls and remastered by Strand Games has been released for Android.
Today I managed to recover data from most of the Magnetic Scrolls 5.25" floppy disks found in the backup box.
I found this old magazine stuffed down the back of a sofa with what I think was the first major review of The Pawn on Atari ST, by Keith Campbell at Computer + Video Games in April 1986. April 1986!! Holy wossname; that's over 30 years ago.
First attempt at recovering the 5.25" floppy disks
After some tracking down, today I finally received the box that contains the backup archives of all Magnetic Scrolls' work.
Back in the 80's, a lot of games were written in assembler. Here's a listing of Magnetic Scrolls' "The Pawn" from 1984. It's a fair chunk of paper!
This blog will be covering the ongoing Strand Games development.