Jump to content

Photo

What happened to: FFF Software

Software Basic

43 replies to this topic

#1 blackbox OFFLINE  

blackbox

    Chopper Commander

  • 239 posts
  • Location:England

Posted Tue Aug 9, 2016 12:03 PM

You may not recall them- they only released two XB programs, FFF
TI-Asteroids and Shuttle Command.

They were a "team" of three, and one of them has just been in touch. I have permission to pass this on here - it describes a third program that wasn't released.

Rick Rothstein was the programmer for a company called FFF Software which
wrote a couple of games for the TI-99/4 series of computers.

 

Rick writes:
 I am 70 years old now and have been retired for several years. I was a
Civil Engineer (road design) back in my working days. 

FFF Software was working on a third program when TI made its announcement.
We had the screens designed, the storyline fleshed out and the game
action scripted and I had begun the preliminary programming. We thought
it would have been good game once completed. It was going to be called
Dino Kong and it was to be sort of a Donkey Kong derivative.

The story took place in prehistoric times and the storyline was that you
(the player) were the person designated to push a huge teetering rock
into the volcano when it erupted. In the first screen, was a
cross-section of a wide river with trees having huge branches with vines
hanging straight down... oh, and the river was invested with aquatic
dinosaurs (alligator looking things if I remember correctly)... you had
to jump on the vines and cross the river by grabbing adjacent vines
one-at-a-time.

Sounds easy, right? I forgot to mention the flocks of pterodactyls flying
back and forth across the river requiring you to shinny up and down to
avoid being hit by them while you attempted to move
vine-to-vine. After successfully completing that screen, the second screen
required you to climb ladders placed in staggered pattern across a large
rock face with several horizontal landings located at the edge of a cliff
while dodging fireballs that were raining down after being ejected from
the nearby volcano.

The third and last screen was located at the volcano itself where you had
to run up a spiral path cut into the side of the mountain while jumping
the fiery lava balls that were oozing out of the volcano. There were
diagonal wooden foot bridges that you had to jump on to move
diagonally back and forth across the paths with the fiery lava balls on
them. Once you got to the top you would "bang" into the huge teetering
rock which would fall into the volcano's opening thus plugging it and
stopping the eruption. We were also discussing, but hadn't finalized,
adding some bonus screens under certain circumstances memory permitting.

 In the three years we sold Shuttle Command and TI-Asteroids (it was a
side line business for the three of us in the company) ,  after taxes,
those sales paid for our equipment and then some. It was a fun time back
then as everything was fresh and new and somewhat groundbreaking at the
time. Oh well, we cannot live in the past.

Rick"  <end quote>

 

Disk with Shuttle Command: Attached File  stainless8.dsk   180KB   23 downloads    

 

Screen image of Shuttle Command: Attached File  shuttle1.jpg   33.43KB   9 downloads


  • save2600 , ti99iuc , arcadeshopper and 6 others like this

#2 Ksarul OFFLINE  

Ksarul

    Quadrunner

  • 5,319 posts

Posted Tue Aug 9, 2016 1:25 PM

I recently purchased a set of manuals for both of their released programs. I'm still in the process of getting them scanned.


  • ti99iuc , --- Ω --- and blackbox like this

#3 ti99iuc OFFLINE  

ti99iuc

    Stargunner

  • 1,665 posts
  • Location:Italy

Posted Tue Aug 9, 2016 1:49 PM

Are you the winner of this auction right ? :D :D

 

 

Attached Files


  • --- Ω --- likes this

#4 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

--- Ω ---

    Hexacorerunner

  • 14,017 posts
  • Location:82.102.25.76

Posted Tue Aug 9, 2016 2:03 PM

Are you the winner of this auction right ? :D :D

 

post-24673-0-26543900-1470772176.jpg

 

 

 

Ooooh , the BAIT, the BAIT!  Looking forward to both games and manuals!



#5 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:28 AM

My name is Rick Rothstein and I was the programmer for FFF Software and thought I would stop by and say "Hi".

 

Thanks to blackbox for posting the description I gave him offline of the "game that never was" which he included in the first message. We had had high hopes for the game up until TI pulled the plug on the home computer market.

 

Hey ti99iuc... you kept our TI-Asteroids and Space Shuttle manuals in pretty nice shape there... kudos to you for being so protective of them. :lol:

 

Besides programming for FFF Software, I also sold articles to Compute! magazine (long defunct now)... six in all, two of which made it into the monthly magazine and the rest into two TI oriented books which they published on the side. I found the magazine articles online (but not the books yet) and thought I would share them with you all. Not sure if anyone ever converted them for the emulators, but they actually were quite nice (if I say so myself). The first, which was the first magazine article I ever sold, was a computer simulation for the #15 puzzle. An interesting side story to this article... not too long after sending my submission in, I received a phone call from the magazine (I found out later that was unusual) offering me a fair amount of money for the times and asking me if I wanted to sell the article to them (of course I said yes). It seems they were going to press soon with an article featuring the #15 puzzle and wanted to include my submission in it. If I am not mistaken, it was the first TI99/4 program they ran. Because my submission was to be an add on to the already written main article, they included my write-up as a boxed sidebar. The following link takes you to the page with the boxed sidebar on it. If you flip the pages backwards (click/drag the left page to the right) you will see screen shots of the other computers featured in the article... kind of simple and bland if you ask me.... then, when you get to the first page of the article which featured a screen shot of my program, I think you will see why they went out of their way to obtain it. Here is the link...

 

http://archive.org/s...e/n103/mode/2up

 

The other article I sold them was for a fairly nice slot machine program. Here is a link to it...

 

http://archive.org/s...ge/n83/mode/2up

 

Any way, that is enough reminiscing for now. Take care all.


Edited by RickRothstein, Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:52 AM.

  • schuwalker , ti99iuc , matthew180 and 7 others like this

#6 blackbox OFFLINE  

blackbox

    Chopper Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 239 posts
  • Location:England

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:27 PM

Thanks Rick, great stuff.

 

For anyone who has lost their typing skills, here is a disk with Jackpot on it - requires XB, the filename is jackpot.

 

And a screenshot.

 

have fun

 

Stephen

Attached Files


  • Schmitzi likes this

#7 ti99iuc OFFLINE  

ti99iuc

    Stargunner

  • 1,665 posts
  • Location:Italy

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:24 PM

My name is Rick Rothstein and I was the programmer for FFF Software and thought I would stop by and say "Hi".

[...]

Hey ti99iuc... you kept our TI-Asteroids and Space Shuttle manuals in pretty nice shape there... kudos to you for being so protective of them

Hello Rick, 

i am so happy you are present here ! thank you !

 

just the manuals in the pictures was in an auction on ebay... i was one of the bidder for that auction but i sadly lost, and if i remember good was ksarul the winner :D

 

Anyway, i am pretty sure that ksarul has that ones and will scan :)


  • Ksarul and RickyDean like this

#8 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 3:10 PM

Hello Rick, 

i am so happy you are present here ! thank you !

 

just the manuals in the pictures was in an auction on ebay... i was one of the bidder for that auction but i sadly lost, and if i remember good was ksarul the winner :D

 

Anyway, i am pretty sure that ksarul has that ones and will scan :)

People are auctioning off FFF Software manuals? And people are bidding on them? Really? Do you remember how much they sold for?



#9 ti99iuc OFFLINE  

ti99iuc

    Stargunner

  • 1,665 posts
  • Location:Italy

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:26 PM

People are auctioning off FFF Software manuals? And people are bidding on them? Really? Do you remember how much they sold for?

 

i am sorry but not for that one... 

 

i can show to you another one. I found this in my personal DB anyway 

 

Attached File  Shuttle Command - Manual - 0.jpg   156.47KB   4 downloads

 

:)


  • Schmitzi likes this

#10 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

--- Ω ---

    Hexacorerunner

  • 14,017 posts
  • Location:82.102.25.76

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:32 PM

 

i can show to you another one. I found this in my personal DB anyway 

 

post-24673-0-01288400-1470871589_thumb.j

 

 

Looking forward to the PDF of these new manuals, I even have the appropriate colored paper for the covers standing by.

 

I'm also really looking forward to seeing this playable version of AsTeroIds.  I've not yet seen a real nice port for the TI yet.



#11 Ksarul OFFLINE  

Ksarul

    Quadrunner

  • 5,319 posts

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:42 PM

I paid $45 (BIN with shipping) for the manuals and the other things in that lot--but my goal was the manuals, as I didn't have either of them.


  • ti99iuc and Schmitzi like this

#12 adamantyr OFFLINE  

adamantyr

    Stargunner

  • 1,529 posts

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:46 PM

Nice to see you here Rick!

 

I think I have the Compute! magazine that has Mosaic Puzzle. Not sure about Jackpot... Compute! only had the TI covered for around two years (early 1983 through late 1984 or early '85 I think...)

 

A lot of retro-enthusiasts enjoy collecting original software manuals or keeping the ones we have in good condition. After all, they're a relic these days... most software doesn't even come with manuals at all.



#13 Ksarul OFFLINE  

Ksarul

    Quadrunner

  • 5,319 posts

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:52 PM

All of the Compute! books for the TI can be found here (along with many more). All of the Compute! books for the TI were also translated into Argentine Spanish and sold there by Kapelusz publishing. I have a number of them in that version as well.


  • arcadeshopper likes this

#14 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 6:05 PM

 

i am sorry but not for that one... 

 

i can show to you another one. I found this in my personal DB anyway 

 

attachicon.gifShuttle Command - Manual - 0.jpg

 

:)

$27 for the single manual?!!?!? You have got to be kidding. I still have a few originals of each of the manuals in my basement (some cassettes too, but I have no way to prove if they are still readable or not)... maybe I should put the manuals up for auction on ebay, hmm. Thanks for the info... very interesting... and surprising.


  • ti99iuc likes this

#15 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:53 PM

All of the Compute! books for the TI can be found here (along with many more).

Thanks for the link... I figured they had to be out there somewhere. There were two programs in the "Compute!'s TI Collection Volume Two" that I wrote which I think were pretty good (even if I have to say so myself ;))... Labyrinth on page 69 and BOG'L on page 82.

 

BOG'L is an on-screen replacement for the 4x4 Boggle game you can purchase in any store (although they have changed the letter distribution on the dice several times across the years). Its "selling" feature is that the letters display randomly oriented like the real game as opposed to all upright like most similar type programs I have seen which tend to favor all letters displayed normal orientation.

 

The Labyrinth program has an interesting history. When I first saw the program I modelled this after in the Compute magazine, there was no TI version of it, so I sat down and wrote one along with the article to accompany it. When I submitted it, they were a little surprised at how fast it was. Seems their resident programmer tried to write a TI version and it was so dog-slow that they decided not to print it. In later conversations, I found out why... the programmer tried to apply Commode, Atari and PC type graphic approaches to the TI... I catered the code to how the TI displayed graphics instead (redefined characters, then print those characters to the screen). Anyway, Labyrinth can be fun to play for a little while, but not for long continuous time periods.


  • arcadeshopper and Ksarul like this

#16 Opry99er OFFLINE  

Opry99er

    Quadrunner

  • 10,744 posts
  • Location:Hustisford, WI

Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:47 AM

Rick, welcome friend!!

It is always a treasure and a blessing to have legacy programmers come and visit us here. As an XB game developer for the TI, I always love looking at old XB code for inspiration. The tools we have now at our disposal for creating TI programs are incredible, and with them, I have no doubt FFF would have made countless more games.

Thanks for visiting... I hope you stick around for a bit.

#17 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:35 AM

Rick, welcome friend!!

It is always a treasure and a blessing to have legacy programmers come and visit us here. As an XB game developer for the TI, I always love looking at old XB code for inspiration. The tools we have now at our disposal for creating TI programs are incredible, and with them, I have no doubt FFF would have made countless more games.

Thanks for visiting... I hope you stick around for a bit.

Thanks for the nice welcome. Things looked bleak for new programs when TI closed up its home computer division, as you can well imagine. The three of us who made up FFF Software all worked for the New Jersey Department of Transportation in the same office. I retired back in 2002 and Frank (our graphics man) retired a few years later... I stayed near my home town and Frank moved to another state and we lost touch after that. Flavian (our documentation man along with other activities related to fulfilling orders) moved to a different office and contact with him became sparse... eventually he moved out of the area without telling us where so I have no idea where he is anymore. So there won't be any possibility of FFF Software coming back together. An interesting story about the name FFF Software that we chose. No one wanted it, but after creating all the graphics for TI-Asteroids (our first game), there were exactly 8 undefined characters available so be able to display a company name.... Software has 8 characters and since the three of us had first names that start with the let F (my real first name is Frederick, Rick is only a nickname), I took the F from the word software and tripled it to make FFF Software. After that, every possible character in the Extended Basic character set had its "shape" redefined.


  • ti99iuc , Ksarul , Schmitzi and 2 others like this

#18 adamantyr OFFLINE  

adamantyr

    Stargunner

  • 1,529 posts

Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:12 AM

I've often wondered what kind of people made up the various small-scale software companies that produced tape and disk games for the TI-99/4a back in the days... Check out my "Wizard's Doom" thread under development for my musings on Rainbow software. We don't even know the names of anyone who worked there, just an address in Brooklyn, NY.

 

One thing with the old Compute! magazines that impresses me is how much money was poured into them, particularly 1982-1984. They had FULL color page ads for software liberally throughout the magazine. It's clear that at its height prior the the crash of '83, everyone thought there was money to be made in the home computer market. I had a subscription to Compute! from 1986-1988 (Why I have no idea, they didn't have anything for the TI anymore, I think my parents thought it was useful) and the difference is stark; the ads became simple text and single color on every page.



#19 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:34 AM

I've often wondered what kind of people made up the various small-scale software companies that produced tape and disk games for the TI-99/4a back in the days... Check out my "Wizard's Doom" thread under development for my musings on Rainbow software. We don't even know the names of anyone who worked there, just an address in Brooklyn, NY.

 

One thing with the old Compute! magazines that impresses me is how much money was poured into them, particularly 1982-1984. They had FULL color page ads for software liberally throughout the magazine. It's clear that at its height prior the the crash of '83, everyone thought there was money to be made in the home computer market. I had a subscription to Compute! from 1986-1988 (Why I have no idea, they didn't have anything for the TI anymore, I think my parents thought it was useful) and the difference is stark; the ads became simple text and single color on every page.

I took a quick look but couldn't find the "Wizard's Doom" thread.... can you post a link to the thread?

 

Yeah, Compute! got pretty jazzy there in the early '80s... I think their success back then was a result of everything being kind of new in the home computer market back then (you bought a computer and then learned to program it or else all you had was an really expensive game machine.. and TI did not have the best games available in those days) and they featured articles with program translations for multiple computers. They also spent a lot for articles as well... they paid me $650 for my #15 puzzle (but they really wanted that one... see my first message for details)... $450 for the article itself and another $200 to reserve the rights to be first to publish it on distributable media (tapes or floppy disks). That was a lot of money in 1983 (I think I paid $800 for my TI if I remember correctly). My second article did not fare as well... they only paid me $450 for it ($250 for the article and $200 for first media rights). And after that, they only paid me $250 for the remaining articles after that (they dropped the media rights payment when I guess they realized they were not going to publish them that way). Still, even with the declining payments, they were paying what I considered a huge amount of money in 1983 dollars.



#20 Lee Stewart OFFLINE  

Lee Stewart

    River Patroller

  • 3,991 posts
  • Location:Silver Run, Maryland

Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:40 AM

I took a quick look but couldn't find the "Wizard's Doom" thread.... can you post a link to the thread?

 

 

New XB Game: Wizard's Doom (In Progress)

 

...lee



#21 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:12 PM

Thanks Lee.



#22 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:40 PM

Okay, I just went through all of the command modules I own... anybody know if any of them are considered rare (I am guessing not)?

 

With Box and Documentation

-------------------------------------------------------

Mini Memory Command Module wth

Line-By-Line Assembler Cassette (unknown if tape is viable)

 

 

No Boxes with Documentation if marked with an asterisk

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Addition and Subtraction I *
Alien Addition *
A-Maze-Ing *
Beginnin Grammer *
Blasto *
Centipede (Atari)
Computer Math Games II *
Connect Four
Disk Manager
Donkey Kong (Atari)
Home Financial Decisions *
Hopper *
Hunt The Wumpus *
Microsurgeon *
Minus Mission *
Munch Man *
Music Maker *
Number Magic *
Parsec *
Personal Real Estate *
Super Demon Atack *
Terminal Emulator II *
The Attack *
TI Extended Basic (Model 100)
TI Extended Basic (Model 110)
TI Invaders *
Tunnels of Doom *
Video Chess *
Video Games I *
Zero Zap * 


Edited by RickRothstein, Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:41 PM.


#23 Opry99er OFFLINE  

Opry99er

    Quadrunner

  • 10,744 posts
  • Location:Hustisford, WI

Posted Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:42 AM

Minimem brings a penny or two on the Bay... Getting harder to find these days. Your versions of XB interest me... Is it a label variation as well as system variation?

#24 RickRothstein OFFLINE  

RickRothstein

    Space Invader

  • 15 posts
  • Location:Central New Jersey (USA)

Posted Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:33 AM

Minimem brings a penny or two on the Bay... Getting harder to find these days. Your versions of XB interest me... Is it a label variation as well as system variation?

Thanks... I'll have to see what the Minimem is bringing now-a-days as I have no use for it. As for the Extended Basic... these are the first two Extended Basic modules that were released... the first when the 99/4 was out (that was the first TI that I owned) and then when the 99/4a was released (my second TI)... at least that is how I remember it. I also think the second one contained some kind of bug fixes as well. Both modules are black and the copyright date on them is 1980 and they have the same PHM number as well (although the font used to display the PHM number on the older version is about half the size of the second one). It was necessary to keep both of them as they executed programs differently time-wise.... when setting internal timings within loops, it was necessary to eat up more loops with one over the other, for example, to make the 3 minute time built into my BOG'L game (sold to Compute! magazine) actually take 3 minutes.



#25 blackbox OFFLINE  

blackbox

    Chopper Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 239 posts
  • Location:England

Posted Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:40 AM

I have both the original versions of XB.

 

Version 100 was quite rare, and sold very few copies- it was the first version ever of XB, was issued for use with the TI99/4, and had several bugs.   One major flaw was that it would always monitor all the sprites even when you were only using one, which slowed things down.  Version 110 was modified to only monitor the sprites in use, and to work better with the TI99/4a. There were several other fixes.

 

The first Extended Basic was issued quite some time after the 99/4 hit the market.  My version 100  module, which was one of the very first sold in the UK (I ordered it and paid for it months in advance) has a serial number of LTA 1581 indicating assembly in week 15 of 1981.

 

Programmers could allow for the differing module loop speeds by including in their XB program something like:

100 CALL VERSION(A) :: IF A=100 THEN LOOP=6 ELSE LOOP=10

which you could only calculate by having both modules and trying them...

 

Obviously the next version returned a value of 110 to the version variable.

 

Much worse (I sold US written games in the UK) was the difference in sprite speeds between UK and US consoles as the sprite speed was tied to the screen refresh rate (think 50Hz and 60Hz), and inevitably Extended Basic programs required modification for the UK market.

 

Usually machine code programs required no modification due to the differing structures, which made it easy for TI to produce just the one module for both markets.

 

Those were fun days.    Stephen

 

 

 







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Software, Basic

0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users