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An Atari 8-bit Infocom mystery...

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In addition to being a big Atari computer fan, 8-bit and 16-bit alike, I'm also a big fan of text adventures in general, since that's what got me into computers in the first place, and Infocom specifically. I have images of all of the Atari 8-bit versions of the Infocom games. I've located images of all 24 of the original version 3 Z-code games that were released for the 8-bit. As far as I knew, none of the version 4 Z-code games, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Bureaucracy, Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, and Trinity were ever released for the Atari 8-bits, and definitely nothing beyond that.

So, imagine my surprise when I was looking through Analog Issue #58, October 1987, when I saw that Steve Panak reviewed Bureaucracy. The Atari 8-bits are never specifically mentioned, but it does say 48K disk, which rules out the ST, and Analog wasn't in that habit of reviewing non-Atari related hardware or software. This leads me to wonder, if he was able to review a copy, why was it never released commercially? Has anyone ever ran into a copy? What about any of the other four version 4 games?

Does anyone know anything about these?

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I'm pretty sure Bureaucracy was not released on any computers with less than 128k, likely because it needed the expanded RAM. It was released on the Commodore 128, but not the 64 or any other 8-bit computer that I know of, so I assume they couldn't make it work in less RAM. Theoretically, I'm sure they could have made it work on the 130xe, but Infocom was already in trouble in 1987 and they probably judged the Atari software market dead enough by then.

 

Most likely they just made a mistake in the article.

Edited by R.Cade
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Hello guys

 

I loved ANALOG until they got a new owner and cheaper paper, but: ANALOG didn't write much about MyDOS, but when they wrote something about MyDOS, they usually got it wrong. Like calling Charles Marslett Steve Marselette, and talking about MyDS 5.0, which they said, had a "command line interpreter". In an article that (quick count, I might be off by a line or two) only has 11 sentences. In other words, they spread fake news years before it was called fake news. Maybe they just sucked at proofreading. Don't know if that is what happened when they covered Infocom, but ...

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

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A fun modern project might be to create or hack up a new and improved Z-machine interpreter for our expanded-memory A8's so we can play these old, never-released-for-Atari titles. :)

 

Windows Frotz with the Atari Classic Chunky font is nice, but it would be nicer to play on real A8 hardware.

 

post-30400-0-97413500-1558739140_thumb.jpg

Edited by DrVenkman
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Hello Herb

 

A fun modern project might be to create or hack up a new and improved Z-machine interpreter for our expanded-memory A8's so we can play these old, never-released-for-Atari titles. :)

 

Tom Hunt wrote a Z-machine interpreter years ago.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

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Hello Herb

 

 

 

Tom Hunt wrote a Z-machine interpreter years ago.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

Well, that’s news to me. The name Tom Hunt doesn’t ring a bell either, unfortunately. Any idea of the program name or where I might be able to find it? :)

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Hello Herb

 

His site (closer to home) seems to be off-line (Dr. Google can't find it), but maybe I just came up with a way to contact him.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

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Hello Herb

 

His site (closer to home) seems to be off-line (Dr. Google can't find it), but maybe I just came up with a way to contact him.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

I found the CTH Enterprises files on Atarimania which were linked in another thread but they’re not quite what I mean. What I’m getting at is, I think it would be ideal if someone who knew their way around code could basically port Frotz to the A8 platform, or a subset at least which would work for newer Infocom .Z5 and .DAT files. I don’t believe such a thing exists but I would be very happy to be wrong!

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I'm pretty sure Bureaucracy was not released on any computers with less than 128k, likely because it needed the expanded RAM. It was released on the Commodore 128, but not the 64 or any other 8-bit computer that I know of, so I assume they couldn't make it work in less RAM. Theoretically, I'm sure they could have made it work on the 130xe, but Infocom was already in trouble in 1987 and they probably judged the Atari software market dead enough by then.

 

Most likely they just made a mistake in the article.

 

You're probably onto something there. When I look at the box images on MobyGames, all four of those v4 titles show 128K of memory required on several versions of the game boxes. That would explain why none of those titles, and nothing later, made it to the 8-bit line. They could've possibly worked for the 130XE, but most publishers were going for the masses, not a very small slice of the Atari 8-bit ownership.

 

I found the CTH Enterprises files on Atarimania which were linked in another thread but they’re not quite what I mean. What I’m getting at is, I think it would be ideal if someone who knew their way around code could basically port Frotz to the A8 platform, or a subset at least which would work for newer Infocom .Z5 and .DAT files. I don’t believe such a thing exists but I would be very happy to be wrong!

 

Yes, it would be nice to see an Atari 8-bit version of Frotz. Many of the games that were put out on the 8-bits, even though several had numerous versions, very few had the final versions of the games, though I'm sure the changes were minor tweaks. Also, with our expanded memory "modern" 8-bits, I think we'd be able to run most titles from v3 up through v5, though I think the v6 graphic titles would still be beyond us.

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Maybe this could be ported to Ataris. Carrington Vanston keeps praising it on the ‚Eaten by a grue‘ podcast.

 

https://archive.org/details/PitchDark

 

 

Gesendet von iPhone mit Tapatalk

 

Yeah, I've heard them discuss this before on the show. I have limited real-world experience with the Apple II, though I did use a IIe in high school a bit (one of my teachers had one in the teachers' workroom and I got to use it to help prepare class materials for awhile). I don't have an Apple II emulator installed to run this but surely anything written to run on vintage hardware could be ported to the A8 platform. I've downloaded the package from the Internet Archive but man whoever put it together left if pretty platform-specific. There's tons of OS X dotfiles all over the place OS X-specific folders. It's also a very confusing folder structure.

 

EDIT: Here's the Github repository for the project in case someone who really groks code wants to try cross-compiling it for our machines. :)

 

https://github.com/a2-4am/pitch-dark

Edited by DrVenkman
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Yeah, I've heard them discuss this before on the show. I have limited real-world experience with the Apple II, though I did use a IIe in high school a bit (one of my teachers had one in the teachers' workroom and I got to use it to help prepare class materials for awhile). I don't have an Apple II emulator installed to run this but surely anything written to run on vintage hardware could be ported to the A8 platform. I've downloaded the package from the Internet Archive but man whoever put it together left if pretty platform-specific. There's tons of OS X dotfiles all over the place OS X-specific folders. It's also a very confusing folder structure.

 

EDIT: Here's the Github repository for the project in case someone who really groks code wants to try cross-compiling it for our machines. :)

 

https://github.com/a2-4am/pitch-dark

 

Probably needs someone with intimate Apple II and Atari 8-bit knowledge to port. I had a quick look at the source (and I have to admit I don't even understand such newfangled stuff as makefiles) and it uses a windowing/UI library called WeeGUI that would need to be ported as well.

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The WeeGUI looks a bit like what FJC did on his apps like FDISK and UFLASH.

 

I thought so, too. Not too hard to get this setup on an emulator (Applewin for instance). It's just irksome that the Apple community has this and we don't. :)

 

post-30400-0-98296200-1558817001_thumb.jpg

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As programming it for the XEP80 would make it too exclusive, a GUI port for the Atari would need to include a pseudo-80-column driver as well. All "doable" from a technology point of view but quite hard in detail. The best thing about it apparently is that you have built-in Invisiclue hints.

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As programming it for the XEP80 would make it too exclusive, a GUI port for the Atari would need to include a pseudo-80-column driver as well. All "doable" from a technology point of view but quite hard in detail. The best thing about it apparently is that you have built-in Invisiclue hints.

 

Jon's THE LAST WORD does an excellent job with software 80 column through an S-video connection, so it's do-able for sure. Perhaps a re-formatting for 64 column and using SDX's CON64.SYS driver would be better. SDX is widely available and use of the existing driver would avoid reinventing the wheel.

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Hello guys

 

As programming it for the XEP80 would make it too exclusive, a GUI port for the Atari would need to include a pseudo-80-column driver as well.

 

If the driver could be loaded separately, different drivers could be loaded depending on the hardware you have. e.g. a pseudo-80-column driver, a driver for the XEP80, for the VBXE, etc.

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy

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If the GUI is done with different column sizes in mind, you will make the text scrollable. So 40 columns should not be a problem.

Look, I'm fiddling with FDISK at the moment. FDISK works as good in 40 col. mode as in 80 col. mode with VBXE loaded. Sure, it's some work to adjust the dialogs etc., so that the GUI elements always look good. (And FJC does fine job with it).

But I think, if the engine gets that right, then loading the games into it, will not be much work anymore.

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Yep: just centering all windows according to the display width and making sure everything fits on a 40 column display is sufficient, although FDISK makes a few other UI optimisations when it detects an 80 column display (such as showing the partition names on the same line as the geometry info).There are two approaches to supporting drivers: either use the CIO for all text output, or do what FDISK does: write directly to the screen RAM but look for the RAWCON symbol and patch the put char function to use the driver vector if it exists.

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If this could be made SDX compatible, then it could be run fast from hard disk. Ideally, you could do:

C:>X Z ZORK1 (or ZORK2, or HITCHHIK, or whatever.)

 

[Assuming Z.COM is the engine and ZORK1... is the name of the data file.]

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If this could be made SDX compatible, then it could be run fast from hard disk. Ideally, you could do:

C:>X Z ZORK1 (or ZORK2, or HITCHHIK, or whatever.)

 

[Assuming Z.COM is the engine and ZORK1... is the name of the data file.]

 

The cool thing about this PitchDark project is that it does run from the Apple hard disk and has that pseudo-GUI front end shown in my emulator screenshot above. It boots up, you can cycle through the catalog of games to pick which you want to play, and for each one, they've created a compilation of artwork and invisi-clues hints built in. It's really a very sweet way to enjoy these old titles. Kudos to the Apple crowd (Quinn Dunki, 4am and the rest of the folks who contributed ...).

 

I just wish we Atari folk had the same.

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If this could be made SDX compatible, then it could be run fast from hard disk.

 

 

Whilst probably do-able, it could be counter productive as the game wants to make use of the available memory and a good part of the zeropage too.

Also, if you are expecting that it would exit nicely back to the command prompt when quitting then that's another consideration though technically possible too.

Moving to a file based target means the areas of DOS routines and memory locations used need to remain intact, again possible.

The game engine works by accessing sectors on a disk side and knows when to ask for side 1/2 etc, so only requires basic I/O to obtain those.

But swapping those to use obtain a block from within an open game file would also be OK, and save games could be redirected to a file rather than a sector offset.
If you are not adverse to restarting the machine after playing a game then I would think that the non-disk swapping ATR approach is fine?
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If you are not adverse to restarting the machine after playing a game then I would think that the non-disk swapping ATR approach is fine?

I have your Infocom ATRquads saved to my CF card hard disk. Thank you for that. :)

 

Recall that this thread started out asking about those latter-era .Z5 and .DAT Infocom Z-machine games that never made it to our machines. So for basic functionality akin to what we already have, an improved Z-machine interpreter is really what’s needed as a start.

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Actually, I asked about the four z4 titles. I knew for certain that the z5 and z6 games had never been released for the 8-bits. Still, if we could get an updated Z-Interpreter the will allow us to run the z4 and possibly the z5 titles, assuming your machine has enough extended memory, that would be awesome!

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