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Banjooie
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icon Re: Robots/Daleks? (0)  
...was that a nine-year necromance that turned out to be useful?

Magical.
03-11-2015 at 06:54 PM
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asmussen
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Don't know if this helps, but these two wikipedia pages both list Ken Arnold as the developer of robots.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robots_%28BSD_game%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Arnold




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Shawn Asmussen
03-27-2015 at 09:44 PM
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Syntax
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icon Re: Robots/Daleks? (+1)  
I still hope Bill Cotter gets a mention as per my original reply:
http://www.atariarchives.org/bcc2/showpage.php?page=253)

Especially when you consider page 2 which has the source code:
http://www.atariarchives.org/bcc2/showpage.php?page=254)

122 lines of code of which 10 is (are?) the intro.
And with that - a room, monsters, AI, death, strategy... In fact, quite a deadly room of death of the "worth mentioning" sort.

Especially with the 1977 label.
05-16-2015 at 03:09 PM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
asmussen wrote:
Don't know if this helps, but these two wikipedia pages both list Ken Arnold as the developer of robots.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robots_%28BSD_game%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Arnold


Hmm. According to Wikipedia, the BSD version of Robots by Ken Arnold was released in '86. That seems too late to be the original version.

But I'll try to reach Ken Arnold for comment.

-1st Watcher

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[Last edited by ErikH2000 at 04-01-2016 05:09 AM]
04-01-2016 at 05:09 AM
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ErikH2000
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Talked to Bill Cotter. He's a really nice guy. I'd like to post his message here, but will wait to get his okay on it. Bill got the BASIC code for Chase and sent it off to Creative Computing for publishing in '76. He was not the original author, and the code he had didn't indicate the author. So it was a mystery to him at the time who wrote it. You can see a REM statement at the beginning that says "Author: unknown".

I also sent another email to Thomas G. Hanlin III. He's got an "under construction" website on the page listing his games, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, I was able to get a description of his work on Chase:
https://web.archive.org/web/20150308200124/http://www.tgh3.com/products_games.html

I'm going to quote the text here. I figure it's good to mirror old text that is maybe in danger of being lost:

quote:

CHASE: A simple "chase" game
FREE!!!
Download chase.bas

This is an old computer game, derived from something that appeared in one of Creative Computing's old game books. The idea is, you're being chased by very lethal (but extremely stupid) robots, and you have to lure them into the electric fences. I doubt many people will find this game as addictive as I once did, but you never know. It's included for historic reference. The date of 6/25/84 would make it one of the earliest programs that I wrote for the IBM PC. The extended-ASCII character codes used in this program will probably look strange if you're not using the U.S. OEM character set.

CHASE includes source code in interpreted BASIC, in ASCII text form. It'll run fine under QuickBasic, too, or probably PowerBASIC, for that matter.


Note this is in '84 and he cites a Creative Computing listing as the basis. So Thomas is not the original author and probably the listing he mentions was submitted by Bill Cotter back in '76.

The mystery remains unsolved. Bill Cotter pointed me back towards Dartmouth, that wonderful birthplace of BASIC and democratized programming.

-1st Watcher


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04-01-2016 at 10:28 PM
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ErikH2000
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From Bill Cotter. Below, he is replying to a PM I sent him.
quote:
Yes, that's me. Boy, what a long time ago that was.I wish I could recall all the details for you but I'll try. I can't remember exactly where I saw the game played first. It may have been at Dartmouth running on the DTSS system, or it may have been in a DEC demo. When the article was published I was actually working as a computer design engineer on the US Navy ballistic missile submarine program, and was looking for a way to get people feeling more comfortable in using our time sharing systems. Most people were scared to death of typing something in and making a mistake, especially in front of their co-workers, so I looked for a way to make it more fun and less threatening. I adapted, and in some cases like to think I improved, a number of games I had seen in my past journeys so they would run on our Honeywell system.

Whatever copy I originally had did not say anything about who wrote it, where, etc. I didn't want to try to pass it off as my own original work so I added the REM statements to reflect that the original author was unknown.

I would suggest directing your search more towards Dartmouth than DEC. That just seems to be more of an impression I have of where I encountered it. Hope that helps. Let me know if you ever do track it down!


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04-01-2016 at 11:55 PM
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billcotter
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Never did I expect when I woke up today that someone would be asking me about the old Chase game!

I'm 99% sure it came out of Dartmouth. My college played them in hockey and a few of us went up after I graduated to go to one of the games. That would most likely have been in the 1975-76 season. While in Hanover we stopped by and checked out the computer department. They had a room open to the public and you could use a terminal for something like 15 minutes.

The weather outside was pretty dreadful, and the computers were interesting, so I, um, found a way around that 15 minute limit. During college I had been arrested for being a phone phreak, and the Navy later wanted me to put those "evil skills" to use on the sub systems. I seem to remember also putting them to use during that visit to Dartmouth to get unlimited time, and learning how I could access the system when I got back to Massachusetts. With that in mind it makes me pretty sure Dartmouth was where I found the first version I later adapted for the Honeywell 6000 system. I had to fix some syntax issues and variables, as I recall, to get it to run correctly on that version of Basic, and I think I played with it a bit to make it as compact as possible. The powers that be at the data center were ok with games like this as long as they took as little CPU power and memory as possible. I think there was also a minor difference with our random number generator.

I later went to work at Honeywell and made a few more changes there, again to encourage people to get comfortable with time sharing systems, but that was after the version seen online now in the old Creative Computing magazine article.

I hope this helps in your quest to find who the first came up with it!

Oh, I also recall that the Dartmouth lab was selling ASCII line printer art, and that I bought just about everything on sale. I still have them in a box somewhere, but where? If I can find them and they have any dates I'll add them, or if there's anything else in that box that could relate to Chase.

Wow. 40 years ago.

Bill Cotter

[Last edited by billcotter at 04-02-2016 12:37 AM]
04-02-2016 at 12:37 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
billcotter wrote:
Oh, I also recall that the Dartmouth lab was selling ASCII line printer art, and that I bought just about everything on sale. I still have them in a box somewhere, but where? If I can find them and they have any dates I'll add them, or if there's anything else in that box that could relate to Chase.

Ha! ASCII art for sale. I love it.

Bill, thanks for posting this.

-Erik

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04-02-2016 at 08:58 PM
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ErikH2000
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I've heard back from Thomas Hanlin III. He is not the original author, but did write an IBM version in '85.
quote:

The original (as far as I know) was designed for a printer terminal. I expect I'd probably ported that to the TRS-80 Model I at some point earlier... the game was ancient already by the time I got to it, though.

-Erik

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04-03-2016 at 05:58 AM
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ayreguitar
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icon Re: Robots/Daleks? (+5)  
Sorry to revive an old thread, but I would also like to know the original author of the game that Chase by Bill Cotter is based on.
Googling has led me here and I believe I have a bit more information that may help:

HiVolts by Doug Jones (and later Dirk Pellet) was written for the PLATO system in the 70s, so may have been available at Dartmouth when Bill Cotter visited. It features random layouts with electric fences and semi-intelligent Mhos that chase the player.
(since I'm a new user I can't post links, but Googling Hivolts Doug Jones plato should work)

Unfortunately this still might not be the original game. Doug Jones states:
"One of the things Greg demonstrated in passing was the suite of games that came with Unix. My memory of seeing him briefly demonstrte one of those games was the root inspiration for the game I wrote."

Hopefully this lead will help someone on this forum track down the original game - I'd love to see it and also discover whether it had the teleport move option that appears in later versions of Chase around 1979 (not available in the 1976 version in Creative Computing)

Happy hunting!
06-26-2018 at 10:23 PM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
ayreguitar wrote:
HiVolts by Doug Jones (and later Dirk Pellet) was written for the PLATO system in the 70s, so may have been available at Dartmouth when Bill Cotter visited. It features random layouts with electric fences and semi-intelligent Mhos that chase the player.!

Congrats for getting further up the Robots family tree! Doug Jones, eh?

Will look into it a bit later and see if I can find a contact. Itís getting hard to find these old engineers the further we go back, though.

-Erik

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07-01-2018 at 05:34 AM
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ErikH2000
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07-01-2018 at 05:36 AM
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ErikH2000
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I sent an email to Doug. I hope he replies.

The guy who demoed a similar game to Doug that inspired HiVolts was Greg Chesson, who is well known for his contributions to networks. Greg died a while back, unfortunately.

-Erik

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07-01-2018 at 06:07 PM
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ErikH2000
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I heard back from Doug Jones. Quotes below are from him.

quote:

I never got into PC gaming, I guess I played enough games on Plato to satisfy my need for games. It's interesting how games on one system can inspire people to develop clones of those games on other systems and, and it's interesting how these games evolve as they pass from developer to developer. There's good coverage of this in the book The Friendly Orange Glow, by Brian Dear -- the book is a history of the Plato system with some pretty good coverage of the evolution of some of the games on that system.


I picked up a copy of this book. It seems interesting.

Re me mentioning HiVolts not being a port:

quote:
Porting things to or from PLATO was never easy because PLATO was totally incompatible. It used a character set based on CDC's 6-bit encoding, no relationship to ASCII. It used a programming language called TUTOR, no relationship to the programming languages used by the rest of the world. We had 512x512 pixel flat plasma panels, with operations that didn't match the graphics operations of the video displays of the era. So, very little code was ported to or from PLATO, it was always a matter of reimplementing things based on ideas from PLATO.


Re me asking, "you did mention that there was some similar game on Unix at the time that Greg Chesson demoed. Do you remember the name of the game or any details?"

quote:
I recall no details. Greg gave a demo shortly after getting the U of Illinois Unix license number 1, showing the CS department what Unix could do, and also talking about the technolgy inside Unix. The game demos occupied no more than 5 minutes of the 40 minute talk, and he just went rapidly through them to show the variety. The best way to research what games he might have demoed would be to find an archival Unix distribution from the era when Greg got the U of I a license and see what games were included. There most definitely were games in all the early Unix distributions. The folks at Bell Labs learned the same lesson that we learned on the PLATO system: Games and a community of gamers are a very strong test of a system.

For me, I should note, developing HiVolts was paid work. My job was to explore PLATO and its TUTOR language in enough detail that I could clone it from the CDC 6600 world where it was developed onto a minicomputer. So HiVolts began as an exploration of the PLATO system and then I immediately ported it to my implementation of TUTOR on the Modcomp IV computer, from which a second evolutionary path took it through Global Informatioin Systems Technology and a sequence of other computer-based education companies to the version that Flint Pellett translated back into PLATO TUTOR to run on the Cyber1.org historical recreation of the PLATO system.


Cool.

I liked the part about games being a good stress test. Although, I like to think that there were a bunch of coders that just wanted to make games because they are fun. And they convinced the suits to indulge them by making a stress-testing argument.

From the above account, it seems fair to credit Doug with an original design. He didn't make the HiVolts while directly referencing another work. But it does make me wonder what the game was in that super-early version of Unix.

And what if... we track down the author of that game and he says something like... "Well, there was this one fella that had some circuit diagrams for a game like Robots, but he was waiting for us to invent a computer..."

I cling to the idea that when computers were so new, it would be especially possible to have original ideas for computer games that are not incrementally created from earlier games. But maybe that's wrong. It wouldn't be too shocking to find a book somewhere describing how Robots could be played on a chessboard.

-Erik

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07-03-2018 at 03:44 AM
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ErikH2000
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icon Re: Robots/Daleks? (0)  
A few more passed-along comments from Doug:

quote:
You like to think that there were a bunch of coders that just wanted to play games? Of course there were. Flint and Dirk were classic examples. In general, the reason games develop is because someone wants to play them. There's a separate question though, and that is why games are tolerated by system administrators of computers that are intended for serious work. The stress test answer is significant. Those self-motivated game developers tend to use every new system feature before anyone else understands it. That happened again and again in the PLATO world,

In the case of Unix at Bell Labs, the story is a bit different. Bell Labs' scientific staff was employed on rather standard research and development model: You work 4 days a week on our project, but you're free to pursue your own ideas one day a week.


Note: Google did not invent 20% time.

quote:
The entire Unix system came from that 1 day a week extra time that Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie had available;


Wow.

quote:
the other 4 days a week, they were busy maintaining system software for the mainframe in the computer center at Murray Hill. After Unix was developed enough to get official sanction from the labs, Ken Thompson put his extra time into his chess playing programs, and several other Unix developers turned to less serious games. I recall spending hours working on legitimate work at the Bell Labs computer center in the summers of 1973 and 1974 while others in the terminal room were playing Unix games. I never learned who they were, nor did I pay attention to the games they were playing, because I was having too much fun working with one of the very first local area networks. Three of the computers on that net even had mice and graphics displays.


I've been listening to The Friendly Orange Glow audiobook, which goes into the history of the Plato system's development. It's quite good. And not in a nostalgic way--I'm actually not really oriented that way. I may start another thread to talk about The Friendly Orange Glow.

-Erik

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Animations I made: Paliwal's Pecans * Office Hate * Sleepless Night
Some stuff I wrote: Top 10 Mazes You Canít Solve By Following the Right Wall * Let's Just Lie About Dieting * The Philosophical Reason for Running * Dare to be Mediocre!
07-04-2018 at 08:56 PM
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