Tag Archives: video gaming

“Have you played Atari today?”

A little while ago, after reading “Ready Player One” again (Spielberg is making a movie!) and after seeing a couple of tech talks by old Atari game programmers, I was lamenting that I sold my old Atari VCS so many years ago.  Well, Darlene jumped on this comment, found a bundle someone was selling on eBay and surprised me with an early birthday gift.  Yup, an old Atari VCS/2600 (four switch version), a set of controllers and a bundle of game cartridges. Sweet!  (I think my brother and I actually had the six-switch, Sears-rebranded version, but still very cool!) Thanks, Darlene!

I immediately had to go fill out the set of 40 cartridges with a couple of other games I remember us playing a lot.  Of course then was the challenge of hooking it up: the Atari outputs an analog RF TV signal… on an RCA-plug cable.  You can use an adapter like this one to go from RCA plug to coax TV cable input.  I don’t have a TV tuner, so rather than pulling a VCR out of a box in a closet, I hooked it up via my old USB EyeTV tuner/video converter to my MacBook – success!

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Yeah, you can play any of these games via emulation on a modern computer, or even a smartphone/iPad, but there’s something very different about jamming the physical cartridge into the old physical console and handling that classic Atari joystick.  (And having to use cotton swabs and alcohol to clean the contacts on all of the Activision cartridges to get them to work again!)

It’s been fun to pick these up and rediscover old visual/procedural memories, like the admittedly-simple path through the Adventure maze.  Some titles are only vaguely familiar until you plug them in and see the game again and then go “aha!!”

So… to paraphrase Atari’s old marketing… have you played your Atari today?

to_be_continued

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Red Alert! Shields Up!

Got some friends together on Sunday to try out Artemis — a “spaceship bridge simulator” game where each person takes on a different role and we work together to successfully complete the mission: helm, weapons, science, engineering, communications, command.  We did have some “technical difficulties” and some “minor disasters” (our ship sometimes completely destroyed) but everybody enjoyed the experience — it was a lot of geeky fun!

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Darlene was busy working but she was there in spirit — particularly after she sent a photo of herself in uniform.  (Yes, those boots may not be “Starfleet regulation” — but I wholeheartedly approve!)

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The Wrath of Denethenor

A print magazine advertisement for the Wrath of Denethenor from around 1986.

This is a fantasy adventure game I designed and wrote for the Apple II in 1984-85.

I began writing the game in my last year of high school and finished it up during my first year of college. A friend from high school, Kevin Christiansen, helped out by building the graphics routines for the Apple II version.  At Sierra On-Line’s request, I ported the game to the Commodore 64 — which was only possible since it shared the same processor family — but which required redoing all of the graphics routines.

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Geek Club Meetup – Arcade Gaming

Pictures from a meetup with “The Geek Club” for “California Extreme” – a terrible name for a video game arcade convention:

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Ski Weekend in Tahoe

Another fun ski weekend with the Bay Area Outdoor Adventure Club – at Squaw Valley and Northstar.  Click through for the full gallery of images — including some amusing video clips of Matt and Rajin trying to knock each other out in Wii Boxing:

  

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Denethenor Lives!

— On 11/10/06 11:16 PM, space aliens may have forced Steve M. to write:

 Hi Chris,

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Wrath of Denethenor. It was my favorite game for the Apple IIe. I got the IIe when I was in 7th grade, more than 18 years ago. I played it for hours (until the wee hours) and eventually finished it. I really had a lot of fun with it.

I have a few confessions to make though….I remember figuring out that I could cheat the towns by using a “anger management disk” when leaving a town or social area after attacking and robbing them. If I swapped the floppy right before exiting the town, the disk would store their anger and tempers towards my character and when re-entering the town, I would insert my all is good “clean” disk…and they would be happy to see me. Invariably I would just rob them again, which didn’t always seem fair…and they would be none the wiser the next time. I racked up a lot of resources that way. I felt pretty proud of myself that I’d figured that one out.

One more thing, I didn’t pay for the game L I downloaded it from some AE/Elite board on my 1200 baud modem at midnight some school night no doubt when it was late enough that I could use the phone like for multiple hours for downloading. Squinty O’ Toole’s Elite BBS, or something similar. How times have changed with the Internet. I was in 7th grade I think… How much was the game in the store? I’d like to pay you for it now. Let me know and I’ll paypal you the cost. Seriously J

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“I say let his WRATH be REBORN!”

Date: June 12, 2006 4:34:21 PM PDT
Subject: I say let his WRATH be REBORN!!!!

Hello Christopher,

Found your website on yahoo doing a search (just for the hell of it) for Wrath of Denethenor – a game that I still enjoy and that ranks high on my list…

ULTIMA III: EXODUS
FINAL FANTASY VII
WRATH OF DENETHENOR

Every other game I have played (I’m 33 now and still enjoy RPGs but hell, they don’t pay the bills!) just is in my mind either a cheap immitation, or just don’t do it quite the same.

I still have my old Apple IIc (the damn thing still works!) with working copies of Wrath– and Uhh… I just beat it again a few weeks ago, except now I’m just too damn good at it.

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Denethor or Denethenor?

Hey, Chris!

I just came across your website in the most bizarre of ways.. let me explain.

First let me say I was a huge fan of your game “Wrath of Denethenor” way back in the day when I was living in Vermont and using my old Apple ][+ exclusively (I still have it, and it still works, if you can believe it).  Having been completely blown away by the Ultima series, I decided to try your game, and loved it.  So, hats off to you for that.

Now fast forward – to what?  20 years?  Has it really been that long?  Wow…

I was recently on the D.C. metro heading to work, reading the Lord of the Rings “Return of the King” for the first time ever, and the character “Denethor” was introduced.  Soon after I read about “Denethor’s wrath” referring to his attitude regarding the declining state of his army, his son, and his kingdom in the midst of a war. I thought to myself – wait a minute, that sounds familiar… except that the arch-villain was “DenethENor”.  Coincidence?

So out of sheer curiosity I googled Denethenor, came across your site, and figured I’d ask you, introduce myself, and let you know there are people out there who, 20 years later, have not forgotten that wily bastard who comes after you. ;)

Cheers to you my friend, a true pioneer of the early era.

Darren

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Scenes from Azeroth

Click through for a gallery of images from exploring Azeroth – the world of “World of Warcraft” in 2005:

  

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Yay, Fan Mail!

— On 9/15/04 11:31 AM, space aliens may have forced Gordon to write:

 Hi Chris!

Just wanted to thank you for the great game and the memories that went along with it…my friends and I loved this game.

Just out of curiosity…why did you never make any other games? Your game albeit looking somewhat like Ultima very original in many ways (animated characters and other touches).  Have you made any shareware or hobby games since then?

Thanks in advance!

Gordon

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for writing and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it.

I never wrote another game because I’ve been doing other software engineering full time since college (on FileMaker Pro 1.0-7.0) and I’m just not motivated to spend that much more time on the computer than I already do outside of work!  (As you can see, I can’t even keep up on my personal email!)

The only shareware I did was a module for Now Software’s “Now Fun!” title, but what I did was just a utility to customize the colors on the old Macintosh System 8 — I think, or was it 7?!  Anyway, that’s all.  FileMaker keeps me pretty busy!

Thanks again,

Chris

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David’s Birthday

Click through for a gallery of pictures from a little gaming party for David’s birthday at my place:

 

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Wrath of Denethenor – Cheat myself back

Hiya.  I was wondering if you knew (or remembered) the offsets (and such) in the Apple ][ code for WoD to well, cheat.
I got very far into WoD when I was 16 years old (I’m 33 now!).
Somehow, my game disks (one of them?) became corrupted, and I couldn’t finish the game.  I recently downloaded an Apple ][ emulator and found roms to your game!
(Is this ok?)  Anyway, I’d like to cheat myself back to where I was, or at least remove the stamina reduction over time functionality and such.  The “Applewin” program seems to have a decent debugger.. though I’m racking my brain to remember 6502 assembly language. =)
I know it’s been a LONG time, but if you remember anything, I’d appreciate it.
Thanks for writing such a great game.  Playing it again brings back some great memories.
-V-

 

Geez… talk about a backlog of old email….  sorry for the (yikes!) year long delay!Thanks for writing and thanks for your interest in WoD.

Here are some of the key offsets from the character file.  (No, I most definitely am not recalling this from memory!!)  I believe all the values were in BCD (binary coded decimal) — in other words, 255 would be represented in hex as “0255” not “00FF”.  hit points: bytes 26 & 27,  stamina: 28 && 29,  gold: 30 & 31

Enjoy!

– Chris

Hehe, I was wondering why you never responded. ;)

Thanks for the answer!

Take care,

-V-

ps. I have some great memories of some of the first games I’ve ever really loved when I was just getting into computers in my teens.  Thanks for one of them.

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Wrath of Denethenor

> Hey!
>
> I loved that game on the ’64. Almost finished it. Apparently, the only
> thing I didn’t try was speaking “uren duir esex” from RIGHT NEXT to
> Denethenor. :( Tried it from further back… I was under the impression
> from “choose your steps wisely” and “approach like a whisper” and “the
> unspoken spell” that it had to do with a step pattern, and hitting the
> “say” button, then f7 to make it say “nothing.” Oh well. It was a fun game
> in any case.
>
> I’m also a Mac dude, so have had experience with old Claris works. Did see
> your name in the credits… :D
>
> Ethan Larson

Hi Ethan,

Thanks for your message.  I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the game!  You certainly were awfully close to finishing it — just a couple of steps away!

Thanks again,
Chris

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Wrath of Denethenor

Hey,

Just saw your website–and I must say my brother and I were both totally addicted to that game.  We were actually wondering if you know of any decent emulated versions for a pc these days…oh how i miss my lil green screen being standing on an island whacking a ship :)

thanks for writing a great game!

-leigh mccue

Hi Leigh,

I’m glad to hear you had a good time playing my game.  As for an emulated version, I recommend looking for an Apple ][ or Com-64 emulator and trying to find a set of disk images on the web.  I’ve looked now and again and I did find a set of Com-64 disk images but it they didn’t seem to work well with the Com-64 emulator I found.  If you manage to find a set of Apple ][ disk images of the game, I’d like a copy too!

Thanks again for writing,

Chris

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