Author Topic: 25th anniversary of the fan communities  (Read 2218 times)

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Offline lance.ewing

25th anniversary of the fan communities
« on: January 03, 2023, 07:07:01 AM »
I thought I would create a new topic, at the start of this new year, to cover anything related to the 25th Anniversary of the fan communities.

It occurred to me a view months back, probably around August/September, that the 25th anniversary of various things in the AGI fan community had already happened in 2022, or are about to happen in 2023. For example, the 25th anniversary of the original release of AGI Studio was a few months back, and PICEDIT would have been a bit before that. Likewise, the 25th anniversary of the release of the first version of the fan made AGI specs was some time last year, and the 25th anniversary of the first release of The Ruby Cast was around about now, followed by various other fan made games in 1998. It was back in 1997 that the AGI fan community pioneers first came together on the Internet and started sharing their various projects and discoveries.

I thought we shouldn't let this past and can perhaps treat 2023 as a special "25th anniversary" for the AGI fan community. SCI probably has a similar anniversary coming up very soon.

One of the main reasons I'm thinking about this, and announcing it, is to continue to motivate myself to work on AGI projects this year, such as AGILE, Visual AGI, perhaps even work a bit more on The Ruby Cast after such a long hiatus!  ;D

That last one really would be something different to mark the occasion. I've tried working on it a few times over the past 20 years, but I haven't got much further than one or two more rooms and then subsequently lost that work. But what I did find recently in a box of books was all of my original notes, drawings and maps relating to the full plan for The Ruby Cast, dating back to 1998, which was something I'd misplaced for many years (over 12 years at least) and so this has encouraged me to perhaps have another go at commencing work on it, and this time I'll use github for the source!  :D

I thought I might even write a book about AGI covering everything we've done and learnt over the years. I'm quite excited about this idea. I think it would be really cool, something to really commemorate the occasion 8) 



Offline Collector

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2023, 10:37:22 AM »
Might be nice to put some of this on the Wiki. Also, you could mirror your agifans.com/ content on the Wiki as well. I see your
SCript Interpreter site is gone. This could be put on the SCI Wiki if you don't want to set it up again.
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Offline lance.ewing

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2023, 10:54:02 AM »
Might be nice to put some of this on the Wiki.

Do you mean digitised copies of my Ruby Cast maps and notes? I was thinking about putting that into github as well. Yeah, perhaps when I have them digitised, I could also attach them to the Ruby Cast Demo page on the AGI wiki.

I see your SCript Interpreter site is gone. This could be put on the SCI Wiki if you don't want to set it up again.

I think this is a DNS issue. I had the same problem with the agifans website a while back. Google sites was strongly pushing me towards converting those sites to the new Google sites platform, using their automatic conversion tool, and I think the DNS got broken in the process. I just need to go through the DNS setup process again. I assume the following works for you though? : https://sites.google.com/site/scriptinterpreter. That's the version without the custom domain.

Not sure how useful that website is anyway. I think it was from before troflip completed the decompiling and Omer released some of the original SCI scripts.

The other thing I found again recently is all the DOS 3.3 GWBASIC programs I wrote back in the early to mid 90s to decode the AGI data files. I will definitely add this to github soon. If I do end up writing a book, then there would be a section talking about those, perhaps with some examples of the BASIC program listings and screenshots of the output.

Might be nice to put some of this on the Wiki.

Or do you mean that if I do end up writing a book, that the content could also be added to the wiki?

Offline Collector

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2023, 12:41:36 PM »
I think this is a DNS issue. I had the same problem with the agifans website a while back. Google sites was strongly pushing me towards converting those sites to the new Google sites platform, using their automatic conversion tool, and I think the DNS got broken in the process. I just need to go through the DNS setup process again. I assume the following works for you though? : https://sites.google.com/site/scriptinterpreter. That's the version without the custom domain.

The other thing I found again recently is all the DOS 3.3 GWBASIC programs I wrote back in the early to mid 90s to decode the AGI data files. I will definitely add this to github soon. If I do end up writing a book, then there would be a section talking about those, perhaps with some examples of the BASIC program listings and screenshots of the output.

Yeah, the above link works. I just hate the loss of Sierra sites. I have local archives of many of the sites that have gone under.

I was thinking of adding any info in general that is not already on the Wiki. Most of those old GWBASIC programs are probably already on the Wiki, but if you do GitHub them I will want to add the GitHub addresses for them to the Wiki.
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Offline pmkelly

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2023, 09:51:04 AM »
Wow, now I really feel old!

Hard to believe it's been 25 years. While I haven't done any AGI stuff since back in the day it's nice to see the (small) community is still somewhat active and it's not something that's been completely forgotten about. The ironic thing is that back in the late 90s AGI was considered old, but there's been a much greater timespan between now and then than there was when we initially got into reverse engineering & tool development. It's been kind of encouraging seeing retro gaming so popular these days - I guess a lot of people (myself included) love reliving their childhoods.

I pretty much owe my career trajectory to those times. It's what got me into the world of programming languages, compilers, and interpreters, which lead to me completing a PhD in the field, and now I now work professionally on programming language design & implementation. Surprisingly few people I've known in real life really appreciate the value of what are deemed "hobby" projects, not realising the educational value they can have.

Lance, I think a book is an excellent idea, and actually I've been thinking of something similar, covering several different game engines of the era (Infocom's Z-Machine, AGI, SCI, SCUMM, maybe one or two others). Modern game engines are so tremendously complex but with early examples like these I think there's value in documenting them for both historical and educational purposes, including both their original development and subsequent reverse engineering efforts. Perhaps we could collaborate on something like this, maybe also bringing in contributors to SCUMMVM who are also familiar with the systems.

There is so much that can be learnt from historical programming environments (Smalltalk is another great example) and thus it's a worthwhile effort to document them for future generations. Development is so different these days and while we have tremendously more capable hardware, I think something has been lost from the 80s and 90s in terms of the need to come up to creative solutions to make the best of constraints.

Offline MusicallyInspired

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2023, 07:25:07 PM »
What a milestone!
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Offline lance.ewing

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2023, 05:19:36 AM »
I was thinking of adding any info in general that is not already on the Wiki. Most of those old GWBASIC programs are probably already on the Wiki, but if you do GitHub them I will want to add the GitHub addresses for them to the Wiki.

I doubt very much that these GWBASIC programs are available anywhere on the Internet. I don't think that I ever released them. By the time I was active on the Internet (1996/97), I had already learnt C and had written various tools in C. Those tools are definitely on the Internet. The GWBASIC programs are ones that I wrote while I was still in high school, before starting University. We weren't taught any programming in high school, so this was self-taught BASIC programming, back in the days when it had line numbers in the code.

Offline lance.ewing

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2023, 05:50:20 AM »
Wow, now I really feel old!

Yeah, me too  :D

Hard to believe it's been 25 years. While I haven't done any AGI stuff since back in the day it's nice to see the (small) community is still somewhat active and it's not something that's been completely forgotten about. The ironic thing is that back in the late 90s AGI was considered old, but there's been a much greater timespan between now and then than there was when we initially got into reverse engineering & tool development. It's been kind of encouraging seeing retro gaming so popular these days - I guess a lot of people (myself included) love reliving their childhoods.

I know what you mean about AGI being old already in the late 90s. I didn't actually play my first AGI game until the AGI era was over. Fairly sure the first AGI game I played was in 1989 and was SQ2. I think I played KQ3 and PQ1 that same year, perhaps GR and MH2 as well. I was in catch up mode.

I pretty much owe my career trajectory to those times. It's what got me into the world of programming languages, compilers, and interpreters, which lead to me completing a PhD in the field, and now I now work professionally on programming language design & implementation. Surprisingly few people I've known in real life really appreciate the value of what are deemed "hobby" projects, not realising the educational value they can have.

That is really cool. For me, back when I was playing the Sierra games and trying to reverse engineer them, I had a dream of getting into game development, but that never happened. I just took the first job I was offered and that determined how my career ended up. Still doing essentially the same thing 25 years later. I started working full time in IT the same year that the AGI fan community started taking off.

Lance, I think a book is an excellent idea, and actually I've been thinking of something similar, covering several different game engines of the era (Infocom's Z-Machine, AGI, SCI, SCUMM, maybe one or two others). Modern game engines are so tremendously complex but with early examples like these I think there's value in documenting them for both historical and educational purposes, including both their original development and subsequent reverse engineering efforts. Perhaps we could collaborate on something like this, maybe also bringing in contributors to SCUMMVM who are also familiar with the systems.

Yeah, I would be interested if you manage to get something underway.

I've already started working on an AGI specific one, having encouraged myself to do so after starting this Topic. Perhaps, once complete, there will be sections of it that can be reworked to be included in the book you're thinking of.

It occurred to me that not many people have looked into ADL, the system that Ken Williams built for the Hires Adventures. SCUMMVM supports them, so obviously whoever coded that did the work to discover how the ADL interpreter works. I couldn't find any other technical details out there about it though, other than the scummvm source code. I plan to have a section near the start of my book that talks about "What came before" AGI, from a technical perspective, and how a lot of that shaped parts of AGI. For example, the PICTURE resource appears to be quite heavily influenced by the earlier games (ignoring the priority screen, which was obviously new for AGI).

There is so much that can be learnt from historical programming environments (Smalltalk is another great example) and thus it's a worthwhile effort to document them for future generations. Development is so different these days and while we have tremendously more capable hardware, I think something has been lost from the 80s and 90s in terms of the need to come up to creative solutions to make the best of constraints.

Yeah, I agree that we're in danger of losing a lot of this history if we don't document it now. The people that worked at Sierra are getting on in their years and mostly in retirement. They're unlikely to be around when we reach the 50th anniversary of our AGI & SCI communities. By then, it will be us that is in retirement. I thought that once I have made a solid start on the book, I'll start to contact various ex Sierra staff again to get comments specifically relevant to various parts of the book. I'm planning to do the same for people from the AGI fan community. So don't be surprised when I send some interview style questions your way  ;D

Offline cosmicr

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2023, 12:46:49 AM »
Heh, I too am feeling incredibly old.

I was only 15 when I joined the original AGI Board (Was it megatokyo or something like that?) I remember feeling like I was one of the elite guys assisting with the decoding of the AGI format etc, in reality I had no idea what I was doing lol. 25 years later I can't really say I know much more now. Unfortunately I never became a computer games programmer, I ended up in Engineering. I was so naive then I used my real name everywhere back then too.

I made two demos that I never finished, Escape Quest, and Pharaoh Quest. I still have them on my hard drive and the source haha. The first game I ever released was AGI Piano. This was before you could make sounds in AGI using AGI Studio or any other tool, I had to make them manually haha. I also made a few other games that I never showed to the internet. Anyone remember F**K Quest? Rich Eter or something like that, I wonder whatever happened to that guy.

I still dream of one day releasing a game, *sigh* maybe in the next 25 years...


Offline Kawa

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2023, 01:02:17 AM »
(Was it megatokyo or something like that?)
Correct, and I was young enough to still have my cringy first username back then. So cringy, I have to wonder why I haven't retconned it in the Megatokyo AGI/SCI forum backup available on my site.

Offline cosmicr

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2023, 01:26:45 AM »
(Was it megatokyo or something like that?)
Correct, and I was young enough to still have my cringy first username back then. So cringy, I have to wonder why I haven't retconned it in the Megatokyo AGI/SCI forum backup available on my site.

I didn't know you had archived it! Is that every post on there? It felt like I had posted a lot more back then. I just had a look through, my posts are very cringey hahaha... What was your original username? Or do we have to guess  :)

Offline Kawa

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2023, 01:30:59 AM »
I didn't know you had archived it! Is that every post on there?
Probably not, lol

Offline MusicallyInspired

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2023, 10:16:53 AM »
Lol dude we've been trying to get a hold of any content from Mega-Tokyo for more than a decade. Please share!
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Offline Kawa

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2023, 10:59:13 AM »
I've had this stuff since... 2017. None of you looked outside of the Stash in my signature? Nobody bothered to click the ".." and noticed the main page has a link labeled "archived AGI/SCI threads from the old MegaTokyo board"?

Lol dude

Offline MusicallyInspired

Re: 25th anniversary of the fan communities
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2023, 01:26:20 PM »
Lol dude I feel stupid
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