15 Classic FPS Games That You Should Know — The First Three Periods (1992-2003)

 master chief

The concept of a game about shooting from a first-person perspective ain’t new. It was born with Jet Rocket by Sega in 1970. There have been almost four dozens of first-person games from 1970 up to 1992.

Wolfenstein 3D was the first shooter to become ported to many platforms. It was released in May ‘92. It became highly popular as a consequence

I separated the ages of FPSes into periods I personally have noted. In this article, I’m going to call these periods “ages”. In my view, an age ends and a new one begins when a game with a ground-breaking concept appears. A game-changing game, so to speak.

For those who are new to FPSes it may be difficult to grasp how they revolutionized the video gaming world. Proof of this are the many games in this list. They continue to fascinate many video game players. To the point of still having communities. In their communities players and developers share their enthusiasm and produce source ports.

Source ports and graphical mods can improve greatly on the original games. Many modern graphic effects can be added. These make the ported and modded games look in ways we couldn’t dream of twenty years ago.

I picked five classics from each age. The ones that don’t have source ports can be played with an old version of Windows or with DOSBox. Many were also ported to other platforms, specially consoles. Also, some are still in the market, twenty years on.

I’ve used italics to denote a game that must have made its way into this list but didn’t.

 

The First Age (1992-1996)

1. Doom

Doom was the first game to twist the coolest traits of the style that Wolfenstein 3D started. Some people call this game abstract. A lot of Doom’s level design is admirable even today. But it has maps that go too over the top. Sadly, it strays from the original concept. A science fiction and horror concept finely expressed in the beginning levels.

I don’t remember precisely which levels. I think they began somewhere around episode two.
There were maps that were just too abstract. Others resembled other genre of video games. Like platform and side-scroll arcades converted to an FPS format. They don’t gel well with the rest of the game. Maybe that’s the only weak point of this pillar of the history of FPSes.

But even if just for the trivia factor. Visiting those crazily designed levels of the original Doom carries some value. Even if it’s just to stop for a moment, and ask oneself what were the developers smoking when they designed them.

Doom is one of the classics that still has a lively community. It shows in the quantity of source ports available, that allow for it to run on modern computers.

 

Doom Source Ports

  • GLDoom
  • Boom
  • Doomsday Engine
  • DOSDoom
  • Vavoom
  • ZDoom
  • Chocolate Doom
  • Risen3D

 

2. Doom II: Hell On Earth (1994)

It shows a great improvement over the first one. It has an uninterrupted flow of fun. For many years Doom was the king of FPSes because of Doom II. It took years to the rest of the shooter industry to catch up with it. Because Doom II had semi-open environments and swarming waves of enemies. Two things that shooters of the mid-nineties generally lacked.

In the mid and late nineties, the quantities of enemies in FPSes was relatively modest. And the scenarios were indoor corridors and rooms. Unlike Doom II.

In the second Doom, scares were less. It was more action oriented, given the nature of its many pseudo-open-environment maps.

I couldn’t put this game on the first place. Even if I would have liked to. Because the terrain won over the original was somewhat ruined by the poor execution of a few maps. Those maps intended to be recreations of urban settings. The end product was quite anti-climatic. It stopped my suspension of disbelief.

Other than that, Doom II quite shows that the original could be easily improved. It was achieved by dumping the scares. By mercilessly whipping the player with incessant frantic shooting moments. Moments that required sophisticate tactics. And not just tactics. It lent itself to the incorporation of strategies. Strategies involving objects like med-kits ammo. An improved experience over the mere killing of waves of mobs in a corridor.

 

Doom II Source Ports

Most if not all source ports of Doom should work for Doom 2. I played it on Risen3D.

 

 

3. Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995)

Dark Forces should be recognized as the most innovative among first-age first-person shooters. It introduced a lot of stuff that wasn’t available until later.

Crouch and jump capabilities were the most obvious ones. It was influenced by Lucasarts’s other gems. Mostly graphic adventures. It shows in the puzzles’ difficulty, which I think is slightly harder than the puzzles of other FPS of the same era.

Anyhow, this game was inspiring. Because like most other games on this list, it wasn’t a Doom clone. It took where Doom left off. I dare say that the level design is credible even today. Except for the missions where natural rock formations are involved.

 

 

4. Heretic (1994)

It wasn’t as simple as Doom in a sword and sorcery setting. Heretic was the fantasy response to Doom. It showed that a medieval setting could be used. And that the fun would stay the same.

As features that Doom lacked was the ability to carry an inventory.

Even though it has been more than twenty years that I played this game, I can’t forget the coolness of some of its levels. The geometry wasn’t much different from Doom’s. Still, the maps’ layouts looked somewhat more consistent as a whole. Also, they lacked the awkward transitions from credible to non-credible of the Dooms. Because it is done in a medieval setting it’s decidedly a feat of design. Especially if you consider that the quantity of maps is massive.

 

 

5. Rise Of The Triad (1994)

I didn’t play it in its heyday. I remember that ROTT, Descent and Quarantine were the three of the most popular classics I missed.

Around 2004 I remembered it and installed it. Only to recall very vague memories of it. Picking from very deep in my memory I remember that I played to it briefly. I must have had the same sensation I had in the 2004 sight of it.

I thought that coming from Apogee, it was going to be something in league with Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.

When I saw the mobs, and the overall weirdness, and its excessive ways I thought it was too much over the top for me.

When I started playing these games I also chose them because their realism and immersion. What Rise Of The Triad was to me in the style sense was kind of a hodgepodge. A lot of stuff that was a bit disparaging to see together.

Its structures resembled platform games. Even the overblown soundtrack. Nothing made sense to me when I was younger.

Rise Of The Triad was difficult to classify with its odd items and maps. It blew my mind and overwhelmed it. I never could get into it. It was a boredom caused out of total disinterest. A disinterest provoked by the incapability to make any sense of it.

A game that was going to be Wolfenstein 3D’s sequel. Because of business reasons had to become a separate intellectual property. A game in which the mobs had the faces of its developers. Everything about it was bland for me.

But when I picked it up recently I regretted not having played it.

It’s Apogee alright. The mechanics of the wolf engine are there. I felt very at home with it. I actually enjoyed it, like eighteen years after its release. Not because of any kind of nostalgia. But because something classic like it can only get better with the passing of the years.

You must make an effort and see past the outdated graphics. Come to appreciate it. You’ll realize that no study of the golden age of FPS is complete without knowing the original ROTT.

 

ROTT Source Ports

  • WinRott
  • Gl Rott
  • Icculus (Linux)
  • Dr Lex’s ROTT Port (Mac OS X)
  • ROTT DS (Nintendo DS), PSP (PlayStation Portable), ROTT DC (Dreamcast), ROTT for GP2X, ROTT Dingux (Dingo 320), ROTT X (XBox), ROTT for GP32, ROTT for WIZ, ROTT for Pandora, ROTT for Amiga OS 4.0

 

First Age Honorable Mentions

  1. Wolfenstein 3D (id Software, 1992)
  2. Catacomb Abyss (id Software, 1992)
  3. System Shock (Looking Glass Studies, 1994)
  4. Marathon (Bungie Software, 1994)
  5. Descent (Parallax Software, 1995)
  6. Witchhaven (Capstone Software, 1995)
  7. Hexen: Beyond Heretic (Raven Software, 1995)

 

The Second Generation (1996-1999)

The offer of the second age of first-person shooters is exponentially bigger than the first age’s one, I had a hard time choosing just five.

 

1. Quake (1996)

Although in this era real, fully 3D games appeared and ruled it, there wasn’t a lot of them yet, and Quake outpaced all other games in this department since it was released early in this age’s timeline.

There wasn’t anything like Quake before it. Its graphics, that today can look very clumsily-designed and dated, but in 1996 they were maybe the coolest graphics in a PC game ever.

What made Quake’s graphics so cool was the fact that it was the first FPS to have true 3D graphics, not 2.5D like all its predecessors.

Not only that, but its anachronistic mixture of medieval castles with relatively modern — and sometimes futuristic — technology and weapons was well executed.

Its narrative, which borrowed from Lovecraft and the theme of multi-dimensional paradoxes and teleporting travel from Doom’s back-story, made a lot of sense.

It’s difficult not getting emotional with Quake, but after all, it marked a before and after it, it is the first real 3D FPS.

 

Quake Source Ports

  • GLQuake
  • WinQuake
  • Darkplaces
  • DirectQ
  • Ultimate Quake Engine
  • QuakeWorld
  • Quakespasm

 

 

2. Blood (1997)

What Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake did for gameplay mechanics (i.e., revolutionizing the market) and video-game genre — establishing the FPS genre — Blood did for the evolution of video-game narrative and niche-specific genre.

Blood is a monument and a love letter to horror fandom. Its back-story is so greatly fleshed out, that one really gets involved with Caleb’s (Blood’s snarky protagonist) quest, and cares about what happens to him.

It wasn’t the same with the plots of all the FPSes that came before. The back-stories of the FPSes that came before were lighter, more ambiguous, or more open to personal interpretations.

Blood changed all that, adding a dramatic story dimension much more developed than the plots of the games that came before.

Blood did pander to the fanbase in a huge way. Doom and Quake were spooky, granted. Also, both of them were considered science fiction AND horror. But Blood was a totally different beast altogether!

It had science fiction elements, but they weren’t obvious and ubiquitous like in Doom, and to a lesser extent Quake. No, understandable anachronisms aside, Blood was circumspect in staying inside its time frame; a potpourri of alternate-reality 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s.

I think the highest point of 2.5D FPSes was Duke Nukem 3D, but all the niceties that made Duke 3D stand out were a given in Blood, even more so, they were bettered. Gibs and blood were greater, and gorier, than in Duke3D, to give just one example.

Returning to the analysis of Blood’s genre, it seems that in the beginning, first-person shooters were very liberal in picking genres.

Blood was no different. Blood was horror and weird-western with a tad of teslapunk science fiction here and there. The difference was in the balance of the three genres, weird-western and teslapunk were markedly the sideshows. They were sublimated to the main themes of classic horror it featured.

Blood has references to dozens of horror works in its maps, as well as in Caleb’s one-liners, and, as unoriginal as this may sound, when there weren’t horror first-person shooters, visiting Morningside Cemetery (from the Phantasm movie), Crystal Lake (Friday the 13th), The Shining’s hedge maze, or finding Freddy Krueger’s personal effects lying around in a room with an Elvira Mistress of The Dark calendar on the wall was the pinnacle of horror-infused coolness.

 

Blood Source Ports

They appear on the web as work in progress since years ago and there isn’t a completed one yet.

  • Transfusion
  • Transfusion II
  • BloodSource

 

 

3. Kingpin: Life of Crime (1999)

Kingpin exudes style by every pore and it’s one of those games that you can take as a signpost marking a before and an after in the story of FPS games.

This game goes beyond where all its predecessors went. When one thought the genre-mixing, so characteristic of back-stories, was getting hackneyed and trite, Kingpin did it again but in astonishing ways.

To begin with, it was one of the first, if not the first, squad-based FPSes. When no squad-based FPS did exist — at least not single-player ones — it was extremely cool to hire helper NPCs and steamroll the enemies down with their help.

The pastiche of genres was expressed not so much in the themes as it was expounded on its settings, a show of style by itself. The story transpires in a retro-fit city of Art Déco, Brutalist, Victorian and Gothic buildings, just like Bioshock would be on later years minus the Victorian style.

It’s one of darkest, cruelest FPSes that ever existed, and the one in which most profanity is spoken.

And along the hiring of helper NPCs with the money you looted from mobs, there was the possibility of buying equipment and even modding one’s weapons; a thing that was beginning to appear, as shown by the weapon modding available in Unreal, Half-Life, and SiN.

Life of Crime was also one of the first FPSes to introduce localized damage boxes; a head-shot did definitely more damage than a shot to the chest. All this peppered with the mobs’ insults, and the player’s option to taunt the mobs.

I think the makers of Kingpin wanted to make it a dominant video game in the market, and they went all the way in trying to achieve it, even licensing Cypress Hill’s songs for the game’s soundtrack.

 

4. Duke Nukem 3D (1996)

Duke Nukem 3D, like Blood, was a game based on the Build3D engine.

The high level of interaction possible, the capability of crouching, miniaturizing oneself, jumping and flying, the gore, the raunchiness of the environment, and the freedom to break most of the stuff around gave the game a depth of immersion that no previous FPS had.

Worth of mention is the introduction of random one-liners by the playing character that was hilarious, for instance: “I’m gonna get medieval on your a**es”, or “It’s time to kick a** and chew bubble gum, and I’m all outta gum!” and cool, that it won its players’ hearts in no time.

Although Duke is a mercenary for the CIA, this fact posed no moral dilemmas when weighted against the premise of the game: an alien invasion of the Earth and the originality of its weapons, its highly detailed maps, and its compelling story-line.

The orchestration of all its over-the-top elements makes this game an all-time, undying classic.

 

Duke Nukem 3D Source Ports

  • EDuke32
  • Chocolate Duke3D
  • JFDuke3D
  • Duke3D_w32
  • nDuke
  • hDuke
  • xDuke
  • Icculus

 

 

5. Outlaws (1997)

As time passed, first-person shooters started to get more genre-specific. Outlaws was the first successful western-themed first-person shooter.

It runs on the Jedi engine, and when it was released this engine was dated; if judged by the standards that Quake had set one year before.

But Outlaws was special because its 2.5D graphics were cell-shaded, and the animation-style art was sweet.

The maps are challenging and fun. Some are designed with a view to making the player use sophisticate tactic and strategy. This, as opposed to a more linear approach of always going forth, and then backtracking by a devoid of foes map, when pass-card X or key Y need to be found.

There are maps when you enter a town and the next thing you know is there are foes everywhere. In these maps, you have to entrench yourself where you are, and start killing until you can advance a bit. Then you must try to find a new tactical position nearer your objective than the last one.

I’ve read somewhere that Spielberg and Lucas do movies thinking them in a way as to have at least a couple of scenes that feel like theme park rides. This way of doing things is implemented in Outlaws because there are levels that feel like a theme-park ride.

This became common, but I think Outlaws was one of the first games that did this. The game’s back-story is very professionally fleshed out, and expounded with animation cut-scenes. That’s always a good thing to have in a game, especially a second age FPS like this one, when a rich back-story was the exception and not the rule.

 

Honorable Mentions

As much as I would have liked making a bigger list to include some of the games that follow, I wanted to narrow down the ones I think are musters to only five for the sake of convenience, but now I’m realizing it’s going to get harder because the gamut of first-person shooters kept on growing.

The following ten honorable mentions from the second age are games that weren’t as popular as the five I just mentioned, but nonetheless, they deserve a revisiting if they weren’t played in its heyday.

  1. Strife (Velocity, Rogue Entertainment, 1996)
  2. The Terminator: SkyNET (Bethesda Softworks, 1996)
  3. The Terminator: Future Shock (Bethesda Softworks, 1996)
  4. ZPC (Zombie Studios, 1996)
  5. Killing Time (Studio 3DO, 1996)
  6. Powerslave (Lobotomy Software, 1997)
  7. Quake II (id Software, 1997)
  8. Realms Of The Haunting (Gremlin Interactive, 1997)
  9. Blood II: The Chosen (Monolith Productions, 1998)
  10. SiN (Ritual Entertainment, 1998)

 

The Third Iteration  (1999-2004)

Besides the classification I chose of grouping first-person shooters by age. I like also to separate them between those that can be considered old-school as opposed to those that I see as new-school. Serious Sam is the first “new school” FPS I played.

What’s the difference I make between the two schools?

Roughly, if a game involves a lot of backtracking, keys, switches, and puzzles, and at the same time, it doesn’t have a lot of enemies I’d call it old-school.

New-school would be any FPS with huge open areas, next to zero puzzles and relentless waves of enemies coming at the player and making the game-play very fast paced, and the shooting very frantic.

 

 

1. Serious Sam: The First Encounter (2001)

This game is fun from start to finish, especially for the radical change in game-play pace to what we’ve been accustomed; because there weren’t a lot of frantic FPSes before Serious Sam.

Like I said, we had a taste of the future with Doom II, with their relatively open maps and a high count of relentless mobs. But before Serious Sam frantic shooting in FPSes was hard to come by.

The weapons in this game are great, and once you have them all it’s great to rely on a different weapon for each type of mob.

But there are many instances in Sam’s journey when the lack of weapons and ammunition force the player to make do with the less destructive weapons. Or to perform all kind of acrobatics and evasive movements to cope with the barrage of mobs.

 

 

2. Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)

What to say about Halo that hasn’t been said already? Not much, besides it being another example, maybe one of the most important, of games which were released many years ago that still seem to be aging extremely well.

Now, what Halo brought into the single-player FPS world that wasn’t exploited before was the ability to drive different types of vehicles.

Of course, there were games, like Necrodome, Shadow Warrior or Redneck Rampage, that had some kind of vehicle-manning feature. Still none of them in the extent of Halo and none of them was as popular as Halo.

Another ground-breaking innovation was the regenerating shield, but nowadays one can find the waters very divided pertaining this kind of things. It’s disappointing that the shield-regenration of Halo has been done to death by other games after it.

For many Cortana may be just Windows 10 assistant. In Halo there is a computer/hologram helping Master Chief in his adventures of the same name. I Halo’s Cortana was the inspiration for Windows 10 assistan, but her involvement in Halo’s story line is practically non-existent.

Cortana is not a bot supporting the player, or something like the AI of System Shock 2 or the one from Tron 2.0, she’s only an assistant AI helping Master Chief remotely.

While Halo aims to be somewhat true to UFO and space alien lore, it has its own take on the grey and reptilian alien UFO lore legends; making the game’s version of the aliens (The Covenant) and their agenda feel totally evil.

 

 

3. Return To Castle Wolfenstein (2001)

We thought Castle Wolfenstein would be everything that Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny never were.

What we got in return, nine years later, was pretty much more of the same, but with an updated engine and graphics to match.

Without taking into account the maps in exterior locations, all its design elements are okay for its time. The back-story is greatly improved over the original and it’s very interesting. It’s about the Nazi’s and the occult.

This game has one aspect that didn’t age well. Its textures and the way the soil and grass are done in open maps are terribly unsatisfactory. We will see this finally changing around three years later, with CryTek engine and Far Cry’s lush vegetation, where the grass is not just a 2D texture but an actual 3D object.

 

 

4. Gunman Chronicles (2000)

Gunman is a total conversion of Half-Life. That’s the reason it goes in the fourth place of this list. If Gunman Chronicles had its original engine, I’d have placed it higher up because this game shows its designers’ intelligence and good taste in the niche genre they chose for it.

Gunman Chronicles’ is a space western, and this fact is expressed in a convincing and engaging way. It’s a gripping, long journey to kill The General, who strands the player in a backwater planet.

I can’t stop thinking that the whole Half-Life mod scene (including Counter Strike) has been kind of redeemed by this game. I thought the plot was way, way more interesting and epic than the plot of the original Half-Life.

While I played Half-Life almost until completion, I did it with a grudge towards it. I can’t see why it’s considered by many the best FPS of all time.

Yet, Gunman is a totally different cup of tea. It’s the narrative, style and looks Half-Life never had: over the top, genre-heavy awesomeness.

This game also has a very sophisticated weapon modification system that is yet to be overcome by a better one; something I didn’t see happen yet, not in an FPS at least. It’s superior even to Kingpin’s weapon mod system.

 

 

5. Clive Barker’s Undying (2001)

Conversions, licensing and franchises from other formats, be it book, movie, comic, or whatnot are a thing. Yet, genre first-person shooters produced by the masters of other formats was kind of novelty in the early two-thousands.

In the nineties, we had William Shattner’s TekWar, but that was a conversion from the mid-nineties TV series. Undying, is worthy of its place in this list. Because Clive Barker, the acclaimed creator of the Hellraiser saga, designed it. And it shows.

Someone as much accomplished as Barker, and with a quite different background than your run-of-the-mill video game designer couldn’t keep with the structured trends. The consequence is a game that plays like any other FPS, but goes beyond, incorporating a high-quality back-story and original mechanics.

I can’t remember, off the bat, another game with a set of spells to match the playing character’s set of fire and melee weapons, but Undying has it.

As many other games of the early two-thousands, it suffers from very poor skinning and art in general of the outdoor locations, but the indoor ones look okay to this day.

It goes without saying that this game is a must for fans of horror in general and fans of FPS horrors in particular.

 

Honorable Mentions

  1. Team Fortress (Team Fortress Software, 1999)
  2. Alien versus Predator (Rebellion Developments, 1999)
  3. System Shock 2 (Irrational Games, 1999)
  4. Tom Clancy’s (Ubisoft)
  5. Medal of Honor (Dreamworks Interactive, 1999)
  6. Unreal Tournament (Epic Games, 1999)
  7. No One Lives Forever (Monolith, 2000)
  8. The World is Not Enough (Eurocom, 2000)
  9. Jedi Outcast (Raven Software, 2002)
  10. Vietcong (Pterodon Illusion Softworks, 2003)
  11. Postal 2 (Running with Scissors, 2003)
  12. Tron 2.0 (Monolith, 2003)
  13. Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi (Idol FX, 2003)
  14. Call of Duty (Infinity Ward, 2003)

 

Outro

I hope you enjoyed this list. Its main objective was picking the essential fifteen of the first three ages. Most if not all of these games can be played in a web browser in archive.org or similar sites, like for instance classicreload.com.

 

© 2018 Wensley Evolo
Photo Credit: Joshua | Ezzell

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s2sdefault

The BBS Today — Obsolescence vs Coolness 

Wensley Evolo
01-12-2018

 

CONTENTS

    1. Acknowledgements
    2. Abstract
    3. Methodology
      1. First Incarnation (2011 – ’12)
      2. Second Incarnation (2014)
    4. Conclusion
    5. Appendix A — If Interpreters
      1. Games Choice
    6. Appendix B
      1. How to Connect to a BBS in the Web 2.0 Age
          1. SyncTERM
    7. Bibliography

 

Acknowledgements

I wanted to thank my mentor Megga Hertz. The most thug-like artist of Remorse. Remorse is Acid’s ascii art division. Acid Productions is the dominant outfit of underground art scene. He imparted on me unselfish, indirect mentoring through the Tyrone e-zine. That must have been in or around 1996.

I must also thank my only IRC companions, my peers at #Remorse on EFnet (c. 2000), for accepting me into the fold.

With the broadband explosion that was going on in those years, BBSing was dying. To be accepted in the greatest ASCII art group of all time made me stay in the scene when I would otherwise have quit.

 

Abstract

To BBS like it was 1994, there are several options to run a board on modern hardware and operating systems. I’ll give three examples. There is Synchronet for Windows and *nix. Mystic for Windows, DOS, OS/2, OS X and *nix. And DayDream for Amiga and *nix. I didn’t research about the choices of contemporary BBS-hosting software for Mac.

But where is the fun of throwing by the window all the handsome BBS software of the past? One must get over the fact that BBS culture was current more than one generation ago. There is a living BBS scene. What was known before as scene BBSes are still here.

In this paper, on a first instance, I will take on account the time that the first phase of the project took. This variable will be factored in the Fun vs Drudge Equation. It will be done for every stage of the project’s tasks. Especially about how using legacy software can prove a time-sink . An obstacle in the implementation process.

The first live version of the BBS was a failure. It was a crippled take on streamlining old telecommunications applications with retro-gaming. It was a customized version of the BBS as front-end. A front end for a games server delivering single-player text adventures of the past. This first incarnation didn’t feature common BBS functionalities. It didn’t have messages, files bases, and the rest because I couldn’t make those work.

On a second instance, I will outline the steps I followed to let the BBS software of my choice (System/X) functioning. I was able to let it working at 99% 1990s-BBS-radness. The second phase, more than two years later, was a new start. A clean installation of the vanilla version of the BBS software. I managed to make it work on a server running Windows 7 32 bits. This time, almost all the features BBS were known to have available back in the ’90s were supported.

 

Methodology

As starting samples I used Desire 1.5 and System/X 1.5e (1.5 Alpha Strike Eagle edition) for the game server front-end BBS.

I used NetFOSS 1.04 as the BBS’s fossil driver (virtual modem).

I used Net2BBS as the BBS’s telnet server.

For the final deployment, I used System/X 1.5a for the BBS and Gamesrv 3.10.19b2 as virtual modem/telnet server.

 

First Broadband BBS (2011 – 2012)

At first, I used an already configured version of Desire 1.5 on Windows 2000 professional. I configured this setup of Desire 1.5 somewhere in 2004 on Windows 98 on a non-networked computer. Operating system-level compatibility issues were not present.

I was expecting to take advantage of Desire’s compatibility with System/X (version 1.5e). To make use of the varied door collections available for both systems. I don’t remember exactly the issue. Desire was a tough BBS software to return to BBSing after three a decade and a half. The issue might have been a crash on load-up kind of problem because I don’t remember spending much time with it.

Desire or any old BBS software can be put to use with the help of DOSBox.

I’ve visited BBSes running legacy BBS software that ran on DOSBox. I just didn’t want to go that extra mile. The hardware I used as petri dish from my experiments was old. It was an HP Vectra from 1997 running Windows 2000. If it broke it would be a hassle to migrate the BBS. Also, I didn’t know how much overhead running the BBS on DOSBox would add to that old computer.

I used NetFOSS as virtual modem and Net2BBS as the telnet server. The telnet server package included these two utilities. It worked right from the first try. The setting up of it was through a simple .ini file. The switches and parameters of the modem’s .BAT file required minimum shell knowledge.

I got a sub-domain thanks to the free services of Afraid.org and begun testing the server through it. Minor incongruities with the former installation were fixed. That’s when I found that the version of Desire I had, an unregistered copy, did not run doors. I decided to try the other already configured setup I had tweaked in 2004. It was System/X. It was the 1.5e Alpha Strike Eagle edition with dA bALHED’s undocumented add-on doors.

This customized version of System/X was a release by the scene group Providence. It was available in warez BBSes around the time the software was released. It came with a large set of doors already installed.

This customized version had a problem. It was the lack of the documentation for the doors that came bundled with it.

Also, there were many different doors for a single BBS task of which only one was installed. Still, it was kind of easy to bring the BBS up. The pre-configured 1.5e version was something great compared to the original, plain System/X 1.5a.

But the documentation was f any of the many doors it came with had a READ-ME.1ST, it sure wasn’t of any use. The only thing I had was the BBS software manual. A 116kB plain text file in the System/X folder.

During the first week of the research, I configured the BBS further. I tried to understand the poorly-written System/X documentation. Yet, R2D2’s manual-writing style was muddy at best.

A thing took a lot of experimentation for me to understand it. It was that I needed to create a directory with copies of all the doors and of all the text files. It was necessary for it and other data files for each and every node that the BBS would host. Today I’m still not sure if this was the way that it ran on MS-DOS.

This way of managing nodes was a mess, in my humble opinion. I implemented just five nodes. Imagine a scenario of two-dozens nodes! To have to have twenty-four folders for each node, with equal copies of all the BBS data and executable files. Essential files like, the screens the user sees, file bases, message bases and doors. They are in the neighborhood of three-hundred per node. That would tax the server to no-end.

I found a problem with the full-fledged BBS setup. When an user was using the message bases or file areas, and a second user in another node accessed the same data. If they did it both at the same time, one of the two suffered a broken experience of the BBS.

I couldn’t narrow down the cause of this. My theory is that it has something to do with the obsolescence of the share.exe DOS tool. A bug caused due to using a 16 bit DOS software and its tools on 32 bit Windows 7.

A normal installation of System/X on a computer running DOS or a sixteen bits Windows should run better. It would require a simpler directory and node structure.

I guess that without the bugs and making correct use of the share DOS program, the software would work. It would run as it was intended to run. With centralized message, file, door, menu, and bulletin bases. By centralized I mean that they are all node independent. That System/X would somehow manage the accessing of that data by two users at the same time without issues.

I found only one way to make the BBS work as it should. It had to run natively, on Windows 7 with all the BBS data mirrored in each node. To achieve this I had to program additional batch script code. The batch files ran when the user logged out. They made sure that all the node-specific changes were reflected in all the other four nodes.

Like so:

:node1

copy /Y c:\BBS\NODE1\CONF1\MSGBASE\*.* c:\BBS\NODE2\CONF1\MSGBASE\
copy /Y c:\BBS\NODE1\CONF2\MSGBASE\*.* c:\BBS\NODE2\CONF2\MSGBASE\
copy /Y c:\BBS\NODE1\CONF3\MSGBASE\*.* c:\BBS\NODE2\CONF3\MSGBASE\

copy /Y c:\BBS\NODE1\CONF1\MSGBASE\*.* c:\BBS\NODE3\CONF1\MSGBASE\
copy /Y c:\BBS\NODE1\CONF2\MSGBASE\*.* c:\BBS\NODE3\CONF2\MSGBASE\
copy /Y c:\BBS\NODE1\CONF3\MSGBASE\*.* c:\BBS\NODE3\CONF3\MSGBASE\

 

There was another problem. The configuration was working, yet I was confronted with a new blunder. The first truly severe problem until that moment. A bug in the setup prevented, for some reason unknown to me, the text output of the BBS’s doors to display remotely.

When I used a command that loaded an external door, the output won’t show on the remote terminal. It will do in the server’s local BBS screen, though.

I lost around a day trying to fix this. I passed different switches and parameters to NetFOSS’ command line. Modifying the batch file that came with it. The file that fires up when the server receives a connection request. I think it was NF.BAT if my memory serves me right.

On the second day of frustration, I decided to ditch NetFOSS/Net2BBS.

The problem was the NetFOSS. I couldn’t redirect modem-based applications to virtual COM ports. Thus couldn’t redirect the output of the doors to TCP/telnet for it to show remotely.

I was advised on IRC against using Gamesrv. Yet, I wanted to give it a try. Because I couldn’t find any way to fix the doors’ output problem Gamesrv was my last resort. At first I fiddled with the latest version, but soon found it too difficult to configure.

Actually, the user-sensitiveness I expected wasn’t there at all, in the latest version. Still, I was sure that the software was of use for what I wanted to do. A few days before I connected to a BBS running on PCBoard with Gamesrv as a call-answering and login matrix.

I installed Gamesrv 3.10.19b2 and configured it. A task that might have taken barely five minutes to complete. The next thing I knew was that the doors’s outputs was showing remotely the way they were supposed to.

I ran many BBSes in the past, about half-dozen of them. I used Remote Access, PCBoard, and Waffle and each of my four or five boards had each a different theme to it. They supported all the features common to BBSes in their heyday.

To my dismay, I found that most of the other features, the core BBS ones, didn’t work. I wanted to believe that I wanted to strip my new BBS of the features that I thought didn’t age well. Namely message forums and file areas. In fact, that thought was a way to cope with my inability to make those features work.

I achieved this simply by disabling commands. I disabled uploads, message writing and message reading. Also all the other commands and jobs related to these three tasks. Like the file area search, message search, and generation of transfers statistics bulletins.

My idea was to create a text games server based on what was considered the rad system that System/X used to be.

For the games, the approach was to create three different areas of the BBS for each genre. Punk, horror, and science fiction.

I did a fast overview of what contemporary BBSes were offering. Most delivered BBS text games. I found that many of today’s systems share at least one or two games in common with their competitors.

 

Second Broadband BBS (2014)

I installed System/x 1.5a and moved all the configuration and text files. Then I configured the nodes in the correct way. This time the BBS worked well. At least all of its features worked, unlike the first time around, with the customized one.

Instead of using Gamesrv again, I gave a fresh new try to NetFOSS and Net2BBS. They seemed to run okay for a while, but a new problem came up.

I was running System/X natively and using its answering mode. Just like it was done in the past when it was through the telephone line.

Net2BBS just passed the telnet carrier to System/X and login was achieved.

This worked, but there was a problem. The telnet server began receiving connections from port-scanning spiders. This kind of activity froze System/X.

The easiest, but not seamless, solution I found was going back to Gamesrv. To use it as a login matrix.

In the 1990s, many BBSes had login matrices. Most of those that did, it was because the owner might have had restricted access to the system.

The login matrices served different purposes. Like applying for membership and checking the state of the membership application. They also had features like paging the sysop right from there. Some were like a mini-BBS that the user could use even before login into the BBS proper.

I configured Gamesrv to mimic a minimalist login matrix. I edited the .exe file with a binary editor to remove the splash text with Gamesrv’s version. In this way, I got rid of the port scanners and brute force attacks.

Software Used

Windows 7 32-bit
Gamesrv v13.07
System/X v1.5 Final
Doorway 2.22

System/X and Doorway worked natively were rather stable on Pentium M architecture. I wouldn’t have believed this if someone told me this.

My objective was to have something similar to the old thing. I wasn’t okay with adding the extra overhead that DOSBox would bring. Because of my stubborn approach I achieved it. That BBS ran 24/7/365 for almost four years.

 

Conclusion

The first version, the one without full BBS functionality took nine days of six or more hours per day work. I did it in the dog days of the summer of 2011 when I should be relaxing instead.

All the legacy software I used in the implementation process was weird. It was unresponsive, and errors and malfunctions were the rule. I toiled, and it was hard to enjoy the journey.

It wasn’t fun, it was a chore, and I felt I was losing time with obsolete software. Nine days is a long span of time. Compared to how much time it takes to deploy any games front-end software in a Windows setup. A mere five to ten minutes and your server is online.

While in the first instance I was willing to conform to the maimed BBS experience I created. I believed that no one else other than me could be interested in the thing, but I knew it wasn’t satisfactory nor cool.

I guess I was doing it just to showcase my smartness at picking interactive fiction games. It was part of a thought process. A deluded idea that there wasn’t any interpreter-neutral front-end for IF games yet. What I had created could work as a sort of front end. I only need to push a key to load an interactive fiction game. The same for a totally different game and interpreter. And that it was okay to share it with others.

After a while, maybe two, three or four months later the HP Vectra of the first incarnation died. In the two years that the BBS was down, a thought haunted me. The thought of having invested a considerable time in it, only for the project to fail. But I thought bygones should be gone.

But the fond BBS memories of my teenage years endured. The first thing I did after learning inter-networking in 2014, was picking up the project where I had left. I knew that it would be a cinch to set it up. With the benefit, of not having to type in the laptop I used as the server. With my newly acquired knowledge I did all the 2014 BBS work remotely, using TightVNC.

In about three days, my stubborn resolve to get a BBS working bore fruit.

I did it the way I wanted to do it. Running natively on Windows 7 x32, without the help of DOSBox. With all the BBS features in place and 99% functional, like I really wanted.

As of the updating of this white paper today on early 2018. I’m using Gamesrv v14. In the last years Gamesrv evolved and now it has an auto-ban feature. A great feature to deal with the constant brute force attacks. This version of Gamesrv even has text-mode waiting screen, like in the good old days!

 

Appendix — IF Interpreters

Years ago, probably in 2005 or so, I did research the best IF (Interactive Fiction) games available for free. To do this I studied a couple of IF games review magazines and other documents. There was a publication with good content about which IF games were worthy of playing to. It was the “Society For The Promotion of Adventure Games” e-zine.

Thanks to it, I made a long list of IF games that I considered were the best exponents of their respective genres. Ninety percent of them were text adventures. Most were participants on the Annual Interactive Fiction Competition.

I had thirty-four games in the original list, of which I chose nineteen to add to the game server. To do that I used Dudley Marshall’s Doorway v2.11. It took me several hours to get right the switches and parameters of the batch file for each door.

I found that the two most easy to implement IF formats were Inform and Adrift. In the list of games I chose to host there were other formats, like AGiliTy, TADS, and Glulxe. These gave me so much trouble to set up with Doorway, that I decided to just use Inform and Adrift games. GlkDOS 0.19.1 and Frotz 2.43, both for DOS, were used as the interpreters for the Adrift and Inform games.

There were games that didn’t display correctly. Irrespective of the parameters I’d pass to both Doorway and the interpreters. Because of this, the original list of around nineteen games was reduced to a dozen.

 

Frotz command line:

c:\bbs\node1\conf1\doors1\doorway.exe COM1F /H /M:48 /G: /F /O: /P:c:\bbs\node1\conf1\doors1\frotz.exe -d 0 -i -Z 0 <game>.z5

 

GlkDOS command line:

c:\bbs\node1\conf2\doors1\doorway.EXE COM1F /O: /V:D /G: /H: /M:48 /F: /P:c:\bbs\node1\conf2\doors1\GLKSCARE.EXE <game>.TAF

 

Games Choice

The games to host were of the punk, horror and science fiction genres (and sub-genres). Only Inform and Adrift format games were implemented.

 

Punk Section

  1. Punkirita Quest 1 (Stevens, 1996) bizarre/fantasy
  2. Punk Points (Munroe, 2000) punk bildungsroman
  3. Adoo’s Stinky Story (Perry, 2003) punk
  4. Slouching Towards Bedlam (Ravipinto and Foster, 1996) Victorian steam-punk (had to take it off, was not playable remotely)
  5. The HeBGB Horror! (Mayer, 1999) punk

 

Horror Section

  1. House of The Damned (McCall, 2000) horror
  2. The Zuni Doll (Burneko, 1997) horror
  3. Theatre (Wyber, 1995) horror
  4. Requiem (Whyld, 2006) horror, mystery
  5. Crypt (Herring, 1990) horror
  6. Madame L’Estrange and The Trouble Spirit (Ball and Young, 1997) horror mystery, science fiction

 

Science Fiction Section

  1. The Mind Electric (Dyer, 1995) science fiction
  2. The Edifice (Smith, 1995) historical science fiction
  3. Photopia (Cadre, 1998), surreal

 

Bibliography

Marshall, Dudley. Doorway 2.11 literature. Knoxville, TN 1987, 1988, 1989. Data World BBS, 1990.
Monfort, Rick. Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive fiction. USA 2003. MIT Press 2005.
Parrish, Rick. Gamesrv 3.10.19b2 literature. USA: R&M Software 2001. [available online: http://gamesrv.ca/documentation.php]
PC micro systems, Inc. NetFOSS 1.04 literature. Thousand Oaks, California: PC micro systems, Inc. [available online: http://pcmicro.com/NetFOSS/guide/]
R2D2. System/X Bulletin Board Software – Version 1.5a literature. UK: Fairlight and Hologram, 1995.
Squizzy. Desire Boardsystem version 1.5 literature. The Netherlands: xROADS, 1997.
Sadofsky, Jason Scott. GET LAMP. USA 2010. textfiles.com, youtube.com 2010. [available online: http://www.getlamp.com/]
Wilson, Kevin. SPAG e-zine. USA 1994-2011. David Monath, 2011. [available online: http://www.sparkynet.com/spag/]

 

© Wensley Evolo, 2012-2018
Photo Credit: Monado

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Best Eleven Horror Movies About Cemeteries

blog feature and listicle content example

Many love graveyards, and cinema for taphophiles has a long-standing of sixty-plus years. The movies in this list are only those that include the theme of the cemetery, graveyard, or mortuary. But there’s a catch. It must feature in the movies as a location intrinsic to the story.

 

11. The Nights Of Terror (Bianchi, 1981)

 

Two families go to visit a professor. He is nowhere to be found. It’s because he was murdered in a crypt in the graveyard of his property. It’s a gruesome giallo horror. It features scenes with strangely attired zombies among the tombs. These scenes manage to be scary even in broad daylight.

The corpses are well done, but not very credible since their garments are made of sackcloth. This fact takes away any serious interest one may have been harboring. Anyhow, what started ominously and vaguely interesting degenerates deeply. It deviates on a weird tangent of Oedipus complex and frustrated incest.

 

10. I Bury The Living (Band, 1958)

A cemetery director discovers something creepy. He has a map of the cemetery which he uses to mark the parcels. Parcels with a black pin are occupied, and the ones with a white pin are bought but empty. By mistake, he places a black pin in the parcel of a living person and the person dies.

This starts to haunt him. He experiments with the pins. The horror overtakes him when his suspicions are proven true.

Not bad for a 1958 movie. The story might not have much depth, but it’s original. Ultimately, the appeal of this movie lies in the aesthetic department. It has nice shots of the cemetery. It’s cool to see the plot develop in locations inside the cemetery itself.

 

9. The House By The Cemetery (Fulci, 1981)

There isn’t too much of the meat of this film going on in a cemetery. But the viewer is confronted with Fulci’s very spooky one in the first five or so minutes of it. It’s Giallo, it’s gore and has one of the most spooky soundtracks I’ve listened to date. Yet, I expected more stuff happening in the movie’s graveyard, though.

 

8. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (Grau, 1974)

Cinematic inventiveness put to the service of zombie narrative. This Italian flick stands out for its original premise. Re-animated dead through an agro-industrial chemical agent. It was released eleven years before the far more popular The Return of The Living Dead.

One of the alternate titles is The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue. For a film supposed to transpire in England, it does look the part.

The cemetery scenes of this movie are beautiful. I dare say, of the most poetic style, I’ve ever seen in a movie using cemeteries in their narratives. Although sparse, they’re good. Which makes them doubly good.

The expositions horror conventions of this film are awesome. One thing is following a formula insipidly as I’ve seen in many horror movies. But in this movie locations are very nicely executed. The hospital scenes of this movie are quite enjoyable for how eldritch is the hospital they used.

 

7. Cemetery Man (Soavi, 1994)

This one plays almost totally in a Cemetery and even has shots of an ossuary! I must admit I expected much more from a movie bearing that name. I expected to be spooky and twisted like Phantasm, but it ended up telling a much more humane story. Spiced with all sort of zombies, nevertheless.

Some love this movie as an example of great Italian cinema. For me, it was just okay. Especially because it’s more than a zombie horror movie. Its depth goes beyond a simple-minded plot. It is one of those movies that let you thinking about it after watching it.

Anyway, what really matters is that this movie was well done. There are gloomy shots of the typical events that happen in cemeteries. This movie is great at provoking suspension of disbelief in those who watch it. I felt as if I was actually one of the mourners in the burial’s scene.

 

6. Poltergeist (Hooper, 1982)

The crammed-with-stuff, New Hollywood style shows in this Tobe Hooper film. It’s ironic how the story is designed. It screams New Hollywood’s pop-culture integration. What I’m talking about?

Heaps of stuff disposed in the set to add richness to the photography. Plus additional things for the audience to watch, other than the acting. In Poltergeist, especially Lucas and Spielberg things. But with sick twists and in the service of horror.

There are also many eerie moments in this staple of horror cinema. It’s going to creep you out. Still, there aren’t a lot of cemetery scenes in this movie. Yet, ultimately there will be.

It’s a muster for the new generations of horror movie fans. It’s a classic, and it always will be. If you haven’t seen it, which I doubt, you definitely should.

 

5. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (Clark, 1973)

This b movie blew my mind for many reasons. One, because it’s old… back in the early seventies there wasn’t a lot of zombie movies.

Second because it features Lovecraft, and I always will love a movie that does that. Even if, like in this one, he’s a mere theme. A McGuffin of the plot. Also, because it happens in a an island in Florida. How cool is that?

A side note. This movie has the most eldritch, credible and scary scene about a witch I have ever seen in a movie. Overwhelming suspension of disbelief in the witch’s scene in this movie. The uncanny dread, and the aesthetic pleasure I felt were great. One of the best horror moments in my life.

Going back to the subject of the cemetery on itself, there is a lot of time, I dare say most of the movie, going on in one. As I see it, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is a mystical successor to Night Of The Living Dead.

 

4. The Return Of The Living Dead (O’Banon, 1985)

A new twist to the approach of a zombifying chemical agent. This time from the military-industrial complex. Not much to say besides that.

A great percentage of the story’s time ensues, nocturnally, in a cemetery. What is worthy of note, and makes this movie a muster is the approach taken by O’Banon of using punk characters. I think it was a great idea.

Consider the great obsession of punk culture with dark things. Moreover, punk has a seriously death-oriented infatuation with works of horror.

Those sensibilities are overtly expressed by sub-branches of punk rock. Like horror punk and death-rock music. It does make a lot of sense.

 

3. The Night Of The Living Dead (Romero, 1968)

A new twist to the approach of a zombifying chemical agent. This time from the military-industrial complex. Not much to say besides that.

A great percentage of the story’s time ensues, nocturnally, in a cemetery. What is worthy of note, and makes this movie a muster is the approach taken by O’Banon of using punk characters. I think it was a great idea. Consider for a moment the great obsession of punk culture with dark things. Punk rock culture has a seriously death-oriented infatuation with works of horror.

Those sensibilities are overtly expressed by sub-branches of punk. Like horror punk and death-rock music. So it does make a lot of sense.

 

2. Nightbreed (Barker, 1990)

Know anything cooler than a gate to hell hidden inside an old and spooky Canadian cemetery?

Well unless you are a real weirdo at heart, but still in the closet of repressed eldritch feelings, not much. In Nightbreed the scenes that show the cemetery are great. There are even frantic action scenes in it.

What definitely owns of Nightbreed are the different monstrous characters. In the real world and for one just knowing a tad of occultism this is inter-planar stuff. The characters are truly the kind of being one expects to meet in a place like a cemetery. Otherness that one could see in the astral spectrum of that kind of taboo places. If gifted with that psychic skill.

Roughly the story of an anti-hero that gets away with a happy and heroic demise. The main character seems to be destined to join The Nightbreed. It’s a community of rejects living in demoniac forms.

A theme that’s explored later with the protagonist’s metamorphosis. These degraded non-human forms are a far-cry of their former selves. All this goes on under the ground, in a rustic and bizarre city called Midian.

The sub-plot is a thing to be seen too. The support character, a girl, is pursued by a deranged shrink played by Cronenberg himself.

 

1. Phantasm (Coscarelli, 1979)

This saga gets the first place. It does because there isn’t any other like it. Phantasm weaves the graveyard into the narrative as a pivotal element of it.

To begin with, The Tall Man, the antagonist, is a sort of juggernaut soul vampire that sucks entire towns dry. Of the towns’s dead first, and then of their living. He owns Morningside Cemetery and lives in the mortuary where much of the movie transpires.

If there is anything I regret relating to Phantasm, is having discovered it when I was twenty. Fresh out of adolescence. I wish I would have had the good luck of knowing it in early adolescence. My outlook on life would have been way creepier from then on.

I felt something nonsensical back then in the late nineties when I watched one of the saga for the first time. I thought that it felt like a video game.

Don Coscarelli goes to unexpected edges of invention to add to the already sophisticate and aesthetically-overdosing overall story. That is a story of degrading and alien evil. And the characters that live it are larger-than-life bad-asses. 

Other Great Horror Movies

These have brief shots in cemeteries

  1. The Dark Half (George Romero, 1993)
  2. Interview With The Vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994)
  3. Nekromantik (Jorg Buttgereit, 1987)
  4. The Other (Robert Mulligan, 1972)
  5. Pet Sematary (Mary Lambert, 1989)
  6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)

 

© 2018 Wensley Evolo
Photo Credit: 826 PARANORMAL

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Broadband BBSing — A Case Study on Contemporary BBS Use 

Wensley Evolo
17-1-2018case study example

Abstract

This paper is about my visit to ||||| and why after seeing it I think everyone should think of new ways of leveraging exciting legacy technology.

To pass time on BBSes in the second, (almost third) decade of the 21st century poses a problem. The problem of being disconnected from reality, for BBSes started to die circa 1995, when the commercial internet became the connect-to place for modem users, and the BBS global community practically disappeared.

Today, almost four decades after their invention, BBSes have returned. Those who loved them are back in business, those that couldn’t get enough of them are connecting to them again, and a new generation of users that were born (or where small kids or toddlers) when they were losing popularity is discovering them for the first time.

Yet, the problem of resorting to obsolete technology and making a culture out of it — be it social, of leisure, or of aesthetics — is that the time spent with it is time not invested or spent with current things, and taking advantage of the advances in technology that happened in the twenty-plus years since they stopped being the official, real-world version of cyberspace.

In this case study, I will show how ||||| BBS is a good example of re-purposing old technology to solve current problems (like censorship in cyberspace) and fill current needs.

 

Keywords

Elite BBS, Punk, Horror, Science Fiction, Interactive Fiction

 

A Return to Rad BBSing

I want to thank |||||, the sysop of ||||| for putting this BBS online and for allowing me to write this case study.

The BBS runs on System/X based on Gamesrv as telnet server and runs natively on Windows 7 32 bits.

The customization is a kind of Amiga Express ASCII theme, but it doesn’t stick to the Amiga color palette. This BBS in particular benefits greatly from using one of SyncTERM’s custom fonts, like the MicroKnight font. The steps to enable this kind of fonts to enjoy the BBS as it was meant to be used are laid out in the appendix, under the section that explains how to enable custom fonts in SyncTERM.

 

The BBS

A goal of this BBS, as the content in it puts it, is freeing the technology on which it’s based. It’s also an oasis on the internet in which those that connect can express and let recorded their feelings and emotions without having to be politically correct. Finally, it delivers the cream of punk, horror and science fiction interactive fiction games and a peculiar chatbot.

The BBS has a thread (I think it’s message #5) in the messages base of the punk courtyard that’s called The Venting Profanity Thread, it’s a thread that the sysop started to inspire others to vent their accumulated steam, especially if it’s technology-related anger. In that thread all expressions are welcomed, the more caustic, the better.

During the whole visit, use and abuse experience I used mainly Syncterm to connect to the BBS. I used mTelnet but only occasionally; because of its window-only interface that I disliked. If you want to know more about contemporary BBS client software, refer to the appendix at the bottom of this paper.

 

Rad Contents

If you want to experience a new take on BBSing, you should visit this BBS. Specially if you identify with punk, horror or science fiction fandom.

The BBS has three areas, what in the past were called conferences, but in it, they are called “courtyards”, the first one is the punk one, the second the horror one, and the third the science fiction one.

The BBS doesn’t belong to any group or echo messages network like the elite BBSes of the past used to do or like many of the present still do.

Its strong points are its selection of punk, horror, and science fiction scholar and leisure materials available in its file bases for download. Also, the punk chatbot |||||, in the punk courtyard is a conversation to be had.

 

Message Areas

There is one message area per courtyard, and they can be accessed by typing “R” and then enter. There is no list of message threads feature, but the simplistic message reading interface is self-explanatory if not totally user-sensitive, with its modest, text-mode simplicity.

 

File Bases

There are three file bases per courtyard, 1 is for games, 2 is for texts and 3 is for the files users upload. If one visits this BBS the file bases are a must see. Punk, horror and science fiction niche goodies await there, like for instance, The Raw and The Rotten: Punk Cuisine or the whole collection of the Punk Lives! punk magazine, the magazine that real punks ’77 read.

 

Online Games

There are four punk games, and a punk chatbot in the punk courtyard, six horror games in the horror courtyard, and three games in the science fiction one, they are accessed from the main menu directly.

 case study example

Conclusion

When there is a flood of choices of web communities to pick, a thing like BBSes, that in the past was a great mean to build communities, is not as relevant, especially for the technical barriers and steps required to access them. And I’m not saying anything yet about the reduced fun factor of text mode graphics and text mode design yet.

As I see it the BBS culture can’t stand on its feet for itself any longer and it hasn’t been for the last twenty-odd years. What before was not just a hobby, but also a culture, and a way of life now is relegated to the category of hobby only.

I think that a BBS of today should be something catering not to the BBS scene in general, but to a specific, narrow segment and deliver a one-time, museum-like, niche experience, like ||||| does.

I personally won’t be calling to BBSes anytime soon, but when I called ||||| it really was a paradigm-shifting experience. ||||| feels very legacy, but it’s a good example how obsolete things of the past, can become a solution to a modern problem.

Even if the human resource is nowadays lacking, to have a rad software like System/X running natively and working correctly on Windows 7, like |||||, is way cool, and can be interpreted as some kind of statement.

If we are stuck with old technology just because of the fun of it, we should revise our attitude. To me the worst thing — in BBSes and in everything else — is to be lost in the means of something. Yet, if we can give new ends to old means and, making it a satisfactory aesthetic experience, actually enjoy it, and even get something out of it, then we shouldn’t.

||||| is current since one of its main attractions is the punk chatbot in the welcoming area. There is a global market for chatbots, and if you really love and like them, once you chat with one, you want to chat with all available, the weirdest, the better.

It’s also relevant in the sense of its nature of its objective of being a liberated area where the fear of vulgarity doesn’t exist. 

 

Appendix

 

How to Connect to a BBS in the Web 2.0 Age

Yes, time passed and archaic technologies like telnet are almost forgotten. At least that is what I thought when trying to get my BBS up and running at a normal production pace. I thought that if this was leisure computing, how soul-killing could real work get.

I couldn’t relate to the pain I’ve been through to get a BBS up and running. It was very difficult to emulate the DOS era without using an emulator. It was obstacles everywhere—because of the 16 bits to 32 bits trade-off.

While a BBS scene still exists, it is nothing like it was in the past because while the commercial internet came of age, the Telnet era is pushing about forty years, and as I said, except for enthusiasts, the DOS era is logically dead.

Still, we mustn’t forget that BBSes were the internet of the eighties and most of the nineties.

BBSes never really went away, they evolved with the internet. I guess that in the years of the dial-up to broadband internet transition, to be in a Telnet-able BBS would have been fun. But this just if taking on account the things from the internet that were integrated into BBS systems. Features like IRC, FTP, telnet to another BBS from inside a BBS, and inter-BBS games.

 

Today

 

But nowadays even that has lost its novelty value. Who wants to chat by IRC these days? Not many, I guess. You can’t beat meta-IMs, the messengers of social networking portals, or VoIP with the old-hat trick of supporting IRC chat on ASCII text mode on a BBS. It’s not difficult to innovate anyhow. Some BBSes still online I’ve seen, in some ways, reflect the present with things that weren’t in the BBS’ heyday. Like delivering data extracted from web feeds.

Others BBSes dedicate themselves to be just like a time capsule, even offering old collections of software and information, like digital museums, which is neat, if you can find pearls among the heaps of shovel-ware and obsolete things.

 

SyncTERM vs mTelnet.

Get a telnet client: not many free ones with full BBS functionality to choose from.

 

SyncTERM

This telnet client is free, it has all the goodies one might need in using a BBS. After some trouble with the other option (mTelnet) I conclude SyncTERM is the way to go, besides, it includes even an Amiga font among its features.

The screen has two windows. The left side’s one is the BBSes directory. The right one, switch to it with the Tab key, is for the connection’s settings, screen, fonts, and options.

 

Text-Mode Vintage Fonts

As I said, one of the coolest features is the fonts, you access them by:

1. Tab to SyncTERM settings

2. Go to Default Connection Settings and press enter

3. Choose Font, and a big fonts menu appears

4. Choose your own text-mode font

 

Adding a BBS to SyncTERM’s Directory

Make sure you are in the directory, it has to be blue, and not cyan. In SyncTERM blue denotes the active window and cyan the inactive one (of the two on its front-end).

Remember, tab switches between the two.

1. Press the Insert key

2. Enter BBS name

3. Press Enter in Connection Type (Telnet)

4. Enter the BBS’ address, something like bbs.tolinkto.org and press Enter.

That’s it, you added it to the directory.

 case study example

Calling To A BBS

Scroll through the directory, choose a BBS of the many that come on the list with SyncTERM, and press enter. SyncTERM then proceeds to connect to the remote system. SyncTERM should connect to the remote BBS in one to five seconds. If this doesn’t happen it means the BBS is down. Press the Escape key to return to the directory in that case.

There aren’t many technicalities in calling to a BBS. When asked if the terminal supports ANSI it means if your client can display colors. Which the two clients recommended here can, thus answer yes.

Remember ALT+Enter will switch to full screen; to the console/text-mode screen.

 

About Registration

Most BBSes, I dare say ninety-nine percent of them, require you register to use them. Don’t panic, it’s an easy “questions and answers” process like in any web forum or community site on the web. It’s even easier than registering on a website.

Most, but not all, BBSes require you to be a validated user to use them. Because of this it’s good to register in a handful of different BBSes, forget them for about a week and then connect to them again to enjoy full privileges.

 

Using Login Macros With SyncTERM

You can edit a BBS entry by pressing CTRL-E or F2. A rather self-explanatory menu in a window appears and the entry’s settings can be edited. In the Edit Directory Entry dialog.

You can even set macros for your username and password at the BBS. By doing this, the next time you call you press the macro’s shortcut, ALT+L. Doing this, SyncTERM enters the username and the password semi-automatically.

 

Useful BBS Hot-Keys

SyncTERM has some standard BBS-era hotkeys:

  • ALT+C: Captures a log, creates a text file in your hard disk with a long snapshot of all the telnet session in ASCII
  • ALT+H: Terminates connection, when in aBBS and you want to quit it ALT+H will end the connection and return you to SyncTERM directory
  • ALT+Enter: Switch windowed and full-screenmodes

In SyncTERM BBSes directory:

  • CTRL+E: Edit directory entry
  • CTRL+D: Quick connect to a BBS, opens a dialog in which you can input an URL directly and connect to a BBS in two steps

 

mTelnet

A poor excuse for a terminal program mTelnet was all image and no functionality. Doesn’t have full-screen mode, and has “eecchhoo pprroobblleemmss” in some systems. Not recommended.

 

© 2018 Wensley Evolo
Image Credits: Haunting the Chapel BBS, Black Flag BBS

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The Total Noob Guide to Choosing a Vaping Device

It’s been years since you lit up your first butt. From a silly hobby to addiction, to be fed with it you feel that it’s time to try vaping for a change. Throw your cigs down the toilet and get the basic facts on vaping devices straight.

 

How to Choose a Vaping Device

The most important thing to consider at the moment of choosing a setup is where you are going to be vaping. Factors of portability, convenience and comfort have to be considered.

A box mod is more difficult to handle if on the move. A vape pen or clearomizer may feel limited for a sedentary person. An RDA would be very cumbersome to use while walking or hiking.

This guide will help you narrow down choices to your personal preference. Ultimately, once you try, you aren’t going to want to light up a single phallus of the devil anymore.

 

Give it a Try

buying guide example

To give vaping your first try, go for a cheap disposable e-cigarette like the blu. They retail for around five dollars apiece. One of these lasts 400 puffs or around thirty cigarettes. There’s no recharging or liquid involved.

 

Safety

There aren’t big batteries, wires or chargers involved with this type. The grade of safety of these devices is high compared to dedicated setups.

 buying guide example

Device

Disposables are the new cigalikes. They are an evolution of the cartomizer-based cigalikes of the past. While using cartomizers was similarly inexpensive, they had non-disposable parts. You can get this kind of electronic cigarettes easily since they’re everywhere.


Liquids

They come with liquid from the factory. The blu disposables, for example, come in many different grades of nicotine content. From 0% to 16%.

 

Transition To Vaping

You are a smoker. You are sure that you want to transition to vaping definitively. In this case, it makes more sense to go for a durable setup. If you never smoked, but want to try vaping do it with 0mg nicotine liquid. The choice of vaping equipment doesn’t relate to the nicotine.

 

Safety

These devices require careful handling. They require batteries bought from reputable sellers and made by qualified manufacturers. On the user side, they need care too.

The best things to look for at the moment of buying a mod is to check the manufacturer’s reputation. Their certifications and social proof. Also, find out if their products are safe. Find a model you’d like to buy. When you find it, check for safety measures built into the material and logical designs. Like vents in the battery case, digital short-circuit protection and the like.

 

Pens and Clearomizers

buying guide example

A vaping pen is a cylindrical and easily portable vaping device. They are capable of delivering vaporization in the three to five volts range. They support up to around 1000 mAh of charge. Two of these batteries are enough for a day, even if you want to vape constantly. Most batteries are charged with a USB cable or adapter that comes with the kits.

Some vape pen batteries have the by-pass function. The USB charger in by-pass capable batteries connects to the battery by micro-USB. In this way, you can vape while the battery is charging. One example of these batteries is the iTaste CLK!

A popular vape pen was the eGo C, by Joyetech. Probably the safest model of the eGo line. They had a re-fillable tank to plug in the atomizer unit. The tanks weren’t disposable but inexpensive if broken or lost.

Vape pens were superseded by clearomizers. Clearomizers are still pens, but with a tank system that is like a miniature RTA (see below). Some clearomizers use a kind of coil called BCC, for bottom changeable coil. Other types of clearomizer coils are dual coil and vertical coil.

 

Must Purchase

  • Atomizer head replacements: think two per month, but you can be lucky and make them last more than one month
  • Tanks and Clearomizers: in case you break or lose them
  • New set of batteries after x years

 

Liquids For Pens and Clearos

You can get anything from 0mg to around 30mg nicotine percentage. If you want to replace smoking you shouldn’t get any percentage below 18mg. If you feel that you don't get the cigarette experience, then get higher percentage liquid. Once you can exist without cigarettes, nicotine can be tapered out. You can buy liquid with less nicotine content to appreciate the flavors more.

You must also consider how are you going to vape. If it’s going to be once every forty-five minutes and a few drags in rapid succession, like a cigarette, get 18% or higher. If you plan to use your pen or clearomizer to vape constantly during the day, then get 16% or lower.

 

Regulated Mods

buying guide example

When buying as a beginner, remember it has to be a regulated mod. The other kind of vaping mods are mechanical mods and squonks. They aren’t recommended for beginners.

The modality for vaping with mods is sub-ohming. This practice is geared towards enhanced flavor and cloud production.

There is a wide range of models and prices. It may seem difficult to decide which one to get. An arbitrary standard to classify them could be how many batteries they require. Once you decide you want to have a mod with, say, just two batteries the choice narrows down considerably.

 

RTA

Rebuildable tank atomizers are either fully rebuildable or not, but all have a tank. Fully rebuildable are tank-atomizer combos that allow changing resistance coils. The other kind comes with some kind of replaceable atomizer. This latter category is just a modest improvement. You’ll still be buying something pre-made, like atomizer heads for a vape pen.

There are replaceable, pre-made atomizers. One example is the CCELL-GD used by the Guardian tank by Vaporesso. They last for around a month. These atomizers make for a very unpleasant experience by the end of their life-cycle.

 

RDTA

buying guide example

The RDTA is more of a hybrid. It pairs the rebuildable atomizer deck of an RDA with the tank technology of RTAs. These devices are more like an RDA with the convenience of a tank. This type of RBA is not for all novices. There is a learning curve. You’ll notice it when you buy the materials. Also when you assemble the rebuildable resistances.

Basic electrical knowledge, like Ohm’s law and a few tools, are a must too.

You can buy the wire coils pre-made. Others make them themselves. What you must do is place them in the vaporizer, screw them and then wick them with cotton. That’s why I’m saying these aren’t for entry-level vapers who can buy a wholly pre-made solution like the eGo AIO Box.

If you start with an RDTA configuration, you can go RDA later using the box mod and an RDA. This isn’t possible with pre-made solutions were all the components are proprietary.

The choice of coil material depends on what kind of vaping style you want to achieve. Each has a different temperature mode and must be used only in that mode. It’s possible to get coils of materials such as kanthal that will only work on wattage (power) mode.

 

Must Purchase

  • Battery, if the mod doesn’t come with batteries
  • A second set of batteries and charger, if it’s not enough for a day vaping
  • Replacement plug-in atomizers for replaceable RBA
  • Atomizer ohm meter (optional), these are neat devices where you screw the atomizer and get a reading

RBA/RDA hybrid type:

  • Pliers with a cutting section: To manipulate and clip the wire coils
  • Screwdriver to fix the coils in the atomizer. The tank/atomizer kit may include one
  • Prebuilt wire coils and cotton, for the wicks.

 

RDA

buying guide example

Once you put an RDA as vaporizer in your mod, it becomes something different. It can’t be denied that the flavor is different when you are using one of these. If you are fastidious about flavor, you must try an RDA.

You can buy a complete kit also and go straight the RDA way, without having used pens and RBAs before. All the pains of maintenance explained in the RBA/RDA hybrid apply. RDAs are for those that want to vape different flavors every day.

Dripping you can switch flavors on an hourly basis. Some flavor fanatics re-wick their atomizers daily. They do it to vape multiple flavors without tasting admixtures.

 

Must Purchase

  • The same things that RTA owners must buy
  • Rubber gaskets that keep the cap on the deck by pressure (replacements)

 

Liquids for RTA and RDA

From 0% to around 6% is standard. It’s pretty much a trial and error and relative to the setup. A consensus would be anything above 10% is overkill.

 

Not Recommended Devices: Squonk and Mech Mod

Unregulated Mechanical Mod
 

buying guide example

Most of the news about vaping accidents are because of fake products. Also, negligent use or abuse of genuine products, faulty batteries and user modding. Mechanical mods are the ones to blame the most. They are a very basic device. Mech mods evolved from tinkerers who created vaporizers out of flashlights.

 

Unregulated Squonk

buying guide example

Squonks are unregulated like mechanical mods and not recommended for beginners. Similar to box mods, they are bulkier than pens and clearomizers. They have a reservoir of liquid (squonk bottle) inside and feed the coil from below. Each time the coil runs out of liquid, a squeeze of the bottle replenishes the coil.

Not much different from the RTA/RDA hybrid type. The difference is that these dripping atomizers don’t have a tank. The drops of liquid are applied directly on the coil and the wick. The disadvantage of this kind of vaporizer is that you have to replenish the wick with liquid often.

 

Helpful Extras

These two extras prolong the lifetime of vaping devices

Heat Sinks

Heat sinks are a nice layer of protection for your device's 510 connector. They are similar to the heat sinks used in electronic devices like CPUs. If you plan on dry-burning your coils, a heat sink is a must.

Battery Chargers

Battery chargers will guarantee you two things. First, minimal use to non-use of the USB port of the mod, bypassing the risk of connecting it directly to the electric plug. And second, they have features to check your device's batteries, and to marry them if they have different charges.

 

Conclusion

The market for vaping devices has grown so much that choice became overwhelming. I didn’t recommend any device in particular because that would be very objective. Once you learned the basics you can get down to specifics. Do this by getting in touch with online vaping communities.

 
 
© 2018 Wensley Evolo
 
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