Recently a programming book called BASIC Computer Games (pdf) took my interest. An earlier variation of the book called 101 BASIC Computer Games (download) came out in 1973, which is a period before I was born. What has taken my interest has been the programming techniques used back then versus now.
My first challenge was to find a way to run the BASIC programming language on my modern computer. After typing up some of the code from the book I found that someone else has already typed in the code and made it available from the archive of BASIC Computer Games. So far as actually running the code, after exploring several options I went with PC-BASIC which provides an extremely faithful GW-BASIC emulator.After placing the games in C:\Users\Paul\BCG\ (short for basic computer games), I was able to load and run them with
One minor problem I found is that some of the games wouldn’t run. Sometimes it was because the GW-BASIC interpreter didn’t understand a technique used in a different variation of the BASIC language. Other times it was as simple as that we no longer output the result directly to a printer, so we cannot refer back to content that appeared earlier. The greatest extent of the changes I made to the code as presented in the book has been to first get the code working, fix obvious spelling mistakes, and add a “Press any key to continue…” message to make up for the lack of direct-to-printer output.
That’s when I became struck with an the following epiphany:
It’s my turn to pick up the baton.
The next game that he stopped at is Awari, also known of as Mancala and Kalah. My attempts to convert this game taught me a lot, and gave me insight as to why the previous person had stopped here.