The only problem with this "modern" version of the game, called MadMaze-II by its late author, Russell Brown, is that it only worked in Internet Explorer. This re-creation was developed in 2001 at a time when Internet Explorer was the browser of choice for many.
Well, thanks to the help of a web developer named Brandt Horrocks, the game now works in Chrome and Firefox. In Chrome, it seems to work nearly perfectly, although it does not support the sound effects Brown originally implemented in the game (yet). In Firefox, the game is playable, but the introduction renders slightly differently.
The game is still at its original VC&G address, http://www.vintagecomputing.com/madmaze/, so give it a shot and see what you think. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments here, and I will show them to Brandt, who may be able to do more bug fixes in the future.
[ Update - 01/09/2016: I just launched my Patreon campaign this morning. You can see it here. ]
Here I am. It's 2017. I've been writing professionally for over a decade now, and I'm not going to lie: I don't make much money. I support a family of four, health insurance keeps going up every year no matter what I make, and freelance budgets at publications are trending down. Competition is fierce.
What I'm trying to say is that my professional focus, as it stands now, is not sustainable in the long run. I can see the writing on the wall.
So I'm considering various options. One is a career change. But that is a hard trick to pull off. Maybe I could be a professional graphic designer, as I once was many years ago. I don't have a degree, so getting a full-time job is tricky. Maybe I could run off and join the circus. Maybe I could run off and join Burger King.
In lieu of making burgers for the rest of my life, I am guessing is that you guys would like to see me keep doing what I'm doing: preserving video game and computer history — telling the important, forgotten stories that need to be told. But it's really hard to make a living doing that these days. It's possible, but hard. I could use every bit of help I can get.
If you want to see me stay the course, continuing to build on what I've been doing since 2005, this is your chance to help.
I'm considering launching a Patreon campaign that would supplement my freelance income (or replace it entirely if it comes to that) by funding deep dives into history and never-before-seen interviews that will be published on this site, VC&G.
Right now I mostly do slideshows to make ends meet, but I'd rather spend all of my time writing meaningful history work and interviewing historically important people before their stories are lost forever. Support from Patreon will help me do that.
I Want Your Feedback
What I'd like to know from you guys is what you'd think about this idea, and I have some specific questions for fans of my work.
Would I be compromising my reputation to take money from crowdfunding? Do you think the campaign would be more successful if I promote it as a way to support me personally, or as a way to support Vintage Computing and Gaming as a site?
Also, what kind of work would you like to see from me the most? Any ideas for rewards? (I'm considering an eBook collection of the interviews I've conducted over the years, or maybe some kind of Retro Scan of the Week collection.) Your feedback, in whatever form, will be greatly appreciated.
So before I announce the Patreon campaign to a wider audience, here's your chance to either encourage me or talk me out of it before I make a fool out of myself.
You guys have been supporting my work spiritually for years, so I deeply respect your opinions. Your support is the reason I have kept at this job even in the years when it was very hard to make ends meet. I keep doing this because I love it, and because I feel I am doing a service to history itself.
So take a look at my Patreon promotional video above, and let me know what you think. I appreciate your help, as always.
It's that time of year again: the Yuletide. Over the past few years, I've been posting an annual collection of all the Christmas-related tech material I've written (both for this site and for others) into one place for easy reading. Below, you'll find list of off-site Christmas slideshows, other features, and of course, plenty of Retro Scans of the Week.
I have a soft spot for Christmas, having been raised with the tradition, so this list is for me as much as it is for everyone else. After going through these things again, it's amazing to see how much Christmas stuff I've posted over the years. I hope you enjoy it.
I've been playing around with making my own custom joysticks recently. Just yesterday, I built this Atari VCS-compatible unit you see above using a Sanwa arcade joystick assembly and two Sanwa arcade buttons, both of which are available on Amazon.
I also used an old Bud project box from my late father's things for the housing, some screw-in rubber feet on the base, a cord from a non-working Atari CX40 joystick, and some scrap steel inside to give the stick more weight and heft.
I built it mostly so I could have a 4-way only joystick for maze games on the Atari 800. (The Sanwa joystick is switchable between 4-way and 8-way upon installation.) The result is absolutely incredible either handheld or set on a table, and my high score in Nibbler has gone through the roof.
On this joystick, both buttons do the same thing, although my next Atari model will probably have three buttons — one for fire, one for up, and one for down so I can play Asteroids on the 800 like a pro.
"Santa left us Trash for Christmas, and we like it!"
Radio Shack always knew how to market at Christmas (see links below). In the 1970s and '80s, the firm produced more Christmas-themed computer ads than any other company in the US.
Here's one of the earliest ones from 1978. It features the company's first personal computer, the TRS-80, which first launched in 1977. After other models of TRS-80 computer came out, Radio Shack began referring to it as the "Model I."
But that wasn't the only name this pioneering computer earned. The original TRS-80 was the first personal computer my dad ever bought, not long after it launched. He found it frustrating, sold it, and later bought an Atari 800 for my brother — then hand-built an Apple II clone for himself.
Thereafter, my dad always referred to that first TRS-80 as his "Trash-80," which was a common nickname for the computer. It could double as a derogatory play on words or a beloved pet name, depending on whom you asked. For my dad, I suspect it was more of the former than the latter.
[ From Popular Electronics, November 1978 ]
Discussion Topic: What's the worst present you've ever received for Christmas?
Some of you may remember that I've visited this topic before — on this very blog — way back in 2006. In my recent virtual travels, I found it very interesting to see how things in the dial-up BBS space had changed over ten years, and I allude to that in my Atlantic article.
So we've got this election coming right around the corner in the US. It hasn't been fun. In fact, it's been pretty nasty and stressful for everyone involved. But there's a solution: video games.
In this October 1992 ad from GQ magazine, Nintendo offers its Game Boy handheld console as an antidote to our grownup troubles during a long, grueling campaign season. Among displays of men's fashion, cologne ads, and strutting female models, you can find a rather remarkable sales pitch for this groundbreaking gadget aimed at adults.
In 1992, portable electronic entertainment pretty much meant one thing: Game Boy. There were no smartphones in everyone's pockets to twiddle away the time with. And the alternative handhelds like the Sega Game Gear, NEC TurboExpress, and Atari Lynx had such horrible battery life that very few people actually took them on the go. Of course, one could tote along a Walkman or a portable TV, but they weren't interactive.
The Game Boy was different. It was compact, light, durable, ran over ten hours on four AA batteries, and it had that killer app: Tetris.
I remember reading news reports, not long after the Game Boy's launch, about how adults were playing Tetris ("the jigsaw puzzle that fights back," the ad says) on long commutes. In retrospect, Tetris seems like the first video game for adults — especially since it had no cartoon protagonist, and its single-screen drama unfolded in four serious shades of gray (or green, technically). It was a thinking man's game, and it was addictive.
Or thinking woman's game, I should say, since we have this amazing 1993 photo of Hillary Clinton playing the Game Boy. While commuting, no less. So maybe the ad worked. Or maybe Tetris was just an essential, can't-miss game that finally legitimized video games for an older audience.
[ From GQ, October 1992, p.150 ]
Discussion Topic: Did your parents ever play console video games when you were younger? What games did they like the most?