April 7th, 2017 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Prodigy, MadMaze, online games, online history, Flickr, Prodigy Restoration Project
Just a few minutes ago, I released the first group of images from the Prodigy Preservation Project on Flickr. They're screenshots from MadMaze, a vintage online game that ran on Prodigy Classic between 1989 and 1999.
Specifically, they're all the graphics from the Place of Power instances in the game.
I believe most, if not all, of the artwork was done by Al Sirois, a Prodigy staff artist. Al Sirois did some of the artwork, but Sirois says that most of it was created by other artists (see comments below). They originated as NAPLPS vector graphics (scalable to any size) and were captured into a raster format for display on the web.
Of course, you can play a re-creation of MadMaze yourself on this very server right here. And you can read more about that re-creation (and report bugs you may encounter) here.
If you'd like to support the Prodigy Preservation Project and all of my history work, please consider submitting a pledge on Patreon. Any money I get from Patreon helps a ton toward giving me the extra time to work on history projects like the PPP.
January 18th, 2017 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Prodigy, MadMaze-II, MadMaze, online games, online service, Russell Brown, web games, Brandt Horrocks
Since 2013, I've been hosting a web-based recreation of the classic Prodigy online service game called "MadMaze" on the VC&G webserver.
(You can read the backstory about that here.)
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.
Bringing Prodigy Back From The Dead: The Prodigy Restoration Project (2014)
MadMaze-II Now Hosted on Vintagecomputing.com (2013)
Prodigy Lives! Play MadMaze On the Web (2006)
February 19th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Prodigy, Russell Brown, MadMaze, MadMaze-II, Internet Explorer, New York, memorials
In 2006, I wrote about a version of the classic Prodigy game MadMaze that had been adapted for the web by Russell D. Brown, an electronics engineer based in Rome, New York.
Just today, a commenter on that original post (thanks Joshua) let me know that Russell Brown passed away last year on July 1st. That means his implementation of MadMaze-II is now offline.
(Please note that the original author of MadMaze, Greg Costikyan, is still alive and kicking as far as I know.)
Luckily for all of us, I asked Russel Brown back in 2011 to share his MadMaze-II code with me in case his version of the game ever went down. He complied, and I have just now set up a fresh copy of his adaptation on this web server at the following address: http://www.vintagecomputing.com/madmaze/.
The game still requires Internet Explorer 5 or up, and it seems to work in IE 9 for me. Brown programmed the game in such a way that obfuscated its function to prevent cheating (he even incorporated a copy protection scheme), so at the moment I have no idea how to successfully modify it if players find any bugs. But if you encounter any problems, please feel free to let me know, and I'll have a look.
Have fun in the maze. And may Russell Brown rest in peace.
[ Update - 01/18/2017: Thanks to the work of Brandt Horrocks, MadMaze-II now works in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers. Read more about it here. ]
December 25th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Christmas, Prodigy, online service, modem, IBM PS/2, memories, IBM, Zoom, BBS, MadMaze
An angle-corrected close-up view of Prodigy's front page on Christmas 1992.
Twenty years ago today, I awoke with anticipation and ran downstairs. It was Christmas morning, and I could hardly wait to open my presents.
One of those presents turned out to be a connection kit to Prodigy online service, which I had been begging my father to buy for most of the year. 1992 was the year I jumped head-first into computer telecommunications by calling local BBSes. I became fascinated with modems and wanted to explore their every possible application.
That Christmas morning, my dad was on hand to document my first experiences with Prodigy using the family Sony Camcorder. I have captured various stills from that video, and I am posting them here to share a small slice of the Prodigy experience in 1992.
Unfortunately, my computer at the time, the IBM PS/2 Model 25 (which my dad purchased new circa 1987 and later became a hand-me-down to me), came equipped with a monochrome monitor. So the glory of Prodigy Christmas 1992 in color is sadly now lost to history (well, unless someone else out there can find some color screenshots of Prodigy on Christmas 1992).
[ Continue reading Prodigy 20 Years Ago Today » ]
August 4th, 2006 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Prodigy, MadMaze, MadMaze-II, Internet, Web, Internet Explorer, modem, online games, online service, Eric Goldberg, Greg Costikyan, Russell Brown
When I was but a wee lad, I begged my father to sign me up for Prodigy. I loved BBSes and wanted to try Prodigy so badly. On Christmas 1992, I finally got my wish: an orange cardboard box emblazoned with a blue star appeared under the Christmas tree. One hour (and one father's credit card charge) later, I was online. Overall, I was mostly underwhelmed with the service and my subscription didn't last long, but there was one thing I really liked about it: the games.
Many of you probably know of Prodigy, a pre-"popular Internet" era commercial dial-up online service that utilized copious amounts of NAPLPS graphics in its client interface. And one of the best applications of this rarely used, bandwidth- friendly graphics protocol was Eric Goldberg and Greg Costikyan's very popular Prodigy adventure game, MadMaze.
[ Continue reading Prodigy Lives! Play MadMaze On the Web » ]