My 1990s DOS projects archive
The following pages list some of the earliest software projects I did in the early 1990s. I mostly coded PowerBASIC back then, as well as some Turbo Pascal and Turbo Assembler (TASM).
- Lost projects
- »MiDat« TSR database (1997–1998)
- Text viewers and editors (1995–2001)
- System tools (1993-1999)
- File format converter (1998–2002)
- »More Control« programming library for PowerBASIC (1994–1999)
- »Free-Font« and VGA graphics library for PowerBASIC (1999)
- Math and life simulations (1994–1998)
- Fascinating 256 color VGA
- Demoscene effects (1995–2003)
- The real.fake release list (1999)
- Download assorted source code snippets by other others (PowerBASIC) (1994–1999)
The following projects got lost in a hard disc crash in the very early 1990s. But I still remember some of the learnings I got from working on them.
Animated K.I.T.T. front
One of my earliest coding projects I lost but still remember was an animated front view of K.I.T.T., the black Knight Rider car. The year must have been 1991, when my mom bought our families first PC: a "Highscreen" branded 80286 worth 3000 German marks, running at 16 MHz, with a 50 megabytes hard disc and a VGA graphics card. The little K.I.T.T. homage I created with that technology was simple: a single screen image, running in either an EGA or VGA graphics mode with 640 pixel columns and 16 colors. I remember playing around with the
PALETTE command which allows to change the 16 default colors with others from a palette of 64 total. I found a nice yellowish orange and, using a reference image, started drawing a night sky with the black silhouette of a car driving towards the viewer. Big portions of that cars silhouette where not build using actual graphics commands, even if the program was running in a graphics mode. No, I used
The only animated bit was K.I.T.T.s famous red scanner light in the front bumper. My version was again build from block characters, running a few steps left and right in the first loop I ever wrote.
A few experiences with very specific games burned deep into my head in the very early 1990s: »Alley Cat« on the PC, and the Poly-Play game »Wasserrohrbruch«. Inspired by the later I made my own clone of the flooding game in pure ASCII. A character walking left and right at the bottom of the screen, catching drops, and emptying it's bucket. The gameplay of my version was extremely slow. I don't think it was even possible to have more than one drop on the screen. I remember being frustrated by the keyboard input. It was just not fun to have to wait for a delay I could not turn off when I wanted to hold a key down.
Indiana Jones platformer
One of the most influential books I ever had was »Spiele programmieren mit QBasic«, a German book focused on »programming games with QBasic«. It came with a sprite editor and a reusable engine, and I started building my own Indiana Jones inspired platformer with it. What I had in the end was a single screen, and a character that was barely able to jump over a hole in the ground. I still had no idea how to build actual levels. I did not even had a character animation, and the jump animation was not done in a curve but a triangle.
real.fake release list (1999)
I was fascinated by the demoscene, started collecting diskmags, and even formed my own group »real.fake«. Two years later I decided to celebrate what I achieved and compiled everything I and my friend cy-man did into a magazine-like interface.
I came up with my own file formats including my own run-length encoder to be able to compile everything into a single .dat file. The interface runs in the standard 16 color-only VGA mode with 640 × 480 pixels, but I made sure it does not look like this by utilizing a lot of palette effects for color animations, and an actual crossfade for the text. The executable also contains a fake setup that can be triggered with a command line parameter.