15/08/2006

RISC OS and BBC Micro Content

I have been a closet fan of RISC-OS for many years now. Cut a long story short for those of you unfamiliar with it: ROM based operating system, originally designed by Acorn Computers for the Archimedes range of computers in 1989, and still in development to this day, despite the demise of Acorn in 1999, by a group of enthusiastic companies mostly based in the UK.

I had been an Acorn user since 1985, having received a BBC Micro for my tenth birthday. My last Acorn machine was a Risc PC, received for Christmas in 1994. It's been hardly used since 2000, when I wrote a rather hasty review for Acorn User of the web design package Sitewriter. I recently switched on this machine, and found it still worked, not bad for a 12 year old computer!

Recently, however, I purchased VirtualRPC-SE, which turns my Windows laptop into a RISC-OS 4 enabled laptop. The software is incredibly easy to setup, unlike the free version, Red Squirrel, which requires the original ROMs, and is not supported anymore.

I'm very impressed with how it's fared the past week, and as a result, I've been able to add a lot of RISC OS and BBC Micro content to a site I've created over at Drobe, a RISC OS news portal. The page is also mirrored at my main site, which I havent joined with the rest of it.

Head there now, armed with either VRPC-SE or a BBC emulator, and you can enjoy not only Cavern Duel and Tank Duel, but two rather crusty BBC games, Androidz and Headcase Hotel (at the moment, Headcase Hotel is not playable just yet, it's still in listing form for the time being to type in, I'm trying to prepare a version in playable form which I'll unveil as soon as I'm able to).

Tank Duel was a bit of a lucky find, it was considered lost by my brother, who wrote it, until a chance discovery on the Internet Wayback Machine, which just happened to have a copy of an old website from years ago containing the ZIP file! What a chance!

Androidz was a game that got published in Acorn Computing magazine in mid-1994. I had submitted it a year previously, hoping it would be published for Christmas that year. Fat chance. Anyone brave enough to play it would find it a right bore, with fairly rudimentary BASIC code.

As for Headcase Hotel, that was written for my end of year show at art college, where I did graphic design. I can't remember much of the game, I will do as soon as I can get it in playable form.

I'm wondering where my new adventures in RISC-OS will take me. At the very least, it's a nostalgic trip.
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