Richard Garriott, creator of the Ultima Series, posted a call for warriors all around the globe to recreate one of his first games, and possibly one of the very first computer RPGs, into a modern accessible format.
How could I let this opportunity pass? as scarce the time as it always is (and more-so in these times of my life), I delved into the project; not caring much about the contest per se, but rather the option to recreate such an interesting piece of history.
The moment I saw the post I started researching on the topic and stumbled upon this video, I immediately knew what I was to do.
The second part was pretty different, and not straightforward at all.
At first I started just translating the original BASIC program into equivalent JS, but once I started developing the input module for JSTTY I figured out doing blocking input in JS to emulate the INPUT statements was not going to be simple. Ultimately I ditched all my advanced and rebooted development under a different paradigm.
So, instead of doing a direct translation, I had to read thru the logic and change the control flow so that it worked based on callbacks for the input methods.
Richard posted a link to a 24 pages scanned version of his BASIC source code; thankfully, dejayc, one of the members of the SoTA community went thru several iterations and finally produced a flat text file which made things much easier. I also got the absolutely awesome PDP-11 teletype font from him.
The game itself, it’s interesting trying to trace all the development that went from this initial version, to Akalabeth, the Ultima Series and beyond; there are certainly some aspect from this game that served as a bridge between the Dungeons and Dragons PnP RPG nerds and the whole cRPG genre.