Echoes of popular culture and open source.

Oct 03 2019

(Note: This post is well beyond the seven year limit for spoilers.  If you haven't seen 2001 or 2010 by now, I can't help you.)

Many years ago, as a loomling, one of my very first memories was of seeing the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact on cable.  That the first 'real' record I ever listened to was the soundtrack to that movie should come as no surprise, but that's not really relevant.  I was quite young so I didn't get most of it, but I remembered enough about it that it gave me some interesting questions (so I thought; I was six, okay?) to ask at the library later.  The thing that struck me the most about the movies was, unsurprisingly, the monolith.  The universal alien device, which manipulated proto-hominids on Earth by teaching them how to hunt, gather, and make war, as well as making unspecified changes to their evolutionary path; which served as a monitoring outpost; which implemented the endpoints of a vast interstellar (intergalactic? interdimensional?) wormhole network; which turned a gas giant into a miniature star.  If you like, the monolith was a universal key to unlock the mysteries of the universe and inspire growth and change.

Many, many years later I was a computer geek in my late teens, just dumb enough to think I knew the right questions to ask, just smart enough to know that I didn't know nearly as much as I should.  I knew that college was coming up one way or another and I'd have to get my ducks in a row to do work there and hopefully get some research done.  I also knew that it wasn't going to be easy.  I'd just graduated from a hotwired Atari microcomputer with a modem to a modest PC clone, a 386 cobbled together out of hand-me-down components, stuff I'd scavenged out of dumpsters, and the odd weekend trip to the computer show.  I knew that there was this thing called Ethernet, and the college I was going to had just started rolling out connections of same to dorm rooms, and it was a pre-req for a comp.sci major.  I also knew that I needed an OS that could connect to the Net somehow, but I didn't have the connections to get my hands on the new hotness back then, nor did Leandra have the specs to run it if I did.

A long-forgotten Commodore game. Was it ever released?

Jan 14 2017

UPDATE (20170120): The game may have been found!

Many years ago, maybe a year after 321 Contact magazine merged with Enter magazine, there was a review of a video game which seemed like it was a tie-in for the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact.  The scenario was that you'd just gained access to the USS Discovery, and you had to repair all of the systems on board the ship to win the game.  As I recall, a free hint in the review was that you should repair HAL-9000 first, because he could help you figure out how to fix the rest of the ship.  I don't think I ever saw it in a store (then again, it's been over 30 years), nor do I recall reading about it in any of the other Commodore magazines I was reading at the time.  It may have been vaporware - an early review copy could have been sent out but it never actually hit the shelves.  I've searched for information about this game periodically over the years, and I've had searchbots prowling around looking for information about it as well (even dozens of permutations of likely titles for the work), and none of us have found anything even vaguely talking about it.

Oh, Internet hive-mind... did this ever actually exist?  If so, where could I find a copy?  And, most importantly, what was the title of the game?

...

As mentioned above, I think the game in question has been found. Jarandhel succeeded where I kept failing.  He was able to determine that the game's title is actually 2010: The Graphic Action Game, and it's not a Commodore title, it's a Colecovision title.  The screenshots certainly seem to match what I remember seeing in a magazine, and the game mechanics definitely fit what I recall.  The entire game has been described as being one big hacking minigame (warning: TV Tropes link).  Chances are there's an abandonware version of it floating around someplace, though I'll need to track down a Colecovision emulator to play it.