Sunday, September 14, 2008

Geek stuff: running Infocom games to work on Windows XP

Okay, Ike didn't cause the world to collapse. It was a very expensive, huge storm that caused a lot of damage, but it didn't kill many people. My brother in Beaumont was fine. I feel vaguely foolish for having gotten so wound up about him being there. Meh.

Anyway, I found an old CD with Infocom games on it ("Lost Treasures of Infocom"). These were the old text-based games that are now called "Interactive Fiction": Zork, The Lurking Horror, Infidel... This was all very magical to me when I was a kid. I wanted to become a computer programmer because of this kind of game. So I got my CompSci degree at the Academy and after the Marines I taught Seychellois people to use computers and... somehow I ended up working for FEMA. Go figure.

The trouble is that when I went to start up Zork, I got odd characters on the screen. This killed my eighties buzz. I vaguely remembered that these weird characters were the program's attempt to talk to ANSI.SYS. This was the way programs used to do super advanced graphics like dark letters on a light background (WOW!). I understand that Al Gore invented ANSI.SYS.

Okay, here's how you fix this:

  1. Start up a command prompt (Start->Run->CMD)
  2. Edit your CONFIG.NT file (notepad %systemroot%\system32\config.nt)
  3. Add a reference to ANSI.SYS at the end of CONFIG.NT (add this line: device=%SystemRoot%\system32\ansi.sys)

Now ZORK and company should start up correctly and not give you any weird characters. XYZZY.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I moderate comments blog posts over 14 days old. This keeps a lot of spam away. I generally am all right about moderating. Thanks for understanding.