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I am an author and computer programmer from Phoenix, Arizona. I have been involved in computing since the early days of the industry.

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June 20


I originally wrote "Westfront", a text adventure game,
on the Commodore 128. It took part in cities and towns across
Norway, including Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger.
There was also a Flora Island just off the coast of

For fun, I added in a Smurf village into the game. Papa
Smurf, Handy Smurf, Jokey Smurf and Brainy Smurf
populated the village and outer Smurf Forest. I made
sure to include Gargamel's castle, along with
Gargamel and Asriel, his pet cat.

Other areas included a Red Wood forest, where
climbing one particular tree with a well
worn ladder built-in to it led to a grassroof hut
high atop the forest; a grassy plain and
gorge; a Shadow Castle (floating above the sky,
in a clearing); a murky pond; rolling hills;
a village church; a town shop; a dying forest;
a burnt forest; a thick woods; a large cave;
a raging river; and, finally, the Island of
Flora (where a lighthouse provided light for
incoming ships).

(According to, Oslo is 453 km2 in
area; Bergen 465 km2; Trondheim 341 km2; Stavanger
71 km2. I made certain to include specific
geographical figures when spacing out and
mapping the adventure.)

To make gameplay easier, I included eight
function key commands, including "GO NORTH",
"LOOK" and "MAP". Typing map would prompt
the player to view either an Exterior Surface
Map, or an interior surface map. Selecting
the first option (exterior map), a blue and
white colored geometric landscape (eight
sprites fused together) was displayed, with
a flashing white dot showing the players
current location. On the map would be
approximations of where cities such as
Bergen and Trondheim were in relation to
the adventurer.

The interior surface map, on the other hand,
displayed (graphically) the interior rooms of
the tavern, church and other locations. I
made about 4-5 rooms like this, but was
running low on memory so I just included
a minimal amount.

A sprite title, "WESTFRONT" was displayed,
above a scrolling window.

"Westfront" occupied 197 blocks on disk,
along with two sprite files, "SPRITE" (3) and
"WEST-TITLE" (3) and a SEQ data file
"WESTDATA" (74).

I lost the original adventure to the
Save-With-Replace bug back in 1996 or so. I
recoded the game from an older version, but
it just wasn't the same. I tried using
unscratch and unformat utilities, but to no
avail. It was truly lost for good.

June 16


In 1995, I went to a party in east Flagstaff. It was a 2-kegger and lots of people were there. It got out of hand quickly. People bickering and fighting, making out, getting really drunk. I recall that the party throwers had a dog that they allowed to drink beer. The dog passed out after lapping up a ton of it.

My friends quickly got tired of the party and wanted to leave, but when we all got in the car, they said that someone needed to stay behind to clean up. Naturally, I stayed behind. Not ten minutes later, the cops show up and bust the party. The party throwers are arrested, and me and my friend Stretch were issued citations for drinking while not yet 21. I paid the $125 fine, but Stretch was stupid and signed the wrong name. They took him away in the patty wagon. He eventually had to pay a $375 fine.

In high school, also in 1995, I threw a party at my parent's house when they were away at The Masters (golf tournament in Georgia). It was a 2-kegger and over 100 people showed up. The cops eventually broke up the party (I wasn't there). I heard a friend of mine had tossed someone in the pool for writing bad checks.

June 10

More on Westfront

In 1995, I had the novel idea of incorporating a Smurf Village
into my long lost game, Westfront. I had actually begun Westfront
in 1993 in BASIC 2.0 on the Commodore 64. But when memory
constraints got too tight, I converted it between 1994 and 1995
into a 206 block adventure game on disk in Commodore 128

I wasn't sure whether or not to include Smurfette, so I just
included the basic smurfs -- Papa Smurf, Handy Smurf,
Jokey Smurf and Brainy Smurf.

On a well-worn ladder heading into the treetops, in the
Redwood Forest, the player would find a wise troll meditating
in a grassroof hut. The guru would eventually talk to the player
about the magic of the forest, and even give him special items
helpful in his (or her) quest.

Other areas in the game included Stavanger, Oslo and
Trondheim, plus plenty of forestland, lush green meadows, a
murky pond, two different castles (besides Shadow Castle),
Shadow Maze, raging river, plateu, gorge and farmland.


A post on Westfront, my long lost game

The original Westfront (for the Commodore 128) took
part in Norway and Smurf Village. The player had over
80 rooms and 80+ nouns to choose from. I think I limited
verbs to around 30 or 31. With all the data and everything
else, I had 7877 bytes free. A quirk of the game is that
loading one of the sprites caused two errors in Line 0
(because I calculated the sprite ending at 4096, which is
the start of BASIC, I believe). I had to manually fix that
line every time I restarted a new game from an old one.

Another problem, much later, was that loading "Westfront"
and then "Backup" both produced ?DISK READ ERRORs
about 190 blocks into the load. This meant that going up to
Brainy Smurf in Smurf Forest and examining him caused an
past this error because the last 7 blocks of the program were
inaccessible due to the ?DISK READ ERROR. I have this
theory that electromagnetic isotopes interfere with the mylar
disk film and cause ?DISK READ ERRORs.

As of 2009, I have written some 45 adventure games for a
variety of platforms, but the original Westfront will always be
my favorite. I recoded it from an older version in 2002, but it
wasn't the same. Too many areas from the original were left
out, as well as some of the items attainable.

I found some extensive notes around the house which were
written in 1995 or so. They outlined changes to be made to
my adventure game "Westfront". Several new items and
monsters -- including Mordimar and Brainy Smurf -- were
listed as "changes to be made". There were also unique
weapons and items such as the Bow of Armidia and Crown
of Armidia. Additional monsters included: Mastodon, Ghost,
Goblin, Werewolf and Green Dragon.

An intricate "help" function was also listed in my old notes. It
would suggest certain things in the different rooms in which the
player typed "help". Example: in the main town's guild, it
suggests: "Played any cards lately?" The player could then
play some cards, winning over a valuable ally (Tursk the

The real time clock was used, set to TI$="000000" at the
beginning of the game's listing. I also made sure to clear all
variables with the CLR command.

The total file size, with the combat system and everything else
incorporated, was approximately 206 blocks in length in
BASIC 7.0 (40-column mode). Due to the length of the main
program, I saved the two sprites used in the game to disk
rather than as DATA statements.

There was also a Cave of Time located somewhere near
Bergen. The player entered a long and twisting tunnel...up
ahead was a pale green light and many voices singing in
unison (or was it a single voice?). Once the player reached
the end of the cave, he (or she) encountered the Oracle of
Time. The Oracle would ask the player if he (or she) wanted
to travel either back or forward in time. Depending on the
response, the player could go to secret locations within
the game.

At Bergen, the player found a shop, a tavern, a well and a
small guild. There were also docks in western Bergen. Taking
a boat, the player travels to Flora Island where a large lighthouse
is visible. Exploring the lighthouse, he (or she) finds a backpack
and other useful items (such as the wolfsbane). On the beach of
Flora Island was lush vegetation and towering palm trees. The
water would often splash the player's feet from an ebbing tide.

I added a Shadow Castle in the game where Mordimar, Evil
of the Ancients, resided. He was the main "evil" character in the
adventure. To reach Shadow Castle, the player had to incant a
magical ring under a "deep blue sky" in the middle of a large and
vast clearing. Once down, the player would be teleported to the
Shadow Castle courtyard, where a few rooms west and north
would be the throne room where Mordimar sat. Fighting
Mordimar was quite difficult, even if the player had good
armor and weapons. He had a special attack through the use
of a lightning bolt that would decimate the player and he (or
she) would lose the battle. The only way to defeat Mordimar
was to avoid his powerful lighting bolt.


June 04

Hypothetical situation

In 2,000 years, archeologists from the planet Earth uncovered a time capsule, circa 1984. In it is a collection of C64 games and utilities, plus a breadbox C64, a 1702 monitor and a 1541 disk drive. There are also manuals included in some obscure language known as English (recall that Aramaic , the language of Jesus, died after several hundred years of use).

What do you think scientists will remark about the find? Will they look at it as a "prehistoric" find, where the technology is low-tech and virtually useless? Or will they cherish the items and place them in a museum?

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