7th June 2001
. _____ _ _ _____ _____ _ _ ______ _ _ . // // // // // // // // / | // // //___// // // // // //__ //|| // (( // // // (( //___// // // || // \\ // // // \\ // || // // ||// \\____ // // __//_ \\___ // || //_____ // |_/ _ _ ______ _ _ _____ _______ || // // \\ / | / | // // || // // \\ //|| //|| // // || // (( )) // ||// || // // ||// \\ // // |_/ || // // |_/ \\____// // || __//_ // $ & *$& #@ @*% & % $ & * $& #@ @*%%& %# $ & * $ & #@@ @* % & %# $ @& **$ & #@@ @ * %% & % # $ & ** $ & #@ @ * %% & %# $ & ** $ & # @ @ * %% & % # .
This is the home of Chicken Vomit - an implementation of Vulcan Venture for 80x24 serial terminals, written by Marke ``The Chief Slime Monster'' Fincher <email@example.com> back in 1989 or somesuch year, at Warwick University. In these enlightened days, you'll probably have to run it under an xterm rather than a real terminal, but you can get some of the effect with
xterm -fg green -bg black -geom 80x24
Here's what I've got:
Around about 1989 I wanted to learn C. I've been writing games for computers since I was 7 when I got my hands on a Commodore PET(!). My progression of machines as I recall was, PET, VIC-20, Commodore 16, Amstrad CPC6128, Amiga and throughout this time I was using BASIC. :-) Like many people I can't be arsed with manuals and structured learning so I decided the best way to learn C was to write a game.
The easy options would have been things like hangman etc. but I don't think projects like that would have held my interest long enough. There was an arcade game in the student union called Vulcan Venture which a number of us played at the time (when we weren't busy in lectures of course! :-) ). So I mentioned to my friends that I was going to write a version of it for the dumb terminals in the computer lab. This idea met with amusement and enthusiasm but a large amount of disbelief. Disbelief that (a) it would be playable, and (b) that I would carry it through (they know me too well).
After a while I had a blank screen with a ship that moved about and fired a laser, and demonstrated that the refresh rate was just about fast enough to support a game of this type. When I showed this to Mike Taylor he said, ``You're actually going to do this, aren't you?'' It wasn't long before I had lots of suggestions for levels and submissions of graphics for use in the game.
Although I can't really say that it was ever truly finished, we ended up with a dozen levels or so and to my satisfaction the news of it spread and there was a period of six months where it was played quite extensively. During this time a very familiar sound in the computer lab was that of someone pummelling the space bar on a VTI terminal. Also of great amusement to me was the occasional comments of ``How do I kill this thing?'' and ``Shoot it in the beak!''
Chicken Vomit was followed by Plughole (a version of the arcade game BlockHole), and Fishmonger, which was a version of Defender!
If you like Chicken Vomit, there's every chance you'll also like Marke's subsequent effort, Fishmonger. (I'm afraid I don't have Plughole - it seems to have disappeared.) And if you're into this kind of late-eighties retro-computing in general, especially if that's because you were at Warwick University at the time, you should check out the multi-user dungeon MUNDI.