Article about Tim Stryker's Aztarac arcade game

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Article about Tim Stryker's Aztarac arcade game

Post by Duckula »

I came across this article which is mainly focused on the restoration of Tim's very own Aztarac Arcade machine and thought people might be interested. It gives an insight into Tim by his family and also features some photo's from back in the 1990s.

A nice photo of Tim playing Aztarac with his son Ace followed by Ace playing the same machine with his son (Tim's grandson) also features.

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Re: Article about Tim Stryker's Aztarac arcade game

Post by Questman »

Incredibly cool read.

Stryker was a visionary. I wish we could share what we are doing with his kids. I bet Ace would be happy that his father's legacy is being preserved and he's had such an enormous impact on literally tens of thousands of people over the decades.

Just some of Stryker's accomplishments:

- Aztarac, one of the most detailed and advanced vector-based early 1980s arcade games
- Fazuul (et al) - powering a 45 user dial-up game service in south Florida (ENTERNET), the first of its kind, really.
- Two books that I am aware of, discussing the concept of how technology can improve society and democracy
- The Galactiboard and Multi-Modem cards, allowing 8 external modems per card or up to 16 modems on-board per card, turning a crappy old DOS computer into a minicomputer from a multiuser standpoint
- The Galacticomm Software Breakthrough Library, the software that enabled the absurd parallel performance
- The Major BBS, the software intended to demo the GSBL but ended up being a product, using the GSBL to allow up to 256 users on a single DOS computer via modems, X.25 networks, Netware, etc.
- The FLASH protocol, allowing for multiuser realtime video games to be played hosted on the MBBS/GSBL-based systems
- Quest for Magic and other multiuser games for The Major BBS that inspired everything we've ever loved on these platforms, showing off how multiplayer gaming could work on these systems

All of this was incredible use of limited resources. Sure, VAX systems existed then, as well as mainframes and UNIX systems. But they were incredibly expensive, didn't have consumer-grade software, and while many were on the Internet at university campuses, they weren't exactly accessible to the masses.

Sure he made some errors - FLASH should have been marketed to video game publishers, not BBS software ISVs. So many at the time were desperate for a solution and tried, and failed, to stand up their own. Many of them (e.g., Sierra!) had Major BBS systems already! Internet - realized Internet was a thing probably a year too late, and by then it had allowed the company to be bypassed when there was a narrow window to replace Mosaic with a BBS/modem-friendly browser platform that could have become Netscape. He could be demanding, he could even be demeaning. Nobody is perfect. He had a collection of insane developer talent but some left on bad terms. That's to be expected.

But overall the world is worse off for his loss 25 years ago this August. To think of what he could have accomplished in that time and in the next 20 years is so frustrating!
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Re: Article about Tim Stryker's Aztarac arcade game

Post by Kracken »

IMHO he's one of the early adopter of the concept of "networking" but with micro-computers..
And for sure, back then optimization was key to transition anything theoritical to practical.

In his 1980 interview in BYTE magazine, he explains how he conceptualized a multiplayer game (flash attack) through parellel ports with... 2 x 8K Commodore PET!
The concept of networking micro-computers back then was like magic.
When you read the details, his early work on Flash Attack are for sure the basis on the GSBL and Major BBS, and his vision of a giant network of micro-computers.
He mentions extending the concept to N computers..
University mainframes DEC/PDP/Unixes had their Arpanet. Stryker wanted to do so with micros...

While reading Stryker explaining the idea of exchanging states of the game through parallel ports, with basic snippet, there: "ZORK" ad, which
is the forefather of all MUDs and Interactive fiction which became one main sellling-point of MajorBBS.
(ok you can include Collossal Cave in the mix :)

Anyway, yes a true pioneer. Sad anniversary. But his legacy lives on.

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