Year: 1997

Download: ADBrain (Compact Pro archive)

ADBrain combined two of my interests at the time, a piece of hardware called the ADB I/O that enabled external electronics to be interfaced with the mac, and Bolo, a multi-player tank game.

I still remember when I created ADBrain, I woke up at 5 AM one morning, which was completely out of character for me at the time. I had this idea to create "realistic" tank controls for tank in Bolo, where there was a lever that controlled each track. To implement this, I chose the shortest path possible.

Bolo had an API that allowed programmers to create fully automated bots, or "brains" that could be loaded to play the game in a fully automated fashion. The most common use-case for these brains was to add life to a LAN party. In addition to the 5 or 6 human players, we would load up a bunch of instances of Bolo on the fastest mac in the house to run brains. The Ladmo brain was our favourite.

They weren't exactly NPCs in the modern sense; these fully automated players had access to the same information about the game as a regular human would, they had the same motives as a regular human, and they could take the same actions as a regular human too. It was fascinating to watch them play.

What I had realized that morning was that the Bolo Brain API provided really simple way to programmatically control the tank in Bolo. I grafted some ADB I/O interface code into the Bolo Brain code, and created the ADBrain.

Later that day, my friend Trever came for a visit, and we bodged together some tank controls out of some sticks and some microswitches I salvaged out of something. It was quite terrible, but a fun exercise. I think I still have those switches, with stubs of speaker wire still soldered on in my parts bin.

IDE: Symantec THINK C 7