August 26, 2013 2:35 PM | John Polson
Fan tributes of games such as Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and other 8-bit hits continue to grow in number exponentially. However, a developer pen-named Dr. Ludos contacted IndieGames to share fan game Moreia, a tribute to an MS-DOS game called MS Boa (above), in which the player must dodge the snake for as long as possible. MS Boa was apparently packaged with a new mouse model at the time, but searching even for proof of its existence is quite the challenge.
MS Boa's game code reveals that a man named Dean (super mouse) Ballard wrote the game. Fortunately, Dean was able to shed some light about the genesis of this game and some feedback on a new fan tribute game.
"My old friend, Steve Shaiman, was running the Microsoft hardware group (read: mouse) during the late 1980's. Most PC's only had character mode displays back then, before Windows had made much of a dent, so the game had to be character based. At the time I was an independent software consultant (read: under-employed hacker), so I got the job. As I remember, it took me a week or so to write, and I think it paid $500." Unfortunately, any original design docs or photos, he says are "deep in the compost heap of bits by now."
Dean says his interaction with Microsoft was brief then and created MS Boa as "a favor for a friend," though he later had a full time job in the MS Typography group. I asked if he had any insight into indie or hobbyist scene back then.
"I wasn't really a game writer, I just hacked for fun, so I'm not too aware of the 'indie scene' at the time. I do remember working on a job once with Steve Estvanik, who was much more thoughtful about game design than I. He was a very clever guy, and I'm sure he wrote some excellent games."
MS Boas''s history appears short and simple, much like the game, but the neat twist here is that the developer of the fan game Moreia (above), with a little bit of effort, was able to talk with the creator of the original.
Dr. Lodus shared initially, "My secret hope is that Moreia will eventually reach Mr Dean Ballard, as I created this game to thank him for the fun I got playing this game about twenty years ago." After an exchange of e-mails, the two were connected.
I asked Dean what he thought of the fan game Moreia, and he said it was a "fine tribute - very true to the original, and appropriate to today's technology."