This Astrocade blog is really giving me an opportunity that I have not taken before now. I have been going through BallyAlley.com’s “What’s New” area looking for updates that I have made in the past. This is a fun experience. It gives me a chance to remember that this website, devoted to a long-forgotten videogame console, has been around for almost 20 years! In the next few weeks, I plan to write a blog post about this with a title like, “What’s so great about the Bally Arcade / Astrocade, anyway?” I’m not sure that I have an answer, so exploring this area of my mind, and understanding why I have been a fan of the astrocade since I was introduced to it in the early-to-mid-1990s, will be a rich and rewarding topic for me to write about at length. I’m sure that I will learn a little bit about the gaming hobby, and about myself too.
Let’s get into the meat of this post. What content did I add to BallyAlley.com on this day of any year? To answer that question, I have to go all the back to February 7, 2001. On that day I added an early article that I wrote called “Discovering and Exploiting the Bally Astrocade Cassette Format.” At that time, there was little known about the AstroBASIC 2000-baud tape format. Now there are tools to work with WAV files that allow BASIC programs written for the Bally Arcade to be manipulated and digitally archived. Back in 2001, this wasn’t yet possible. The tape format was a popular topic on the Bally Alley Yahoo group.
Take a look at the way the article looks now:
Bally Alley.com remains primitive-looking compared to modern websites. Parts of the website, such as this article on tape formats, are even more primitive. This article harks back to the very beginning of the site, before there was a theme. As you can see, the picture is just plain HTML. To this day, the website remains completely written in HTML and CSS. Here is a link to the article about BASIC tapes:
Discovering and Exploiting the Bally Astrocade Cassette Format, by Adam Trionfo
Be warned, this article and all of the old areas of the modern Bally Alley website, probably don’t look very good on widescreen monitors. Sorry about that, but changing the website now would require rewriting hundreds of HTML pages. That’s the problem with hard-coding how a website is set up. I guess I didn’t know better at the time… and now it’s too late to change it. Besides, even if I did, then in just a few years the look of the site would fall out of fashion again. I’ve never been fashionable, so why start now?
Also on this day in 2001, I linked to the Astrocade Discussion Group at Yahoo Groups, here:
I made the first posting to the Yahoo group the next day. It said:
Today, February 8, 2001, marks the beginning of the Astrocade discussion group. This is the day when the Astrocade community begins to have a place to meet and call our own.
Anyone want to start off discussing who we are, what we do, and how we use our Astrocades?
The astrocade yahoo group is still active and it has 363 members. As of today, there have been 16,237 posts made there. You don’t have to be a member to read the posts, but you do have to be a member to post to a thread. According to the group’s statistics, I have made about 6,200 postings to the group since 2001. Wow!— that’s a lot of typing! My most recent post there was only yesterday.
Over the years I have written some fairly lengthy posts to that group. I’m not sure which is my most favorite post that I’ve written, but one of them is called “Astro Battle ‘Lives’ Cheat/Hack.” You can read it here:
Astro Battle “Lives” Cheat/Hack, by Adam Trionfo
If you find cheating at Astro Battle (a Space Invaders clone) interesting, then read the follow-up threads to the post.
Back when the Bally Alley website was first started, I hosted in on my own. I don’t remember where it was exactly. Before long, William Cassidy, of The Odyssey2 Homepage! asked if I wanted the site hosted on classicgaming.com. I took him up on that offer right away. Under William’s guadance, ClassicGaming.com was an excellent website. Eventually the site sold out to GameSpy. Things changed and I moved BallyAlley.com away from there. The ClassicGaming.com URL now brings you to IGN.com. That’s too bad, as it was nice to have a centralized hub for nearly all of the classic console systems.
The last update I made to BallyAlley on February 7, 2001 was that I added the “Classic Gaming” ads to the top of all pages (this was required by the host). Did banner ads really work to bring in money for any of these hosting services? I don’t know, but I certainly don’t have any advertising now on my website now. If you’d like to see how BallyAlley.com looked back in 2001, then you can view it on Archive.org, here:
The website looked pretty ugly, but the important matter was, and remains to be, that the content of the site was, and will continue to be, strong and directly related to the Astrocade game console and its arcade cousins.
This blog is bringing back plenty of memories. I’ve been part of the classic gaming hobby since 1989/90, when “classic games” were just called “games.” By the mid-1990s, “classic games” were referred to as “old games” and people wondered why anyone would still play that old junk anymore. This was a time when you could buy an Atari 2600 for a buck or an astrocade for fifty cents (like I did). Eventually, I really jumped into the hobby by creating a paper newsletter. I’ve been part of the classic gaming community since 1994. I guess that after all this time I’m here to stay!