30/07/2020: KansasFest 2020: IIGS Summary

KansasFest 2020 is over.

This year had more attendees than ever, with 459 people registering a week before it started. This was made somewhat easier by the fact that it exclusively an online event thanks to our now old friend, COVID-19.

Like a lot of surprises about living under some kind of lockdown, one didn't expect a pandemic to do more for promoting the Apple II in ways that had never worked before. But that's what's happened with this new surge of interest in our love of Apple's fledgling platform.

If you missed it (as I did, because I was asleep) you can watch the whole shebang from Friday morning kick off, to the end of the first day, to the following Saturday morning and the concluding Saturday afternoon.

But you want to know what's IIGS related quickly. Here's a breakdown of what happened that's especially relevant to the IIGS:

SLED

Twilight II v2.0, the premiere IIGS screen saver, was released by Call A.P.P.L.E. The last version of the build was found (2.0b4 by Jim Maricondo) and then Antoine tidied it up for release. He needed to regenerate its original Orca/M development environment to assemble it, user end installer scripts were prepared, a couple of resource issues were corrected and the source code was prepared.

Anyone who knows the flame wars back in the mid to late ‘90s on comp.sys.apple2 may remember a beta version of Twilight II v2.0 was leaked and spread. A lot of work was by Nathan Mates and in protest of this and other incidents that freely spread the works of new Apple II developments, Nathan publicly let everyone know he would no longer develop for the IIGS and sold all his gear.

Well, it's officially here now! It includes many games as part of the new version (possibly overkill for a screen saver, but testament to how modular and powerful Twilight II is), but my new favourite is S.L.E.D. Yes, now anyone can create scrolly messages like the FTA. Leave a message on your IIGS' screen to let your family know you're out for some much needed fresh air during lockdown. If you get your hands on the documentation and are a coder, you might like to make your own Twilight II modules yourself – I think it's begging for a slideshow module for both images and Paintworks animations where you can set the duration between them.

Another very welcome addition is beta 4 of the modified HFS File System Translator (FST). Firstly, for those who don't know, the HFS FST is what allows System 6.0.x. to be able to read and write to HFS volumes. This format was popular on the Mac from the mid-to late ‘80s up until Mac OS 8.1 in January 1998, where it was superseded by HFS+, which in turn was only recently supplanted by APFS since macOS High Sierra and Mojave.

A patch by Jawaid Bazyar has been available for many years and everyone assumed it fixed all data corruption issues. However, as larger volumes became more easy to come by, it was being noticed that file copies would sometimes become corrupt and the only way to fix the corruption was to reformat the volume.

Petar Puskarich has been stringently testing (through lots of repeated folder and file copying) Geoff Body's modification to the current HFS.FST with volumes over 1 gigabyte big and found it to be currently stable. Having said that, this is still beta software and you may still want to take caution when copying files over to large volumes, especially if you're using RAMFast SCSI cards, which may have issues of their own. But given there was a danger of corruption before, you may as well try this new version.

To install, first deal with the current version of the HFS.FST file in the System > FSTs folder. Delete or make it inactive through the Icon Info function of the Finder. Then, simply copy HFS.1.04b.FST into your System's FSTs folder and reboot. You can find this updated FST in the FSTs folder of the  System Add-ons volume.

Ninja Force, in response to the online nature of KansasFest 2020, has updated their Classic Desk Accessory IRC client, Samurai, to version 1.1.1. This fixes a few things to make it easier to access an IRC server. To use with System 6.0.x, simply drag Samurai onto the System folder and it will automatically copy it to Desk.Accs folder within. Reboot and access via the classic control panel by simultaneously holding down the open apple, control and escape keys. This is also in the  System Add-ons volume in the CDAs folder. It's also installed to my self booting  Communication Apps volume. Samurai requires the Marinetti TCP stack installed to run and the relevant hardware as well, such as the Uthernet I or II.

Rebecca Heineman did a presentation on how she ported Out of this World (aka Another World) to the IIGS when everyone at Interplay said it couldn't be done. She's also recounted that IIGS versions of Ultima II, Bard's Tale III and Wasteland are sitting on her hard drive and that art is required to complete them. Although I get the feeling rights issues are going to have to be sorted out as well before they could be released publicly. Rebecca confirmed that she's still contracted to do the IIGS version of Nox Archaist, but that the original 8-bit version needs to be complete before she can work on a IIGS specific version. Speaking of which, the 6502 Workshop also revealed new elements of gameplay during the KFest sessions.

Not IIGS specific, but you'd be mad to miss out on the latest version of Total Replay if you have any form of mass storage on your IIGS. Play over 300 classic 8-bit Apple II action games from a customised front end on a single volume! With screen grabs, super hi-res artwork for packaging scans (to which I've now contributed) and now a help system (to which I've also submitted some summarised info for).

To finish, somewhat mysteriously, the brand new, cycle accurate IIGS emulator, Crossrunner is coming soon to a Windows machine near you.