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My SMS Project: Paintball Net Revival


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Updated 5/2019 to add: Now online here: Paintball Net

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Back in the mid-90's, my brother created what he called an "action MUD". He called it "Paintball Net". PBN used ANSI text terminal commands to create a combined roll-and-scroll and animated text experience. ! (exclamation points) were trees, _ (underscores) were grass, ^ (up carets) were mountains, and more. Your "avatar" was a  "Y" (uppercase y) and enemies were * (asterisks). You used MUD-like commands to move around the world and target your paintball gun and buy and sell and more. I wish I had a screenshot of what the first version looked like, but you'll just have to imagine. 😃

He asked me to create the GUI for the game. That was 1996, and I had just purchased Delphi 2 and wrapped up my first "learn Delphi" project. This sounded like a good next step, and "PBTerm" was born. I *do* have screenshots of that.

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Oh, yeah. Love those 16-color Windows graphics. 😃

During the years it was online, the game evolved and upgraded to look more like this:

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We were never going to win any awards, but we had a very devoted player community. 😃

Paintball Net was online from the summer of 1996 through the summer of 2000, when we took it offline to focus on other projects. The game was never huge, but we had thousands of players come through over that period. And since then, every year at least a few of the players have reached out and asked/begged/pleaded/demanded if we were going to put it back online.

There really wasn't much chance of the original version going back online. The original server, written in ANSI C for Linux had proven rather fragile, and was a big part of why we took the game offline. It was taking hours every day just to keep it up and running, in addition to time spent managing the community of players. On top of that, a hard drive incident in 2008 had cost me the source code of a number of core third-party/modified components for PBTerm.

This past summer, though, I realized I might be able to make the game live again using Smart Mobile Studio. I would do a straight port of the ANSI C server to Smart Pascal using Node.JS and WebSocket, and I would rebuild the PBTerm client as a browser-based client.

I'm not going to say it was *easy*, but it has been a lot of fun. ANSI C converts to Pascal without a lot of painful gyrations. And Node.JS seems a LOT more flexible, stable, and powerful than the TCP sockets approach we were using before.

Also, game development is a lot easier when you already own all the graphic and audio resources. 😃

This is the server "in action"...

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Recreating the client has been more complicated. 20+ years of Delphi habits had to be adapted to the new reality of SMS and a browser-based UI. But that's coming together too.

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It might be obvious, but I'm not targeting this game at mobile. Paintball Net needed a mouse and keyboard in 1996, it's gonna need a mouse and keyboard in 2018. Also, I've made as few modifications to the gameplay as possible. I really wanted to bring back the original as much as I could.

Today I got the handful of sound effects integrated, which was easier than I expected.

I'm planning to start testing soon. I just need to line up a server to use and find a few volunteers.

I'm excited. This would never have happened without Smart Mobile Studio.

So I figured I would share.

Merry Xmas!

-David

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I played all the clones through the years infrequently and paintball-net will always be my favorite. Hvpb took it in a interesting route but the no class system is the best route imo.  Excited to get back to splatting and maybe play some tournaments down the road! Thanks for bringing it back online and glad you had fun compiling it DavidRM!

formerly KevDog. Currently Beezooka 

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I was searching for past games today and tried to find if this was still running.  If the reboot does come online I would definitely play.  Any update on the status?  Google has paintballnet.net as one of the top links, but the page isnt up.  I would be happy to beta as well.  Was great 20 years ago and can't wait to hopefully play it again.

Darkman - As I was known way back when.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was eleven years old and had just mailed off a crinkly ten dollar bill folded inside a handwritten message explaining my love for this game. A few days would pass until there it was, my first level up. Huge fan, no game has ever come close to the caliber of paintball net. I’m — we — are much older now but the game hasn’t aged a day. Thank you David for resurrecting the legend ! 

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