The Story Behind My Remake of Oregon Trail

Many people grew up with the computer game "The Oregon Trail" byMECC. If you are feeling nostalgic you can buy a handheld gadgetin stores that has an early version of the game on it (often incorrectly referred to as the "original" version) or you can download an Apple II emulator and a virtual disk of the game.

BUT that isn't the original version of the game! My first computer was actually in a room across town from school and we used a teletype to connect to it (read more). There was no screen, it was just a typewriter with a really long roll of paper. The computer printed some stuff out, you typed some stuff in, back and forth... just letters and numbers on paper. It was on a system like that when I first fell in love with the game "The Oregon Trail".

So for years and years now, I've wanted to relive that first early computing experience and have never found a way to. But lucky for me, some people have managed to preserve and share the original BASIC source code to the game. Now most of us don't have access to a system that would run this code. And I'm not sure if there's even an emulator for these old machines that is easy to find and use. But with the source code, I figured I'd be able to recreate the game in all its original glory in some newer programming language. So I did.

What I've done here is translate the original code into Javascript, so it can run directly in a web browser -- that way pretty much any device around these days would be able to play the game. If you look at my source code for the game, you'll see that I've done a very literal translation for the most part. It looks horrible, but doing it the way I did allowed me to audit my code right alongside the original to make sure I was getting everything exactly the same. My goal here was to recreate the game, faithfully, not to write brilliant code, after all.