Ms. Gorf Game? Is someone pushing for this code?

As I was doing a lot of research last night and today on the history of Dave Nutting and Associates for an interview I conducted I came across information for a sequel that was being developed for Gorf. This probably isn’t news to some of you, to others it may very well be. Information is scarce, but all sources seem to point that whatever development stage the Ms. Gorf game was in, it’s sitting in a corner gathering dust. You probably couldn’t even label it as a prototype as it never made it to a testing stage. Is anyone pursuing this game to bring it to light?

Seems like the Mame guys would be after Ms. Gorf hardcore

I know little about hardware, and I know little about programming languages. I don’t understand how the backside of Mame works, but I have to assume those guys know arcane programming languages like Forth and assembly. With that assumption, and with the large fan following of the classic arcade game Gorf, I would think everyone would want to see the game in whatever stage it was in. Here is a screenshot (via gamedev.net) of what Ms. Gorf looked like.

Ms. Gorf Screenshot

I guess the gameplay was something like Robotron? Who knows. If Gorf came out in 1981, and this set of code was being developed starting in 1982, that would be a solid 2-3 years before Dave Nutting and Associates was shut down (Around 1984). If a typical game development time took 6-9 months, this Ms. Gorf must have been fairly well developed, to almost a finished stage. A lot of assumptions for sure…

I am also assuming that, if someone isn’t hunting this code down, then it’s because interest has waned over time due to lack of response from Jamie, or due to the general human nature to get busy with life. Surely if we got the disks into the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing, they could do something with Ms. Gorf Forth code? Right? Maybe if we got the code to Mark Spaeth, Mike Doyle, JROK or Dave Widel, and the big “IF” we could get them interested…they could do something with a bunch of floppy disks, right?

I sent an email out to Jamie Fenton, I can only hope that she has time to write me back. If anyone knows anymore, please, fill me in. It is my understanding that Jamie had some sort of consultant standing at DNA, and probably worked on the code remote from the office location, part of the reason why she owns that game outright now. It would be a cool piece of history, to say the least, to bring to light.

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Ms. Gorf currently exists as source code only. It was programmed on a proprietary hardware environment, and currently exists on these very arcane type of floppy disks.

The problem so much isn’t understanding the source code; it’s getting the damn code off of the disks in the first place.

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Ok….help me a little bit more then.

I read that Ms. Gorf was developed on a proprietary system. In my context and understanding, that means ‘a cobbled together system of computers to help run the game’ But nothing really proprietary about it, a computer is still similar in it’s basic components, and this is kind of what I gathered after seeing the photo of the system on Jamie’s website.

A Floppy drive is fairly standard, right? Or were there a whole bunch of different sized floppy drives? And the floppy drive, say it’s a drive that reads an 11″ disk, something really strange, you’re saying basically because of the weird size of the floppy that a drive doesn’t exist anymore to read that code…

Surely one of these tech head could rig up something….right? That may be a huge stretch, but there were a ton of people working on these type of games, 15-20 people in Nutting with potential 5-6 other software people. Surely if Jamie doesn’t have a working Floppy, maybe one of those people still do that works…?

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Heres an article on Jamie and her involvment with Ms Gorf.


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Thanks….that is where I got a chunk of my information for this post about the Gorf sequel.

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There are actually floppy controllers built today which are made for these kind of jobs.
I have one of them myself, the Catweasel MK4 (from Individual Computers). It supports several old formats, and they seem eager to add more.

Here are some of them:
Amiga HD 1760k
Archimedes DD 720k
Atari Falcon HD 1440k
Atari 810 90k
BBC Micro 100k
Canon AXI 128 16sec 70k
Casio Sampler FZ-1 1280k
Commodore 1541/51/70(40T)
MHS Bootdisk 320k
NEC PC-9801 CNC HD 1248k
NEC PC-9801 CNC DD 720k
PC FM 128 16sec 320k
PC DD 256 16sec 640k
RDOS DD 360k
SAM Coupe/Elite DD 800k
Sinclair QL QDOS DD 360k
Sinclair QL QDOS HD 720k
TI99/4A 90k
TRS80/Videogenie SS SD 85k
TRS80 Multidos SD 170k
VersaDOS 16sec 638k

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A proprietary system doesn’t mean a bunch of computers duct-taped together. It means chips designed by the company for their use, to very specific needs.

For example, just because a C64 has a 650X chip in it doesn’t mean it’s “standard”, given there is a custom video chip and a custom sound chip AND the way stuff is interconnected matters too. But we have a lot of info on C64’s so reverse-engineering those custom chips is no big deal.

Reverse engineering a custom chip nobody has ANY info on is quite difficult, and maybe even impossible if there isn’t a working example of the hardware to look at and probe with an oscilloscope, etc…

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That is probably true. Last I heard they reverse-engineered the format for the last remaining piece of some sort of medical system, but of course it’s virtually impossible without any actual hardware to reverse engineer.

Still, the floppies themselves are probably far from proprietary, just the data structure on them. Shouldn’t it be possible to read the floppy track by track, just to preserve it on a more robust storage unit, and then one could take a look at the resulting disk image, trying to reverse engineer the data format?

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I suppose without more information about the hardware of the proprietary system from Jamie, knowing whether this floppy reader would take that particular disk…and even then if that information could be read if some idea of what electronics were used couldn’t be produced….there would be no way to evaluate whether it could be reverse engineered or not.

I am starting to see why this is such a big deal. It’s not just about reading the disk, when you say proprietary system there is something in the code taking advantage of a particular piece of hardware.

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