Bob and That Other Guy and the Search for the Green B’s

We will all remember forever the videogames of our youth. Whether it was Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Zelda, Pac Man, or Pong. For me, the most influential of them all was Bob.

A DOS game, Bob and That Other Guy and the Search for the Green B’s was written by my older brother, Paul, while he was a student at Langham Creek High School. As a middle schooler, the LCHS computer science program seemed like some sort of impossible magic. My brother and his friends swapped code and riffed on each others ideas, and I saw the game blossom before my own eyes. New features and levels and enemies sprung fully-formed from floppy disks (some that had even been my suggestions). It was the late ’90s and DOS games shouldn’t have still been cool, but there was no one to tell me otherwise.

That was my first knowledge of computer programming. Seeing limitless ideas born from the inscrutable code my brother slaved over. Without my brother or his creation my life would likely have taken a very different trajectory.

So this is my present back. Working from the original bob.exe and accompanying level files, I set out in 2010 to re-write the game using processing.org. Near the end I finally had to break down and ask Paul for the original source code to get the bouncing Orange Guy behavior correct.

I don't know that Bob stands up to the march of time. For one thing, it is an RSI nightmare. Many of my friends now find it completely unplayable, their hands damaged from childhoods dominated by keyboards and videogame controllers. But when I play it I’m reminded of the limitless possibilities of a little creativity mixed with the unbridled power of even the simplest of computers.

— Mark Egli, 2013

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