Monday, June 21, 2010

Resurrecting Chess Club

A long, long time ago I wrote a program called Icarus. It was a chess game, but it didn't know how to play. Instead, it was client software for interacting with the Internet Chess Club. You'd fire this thing up, and next thing you knew you'd be playing chess against someone else over the intertubez.

Fast-forward about ten years and Icarus had long since been sold to ICC for parts, and I didn't really care since the world had moved to mobile phones anyway. And there was this nice company called Danger that sold a Hiptop cell phone (T-mobile's Sidekick), and I could write programs for it. And naturally I wrote yet another client to talk with ICC--this time from your mobile phone. It was actually a pretty slick piece of technology and a well done little game. But Danger refused to sell it, for reasons they never really explained well.

(Every time you read in the news about how developers are all up in arms about Apple being too opaque or restrictive about their App Catalog, I laugh. Heartily. Danger was so insanely protective of their app catalog--which pre-existed the iPhone by years, mind you--that they made Apple look like a porn starlet eager for her first Big Flick.)

Anyway, fast forward a few more years, and Microsoft is just a few months from entering the smartphone market itself. And here I am, once again writing a chess client for a mobile phone. But (insert Monty Python swamp-routine accent here) this time, it will stay up.

For all that internet chess is an old story, I'm actually doing something kind of novel here. Microsoft, in its wisdom, has decided not to provide a sockets API with their phone--and that means there will be just about zero online games happening in the first release. Well, one: mine. Because I'm damned well connecting to the chess servers anyway, even without sockets. Woot. I'll post about how that's working after I've had a nap.


  1. Sounds like a great idea! It's very cool to think people all over the world play your games, you know.

  2. Yeah; the part where the "people all over the world" write checks to me is satisfying too, in an almost visceral sense. Like eating a steak, right after you just ate a previous steak.