Yankee Trader - Sysop Info

(Last update: Mar 15 2023)

This document is intended to be a rough guide to assist sysops with getting the door game Yankee Trader running on their BBSes.

Portions of the information on this page came from http://dosbox.bbsdev.net.

Information may change as more facts are known.


Index
  1. Instability
    1. Emulation: DOSBox-X
    2. Emulation: DOSEMU (Linux)
    3. Dedicated Hardware: NT-based OS
  2. Registration
  3. Sound Effects

Instability

"It is a period of great instability." - First sentence in YTSYSOP.DOC.


Yankee Trader (abbreviated "YT") is a BBS door game known for intermittent instability (i.e.: random crashes) while running on any BBS software.

Under modern BBS software (e.g.: Synchronet) on modern Windows systems, YT crashes most typically comes in the form of:

Either scenario can result in the user having to hang-up on the BBS while in-game.

FOSSIL drivers simply cannot run the game very long, if at all. The reason why is unclear. Take the time to read through the YTSYSOP.DOC file that comes with the door. In the section labeled "Problems?" the author makes it clear that he struggled with the door crashing seemingly randomly for no apparent reason even on DOS computers in 1990.

Here are some ways to run YT reliably:

  1. Emulation: DOSBox-X

    It has been found that YT runs exceptionally well in current versions of DOSBox, able to withstand the scripted repetitive play styles typically expected from expert players without crashing.

    However, do not use standard DOSBox; socket inheritance, the feature that makes running door games possible over telnet, is broken in the latest official DOSBox build. Furthermore, a standard DOSBox session is only aware of the filesystem's contents at the time it's initialized, which means it cannot see, read, or write from any files that are modified outside of its own session while it is running. This results in having to run doors as single-node games.

    For these reasons, we must use DOSBox-X, which has working socket inheritance, and does support file-locking and sharing between multiple DOSBox sessions, making simultaneous multi-node play possible, in theory.

    Steps for Synchronet on Windows (works with YT 3.6 in DOSBox-X 0.83.10 with SBBS 3.18 through 3.20a on Windows Vista through Windows 10):

    1. Download dosbox-x_door_files.zip. This archive contains all the required files.
      1. Install DosBox-X using the included dosbox-x-windows-0.83.10-setup.exe installer. It will install to C:\DOSBox-X by default.
      2. Create a dosdoors subdirectory in your xtrn subdirectory (ie: C:\sbbs\xtrn\dosdoors), and then unzip the included dosbox-win32.conf, mode.com, and rundosdoor.cmd files into that subdirectory.
        1. The dosbox-win32.conf file has numerous settings already in place, including:
          • In the [CPU] section, cycles is set to auto. This ensures that DOSBox-X has enough power to keep up with fast players.
          • In the [serial] section, serial1 is set to nullmodem inhsocket:1 telnet:1
          • At the bottom, in the [autoexec] section, drive "C:" is mounted as the dosdoors directory: mount c c:/sbbs/xtrn/dosdoors
          (Many other nonessential settings are disabled entirely [sound emulation, video scaling, etc.].)
        2. In rundosdoor.cmd, note the REM lines immediately above set SDL_VIDEODRIVER=dummy, and optionally un-comment that line if you don't want to observe DOSBox-X running on the host while someone is playing the game.
          • If your DOSBox-X installation path is somewhere other than C:\DOSBox-X, make sure you change that accordingly in the bottom of rundosdoor.cmd
        3. The purpose of the mode.com file is to set the baud rate. Without it, the door game will default to 9600 baud. This is why the file rundosdoor.cmd contains the line echo mode com1:baudhard=1152 >> dosbox-%SBBSNNUM%.conf , to increase the baud to 115200, the maximum.
    2. Install your copy of YT 3.6 into C:\sbbs\xtrn\dosdoors\yt. Several different modded versions are available from YT.StarFlt.com.
    3. Set up the game in Synchronet as follows:
       1: Name                       Yankee Trader 3.6
       2: Internal Code              YT
       3: Start-up Directory         ../xtrn/dosdoors
       4: Command Line               rundosdoor.cmd %h yt yt.exe C:\DORINFO%#.DEF
       5: Clean-up Command Line
       6: Execution Cost             None
       7: Access Requirements
       8: Execution Requirements
       9: Multiple Concurrent Users  ? * see note below
      10: I/O Method                 Socket
      11: Native Executable/Script   Yes
      12: Use Shell or New Context   No
      13: Modify User Data           No
      14: Execute on Event           No
      15: Pause After Execution      No
      16: Disable Local Display      No
      17: BBS Drop File Type         RBBS/QuickBBS   DORINFO#.DEF
      18: Place Drop File In         Start-Up Directory

    *  This is ultimately each individual sysop's preference. In theory, the door should allow two or more users to play concurrently just fine, but the game's documentation is unclear about whether it's officially supported. Consider the following facts: the game was made during a time when most BBSes were running with one phone line on a single-tasking operating system. Also, there are no interactions within the game that take place between two or more players. For these reasons, allowing multiple concurrent users in the game is probably best avoided, despite DOSBox-X making it technically possible. Keep backups of your games, and enable this option at your own risk.

    When your users launch Yankee Trader, the drop file will be created in the dosdoors directory, right where DOSBox-X can easily find it (in the mapped "C:" drive). That's why we set the drop file location to the Start-Up Directory.

    Optional (untested): If one were so inclined, one could place the drop file in the node directory instead and then map a different drive letter (eg: "D:") to that directory, however this would also require changes to the Command Line (#4 above) for passing both the desired drive letter and the node directory path, as well as to the rundosdoor file (another "echo" line containing the "mount" command below the "copy" line) in order for the mapping of the two to occur (such changes might even be necessary in order for DOSBox-X to run multi-node DOS doors other than Yankee Trader, particularly those that use a drop file type other than DORINFO#.DEF, on account of the fact that they do not include the node number in the filename).

    Other doors DOSBox-X has been tested with:

    On rare occasion, if a user's BBS connection drops unexpectedly, DOSBox-X may not properly recognize the fact that it lost carrier. If this happens, the game will continue to run idly without the user being present. So check your BBS server at least daily, and if you happen to notice DOSBox-X running without anyone being logged in, simply close the DOSBox-X window.

  2. Emulation: DOSEMU (Linux)

    Some sysops running Linux have claimed success running YT using DOSEMU.

    Unfortunately, there are currently no details listed here on how this is done.

    Refer to http://wiki.synchro.net/howto:dosemu for general setup information.

  3. Dedicated Hardware: NT-based OS

    It has been observed that YT runs stably on Windows 2000 (or similar NT-based OS).

    So, if practical, consider running YT on its own dedicated hardware running Windows 2000, and install a lightweight BBS software package like GameSrv (any pre-2016 version). Then, on your main BBS system, configure your YT door so that it connects to the Windows 2000 system via RLogin, which then executes the game when connected. To the user, it will appear as though it's all running under one roof.

    Steve Bennett over at Slinky's Place BBS (telnet://slinkybbs.com) has done extensive experimentation in this area, and set up an entire Yankee Trader Game Server (YTGS), hosting several different YT games.

    Steve decided to decommission and repurpose the server he used to run YTGS effective August 1, 2021. Prior to its removal, it ran reliably for approximately one year.


Registration

Yankee Trader is shareware. However, unlike most other shareware software, it is fully functional and playable in its unregistered form. Obtaining a registration key does not unlock any gameplay features or add any additional functionality. All registrations ever did for Yankee Trader (apart from supporting the author, of course) was remove the "UNREGISTERED" text upon entering the game as well as the "PLEASE HELP YOUR SYSOP REGISTER" text and the brief delay upon exiting the game.

Unfortunately, registering the door via the original author is no longer possible.

This generic public key will remove the unregistered nag messages and allow the game to run as though it is registered. It works on YT 3.6, including the modded versions from yt.starflt.com (it is already included in the ZIP files available on that site).

Create a text file in your YT directory containing the following three lines and save it as YT.REG. The file must be formatted for MS-DOS/Windows (i.e.: CRLF-terminated lines).

This BBS
The Sysop
3484625551

Enjoy! If you find this key useful, consider making a donation of $20 or more to any local charity of your choosing.


Sound Effects

Players will notice that YT occasionally spews lines of incoherent text followed by a music note character. These are special sequences meant to be interpreted as sound effects or music in certain terminals, such as SyncTERM or Qodem.

To enable sound effects during play in SyncTERM, set ANSI Music to "All ANSI Music enabled." When you enter the ship's computer, you'll hear two brief, high-pitched beeps. Different sounds can heard in other places as well, such as while playing the lottery and during space combat. Sounds are enabled in Qodem by default.



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