INN is Back!!

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Collector
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INN is Back!!

Post by Collector » Fri May 31, 2019 8:07 pm

The old INN Revival project has been dead for some time now. The developer shut down and would not release his RE'd source code for his server. There was some attempts to repeat his efforts, but they gave up.

A completely new project has come to fruition. A while back Christopher Smith was looking for the original server source. He managed to find the original INN client source, which he shared with me. I was not able to point him to anyone that had access or knowledge of the source.

Fortunately, he contacted one of the old employees, James Leiterman, in Sierra's old barn, where INN was located. While James did not have the server source, he was able to reverse engineer it from the client source. The result is the INN Barn project. It is currently in beta stage, but is fully functional and most (not all) of the games work, including some that did not work in the Revival.
Mid January 2019 I was contacted by Christopher Smith to see if I had original source code to the ImagiNation network servers. He had stumbled across my online resume which indicates my employment with INN between February 1994 to November 1995. I was part of the applications group but I was tasked with cleaning and preparing the DOS server code for 3rd party developers into an SDK (Software Developer Kit) with API (Application Interface) with standalone offline servers and making various mix'n'match flavors of DOS-extenders and compilers and linkers. This involved me having hands on application side of server code. Then while the server group was designing the new UNIX based servers I had moved a game specific portion of the server code from DOS to Win32 and built new SDKs as a hybrid for the new upcoming system, without waiting anyone having to wait for it. I also started to travel and train 3rd parties to develop games for this new system.

Well the answer to the January question was no. I had no server code. I had moved on to other game development and left INN far behind me. But I started to think about the old network and then it happened. My employer laid off my department February 1st so my time was spent looking for new work, spending a lot of my time with my Eagle Scout son's Boy Scout Troop events as an Assistant Scout Master, and as a trainer of trainers for the council Leave No Trace and Woodbadge events. My remaining time was spent recreating the server just to see if I could. My own companies Wild Goose Games and Wild Goose Robotics have not seen any paying clients in a few years. I've built servers for other gaming networks over the years as part of my employment so my thinking, this should be easy!

It turns out it wasn't so easy. I was pointed at a version control dump of application code checkins which offered some clues but I had to figure out a lot of stuff that had been forgotten over time, or I had never encountered before. Plus a merging of new fast technology communicating with very slow legacy technology. A long story short, what is operational is the end result. It took 3 1/2 months to build this and I had some technical hints and clues from work that Christopher had done in his attempt. He was also helpful in the debugging stage trying to help find bugs and a possible reason why they may be occurring.

This product has not been heavily used or load tested so problems are definitely going to show up. I am in the process of cleaning & documenting code since my goal was to get a product online quickly that could support the old INN network as a subset of its capability.

There are no Customer Support Representatives or Sysops. Member Id's and Email Id's are automatically generated though Member Id's have to be manually set by the user after the first time they create their player. Email, store, trivia, and most BBS (Bulletin Board System) functionality is not supported. Some Top 10 scores are operational and some BBS based scoring is not. Instructions and additional information are in the InnBarn.pdf available here.

One final note is that there is no proprietary code in the making of the InnBarn server or the InnProxy. Therefore (when I'm ready) the source code will be given to key people whom I have worked with whom are part of the INN Revival forum who will step up to become the Administrator of the project, create a git resource to further the project. As mentioned, the infrastructure I put in to place can support new games. Then I can get back onto one of my many projects I have placed on the back burner.
http://innbarn.com/

I have written a new installer for the INN Barn. This is from a fresh install of the INN client 2.4 (from my Torin's Passage CD) and does not contain all of the debris of the INN Revival. It will configure the client to work with the INN Barn Proxy. All you need do is install and run it. The first time you will be able to create an INN profile for others to interact with you. Once you are through, just click "Play" and it will connect to the Barn. The first time it will assign you an ID. Click OK and the INN client will shut down. Just restart it, click play and have fun reliving the glory days of The Imagination Network.

INN Barn is a WIP with frequent updates of the proxy. Updating the proxy is easy. Just download the latest from James' site and unzip it into the installed folder, overwriting the old one. Windows security may ask you if you want to allow the Proxy access you your networks. Say yes and you are done (til the next update).


ImagiNation Network (INN) Revival Facebook group
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Tawmis
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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by Tawmis » Fri May 31, 2019 11:03 pm

Downloading now... :)

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Rath Darkblade
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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:03 am

What, pray, is INN? Curious Rath is Curious. ;)

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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by MusicallyInspired » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:20 am

Serious? These guys talk about INN here all the time lol. How do you miss that? I believe this whole community was born from INN or something? And then migrated to the Sierra forums, and then finally to here?
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Collector
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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by Collector » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:47 am

Yep. Even Tawm's marriage is thanks to INN.
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Tawmis
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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by Tawmis » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:07 am

Indeed. INN = ImagiNatioN (INN) or ImagiNation Network (INN). Formerly, TSN (The Sierra Network).

And as Collector said, that's indeed how I met the woman who got stuck with me as my wife. :D

It's very cool that someone got it to work again - but, until the word gets out (and even then, unless people use it) - it's pretty quiet. I logged on last night and there were 3 people (including me) - and I am assuming, 1 of them was in Shadows of Ysberius... because I found one person (Dave), but when I said hello - no response. :D

As MI said, there's been a few threads, throughout the years about it...
http://sierrahelp.com/forums/viewtopic. ... 782#p21782
http://sierrahelp.com/forums/viewtopic. ... 998#p54998
http://sierrahelp.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=8432#p8432
http://sierrahelp.com/forums/viewtopic. ... 465#p70465
http://sierrahelp.com/forums/viewtopic. ... 822#p59822

There's probably a few more, but search "Inn" or "Imagination" yields a lot of results. :)

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Collector
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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by Collector » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:15 am

Could be a ghost, i.e. someone who quit, but the server did not delete him. Another possibility is that someone logged in only to find no one at that time to interact with so left it idling in the background, waiting for more people. Might have also only been interested in playing games that do not require more than one to play.

Did you get into the Hard Disk Cafe?
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Tawmis
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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by Tawmis » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:41 pm

Collector wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:15 am
Did you get into the Hard Disk Cafe?
I don't see Hard Disk Cafe in Casino Land. (Also Red Baron isn't an option to actually play when I tried it)

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Rath Darkblade
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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:52 pm

I think I understand, but ... I still don't understand what the purpose of the Inn Barn is. Is it to be a replacement for the old INN/TSN? Is it a forum, like the old TSN?

Personally, I hit the Sierra forums in 1994 or thereabouts, a few weeks before QfG5 came out. I think the thread names were in red, and turned purple when you read them. IIRC, they were moderated by Kimmus - does that name ring a bell? I also remember Perdita and Dark Angel from those years.

A few months later, a new "Sierra forum" was born in white, grey and silver IIRC, with the same people. Was that INN? Or was it TSN? I really don't remember - the last time I saw the old Sierra forums might have been sometime in the early-to-mid-2000s.

If the old Sierra forums are reborn, that's exciting news indeed! :D

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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by OmerMor » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:24 pm

You're getting this wrong Rath. This is not an online forum.
INN was an online gaming network in the days before the internet. It had online multiplayer games, and chats.
INN Barn enables you to run the old INN client software (in DOSBox) and connect to a rewrite of the INN server. There you can play network and play some games in a true retro style.

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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by OmerMor » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:28 pm

Here's the old wikipedia article on INN (before it was merged in the the Sierra article):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ImagiNati ... =677894116

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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by MusicallyInspired » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:36 pm

Yeah, not a forum at all. It's the actual game. Playable. Whereas you couldn't play it before because it was shut down for years.
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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by Tawmis » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:56 pm

Collector's page is back up - which explains it a little also. :)
http://www.sierrahelp.com/Misc/INNRevival.html

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Re: INN is Back!!

Post by notbobsmith » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:16 pm

This is very cool. I never used INN (didn't have the computer for it) but I remember thinking how neat it was reading about it in InterAction.

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