International Bridge Contractors
International Bridge Contractors is a text-based simulation game developed by Philip Case and published as BASIC source code for the TRS-80 in SoftSide magazine in April, 1981. Case was the editor of the magazine. The game was later ported to various other platforms by hobbyists.
In the game, you play the as the temporary CEO of a bridge building company who must run the show while the CEO is on vacation. The goal of the game is to make shrewd business deals to impress the board of directors enough to become the permanent chairman of the board. The game is divided into phases where you hire workers and buy materials, bid on bridge contracts, and read the news for events that might affect your business. It's very similar to other BASIC management games like Lemonade Stand, but with a less-childish theme.
I played this game with my cousin who had a copy of the MS-DOS port published by Keypunch Software. My siblings and his siblings would sometimes play the game in multi-player mode. I don't think we ever beat the game in this way, but we had fun with it. One day, while playing around with the game, we left a D-cell battery on the keyboard before we left the house so the game would buy materials nonstop putting us further and further into debt. When we finally came back, we saw that the game had crashed due to a variable overflow, which we thought was funny. I would sometimes play the game by myself when I was bored, and I remember beating multiple times in the 1990s.
The MS-DOS port is open source. I have beaten it.
Best Version: DOS
— This section contains spoilers! —
- For 1981, this was a pretty decent game for home computers. It'd keep you and some friends busy for awhile. And, because it was published with source, you could play around with the code too.
- Although the original news events are all serious (and dull), some of the news events in the DOS port are silly and hilarious.
- The DOS port was also released with source, so you can alter it any way you like.
- The DOS port allows color customization, which is nice, but all the text on the screen is the same color, which is difficult on the eyes. Better use of color would have helped the game.
- The random news events swing wildly in each version. Some events only change your account in the hundreds of dollars, while others affect it by the millions. In the latest DOS version, changes are often in the hundreds of millions. This often makes the game less about skill and more about getting a lucky event early on. I once beat the game without ever buying anything, I just randomly got enough workers and materials to be able to bid on contracts!
- Even with the added random events of the DOS port, by the time you've played the game for a hour or so, you'll have seen them all.
- All of the ports are media challenged lacking graphics and sound.
- There is very little to do with the original game. The later ports add a bit more variety in the random news events, but that's it.
SoftSide April, 1981 cover.
|1981-04-??||TRS-80||TRS-80 BASIC||Philip Case||Published in SoftSide magazine.|
|1982-03-??||Atari 8-bit||Atari BASIC||Patrick Maloney|
|198?-??-??||Commodore 64||Commodore BASIC||William Hileman||No known copies exist|
|1984-12-10||MS-DOS||GW-BASIC||William Hileman||Version 1.0|
|1986-05-26||MS-DOS||GW-BASIC||William Hileman||Version 1.1|
|1987-07-15||MS-DOS||GW-BASIC||William Hileman||Version 1.0, published by Keypunch Software in Convoy.|
The author of the DOS port released his game and source as public domain.
|Atari 8-bit Porter||Patrick Maloney|
|Commodore 64 Porter||William Hileman|
|MS-DOS Porter||William Hileman|