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The history of Microsoft BOA

by Doctor Ludos on 04/30/14 01:47:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Almost unknown, BOA is a nice little game for MS-DOS created in 1989 by Dean Ballard for Microsoft. It's an arcade game similar to Snake, besides the fact that you are playing a rat trying to avoid being eaten by the snake!

The oddest thing about this game lies in its distribution model: it was solely available through the driver disk of a mouse created by Microsoft, the "Contour Mouse", also known as "Dove Bar." Due to the technological limitations of the era, Dean Ballard chose to use ASCII characters as graphics for the game, which creates a nice kind of retro feeling today. Moreover, as Microsoft wasn't really in the videogame business at the time, Dean was actually hired as an outside consultant, and got about 500$ for the job. But to be fair, he actually created the game as a request from his friend Steve Shaiman, who was supervising the mouse project, and was looking for a demonstration program. And what better advertising for a mouse that can allow you to move faster than the other models than a quick mouse-based dexterity game?

Microsoft Contour Mouse, aka Dove Bar

A few months ago, I created a remake of this game, called Moreia, that helped me to get in touch with the creator of BOA. My colleagues and I seized this opportunity to interview him about the story of this game, that everybody seems to have forgotten. Who here remember playing this game, or was aware of its existence?


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