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International Bridge Contractors

DOS - 1982

Alt name IBC
Year 1982
Platform DOS
Released in United States
Genre Strategy
Theme Managerial
Publisher SoftSide Magazine
Perspective Text-based / Spreadsheet
4.45 / 5 - 11 votes

Description of International Bridge Contractors

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International Bridge Contractors is a great version of the 1979 BASIC games coded by Philip Case for the TRS-80 computer. The game was recompiled and expanded with more features by William Hileman and distributed as freeware in 1984, and again in 1986 as version 1.1.

IBC is basically a simulation of an engineering company for 1 to 4 players. Starting out as office manager with $40 million in cash, your goal is to make bids on bridges. The first player to accumulate $500 million wins the game. The game is turn-based: each player's turn comprises up to 6 phase. The first phase is the company status display which requires no input from you, but shows all the pertinent information about your business including the number of bridges built (ordered by costs per foot), work crews available, R&D investments, materials, and most importantly cash.

The second phase is the company purchases display, where you can hire work crews, buy materials, and/or invest in R&D. The third phase is the obscurely named "secretary's report" phase. This is where random events happen (there are 65 possible events) to either help or hurt your business. I don't like the fact that some events can immediately make you lose the game (reminds me of the bankruptcy card in Monopoly), but at least the chance of getting them is rare.

The fourth phase is the R&D phase, which will only be active if you spent some R&D investment in the second phase. Here you will be told of any new breakthrough, which will reduce your costs of building the bridges. Your incremental R&D investment will also decline, thereby encouraging you to invest more. The fifth phase is the bridge specifications display. This screen shows the six bridges, their traffic types, their costs per 100 feet, and their safe and maximum distances. This phase is essential because it shows you cost information you will need to make better bids in the next and last phase: the crucial contract bidding phase. Here each of the 6 bridge types will be selected at random, with a controlled-random length. Your cost for building the bridge (materials, labor, etc.) will be displayed. If you do not have enough work crews or materials to build this bridge, you will be notified and your turn will end.

IBC is a lot of fun if you like business simulations ; especially one that depicts a services industry that not many other games focus on. Your success depends on a careful balance between bidding price and construction costs. Naturally, if you bid too high, you will not get the contract. If you bid too low, you may find yourself strapped for cash when you discover your costs are much higher. The "right" bidding amount appears somewhat random, since I could sometimes get away with hundreds of millions of dollars in profit which I could not replicate. R&D is a huge benefit, since lower costs allows you to make lower bids.

Overall, I have a lot of fun with this underdog which should please all die-hard fans of business sims. Recommended!

Review By HOTUD

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Comments and reviews

Phil Case 2024-05-08 10 points

For those interested, I am the creator of IBC.

I wrote this a lifetime ago as a senior in High School in 1979. It was basically a re-imagining of the even older game "Hamurabi", just moved into the world of business. The UI took inspiration from George Blank's "Santa Paravia". It was originally published in 1981 in SoftSide Magazine where George and I were both alum.

Over the years, Many people have coded translations of it. The coolest version I've ever seen was running on a Japanese WristWatch about 18 years ago. But perhaps the most interesting correspondence I ever received was from a Economics Professor (I no longer remember from where) who used to assign it as a study project to his class to identify the economic flaws in the model. (They are rather obvious.)

I have since retired from a software development and IT career but still enjoy tinkering. Warms the heart to see that many of you remembered it!

Steve O 2020-09-29 1 point

This brings back great memories of playing this game after dinner with my dad. I was in third grade, and I’m pretty sure he dreaded playing with me since I had no idea what I was doing!

Danial 2019-04-27 1 point

Comment for Bill Hileman - THANK YOU SIR! My Dad and I played this thing on the TRS-80 for hours at a time. We were just discussing it over on another page and I went in search of it. Very cool!

Mike 2018-06-15 2 points

I use to play this on my old Tandy 1000 when I was a kid. I was just telling my wife that every time I drink IBC root beer, I think of International Bridge Contractors... 30 years later and you STILL got me...Lol.

Bill Hileman 2018-02-27 6 points

I'm the author of this program - at least this version of it, and I'm glad to see it have such a nice write-up and still out there 34 years after I wrote it! I used to play this game on a TRS-80 with my college buddies and ported it to the IBM PC as a challenge. This program made the rounds via BBS systems decades before the internet and I used to get fan mail from all over.

Tapas 2014-01-11 -5 points DOS version

I want to play bridge card game.

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