Saturday, 13 June 2015

Something new, something old, something blue, something blorrowed

The something new is that reviewed Leadlight Gamma.

Collectively, the something old, blue and blorrowed is that I've gathered up the first five proper text adventures I made (about 25 years ago), and the design notes I found for three of them, for my site Wade-Memoir. In chronological order they are:

Dungeon Of Death (1988)
Complex (1988)
The Sword Of Evil (1988) (with original notes)
Dark Arts (1990) (with original notes)
Demon's Keep (1990) (with original notes)

The book that got a 13-year-old me from approximating adventure games on the Apple II with a bunch of hectic GOTO statements to building BASIC programs that had real databases of verbs and nouns in them was Usborne's Write your own Adventure Programs for your Microcomputer; you can download a PDF of it from the linked page. The engine for the demo game in that book, Haunted House, became the starting engine for my games. I wrote five games with it, making things a bit better each time.

Today, I don't think Dungeon of Death or Complex are much good. They're just what got me started.

The Sword Of Evil is starting to get decent, though it still has no save/restore features.

Dark Arts and Demon's Keep are sufficiently respectable fantasy games of the two-word parser variety. Though Dark Arts still has too many empty rooms in it.

Today we have a wide variety of sophisticated and flexible systems available to help us make these games. We also have effectively unlimited RAM. While revisiting my old games is of personal interest for me, what I think may be of particular interest to folks who weren't around in that era is the demonstration of the amount of planning required to write games like this back then. The Usborne book told me to plan and list everything on paper before even touching the computer, so that's what I did. Have a look at my design notes for Dark Arts or Demon's Keep to see what I mean.

Demon's Keep was the last adventure I wrote from scratch for the Apple II. After that I switched to using the Eamon system, and went in for more RPG content and fewer puzzles.

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