You are quietly minding your own business one day in the Hall of the Guild of Adventurers on a planet near the sun called Eamon. You are suddenly approached by a sorcerer who offers you a drink which causes you to disappear to another part of the planet. In another scenario of the same game, you are elected by the others to rescue a lady who has been kidnapped and taken to Treasure Island. In still another scenario, you must escape from the Devil's Tomb getting through iron doors that won't open, gambling for your soul on a magic wheel of fortune and killing a host of monsters and demons along the way.
All of this may sound a little puerile but, take my word for it, these games are neither easy to win nor anything less than addictive. You travel to these strange adventures in the guise of a character. If he succeeds at an adventure, he gets wealthy and his expertise with the various weapons that he uses in battle and his ability to cast spells increase. If he fails to return, he is dead and you must start a new character from scratch. There are currently something over forty different scenarios available for Eamon and there is a large club of Eamon players all over the country. Three dealers in Jacksonville have Eamon disks available for one of your disks and the Apple Avocational Alliance has all of them available at a cost of two dollars and fifty cents to three dollars each depending on the size of your order and whether or not there is a sale on. The basic framework of Eamon was devised by Donald Brown and the scenarios have been written by many different people. All of the programs are public domain and copying is encouraged. Because these programs were written by amateurs in search of fun, there are occasional glitches in the programs but these are minor annoyances as compared to the hours of fun. As if the challenge of the game itself were not enough, Mr. Brown has designed Eamon as a series of textfile modules and has written utility disk programs designed to enable you to make your own adventures. Basically, you need very little knowledge of programming to design a game of your own since the programs have already been written. You design the route that people must take, the hazards they will meet along the way, the monsters they must contend with and the rewards they will receive. If none of this intrigues you, skip the rest of this article.
It is necessary to always start with the Eamon Master Disk. If you were sighted, you would simply boot it and away you would go. As things stand now, you have two options. If you are willing to take the time and trouble that it will take, write a HELLO program that will load speech and do all of the other things that the existing HELLO program does. Obviously, you could just as easily write the PR and IN commands into this program to send control to a Versabraille into your HELLO program. I take the easy way out, however. I boot the system, set it for speech or Versabraille and then insert the Eamon Master Disk. Instead of rebooting, I type RUN THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF EAMON and that is that. Even though you must change disks to get to an adventure, the system will usually not knock speech out or disable the Versabraille. I have tried over twenty scenarios and there is only one that creates problems for the Versabraille and this is because there is a command that explicitly reissues PR commands in order to allow the use of the hi-res screen for the presentation of old-english script in the preamble to the adventure.
Eamon is just one of a whole family of games called "adventure" games. Included in this family are such games as Adventure, the progenitor of the race, developed at MIT soon after the Micros began to exist and currently available on Compuserve and the Source. It is worth noting that this is also available in disk form from AAA at the same price as the Eamon disks. Some of the Adventure programs are written in Integer and will need to be handled like other integer programs. As with Eamon you should not boot these but should instead RUN ADVENTURE HELLO or its equivalent.
These public domain games can be listed, altered and made to work. The most popular of the adventure games yet devised, cannot be handled so easily. Even though "Zork" I, II, and III are completely text-oriented and can be played perfectly by a blind person, they can neither be listed nor altered and must be booted. These games are made by Infocom and sell for around thirty dollars each. They are elaborate adventure of increasing complexity which take place in the underground empire of Zork. The computer understands a vocabulary of over six hundred words and it takes a good deal of logical thinking to survive long. As was mentioned last column, you can get the output from these games onto a Versabraille or into an outboard synthesizer if you are prepared to place it slot one. As soon as the system is booted and brings up the first entry, type script and you are off. You will probably have to do your inputting from the keyboard of your Apple, but at least you can play.
These examples of the adventure genre only scratch the surface of what is available commercially. Unfortunately, most of the other games make extensive use of graphics and combine a need for arcade skills with the need to be logical and observant. A fun game is "Escape from Rungistan" where you are held prisoner in an African republic's jail and must not only figure out how to get out of there but must also figure our how to flee the country. This game uses graphics, music, text and arcade skills to succeed. You must ski down a mountain dodging trees to escape. There is no way that a blind person can play this by himself but it is no end of fun if the whole family gets involved in the effort to avoid the many forms of death that await you.
Perhaps the best of all of the adventure games that I have found for sheer design brilliance cannot, easily, be played by the visually impaired person. This is a series of three scenarios called "Wizardry" whose programmers I admire no end. It is a fairly close approximation on computer to Dungeons and Dragons. A party of one to six people explore a maze that is ten levels deep and is based on a twenty by twenty grid on each level. You can choose from among five races and eight classes of characters, can buy and sell weapons, acquire experience points and treasures and are frequently required to fight up to three groups of varying monsters. The program is written in pascal and the maze is presented from the perspective of the people walking in it. You must turn right to see what they would see when they turn right. Only when you have tried this game, can you acquire an understanding of the mastery and subtlety of the programming that is involved. Monsters are presented graphically when you meet them and it is not at all easy to progress deeper into the maze. As you may have gathered, this game cannot be played by the visually impaired as it stands and, even if it were possible to get the text to speak, the maze would be hard to map. I am working on this and will report any progress. I suppose that the purpose of raising the three wizardry scenarios was to indicate just how sophisticated some of the newer computer adventure games are becoming.
Just before closing this column, I should point out to any owners of the TRS 80 model three that Bedlam, Pyramid, Haunted House and Raakatu all work fine as taped games and may work as disk games as well. Next month we will begin to explore some of the many non-adventure, public domain games that do work on the Apple.
This page last updated on 01/01/2017.