Posts Tagged ‘Interactive Fiction’

“Yer PAW!”

4 August, 2015
One of many instances where Rigel's Revenge uses graphics instead of text to

One of many instances where Rigel’s Revenge uses graphics instead of text to “describe” something to the player

I’ve recently been working on a whole load of writing which has just about come to fruition so it’s got me thinkin about another creative project to get my “teeth” “into”. And I’ve decided it’s going to be an IF (Interactive Fiction, a wanky new name for what we used to call “text adventures”) game, one for the Spectrum to be specific, one written with PAW  to be even more specific.

The route that took me here basically started with me sitting on a train from England playing with Spectaculator on my tablet. One of the games that comes with the full version is Zenobi’s Jekyll and Hyde game. Playing it again (IF games work brilliantly on tablets, btw) reminded me not just that I like IF, but that I like ZX Spectrum IF in particular. There’s something about the chunky display, the likeable “click” noises so many Spectrum IF games have when you type and the weirdly attractive pixel art that appeals to me. The 8-bit era has an interesting history of IF, including the first game I can recall having been given a certificate by the BBFC (CRL’s Dracula, in what felt more like a publicity stunt than anything else, was given a 15 certificate; they later released Jack The Ripper, a game which was given an 18 certificate) and a huge and very active homebrew scene, much of it focused around the aforementioned Zenobi software.

I think my affection for ZX Spectrum IF goes beyond nostalgia, though: one of the main reasons I love Spectrum IF is a game that I got round to playing years after I sold my Spectrum – Rigel’s Revenge.

I’m not sure what it was about this game that grabbed me back when I played it via emulation (on an Amiga 1200!) back in 1996. It might have been the atmospheric setting, might have been the likeably pulpy sci-fi storyline, might have been the excellent use of graphics as description as well as illustration. Whatever it was, I played it for absolutely ages, got past lots of puzzles, reached the second load (in the ’80s, a lot of 8-bit IF needed to be loaded in separate parts to get all of the adventure in there) and promptly got stuck. Maybe I should go back to it and try and do it all again, and complete the bugger this time.

Anyway, the Matty PAWed IF game will probably be in development for months but I’ve a few ideas to build on and it’ll be interesting to see the results, especially if I actually get the damn thing finished unlike far too many of my projects…


21 January, 2009

Back in the days of the ZX Spectrum (which regular readers will have gathered by now was the computer I started-out playing games on) I only remember spending a lot of time on one text adventure. I played others, I remember playing The Hobbit a couple of times and there was another one called Kentilla which involved a lot of fighting with creatures called Urga-mauls one of whom had a “nasty knife” and a sword that magically appeared in your hand when you said it’s name; I also spent a little time with Sherlock, a buggy game based on the famous detective (and which had a character who called you a “bloody snob”, I was shocked!).

Who has a golden eggcup? Alan Sugar, probably.

Who has a golden eggcup? Alan Sugar, probably.

The only text adventure I can recall spending a lot of time with, though, was Quest for the Golden Eggcup, a wonderfully silly fantasy game by some chaps called Smart Egg Software wherein you were sent to the afterlife to retrieve the eggcup of the title. I spent ages on it, found two of the three eggcups needed and only found out where the third one was in the age of the internet when I could finally read a solution (and it was a bugger of a sneaky puzzle too). If we’re going to be honest, it also pretty-much made me love the whole text-adventure genre which is why I returned to it (now being called “interactive fiction”) in the late 1990s.

And the weird thing is, apart from a few modern games, I mostly found myself going back to the old-school stuff. I discovered another Smart Egg game that had passed me by called Rigel’s Revenge and it remains one of my favourite IF games (even though I only got halfway through it) as well as Rainbird’s terrific The Pawn and… Zork

Yes, Zork. Or Dungeon as it’s sometimes called. This crusty old 1979 treasure-hunt game has been bugging me since I first played it in around 1997 and, having emailed the z-code version to a friend who I’m introducing to IF, I thought I’d load it into my interpreter and give it a go…

And I’m hooked all over again. Please, won’t someone give me a hint about that stupid bucket at the bottom of the well, or the cube, or the curtain of light or…argh!

Alternatively, play some of the games I’ve handily provided links to above which seems to be the point of this rather rambling post…

(note: Rigel’s Revenge is in two parts so you need a Spectrum emulator that can save-out data as actual files to play it. Them was the times, I’m afraid. And it’s worth it)