Guest Post: Introduction to fun for the Adventure Inclined!

July 12, 2011

Greetings all!

For those of you who are wondering, my name is Mark Allen and I’m doing a guest post for Chris today as I was originally supposed to write up something while he was out in Kansas saving the Kingdom of Oz under the guise of attending a Con there (er, that is to say the Con is in Kansas not Oz) but was delayed due to RL asserting itself at the worst possible time so naturally I’m finally ready to post this now that Chris is back from his trip!

Now for all those of you wondering just who the hey I am, let me give you a bit of background about myself:

I’m an American (since I’m admitting that up front, kindly refrain from spitting on me as much as you can) I grew up just outside of the DC area but have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the vast majority of my life and currently live in the Tri-Valley area of the San Francisco East Bay, and have been working in IT related fields just prior to graduating High School in 2002!

I met Chris several years ago now (I’m really trying not to think of exactly how many given how old that makes us both now) due to our mutual interest in Roswell fic (because Opie deserves his threesome and us Stargazers have to stick together, damn it) after PMing him regarding a fic of his he IM’d me and we’ve been chatting pretty much ever since!

In fact, one of the highlights of my life occurred last year after I finally got the opportunity to meet up with him face to face for the first time when he made in to my neck of the woods and because he’s far too modest to admit this, just so everyone knows, he’s actually a lot thinner than you might expect (of course, I wish he could say the same about me)!

Anyhoo, a few weeks ago I was chatting with him on IM recommending he look at some great adventure game titles to play on Frotz for his new iPhone and I thought it would be neat to post a quick feature on a few of my favorites so hopefully they would sound appealing enough to where he might look at them sooner than later!  Read the rest of this entry »

It’s all fun & games until somebody starts a Blogfest!

June 6, 2011

It’s Blog-festing time!

Now, I had a fairly hard time picking just three games to feature here, and there’s entire categories that didn’t get represented. I’ll give a brief list of honorable mentions at the end of my post. But I’ve picked three games that have particular meaning to me, and that you might not be familiar with. Counting up to the top spot:

3) Heroes Unlimited.

I had to include a dice and paper RPG, and Heroes Unlimited may not be the best in any practical terms, but it’s the one that I have the fondest memories of playing, usually with my brother and his friends in one of their apartments. There’s something to be said for a game that allows you to become any of:

  • An alien
  • A bionic cyborg
  • A robot
  • A mutant
  • Somebody who got super-human powers from a scientific experiment
  • A wizard
  • The lucky owner of a magic weapon or artifact
  • Somebody who owns or operates a robotic exoskeleton
  • A weapons collector
  • An elite vehicles gearhead
  • A mutated animal.
  • A martial arts specialist
  • A super-detective

And probably a handful of other character classes that I’ve forgotten off the top of my head! The details may be a bit fuzzy now, but I can’t forget those crazy interdimensional adventures we dreamed up, with brave but somewhat morally challenged heroes battling to stop the Master Programmer!

2) Inspector Parker

A fairly simple computer game in scope, but one that I’ve loved for years and keep going back to when I want to while away a few minutes training up my brain. I discovered it while looking through the online yahoo games site, and ended up buying a licence for the desktop version. Read the rest of this entry »


April 30, 2011

Z is for…

I remember going up to a computer store on Dundurn street in Hamilton, possibly the strip mall at the corner of Dundurn and Main, to buy a computer game for the family IBM-XT clone, and coming back with ZORK I on a 5 and a quarter inch floppy.

It wasn’t the first text adventure game that I’d ever played – there had been similar games for Commodore 64 computers at school, and even a few for the TRS-80 that we had before the new PC, but Zork really captured my imagination – the Troll waiting near the dungeon stairs with his grim axe, waiting to do you battle, the suave thief running circles around you and swiping your best loot, the annoying echo room that wouldn’t let you pick up a treasure that was sitting right in front of you, the maze with the body of a dead adventurer and his gear lying in the middle of it, the coal mine full of deadly hazards at every turn, the mystifying Frobozz dam and the magical rainbow bridge over the Aragain falls… (and figuring out what Aragain spelled when you turned it back to front.)

I didn’t have the self discipline to solve the game without spoilers, unfortunately. That version came with its own invisiclues system built into a HELP command, so I started peeking at the clues for anything that had me a little bit stumped, and even peeked ahead for ideas about a few things that I hadn’t gotten to yet, so that I wouldn’t kill myself by doing the wrong thing… again.

But I did get to the end, and played around with a few of the fun ‘did you ever’ ideas, and then gradually lost interest.

Much later, I ran into Zork games again, this time downloading them off an internet site, along with the plethora of Inform interpreters that you can now get to play them on all kinds of machines that the original designers never imagines – from Windows, Mac, and Unix to palm-pilots, alphasmarts, pocket PCs, and iPhones. I don’t know first-hand if anybody has ported the frotz interpreter (or any of the others) to blackberry and Droid, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

And that’s what led me to try writing text adventure games myself. I’m really proud of completing my ‘Star Hunter’ game, though it didn’t place too well in Ifcomp, because I didn’t really think of it from a player’s point of view. And I want to get back to text game design sometime this year, if I can squeeze it in.

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