Retro Computing News

ZX Spectrum Next may get Professional Adventure Writer



Rick Dickinson-designed Spectrum Next concept-rendering

The recent Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new Next Generation Sinclair ZX Spectrum 8-bit home computer has certainly stirred up a massive amount of interest in the retro computing community, and a number of past and present developers for the original 1980s British home computer, affectionately dubbed the ‘Speccy’ by fans, have begun to surface, interested in the potential of the  ZX Spectrum Next, which has been fully funded on Kickstarter and is expected to be released in January 2018.

Cassette-based original version of the PAW

Great news for Spectrum-loving fans of adventure games in particular is that now Tim Gilberts, founder of legendary 1980s Welsh software developers and publishers Gilsoft International Ltd, has thrown his hat in the ring, expressing strong interest, subject to discussion with the former Gilsoft team,  in adapting the now-defunct company’s adventure game generation software the Professional Adventure Writer (aka The PAW or The Professional Adventure Writing System ) to the Next, with its modern SD card storage system and other updated facilities.

Gilsoft were best known for The Quill and the PAW, both of which were popular systems in their day, enabling the simplified creation and coding of text and graphical adventures on a number of 8-bit home computers. The Quill in particular was used by a number of independent developers to create and publish text adventure games, as did Gilsoft itself. 

The Quill main menu

The Professional Adventure Writer was created by Tim Gilberts, Graeme Yeandle, and Phil Wade of Gilsoft, and was first published in 1986.  It followed the company’s 1983 publication of predecessor The Quill by Graeme Yeandle, who had originally created that program to make his own adventure game writing simpler .

Gilsoft’s Adventures of Barsak the Dwarf

Tim Gilberts, who has joined the ranks of more than 2000 Spectrum Next backers (at time of writing)  has been greatly impressed by the potential of the new system, and although it seems unlikely that there will be a reboot of Gilsoft itself, he is keen, working as an individual, to get to grips with the Next, and is already working using TBBlue emulation, with advice from the Next team. He hopes to get his hands on one of the production Next boards, based on a modern FPGA system, which should be available to backers without the new keyboard and case in August this year.

For more information about past and modern implementations based on the PAW in the post home computer era, see:

I am in regular contact with Tim Gilberts, and when there’s more to hear about developments with the Professional Adventure Writer for the ZX Spectrum Next, you’ll hear it here in our Eight Bit Adventurer column.

Stuart Williams