Category Archives: Adventure Gaming

ZX Spectrum Next may get Professional Adventure Writer


Rick Dickinson-designed Spectrum Next concept-rendering
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
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.  Continue reading ZX Spectrum Next may get Professional Adventure Writer


Eight Bit Adventurer – A New Quest!

Adventure Apple 1980

Be ye an adventurer bold? Then welcome to the introductory post for our new Retro Computing News column – Eight Bit Adventurer – which is, as you might well deduce, aimed at players of adventure games on 8 bit computers!

This is RCN’s first regular gaming column, and is deliberately focused on the early 8 bit home computers which were the first affordable home of ‘interactive fiction’ – better known by many as text adventures, or stories in which the computer user could play a critical role in defeating evil, solving a mystery, exploring – or just grabbing as much treasure as possible!

To quote Graham Cunningham’s first November 1983 Editorial in Micro Adventurer magazine, which inspired this column:

“For those of you who have never ventured into the realm of computer adventures before, they consist of a series of intricate puzzles. The puzzles themselves are set in worlds of myth and imagination, ranging from J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit through any number of elves, dwarves and trolls, to deserted castles and vast alien space ships. Most adventures have some central aim, either a princess to be rescued or some treasure to be collected, but much of the fun lies in exploring the world created by the programmer.”

And that, indeed, is the purpose of Eight Bit Adventurer – to explore, and to help others explore,  the many worlds of the multiverse which were created in past computer adventures, and also those ‘worlds within’ of the many new games which have been created, and are still being created, in more recent years when the use of home computers long considered obsolete by the mundane and the mainstream has become one of the most fascinating hobbies for computer historians, collectors and retro gamers alike.

Why eight bit?

Apple IIe adventurer

The reason for this focus on 8 bit computers is both to keep the column manageable and to permit a closer look back at this most historic form of computer gaming, which has its origins in the time when there were either no or very limited computer graphics available to programmers and gamers. And so, the most important aid to any adventure gamer was, and remains today, their imagination.

Shape of things to come

I will be looking at both text-only and graphical adventure games with text input which were, and still are, popular with users of such computers as the Apple II, Tandy TRS-80, Amstrad, Acorn, Atari, Sinclair, Commodore and more. And apart from adventure gaming on historic hardware, I will also be checking out the use of emulation for those who, for reasons of convenience or affordability, play their games using emulators on the vastly more powerful machines available to us today.

As time permits, you can expect to see the following in Eight Bit Adventurer:

  • Adventure game reviews, past and present
  • Maps and solutions to the trickier puzzles – where available
  • Interviews with the creators of adventure games
  • Reviews of adventure creation tools, past and present
  • Reviews of books about adventure games
  • Listings of software and where to find it
  • A look at the use of historic hardware and emulation
  • Selected articles reproduced from the pages of Micro Adventurer
  • Guest articles from other writers and adventurers
  • Last, but not least, your very own readers’ comments!

So, if you are a book or software publisher producing adventure games or books about them, please do get in touch if you would like your work to be reviewed here!

Off the web and onto parchment

The Hobbit spiders

There will also, I am delighted to announce, be a printed equivalent of these spidery web-scribblings published as an equivalent Eight Bit Adenturer column in the popular publication Eight Bit magazine, where I normally contribute articles relating to the Apple II and III series of computers, on which some of the earliest adventure games for micro computers first appeared. In fact, my latest article, The Apple Adventurer, is currently awaiting printing in issue 3 of Eight Bit, which is now available to pre-order.

Thanks to the editor of Eight Bit, John Kavanagh, this will allow items from Eight Bit Adventurer to be preserved on paper in that excellent magazine – what could be more retro than that?

Eight Bit logo

What next?

I will aim to publish an Eight Bit Adventurer post every weekend from now on, so please do subscribe to Retro Computing News using  the FOLLOW button on the home page, so you can get the latest posts as soon as they are published.

You will also be able to follow this column by clicking on the Eight Bit Adventurer menu tab on the main menu of RCN (see above). Under this tab, the most recent post will be shown first, and then the rest in reverse chronological order of posting.

I will also be posting links to relevant Facebook groups, including the excellent 8-Bit Text Adventures group where I first proposed this column. I hope that connection, and others, will encourage guest writers to contribute to this column. Perhaps you, dear reader, could be one such? If so, drop me a line.

What an adventure!

Stuart Williams