Or, of early adventure games, and how to go adventuring on your Apple II today
Many are familiar with the concept of the computer text adventure game, or work of ‘interactive fiction’; they may even have played such a game when they were much younger, in the early days of home computing – the late 1970s to 1980s – when they may have had fun loading them up off cassette with a Sinclair Spectrum, a BBC Micro, a Commodore 64, an Amstrad, a Dragon or even an MSX.
But many of the first commercially available adventure games, indeed some of the very first available on a microcomputer instead of a mainframe or minicomputer, were actually initially introduced on the now-scarce Tandy TRS-80 Model I, the Commodore Pet 2001, or the rather easier to find Apple II range. And even today, for those wanting to go adventuring like in the “good old days”, there is much to be said for turning to the classic Apple eight-bit machines once again, and truly seminal games like Adventureland, Zork I and Mystery House, from which all else follows on.
What’s in an adventure game?
Adventures were some of the very first games to be played on computers, with Colossal Cave Adventure (often known simply as Adventure) being developed for mainframes and minicomputers as far back as 1975-6. The whole point of the game was to present the player with a story within a digital world with which he or she could interact, solve puzzles in, progress through and, well, have an adventure!
Because those early scientific or business-oriented computers didn’t use bit-mapped graphics, the first games, and many of those created for early home computers, were entirely text or character-based, and before the advent of VDU (video display) terminals, game progress would actually be printed out on a teletype machine or line printer. This made text adventure games ideal for converting to the earliest home computers, with minimal or relatively crude graphics by modern standards. They also required relatively little memory to run in, and could be stored on tape cassette or the relatively low capacity floppy disk drives of the day.
The adventurer’s tale
Adventure games are also known as ‘interactive fiction’, since their object is for the player to take part in and influence a fictional story by exploring within the game, making choices, picking up and using objects, solving puzzles and, in the more sophisticated games, even interacting with other, computer-generated characters in the story.
Typically, as you might expect given the geeky nature of computer gaming, fantasy, science fiction, horror and crime, and variations on these tropes, tend to be the most popular themes for adventure game storylines, but almost any subject can lend itself to the genre.
In the beginning
The very first adventure game was Colossal Cave Adventure, often referred to simply as Adventure, Colossal Cave, or ADVENT. Colossal Cave was developed in 1976 by Will Crowther, for the 36-bit DEC PDP-10 mainframe computer. This game is the great, great grandfather of all the adventure games which followed. And as you might expect, variations on it were among the very first games to appear on the Apple II range. Continue reading