First steps into adventureland…

Whether you are an adventurer bold, looking for a fellow wanderer to join you on your quest, or you simply haven’t a clue, and are looking for one, welcome to the first post of my new blog for fans of retro adventure gaming, Eight Bit Adventurer, which launches today!

Here, I plan to write about adventure games past and present, as well as current adventure news, for users of those eight-bit home computers which were the first affordable home of ‘interactive fiction’ – software programs better known by many as text adventures, or stories in which the computer user could actually intervene and play a critical role in defeating evil, solving a mystery, exploring – or just grabbing as much treasure as possible!

This blog had its very first incarnation on my, currently mothballed, website Retro Computing News. The good news is that, by the time RCN was put into stasis for personal reasons, Eight Bit Adventurer had already been accepted for regular print publication in Eight Bit magazine by the editor, John Kavanagh, for which I was very grateful as it meant there would be another readership for, and indeed a permanent record of, my spidery web-scribblings – on paper.  What could be more retro than that?

Now, that printed column will be complemented by this online equivalent, with both formats sharing content as appropriate. Some pieces will appear first in the column in Eight Bit, others will show up here online first, notably any timely news.  There will be significant crossover between the two, but not everything I explore will appear in both.  Hopefully this will offer an incentive for you, dear reader, to keep up with both magazine and blog.

Title screen from 'Adventure' for the Apple II, 1980
Title screen from ‘Adventure’ for the Apple II, 1980

To quote Graham Cunningham’s first November 1983 Editorial in the much-missed Micro Adventurer magazine, which in part inspired both blog and 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 main purpose of Eight Bit Adventurer – to help me, and hopefully others, explore those many worlds of the multiverse which were created in past computer adventures, and also those ‘worlds within’ of the 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?

Stuart Williams' Apple IIe running ‘The Hobbit' from 5.25" floppy disk
Stuart Williams’ Apple IIe running ‘The Hobbit’ from 5.25″ floppy disk

I’ve been using home computers since the early 1980s, and I’ve always loved playing adventure games.  I’m also fascinated with the history of both adventure games and the classic hardware they run on.

This blog’s focus on eight bit computers and games will give me an opportunity to not only re-live, and in many cases explore anew, such games, and write about my experiences, but also to take 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. The most important aid to any adventure gamer was, and still is today, their imagination, which is what makes such games so much fun. From today onward, both the printed Eight Bit Adventurer column and this blog will be linked, with the blog hopefully allowing more timely comment and conjecture than is possible in print.  I’ll also be mixing in some of my writings from elsewhere, as well as coming up with stuff that is exclusive to the blog.

Shape of things to come

In future, I will be looking at both the text-only and the 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 future instalments of both printed and online versions of Eight Bit Adventurer, time and space permitting:

  • Adventure game reviews
  • 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!

New game reviews

One of the reasons that retro computing and retro gaming are such exciting hobbies today is that software is still being produced, albeit on a much small, often homebrew, scale, for computers which many consider archaic and obsolete. But they are still fun!

So, I’m keen to try out, and write about, as many new games for eight bit computers as possible, and to help spread the word about such programs.  If you are a book or software publisher, or an indie developer or author, producing eight bit adventure games or publishing books about them, please do get in touch if you would like your work to be reviewed here and/or in Eight Bit magazine!

More soon, for now, be seeing you, I hope!


Stuart Williams

5 thoughts on “First steps into adventureland…

  1. Followed you here from the Interactive Fiction facebook group. Will follow and hope you keep it up for a long while to come 🙂


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