Sunday, September 30, 2012

Imagery! for the Commodore 64

The first segment on Dr. Evil Laboratories' Imagery! has been posted on Kent Sullivan's Dr. Evil Labs blog.  (Readers of the blog will recall mention of Imagery! as the commercial Eamon cousin/port/upgrade for the Commodore 64.) The blog is very worth reading- it is simultaneously engrossing, thorough, well-sourced, and sentimental- even if one doesn't know a Commodore 64 from a Coleco Adam. The blog thus far reads like a script to a gripping-yet-intellectual buddy film and I can't recommend it enough. 

If the sheer reading pleasure of the blog doesn't provide enough impetus to check it out, perhaps the fact Kent has provided disk images for Imagery! on the blog will provide additional motivation. For the first time in over twenty years, Imagery! and its sole adventure Beneath Mount Imagery are available and ready to be played. Inasmuch as Imagery! is hands-down the best port of Eamon around (pace Jon Walker), the reader really ought to grab a copy, even if it means having to fiddle with C64 emulators. (I recommend CCS64, myself. It's a relatively painless experience.)


I plan to report more thoroughly on Imagery! in the next issue of the Eamon Deluxe Newsletter but don't let that stop you from checking out the Imagery! post today and drawing your own conclusions. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

HyperCard Eamon, In Pictures

I find the minimalism of Eamon appealing. I enjoy getting the essentials from the written word and manufacturing the rest in my mind. But a sizable population would disagree; graphics and sound are all the rage... why shouldn't Eamon catch up?

I'm going to let you in on a secret: Eamon did catch up about twenty years ago. In 1991, Whit Crowley brought the Main Hall and Beginners Cave to HyperCard on the Apple IIgs, providing adventurers a point-and-click graphical interface.

To acquaint the reader with this vision of Eamon, I've taken some screenshots of HyperCard Eamon in action. We'll start with the approach to the Main Hall, resting idyllically on the horizon.


The above is the screen meeting the adventurer on loading HyperCard Eamon (absent are any dragons!). Clicking on the Main Hall itself brings the player to the gates. Gates guarded by fierce warriors...


... or, better yet, extras from Beau Geste. The player reads the instruction "Click on the Door to Enter" and, presumably, ought to meet up with the Burly Irishman upon so doing. So what's behind the gates?

Well, I can't tell you yet. Either as a function of poor emulation or a buggy HyperCard stack, I'm not able to get beyond the doors. But we can venture over to the Beginners Cave to get a sense of how HyperCard Eamon plays.


And we're stopped by the Knight Marshall, whom I'd never pictured in a cowboy hat and bolo tie. He's kind enough to let us pass- this time- so let's venture forth.


Here is the entrance to the Beginners Cave. Navigation is handled graphically, with tiles corresponding to directions surrounding the image of the tunnel. Hitting "Command" yields a menu listing the familiar commands. Venturing further, unfortunately, we run into trouble in the form of some monsters.


We encounter three rats in full color, primed to attack! Now, here is the source of the trouble: since I'm running the Beginners Cave stack independently, there are no values for the player's stats supplied by the Main stack. So meeting monsters compels the program to ask for values not defined, consequently crashing the program.

Our tour thus ends prematurely. Should the reader insist on trying to get past those gates for himself or herself, HyperCard Eamon can be downloaded at www.apple-iigs.info (the site is in French) by searching for "HyperCard IIgs Eamon Stack." Emulating a IIgs... well, you're on your own on that one.

I'm adding the following warning: If you do try and run this on an emulator (or on a proper IIgs) and run the Beginners Cave without first passing through the primary Eamon stack, the above described crash will destroy the disk image



Thursday, September 06, 2012

Two New PC Eamon Adventures Discovered

Now, it seems that everyone aware of Jon Walker's PC conversion of Eamon has given it a bit of grief, myself included. John Nelson called it "cumbersome," a "nightmare," and "too difficult to maintain" in the NEUC Newsletter and neither Frank nor I were all that much kinder ourselves. But griping aside, I'm confident that Walker's contribution was significant in bringing Eamon to the PC folks.

I'm happy to announce that two more original adventures for Walker's PC Eamon have been discovered intact, "Cronum's Castle" by Matt Ashcraft & Richard Tonsing and "Lord of the Underland" by Justin Langseth. They were the first and second place winners, respectively, in a 1987 "Write an Adventure
Module" contest held by PC-SIG, the company that took the reins for distribution of Walker's Eamon.


I can't attest to their content nor quality at this point (who- honestly- is able to get Walker's Eamon up and running without hassle?)  but they're prize-winning adventures so they've got to be good. This brings the Walker PC Eamon library to:

  1. The Main Hall/ Beginner's Cave by Donald Brown (ported by Jon Walker)
  2. The Ice Cave by Jon Walker
  3. Assault on the Clone Master  by Donald Brown (ported by Jon Walker)
  4. Quest for Trezore by Jim Jacobson (ported by Jon Walker)
  5. Cronum's Castle by Matt Ashcraft and Richard Tonsing
  6. Lord of the Underland by Justin Langseth
Of course, I'll try to get playable copies posted soon.

I'll also put in a word for Jason Scott's textfiles.com, where these two Eamons were lurking. The site is a wonderful service, archiving a great many files and programs that would otherwise have been lost to digital purgatory.

 As an update, I'm posting the links to the files themselves. They can be found at the below links.
  • Cronum's Castle  


  • Lord of the Underland 

As a second update, Cronum and Underland are now part of the PC Eamon Museum and can be played by going to www.eamonag.org/pages/pc_eamon_museum.htm.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Glimpse into "The Palace of Mirrors," a Lost Eamon

In trying to find disk images for the French version of Eamon (detailed in the last post to the blog), I ran across this alluring line from the site mensanator.com:
For the record, I was the author of DUNGEON #222 THE PALACE OF MIRRORS written for THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF EAMON in the early 80's. Although donated to the local Apple ][ user group, it never made it into the Eamon archives that exist today and is probably lost. Luckily, my Turbo Pascal port source code is still extant, so there is a remote possibility that it may be resurrected.
Now, while it may not be as compelling a task as, say, recovering the lost works of Empedocles, I've made it a bit of a mission in the past year to recover lost Eamons. Irrespective of the quality of writing or programming, each Eamon is a little fragment of its author's psyche, encoded in ones and zeroes. I have a difficult time thinking such things ought to be allowed to "go gentle into that good night."

So what's to do? Email the Mensanator, of course.

Unfortunately, the Mensanator was unable to locate the files. But he was kind enough to share the following glimpse into the work:
I always tried to put a unique twist in each of my games. In The Palace of Mirrors, the twist is how would a barbarian interpret the modern world (the Palace of Mirrors is simply a glass skyscraper with mirrored windows). Can he figure out how to use an elevator or a pay-phone? Can you imagine what would happen if he invokes the POWER command when standing next to a 3-prong outlet? Will he recognize that the "box of scrolls" is simply toilet paper, and thus worthless whereas he should take the piles of greenbacks?
This very novel approach certainly had the potential to have been a great Eamon and makes its loss all the more unfortunate.

The Mensanator also described a couple of Eamon-related adventures written specifically for PASCAL, The Land of the Midnight Sun and The Haunted Castle:
In the former, the adventurer starts aboard a ship frozen in ice in the arctic. In that game, I added a COLD function that would accumulate points each turn based on the weather (it was much colder climbing the glacier than walking through the forest. The adventurer had to accumulate burnable objects like twigs and pine cones to keep warm, otherwise, he would freeze to death. Assuming he found the flint and tinder before leaving the ship, he [this didn't come through in the email]... Your quest was to find a magic firestone to free the ship from the ice. If you found it, you could magically burn any object such as weapons or treasure (which you might have to do when lost in a field of snow while snowblind).
I also wanted to develop projectile weapons skills, so not only did I place a crossbow in the ship for him to find, but a novel way to use it. He encounters a monster in a cage. If you swipe at it with a sword or club, the blow simply bounces off the cage bars. The monster also has a crossbow and you quickly learn that a crossbow can shoot between the bars (of course, the BLAST spell would work in a pinch).
In The Haunted Castle, the adventurer is knocked unconscious and wakes up with his gold, armor, and weapons taken from him. His quest is to wander the castle and find them (and any treasure he finds along the way). Instead of COLD, there is an apparition that appears and casts a BLAST spell. If the adventurer makes it to the basement of the castle, he will find a head on a stake that will provide immunity.
Perhaps one of these will turn up eventually. The internet is a huge and tangled place, after all, in which nothing really disappears. Until then, at least we have some record of these lost adventures.

The reader is invited to check out www.mensanator.com as well. (There is a bit of salty language to be found, if you worry about such things.)

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Eamon Pour Les Francophones

For any readers of the Eamon Blog of French extraction, tired of having to deal with Eamon for the Apple II in English and hoping to transact with Hokas Tokas et al. in their native tongue, there may yet be hope.

It appears that Eamon had enough of a following in France to warrant a translation, Le Monde Merveilleux d'Eamon, distributed by two companies- Vif Logiciels Domaine Public and Reseau Plan├ętaire. (The Eamon Dragon seems to have made an appearance in the former's game Connall as well.)


According to the collective wisdom of the internets, the Main Hall, Designer Disk, and a handful of adventures appeared in French. 


The mind runs wild with thoughts of the sorts of adventures must have been written for the system. A one-room dungeon adapting Sartre's No Exit
GO NORTH
YOU CAN'T LEAVE THE ROOM! 
Or, perhaps, a dungeon inspired by Of Grammatology?
EXAMINE SIGN
THE THESIS OF THE ARBITRARINESS OF THE SIGN MUST FORBID A RADICAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE LINGUISTIC AND THE GRAPHIC SIGN!
In seriousness, though, it would be interesting to see what became of this system. Disk images appear to exist, judging from the existence of screenshots (witnessed above) and mention on some message boards. Readers can learn about as much as I know by visiting http://boutillon.free.fr/Underground/Jeux/Connall/Connall.html, from which I took the above screens (there's an interesting examination of the provenance of the dragon there as well). 

Have you played this? Have copies of the disk images? Can you explain Derrida? Leave a comment!