Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Trifecta of Eamon News

Three things which will surely interest readers of the blog:

  1. Bill Martens' website put up a post yesterday detailing a completely painless way to play Apple II Eamon online---no emulators, no hassle. Frank Black's Eamon hard drive has been adapted at the Virtual Apple ][ and it runs a host of ProDos Eamons flawlessly. To try it out, go to
  2. Chester Bolingbroke has written a piece detailing Eamon in his awesome blog, The CRPG Addict. The blog is fascinating and well-written and features a very lively (and equally fascinating) comments section. The relevant post can be read at
  3. The March 2013 issue of the Eamon Deluxe Newsletter has been posted, filled with all sorts of reviews and articles. The .rtf version has been produced and will be posted alongside the .pdf version soon. 
The Eamon Deluxe Newsletter, by the way, isn't necessarily devoted to merely Eamon Deluxe. All platforms, past and present, of Eamon are dealt with and represented. (Indeed, in the present issue, we feature reviews of adventures and systems for the Commodore 64, Apple II, Atari ST, and Eamon Deluxe!) We also welcome any contributions you may have, whether they be letters, comments, reviews, articles, or otherwise.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Catching up

Finally tackling some of my Eamon to-do list...

I've added two reviews to the website that Thomas Ferguson sent me way back in January of 2011... Yes, over two years later, although in my defense, I was just starting my MBA back then. Anyway, mosey on over to to read his reviews of Eamon #253 The Prism of Shadows by Wade Clarke and James Anderson and Eamon #254 Dawn of the Warlock by Wade Clarke.

Uploaded a fixed version of #144 Gartin Manor that Wade Clarke sent me back in December of 2011.

Posted the review from, only two years later.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Review from a new Eamon fan

Bad Matthew. sent me this post for the blog in January of 2012 and I meant to publish it much earlier. I'm only now sorting through my old emails and found it. Sorry for the delay! 
A new Eamon fan.
For many people, Eamon will be a matter of nostalgia, something they played 20 years ago.

For myself however, my acquaintance with Eamon actually began in 2008.
Indeed, while I found some great if titles (Worlds apart, Pytho's mask and Babel to name a few), it seemed that four out of five games I tried I'd find myself running around getting frustrated as I’m told something like "I don't know how to put" or "you can't use that."

Right from the age of about three, I've been interested in computer games, however  being visually impaired game access is, of course, an issue. Using screen reading software, most standard text in windows will be quite readable. Thus games like interactive fiction, muds and browser based mmorps are quite playable or can be made so with a little adaptation.(Audio only computer games that output exclusively in sound also exist, for more information please visit
What has always been of interest to me most in games is exploration, being able to wander around an unknown area, become truly immersed in the setting, become part of an epic story, or at the very least get to explore a new environment different from everyday life. So when I first got to university in about 2002 and found games that used text that I could play on my PC, I went on something of a spree, trying out everything I could.
The problem was that I quickly found each type of game had it's limitations.
Browser based mmorps tended to work very much on a competitive basis, focused almost exclusively on bettering your characters stats in order to compete with other players, ---- indeed many were heavily focused upon player vs player combat. This wouldn't be so bad in itself, accept that in the vast majority of games it seemed that little or no effort had been spent on the setting or the description, and most of the game actions would boil down to hitting the explore button until you found a monster (often just defined as a single name), then hitting attack until the monster's hp got to zero.

Even those few games such as legend of the green dragon that employed some questing often worked on a hit a button until you get a result sort of basis, with little actual exploring to be done and often very repetitive game play.

Then there was interactive fiction, which certainly had lots of wandering around and reading descriptions, not to mention plot and objectives. However since most if games used puzzles as their primary method of moving the game along, and since most had a very large parser (subject to program limitations), guessing the solutions to puzzles, or indeed guessing how the game wanted you to write solutions could be quite frustrating.
Also, combat in interactive fiction games was at a minimum, and it was always a little disappointing to realize that you couldn't actually pull out a sword and have at it with the evil troll or reduce the robots into scrap, since while certainly not all problems can be solved with violence, it does make for a good dramatic confrontation, or a way to give you a nice high tension break in the middle of mapping a maze or thinking out a riddle.

So, it seemed text rpgs fell between too stools. Either it was if, had ridiculous puzzles and zero combat, or it was a browser based mmorp, with repetitive grinding and little or no description or exploration. The Eamon system however offers a really nice compromise. Enough combat mechanics to allow confrontation, and enough of a parser to allow puzzles though not so broad as to be ridiculous.

I'd heard about Eamon on various if sites along with some of the few other text rpgs (usually old dos ones), available like Fallthru or Westfront, but since a screen reader can't interact with emulated text due to lack of the windows graphic toolkit, I'd given up hope of trying it. That was until in 2008 I ran across Eamon deluxe, which obviously ran in a dos style environment and thus had readable text.
Yes, in some ways the system was slightly archaic, for instance I couldn't use x for examine as in most if games, and some of the behavior of the parser was a little clunky, and I sometimes missed being able to get further information by examining monsters or items. Yet despite these problems, despite being twenty years old the thing still worked! The mimic was still a surprise, treasures were still fun to get, it was fun to use spells and it was great to gather allies and see them fight on my side.

As I tried several of the earlier adventures in Eamon Deluxe, I also realized something else about Eamon which probably makes more difference today than it did back in the 80's and 90's.
Eamon does not take itself seriously!
Even adventures with a serious theme where you are saving the world, rescuing some doomed individual or confronting diabolical evil have a rather easy going attitude. Demons are clobberable, treasures can be sold for cash and good will pretty much always win.
Though pretty obvious in the time it was created, today, with every hero being a gruff  angst ridden scumbag, and every villain having some sort of tragic past, the old fashioned values of heroes who slaughter their way confidently through hoards of nasties, and evil overlords simply reeking of the essence of badness is just down right refreshing!

Even the mild sexism in the form of the many rescued damsels doesn't come across as over the top (particularly because quite often in the Eamon system, the damsels can grab up a weapon once rescued and start smacking away).

The only problem of course was that the initial Eamon Deluxe was not perfect. It took some wangling to run successfully, indeed some visually impaired people wouldn't try it for this reason, had one or two bugs and didn't contain all of the adventures (I was sorry that Sam Ruby's were missing since from the reviews those sounded awesome).

However now Frank and Eamon deluxe are back many of these problems are being fixed, and more Eamons will be playable, which is good news all around, Perhaps even some new adventures will be written just for Eamon deluxe.
Despite those in the IF community that criticize, I am certain Eamon very much has it's place today, since it fits a role that few other games do, that of an exploration rpg which can manage combat or puzzles, plus many of the classic games have quite a different take on fantasy than we see in fashion currently.

For these reasons, I very much hope Eamon deluxe will help bring in some new players to Eamon just as it did with me, since in a lot of ways it is unique, and the fact that it persisted for so long and so many games shows that even if not the most modern system, it still has a lot to offer. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Eamon Micro-Adventure Contest

The March 2013 Newsletter has been completed and will be posted soon. In the meantime, enjoy another preview of its contents: an Eamon micro-adventure writing contest!

If you've read through the old NEUC and EAG newsletters, you've undoubtedly run across one of the contests held years ago. (This is why there are about a billion Eamons mentioning a "Life Orb.") They tended to produce some pretty solid adventures. Of course, actually sitting down to write an Eamon is a pretty daunting task. While it's certainly a lot of fun, to write an entire adventure requires some investment of time. So here's the compromise:

Consider a large Eamon dungeon in the shape of a tower. The challenge is to write in approximately ten rooms a miniature dungeon making up one floor of the tower using either Apple II Eamon or Eamon Deluxe. You can add monsters, treasures, secret doors, and weapons... whatever your mind can generate, so be it. Frank and I will string them together into a (dis)continuous whole and judge on the basis of pure awesomeness.

The winner will receive a plaque on the glorious Wall of Fame (in Frank Black's Waiting Room micro-adventure) to be memorialized for all eternity. (We'll throw in a free subscription to the newsletter as well.)

You, reader, are afforded the opportunity to make your mark on the Wonderful World of Eamon without taking three months of spare time to do so. Grab a few beers and a pencil, fire up the Adventure Designer, and in an evening you too can be part of Eamon history.

Here are the rules:
  1. The target is around ten rooms. If you want to dip your toes in, we'll accept fewer. If you're an old hat, we'll accept more.
  2. Dungeons must include a staircase leading up and a staircase leading down at some point in the dungeon so that we can weave the entries together.
  3. No special programming. Frank has equipped Eamon Deluxe with enough built-in functionality that you can produce a number of effects without hassle.
  4. If you want to go all House of Ill Repute on us... well, please don't. A few salty allusions are one thing but bear in mind that there may be children writing entries. For some reason, I'd feel awkward leaving Sesame Street and climbing the stairs to Return to the Cat House
  5. Submissions must be written in either Eamon 7.x or 8.x for the Apple II or Eamon Deluxe 5.0 for other platforms.
  6. As a special feature, entering a value of 1 in the User #1 value of a monster will ensure both that the monster's friendliness doesn't change and that the monster is invincible.
And that's all. If you want to keep in a medieval motif, feel free. If you want to go all high-tech, feel free. If you want to recreate your local Starbucks Coffee, replete with that cute barista who hooks you up with free mochachinos, go ahead (just bear Rule 4 in mind).

If you would like to participate but want assistance, you can write me at tfeamon [at] or Frank at eamondeluxe [at] We'll be glad to help.

Submissions may be sent as disk images (for Apple II entries) or compressed folders (for EDX entries) to the above addresses by June 1st, 2013 to be considered. While the competition has closed, we still welcome any additional contributions while the entries are combined. 

Monday, March 04, 2013

Eamon Deluxe 5.0 for vision impaired Linux users.

As DOSBox doesn't actually output "text" screens (rather it draws a flawless picture of what the text screen would look like), it is currently not compatible with screen readers. I've talked to the creator of DOSBox and am confident that, given the time and energy, I can create a custom build that solves this problem.

In the meantime, there is an alternate way for vision impaired players to run the Linux version of Eamon Deluxe 5.0. I suspected this method was possible but didn't get a chance to test it before public release. Thanks to Trenton Matthews for forwarding the following instructions which he found on the Audio Games forums:

"The following is from a user on the forums, who goes by the name of "fastfinge". It is a set of instructions on how to play Eamon Deluxe on Debian-based distros of Linux (including Ubuntu).

First, log in to your Linux system via SSH. If you are running on a server (like Linode) the way I am, you already have to do it this way. If you are running Linux on your local computer or on VMWare with Gnome, you will need to set up SSHD and log in to your system with SSH; if you do not do this, the DOS emulator will try to start up XWindows, and nothing will be accessible.

Once logged in via SSH and in your home directory you can install and play Eamon Deluxe:

1.  wget
2.  unzip

If this command gives you an error, use "sudo apt-get install unzip" and then try the command again.

3.  sudo apt-get install dosemu

This will ask if you want to install a bunch of stuff. Say yes.

Once Eamon Deluxe and DOSEmu have been installed, you can skip to step 4 whenever you want to run Eamon Deluxe:

4.  dosemu

This command will give you some errors. Just press enter until they go away, and you get a c: prompt.

5.  D:
6.  cd Eamon_Deluxe_50_Beta4-X
7.  cd edx
8.  cd C

At this point, you should now be running Eamon Deluxe! You'll get some first-run information that you need to press enter to bypass. When asked if you want VI mode, be sure to press Y and then X.

This is as far as I've gone, and I've never played these adventures before under DOS or anywhere else, but it does seem to be working. I'm off to spend my entire evening adventuring! Best of luck, everyone."