Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! Plus a new Newsletter Preview (featuring the return of "Terminological Inexactitudes”).

I just wanted to wish everyone in the Eamon community a safe and happy new year. You are all fantastic, interesting people and I think it's amazing how many cool new friends I have made through our common interest that strange, unforgettable creation. I find it quite impressive that, not only is Eamon the oldest gaming system in history that is still in use today, but, in over 30 years, very little has changed regarding the look, design and game play between the current version (Eamon Deluxe 5.0) and Donald Brown's original incarnation (which, to this day, I still feel was nothing short of the work of a genius game designer and programmer.)

In the spirit of celebrating
New Years Eve and whatever interesting new things 2013 has in store for us, I have decided to post here a preview of an article I recently wrote for the upcoming January, 2013 Eamon Deluxe Newsletter. Thomas suggested that we include more variety than simply his editorial and a string of adventure reviews and I agreed. After much pondering of what exactly to to write about for my contribution, I decided it would be a lot of fun to bring back a popular section which used to infrequently appear in the old NEUC and, later on, EAG newsletters.

So, Happy New Year, everyone! And, without further ado, here's a preview from next month's newsletter...


Things appearing in this column must not be confused with actual facts.

Are Don Brown and Jon Walker really the same person?

According to longtime Eamon fan and Wikipedia enthusiast, Huw Williams, the Father of Eamon donned the Johnny Walker moniker and created an intentionally poor quality Eamon system for the PC to weaken the competition when sales of his SwordThrust series were not lucrative. "I actually now use Gmail for everything;" Williams stated on a recent Guild blog post "[and, while corresponding with Don Brown, I] may have been talking to the [person known as ‘Jon Walker’ all along.]"

"It makes sense," said Nathan Segerlind (recipient of the 2005 Ackermann Award and the Association for Symbolic Logic's 2004 Sacks Prize). Any logical programmer understands numbering in the abstract and therefore will always start counting at zero rather than one. If you exclude "The Beginner's Cave" and "Search for the Key", Don Brown wrote exactly 9 Eamons. 9+0=9 and there are 9 characters in the string "Don Brown," while the string "Jon Walker" has 10 characters. 9+1=10, therefore "Jon Walker" comes next in the sequence." Segerlind then laughed and said, "It's so easy, even Mr. Roessler could have figured it out!"

Several messages were left for Mr. Brown to verify or deny these rumors, but so far he has not replied back...

Adventure in Interzone in IMAX 3D?

Why did the public release of Eamon Deluxe 5.0 take so long? Some say it is because of the high amount of quality attached to the work as well as Thomas Ferguson constantly flooding the author with new material, dug from the bowels of the "interwebs"; others believe it is because Eamon Deluxe creator, Frank Black, was also busy writing and pitching his screen play for a full length movie based upon his popular 1994 Eamon adventure.

According to sources close to the Black household "a really major" movie studio has picked Interzone 3D up and hired "Señor Spielberg" to direct. "John Depp" has agreed to play the leading role of your old friend A.J., with a back up cast that includes "Billy Crystals", "George Crooney" and "Sarah M. Gellar".

When asked about it, Frank replied, "Have you seen my glasses? I just set them down..." and, when pressed for details as to the film’s impending release date for local theaters he added, "They should be around here somewhere. They have tape on them, but the tape is the same color as the frames so you can't really tell it is on there... Maybe I left them upstairs?"

We are predicting a release date March, 2013.

Eamon fans continue to torment confused rapper in a case of mistaken identity!

Sources report that a 5'8" Irish/Italian "Ho-Rap" artist named Eamon Jonathan Doyle, who has only once had a hit song in his 23 year career, continued to be flooded with emails, blog posts and guest book signings intended for the Eamon Adventurer's Guild last night.

The 30 year old entertainer who saw some brief record sales from 2003 to 2004 reported that he was "frustrated" and "upset" because every time he sees that his inbox has new messages he gets excited with hope of his career being revived, only to have that dream quickly shattered by a barrage of messages and posts which were actually meant for users and fans of the various Eamon gaming systems.

"I don't know what these people want from me!" an anxious Doyle stated, going on to say, "I can't even understand what they are saying! It's like they are speaking in some sort of codes half the time.

“I was supposed to open for Brittany Spears from June to August 2004," Doyle later informed us without provocation, "but ended up staying home after she [Spears] hurt herself making a video and cancelled the tour. I've pretty much just been living with my folks since then, trying to get another record deal or go on a tour with someone.

Scrunching up his eyebrows in thought as he tried to read yet another message meant for the Guild, Doyle mumbled, “I bought this computer back when I had a Top Ten hit on the charts...but I really only use it to find adult material and look for rap jobs on Craigslist now." Adding, "It still uses Windows 95, so it can be kind of slow on the internet. That gives me time to write more rap songs though, so I don’t mind it most of the time..."

Doyle then appeared to express a sense of hope and relief as he showed us the message inbox at his hotmail account which glowed with the mark of over 100 new messages across his beaming face. The glow quickly faded, however, and Doyle returned to a confused state of dismay as he started another attempt to read the series of messages intended for members of the Eamon Adventurer's Guild. "This may take a while," he warned us, “you can go watch TV if you want or see what’s in the fridge...”

Requests to forward the misdirected mail over to the Adventurer's Guild were met with only more confusion as an exasperated Doyle offered, "Maybe I should just change my name... Or upgrade to Windows 98 and get a mouse with one of those little wheels in between the buttons? I don't know, it's a lot to think about right now."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy Holidays from the Dungeons (of Interzone).

[Edited to ATTACK TYPOS on: 12/23/2012]
I just wanted to say best wishes and happy holidays to anyone who reads this blog and/or is a fan/creator/past associate/groupie of any version of the Eamon gaming system.

Extra special thanks to everyone who helped me play test, improve and promote the Eamon Deluxe 5.0 revision. That "little" project, which I initially predicted would take two or three months, ended up taking approximately one year of nearly-full time work to finish up into a public-download-friendly release and I hope people are now having fun with it.

Extra, extra special thanks to Matthew Clark and Bill Martens for the web hosting and server access which has been an incredible help and resource to me, and also to Thomas Ferguson for all his fantastic editorial contributions, successful "lost adventure" archeological expeditions, and plethora of other contributions he has made to the Eamon community.

I'm quite exhausted from the Eamon Deluxe 5.0 project so I'm officially taking the rest of the year off to enjoy some mental R and R. I'm still checking my email and will happily reply to any messages, bug reports, etc., it just may take me a little longer than usual.

So, once again, happy holidays to all the Eamon aficionados out there; best wishes, I hope everyone is doing well, and I'll see y'all next year.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eamon Deluxe 5.0 Public Beta is Ready

The public beta of Eamon Deluxe 5.0 is now available for download and ready to serve all of your dragon-slaying, dungeon-exploring, spell-casting, and Shopping-Mall-shopping needs. Eamonauts can download all flavors of Eamon Deluxe 5.0 here.

In addition, this will be the first time that Derek C. Jeter's "Stronghold of Kahr-Dur" is available. As mentioned in an earlier post, the adventure is superbly written and ought to please both salty Eamon veterans and newcomers alike.

So mix yourself a Double Dragon Blomb and fire up the computer (or your Nintendo Wii). There's adventuring to do!

Note: VI Mode currently only works with computers using a 32 bit Windows operating system. Alternately, Windows 7 64 bit users can install Virtual PC for free from Microsoft's website; Win 7 Pro users can the run Eamon Deluxe in "XP Mode", however Win 7 Home users have to build a virtual machine using a real XP disc or ISO. VI Mode will not work on OSX but may work in Linux via the "DOS Emu" emulator, though this feature has not yet been tested.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Eamon Deluxe 5.0 for Nintendo Wii

I now have Eamon Deluxe running on the Nintendo Wii. It is a fully functional copy which contains all of the options and features of every other version available. The only requirements are a writable SD card, the DOSBox app and a USB keyboard. Go count rats in the Beginner's Cave or get lost wandering about The Shopping Mall... all from the comfort of your living room.

I do apologize for the poor picture quality, I took them using my phone and a stone age TV, plus I didn't have time to edit them as I had not planned to have something this cool working tonight. It was kind of a spur of the moment idea and the actual screen display is much clearer than these pictures would indicate. Even if they were a bit fuzzy, though, who would complain? It's Eamon on the Wii. How fun is that? It has been a good year for the Guild indeed.

This version will be available for download within the next few days, along with packages for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. And, as a holiday gift to the Eamon Community, I'm adding the option to launch other DOS programs instead of Eamon Deluxe at start up, including an interactive menu that lets you navigate folders and select programs manually saved in the Eamon Deluxe home folder on the SD card and attempt to launch it. Want to play oh... say, "Wasteland" or "King's Quest" on your Wii? Simply copy them onto your SD card, pop it in the Wii and let Eamon Deluxe do all the mounting, configuring and other such work for you.

And, yes, I know that there is a big question which will be first on everyone's mind, so I will save us all time and answer it right now: Yes, Eamon Deluxe on the Wii really does have 100% of the features and functionality as the other versions, so no worries, I assure everyone that they can still play the beloved Beagle Bros game, Hang Person!

Eamon Deluxe was made cross-platform compatible by the work of the DOSBox Team. Stop by their homepage and give them a hug (or a small donation) sometime. Happy holidays and best wishes to everyone in the Eamon community.


Saturday, December 01, 2012

Reviews for newest Eamon adventure, "Stronghold of Kahr-Dur".

In this previous post, I mentioned a new Eamon Deluxe adventure and promised to release a stand alone copy along with a review. Shortly after that, I (optimistically?) thought that Eamon Deluxe was going to be ready for public release and, since it would be included, delayed putting together the stand alone copy. Obviously there was much more work to be done on Eamon Deluxe than I predicted and somehow I managed to completely forget about posting anything more about the adventure on the blog.

Although I did email the author copies of the reviews I received, I do feel a bit bad for not giving his very well written adventure the attention it deserved. Eamon Deluxe actually is about to be released this time, so it will be made available with the full system rather than as a stand alone, but here are the two reviews which were written for that newest entry into the Eamon adventure library, "Stronghold of Kahr-Dur" by Derek C. Jeter. (Screen shots were posted with the previous blog.)

Derek has also announced that he is working on a second adventure! He recently posted a screen shot on the Eamon Guild's facebook page.

Eamon Deluxe adventure #24
The Stronghold of Khar-Dur
by Derek C. Jeter

Description: You are milling about the hall of free adventurers when the burly Irishman approaches. "A raven just arrived carrying a message for you," he says grimly. You take the piece of parchment from him and read the hastily scribbled letter. It is from your brother, Jollifrud, who lives in the wealthy city of Fharnor.

He states that a terrible menace has haunted a long-abandoned mountain fortress, known as Kahr-Dur, that overlooks the town. This unnamed menace has been quietly kidnapping the city's denizens during the night which has led to a general state of fear and anxiety. Even worse, Jollifrud's daughter Lady Mirabelle is among those who have been seized. He begs you to journey to Fahrnor and help him rid the city of this great evil once and for all...

Reviewed By: Thomas Ferguson
Special Features: Difficulty scales to character's level, Atmospheric effects
Playing Time: 1-2 hours
Reviewer Rating: 9                  Average Rating: 8.5 (from 2 reviews)
Difficulty Rating: 7                   Average Rating: 7

Comment: "Stronghold of Kahr-Dur" was initially described to me as having a "classic Eamon" flavor and I think this is an apt assessment. The plot is a straightforward "damsel in distress" scenario, paying homage to the classic dungeon crawls of yesteryear, with a heroic companion by the player's side and nasty enemies to defeat. "Stronghold," however, is by no means a derivative work.

Where this adventure shines, I think, is in its execution. The descriptions of rooms and artifacts are detailed and moody while avoiding being verbose. The design is likewise excellent; the different areas of the map are very distinct from one another and are naturally laid out. While the puzzles tend to involve a fair amount of backtracking to complete, the layout of the map prevents this from making such forays overly tedious.

There is a very effective blend of fighting the bad guys and solving puzzles. On the former point, the author has added a nice feature that assigns the attributes of the enemies based on the values of the adventurer's strongest weapon; this ensures that the difficulty scales to meet the experience of the character. Though going through "Stronghold" with a brand-new character saw him swiftly trounced, playing with my old standby adventurer, wielding a souped-up canister of Smylex (retrieved from "Batman!!" in the Worst of the Classic Adventures collection), still proved a challenge. The puzzles can be intuitively solved without resorting to using the HINTS command though still demand some reasoning on the part of the player. In short, little in "Stronghold" is outright given to the player; success must be earned.

"Stronghold" also takes pains to incorporate a number of effects and special features and they are employed successfully due to their subtlety. Often, special effects in Eamon, when present, tend to come off as gimmickry; in the case of "Stronghold," effects are employed seamlessly to add to the atmosphere of the map. I was surprised after looking "under the hood" at the number of effects programmed into the adventure; I'd been enjoying the adventure too much during the playthroughs to notice that they were being employed. And this is precisely how it ought to be.

A further, satisfying feature of the adventure is the clearly outlined quest and the explicit indication in the endgame of having "won" or "lost." I'd have preferred to have read a bit more storyline detailing what happens after the player leaves the fortress- Eamon in general tends to be unbalanced in its proportion of prologue to epilogue- but the mere acknowledgement that the player has been successful is enough to make "Stronghold" stand in distinction to most of the [Eamon] canon.

The writing and programming of "Stronghold of Kahr-Dur" are top notch. While itsauthor doesn't try and reinvent the wheel, the adventure succeeds in refining many of the traditional tropes of Eamon to produce one of the best "dungeon crawls" Eamon has seen.

Reviewed By: Luke Hewitt
Reviewer Rating: 8                    Average Rating: 8.5 (from 2 reviews)
Difficulty Rating: 7                     Average Rating: 7

Comment: The best summation of stronghold is that it is what many of the more childish, combat-heavy classic adventures hoped to be when they grew up. The plot is absolutely typical of the genre: An evil necromancer is causing havoc in a far off town, kidnapping an important lovely damsel along the way (these evil sorcerers really should learn to only kidnap ugly, unimportant people). However, what really stands out in this game is the staggeringly good atmosphere that Derek has managed to create. Though there are many, many empty rooms in the large map, I never felt bored or uninterested since even the majority of empty rooms still have detailed descriptions which are not limited to visible objects and features, but distinct smells and sounds as well. A nice touch of special programming also comes into play as it randomly flags up extra atmospheric effects such as gusts of wind, distant howling, feelings of fear and other contributions to the already stunning environment.

I was extremely pleased to find that the dusty, abandoned castle where you first start out is not the only environment you visit in this map either, as I later progressed to a dark and rugged series of caves, a gloomy forest, and other unique settings. As I mentioned already, the overall map is quite large and this is definitely an Eamon for explorers since several later portions of the game can become rather maze-like; though I encountered no "trick" exits or random room connections: and it's possible to navigate without getting lost as long as you keep track of where you have been and where you haven't explored yet.

One thing I did find a little jarring in this adventure is the total absence of embedded artifacts. I was occasionally quite sorry to have a fascinating object such as a statue of a warrior or a wizard's tome mentioned in a description, but not be able to examine it. Though, once I stopped trying to EXAMINE things, I came to appreciate how the artifacts that did exist were used in clever and interesting ways to create puzzles without the use of embedded objects. I can clearly understand the logic and reasoning behind the author's choice of artifact usage, even though it's not a choice I would have made myself.

One minor disappointment was that, despite the extremely well crafted atmosphere and clear quest, the plot still felt a bit unfinished and anti-climatic in some respects. For example, though the intro story mentioned that many local citizens had been disappearing, but I only actually found the "brother" I started the game with and the aforementioned damsel in distress for companionship. Also it was never made explicitly clear who exactly the evil necromancer was or what his nefarious motivations were. Even when within his lair, I found no altars to mysteriously nasty gods nor preparations for unpleasant enchantments, plans for domination, etc.-- just the captive damsel who was quite two dimensional and really seemed to be there just for decoration (after all, the lair of any good necromancer has to have an attractive, chained up maiden as part of the decor).

As I mentioned, your only companion is your loyal "brother"-- whether that is a friendly title to describe a comrade-in-arms or a literal relation was never explained, but I personally chose to interpret it as the first option, since I prefer to imagine my characters' background and family tree myself. Unfortunately, this "brother" is almost as two dimensional as the damsel in distress; this is an area that could have greatly benefited from some special programming, perhaps allowing him to speak to you or comment on what was happening throughout the adventure, it felt particularly flat when I rescued what may or may not have been his daughter (and therefore my character's niece).

The puzzles aren't overly challenging provided you take care to pay attention to the descriptions. The map layout can get rather complex especially towards the end, which certainly added to the challenge. One tip: though not exactly a puzzle, the author probably should have mentioned somewhere in the game that a "knock spell" is a magical enchantment used to open stubborn doors and/or other barriers. I learned this myself from playing other RPG games, but "Stronghold" could have been a bit unfair, had I not already known this.

I give this one a 7 (out of 10) for its difficulty rating. The high rating, however, is not merely based upon the moderately challenging puzzles or the large, twisty map alone, but rather comes mostly from the combat. I give extra credit to Derek here as well because, instead of loading the place with hoards of weaker enemies, he intersperses the largely empty map with interesting monsters and very tough battles, which which adds far more significance to the standard Eamon hack'n'slash approach. My medium strength character (with a 2D6 weapon) was often down to the wire, and it took the proper use of spells and artifacts to win several fights, despite having the included "brother" (who is a very hardy companion) from the start.

The big boss fight itself also deserves special mention as it is one of the better examples of special programming being used in combat that I've ever encountered, and very much stays consistent to the theme of facing off against a powerful, evil sorcerer who is capable of using dreadful magic against you. I'd definitely advise people pump up before trying this one, especially on their magic spells.

There are several tough fights, which are actually completely avoidable through clever navigation and which really could have used some sort of small reward or mention to generate a deserved sense of accomplishment (indeed given that one of them was against a group of animated skeletons).

All in all though, Stronghold of Kahr-Dur is an extremely well written Eamon Deluxe adventure, both in a literary sense as well as the inclusion of special programming. It has a classic "dungeon crawl" flavored plot, a clear quest, multiple combat fests against interesting opponents, challenging exploration and a fantastic atmosphere which is continuous from start to finish. Despite the few shortcomings I mentioned, it's still an outstanding game overall and I highly recommend it. With the dramatic combat, strong atmosphere, puzzle solving, or just the challenge of exploration and mapping, there is something for everyone. I give it an 8 out of 10 for the overall enjoyment rating.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


While I know that we have many readers around the world, it's Thanksgiving Day here in the United States and I wanted to thank all of the contributors to the Eamon world over the past year or so.

Almost a year ago, I asked for volunteer guest writers to help contribute to this blog. Thank you to Frank Black for being the first to step up. Frank's introduction coincided with his timely update of Eamon Deluxe, which gave the Eamon world quite a bit to talk about over the past several months. Frank has also volunteered to help me out with the web page which had become a little bit stale as I was finishing up my MBA. Thank you Frank!

Next is Thomas Ferguson. Thomas began writing on the blog recently, but has expanded the Eamon coverage into other platforms and systems that I didn't even know were available. Thank you for your contributions as well!

Bill Martens and the fine people at Call-APPLE provide hosting support for the domain. I would be remiss if I didn't express my thanks to him as well.

A few other people have helped spread the good word about Eamon. I wanted to thank Wade Clarke for introducing Eamon into the wider world of interactive fiction by entering Leadlight into the IF competition. While it didn't win, it gave us an exposure that had not previously been seen. Also, thank you to Ken Gagne for including Eamon into the Juiced.GS article last year. 

Finally, while Don Brown receives a lot of credit for writing the original program, Eamon wouldn't be where it is today without the hard work of John Nelson and Tom Zuchowski. I wanted to thank both of you as well for your contributions to the Eamon world.

We have a bright year of Eamon ahead! Let's go out and slay a dragon to celebrate!

Matthew Clark

The Continuing Story of Imagery! for the Commodore 64

The second part of Kent Sullivan's excellent retrospective on Dr. Evil Laboratories' Imagery! for the Commodore 64 has been posted at Just as in the first installment, one need not be an 8-bit computer aficionado to appreciate the post; just about anyone will find something to enjoy in Kent's narrative.

In addition to Kent's musings- which are reason enough to visit the Dr. Evil Laboratories blog- he's included a great deal of memorabilia, including the sole issue of Imagery!'s newsletter- The Image- and the original Adventure Designer's Manual for the system. 

I can hear the reader ask himself or herself: "Oh, but why would I need a copy of the Adventure Designer's Manual?" The answer is simple: it's nice to have a reference manual while writing Imagery! adventures.

Yes, twenty five years after its initial release, Dr. Evil Laboratories co-conspirator Ray Moody has produced Version 1.1 of the Imagery! Adventure Designer Disk, copies of which are available for download from the blog itself. Kent has issued a modest call for interested authors to give Imagery! a try. And if Apple II text adventure development is having a renaissance, there's no reason that the same shouldn't hold for the Commodore 64 as well. (It really is an excellent system, after all, with many of its improvements on Eamon's formula hitting the mark.)

I'm flirting with putting the Adventure Designer Disk to good use... perhaps someone here is willing to beat me to the punch and steal the glory of authoring Imagery! Adventure #2. But you'll never get there if you don't visit the post.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Strange, Commercial Eamon for the Apple II

A little more Eamon archaeology. Back in 1985, a company named "Load'N'Go," a subsidiary of "Green River Publishing," itself a subsidiary of "ShareData," released to great fanfare (or not) The Adventurer Series, a series of games for the Apple II essentially repackaging Eamon. At this time, Eamon was primarily distributed commercially through public domain houses like 3A, and this seems totally legitimate to me. What is borderline insidious about The Adventurer Series is its methodical excision of every trace of its creators.

This is the story about how Eamon literally made its way onto store shelves without Donald Brown (or any other Eamon author) making a cent.

The "authors" of The Adventurer Series didn't merely remove Brown's name and call it a day. In order to make this work "original," there are some changes and "enhancements." Care was taken to revise the weapon abilities in an unusual fashion; the "spear" becomes a "pole arm" and the "sword" category becomes "slashing." Some of the changes are inexplicable; the command "drink" becomes "quaff" and "ready" becomes "prepare." Likewise, while the Load'N'Go Beginner's Cave maintains the map of the standard one, the descriptions are methodically rewritten with the one original contribution being some odd references to a mythical "Lord Gumby" (don't ask me to explain). Playing through its Beginner's Cave feels like reading a research paper by a knucklehead freshman plagiarist.

The interface is, to be fair, significantly revamped. Like Bill Martens' modified Eamons displaying a player's stats (which works well and deserves to be checked out), The Adventure Series seeks to display relevant statistics constantly during the game. In practice, though, the execution of this feature is clunky, taking up over half of the screen, leaving the player with effectively an 18 column display. (If the jump from 40 columns to 80 columns is a significant leap, then this represents an even more significant leap backwards.)

As far as I can tell from an advertisement in the May 1986 issue of Family Computing, there were three disks released: The Beginner's Cave, Cave of the Mind, and River Adventure, a rebranded Zyphur Riverventure.

Disk images of the first are abundant; I'm unable to locate the latter two but I presume they fall into the same plagiarist tradition of the former (though there is through November 19th, 2012 an ebay auction for the third disk; I don't have the $20 to buy it but I'll buy a drink to anyone who grabs a disk image). It looks as though someone picked up the item. The offer still stands, though; I'll buy a drink to anyone who gets me a disk image.

We do have the box art for River Adventure though that for Cave of the Mind is not available. Looking at the box art further suggests that the adventure closely follows the Jim Jacobson classic.

Unlike some of the recent Apple II finds like Eamon Pro, The Adventurer wasn't "lost" (at least the main disk wasn't). It's been hiding in plain sight all along. Indeed, there's a playthrough of The Adventurer Series in the "Let's Play" style up on Youtube right now:

If the reader's thirst is whetted by this video and wants some pure Load'N'Go action for him or herself, the disk image for the first disk can be downloaded at The source of the art for The Beginner's Cave is the quite excellent Museum of Computer Adventure Game History at and the source for the art from River Adventure is the site

Updated to include River Adventure box art 11-18-12.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beagle Bros Throwback Included in Imminent Eamon Deluxe 5.0 Public Release

I am happy to announce that an open Beta version of the new Eamon Deluxe 5.0 system will be available for public download any day now. I'm just polishing up a few loose ends and waiting for program verifications from a few play testers that use certain computer setups which I don't currently have access to and can't test myself. The open Beta release of Eamon Deluxe will also be cross-platform, with versions available to Windows, OSX and Linux users alike.

I am also happy to announce that I contacted the DOSBox Team regarding bundling and distribution, and included a beta copy Eamon Deluxe for them to preview. I promptly received a response from Peter Veenstra, the original creator of DOSBox. Not only was Peter's message helpful, but it was also very positive and complimentary regarding his opinion of the Eamon Deluxe system overall.

The release of Eamon Deluxe 5.0 will be announced on this blog, hopefully within the next few days or so. In the meantime you can check out the freshly published Eamon Deluxe 5.0 Player's Manual which includes a lot of new material, including an expanded historical section and fun new additions to the cannon of Eamon lore. An indexed web version is available where the previous manual resided on the Eamon Guild website and also available in a nice PDF format (courtesy of Thomas Ferguson).

Now, on a somewhat related subject, I'm sure many former Apple II users remember the Beagle Bros software company. I was, and still am, a big fan of everything about them. Their products were excellent, their staff was brilliant and their company look, style and attitude was fun and refreshing. I still use some of their programs to this day, particularly when recovering or repairing the oddball "lost" Eamon related disk images that Thomas Ferguson keeps digging up from the bowels of the interwebs.

Last summer, after discovering that my kids really liked playing the game "Hang Person" from the "Beagle Bag" games disk, I decided to start a side project and make an attempt to convert it to the PC platform. In my typical side project fashion, I made it to the "mostly finished" point and then promptly forgot about it.

As a tribute to the Beagles, and just for fun, I recently finished it up and incorporated it into Eamon Deluxe 5.0 as an available option on the Adventure Design Menu. Tired of editing monsters and artifacts? Need a break from entering your new adventure? Can't think of any clever answers to add to your adventure's HINTS file? Take a break, and play some Hang Person!

 Because of the differences in video hardware between the Apple II and the PC, and primarily because the PC doesn't even have a "LORES graphics" screen mode, the poor fella being hung may look a little distorted from his original form on the Apple II.

But, hey, you have to admit that this is a pretty authentic conversion. I made only a few minor changes and fixed an annoying bug in the original version (it didn't keep track of what letters had already been tried) along the way. I even included an option that allows switching the screen mode to 40 columns (which makes the gentleman in the gallows look a little less distorted).

Does adding Hang Person  as an Adventure Design Menu option sound random? I think it does. The odd inclusion in question was partially inspired by one of my favorite Debian Linux programs, "Aptitude". Aptitude is a powerful terminal (text only) based program for managing the programs that make up a Linux operating system. Among the various tools of package management, Aptitude's menu includes, quite randomly, an option to play Minesweeper. I was extremely amused when I discovered this, and it still makes me smile to this day.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Trip Through Darrel Raines' Eamon IIGS Demo

I learned of the Apple IIGS HyperCard Eamon by reading old copies of GEnie Lamp; there was a discussion between a staff writer, Darrel Raines, and the EAG's Tom Zuchowski concerning the former's attempt to bring Eamon to the IIGS. Over this discussion, the HyperCard Eamon was held up as the paradigm of how not to port Eamon.

I'd presumed that Darrel Raines grew frustrated and had ultimately abandoned his attempt... and this indeed appears to be the case. But he also left behind an artifact, his "tech demo" of what his envisioned port would look like.

Inasmuch as the user's only option is to continually hit the spacebar (it is a mere demo, after all), I thought that rather than making the reader track down the file, extract the folder from the .BXY file, convert the folder to a .PO file, mount the .PO file in the IIGS emulator... (you get the picture), I'd post the entire tour here. (The reader can hit the spacebar at appointed times for effect as he or she scrolls down, of course.)

For one, Eamon IIGS has the coolest dragon ever to grace an Eamon splash screen (though that of the the Atari 800 port certainly gives it a run for its money). It's worth the price of admission for that alone. (Oh, and click on the Atari 800 link. Really. And bring your snorkel because you'll be swimming in awesome.)

Eamon IIGS appears intended as a more modest effort than Hypercard Eamon, its graphical capabilities limited to a discrete window. The demo also sees the adventurer walking blindly into a cave in true Eamon fashion. Because there's nothing a Free Adventurer likes more than walking blindly into a cave.

And the adventurer immediately finds a unicorn playing a bit of a "white rabbit" role, luring the player deeper. Why unicorns seem so popular in Eamon ports is beyond me (cf. Eamon Pro). Why they hang out in caves is even less clear. Then again, why Free Adventurers hang out in caves is itself obscure.

Unicorns and vampires in one cave!?! It's like a mythological creature overdose! Only with the inclusion of ninjas and an Archie Shepp soundtrack could this cave get any cooler. Sadly, the demo is drawing to a close.

And a goblin from the Rankin/Bass production of The Hobbit (points for style!) ends the demo on a cliffhanger, saving the adventurer from the vampire and entreating him or her on a quest of some sort. Perhaps to wrangle that runaway unicorn? The world may never know.

So here is the cosmic conundrum: on the one hand we have HyperCard Eamon, which is complete yet entirely broken, and on the other we have Eamon IIGS, which works as intended but is utterly incomplete. I don't know a lick about programming a IIGS (I don't know a lick about programming in general, either) but perhaps this is an indication that it was really difficult? To go further would be to needlessly speculate. There's your tour.

Unrelated note: "Tenement of the Damned" really exists, I promise. Frank Black wanted to put a layer of polish on it before stamping it and releasing it into the wild.

Update: I make no warranties, as the site is not working for me at the moment, but the source of the file, titled "," is here.  Wade Clarke suggests in the comments that the site whence I discovered the file may be down for some time; for those wishing to tinker with the file, it has a home for the time being at

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Announcing Eamon #255: Tenement of the Damned

I'm very happy to announce that Eamon #255 "Tenement of the Damned" has been completed and an initial copy can be downloaded here. [Edit: In preparation for the official .DSK being posted, the download link is removed.] Frank Black was able to recover the entirety of the French program and I, in turn, translated it into English using the 6.2 Dungeon Designer Diskette. ("Maudit" is Version 6 and I felt that the English version ought to approximate the French experience as much as possible.) Finally, a menu was put in giving players the option of playing the game in either French or in English. 

Now, "Tenement of the Damned," an adventure oriented towards looting a crumbling public housing block, is not exactly Sam Ruby-caliber. (Indeed, that Frank Black salvaged the MAIN PGM was a bit of an anticlimax as there is no special programming to speak of.) The most it musters by way of puzzles is a pair of secret rooms, a hidden artifact, and some hunting for keys. The goal is simply to find friends and lay waste the the rest of the tenement... there isn't even an introduction at the beginning of the adventure.

On the other hand, it's certainly not "Sam"-caliber either. While it is effectively the French analogue of the "Beginner's Cave" and its premise and execution are similarly simple, the descriptions tend to be rich and witty and the map, though relatively small, invites exploration. The characters and artifacts you'll encounter are all colorful and wacky. The general mood, tending towards the absurd, is most similar to the charm of the great, old Jim Jacobson adventures such as "Cave of the Mind." There are bouts of self-reference, fourth-wall-breaking, and Monty Python-esque humor, making for a consistently enjoyable adventure.

An official .DSK of the dual English/French version ought to be posted soon. I plan on writing a more lengthy review in the next issue of the Eamon Deluxe Newsletter. Who would have thought that brushing up on one's French (or English, as the case may be) could be so much fun? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Apple II Eamon "Le HLM Maudit" ("The Tenement of the Damned")

So in my first post for this blog, I described what I knew about the French conversion of Eamon for the Apple II and immediately began seeking disk images. While I was hoping that they'd be out there, I suspected that what would turn up was a run-of-the-mill Main Hall with a Beginner's Cave merely translated into French. (Did you know that "pirate" is French for pirate?)

But what we got was something entirely different: "Le HLM Maudit," or (with some license in translation), "The Tenement of the Damned," written by J.M. Menassanch. ("HLM" denotes a particular type of subsidized housing and "Maudit" as an adjective means "cursed" or "damned.") It appears to be a short, twenty room romp through the banlieues, with a handful of monsters and written for beginners.

In full disclosure, two points ought to be mentioned. For one, well, it's in French. Moreover, there is a bit of corruption in the disk image that must be sorted out. While the data is all intact, the Main Program has taken a beating. With only one effect, though, I imagine that this obstacle can be overcome relatively easily with some backwards engineering. Stay tuned as I hope to have a translated, working .DSK available soon.

I'm very grateful to Jean-Marc Boutillon of and Arnaud Brossard of, both of whom put up with my much-atrophied French and provided much help in securing the disk images.

An additional expression of gratitude is in order. If the reader looks over to the side bar, the reader will notice that this is the thirty fifth post this year. Applying a bit of arithmetic, the reader will also note that were precisely thirty five posts from the site's conception in 2004 through 2011. There's now been as much activity this year as the previous seven years combined. To everyone who has contributed and made this such a good year for Eamon, you all have my gratitude as well.

Updated to reflect the name of the adventure's author.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Glimpse into "Bird's Paradise," a Lost Eamon...

The internet-trawling I've done in search of lost Eamons this past year has been rather fruitful, with quite a few disk images recovered. Sadly, sometimes "lost" really means "lost." But I find that in focusing on the recovery of disk images, it's easy to miss the important feature of Eamon: the stories that are told. Truth be told, I think being told about the content of a lost adventure is just as good as finding it.

Paul Balyoz has been kind enough to share his recollections of such an Eamon, an adventure he wrote titled "Bird's Paradise," and has graciously allowed me to share it here:
As I recall, playing Bird's Paradise went sort of like this: You started in your apartment up high in an apartment building, and in one room there was a bird cage with a bird, like a Parrot. He was... [a] "friend", so he would follow you around throughout the game and not attack you (unless you attacked him first). Exploring your house you realize there is an open window, so you go out the window and onto the ledge. Walking along the ledge you can go in the open window of the apartment next to you, and there's a different bird in there - I think it was a Toucan. The Toucan is your friend too, and follows you around. Now you have two friends.
At the end of the level you confronted the enemy - an Evil Bird King and four ravens, I think, who immediately start attacking! It's a giant epic melee, you and your four friends attacking the evil birds alongside you... [S]ince you have friends who are attacking the enemy, the enemies would not just focus on you - everyone gets one "swing" per turn, and so you'd be swung-at about 1/5th of the time (because you have 4 other pals). The odds were in your favor, but you could still die, just due to random occurrence of being attacked more than normal; or being too novice of a character. 
Paul was also generous enough to provide a related anecdote which will be humorous to any veteran Eamonaut:
I was all proud of my Eamon adventure and played it a few times before unleashing it on the world. A day or two later I invited a friend over to play it. He had a pretty advanced character that I felt would probably survive the end-battle that I didn't tell him about. He had fun playing it - then, when he got to the epic battle he did something I never thought of - the room happened to be a four-way intersection, so he typed "flee" and fled to another room! He did that over and over again, until only one enemy was in the room with him - then he'd attack that monster until it was dead, go back and do it again! "Hey," I said, "that's cheating!" Later I realized, no, it's just an advanced strategy when playing Eamon adventures. 
Paul's blog can be found at and is filled with interesting reflections on myriad topics. In particular, the original post that led me to contact him is a charming and sincere meditation on memory and is well worth a read.

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 (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, 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

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
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 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 Planétaire. (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
Or, perhaps, a dungeon inspired by Of Grammatology?
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, 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!