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?