Friday, February 02, 2018

Eamon Mystery - William Trent and the "Search for the Key"

It's Groundhog Day! To celebrate, let's look back at a letter that Dr. William Trent wrote to the EAG way back in March of 1991:
Dear Tom,

One of my favorite games is a short game (only 20 rooms) called "Search for the Key" (#80) by Donald Brown.  For the casual player this game probably doesn't do much for them.  You cannot enter this game with a powerful character but as a beginner.  I note that it is rated as a 2.  My rating for it since it is such a challenge would be about 7.  I have played it at least 200 times and have lost only about 5 times in the last 150 times.  I would say that I know more about this little game than the author.  Usually I lost because of broken weapons so that I had no way to eliminate the black panther.  I usually finish up with $80,000 to $100,000 and four of the best weapons that money can buy.  I don't know anyone who ever was able to get more than two weapons.  At one time I was running it as the Eamon Challenge on our BBS offering anyone who could come out of the game with $40,000 a $25 prize.  No one solved the mystery so I have not revealed it.  I doubt if the author even realized the quirk in the game which allowed me to win this way.  I wonder if you or any of the other adventurers can 
figure out how I do it.   -  Wm. Trent

Wow. How do you do it, Bill?   - Tom 
Well, I've looked at the program myself and couldn't find out what he was talking about either. So, back in 2003, I wrote him a letter to ask for the solution. He responded in December 2003 as follows:
In 1983 I had an Apple computer which had very few capabilities but it did have Eamon games which I played a lot.  After a couple of years the Apple changed to Macintosh and upgraded to a format which was not compatible to the Apple.  As a result I became disgusted with them and switched to an IBM computer and did not play Eamon games any longer.
 At that time you had to write almost any program yourself as there were very few except Appleworks typing programs.  I wrote one Eamon game myself "A Trip to Fort Scott" which was my home town in Kansas before I joined the navy.  (I'm a Pearl Harbor Survivor)
 That has been too long ago for me to remember anything about my early computer years.  I am sorry but at age 84 I can't remember anything about the Eamon games.  In fact one of the things that happens to you when you get old is your memory goes.
 I can go to a movie and a year later my wife will say, "We saw that movie".
 I will say, "I never saw that movie."
 I am on the computer quite a bit but have to keep reviewing to be able to remember the programs I use most of the time.  I "bookmark"  anything which I wish to find on line with the computer and keep most of the program icons on my desktop so they are easy to find.
 I keep a very descriptive index of all the files I have on the hard disk.
 I am very sorry but I do not remember anything about any of the Eamon Games.
 Dr. William H. Trent, DDS (retired for 18 years)
So, my question for the Eamon community is, what was he talking about? The data file doesn't indicate that it's possible to have that many weapons or to earn that much money. The MAIN PGM is likewise rather mundane. Was it possible that he got some customized version from a non-EAG source?