Sunday, April 26, 2020

Four New (or Newly Available) Eamon Adventures!

Between Keith Dechant's last blog post and its subsequent comments, there was a suggestion of an incoming tidal wave of good news for Eamon in 2020. Well, that wave has made landfall, leading to the announcement of four new (or heretofore unannounced) Eamon adventures across three platforms.

All of the adventures represent the best of what Eamon can be: Each includes fantastic writing and storytelling; several are wide in scope and leverage lots of special modifications to the basic Eamon routine.

Malleus Maleficarum: The first original adventure written for the Eamon Remastered system, Keith Dechant's Malleus Maleficarum sees the adventurer's friend Maya draw the player to the far-away land of Virrat. From Dechant's description, the adventurer travels
to a nearby land that has outlawed magic and is conducting a witch hunt against all magic users. Your quest is to rescue a friend's grandmother and investigate a militant anti-magic organization called the Cobalt Front... The Cobalt Front is a very lawful organization, at least when it comes to magic and magic weapons, and you can easily find yourself getting into trouble with the law if you're not careful.
There are other things happening in the land of Virrat, too, and you'll find yourself battling some bizarre creatures as you learn what's really going on.
Malleus Maleficarum relies heavily on interaction with non-player characters, as well, which helps develops the storyline. For playing the adventure and getting more information about it, the reader can consult the following links:

Land of the Mountain King: Several years ago, Kenneth Pedersen released Land of the Mountain King as an ADRIFT adventure and has now ported it to Michael Penner's Eamon CS system.

While the adventure's scope is more constrained than the others described in this post, its writing and story are solid. From its introduction:
You are walking in the woods looking for prey when you are suddenly shrouded in a cloud of white smoke. The smoke is too dense to see through, but eventually, the smoke clears and you find yourself on a barren plain.
As you turn around, you see an old witch stand before you. "Listen carefully!" the witch whispers with a hoarse voice.
"I have summoned you here to help me clear this land from the evil mountain king, who lives in his castle up north. The mountain king terrorizes this land and must die so that peace can be restored around here. If you succeed you will be significantly rewarded.
Land of the Mountain King is the first original adventure for Penner's Eamon CS, and the reader can use the following links for more information:

The Treachery of Zorag: Derek Jeter's follow-up to the excellent Stronghold of Kahr-Dur for Eamon Deluxe, The Treachery of Zorag was nearing completion just as Frank Black was shelving development of the platform. Consequently, Zorag failed to receive a formal release or widespread acknowledgement (I hadn't even realized that it had been completed until last month). Undaunted, Jeter has made some modifications to the adventure and is hosting an online, playable Zorag.

Like Malleus Maleficarum, interaction with non-player characters plays an equal role to combat, making for an engrossing adventure. From the introduction:
A knight from the nearby city of Behlos arrives at the Main Hall to announce that the king is assembling a party of the land's greatest heroes to investigate the possible return of Zorag, an evil wizard imprisoned for many years and now feared to be free. The knight asks for the Guild's greatest warrior to join the party, and when your comrades all point to you, you accept the errand. The knight orders you to appear at the King's Hall in Behlos at sunrise on the second day to begin the mission.
Long ago, I was blown away by an incomplete version of Zorag and it's fantastic that the full adventure can finally reach a broader audience. More can be found at the following links:

Assault on the Clone Master Remake: Forty years after its release, Donald Brown's Assault on the Clone Master has been reborn with a superbly-written, steampunk-infused remake courtesy of Keith Dechant. While nominally a remake, the adventure has been so deeply reworked as to warrant its being described as an all-new adventure.

By way of illustration, check out the introductory text of the original Clone Master, and compare with the introduction of the remake:
You were traveling in the far-away land of Knieriem, a land with technology far beyond your own. You marveled at the towering cities and majestic arches and goggled at the wondrous metal vehicles and flying machines powered by the most exquisite clockwork.
But, all was not well in Knieriem. A day before you were to leave for home on a massive, steam-powered ship, word came that the harbor was being blockaded by the dreaded fire fleets of the infamous Clone Master!
The Clone Master was known all over Knieriem and the surrounding kingdoms, feared for his vast armies made up of human clones!
Dechant's Assault on the Clone Master is worth checking out; more information can be found at the following links: 

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Eamon is turning 40!

We don't know the exact date the first version of the Main Hall and Beginner's Cave were created. This is largely thanks to the fact that Apple II's DOS 3.3 didn't keep timestamps on files, and authors didn't always record the dates in their file comments. Some knowledgeable people have done some research, and estimated that development on the first Eamon adventures must have begun in 1979. The first specific date we know for sure is January 30, 1980, the publication date of Adventure #3, Cave of the Mind, which is now 40 years ago!

In honor of the occasion, I thought I would take a look back at the history and how things have changed over the years.

The Apple II Era

1979-80: The first DOS 3.3 version of Eamon is released for the Apple II Plus. It supports 40-column text, all uppercase, and is designed to work on machines with 48k of RAM.

1984-1989: Eamon sees widespread distribution and over 150 adventures are published during this time.

1985: The Graphics Main Hall is released, providing a richer experience and several additional shops.

1985: Thror's Ring is the first adventure released with support for 80-column text.

1988: Tom Zuchowski releases v7.0 of the Main Program. This includes a small compiled program that drastically sped up monster and artifact search routines. It also introduces group monsters and revised combat logic that emphasizes Agility as a primary combat stat.

1990: Zuchowski begins converting several adventures to Prodos, intending to make them easier to play on the Apple //gs.

Mid-1990s: Authors continue submitting new adventures, even though the Apple II as a platform is in decline. Zuchowski also manages to locate a number of older adventures that had either languished on floppies since the 1980s, or had been started and never finished.

1999-2013 - Eamon Deluxe

This is a port of Eamon to MS-DOS by adventure author Frank Black. It has gone through several revisions over the years, and about 200 adventures have been ported. Frank upgraded most of the adventures, fixing bugs and broken room connections, as well as updating the command parser and some of the combat logic.

Frank also wrote some new content for several adventures, intending to make them a more unified storyline. Several NPCs could now appear in multiple adventures, if they survived the adventure where you first met them.

2017-present - Eamon Remastered

I had always dreamed of making an updated version of Eamon that could run in a web browser. In the 21st century, this seemed to be a good way to bring new players to Eamon and to keep alive all the hard work done by dozens of adventure authors.

The original Eamon was written in Applesoft BASIC, being a common, low-barrier-to-entry programming language in its time. So, it only made sense to use today's common, widely known language, JavaScript, for the rewrite. Data and file storage have also come a long way since the 1980s, and Eamon adventure data seemed a good fit for a relational database.

So, in December 2015, I started planning the rewrite of the game engine. This meant a major update in game features for some of the older adventures, which now all have the updated commands and combat logic that the newer Apple-based adventures and Eamon Deluxe had.

Since the official release of Eamon Remastered in February 2017, 34 adventures have been ported to Eamon Remastered. There is still a long way to go; there are currently about 275 total adventures, of which about 180 are actually playable on the original systems (a prerequisite to porting them) and are of good enough quality to be interesting.

The Future

There are still many things in store for 2020. I am currently working on a brand-new adventure titled Malleus Maleficarum. In this one, the adventurer joins a friend from the Guild to save her homeland from fanatics who are persecuting magic users.

Even more new content will be coming soon as well. The next project will be a port of Derek Jeter's unpublished adventure, The Treachery of Zorag, which Derek developed for Eamon Deluxe but which was never included in any of the Eamon Deluxe 5.0 releases. This is a large, complex adventure with lots of special effects and puzzles. It will be a great addition to the catalog.

Until next time, happy adventuring!