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!


T Ferguson said...

It's great to see a post on the blog after so long and great to hear that we may see a new adventure from you, too! With "Zorag" finally seeing some public distribution, and hopefully a new Michael Penner Eamon CS adventure, 2020 sounds like it'll be a great year.

I've been thinking about some of my unfinished Eamon business, too, and should try to use these events as motivation to wrap them up. Notably:

- The bilingual HLM Maudit never made its way to the EAG; I should fix that
- The "Tower of Eamon" contest sadly only had contributions from Frank Black and me, but it's worth wrapping up and sharing the disk image
- I found a half-finished "Temple of Ngurct III" that I'd intended as a "Runcible Cargo" follow-up; maybe 2020 is the year to finish it

Great work on "Eamon Remastered" by the way! It's great to play Eamon on my phone, for sure!

Denk said...

It is great to see that Eamon is still Alive. I might be one of the few new Eamonauts since I discovered Eamon in 2018. I think I learned about it through Ifdb, since I like Interactive Fiction in general. I'm a fan of both Eamon Remastered and Eamon CS, and I am working on a game in Eamon CS which I find easier. Don't hold back: put your reviews and game announcements on Ifdb. There might be more potential Eamonauts out there. :)

Huwmanbeing said...

It's wonderful to hear that after 40 years there are still new adventures are in the works. Vive l'Eamon!

The 50th anniversary will certainly call for a party of special magnificence.