Remarkable Auctions: Shadowkeep (1984) for the Apple II by Trillium

Bill Loguidice's picture

Shadowkeep as mentioned in the 11/84 Electronic Games magazineShadowkeep as mentioned in the 11/84 Electronic Games magazineThe latest remarkable auction is none other than the legendary computer role playing game hybrid, Shadowkeep, from 1984, by Trillium, for the Apple II, which sold for $529.00 (with free shipping). Trillium was best known for their high quality text and graphics adventures, like Amazon and Dragonworld, that featured solid parsers and excellent graphics, and were typically written in partnership with a famous author. Shadowkeep was something of a departure for the company as it was essentially a lushly illustrated role playing game that had a text-based interface. As for this game's famous author connection, Alan Dean Foster created a companion book for the game with the same title whose existence was advertised prominently on the game box (actually, the company's usual thick multi-fold folder) cover.

Much like with Penguin Software having to change their name to Polarium after Penguin the book publisher took notice, Trillium ended up having to change their name to Telarium after Trillium Press got on their case. That's why today, Trillium versions of the games are worth more than the later Telarium versions, though most releases were otherwise identical. I believe I personally have the complete Telarium Apple II version of Shadowkeep along with the paperback novel, though I'll have to verify if in fact instead it's the Trillium version. In any case, the typical pricing for Shadowkeep has been in the ~$250 range, so for this latest game auction to go for double that is indeed impressive, and is probably due in part to the completeness of the example.

Shadowkeep is also notorious for a few other reasons. First, is an incredibly robust copy protection scheme. Second, is that all of the known Apple II images/ROMs on the Web have been altered. You see, if you play directly on the game disks rather that making play disks, the game is irrecoverably altered. That's right, once you play on the originals, there's no going back to its original state, ever. I have yet to check if my disks are in fact intact or have been played on, and thus, altered. Finally, there's the question of other versions outside of the Apple II version. The Commodore 64 and IBM PC versions were at least ANNOUNCED, and there have been occasional sightings that would make Bigfoot hunters proud, but there's still no credible evidence that those versions of the game were ever actually released.

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Anonymous (not verified)
great!

Yes, I've been looking for a while the PC version but never found it :(
Strange because the screenshot of games magazinz is not the Apple version (My guess c64)

Anyway, always cool that you talk about the ancestor of RPG on computer...

Bill Loguidice
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I just checked and I have the

I just checked and I have the Telarium version, so there was at least a small secondary run after the Trillium release. As you can tell from the materials in the boxed copy from the eBay auction though, they were already going through the Telarium transition at the time of Shadowkeep's release.

Maybe I'll take a break from heavy duty book writing tonight and give my copy of Shadowkeep a spin and see what's doing...

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Matt Barton
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Bill, I have a killer idea

Bill, I have a killer idea for your next book: Bill's Videogame Collector and Price Guide.

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clok1966
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woot
Matt Barton wrote:

Bill, I have a killer idea for your next book: Bill's Videogame Collector and Price Guide.

there was a time I wanted to do something liek this with ARCADE machines, I started keep ing track of Ebay auctions, and all the Majore sales across the country (still some going on).. but man... its so hard. And the rare stuff seldom sells, so how do you price it "fair"? and you cant base a price on wht one collector paid.. what if he got a deal? or worse, paid to much?

hate to say it, but I think a book on brain surgery would be easier :) cool idea none the less.

Matt Barton
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Well, CLok, maybe you should

Well, CLok, maybe you should go in with us, particularly if you have the stat/number crunching aspect down.

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clok1966
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no way
Matt Barton wrote:

Well, CLok, maybe you should go in with us, particularly if you have the stat/number crunching aspect down.

ehhe Im a talker, not a do'er I love spreading my evil ideas in chat forums (well.. thats an overstatment, I dont post much of anywhere else). You guys amaze me with the ability to write books. I tried ot write a short story, think i was at about 200 pages (err 100 if you think both sides), not so amazing as it took me like 7 years to get that much, and sadly it wasnt very good, much like games, its really hard to write something that doesnt sound like its a copy of something else.

As far as a book like that, I actually think there is a market for it, but alot of people are not going to like to see there pristen copy of "the SIMS" is worthless :) it wpould take alot fo work, that I know, and its a pretty nitch market, and I can see alot of backlash with "fair" prices. Not to mention.. Ultima with Cloth map, without, with original cloth map, with cheaper cloth map... its a task that is quite exstensive. the upside is when pricing.. you cant be wrong :) only off.

A shadowkeep question... Why did this game get a book? as its rare (or so it seems) it wasnt a huge sales success (just a guess), why was a book wrote? has anybody read the book? is it good?

Bill Loguidice
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More on Shadowkeep
clok1966 wrote:

A shadowkeep question... Why did this game get a book? as its rare (or so it seems) it wasnt a huge sales success (just a guess), why was a book wrote? has anybody read the book? is it good?

The book was actually written more or less in conjunction with the game, so the game technically didn't come first. That's why it's advertised like that on the cover of the game ("Now a Novel by" and then "ALAN DEAN FOSTER" below it). I believe the background is is that Alan Dean Foster was inspired by the relative originality of the game world to write the book. It's probably more a name/money thing, but still, certainly something unique for the time. Like I had mentioned, Trillium/Telarium had strong relationships with well known authors, like Michael Crichton with the game Amazon, among others. It was basically a two part strategy by Trillium to compete with Infocom. Instead of Infocom's talented, but unknown game authors, they would one, use a famous author to headline their games, and two, offer up nice graphics along with a quality parser. Some of their games even featured mini-game elements along the way. Of Infocom's competition, I'd say they were the most successful at distinguishing themselves, but obviously the company's fortunes turned by the mid-80's much like Infocom's when that style of game fell out of commercial favor (and I personally didn't care as much for some of the later games, like Nine Princes in Amber and Perry Mason).

I do have the book, an original paperback from back in the day. It's on my list, but I have yet to read it. It's one of those books that's available everywhere used and for pretty cheap too, so it must have had a healthy print run.

I did open up my used copy of Shadowkeep the game last night too, but got distracted testing out a Dick Smith Wizzard (an Australian CreatiVision). Anyway, as I mentioned, my copy of Shadowkeep has the Telarium branding on the cover, but everything inside (just the two double sided disks and the manual in mine) retained the original Trillium branding. I guess making the change on the exterior was enough to appease the Trillium publishing company.

As for writing a collector's book with monetary values, I'm no longer into that idea. I think a book is too quickly out of date. I think a much better idea is to create a phone and Web app with regular updates. In fact, I think that would be an awesome business idea and could extend well beyond videogame--a living database of the used value of items. I imagine you could get a tremendous start if you were able to mine eBay's public data, among other auction sites, and averaging things out.\

In any case, I'm booked with other book projects through at least the first week in October.

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Matt Barton
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I think it might work, and

I think it might work, and could be a profitable thing since it would require regular updates and new editions. I'm thinking primarily of something like the ones I used to get for comic books. I guess if we didn't want to put the time in to do a comprehensive book, we could just focus on the most valuable or rarest items. Maybe it could be based around platforms, so you'd get info on how and what to collect for the Apple II vs. IBM PC, etc. The hard part for me would be tracking all the various ebay auctions to get a fair sense of what something is worth. You'd have to by necessity track many, many auctions over an extended period of time to arrive at that. I'm assuming there is probably already tracking software of some sort out there for that purpose, so it might not actually be difficult.

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