Feature Article

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Full-length feature articles.
Bill Loguidice's picture

Photo of the Week - Know your History! (02 - Non-Linear Systems Kaypro II (CP/M))

Welcome to the second of an ongoing series of exclusive photos here at Armchair Arcade from my private collection, Non-Linear Systems Kaypro II (CP/M).

The photo's main page.
The full-size image.

Without further ado, here are some neat facts about this week's photo (feedback welcome!):

Matt Barton's picture

Interview with Jaakko Tapani Peltonen of NetHack: Falcon's Eye

Falcon's Eye: NetHack + Graphics = Awesome!Falcon's Eye: NetHack + Graphics = Awesome!I recently had the pleasure of talking to Jaakko, one of the developers of the ongoing free software project NetHack: Falcon's Eye, an awesome, graphical remake of the classic Rogue-style game NetHack. The game is available for Windows, Linux, and DOS platforms. The best part is--it's FREE. Below are some questions that Jaakko was kind enough to answer about Falcon's Eye. It's in-depth and makes for some very good reading, especially for those interested in classic CRPGs. Enjoy!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Photo of the Week - Know your History! (01 - Commodore PET 2001-8)

Welcome to the first of an ongoing series of exclusive photos here at Armchair Arcade from my private collection, the Commodore PET 2001-8.

The photo's main page.
The full-size image.

Without further ado, here are some neat facts about this week's photo (feedback welcome!):

Matt Barton's picture

Fun with PLATO

Moria: Note the 3D, first-person view of the dungeon.Moria: Note the 3D, first-person view of the dungeon.No doubt, one of the great "unsung" heroes of the computer gaming industry is PLATO, a "computer assisted instruction system" originating in the 1960s that was so far ahead of its time that it gives you goosebumps to read about it. Until a few days ago, all I'd been able to do was see second or even third-hand accounts of what gaming was like on this platform, but then I learned about Cyber1.org, an organization that simulates the PLATO system on the web. I applied for an account, received one a few days later, and have been having great fun checking out some truly classic CRPGs! Check it out (with screenshots!) below.

Matt Barton's picture

History of Zork Now Available on Gamasutra: Read Full Interviews Here!

Gamasutra has now published my article on the History of Zork! Go check it out; it's loaded with plenty of facts, screenshots, and quotations from the authors. I had earlier promised to offer the interviews I conducted with the implementors and other folks here on Armchair. You'll find them below, organized more or less in a "round table" progression. Enjoy!

Matt Barton's picture

The Story of The Wizard's Castle

Exidy SorcererExidy SorcererOne of the great things about writing a book is that you get to hear so many interesting stories. One of the best I've heard so far involves a very, very early game for the Exidy Sorcerer named The Wizard's Castle. Although programmed by Joe Power a few years earlier (in the mid 1970s), the game wasn't officially released until 1980, when it was printed as source code in Recreational Computing magazine. It's been ported to several other platforms (by Power and others). Eventually it was played by Derell L., who prefers to go by his nickname "Derelict." Derelict converted the game for Windows and added sprite-based graphics (you can download it here). Anyway, I had the chance to talk to both Joe and Derelict about their games, and have decided to print them here for your enjoyment! Note that I haven't edited these interviews--I didn't have to!

Matt Barton's picture

Interview with Daniel M. Lawrence, CRPG Pioneer and Author of Telengard

Telengard: One of the earliest CRPGs for home computers.Telengard: One of the earliest CRPGs for home computers.I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Daniel Lawrence, a pioneer in the CRPG industry who started off writing CRPGs for mainframes. Perhaps his most famous CRPG is Telengard, which was one of the earliest (if not the earliest) game of its type for early platforms such as the Commodore PET, Atari 800, and TRS-80. It features "procedurally generated dungeons" so that no two games are exactly alike, and is set in real-time. Indeed, in many ways it's an early Diablo! In the interview below, I talk to Daniel about these early games and more general questions about what a good CRPG should be. The interview really helped me straighten out some important details about this historic game's development. Enjoy!

Analogic (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Analogic: Takes place on a spacescape overlayed by a grid of seemingly random numbers.Analogic: Takes place on a spacescape overlayed by a grid of seemingly random numbers. It impresses me that the Odyssey, a system that doesn't do math, would be the system to introduce a game with arithmetic as its focus. In addition to being the first math edutainment vehicle, Analogic is also the first Science Fiction-themed home videogame.

The Analogic Überlay is a grid of seemingly random numbers superimposed over a simple spacescape. I say "seemingly" because those numbers are actually a maze. (It's important to keep that in mind for later.) Each player controls a PlayerSpot which starts the game at either the planet Even in the upper left, or the planet Odd in the lower right. They represent “light beam transceivers”. The light beam itself is the BallSpot. To setup the game, players bring out the BallSpot and, using their ENGLIGH knobs, maneuver it so that it is constantly bouncing back and forth between the two PlayerSpots.

The object of Analogic is for each player to traverse the space between the Odd/Even worlds and reach the other player’s starting position before their opponent does by choosing odd or even numbers on a vertical or horizontal path. Doing so will involve math.

Matt Barton's picture

Fun at Bill's Arcade -- A Day in Retrogaming Paradise

Without a doubt, the highpoint of my sojourn last week to NYC was stopping off at Bill's home in New Jersey for a day of absolute gaming goodness. As all long-time AA'ers are well aware, Bill has an ginormous collection of vintage computers and consoles, to say nothing of an even more extensive software and game-related book library.

Matt Barton's picture

Jumpman: A Story by Matt Barton

Justin sat in the darkest corner of the darkest bar in the space station, shrunk into the shadows like a wet rat in a lightning storm. He was wary for a reason. If anyone guessed who he was or his purpose, his presence here would end his past. He needed answers. He needed courage. But he was scared as hell and fresh out of pencils.

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