Camping with family, summer 1980
|Full name||Michael R. Penner|
In correspondence with Huw Williams in 2020, Penner recalls eagerly reading articles in Creative Computing magazine in the early 1980s and coming across Robert Plamondon's piece about Eamon. Penner was fascinated by the idea of a game system that allowed players to send their characters into various custom-made adventures: "Even back then I realized it was unprecedented," he writes. By the time he learned of Eamon, though, his family had sold their Apple II and replaced it with an Atari 800 so he had no way of trying it out.
In high school Penner's family upgraded to an Atari ST, and while on GEnie he discovered the Atari ST port of Eamon by Michael Detlefsen. "I had a Eureka! moment when I realized I would finally get to play through ported games like The Zyphur Riverventure and Quest for the Holy Grail, both of which I loved," Penner recalls. "Then I bought GFA BASIC and got to work."
Penner built The Sub-Aquan Laboratory between his junior and senior years in high school, The Crypt Crasher & the Tomb of Horrors between his senior year and first year of college, and The Oasis in the Desert between his first and second years in college. He uploaded all three to GEnie, but though the first two have been recovered, no copies of Oasis have yet been found.
Penner finished his work with the Atari ST version of the game around his sophomore year of college and over the next 25 years the memories of his involvement with Eamon largely faded into the back of his mind.
Penner recalls his unexpected return to Eamon:
"I was at work on lunch break in 2014 and I happened to Google Eamon and came across the EAG website. I found a PDF called Eamon_DeluXe_NewsletterV3n01_03-2013.pdf where Thomas Ferguson reviewed The Sub-Aquan Laboratory and Crypt Crashers. I started reading the reviews, looked at the author's name and said, 'Huh... Mike Penner, what a weird coincidence we have the same name!' Then it hit me like a thunderbolt, I was completely stunned! Obviously, this is the exact moment I hopped back on the Eamon bandwagon (and made a mental note to port The Temple of Ngurct and A Runcible Cargo early on as a Thank You for my initial and secondary introductions to Eamon)."
He remembered wondering in college what a C-based version of Eamon would look like, so he began building it himself, piece by piece. The prototype Eamon AC system took about a year to build, and though he decided the architecture wasn't suitable, it was a useful foundation for his next iteration which he began in mid-2015. Though he continues to develop it, Penner writes that his C#-based Eamon CS fulfills his desire for a modern Eamon game engine that requires no emulator to run and minimal work to port to new architectures.