Source:A Review of Eamon
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"A Review of Eamon: A Public Domain 'Adventure' Series", an article about Eamon published in the February 1983 edition of EAC Express, the newsletter of the Erie Apple Crunchers user group.
Jim McGivern (1945–2016)
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A Review of Eamon: A Public Domain "Adventure" Series
by Jim McGivern
I had recently finished the informative course in introductory Basic given by Mike Glaveris and was casually discussing game software, specifically adventure games, when Mike asked me If I had heard of the Eamon Adventure Series. I had not. As a novice both with respect to the practical use of the Apple II and to the various recreational uses to which it may be put, I eagerly listened to Mike's description.
Not long ago, Donald Brown, who has been joined in his endeavor by John Nelson, set out to provide people with a free adventure gaming system, copyrighted only to prevent commercial distribution and distributed with the label: "Non-commercial distribution welcomed!" But alas! (stronger language used at the time) Mike's copy of the essential Eamon Master Diskette was flawed or bugged or whatever computerphiles would say (remember, I'm still learning). How to find a good copy?
Well, coincidence and luck plays as much a role in real life as in an adventure game. By the next meeting of our beloved "Apple Crunchers", I could tell Mike where to go (has anyone else wanted to do so?) go, that is, to acquire a good copy of the Master Diskette and related adventure diskettes. The January 1983 issue of Creative Computing featured a story on the Eamon adventures and told us adventurers to whom to write for these programs.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Just what is an Eamon adventure? You can, of course, pick up someone's January '83 copy of Creative Computing and read Richard Plamondon's entertaining article titled "Eamon: An Adventure for the Apple II with (Almost) Everything". In fact, I recommend that you do so, but right now read on.
Except for the introductory logo (a dragon), Eamon is an all text adventure game. It does provide a combat system wherein you may through the use of the master diskette, create a character with hardiness, agility, charisma, and certain skill levels with specific weapons. If your character survives an adventure and successfully returns to the "Main Hall" of the master diskette (the focal point for character creation and adventuring), then treasures may be cashed in for gold, and one finds that his/her character's skill in weapon use has increased with each "hit" put on an inimical creature in the past adventure. This new found wealth may be used to purchase better armor, weapons, and magic spells!
What the Eamon series is not, is a frustrating exercise in trying to guess what specific word/command the program author had in mind to allow you to move along through an adventure. What Eamon appears to be, is a varied series of games (some good, some not so good) where the challenge lies in finding one's way through mazes or rooms of castles — or whatever — acquiring treasures and avoiding traps, combating unfriendly creatures and if your charisma is high enough, tacitly enlisting the aid of resident creatures of each adventure.
For example, in John Nelson's Eamon adventure #5 (The Castle of Doom) one room you enter contains a Persian rug and three dwarves wielding axes. If you take the rug (one moves through each adventure using one or two word commands) and leave without attacking or offending the dwarves, you may find all three by your side outside the room, ready to help you on your adventure. If so, the program lets you know that their names are Huey, Dewey, and Louie, which gives you some idea of the wit (whole or half) which permeates some of the games.
One serious note. Apart from the fun of adventure playing, these programs are easily listable which means that people like myself, beginners in programming, can examine the code and learn what makes these programs work. Thus these adventures can be useful aids for the novice and intermediate programmer. They can help us learn more about programming in Basic.
If your interest has been piqued (or is it peeked) then you are probably asking: "where can I get copies of these programs?" Some of our members may already have copies, but the Creative Computing article mentioned two sources: (1) The Apple Avocation Alliance, Inc., c/o Ron Maleika, 721 Pike St., Wy. 82001, and (2) John Nelson, 1226 E. University, Des Moines, Iowa, 50316. Of the two, I recommend John Nelson for these reasons. For five dollars and the name of the Eamon adventure you request, John will send you a brand new diskette with that adventure and pay the postage. John is a good friend of the mysterious Don Brown, who created the Eamon concept and the original Master Diskette. The reason I would steer clear of the A.A.A. collection of Eamon adventures (send only one dollar and a blank diskette for each Eamon program) is that according to John Nelson, many of the A.A.A. diskettes have "bugs" and may present difficulties running. This is because some Eamon adventures have been written by people not much more accomplished at programming than myself. What John has done is to "debug" whatever Eamon programs he has collected. This means that a program acquired from Mr. Nelson should run properly.
In addition to the numerous adventure scenarios, the Eamon series contains some non-adventure utility diskettes. Utility diskette #1 allows one to manipulate listings of Eamon adventures, and even to "cheat" by improving the attributes of your character. Another diskette is called the Dungeon Designer's Diskette which allows one to write his/her own adventures even if one has only minimal programming experience!
One last point: I have concluded this article with a list modified and expanded from the list given in "Creative Computing". This list shows the current Eamon adventures available from John Nelson and shows a rating for the quality of each scenario. Five stars means: A must for every collection; four stars means: Excellent quality, mission, interest; three stars means: Very Good Adventure; two stars means: So-So Adventure; and one star means: Don't bother with it.