Source:Eamon Adventurer's Guild Newsletter, September 1990
|This page is a verbatim reproduction of original source material and should not be edited except for maintenance.|
The Eamon Adventurer's Guild Newsletter, September 1990 issue.
The use of this item is permitted and constitutes fair use on the grounds that it's free or in the public domain.
The Eamon Adventurer's Guild
News and Comment
Well, as you can see, I am still playing with the appearance of the newsletter. I got 7 responses to my request for comment on the appearance of the last newsletter. Five said no, and two said yes if I can make it more readable.
Well, I couldn't. The ol' Epson's printing has been getting shakier and shakier of late, and it has long ago passed its MTBF (mean time before failure). And it is so sloowww. It seemed time to get a new printer. I asked a number of members, and the opinion was unanimous that a new printer was a good place to put the EAG's excess funds, and would offer a much greater value over the long run compared to a single ad in some magazine.
I looked around, and decided that nothing on the market could touch the Panasonic 1124 for price to quality. The best price I could find was $345, from Quality Computers. This was way over the club's financial ability unless I wanted to operate very deeply in the red this year. So I picked up half the cost myself, and the EAG's half came to $172.50.
It was worth it. Print quality is the best that I know of for a dot-matrix printer, and it is approximately 4 times as fast as the ol' Epson. It has an 8K buffer, and I am going to spring for the 24K optional buffer. My throughput on correspondence and editing is way up. If you are looking for a printer, be sure to check this one out. It is rapidly becoming a standard; just about everyone sells it. Apart from the mail-order houses I found it in every PC shop in town. There is also a 9-pin model that sells for about $200. I will continue to play with fonts in future issues in a search to find the best looking format. Right now I favor a mix of Superfonts (like this) for articles and the Panasonic's Sans Serif font for departments like Bugs 'n' Fixes and the Eamon Adventure List. The Superfonts looks better, but the Sans Serif font is more readable in this small format, important for programming samples.
The other event here that has greatly improved my ability to use Superfonts was the acquisition of a used TransWarp I. The combination of TransWarp and printer has shortened my time to master a newsletter page from well over an hour to about 20 minutes.
Well, this newsletter has turned out to be the latest one yet to be put out. At the time of this writing it is Sep. 2, and it may not be mailed for a week or two yet. I am sorry for this, but a number of events conspired to cause me to lose most of August. Among them were an out-of-town business trip, 2 weeks of chaos brought about while the kitchen was remodeled, a death in the family, and my annual vacation. Needless to say, such a combination is unlikely to become a regular occurrence in the weeks before the newsletter deadline, so there is no cause for concern about the health of the EAG.
This situation also means that I am weeks behind in back issue fulfillment, correspondence, updates, filing, and everything else. Please bear with me; with any luck at all things will be back to normal in a couple of weeks.
Eamon Adventurer's Guild
Thomas Zuchowski, Editor
Membership/subscription fee for 4 issues:
US-Canada: $7.00; foreign: $12.00; in U.S. funds
The Eamon Adventurer's Guild is published 4 times per year in Mar., Jun., Sep., and Dec.
We are always looking for new material! If you would like to publish your own letter or article in this newsletter, feel free to send one in. If you would like to add your own Eamon adventure to the list, send it on a disk to the above address. It will be assigned an adventure number, and tested for bugs and other problems before release. An informal critique and disk with bug corrections will be returned.
The usual reminder: be sure to check the expiration date next to your name on the address. If it is SEP 90 and highlighted in yellow, this is your last issue.
All issues are $2.00 each.
You may obtain updated versions of your Eamon adventures from the EAG. Send in a copy of the adventure to be updated and $1.00 per copy to cover our cost, and an updated copy will be returned to you. You must include a copy of every adventure for which you wish an update.
We want to improve Eamon all we can; this includes getting authors to use the latest and best version. Therefore, the version 7.0 Dungeon Designer Diskette and the 7.0 Multi-Disk Supplement may be obtained from us for $1.00 each (US & Canada; foreign $2.00 each).
|202||'The Plains of Srevi||by Karl Ivers|
|203||Lotto's Masterpiece||by Henry Haskell|
|204||Sanctuary||by Sam Ruby|
The Plains of Srevi is a simple "kill&loot" scenario with some nice special effects. Reviewed in this issue.
In Lotto's Masterpiece, you have been commissioned to recover a valuable statue. The accent is more on fun adventuring than on storytelling. Reviewed in this issue.
Sanctuary is yet another Sam Ruby Monster Eamon. It marries the "encumbrance" system that Sam developed for The Boy and the Bard with the huge map and intricate plot that is his trademark. Sam has refined the "encumbrance" system: bows are now true "distance" weapons and you actually have to nock an arrow from your quiver for each shot. Wearable items are fully implemented and play an important part in several puzzles, as do various magic arrows. The plot and puzzles are extremely involved and complex, and Sam includes a huge SOLUTIONS program to assist the weary. Lots of really novel ideas and twists.
Note Sanctuary is currently undergoing Beta test and revision. Sam got caught by vacation and his return to college, and it is not certain when this will be completed. It should be released by October 15.
ShrinkIt: the archiving standard
Those of you who don't have modems or do BBSing may not be aware that there are some great compression programs that can reduce the size of your archival storage enormously. The program of choice in the Apple II world is ShrinkIt, a freeware program by Andy Nicholas. Andy lets it circulate freely and doesn't require a license or fee unless it is to be used in a commercial product. (Andy defines a commercial product as anything that sells for $10 or more.)
Although ShrinkIt is a ProDOS8 program, it has the ability to do "whole disk" compressions of DOS 3.3 disks. An Eamon adventure shrinks to less than half its normal size; this means that you can get 2 to 4 compressed Eamons on a single 5.25 diskette, or about 15-18 on a 3.5. Great for storing those old Eamons that you have completed!
ShrinkIt comes in three flavors: one for 64K and unenhanced machines, one for 128K enhanced machines, and one for the GS. The compression is the same in the first two, but the 128K program has lots of bells and whistles that are nice but not necessary to do the job. SHRINKIT.GS is an awesome program that can handle 16 different compression schemes as well as its own; it also can do better compressions than the other versions.
64K ShrinkIt is made up of 2 programs: IIPLUS.SHRINKIT and IIPLUS.UNSHRINK. It says II+ but it is actually for any 64K or unenhanced machine. IIPLUS.SHRINKIT has the ability to shrink a list of individual ProDOS files or an entire ProDOS or DOS 3.3 disk. The most recent version of IIPLUS.SHRINKIT is 1.3 and the latest IIPLUS.UNSHRINK is 2.0. IIPLUS.UNSHRINK.2.0 is necessary to be able to unshrink compressions done with SHRINKIT.3.0 or SHRINKIT.GS; earlier versions are obsolete, as they can not handle 3.0 or GS.
128K ShrinkIt is a single program that can do both shrinking and unshrinking, and requires an enhanced machine. A commonly seen version level of this program is 2.1. Version 3.0 was recently released and has a large number of improvements. SHRINKIT.3.0 is necessary to unshrink compressions done with SHRINKIT.3.0 or SHRINKIT.GS. It can also handle compressions done with previous versions. SHRINKIT.2.1 or earlier can not unshrink compressions done with SHRINKIT.3.0 or SHRINKIT.GS. If you are currently using 2.1 or earlier, you need to update, as 3.0 compressions are becoming common. The most recent version is 3.0.3.
Warning IIPLUS.SHRINKIT and SHRINKIT.2.1 and earlier have a bug of sorts. If the "files" compression method is used rather than "disk" compression, these programs do not unshrink "sparse-random" files correctly. ("Sparse-random" means a random text file that has missing records scattered through it. EAMON.DESC is a "sparse-random" file.) Actually, it uncompresses OK, but these old versions of SHRINKIT add all the missing records. This increases the size of the file enormously, usually making the Eamon too big for a 5.25 disk. This only applies to ProDOS files, since you can't do "files" compressions of DOS 3.3 files. "Disk" compressions unshrink OK. This bug was fixed on SHRINKIT.3.0
SHRINKIT is a great way to cut the physical size of your Eamon library by about 2/3. SHRINKIT is available from most BBS's and many Public-Domain sellers. IIPLUS.SHRINKIT/UNSHRINK has been added to the ProDOS EAG Eamon Utilities disk, too.
Those of you who have been having trouble locating Portuguese-language Eamon adventures should contact George Mason at [redacted].
The next article uses a built-in printer font. Lemme now what you like, huh?
Eamon Style and Technique: The Storyteller's Craft
by Nathan Segerlind
Hark! Ready to write an adventure? You're a BASIC whiz, know every trick in the book and crush bugs for lunch. You write it and send it to the EAG and LO! Your mighty game gets a 3? What's wrong with those morons? After all, you used flawless algorithms.
Well, let's take a look at your game... Revenge of Gwar. The evil warrior demigod Gwar has taken over a cavern south of town, threatening all life for miles around. You go in, beat up all the cronies, and slay Gwar. What more could you ask for?
A lot. Where's the story here? Who or what is Gwar? Why is he so bad? What's the revenge angle? Where is this town? Why can't they handle Gwar by themselves? This information, known as background, is important to give the adventure some depth and detail. It is also good for helping out with items and events that come along later in the game. For example, if we know that Gwar eats Spam, the adventurer would find lots of Spam cans. Good hints can be placed in the intro, such as recounting a tale of how Gwar once attacked but fled when a turnip cart came near him.
Now we have a background? Is the story ready to go yet? Not unless the bulk of the adventure is interesting and builds up to the finale. What happens in between the intro and the confrontation with Gwar? The player wanders through the caverns looking for Gwar and fighting monsters.
Boring! This is the easiest formula for failure. There are so many random fight-fests out there that they all just get dull. First, if you refuse to have any sort of building plot, at least spice it up. Puzzles and humor work wonders for otherwise sorry adventures. Preferably, build up the plot. In the case of our search for Gwar, what happens in the caves as we search for him?
The key to writing a plot up is, "Would this make for an interesting read if it were a book rather than an adventure?" I was told this by a certain author who knows who he is, and it's helped me five-fold when it comes to writing adventure plots.
This is when you have to get creative; now you need a plot. For space limitations, I'll keep it simple. Remember to keep the background in mind. Nothing annoys like meeting a monster in an impossible and unexplained place.
In our search for Gwar, the character might have to:
- find the caverns
- get in
- get through an orc lair
- find in the orc treasure how to reach Gwar
- reach Gwar
- defeat him.
Each of these steps would have its own substeps. For instance:
- Get though orc lair
- fight sentries
- open locked door
- find turnip in kitchen (which slays Gwar)
- find Orc King's escort too big to fight
- find secret door to King's room
- slay Orc King; orcs flee
Each of these steps would have their own special programming and such, but obviously the variables and such aren't independent of other steps. You have to make allowances for what can go wrong, or prevent wrong things from happening. Not to mention covering the possibility that the player may try to go about solving a problem a different way than you intended. Putting the plot to play is a long process that includes special programming and text that can only be arrived at through experience gained from trial and error.
Now that you've got that out of the way, what happens once the player beats Gwar? Few things can be as anti-climactic as a dead body and then walking out a side exit, with no more than "You ride off into the sunset" for reward.
Gwar is a mean dude, and he's not of this Earth. Have him go out with a bang. Bodies dissolving in smoke (appropriate only for unnatural beings), disappearing corpses, last words, and gory details always spice up the death scene of an arch-nemesis.
Now that the town is rescued from Gwar, the character is a hero, and heros do more than ride off into sunsets. A good thing to have is a wrap-up at the end of the adventure consisting of a few effects. These are used to explain the hero's welcome (bumbling moron's welcome?), the town's reaction and reward to the valiant warrior, and anything else that needs to be said. This is one feature that I feel is sorely lacking in most Eamons lately.
The game is complete now. Or is it? What about the text? After all, it's how the player relates to the game. Good grammar can wait. Are the descriptions good? Compare:
YOU SEE GWAR. HE GROWLS AT YOU.
SITTING ON A THRONE IS A GREAT, TOWERING SHAPE WITH RED SHAGGY FUR, SHARP GREEN FANGS AND BEADY EYES. HE SNEERS AND SAYS, 'I AM GWAR! PUNY MORTAL, PREPARE TO BE LUNCH!"
More interesting, isn't it? Do that for everything: monsters, rooms artifacts, and especially effects.
Here comes the equivalent of bug removal for the plot, that is, checking for holes. Pretend you're playing the game, and for some reason can't take a thing for granted. Ask questions about why everything is. Are these things fairly explained or fairly obvious? If not, then you should place something in the game to explain it. For example, if you have 80 jillion orcs in your game, you should have a logical reason. (Author's note: I remember while working on Ragnarok Revisited Tom sent me back about a page and a half of questions involving holes in the plot. Working the answers into the game sent the rating up about 3 points.)
Now you game is ready to be mapped, entered, programmed, debugged, and finally released. It's the shortest step, but the most important.
To learn much more about the importance of a good plot, play all the high-rated adventures (8's and up). This is something better learned by example than theory. Take notes. What do you like and what do you dislike about every adventure you play?
"But I don't have any ideas!" you may whine. "I can't think of anything interesting!" Here's a few off the top of my head. If properly used, things like these can really spice up an adventure: unusual magic; an interactive device (like a computer or radio); mysterious things; companions and monsters that do things; mysteries about monsters and companions; unusual portals; humor; weapons of uncommon destruction; buying and selling of artifacts; riddles. If you can't come up with much, at least have stuff to read, examine, open, unlock, and find.
#17 Merlin's Castle
By R. Hersom
Reviewed by Henry Haskell
MAIN PGM Version: 4
Extra Commands: None
Deleted Commands: None
Special Features: None
Playing time: 60-90 min.
Reviewer Rating: 5.5 Average Rating: 4.8
Description: While on your way to visit Elfland, the humanoid amusement park, you are waylaid by Elves who demand that you retrieve the Singing Sword. Then they pinch your neck and throw you into Merlin's Castle.
Comment: This adventure uses the classic formula: kill everything but your friends, grab everything but your enemies, and don't even bother using
EXAMINE. Monsters are illogically (though humorously) scattered throughout Merlin's Castle. When you finally escape after having killed Merlin (with the aid of your map – this place you will definitely need to map), be sure to kill those pesky Elves, just as you would any other enemy.
I would not recommend this adventure to those who are fond of puzzles, who have short attention spans, or who think combat is just a boring display of chance. However, if you like reading cadaver descriptions and piling up lists of friends so long that you have to hit control-S just to read the room description, this one's for you. I give it a difficulty rating of 7.5.
by Evan Hodson
Reviewed by Henry Haskell
MAIN PGM Version: 4
Deleted Commands: none, no Save
Special Features: Magical Amulet
Playing Time: 60-90 min.
Reviewer Rating: 7.0
Description: Five mutant brothers have created a huge underground lair in which they are preparing an enormous mutant army. A wizard hires you to go in and kill the brothers and destroy their equipment. You are his last hope; many others have disappeared in the lair before you. His only help for you is in the form of a magic amulet that you may use in times of need. If you make it out alive, you will be heartily rewarded for your accomplishments.
Comment: This adventure is quite long and tough, with few friends and much combat. Only a highly advanced warrior will live through it; FRESH SAM will work fine. I give it a 9 for difficulty.
Although the combat is grueling, it is gratifying to see the mutant brothers' empire collapse slowly as the result of your actions. The mutant brothers are skillfully painted in a hideously evil light; overall, The Lair of Mutants gives the appearance of a high-quality adventure, while still supplying bouts of tough, exciting combat.
I would recommend this to a warmonger with a free evening, because it has no save command. But don't be scared away from it, as it is one of the better adventures written with the old version 4 DDD.
#165 Animal Farm
by Sam Ruby
Reviewed by Robert Parker
MAIN PGM Version: 6
Special Features: 2-disk adventure; 3 Quests possible, map
Playing Time: 1–3 hours (depends on quest and player's character
Reviewer Rating: 7.0 Average Rating: 6.0/2
Description: OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM STOP E-I-E-I-O STOP AND ON THIS FARM HE HAD SOME BRAVE PATRIOTIC SOCIALIST REVOLUTIONARY PIGS STOP E-I-E-I-O STOP WITH AN OINK OINK HERE AND AN AK-47 THERE STOP NOW THE PIGS HAVE THE FARM STOP E-I-E-I-O STOP AND WE WILL DEFEND OUR WORKER'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC TO THE DEATH AGAINST CAPITALIST IMPERIALISM SO GO SUCK EGGS STOP
Comment: The above is just a part of the intro text (a short intro text compared to some of Sam's other works). The basic premise is that you have to go in and complete 1, 2, or 3 objectives: free Old MacDonald, blow up a windmill, or go for broke (the first two plus some other stuff).
The map is well planned, and a copy is available to the player (
READ MAP), though understanding the "sector location" is a bit difficult. The puzzles are minor, which makes it play smoother; there are enough new ideas here to comprehend without having to deal with major puzzles.
There were some spelling errors and the location of the reinforcements didn't seem to correspond to their sector on the map. If you want to cheat, you can kill all your opponents in a room if you
SAY DIE; this is apparently a development line that didn't get removed.
(Ed. note: Sam never really finished this adventure. He lost interest while polishing it and used the experience and knowledge he gained from working out Animal Farm to produce Operation Endgame. It sat around for a year or two before being released "as-is". Even so it is better than a lot of other Eamons.)
Because of the level of the puzzles and monsters, I give it a 7 for difficulty. If you like modern military adventures and George Orwell's Animal Farm, or have a strange sense of humor where it concerns Eamon adventures, you will enjoy this one.
#202 The Plains of Srevi
by Karl Ivers
Reviewed by Tom Zuchowski
MAIN PGM Version: 6
Extra Commands: none
Deleted Commands: none
Special Features: a few special effects
Playing Time: 1 hour
Reviewer Rating: 4.5
Description: "You have been left on the plain of Srevi. A hot breeze blows from the south and as far as you can see, there is only waving grasses. As you gaze to the west, you spy a tree. One solitary tree on a treeless plain. Thunk! Ouch! You've been hit in the head by something. You look around and see a goose lying nearby. As you stagger towards the goose it disappears and in its place is a scroll. You unroll the scroll and it says...'Beneath, below, riches abound, below the plain, under the ground.'"
Comment: This adventure has a simple map of about 50 rooms. There are quite a few things to be found using
LOOK, so keep track of them. The puzzles are about medium-tough, being mainly of the "key" variety but with some twists. Combat
isn't too difficult, as the monsters are geared for "Main Hall" weapons. There are 3 no-warning "Gotcha!" traps: one is a cave-in that kills you, and the other two are no-exit dark rooms (you can escape these with the Power teleport).
There is no plot; it is a simple "wander and loot" scenario. While a quest as such isn't given, you shouldn't feel that you have successfully explored the place until you have freed Maryanne, and gotten the hidden big treasure. There are several fun effects (including these two events), and a few interesting clues become evident as you explore.
Though it was rather aimless, this was a pleasant enough sojourn which might well have rated better with me except for my well-known dislike of no-warning traps. I give it a (7) for difficulty, for the puzzles. One hint: Maryanne is tied, not manacled as it says, and only one weapon will cut the ropes.
#203 Lotto's Masterpiece
by Henry Haskell
Reviewed by Tom Zuchowski
MAIN PGM Version: 7.0
Extra Commands: None
Deleted Commands: None
Special Features: Lower-case text option, 40-col. only
Playing Time: 1 hour
Reviewer Rating: 5.0 Average Rating 5.5/2
Description: "Many years ago, the kings of ancient Eamon maintained a summer residence known as the Ervuol on a tiny isle in the stormy sea. Its location has been lost for ages, but an art fancier has discovered its location through careful research. You have been offered 5,000 GP to go there and recover a priceless art treasure: a bronze statuette of the goddess of love in ancient Eamon, Etihw Annav."
Comment: This Henry's first Eamon, and he has worked hard and come up with a nicely done adventure. The descriptions are pretty good. The map is coherent enough, although there is some mapping weirdness that was apparently thrown in for fun (like a mine shaft on the second floor of the castle!) Good utilization was made of 7.0 features, and he went the extra distance and did it in lower-case with an upper-case option.
The place had a somewhat random feel to it, but was pleasant to play. After wading through an assortment of generic goblins and thieves, things get really weird towards the end as you must win your way past a number of fantastic adversaries. This serves as a climax of sorts, as you escape from the castle once you get past the last of them.
This is a basic "kill & loot" scenario with no plot beyond a simple quest. It doesn't worry overmuch about being consistent but throws new things at you for laughs and variety. Lots of hidden doors and secret passages to discover, and that is the biggest part of the puzzling. I give it a 5 for difficulty.
Bugs 'n' Fixes
*** Error correction *** There was a mistake in one of the fixes listed in the June 1990 newsletter. The instructions for the first mod listed for the DDD 7.0 (to correct inefficient looping) should have also mentioned that Line 31070 was to be deleted.
Dungeon Designer Diskette 6.2 MAIN PGM
Problem: BAD SUBSCRIPT IN 6020
Fix: In Line 6020, change
IF FO AND AD%(A,4) to
IF FO THEN IF AD%(A,4)
Note: This is a generic flaw in all version 6.x Eamon adventures. It will only appear if the player tries to
EXAMINE an object that is not in the room. Many 6.x adventures already have this fix, but many do not.
Dungeon Designer Diskette 7.0 MAIN PGM
Date Fixed: 5/26/90
Problem: Ready Weapon not set up right.
Fix: Add this Line:
31440 W2 = A%(M%(0,8),6)
Dungeon Designer Diskette 7.0 DUNGEON EDIT
Date Fixed: 7/17/90
Problem: Version detector doesn't halt on error.
Fix: Add this code to the end of Line 100:
": PRINT DK$"CLOSE": END
Dungeon Designer Diskette 7.0 DUNGEON LIST
Date Fixed: 7/17/90
Problem: version detector doesn't halt on error.
Fix: Add this code to the end of Line 35:
: PRINT D$"CLOSE": END
Date Fixed: 7/11/90
Problem: Weapon name too long if carried to Main Hall Fix: Add these lines:
2370 FOR I = 1 TO 4: IF WN$(I) = AN$(3) THEN WN$(I) = LEFT$(WN$(I),13) 2375 NEXT
Date Fixed: 5/3/90
Problem: Insufficient space to save game.
Fix: Delete DOS from disk.
(This was inadvertently left out of the June issue.)
#107 The Last Dragon
Date Fixed: 6/25/90
Problem: RETURN WITHOUT GOSUB IN 680
Fix: In Line 640, change
GOSUB 660 to
Delete Line 680
#108 The Mines of Moria
Date Fixed: 6/30/90
Problem: spelling errors
For Art. 44, 45 and Mon. 5, 6: change
For Rooms 83 & 84: change
#120 Orb of My Life
Date Fixed: 6/30/90
Problem: BAD SUBSCRIPT AT 21120
Fix: In Line 21120, change
Problem: Artifact in wrong location Fix: Change location of Artifact #24 from -23 to -24
#129 Return to Moria
Date Fixed: 6/6/90
Problem: SYNTAX ERROR IN 6400
Fix: In Line 6400, change
Problem: UNDEFINED STATEMENT ERROR IN 23010
Fix: In Line 23010, change
Problem: Reward/Failure text not printed at game end.
Fix: In Line 2034, change
MD%(1,5) in two places.
Date Fixed: 6/18/90
Problem: No exits from one "room" in desert
Fix: For Room 37, change "N" to 33, change "W" to 36
#179 The Wizard's Tower
Date Fixed: 5/28/90
Problem: SYNTAX ERROR IN 11470
Fix: In Line 11470, change
S$ < > MD%(RO to
MD%(M,5) < > RO
#180 Gamma 1
Date Fixed: 6/8/90
Problem: DIVISION BY ZERO ERROR IN 330
Fix: Add this Line:
1800 GOSUB 3600
#202 The Plain of Srevi
Date Fixed: 6/6/90
Problem: DIVISION BY ZERO ERROR IN 330
:GOSUB 3600 to the end of Line 7770
ProDOS Dungeon Designer Diskette 7.0
Date Fixed: 8/1/90
Problem: crashes when using one drive Fix: Move these lines:
|EAMON.INIT||move line 140 to 20|
|add a PRINT statement at line 7075|
|EAMON.EDIT||move line 32 to 35|
|EAMON.LIST||move line 23 to 12|
|DUNGEON.EDIT||move line 25 to 12|
|DUNGEON.LIST||move line 23 to 17|
|RESIZE.FILES||move line 36 to 12|
Eamon Adventure Listing