Gaming Goes Retro: Apple ][

It’s not often I feel the desire to sit down and play computer games any longer. After 10 years of gaming and development I got very tired of seeing the same crap regurgitated from developers, with fancy new packaging and a heftier price tag than the previous year. Development even left a more sour taste in my mouth because gamers are really a thankless bunch, demanding everything and expecting everything, when they paid nothing. But I won’t go down that road, no reason to rehash the past when we can go back to the beginning, when gaming was golden and the adventures were exciting.

It seems just like yesterday I wrote, Textual Healing, here on T6F, which discusses the true roots of computer games, the text based adventures. In reality it was over 2 years ago when games like Zork, Wishbringer and Planetfall resurfaced in my world. With games such as these in mind I move to the early 1980s (late 1979) and the advent of the first graphic based adventures (I played), Mystery House from On-Line Systems (Sierra).

These games took the text based adventure to a new level. Gone were the images the mind created when you were deeply involved in a game like Zork and now could see and “experience” places visually in games. Mystery House was a very simple game, in adventure terms, but was still a solid base from which other adventures were built.

While I don’t spend much time around gaming related web sites any longer, a childhood friend of mine who I was reacquainted with via Facebook brought the Apple ][ emulators to my attention. Why? Because at the time we both owned these and lived just a few doors away from each other and spent countless hours playing these early computer games. The PC had really not taken hold as a gaming platform and Apple was the dominate computer early on. Yet a game like Mystery House ended up retailing for about $24.95, after the first versions were freeware with a $5 donation.

While I still fancy some of the great text based adventures I have been memorized by the likes of Mystery House, Wizard and the Princess, Cranston Manor and the other titles in the ‘Hi-Res Adventure series‘. Graphically, they don’t impress but they were the next best thing after text based adventures. It gets me back to my roots of computer gaming, which has spanned some 29 years! Mind boggling if I actually think about it.

Currently I am searching through archived games found at VirtualApple.org and going back to a time gone by, when games were simple, enjoyable and left a lasting impression. Unlike many of the games today that are old news a few weeks later. This is a great way to waste some downtime at work or, if you are like me to kill many hours at home. For those who never owned an Apple ][ I don’t think you will get the same joy and excitement, but I still recommend you give it shot.?

Textual Healing

Riding the train home today, I started reminiscing about my childhood and some of the first games I played on our Apple II. Remember this was about 1980 and high quality, graphically stunning FPS games were not the norm, but the text based adventure was.

I read an article in the November issue of Games for Windows, while I cannot recall the title of the article or the author, it was really about the start of the gaming industry and how some of those text based games have survived and continue to thrive in a large, online community.

Today, I read another article in the industry insider, Game Developer about text based adventures and the MMO[RPG]. One of the earliest memories I have was not a classic like, Zork or Wishbringer, but the precursor to Leisure Suit Larry called Softporn Adventure. Of course at 11 years of age, I had no idea what this “game” was about. Call me naive, but I soon learned.

I have not been very impressed with the onslaught of trendy FPS shooters that are franchised and continued to be released based on the fantastic looking graphics, more so than slick, top notch game play. While impressed with Half-Life 2, the sequels are “more of the same” when it comes to continuing the story, more so than solving puzzles and completing the adventure.

I have decided to take a break from any of the new fandango games and get back to the root of computer gaming by playing some of the classic text based adventures. Games like Zork, Planetfall and Wishbringer are just a few of the titles I have downloaded and started to immerse myself in letting my imagination paint the pictures rather than a development team. Much like reading a good book, text based adventures still hold much value when it comes to gaming as a whole.

Now I know text based adventures are not for everyone. Why in the hell would you run a “cutting edge of technology” system only to fall back to DOS and text based adventures? For me the answer is simple. I want something out of my gaming experience. That something has been missing for a long time when it comes to the generic FPS shooter. I don’t want some developer telling me how a situation looks or feels when I can use my imagination and create my owe visual stimulation from what I read.