New York

Member since November 24, 2023
Last visited November 24, 2023
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The first IF game I ever saw was "House of the Seven Gables" by Greg Hassett, before I owned a computer. It might not have been very good, but what I saw was exciting and promising enough as a 10-year old that I never forgot it, or that owning a game system rather than a computer meant you couldn't program OR play these kinds of games. I knew for sure I wanted a real computer.

When I had a 16k, cassette-based Atari 400, the choices were mostly limited to Scott Adams. I fell in love with Pirate's Adventure (out of sequence because they were out of Adventureland when we went to the computer store in the summer of 1981)...Voodoo Castle, got the crap scared out of me by The Count, and also found Strange Odyssey a bit short...

Both for programming and gaming more memory and a disk driver were near-musts, the patience and tolerance of bad occurrences required to do anything much with cassette are hard to imagine for anyone who didn't live thru them -- data transfer was very slow, even given how tiny your memory was.

So, when I had 64k of memory and a disk drive, I'd just look back at the smaller cassette-based releases and think "I'm past those, they were okay when we had tiny machines" but then also think "I wonder if there is anything going on there so good that it is worth playing even if you've moved on to large memory and disk-based setup?"

I thought that but didn't do anything about it, like so many I strongly gravitated towards Infocom and rarely someone that was claiming they were that quality for years. I later realized because of differences in how technology rolled out that there were people still using 8-bit machines outside of the USA and making the best of it for years after I got used to 512k and then even 4MB (with a HUGE 30 GB hard drive) on Atari ST's. A good number of those people wrote and played text adventures it turned out, compared to people who saw King's Quest in 1985 on their machines and decided that is what an adventure looked like...

The overwhelming majority of anyone who'd play anything would find most of these classics too limited and annoying. I think about how there were games that easily fit all into memory in less than 16k that I would play for months and months on end little few clues...

I think some of the games made for tiny machines are quite worth playing, but there's no denying some of the weaker implementations and more questionable conventions often appear to be considering frustration and all-around difficulty and nastiness. To the point that someone could wonder "Can anyone find this fun or edifying?"

It's also interesting how relative terms are. To most people under 40, anything 8-bit is "tiny" but for adventure games in particular, the difference between 16k cassette and 48k or 64k disk was pretty enormous. I still have huge respect for those who managed to "ride the beam" making games actually worthwhile and interesting with only the scantest of computing resources.

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