The Quest

by Christopher Lampton


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A simple adventure for a simpler time, July 5, 2015
by jgerrie (Cape Breton Island, Canada)

This game is not for serious gamers. It will be of interest only to those interested in BASIC programming and the modest programs that could be created on 8-bit home computers from the early 1980s. It might be worth a look for those with some nostalgia for such systems or with some acquaintance with the book it was published in.

"The Quest" is a very simple BASIC two-word parser text adventure meant to be an example of the programming techniques needed to create adventures of one's own. It was included in a book meant to teach those techniques to budding BASIC programmers using the early 8-bit computers. The code is very adaptable and fairly straightforward. Unlike more complex syntax parsing engines, such as the one created by Scott Adams (which was published in BYTE in December 1980), by the time Lampton was writing his book and sample program the conventions of text adventuring had become so formalized that undue complexities could be omitted. People were comfortable with the two word system and the basic vocabulary had become fairly standardized (GET,PUT,LOOK,EXAMINE,INV,GO, etc.). The program might be useful for someone wishing to write their own BASIC text adventure for an 8-bit computer. However, I would rate "The Tower" example program for Compute's Guide to Writing Text Adventures as more flexible and more feature rich. The Tower allows the use of single letter commands such as N,S,E,W for motion and I for inventory, while "The Quest" does not. Having to type "GO NORTH" continuously instead if simply "N" is a little tedious and annoying.

The game itself is simple. There is a small number of puzzles, only a couple ways to fail. The puzzles are coherent and so I would warn against giving up too quickly and sneaking a look at the code if you are stumped. This is not one of those BASIC adventures with incoherent puzzles requiring almost completely arbitrary acts to solve. I promise you, you will get there in the end with a little extra thought. If all you're looking for is an hour of reminiscence of what 8-bit computing was like when you were a kid, this game will fit the bill.

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