Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cover to Cover: Adventure International Spring 1981 Catalog (pp. 9-10)

After a week's hiatus, we're back to the pages of Scott Adams' Spring 1981 Adventure International catalog, looking at pages 9 and 10.

Page 9 continues the Maces & Magic section of the catalog begun on page 8, with a detailed description of the game system -- and enough detail to have brought TSR's lawyers into the fray, one suspects, had the computer game industry been bigger at the time.  The rules are clearly inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, though gameplay is limited to the dungeon environment, as was usually the case with early games of this type.

Page 10 continues with more diverse titles in an adventure vein -- even in 1981, the industry was exploring the boundaries of the genre and trying to figure out what would work and what would sell.

I bought a copy of James Talley's KID-VENTURE #1 - Little Red Riding Hood back in the day, as my very first mail-order third-party game for the TRS-80.  It used a unique tape-based audio narration system, synched with the game program.  The narration was provided by the programmer in the days before professional voice work was standard for games.  I've written about this title in more detail a few years ago, here.  The sequel did not include the audio tape supplement, and was more of a Concentration game with a Christmas mini-venture thrown in.  These games featured minimal graphical illustrations, using the TRS-80's limited capabilities (there was apparently an Apple II version as well, which I have not seen).  These games were meant to introduce younger players to classic stories and adventure gaming in a semi-interactive fashion.  But I think most of us decided that Pirate Adventure was a better bet.

The use of the term "Interactive Fiction" on this page is reportedly one of the first published usages of the term.  Robert LaFore (who later wrote for The Comics Journal, which is where I had run across his name in more recent times) created a series of titles that aren't really adventure games -- there's no inventory, and the narrative tends to move along in a linear direction as long as the player does or says what the author is expecting; other options aren't really available.  But it's an interesting attempt to do something more traditionally literary with computers.  I've been meaning to write about these someday, but this excellent article at The Digital Antiquarian covers LaFore's work nicely and in considerable depth.

Next time, more!

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