Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

discuss text & graphic adventures for Acorns. level 9, robico & epic led this field
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fuzzel
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Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by fuzzel » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:09 pm

I think I'll have a crack at one of the Scott Adams adventures when I've finally completed Programmer's Revenge (could be some time though).
Can anyone recommend one ? Pendragon in Micro User Apr-88 said that Strange Odyssey is superb so that's definitely on the shortlist.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by leenew » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:58 pm

I think "The Count" is generally regarded a being his best.
Maybe start with Pirate adventure or voodoo castle to get you in the zone, instead of starting with the best one?
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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by fuzzel » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:09 pm

I think I'll skip Pirate Adventure, according to Pendragon in Micro User Apr-88 it only has 20 odd locations and two treasures, in fact it sounds like the basis for an adventurers' 100m race to see who can complete an adventure from scratch in the shortest time (so actually I think I will play it).
On your marks....

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by leenew » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:23 pm

Yep. It's definitely the easiest by far. It may be good for getting a feel of the syntax he likes to use though...

Lee.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by Fenrer » Mon May 07, 2018 10:16 pm

I absolutely adore the Count. Can't go wrong with Strange Odyssey either. Don't think I've played the version of odyssey for the bbc micro yet. (Funny story: I was looking for emulators with blind-accessibility features and came across BeebEm. The first thing that came to mind was "Wow, now I can play the Count on the Beeb." Turns out the disk I downloaded was for the Trs-80, though--I think I got it from MyAbandonware.com and didn't check which version I downloaded.)

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by daveejhitchins » Tue May 08, 2018 7:32 am

Welcome to the Forum, Fenrer . . . Enjoy . . .

You can play The Count here :D

Dave H :D
Parts: UM6502CE, GAL22V10D, GAL16V8D, AS6C62256A, TC514400AZ, WD1772, R6522, TMS27C512, AT28C256
Products: ARA II, ABR, ATI, AP6, MGC, AP5 . . .
For a price list, contact me at: Retro Hardware AT dave ej hitchins DOT plus DOT com

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by fuzzel » Wed May 09, 2018 12:22 pm

I'm finally going to have a crack at Pirate Adventure this afternoon. Wish me luck everyone, I hear it's a tricky little customer.....

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by fuzzel » Wed May 09, 2018 3:02 pm

Just solved Pirate Adventure ! Wasn't as straightforward as I was expecting, I had a dilemna with the bottle of rum as it seemed to have two conflicting uses, giving it to the drunken pirate or emptying it to catch the fish. I'll not spoil it for anyone else who's thinking of playing it though.
Incidentally, Pendragon (Micro User April 1988) hated it but Merlin (Electron User February 1986) highly recommended it so there's no accounting for taste, even among the so called experts.
Now for The Count.....

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by fuzzel » Wed May 09, 2018 8:22 pm

Wow! The Count is good! I imagine I'm going to get stuck every 5 minutes in this one (I hope so anyway). At £7.95 a pop (80's prices) you'd hope for a longer game than Pirate Adventure was.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by Fenrer » Thu May 10, 2018 4:57 am

Compared to Adams' later work, Pirate adventure is a walk in the park.
daveejhitchins wrote:Welcome to the Forum, Fenrer . . . Enjoy . . .

You can play The Count here :D

Dave H :D
Thanks for the link, but I already snagged a copy of Adams' games from bbcmicro.co.uk. As someone from the US with a visual impairment it's fun to experience older micros that never got their own Screen Reader. (In fact, none of the british micros got a screen reader; but I've heard rumors that the BBC and the C64 got one. Just need to find out if any disk images of them survived the great microcomputer crash of 1985.)

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by OneSwitch » Thu May 10, 2018 7:44 am

Very interesting. I recently managed to get the Vic 20 version of The Count working, as it was designed to do so, with the Votrax Talk N Type speech synthesiser. This was for part of a talk on game accessibility history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oef0-ElNpGs. From my testing, I definitely liked The Count the best of the early Scott Adams games, and the two word method of interacting is great for those who struggle to type long sentences.

Blind accessibility wise, I understand some people used an Optacon hand-held pen-like-scanner to convert printed or VDU displays to a tactile display: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optacon. These were made from the early 1970s into the 1990s. This could help with any computer, if you could learn how to read the tactile display. This would include graphics and diagrams too, but I would imagine with no colour information.

I'm under the impression that the Kurzweil machines from the late 1970s found in libraries: http://www.kurzweiltech.com/kcp.html which converted standard printed text into speech.... morphed into text to speech devices for home computers in the 80s off the top of my head.

I'm not really aware of screen readers for any 8-bit machines that worked like modern screen readers. I would imagine much like today, that if the game wasn't designed to be compatible with a screen reader, most wouldn't work. I could be wrong though. Happy to learn from your findings.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was some kind of screen reader for the BBC Micro. The BBC Micro was massive in education and alternative access in the UK much like the Apple II was in the USA. All kinds of forgotten stuff was made for it.

What BBC emulator are you using successfully with a screen reader by the way?

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by davidb » Thu May 10, 2018 10:52 am

OneSwitch wrote:I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was some kind of screen reader for the BBC Micro. The BBC Micro was massive in education and alternative access in the UK much like the Apple II was in the USA. All kinds of forgotten stuff was made for it.
It occurred to me that one way that a screen reader could have been done would have been to send the text via the parallel port to a speech synthesizer. Since the VDU system on Acorn machines was designed to be device-independent, and text could be redirected to a printer, this would have been a fairly easy solution to implement in software. I seem to remember that The Hobbit allowed the transcript of the input and output to be sent to a printer, so this could possibly have been read aloud had there been a screen reader like this available.

I went looking for products that resembled this and found the DoubleTalk LT via Linux Accessibility HOWTO, though it looks like it has an RS-232 interface rather than a parallel one. More relevant, perhaps, is the Echo-80 for the TRS-80.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by Fenrer » Thu May 10, 2018 12:30 pm

Jason Smith, a good friend of mine, was able to emulate the Echo-II speech synthesizer using an enhanced AppleIIE ROM. The appleII got it's own screen reader, surprisingly. But back to the beeb... This wikipedia article mentions a screen reader for the BBC:
"In the 1980s, the Research Centre for the Education of the Visually Handicapped (RCEVH) at the University of Birmingham developed Screen Reader for the BBC Micro and NEC Portable."

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by OneSwitch » Thu May 10, 2018 6:56 pm

This wikipedia article mentions a screen reader for the BBC:
"In the 1980s, the Research Centre for the Education of the Visually Handicapped (RCEVH) at the University of Birmingham developed Screen Reader for the BBC Micro and NEC Portable."
I'm not surprised. I do have one of their games aimed at visually impaired players from 1983: https://www.dropbox.com/s/wqufucjxfdw7p ... 9.ssd?dl=0

Would be amazing to track that down.

@davidb - that idea sounds about right. With the Vic-20 it was via a RS232 Centronics adapter, and it was opening a channel and dumping the screen output straight to the Votrax. The Vic had so little memory, that it was only the Votrax that would work because it had translation tables to convert English text to (mostly) intelligible speech.

Definitely would be amazing to track down any 8-bit method of doing this and getting a video up at least. I'd be interested to try the Apple IIe with something, although I could never get the Adventure International stuff on that to behave properly....

This might be of interest. Morse code entry to play Pirate's Cove on an Apple IIe with speech output: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ01TbWHw5Q

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by davidb » Thu May 10, 2018 8:03 pm

Without wishing to take the conversation too far from the original topic, I thought of another solution that would be possible to retro-fit to existing adventures.

I'm thinking that it would be possible to write a routine that reads the characters on the screen using OSBYTE 135, collects individual words, and passes them to an existing speech solution (ROM or Superior's Speech). The routine could be activated by pressing a key combination, so it would have to hang off a vector which some games might not like.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by OneSwitch » Thu May 10, 2018 8:19 pm

davidb wrote:Without wishing to take the conversation too far from the original topic, I thought of another solution that would be possible to retro-fit to existing adventures.

I'm thinking that it would be possible to write a routine that reads the characters on the screen using OSBYTE 135, collects individual words, and passes them to an existing speech solution (ROM or Superior's Speech). The routine could be activated by pressing a key combination, so it would have to hang off a vector which some games might not like.
Yes please!! That would be extremely cool. What are the best BBC Micro text adventures I wonder... Also, could this work on BeebEm and ideally the on-line Matt Godbolt emulator? That way, it could be opened up for direct play very easily I would imagine.

And it would be lovely if it could work with Kenneth Kendall ROM, or the Superior Speech as you say....

I would absolutely love to see that. Great idea.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by dv8 » Thu May 10, 2018 8:41 pm

The Computer Concepts Text To Speech ROM has a feature like this.

*SAYOP will speak anything sent to the output stream. *SHUTUP turns it off.

As long as a program plays by the rules and doesn't clobber system memory or vectors it should work.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by lurkio » Thu May 10, 2018 10:29 pm

OneSwitch wrote:
davidb wrote:I thought of another solution that would be possible to retro-fit to existing adventures. I'm thinking that it would be possible to write a routine that reads the characters on the screen using OSBYTE 135, collects individual words, and passes them to an existing speech solution ...
Yes please!! That would be extremely cool. What are the best BBC Micro text adventures I wonder... Also, could this work on BeebEm ...
This is a slight tangent, but you got me wondering whether it would be possible to knock up a rough-and-ready solution using the MacOS commandline and BeebEm. (BeebEm's menus let you switch a virtual printer on and direct its output to a text file in MacOS.)

It turns out that it is possible, but only if you can hack the text adventure game so that it copies its text output to the printer via the VDU 2 command -- or, if you're lucky, you'll be able to just press Ctrl-B when the game begins.

Here are the MacOS shell commands that will read the text file ("1.txt") into which BeebEm is copying the on-screen text, and speak it out loud:

Code: Select all

export LC_CTYPE=C

tail -F 1.txt | tr -u "\r" "\n" | tr -ucd "[:print:]\n" | while read line ; do echo $line | say ; done
:idea:
Last edited by lurkio on Fri May 11, 2018 10:47 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by fuzzel » Fri May 11, 2018 8:51 am

The Count is definitely a very good game. Atmospheric and also quite difficult - I've been stuck now since teatime yesterday but will persevere.
If only I could find that torch somewhere......

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by fuzzel » Sun May 13, 2018 3:50 pm

I always thought that these old Scott Adams / Adventure Soft / Digital Fantasia games were so simple and unadorned that they'd be pretty easy to solve so I tended to avoid them. Oddly, despite them being about as pared back as it is possible to be (I'm sure they must have been originally written for the Sinclair ZX80) the puzzles are actually quite challenging, certainly if The Count and Strange Odyssey are anything to go by. They're also quite atmospheric and fun to play. Any more recommendations anyone ? I'm toying with the idea of playing one of the three Marvel Questprobe titles next.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by leenew » Sun May 13, 2018 4:46 pm

I think the Questprobe titles were generally considered quite weak. (Reviews should be easy to find?)
I remember liking: Time Machine, Escape from Pulsar 7 (although it took me a while to get out of bed) and the 2 part Arrow of Death (I do remember a cruel "dig" puzzle though).
The memory plays tricks, but I do remember the very sparse descriptions still able to evoke quite good atmosphere...
The trick is learning the limitations of the parser..

Lee.

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by fuzzel » Sun May 13, 2018 5:52 pm

Thanks for the tips Lee. Reading through their list of games, I will of course have to play Adventureland; it should make for quite an interesting contrast with Level 9's Colossal Adventure..

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Re: Adventure Soft / Scott Adams recommendations please

Post by tautology » Wed May 23, 2018 8:14 pm

The database system was originally written in TRS-80 BASIC and published in a magazine. IIRC only Adventureland and Pirate Adventure was in this format. Later games were coded in machine code, but the database format was unchanged until QP3.

The engine was cloned by Brian Howarth, which led to the Mysterious Adventures series.

They're quite unique as they've been released on most platforms during the 80s with different capabilities on each. I've spent quite a while reverse engineering the graphics formats (at least three different types of format).

There's two BBC/Elk engines: the one by Brian Howarth and the one by Mak Jukic. Neither have graphics; something I started to rectify, before life got in the way. http://www.retrosoftware.co.uk/wiki/ind ... SAGArework

One of the most interesting versions of the engine was on the TI-99, where the engine was releases as a ROM and had a creator as part of it, so there's a lot of games in the same style.

Games using the Adams engine (SAGA): https://www.solutionarchive.com/list/system%2C11/

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