Saturday, January 15, 2022

Friends Reunited!


Miniature hard drives!

Look what I've just found at the bottom of my cupboard!! After many moons, here is a tiny plastic case that contains two SD Cards I thought I had lost: one features MagiC and the other is a raw ST MiNT image (this is created by Marcello running Cripple MiNT due to the ST's 4MB Ram limit and you can read about that here).

For me, MagiC is where it's at because this is such a powerful and versatile operating system albeit at the expense of some awkward incompatibilities. Unlike MiNT, I've actually got some RAM left over to make this a usable operating system replacement. It's superb but the default desktop is lame so I've got to find a copy of Ease online. Now, I know most will probably scream "Jinnee" but I feel Ease is the better alternative desktop for me.

Sadly, I've yet to find another SD card that I remembered has my Geneva/NeoDesk installation (it's now free!!). Anyhow, it's funny what you find when least expecting it. So which is your favourite or do you prefer good old TOS? Let me know in the comments below while I stuff this card with programs and my chip music archive...

Marcello's ST MiNT https://subsole.org
MagiC v6.20 https://www.atari-forum.com/viewtopic.php?p=327914#p327914
Gribnif Software http://www4.pair.com/gribnif/


Saturday, January 08, 2022

The Errand Boy



YANASTG

Thanks to AtariMania, I got wind of a new game available for the Atari ST by Dwalin. It was originally released last year for something called MSDOS... whatever that might be I don't know. Anyhow, it is a short conversational adventure ported to DAAD for a variety of home computers, one of which is our lovely Atari ST.

The Errand Boy is a graphical-style adventure and prequel to Rudolphine Rur. It's not too dissimilar to what we've seen before displaying both imagery and written text to describe our current location. We are Galdrin who appears to be at odds with Mr Eldrad because he thinks of us as nothing more than an errand boy. In a huff, we leave because that's no way to treat someone who's been in service for a thousand years so he's gonna pay!
(Hang on, how old am I? Erm, am I even human? What's going on?)
We begin in a grungy room somewhere in New York not too far from Central Park. The graphics are retro using a rough digitized style that I really like. Each room is detailed without large, overbearing paragraphs of text. Although some of its English has grammatical issues, nothing serious and it certainly isn't going to spoil the fun.

The parser interaction is excellent allowing exploration using the usual commands to look, examine, get, drop, open, etc along with the usual compass directions to get around. Each command can be shortened: 'L' to look, 'X' to examine something... In fact, examining everything is never a bad idea nor is asking for help.

The characters you meet along the way are few but full of... character! The butler appears to have spent his lifetime pottering about the house so you get little from him. Dorwinion isn't exactly and a nice guy by the looks of it but I liked Shadow's sense of humour. Oh, and there's a nasty cat. I don't like cats because they only use you to get food! And then there's the gnome, what a crazy tale he represents and he's nothing more than a lunatic.

This may very well be a short adventure but it's full of wonder, investigation and alternative humour. Yes, the story is insane, without any realism, and I loved that. Do not be too quick to dismiss this excellent adventure game.


In fact, I wish I would listen to my own advice! Make sure you look under every stone.


Let's have a little background

As I was enjoying the adventure, I message Dwalin about the game, its story and how it all came about...

"This is really a very short adventure, and that is why I chose it to be my first experience in translation. I am fond of text adventures since the 80s, where I played most of the commercially published adventures in Spain. I also had Gilsoft's PAWS, the program (or parser) that allowed you to create adventures for Spectrum, and I published a first homebrew adventure for that in 1993.

In Spain, fans of this type of game grouped together in various clubs, the most important of which one of them was CAAD, which published a bimonthly fanzine. Over time the clubs evolved into pages and internet forums, and the adventures of text as well, adapting to more modern computers. Contests were held on https://www.caad.es and players and adventure creators shared comments.

In 2005, using another adventure creation engine, Superglús, the evolution of the old PAWS, I published my second adventure: “The Adventures of Rudophine Rur”, and in 2015 using NgPAWS, another evolution of the engine. Rudolphine Rur tells the story of a little forest gnome who must enter the human world in search of his brother kidnapped by evil elves.

With the passage of time, the love for retrocomputing and old computers grew in Spain. I discovered this hobby in 2019. In Spain, the most important company that published text adventures in the 80s and 90s was AD Adventures. This company used as an adventure creation engine a parser called DAAD, also an evolution of the PAWS, but whose main feature was that it could port the games to most of the main systems of the time: Spectrum, Amstrad, MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad PCW, PC MSDOS, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.

Andrés Samudio, the director of Adventures AD released in 2014 the DAAD parser for use by the community of adventure creators. Until that moment DAAD had not been available to the general public, since it had been programmed exclusively for AD Adventures (it had a price of about € 12,000 in 1989!). The Spanish community of adventure creators began using DAAD to create cross-platform adventures for retro computers. In my case, I dedicated myself to porting my old Rudolphine Rur adventure to this system, and finally (2020) it was published (https://www.rudolphinerur.com) for most of the existing computers in the late 80s. I even published a small physical print run in cassette or floppy disk for Spectrum, Amstrad, MSX2 and Atari ST.

A year later I also wanted to try another parser, from the early 90s, SINTAC, another evolution of PAWS, which generated adventures for MSDOS. With him, I created a very short adventure, which I set in the same world as Rudolphine Rur: "The errand boy" being a prequel to it. The adventure was published in May 2021 in its PC version. Later I ended up porting it to DAAD so that I could release versions for Spectrum, Amstrad and MSX2.

Until now all my adventures were only available in Spanish. I considered that "The errand boy", being a short adventure, could be a good candidate to be translated into English. My level of English is not very good, and I have mainly used the google translator. So I hope native English people can forgive if they see something "weird". Finally, shortly after finishing the translation, I ended up porting the adventure also to Atari ST and well, that's the one you're playing :-)


I think Dorwinion deserves a slap for how he treats poor Galdrin!


The CryptO'pinion?

It's always great to see new Atari ST games released. (Yet Another New Atari ST Game, just in case you were wondering about the header). I loved its story, style and really enjoyed playing through to the end. Okay, I wish it was a much bigger adventure, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the ST version of Rudolphone Rur gets translated into English someday soon. My thanks to Dwalin for taking time out of his busy day to chat with me.

You can download the ST disk image from Dwalin's websiteAtariMania or by clicking this link.


This is Rudolphine Rur running on the Atari ST albeit in Spanish. Maybe in English, one day?

Friday, January 07, 2022

Droid - all of them!


ED-209

I should have showcased this before Christmas but I never got a chance due to work commitments. So here it is now, the new Droid Definitive Collection which features all three Atari ST and Atari STe games in a spanky cool box. This is the latest from Bitmap Soft in collaboration with the mighty Atari Legend. (Maarten paid me to say that)

You might be thinking "three games?". Yes, both of the original Droid shooters plus the newly upgrade Atari STe Droid by Jame Hamshere - featuring smooth scrolling, better sounds and gameplay enhancements. This is the ultimate boxset for all fans and something I'm sure Miles Lord never dreamt possible back in the day?

This is a quality purchase, the box is strong and rich in both colour and content. Inside, is a manual, floppy disk, and poster that doubles as a huge map. Geeks rejoice for we have trinkets: stickers and a badge which I must remember to wear down the pub! Seriously, I hope we get more boxed Atari ST games soon. Well done to all involved.

Pop over to Bitmap Soft and treat yourself to the latest Atari ST game: Bitmap Soft web store.

But first, check out this video on YouTube which shows Droid running on both computers...


- Production Credits -

Miles Lord - Droid I & II (original game code and design)
Patrick Lord - Droid I & II (original graphics)
Jamie Hamshere - Droid Special Edition (Atari STe code & DMA audio)
John Blythe (cover illustration)
Darren Doyle (box & manual)