Retrochallenge Initial Thoughts

I recently wrote how I’d managed to acquire some classic Level 9 and Infocom text adventures that would run on my Epson PX-8.  I’ve always been a great fan of interactive fiction (IF) and some years ago I remember spending many hours writing a Star Trek themed adventure using The Quill on my Commodore 64.  As with most of my projects it showed great promise but was never finished.

I’d quite like therefore to make another attempt at such a project although I’m not sure I’m going to be able to shoehorn this in as a genuine Retrochallenge project.  Short of writing the whole thing in BASIC, which given my ham-fisted, clunky approach to coding isn’t going to happen, I’m not sure how much development will actually involve a retro machine.

Ideally I’d like to produce a game that can be played on a variety of retro platforms providing they have a Z-Machine interpreter, somewhat unfortunately one of the few platforms I don’t seem to able to find an interpreter for is CP/M.  There are a number of solutions out there for creating IF, this morning I had a quick play with Inform7 which uses a natural language approach to building your game.  I was able to quickly knock up a few rooms and objects but the system soon had me scratching my head when I tried to create anything complex.  Also, having created only a few rooms, objects and descriptions the game file was already too large for the PX-8.

I’ve decided to base the game on the 1972 film Silent Running which in my view is one of the all time great Science Fiction films, so I settled down to watch it this afternoon and used the PX-8 to write some initial room descriptions.   I’ll have another play with Inform but given the file size issue it looks as though I’m going to need another solution if this thing is ever going to run on the PX-8, either that or stick to a two or three room adventure.

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