Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 1 / FALL 1979 / PAGE 86

32K Programs Arrive: Fantasy Role Playing Game For The PET

An overview by Len Lindsay

I am very pleased and impressed with the package I received from AUTOMATED SIMULATIONS, PO Box 4232, Mountain View, CA 94040. I refer to it as a package because it is more than a rape with a program on it. It is professionally packaged. The 60 page manual is typeset, well written and easy to understand. The tape has custom made cassette labels on each side and is in a norelco style hard plastic box. The manual and tape are sealed in a plastic "bag."

It takes about 10 minutes to load the program from tape into your PET. Once it is in you can SAVE it on disk if you have one. But the tape seems very reliable. It LOADED perfectly the first time. The program also relies on 4 DATA files on the back of the tape. I had no problem reading these files either. I should have a small program written for the next issue explaining how to read DATA from the tape and WRITE it onto your disk.

So, what is this program I am talking about, and WHAT DOES IT DO?!

The program is the first in a series of computer Role Playing Games (RPG). The series is called DUNJON-QUEST (pronounced like dungeon quest). This first program in the series is titled TEMPLE OF APSHAI. The price is $24.95, a bargain for what you get.

What does it do? Automated Simulations explains it well in their brochure. "Explore the ruins of the ancient Temple of the god Apshai. Wrest golden treasures from the grasp of hideous monsters. Delve ever deeper into the forgotten labyrinth as you grow into a warrior of heroic powress!" The introduction in the manual is good at introducing a newcomer to Role Playing Games (RPG). Part of the introduction goes like this: "Role Playing Games (RPGs) allow you a chance to step outside a world grown too prosaic for magic and monsters, doomed cities and damsels in distress ... and enter instead a universe in which only quick wits, the strength of your sword arm, and a strangely carved talisman around your neck may be the only things separating you from a pharoah's treasure—or the mandibles of a giant mantis."

Role Playing Games try to simulate fantasy worlds as realistically as possible. This involves many details. Your character is identified by many qualities. How intelligent? How much intuition? How strong? How much dexterity? Etc. ... These qualities are used to determine outcomes of encounters, or what your character can and can't do. You receive silver pieces with which to buy swords, armor, etc. The computer does all the hard work of figuring out the details. It will tell you if your character is not strong enough to swing a Broadsword. You should get a smaller one. Buying the equipment is enjoyable in itself. You haggle with the Innkeeper over the prices. The computer plays the Innkeeper. It also uses the information about the qualities of your character to determine how good you are at bargaining.

This may sound very complicated, but I assure you it is NOT. Without a computer to help you it would indeed be extremely complex and require several people to play one game. But remember the PET is very capable and does all the complex duties for you. And no other players are needed. This is a solotaire game, the PET plays for everyone else. This game is for anyone who is tired of simple "video games."

There are over 200 rooms to roam about in. The PET displays a graphic display of your location on the screen along with a status summary. You do not just move from room to room. The rooms are BIG and you walk around in them, watch out for trap doors. You inspect the walls for secret doors. You have to open the door before you can go through it. It is important which way you are facing. You can walk up to 9 steps in the directions you are facing in one turn. Or you may use one of your turns to turn left.

This is a real time game. If you don't move, the monsters will. You can choose to talk to them (which is very risky), run away (if you can make it) or attack them. Several methods of attack are available. You may also have a bow and some arrows (maybe even magic arrows). It is safest to shoot at monsters from far away since they then can not strike back. Your arrow shots are visually animated on the screen as are your sword swings.

There is one important distinction about RPGs. When the game is over, if you survived, your character still lives on. He is richer, stronger, and has more experience. The extra money can be used to buy better armor. And his experience is one of the factors that the PET uses to determine outcomes of battles. The more experience, the better fighter you are. You can leave the game anytime you like. The PET gives you a summary of your character and his treasures and armor. You simply jot this information down. Next time you play, the PET asks you if you would like a new character created—say no, and then simply enter your data on the character you already have. You will get to know your "alterego" very well, and begin to identify with him. You will learn that he is not very good at shooting arrows, but can run well. Best of all, you can take your character to other role playing games, either manual ones or the computer controlled games soon to be released.

DUNJONQUEST is quite an experience. I am very pleased with it and rate it as one of my favorite PET programs. A word of caution though. This is a serious game. Be prepared to THINK. Be ready to alter your strategy when it backfires. Oh, and you might be happy to know, that if your character dies, there is a good chance that the wizard will find and resurrect him (for a fee of course). But then again, his body and soul might get devoured by a monster first. You must see for yourself. Happy Gaming!!