Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Website Recommendation: Abandonia

Today's post isn't writing related, but relates to one of my other interests--gaming.
I'm a huge fan of really old video games, ones that came out in the days before 3D graphics. Why, you ask, would I want to play 2-D VGA adventure games, or *gasp* text adventures? The answer's simple--They had to make the games great, they had to make the games fun so that people would play them once and want to play them again and again and again, not just to look at shiny graphics, but because the game is so great and just SO challenging.

I would LOVE to hear about people's favorite old-school games! Feel free to comment and say your faves. Maybe you'll find kindred spirits or maybe you'll just be providing great recommendations for other gaming enthusiasts. Either way, it couldn't hurt, right?

The downside is that the games a decade or two back were sometimes a little TOO challenging. Consider Ghouls and Ghosts for the NES. You start with a guy in armor. If he gets hit once he loses his armor. If he gets hit again without finding more armor, he dies. He has not many lives, maybe 2 or 3, and if you die there are NO continues!!! If you spent hours getting to the last level and you die, too bad! You're starting right back at the beginning, bub! Modern gamers would have a fit if there were a game like that released today! I suppose it's a side-effect of short attention spans, if you have to restart the game after an hour, then people would be more likely to just find another game.

I always sought out fun old games, bought a Space Quest collection, a King's Quest collection, found a "Lost Treasures of Infocom" text adventure collection which had Zork 1-8, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and at least a dozen others. It was amazing! Granted, I was terrible at it, and I never finished a single one of those games, but it was darn fun to explore, and the manuals were like little novels!

Anyway, I do have a point with all this. If you love old games like I do, and are sad that you can't find them, then you should check out
They have old, old games available for download, and some of them are just plain amazing. Some of the games listed on there are not available for download, but they claim to have near 1000 downloadable games. The ones that aren't downloadable are to avoid legal trouble, which is understandable enough.

I think this site is great. After all, not many people would be willing to pay money for these nowadays right? Sites like this keep the intellectual property readily available to anyone who is interested in it, and offers suggestions for how to run it with modern software on top of it.

A few that you might want to try:

Elder Scrolls: Arena
For those of you who played Morrowind or Oblivion, this is the original original. I tried it for a while, and it was moderately fun, but I just plain wasn't very good at it.

Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist
A rather funny adventure of a pharmacist in the wild west. The manual for this one alone is worth a download, an 1800s pharmacy manual. It's somewhat educational, but not boringly so. You do NEED the manual to do some of the pharmacy puzzles as a sort of copy protection.

Laura Bow 2: The Dagger of Amon-Ra
This is a great mystery Whodunit sort of game. The protagonist is a female reporter in male-dominated 1920s. She just got hired on the job. She keeps a notebook of all the people she meets and the various topics. In each conversation you add a little bit more to the notebook, so when you talk to someone else you can use the notebook as a questioning mechanism to learn more and more. The story starts out pretty tame, but before too long bodies start piling up and you'll need to be very smart to sort it all out! I made it through act 1 with no help, but I confess that in Act 2 (I think? This was years ago), I had major trouble with a task that was supposed to be pretty easy according to every walkthrough I've ever read--All you're supposed to do is eavesdrop at a party, but I could NOT do it. The game offered a mechanism to skip ahead to the next act, but then I missed the major plot elements and once I cheat once I lose the resistance to cheat again so the challenge sort of goes away. Anyway, it's a great game (at least the parts that I finished).


Ehren said...

Here's my list: Lode Runner, Captain Goodnight, Day of the Tentacle, King's Quest V, and Prince of Persia.


ColinF said...

That's cool. I'm also into gaming. I wasn't really into games when I was younger, mainly because we didn't have the money for it, but I'm there's definitely a retro trend going on right now in the indy gaming market.

There's a somewhat small community of game developers that use a program called Game Maker. A lot of the games that come out of there have a more retro feel to them (2D side-scrollers and the like). The other great thing is that a number of these games blend in my other favorite part of gaming: MMORPG. Now, these aren't really MMO, they're more MO (the first M stands for Massive, and the most these servers have on them is around 100 people), but they have the same persistant world with an online community. They also retain the core RPG elements of gaining levels, choosing stats, and item hunting, while keeping things relatively simple.

David Steffen said...

Ehren: Ooh, King's Quest V is a good one. That's the best in that series, I think.

David Steffen said...
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David Steffen said...
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David Steffen said...

Do you happen to have a link to Game Maker?

A while back I dabbled with a 2-D adventure game maker that could make games along the sort of King's Quest. I don't remember what it was called or I would provide a link, but they had fan-made games on there--some of them were actually really good!

In case anyone's wondering, those previous two deleted comments I decided to make a new thread for today. I hadn't realized they would still have placeholders here. Oh well!

David Steffen said...

Weeeiiird. I use Google Alerts to track my name: most of the time it comes up with totally unrelated things, but occasionally it comes up with other authors' links to my blogs. anyway, this one is weird. It looks like someone took my blog post, copied it into Babelfish, translated it to another language, then translated it back into English. Some of it translates badly (it's not a very intelligent system), so it's really weird:

David Steffen said...

Oh, and I wouldn't click on the hyperlinks on that other site--they aren't mine so I don't know where they lead!

Ehren said...

Here's a link to Game Maker:

Another game I really enjoyed was Stunt Island by Disney. Basically, you had a 3D island which featured mountains, cities, towns, a barn, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, etc. You could set up props such as airplanes, ships, and cars, and place cameras. There was a way to do basic if...then kinds of logic (like if plane1 hits plane2, show explosion). You could set props to follow other props. It was incredibly flexible and open ended. In the end, you got a bunch of footage you could edit into a movie, complete with sound effects and music.

ColinF said...

Ehren beat me to it. And btw, it's not really a tool like RPGmaker or things like that. It's a bit more like an actual programming tool wherein you can drag and drop code elements. There's a certain amount of actual scripting you can do as well.

Also, not sure if you're looking for recommendations on the Game Maker front. I would feel bad posting a link on here. I wouldn't want to use your blog as advertisement.

David Steffen said...

The topic's about old-school games, so Game Maker seems close enough for me. I don't mind you posting a link that's related to the topic at hand if you've checked out the website (to make sure it's legit).

I started a new topic today about my attempts to make my own games, so it might be more pertinent for that one, but either way is fine with me.

ColinF said...

Yea, the communities for these games are pretty small. I'm also sort of part of the team there so no worries.

Nightfall Online:

Download file:

It's kind of slow at the moment as there hasn't been an update to the game in a while and it's in the early stages. The development team is working on an overhaul of the systems and they plan to add a ton of fun new features and content so when that comes out the activity should increase drastically.

Hope you find it fun. Oh, and keep an eye out for me if you end up enjoying the game. I'm "Lingus" there.