Friday, February 7, 2014

Eamon: Recap and Redactions

Okay, I admit I'm not quite where I hoped to be in terms of being ready with the next post.  I'd hoped to have played a few more Eamon games to get back in the swing of things and to have a bit more to say.  But I've been enormously busy the last week, and haven't had any free time to speak of to devote to the matter.  Still, I said in the last post that the next post would "seriously, seriously be up in less than a week".  So I figured I'd better follow through on that.  After all, I said "seriously" twice.  That's serious.

Anyway, I suppose even without having played more Eamon games, it's worth making a post just because it's been so long since the last post on Eamon it's worthwhile just briefly reviewing what we're up against—as well as correcting .  Eamon is sort of a text adventue / RPG hybrid that was one of the first game creation systems I could find... I said it was the first before, but that was before I decided to acknowledge the fuzziness between level editors and game creation systems, and to go ahead and count the former as well; there are some games with level editors that predated Eamon (and we'll get to those when we finally finish with Eamon).

I guess there's no need to recap everything about Eamon, though, since you can always read the earlier posts to refresh your memory if you're so inclined.  I did, however, want to address a few matters that I stated in the earlier posts that turned out to be incorrect.  I'd planned to discuss these along with my further playing experience, but, what the hey, I guess there's really no reason those have to be in the same post.  So here goes.

First of all, I'd mentioned some commonalities between Eamon and the seminal text adventure Zork, and surmised that the former likely took some inspiration from the latter—or if not from Zork itself, from its mainframe predecessor Dungeon.  Turns out that's not the case—or at least so I infer from, among other things, the fact that the Eamon documentation mentions the original adventure game Colossal Cave but never Zork or Dungeon—and, in any case, it seems to have possibly predated Zork, and Dungeon was only available on a mainframe that Eamon creator Donald Brown is unlikely to have had access to, so it was probably an untenable assumption in the first place.  In any case, it's not particularly surprising that Donald Brown and the creators of Dungeon independently decided to add RPG elements to a text adventure, given that Dungeons & Dragons was a big part of the zeitgeist at the time.

It also turns out I was wrong in supposing that the diagonal compass directions were added around version 6; they were there in Version 5 as an optional feature, though I think for my adventure I'll stick to the four cardinal directions, to limit myself as much as possible to what would have been available in the earlier version.  I was also mistaken about there being "no in-between" between monsters being friendly (and accompanying you and risking their lives to fight your foes) and hostile (attacking you on sight)... it is indeed possible for monsters to be indifferent to you, neither following you nor attacking you.  In fact, it seems that the algorithm checks the monster's hostility chance twice: if the first check renders the monster non-hostile, it checks again (with the same probability based on your character's CHARISMA as well as the monster's own settings), and only if the second check also turns up non-hostile is the monster actually friendly.  This may not have been the case in the earliest versions of the game, but was certainly true by the time of Version 5.  Furthermore, some Eamon adventures do include monsters with special abilities, another feature I said I was considering putting into my game.  There are other interesting features put into some of the Eamon adventures, too, but I'll get to that in the next post when I discuss my play experience in detail... suffice to say that while Eamon was still necessarily unsophisticated compared to later games, it attracted some imaginative authors who stretched its capabilities in interesting directions.

I'd say more, but perhaps I should leave that for the next post.  I do want to get this up within less than a week from the previous post, and I've got about five minutes to go.  The next post should describe my experiences playing Eamon games, though, and the post after that, we'll finally get into what this blog's all about as I start really creating an adventure with Eamon.

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