This text is from the first magazine from Parco Electric in Honiton, Devon, that was originated in England, in English - a magazine for owners of the Texas TI-99/4A Home Computer, still relevant for anyone with one of the TI99/4a emulations such as MESS.
The more observant uf our readers may have noticed that the first issues of '99/4a' were late in arriving; for this we apologize, and in the same breath offer our thanks for your patience. The issues concerned were, as you are probably aware, produced in Holland in association with LEGIO Printers and Publishers. Whilst we are grateful to our friend Albert Visser and his company for their efforts to date, we have had to face the fact that the inevitable communication problems and delays involved in the execution of our joint venture have become unacceptable.
So here we are taking the bull by the horns with an entirely 'home-brewed' effort. Naturally this means extra work for us, but the benefits are obvious. As well as making it easier to deliver the goods on time, it will encourage a healthy interaction between us and you, and hopefully enrich the relationship between users in this country as well as our overseas readers.
With so many computer magazines on the newsagents stands these days, it comes as little surprise that some of them struggle. Unfortunatley, one of the most recent victims of the cut and thrust is 'WHICH MICRO and software review' which is one of the few that show any support for the TI. Apparently it will not disappear completely, but the January issue will be the last monthly one.
In future, the plan is to continue as a quarterly buyers' guide; and unofficially we think we may expect to see them publish program listings in a separate format. We would just like to publicy put it on record that we appreciated the efforts and rapport that we have enjoyed with them.
While on the subject, unlike many we actually rate the attention of some magazines to the TI quite highly. If blame has to be apportioned for a lack of interest and coverage, then we sadly must point the finger at the belated and ineffective marketing attempts of the manufacturer. Actually we think finger-pointing is a totally negative exercise, and it's all cleaning fluid under the console now, so lets look to the future, since there certainly does appear to be one!
'Home Computing Weekly' is not the best mag around, but proportionately gives the best coverage to the TI, with 'Computer & Video Games' and 'Games Computing' also finding a place fairly frequently for listings and reviews.
No prizes for guessing which mag
we think is emerging as the leading
publication for the TI99/4a .....
Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who went to the TI Users Convention at Manchester recently. In case you aren't then you ought to know about it. Everyone who went was simply amazed at the sheer volume of people present, and at the fanatical support that the TI still commands.
Although the number of exhibitors was small, the level of stock both new and old was not only very eagerly received by the masses, but also provided evidence that there is a future for Tl users for some time to come.
The event was organized by the Tl99/4a Exchange User Group from Brighton, but exhibitors and users were there in force from as far afield as Scotland, Devon and Kent.
The day was greeted with an early swell at ll a.m., remaining hectic right through to 5 p.m. such that exhibitors didn't even get a chance to poke their noses in on their opposite numbers - all they saw of each other was setting up and dismantling their displays!
As far as the hundreds of users were concerned the whole event really must have been something of an encouragement; for as well as being able to see with their own eyes the goodies that so often only appear on a pricelist, they could also enjoy the stimulus and camaradarie involved in meeting so many fellow-users.
Hopefully the success of this the
first convention will lead to others.
Certainly it's hard to think of any
party that didn't benefit from it,
although I did feel sorry for the dear
folks who couldn't get served for over
an hour, due to the sheer volume of
customers between them and the counter!
I expect many of you remember a
much-loved comedy programme on radio
that featured an ad—lib 'late arrivals
to the ball' section, e.g.
" .... announcing late arrivals to the
antique—dealers' ball: Mr & Mrs
Funtsfoot—umbrel1erstand and their
Ella .... funtsfoot—umbre1lerstand"
No? well never mind, take my word for it! Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to pinch the idea:- " .... announcing late arrivals to the TI Users Convention:-
.... Mr & Mrs Furralbocks and their son Perry Furralbocks ....
.... Mr & Mrs Flammix—Panshon and - their friend who is 52 - Kay ....
.... Mr & Mrs Stix and their daughter Joy ....
.... Mrs Rowprowsesser and her husband Mike ....
.... The Etricauder children and their Mama Cass ....
.... The Memry family and their new arrival, mini ....
Think you could do better???
These titles are available to download from TI Books.
You must by now have noticed these packages advertised, but may perhaps be wondering what they consist of. Whilst some of the contents of the packs covers the same ground as the USERS REFERENCE GUIDE that you will already have, the advantage of the STARTER PACKs is that each comes complete with a cassette as well as manual; thus providing tangible examples of topics covered.
This way you will find yourself tearing out considerably less hair as you are confronted not just with theory, but clear examples of what will happen when commands are entered.
More than that, you can mess about with the program examples enclosed, which is probably the best possible way to learn!
This package contains a book of just over 100 pages and of cassette containing 5 programs. The book starts with an introduction on TI BASIC, what it is, and what is contained on the cassette; and a short explanationi of the other packages in the series. Also mentioned are the aims of the various packages and hints on using the book.
The pack deals firstly with the now
hopefully familiar subject of setting
up the computer to get it working.
Then we move on to simple printing exercises on the screen. Most of the standard BASIC statements are dealt with, including those that will enable you to explore the fascinating worlds of sounds and graphics. There are hints on using cassette recorders, and there is a chapter that deals with error messages; which everyone gets at some tome. (Even Steven Shaw had one once -Ed).
Web note: original printed word was tome, should be time. Steven should be Stephen- that's me- wonder what the anonymous Ed meant?
STARTER PACK 2
This carries on from STARTER PACK I and develops graphics and other various techniques often used when writing programs. For example: subroutines, debugging your program, music, arrays, strings, random numbers, and graphs and statistics. There is an appendix that explains the common error messages. This book, like book 1, serves its function well and is ideal if you are getting to grips with BASIC but would like to develop further.
GAMES WRITER PACKS
Assuming you know the commands and statements of TI BASIC you will find no trouble following this book. The aim of this book is to put to practical use what you have been taught in STARTER PACKS 1 and 2, although reading these two books first is not essential.
GAMES WRITER PACK l concentrates its efforts on helping you to understand and re-create the various elements that are common to arcade—type games, e.g. moving objects, shooting things, mazes, 2 player games, etc.
GAMES WRITER PACK 2 tends to
concentrate more on the strategy type
of game, e.g. noughts and crosses,
battleships, shuffling and dealing
cards etc. Both books are well—written
and illustrated, including flowcharts
that demonstrate the way that programs
are constructed, and listings of the
program examples that are contained on
CONCLUSION: When I was reviewing these books and accompanying cassettes I thought it best to take them all as one, as they follow a progression from one to next. Actually you can start from any pack, depending on your knowledge of BASIC, and by the end of GAMES WRITERS 2 you should be able to write games of reasonable quality. (For our magazine, maybe!??). I certainly recommend them, and at the package-deal price they offer especially good value for money.
In this space over the coming editions I will try and encompass a variety of different sides of adventuring. I'll let you know of different adventure games that are available and who they are available from, reviews of new adventures and maybe some of the 'classics', and with YOUR input anything else you would like me to cover in future articles. We can help you solve any problems with your adventures, just write in and we will put you in the 'right direction'.
I'm not keen on giving complete answers to adventures as this spoils the true nature of adventures, but I know full well how aggravating it can be to get to one point and no further, no matter how hard you try! I had to leave Voodoo Castle (Adventure International) for 6 months as I couldn't face sitting down and 'banging' keys till I got there. However, when I did, the answer had been staring me in the face! Its half the fun to discover how warped the minds of adventure writers are.
The main source by far for adventuring on the 99/4a is Texas Instruments Adventure Module and cassette. I would say this is probably where most TI owners first sampled adventure. We are quite lucky in that TI chose the Adventure Internationl range of programs when deciding to release something to cater for the growing popularity of adventures, as they are extremely taxing adventures and highly thought of.
Scott Adams (AI president and
founder) was so impressed by Crowther
and Woods Collosal Caves program that
he played on a PDP - ll mainframe
computer (too big for your Xmas
stocking) that he decided he would
write one on his own Tandy TRSBD micro
His friends ridiculed his idea, as they thought 16K was far too small memory too write a substanial adventure on. He proved them wrong, and in mid 1978 he advertised Adventureland. He managed this feat with quite advanced programming involving copius amounts of file handling and quite revolutionary data compression techniques.
The response was incredible, and he set up his own company Adventure International. All the adventures were written by Scott himself, some with collaboration, and one solely by his wife Alexis (Voodoo Castle). Quashes the belief that computer programming is male orientated business. The full Scott Adams AI range 1s:
Difficulty ratings l (easy) to 4 (very tough!)
Available on cassette for the TI module. This was Scotts first program and reckoned by many to be a classic. I suppose on reflection it bears many similarities to Collosal Caves, the adventure responsible for Scotts introduction to adventure. Most of the action takes place below ground with a variety of Scotts best known creations like the nervous bear, sleeping dragon, nasty insects called chiggers, and some evil—smelling Mud. Like this one a lot. Difficulty Rating 2
No2. Pirate Island
This is the cassette supplied with the TI module. Another classic and most likely most peoples introduction to adventuring on their 99, and as such holds a special place in many affections. I would say the easiest of the range with the action taking place on an island and in a flat in London (? ).
Memorable characters like the drunken pirate, a talkative parrot, and a mongoose with an identity problem! Difficulty rating l
No 3. Mission Impossible
Available on cassette for the module. Scotts salute to the spy genre on film/Tv. They have since had to change the name to Secret Mission as a certain American Tv company objected to him using the name Mission Impossible. Action confined to inside a Nuclear plant with a saboteur running loose. The object this time is not to collect a set amount of treasure, but to save the plant by finding and disarming the bomb! I have to say this is probably my least—liked of Scotts range. Difficulty rating 3
No4. Voodoo Castle
Available on cassette for the module. Written by his wife Alexis. Again no treasures as such, object being to remove the curse on Count Cristo (not that easy I can assure you!). You encounter a scared medium, a window that won't stay open, a chimney sweep, and some witches' brew that'll knock your socks off! It isn't on reflection that difficult, but it did cause me some serious migrains! Difficulty rating 2
No5. The Count
Available on cassette for the module. Must rank as one of the funniest written by Scott. All of his games have some twisted humour but it truly makes this adventure. You begin the game in a large bed and you are carrying a tent stake! Your goal is to kill Count Draccy. Memorable obstacles include a very bright oven, a novel means of getting up and down floors, and some hilarious mail. Difficulty rating 2
No6. Strange Odyssey.
Available on cassette for the module. This time your in a space craft docked above a planet with a broken engine (isn't it always the case!). You set off to the planet in search of a new crystal and any treasure you can get away with. You'l1 encounter the Dia-ice hound(?), some weird trees with peculiar taste, and fun with with your gravity belt. Not a particularly special adventure. Difficulty rating 2
No7. Mystery Fun House
Available on cassette for the module. One of my favourites, you're a special agent (james. . .) been sent to a fairground to recover the stolen plans. Great humour in this one inc. the bouncer who keeps throwing you out, a grateful mermaid, a very loud calliope, and some peculiar chewing gum. Difficulty rating 3
No 8 Pyramid of Doom
Available on cassette for the module. Back to the tried and tested goal of adventures with this one, find all the treasures and store them for points. Takes place in pyramid with obstacles like the nomad who follows you everywhere, a large purple worm, a large oyster, and a tricky mirrored room. Many rate this one highly. Difficulty rating 2
No 9. Ghost Town
Available on cassette fot the module. Another of my favourites, and widely considered a classic. This probably could stand as and object lesson in how to write/plan adventures. Memorable incidents include a manure pile, a perplexing mirror, an appreciative ghost community featuring the piano player and a cunning way to open the safe. Difficulty rating 3
Nol0 & Noll. Savage Island l & 2.
Available on cassette for the module. At this point Scott decided to make these adventures more substantial in plot and to give the story away would spoil the fun. However both parts are highly interwoven to make one complete story and you have to complete the first before the second because you require a password to begin part 2. Not recommended for the younger player as the plot is complex. Difficulty rating 4
No ll Return to Pirate's Isle
Available on module inc Full colour graphics. This one is now available on module form way before it's U.K. release for the Spectrum etc. So that makes up for No l3. Own up time, I haven't solved this one yet as its pretty sticky. Anyone know how to open the oyster? It picks up where No2 left off. Difficulty rating 4.
No l2. Golden Voyage
Available on cassette for the module. I reckon by time he has really mastered the art of writing adventures for this one has a strong story line and a complex adventure. This was the 3rd adventure I bought, and took (on and off) 3 months to complete! It is based on Jasons epic journey (as in Greek mythology). You should come across a fighting statue (big probleml), deadly scorpians, not l or 2 but 3 fountains, and some loyal royal guards. Difficulty rating 4
Nol3. The Sorcerer of Claymorgue
One of the two adventures released this year by AI. Sadly this one lsn't available on the TI. Boooo!
AI have since signed an exclusive contract with Marvel comics for the rights to their comic characters in computer games for the next 15 years. The fruit of this is now coming to the market with the first release The Hulk adventure and shortly Spiderman adventure with Fantastic Four to follow that. Sad to say, since TI have pulled out of the market we have little chance of ever seeing them on our 99's.
To digress from this appraisal of Adventure Internationals games to that one of their biggest rivals Infocom. Infocom have written some of the best selling computer software of ALL They have added TI conversions of their excellent adventures to their range. This now means you can play ZORK 1,2 and 3, Deadline, Planetfall, Sorcerer, Enchanter etc. on you 99/4a. Yippee I hear you all cry, well its not as simple as that.
First of all you need a
Disk drive, 32k memory and either Ex
BASIC, Mini—Memory or editor/assembler
to play them. Secondly you have to
order then from the states as no UK.
supplier has them in stock for the TI
Hope that doesn't put you off (thou' it wouldn't surprise me) as I have some of them and can vouch for the value for money, even at $50+ per time.
In the next editions I'll be assessing the 3rd party adventures available and with your help be running regular hints on getting out of adventurers problems. So if you need help, or only "want to give ideas for future columns the drop me a line at the address given. Remember the adventurers motto 'Take nothing for granted, question all, and read everything even seemingly meaningless tripe VERY CLOSELY'. Have fun.
The Parco magazine from issue 2 onwards was always very full of long listings, which I could never read, and stand no chance of scanning, so those have been omitted. Some extremely useful articles had required listings which were unreadable and I have reluctantly had to omit those also. Even putting up a PDF would not assist as the ink is just too faint.
end of article
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