Derek Brewster’s Adventure Trail


IF YOU TAKE a careful look at the review section this month you will notice every game except Mandragore, a D&D style game written in France, uses The Quill as a means of converting the adventure writer’s ideas into code. The Quill is a superb utility for adventure enthusiasts to create their own adventures, and has been used to create some highly commercial games (Hampstead for example), but I think its use by almost every adventure concern will, in time, devalue both the look and feel of the adventure.

Adventuring before The Quill was a far different story. The lack of constraints on format and programming led to a wide range of contrasting styles and made the task of reviewing Spectrum adventures a pleasure; it was never certain what surprise the next postal package would bring. When reviewing the games it became clear there was a fundamental link between the format chosen, the programming techniques used to fulfil the game’s tasks, and how good the game fared in the review. With The Quill, no options are allowed on format and programming which leads to cloned adventures sharing fundamental failings, such as in the field of vocabulary. All Quilled games share the same commands and the room for clever manipulation of text is all too evidently lacking.

The Graphic Adventure Creator has no sooner arrived than it, like The Quill, is hailed as an adventuring breakthrough. I would agree with the view that this new program is indeed a superior utility, but it will only create a limited number of topnotch games. This will be due to the lack of inventiveness on behalf of the writer, the same lack of endeavour which caused them to seek the crutch of a utility in the first place. Level 9 have shown with their chart success that own-code adventures are highly respected and it is my guess that many adventure-writing aspirants would be better to seek the services of a moderately competent programmer than plump for the overstated utility.