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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Fri Jun 11, 2021 11:21 am

There are a couple of new text adventures hitting the retro gaming scene that offer platform flexibility that can make one's knees buckle. One game takes place in 1907 Italy where you are to take part in the Silk Road Race, a 10,000 km rally from Egypt to China by car. The other is an Infocom-style science fiction story. Both are provided at the generous fee of "Name Your Price" on itch.io.

What makes both of these releases so fascinating and exciting is they aren’t available for just the C64 or the Amiga, but virtually any retro platform you can think of. It’s really kind of astonishing. We saw another game last year offer this virtual cornucopia of platform choices, called Tristam Island as some of you might recall.

Well I'm glad to see this becoming a trend!

Earlier this month we saw the release of Silk Dust by Davide Bucci out of France.
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This game is available on - hold onto your butts - 18 different platforms! Silk Dust can be played on Amiga, C64, VIC20+32K, C128, Plus/4, PET models with at least 32K of RAM, CPC 664 or CPC6128, MSX, ZX Spectrum 48K, MS-DOS, Macintosh 68k, CP/M, Olivetti M20, RC2014, Atari 800, Apple II and Atari ST.

Let all that sink in, my friends. The hard part isn't deciding if you should play it, but on which system!

In most of those listed above you can save your progress, too. Check Bucci’s site to see which can be loaded and saved off disks if that helps you decide which route to take.

Silk Dust is the third game Bucci has written featuring the main character Emilia Vittorini following Two Days to the Race (2019-2020) and The Queen's Footsteps (2019). Bucci put a play duration on these games of "a few hours" so it should be a pretty enjoyable excursion that won't take months of brain teasing to complete.

I fired it up quickly in a C64 emulator and it seems to be NTSC/PAL agnostic. So I believe we are good to go regardless of the original hardware we may want to use.

The other game that is on the horizon that follows this fantastic multi-platform approach is called Hibernated 1, Director's Cut, by Stefan Vogt.
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This game can also accommodate a vast number of retro systems.

Hibernated 1 is available for Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and PCW, Spectrum +3, Spectrum Next, Commodore Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, MS-DOS, Apple 2, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Commodore 128, Mega 65, TRS-80 Color Computer, Dragon64, MSX 1 and MSX 2, Oric, Commodore Plus/4, TI99/4a, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore PET, SAM Coupé, classic Macintosh and modern PC. In addition, there are z3 and z5 files provided, for playing the game in your Z-machine interpreter of choice.

You can download it now and play it. Or, you can buy a boxed Collector's Edition later this summer which is super cool.
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Very cute how they designed the box to emulate an Infocom title.


Having a large collection of Amiga Infocom titles I was flip-flopping between the C128 and 680x0 Mac version as those two systems have pretty paltry game libraries and it's nice to spread the love around sometimes.

Unable to make up my mind, I asked Stefan Vogt his opinion as I wanted to make sure if I picked the Mac version it would run on System 7.

Vogt:
The Mac 68x version actually requires System 7. On the other hand the C128 version makes use of the expanded memory of the machine AND can run in 80 columns.
I ultimately went with the C128 version mainly because I wanted to play it in color, even though the graphical screens are few and far between. While the C128 can produce 80 columns of text (and the Mac... lord, who knows? It's a lot), the text on the mac would be crisper yet ultimately smaller. Since I didn't really want to play this game wearing reading glasses (yeah, we're there now) I went for the chunky C128 screen with scan-lines.

And even though I pre-ordered the C128 version, I can always just go download many of them and hop from station to station until I'm ready to stop waffling over hardware and just get down to it. And that includes using a modern machine with an emulator!

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BloodyCactus
Lexington VA
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Posted Fri Jun 11, 2021 7:04 pm

Yeah being compatible with the Infocom ZMachine opens up pretty much every platform you can think of.

good stuff. I love text adventures.

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dddaaannn

Posted Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:12 am

Shout out to PunyInform and Ozmoo for making this kind of thing possible!

The hobbyist renaissance in parser-based interactive fiction originated with the reverse engineering of the Infocom Z-machine interpreter, and the development of a new programming language family called Inform that compiled Z-machine game files. For years, Inform-made games could run on all manner of vintage platforms. More recently, the standard libraries have grown to a point where they no longer fit in old machines. The Inform 6 standard library and the radically different (but amazing) Inform 7 can't run on a Commodore 64 out of the box: they're too large and too slow.

PunyInform is a stripped down fork of the Inform 6 standard library rebuilt to generate game files that can run on old machines. Ozmoo is an all-new open source Z-machine interpreter for the Commodore 64. I'm excited to see authors take an interest in not just writing text adventure games, but specifically targeting the old platforms with these newer tools.

(And of course, a shout out to the z-machine devs on all of those other platforms too, with which I'm less familiar. :) )

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BloodyCactus
Lexington VA
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Posted Sat Jun 12, 2021 8:24 pm

I did Inform5 on C64 once, it was insanely slow. Punyinform is better but still slow.





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