Any public domain IF source in BASIC?

Hi folks,

Hope I’ve chosen the correct category.

I am looking for a relatively simple text adventure written in BASIC with a creative commons compatible license that I can port for inclusion in a FREE “Welcome Tape” that I am preparing for the Colour Maximite 2 (

I am not looking for an authoring system, or a Z-Machine implementation written in BASIC (I’ve already written one of those). I want something relatively simple where a novice programmer can understand the source … channel the early 80’s when making any suggestions :wink:

Can anyone help me out?



Hello Tom!

Hmm, from my search, I have the impression that it might be somewhat difficult to find BASIC adventures which have a license that’s explicitly compatible with Open Source or Creative Commons, I think because they more or less predate the widespread use of such license types.

On the other hand, I guess you can use the old adventures for most practical intents and purposes without risk, as long as you give proper attribution.

Here are some links which might be helpful:

Games on IFDB which have BASIC source available, sorted by publication date (ascending):

IF Archive:

Jim Gerrie’s ports of BASIC games for the TRS-80:

I hope someone will chime in with better and more personal/specific recommendations, but maybe this helps already a bit.



Take a look at Savetz’ recently unearthed Scavange, and . Pet the Github entry it is MIT License. In the brief time I’ve spent researching this I haven’t found the BASIC source broken out on its own, but it’s easy enough to break/quit out of the game in an emulator and dump it. Savetz is also easy to find and seems responsive to requests and discussions about/of published work.

Perhaps the most famous example, although not one which meets your licensing requirements, is Scott Adams’ published source of Pirate’s Adventure in Byte Magazine. Although Adams still officially claims copyright on his work, he is still available and an active participant in text adventure discussions, so I find it likely that he would be happy to give you whatever blessing you ask for.

(Whether either of these are simple enough examples for your purposes is another question.)


Another possibility might be to look for source code in the how-to-write-an-adventure-game books that came out in the '80s. Many of them say more or less explicitly that their code is a teaching tool and meant to be adapted and used by the person purchasing the book.

So, for instance, my copy of Susan Drake Lipscomb and Margaret Ann Zuanich’s BASIC Fun with Adventure Games (1984) says, “Using the simple instructions [that the book provides], you can add enhancements to this game, or use it as a model for your own adventure” (9) about its sample game CIA. Similarly, Richard Vile’s Programming Your Own Adventure Games in Pascal (also 1984) suggests adapting its sample game Adventure 3 into a more fully-developed program near the end of the book, and also suggests paring it down to a skeleton to use in other games. (Edit. Of course, you’re explicitly looking for source code in BASIC that can be adapted minimally to another BASIC, not for source code in Pascal that would have to be translated in toto. My intent was to point out that this way of treating code as a teaching tool Was A Thing, not that you might want to adapt Adventure 3, especially given that another of the comments in the book is that one of the many shortcomings of the game is that it totally lacks mazes, which are generally thought to be necessary.)

Neither explicitly provides anything much like a modern open-source license, and neither explicitly addresses questions of publication, distribution, or profit, but both disclaim parts of copyright and encourage adaptation. I’d be happy to scan and send along source code for either game if that’s helpful to you.


Thanks for all your replies and for doing the research I was too lazy to undertake.

“Pirate Adventure” also occurred to me shortly after my original post so I’ve just sent an email which I hope will get to Scott Adams. It seems like my best bet at getting permission to use something with a clear-ish provenance.

If this falls through then I will consider some of the other options.

Thanks again,


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He’s fairly active on Facebook if that doesn’t get through.

Just a quick line to say that Scott generously gave me permission. Now I just have to transcribe the source code from the ancient cuneiform tablets into a modern BASIC dialect :wink:

Thanks again for everyone’s help,



Semi-coincidentally, I put this together recently because I couldn’t find a working version of Adams’s “original” TRS-80 program as published in BYTE magazine. I converted the program listing to BBC BASIC for the BBC Micro as that’s the BASIC I’m most familar with:

TRS-80 Pirate Adventure converted to BBC BASIC

The program didn’t have to be changed radically and is still recognisable as essentially the same program that was published in BYTE. (The biggest headache was homing in on where to add all the NEXT statements that you can legally omit in TRS-80 BASIC but not in BBC BASIC!)

(Thanks to pdxiv for typing in and correcting the original TRS-80 listing.)

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There is also a version in SmallBasic: pirate.bas


Is there another working, playable version of the “original” Pirate Adventure program that was published in BYTE magazine in 1980?

Or is my BBC Micro port the only playable version out there? Surely not?!

It might be interesting to point out, if it hasn’t already been done, that there is a patch to the Pirate’s Adventure program in Byte Magazine Volume 06 Number 04 - Future Computers, page 302: BYTE’S Bugs.

I wrote an adventure game creator back in the 80s for the C64 called Imagery! The whole point is you can use the built in tools to make your own game, but still edit the basic source to add in custom interactions. You can learn more about it here: Imagery!


Usborne’s books from the 80s are free to download on their website. They’re not public domain, but they would let you port and distribute the compiled games themselves:

Copyright notice

These pdf copies of the original Usborne Computer Guides published in the 1980s are free to download for your own personal or educational use. The books and files are the copyright of Usborne Publishing. You can provide a link to the pdfs from your website, but you may not host or distribute the original files.

Adapting the programs

You may adapt any of the programs in these books to modern computer languages, and share the adaptations freely online. You may not use the adaptations for commercial purposes. Please credit the name of the Usborne book from which you adapted the program, and provide a link to this webpage.