I have always had a soft spot for the Graphic Adventure Creator.
It was over-shadowed by the Quill & PAWS but it was what I grew up using.
Fast forward to now and, looking for something to keep me amused over the Summer hols, I set about writing an interpreter for GACed adventures on the RasPi.
The program takes a ‘.SNA’ snapshot file and will let you play the game in the terminal, or without even starting the desktop. This does, of course, mean that there are no graphics, but I like it that way.
The tarball contains the main program, a short ReadMe file and a snapshot of of GAC’s pack-in game, Ransom, to practice with.
For an authentic aesthetic experience, use an emulator, but I like the terminal and it kept me out of mischief, (and a little frustrated), writing it.
Any comments are welcome.
After a small delay - only about 9 years - I’ve re-visited this, expanded it, and made it work with CPC & C64 snapshots too.
I have fixed a few bugs. Most notably there was a problem with some of the objects not being shown.
Both versions have been updated and should function identically.
The links to the files are: Raspberry Pi Linux
Very cool. Missed this thread the first time it was posted, although I have been looking at your various ports (on your website) of GAC (and non-GAC games) during the past month or so.
Never was a fan of GAC games on the Spectrum, although I did enjoy a few of the early ones such as Winter Wonderland and Apache Gold. Although the graphics were usually well done, the produced games were always a bit rigid, extremely samey-looking and very slow compared to the PAW.
I always felt that GAC never got a fair crack of the whip. It was a great utility (I had a copy when I was very young - too young to really do anything with it), but other than The Legend of Apache Gold which I do remember enjoying, there didn’t seem to be any decent games made with it - or at least, not ones that were available in my local newsagent. The only author who seemed to pursue it as a commercial interest was Charles A. Sharp, and all of his games were absolutely terrible! At least, that’s how I remember them. PAW seems to have supplanted it pretty quickly as the favourite adventure writing utility for Spectrum, having immediately negated whatever advantages GAC had over Quill.
I agree that it never got the recognition it deserved. Probably just poor timing more than anything else. Like any system there were a good few stinkers, but the smaller sample to take it from means that they stand out more.
I did give the Quill a go, but found it very unintuitive. GAC just seemed to click with me. (The text compression was rather good too - it was a challenge finding out how it worked.)
At least these days I can get to play the games from other machines than the Speccy.
No, I can’t really agree with that “never got a fair crack of the whip” comment. GAC sold in huge numbers… probably many, many more copies than the Quill thanks to the Home Computer Club offer… so any lack of take-up was simply down to the fact that, for many, it wasn’t anywhere near as user-friendly as the Gilsoft systems.
The authors that tended to like the GAC, tended to be those with a more programmer-type of brain. The Quill & PAWs were a lot easier to use for non-programmers. (Also, on platforms like the Spectrum, the GAC had some pretty annoying bugs)
Still, there were well over three hundred games made with the GAC. There were some decent commercial games produced with it too, such as Karyssia and Book of the Dead (by the Essential Myth)… It was often still the system of choice on CPC and C64, if you wanted to do something more complex than the Quill allowed, and several Spectrum PAWed games ended up getting ported to other platforms using the GAC.
Flicking through our list at CASA, other homegrown GAC games I remember that were well regarded in the day include Atalan, The Black Knight, The Case of the Mixed-up Shymer, Dragon Diamond, the Forgotten Past, the Golden Sword of Bhakor, Nythyhel, Tales of Mathematica, and Who’s Afraid of the Balrog?.
By the late 80s, though, the GAC was definitely not that highly regarded on the homegrown text adventure scene. It wasn’t uncommon for reviews to mention that fact that a game had been produced with the GAC as a major negative point.
The Atari ST version… the STAC… now that was a system that didn’t get a “fair shake of the whip”. People produced some great games with that, but the audience just wasn’t really there and I know several people who just gave up writing adventures for the Atari ST because nobody bought them.
I think it suffered dreadfully from being that awkward middle child.
The ‘programmer-type brain’ was certainly me. It did, as you say, produce some cracking games, with some programmers making it do things it really shouldn’t. (Karl Bunyan’s ‘GET/DROP ALL’ routine in Tales Of Mathematica was something to behold.)
Book Of The Dead brings back memories of the first real stinker of a maze that I ever spent a day sitting down and mapping out.