[Help Wanted] Ballpoint Adventure System info!

Recently, I have been researching the Sinclair Spectrum and looking into text adventures of that era. While doing so, I came across (among other things) something called the “Ballpoint Adventure System”.

Unfortunately, there is no information about the program itself. For the past couple of days, I have been searching as best I can for any sort of available documentation and come up empty. If anyone knows something about this program, I’d like to hear from you!


That’s an interesting little mystery. I assume you mean this one: https://worldofspectrum.net/infoseekid.cgi?id=0007945

Listing the content of the TAP file at least seems to yield a version number of “ver 16.06.87”, which at least suggests a date for when it was made:

$ listbasic BALLP.TAP 
   10 REM ver 16.06.87
 1000 INK 7: PAPER 0: BORDER 0: CLEAR 24449
 2000 LOAD "INIT"
   10 REM ver 16.06.87
 1000 INK 7: PAPER 0: BORDER 0: CLEAR 24449

…and for whatever reason the following two groups of words are encoded in the TAP file:

the, of, and, to, in, that, it, is, for, be, was, as, you, with, he, on

have, by, not, this, are, we, his, but, they, all, which, will, from, had, has, one, our, been, their, there, were, my, if, me, what, would, who, when, him, them, war, your, any, more, now, its, time, up, out, can, than, only, made, other, into, men, must, people, said, may, man, about, over, some, these, two, very, before, great, could, such, first, upon, every, how, come, us, shall, should, then, like, well, little, say, because, being, under, after, here, good, make, many, much, those, way, see, know, day, never, did, new, down, even, long, years, right, get, life, just, take, where, work, things, part, through, while, last, might, am, back, old, own, three, against, go, think, came, matter, days, without, also, today, yet, don’t, same, thought, each, far, home, put, again, always, nothing, present, between, going, per, once, year, another, away, couldn’t, fact, half, still, gave, power, too, north, south, east, west, passage, large, your, exit, The, lead, found, looked, possible, until, nothing

Hi Gio,

The 8-bit text adventure community have done quite an extensive bit of research into this file.

To sum up, we believe that the file is potentially an early version of Smart Egg’s “adventure system” that they used for games like Rigel’s Revenge and the remade version of Quest for the Golden Eggcup.

However… if that’s the case, and it is connected to Smart Egg, then the research has shown that, rather than being their own system, as was much trumpeted in the press, it’s a heavily hacked version of the Quill.

See our notes on the findings here in the Spectrum Computing forums…

We’d love to talk to someone from Smart Egg to put the record straight about the development of their games; especially if our assumptions aren’t correct.


If there’s anything else you would like to know about text adventures and writing systems on the Spectrum, particularly homebrew games, then please feel free to ask. That’s my main topic/area of interest.


Speaking of Spectrums (hopefully this isn’t too far off topic, but I didn’t want to make a new thread for it), I noticed a hardware remake KS the other day. Too rich for my nostalgia level (and besides, the Spectrum I have in a box somewhere probably still works), but some of you may be interested.

Fantastic! I’ll go have a look!