John Wilson (aka 'The Rochdale Balrog')

I was saddened to read about the passing of John Wilson on Twitter this morning. John was a very prolific IF author who founded Zenobi Software in the 1980s and continued to write IF to the very end using Adventuron and PunyInform.

I’ve played one or two of Mr Wilson’s games in the past but wondered if anyone had any specific recommendations? There are a lot of games attributed to him on IFDB but he has no author profile as such.


Recomendations to follow…

(For those that haven’t heard the news, or don’t know much about John…

…Eurogamer put up an obituary this week: Obituary: John Wilson, founder of legendary text adventure publisher Zenobi Software •

…This is an article created from John’s own words about Zenobi Software… John Wilson - Zenobi Software... In His Own Words

…And there are plenty of comprehensive interviews with John, such as the one in issue 3 of Classic Adventurer… )


The classic, B-Side game Behind Closed Doors is always one people recommend…
(In the BCD series, the fun was to be had just as much from the responses to certain inputs as it was to solving the game.)

John’s Retarded Creatures and Caverns was highly rated back in the day…

From Out of A Dark Night Sky… …shows his more serious side.

A word of warning about John’s games… Like many others of that era, they can sometimes rely on specific, well-know tropes and inputs of the time… For example, John quite liked using WORN as an extra command to INVENTORY. You might also have to LOOK BEHIND, LOOK UNDER, LOOK AROUND, LOOK (direction)… such as LOOK UP, LOOK LEFT… etc.


In coincidence, I was just looking at CASA’s latest updates today (they’re from three days ago) and somehow ended up reading about some of his games, having not previously heard of him. The Spectrum didn’t have a presence in Australia.