Searching an old game author

Hiya all!

This is a question I was thinking of sending privately to Jimmy Maher, as it didn’t exactly fit as a comment on any of his blog posts. There is a slim chance he knows something about it, anyway, as he has been researching the late 70’s TRS-80 scene at his Digital Antiquarian. I also don’t want to abuse his personnal mail, so I’ll expose it here (perhaps any of you could also give some clue!) and send him a quick note linking this thread.

OK, so I’m mantaining a little personnal collection of IF related stuff with items I can get from ebay at a fair/reasonable/as low as possible cost. Last year I hunted a couple of text adventures from the TRS-80 years called “Haunted House” and “Pyramid 2000”

[center] [/center]

Not long after that I tried to enter a fast game creation competition held at an Amiga forum. The premise was to make a remake of any existing work. I played with the idea of making a “Haunted House” remake, adding some multimedia stuff and some kind of story over the minimalistic plot of the original (oh, you just entered this haunted house, now find your way out!) which was after all meant to work on a 4 Kb machine.

Lack of time and ideas made me go with just a plain port of the original (as I could figure out from the walkthrough at with aditional graphics, sound, and an automap feature. It was a de facto breach of every conceivable copyright, but that was OK with the comp rules. If anyone feel curious and knows her way with an Amiga emulator the result is hanging around here and I made a making-of youtube there.

Now skip some time into the future and you find the Indigo Speed-comp. Thanks to Jacqueline announcing it at a spanish IF forum I decide to enter with my very first attempt at I7… which happens to be the bit I had left unresolved in my first Haunted House Remix, some excuse for a plot!

It will have a post-comp release soon, and it will still probably be breaching many copyright stuff, but this time I would like to, at least, cite the original author.

Problem is, this original author is nowhere to be credited in the original game. Nice…! Only a copyright to a company called “Device Oriented Games” is stated.

I hoped it could be this Barry Gaskins cited at IFDB. According to Baf’s Guide both the platform and the description of the game given in the review quite fitted to it… but taking a look into the BASIC files it happened to be another completely different Haunted House. You see, haunted houses were a popular IF subject in the early days! :laughing:

Its reference number is 26-1910, which follows Pyramid 2000 26-1909 and the TRS-80 commercial release of ELIZA (26-1908). It was released most probably at 1979.

Looking into another direction I followed the Pyramid 2000 links at They offered a lot of useful info and insight of this “Device Oriented Games” works, which included a handful of text adventures and a frequently repeated name: Robert Arnstein. While this Arnstein is explicitly mentioned as the author of many of them, I haven’t, after exhaustive googling, found any reliable source (in fact, no source at all) that connects him to Haunted House.

I bet it’s him, but can’t be sure!

Now, if anyone out there has any clue (any magazine review, whatever)… well, at the worst case, I could always cite him as the “most likely author” :slight_smile:

I know of these programs – particularly Haunted House – but not much more. Both were published by Radio Shack itself, and thus stayed somewhat removed from the normal organs of early TRS-80 software distribution: The Software Exchange, etc. As the box and manual attest, Radio Shack was not terribly interested in crediting the people who wrote its software. This disrespect coupled with an underwhelming royalty was a major reason that most independent developers shied away from going this route for publication, despite the incredible exposure you could get from having your program in Radio Shack stores all over the country.

Haunted House at least was unusual in that it ran in only 4 K of memory and worked even on machines still equipped with Level 1 BASIC. Even the Scott Adams games were advanced in comparison. To compensate, it shipped in two parts. At a certain point, you would be prompted to flip the tape and in effect load in a whole second adventure to finish the game.

Sorry I don’t know more…


Thanks anyway! :slight_smile: I guess I’ll cite the company “Device Oriented Games” and tell about Arnstein as the “most probable suspect” in the accompanying docs.