The Retro Adventurers podcast

In which aging nerds play mostly-old text adventures and talk about it. Ours Is Different Because™ each episode features a “main course” as well as an “appetizer” game which gets a more cursory examination. Launch episode is live now featuring The Pawn by Magnetic Scrolls, and Softside’s Around the World Adventure.

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An entertaining and interesting listen. I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed so I don’t miss future episodes. Personally, I don’t remember the Pawn having quite so many issues, but then again I haven’t looked at it since playing it on my Atari ST within a year or two of its release. It’s interesting to get a modern perspective on these older games and I’m looking forward to hearing thoughts on Planet Of Death as this was either the first or second text adventure I tried to play (on a ZX81) although I don’t think I finished it until revisiting it under emulation in the late 1990s (Spectrum version, I think).

One very minor technical observation. I found the volume levels a bit variable, the contributor in the room with lots of reverb (I like to think he was adding genre authenticity by recording in an actual cave) was a bit quiet relative to the others and the overall volume level seemed a bit too low. On my MacBook Pro I had to maximise the volume level for comfortable listening. I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I don’t think it’s my hearing!

Keep up the good work.
Jeremy

No, certainly not your hearing. We knew that our maiden recording session was imperfect but decided overall that it would be better to try to salvage it (and ask forgiveness) rather than either re-record (which wouldn’t feel as natural) or front-load with a lot of disclaimers about the audio. We think we’ll do a lot better next time and this specific feedback helps.

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Will Retro Adventures become listed in podcast apps?

It should be getting there. I’ve personally been able to add it through Apple Podcasts as well as PodcastAddict, and have verified that it’s discoverable on Amazon, PlayerFM, and Spotify as well. There’s a bit of a logjam on the “retro” search term and algorithms do give some priority to longer-running/better established podcasts, but exact spelling and/or a little digging through results should surface it, and then with a little luck and consistency we’ll become easier to find.

(@fos1 Note that it’s “Retro Adventurers,” not “Retro Adventures” as you wrote. That might be the issue!)

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Fascinating podcast that highlights a lot of differences in expectations today vs 40 years ago. Back then, “adventures” were basically puzzle games and the story took a backseat to the notion of clever puzzles. Today it’s the reverse. Unfortunately, some of the “clever puzzles” were not as clever as they were intended, due to limitations of memory, CPU and so forth.

In “The Pawn”, the game was essentially parody of itself, where the “player” was not supposed to be there at all. The “real adventurer” was meant to rescue the princess and win the esteem of the King. The evil magician was meant to thwart the adventurer. Unfortunately, the “player” intervenes and messes everything up. That’s why you can’t both “win” and also rescue the princess - because that’s not your role in the game :slight_smile:

If you decide to feature another Scrolls’ game, I can highly recommend not using the web versions - in which a number of people have complained of bugs and save-game problems, not realising these were not problems in the originals. Instead i recommend playing the remasters which are a whole lot nicer to play. I can supply free copies to anyone sufficiently interested.

For info, the Scrolls’ parser could easily cope with words having simultaneously multiple parts of speech. For example, plant as a verb, noun, and adjective at the same time. The problem instead was the memory to store those words :slight_smile:

There is actually a second parser in “the pawn” that copes with conversations. If you say “john, how are you”. or some sort of question, you will get various answers from characters. Unfortunately, most of these “answers” are not helpful with the story. the second parser was removed for the later games to save memory.

But there is something you have correct;

People don’t want sophisticated parsers. They’d rather have typing conveniences. Like word completion, abbreviations and command re-editing. And today, choices with clickable words and pictures.

Best wishes with the podcasts.

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Yep, I say often about these early games that “the difficulty was the content.” And for my part I intend to go on trying to meet these games where they are (were) and evaluating them on what they were trying to do in the moment.

We did discuss the infamous plant-pot puzzle. My main objection to it is not one of difficulty but of slipshod writing and motivation: the game tells us that the plant starts out inside the pot, so it’s a bizarre leap to think that it remains unplanted.

I appreciate the perspective on the role of the gatecrashing “player” versus that of a true hero. I wish it had been easier to assess that from inside the game and the surrounding documentation.

I’m sure we will go back to Magnetic Scrolls although honestly this first outing pushed that back a ways. I did notice some saved-game issues but (correctly) attributed those to the web interface. I suppose I could audit in another edition whether one of the other major issues I tagged (dropped objects being invisible while on the horse) was somehow specific to the web edition–that felt explainable as a game engine scope issue, not as a platform-specific problem. Will look into the remasters next time.

Episode 2, featuring The Hobbit and Planet of Death, is live now. We recommend just searching “retro adventurers” on your podcast app but you can roll your own from XML or visit the episode 2 landing page if you prefer.

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Funny enough I just finished epidode 1 about half an our ago. Then immediately episode 2 is released…

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Listening to the second episode now - a huge improvement over the already pretty good debut. Keep up the good work.

(I was going to suggest getting rid of the spoiler wall concept as everything you talk about has long since passed out of the spoiler statute of limitations, but I see you are well ahead of me)

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Thinking about it some more, I no longer think I tried to play Planet of Death on the ZX81, it must have been on the Spectrum only. Having looked at both versions because of this very silly project I’ve been working on for the last few weekends, it became clear that I had only ever seen the Spectrum version. Hey ho, it was a long time ago.

The project linked above (rewrite POD in Inform6/PunyInform) is very much a beta/work in progress at this stage. Also, it’s really just for my own amusement.

Jeremy

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This sounds like a fun project and is the sort of thing that I enjoy doing. You might want to consider doing two versions. The first version is a faithful port of the original game, warts and all. The second is a modernised version that caters to modern-day expectations with multi-word parser, extended descriptions and responses, scenery, expanded vocabulary and so on.

I’m only planning on a single version, effectively the same game with old-fashioned ideas (instant death, lots of murder etc.) but with most of what you suggest in option two implemented. For example, doors are implemented as doors, things mentioned in location descriptions are implemented, even if only as scenery and there are some changes to fit in with the Inform way of doing things. Also, it’s less terse than the original. I think any players will still find it quite “warty” though. So, somewhere between the two extremes I think.

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Episode 3, a conversation with synonymous-with-the-genre fellow Scott Adams, is now live.

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