Time's Enigma by Jim MacBrayne

Jim MacBrayne has just released a new game for Windows PCs called Time’s Engima.

See here for details (and an interview with Jim) http://8bitag.com/info/jim-maybrayne.html

During the pandemic, Jim has been converting his old Amiga HiSoft basic games (The Golden Fleece, The Holy Grail, The Mission, and Frustration) to Windows PCs using QBASIC64. He’s also found time to write this new game. Not bad for a 78-year old!

If you’re a fan of old-school parser-driven games then I hope you’ll give his new adventure a go.

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I remember playing Jim’s games on my Amiga 500, they were great fun. I still have a boxed copy of “The Mission” on my shelf of old computer games. I’m not entirely sure about the comparison to Infocom, though: Jim’s games always reminded me more of the Phoenix / Toplogicka games due to their generally fiendish puzzle design!

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I think the Infocom comparisons have to be taken in the context of the adventure landscape at the time… Our UK community was producing lots of 8-bit Quilled and PAWed games, clever but succinct games… so anything that was more verbose and sprawling, with a complex parser, was automatically deemed as being more Infocom-like.

Anybody know the brew incantations necessary to get a version of wine capable of running the qbasic64 .exe?

The doctor’s point about wanting full control over his environment is understandable, but it feels a bit, uh, unnecessarily limiting for 2020 to publish a text-only game as a 64-bit Windows binary.

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QB64 technically compiles native binaries for Linux and MacOS. I don’t think Jim has either of those operating systems, though, so probably didn’t compile something that he couldn’t test.

https://www.qb64.org/portal/

I’ll see if it’s possible for Jim to make alternate builds… but people will need to volunteer to test them, I think, if he does. Edit: Jim doesn’t have access to a Linux or Mac system so can’t build for those targets. He’s also busy at the moment trying to squash a few bugs in the existing game.

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Got the Windows version of Time’s Enigma running in a 64-bit Windows 7 WINE-Bottle in CrossOver (a WINE wrapper) on a Mac, for what it’s worth – although the game does take over the whole screen in quite an abrupt and alarming way!

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Yes, it takes over in Windows too. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the info, Anthony. It would be great to let Jim know that there are at least a few people giving it a go. I think we do these sorts of really old-school projects mostly for ourselves these days, but a bit of feedback is always nice.

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The Alt+Enter keys cycle through various display modes, one of which is a “normal” window, rather than full screen.

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Jim’s been trying to track down a particularly annoying bug in Time’s Enigma. There is an experimental bug fix version on his website at http://www.intermac.co.uk/uploads/

Any saved game files from the original version should still work on it.

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Is there any difference in content between the old DOS versions of Jim’s oeuvre and the newer Windows versions?

Jim mentions a few differences in the interview. I’m sure he will have tweaked things from the TADS versions when he remade them in QBASIC64… It’s hard to resist.

On a related note, as it was mentioned by Jim in the interview. there’s a story to be told about another early British Commodore PET text adventure, Weird Wood… in fact, there’s a new Windows version of the long-lost sequel to that game too… Just been released… a 2020 version of the c.1985 source code… See http://8bitag.com/info/weird-wood-ii.html for details.

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Thanks for that; I shall heed your advice. I must say my first impression is that Jim’s games are pretty tough. They kind of remind me of the old Topologika games.

Canalboy

Is there a bug with the pamphlet or do I misunderstand?

pull lever
N, N, N, E
x table
“On the table lies a pamphlet.”
x pamphlet
“You don’t see any pamphlet here.”
get pamphlet
“You don’t see any pamphlet here.”

Perhaps not a portable object? (I’m sure that Jim would want to add a suitable response to that though, if you let him know). Can you read pamphlet?

No, the negative answer is the same.

If Jim has been in touch I apologise but that scenario had me scrtahcing my head too. You need to type TAKE PAMPHLET FROM TABLE if my memory serves me correctly. I believe that this is true for all takeable objects on other objects in JIm’s games.

Regards

Canalboy

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Thank you, that’s how it works. By typing ‘help’ you get quite detailed information.

My pleasure. They are difficult games though which I like.

I thought I would give Weird Wood 2 a go as I love old school puzzle fests. I must confess I spotted at least half a dozen spelling and punctuation errors in the startup screen but that will not put me off.

The initial idea of the parser responding “I’m bored” is unusual and reminds me of Gorm by Chris Allen. The difference is that this game tries to move the protagonist as a form of existential protest as well.

Canalboy

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I must admit I’ve put Golden Fleece on the shelf for a while, having only managed a miserable 20 points out of 250 so far and have now fired up the Windows version of Frustration. This in effect has moved me from one set of sewage pipes that I was stuck on in GF to another set of pipes that seem equally as challenging.