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Audyssey;
Computer Games Accessible to the Blind
Edited by Michael Feir
Issue 6: May/June, 1997

++
Welcome

Welcome to the sixth issue of Audyssey. this magazine is dedicated
to the discussion of games which, either by accident or design, are
accessible to the blind. We also discuss any concerns and issues
raised by them. This issue brings you another episode of Adam, the
Immortal Gamer, a second contest, the latest news from PCS, and
several game reviews contributed by some of our growing community
of readers.       

  Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your
fellow readers. They will also make my job as editor a lot more
interesting and true to the meaning of the word. This magazine
should and can be a highly interesting and qualitative look at
accessible computer gaming. To insure
that high quality is maintained, I'll need your written
contributions. I'm not asking for money here, and won't accept any.
This magazine is free in its electronic form, and will always
remain so. PCS needs to charge a subscription cost to cover the
disks and shipping costs that it incurs by making the magazine
available on disk. I'm writing this
magazine as much for my own interest as for everyone else's. Your
articles, reviews, and letters, as well as any games you might care
to send me, are what I'm after. Send any games, articles, letters,
or reviews on a 3.5-inch disk in a self-addressed mailer
so that I can return your disk or disks to you once I have copied
their contents onto my hard drive. Please only send shareware or
freeware games. It is illegal to send commercial games. By sending
me games, you will do several things: first, and most obviously,
you will earn my gratitude. You will also insure that the games
you send me are made available to my readership as a whole. As a
further incentive, I will fill any disks you send me with games
from my collection. No disk will be returned empty. If you want
specific games, or specific types of games, send a message in Ascii
format along. *Never* *ever* send your original disks of *anything*
to *anyone* through the mail. *Always* send *copies!* This
principle may seem like it shouldn't even have to be stated, but
when it comes to just about anything related to computers, there's
always some poor soul who will act before applying common sense.
Disks are *not* indestructible. Things *do* get lost or damaged in
the mail, and disks are not immune to these misfortunes. If you
have a particular game that you need help with, and you are sending
your questions on a disk anyhow, include the game so that I can try
and get past your difficulty. If you can, I recommend that you send
e-mail. I have acquired a copy of the UUencode software, and can
send and/or receive files which are encoded via this means. This
way,
no money will be wasted sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping
costs. That means, either use a disk mailer which has your address
on it, and is either free matter for the blind, or is properly
stamped. I can and will gladly spare time to share games and my
knowledge of them, but cannot currently spare money above what I
spend hunting for new games. I encourage all my
readers to give my magazine to whoever they think will appreciate
it. Up-load it onto web pages and bulletin board systems. Copy it
on disk for people, or print it out for sighted people who may find
it of value. The larger our community gets, the more self-
sustaining it will become.

This magazine is published on a bi-monthly basis, each issue
appearing no earlier than the twentieth of every other month.  All
submissions must be sent to me in standard Ascii format either on
a 3.5-inch floppy disk, or via e-mail to my Compuserve address. I
will give my home address and my Compuserve address at the end of
the magazine. There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. To
subscribe to the distribution list so that you receive all future
issues, send a subscription request to J.J. Meddaugh. As he is
running several lists, be sure to specifically ask to join the
Audyssey list. His address is:
[email protected]
You can find all issues of Audyssey on the Internet on Paul
Henrichsen's web site at:
www.thesocket.com/~henrich
All issues are also available in the disability forum on
Compuserve, and also in the gamers forum. If you have web access,
Audyssey now has an official web-page, maintained by J.J. Meddaugh.
There are links to other interesting sites, and all issues of
Audyssey are available there as well. In the near future, software
may also be posted there for you to down-load. The address for this
page is:
http://www.geocities.com/timessquare/alley/1989

For those of you who have trouble finding some of the software
discussed in this magazine, or if you know someone who doesn't have
access to the Internet, but would be interested in the magazine,
this magazine is now available on disk. PCS has agreed to
distribute Audyssey, as well as selected shareware or freeware
software on disk for ten dollars US per year. To subscribe to
Audyssey on disk, contact them at:
Personal Computer Systems
551 Compton Ave.
Perth Amboy N.J.
08861
Phone (908)-826-1917
E-mail: [email protected]


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Contents:
Welcome
Contents
From the Editor
The Ultimate Article Contest
Letters
The Latest finds
News from PCS
Adam, The Immortal Gamer
Twisty Little Passages
Game Reviews
Contacting Me

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From The Editor

Hello, everyone. I hope you've had a fairly good time of things
over the past two months. What with an abundance of tests,
readings, and exams, I can't exactly say that my life has been all
smooth sailing. However, I am now finished for the Summer months.
At last, I can bend my full energy to the acquisition and
dissemination of fun. In the next issue of Audyssey, I will spend
much of it looking back at where we've come from, and forward to
where we're going. I hope that some of you might consider beginning
your writing careers by writing an article to put in the
July/August first Anniversary issue. I also hope that you will
continue to write letters, articles, etc for future issues. There
have been too many times when I've barely managed to scrape
together a half-decent issue. I can't stress enough how much I rely
on all of you to sustain this magazine, hopefully through many more
years. I plan to continue writing this magazine for as long as I
can. Games have been a life-long interest for me, and I doubt that
this will ever change. Also, I know that my efforts, as well as
some of your efforts have made a very real difference for people.
A game is ultimately a work of art, and like any such creation, it
has its own kind of power.

To improve the quality of this magazine, I would like to attempt to
form some semblance of a staff who will help me write future issues
of the magazine. As I have stated in the past, I try to insure that
my own biases and interests do not narrow the focus of this
magazine, which should cover as many types of games as possible as
thoroughly as possible. My interests mainly lie in the areas of
adventure/role-playing games, strategic games, and interactive
fiction. I am not overly keen on sports games, card games, and
board-games. Also, while I would doubtless enjoy Internet games
like muds, I cannot afford to play them enough to form overall
opinions of them. If possible, I would like to find people willing
to write at least one article or review per issue on games which
fall within their purview that are either discovered, or haven't
been adequately covered so far in previous issues of Audyssey.
Understand that like myself, you will not be paid for your efforts
in financial terms. Like me, you'll draw your satisfaction from
helping others to experience games which might otherwise escape
their notice. You will find your articles in each issue of
Audyssey, and know that you have made my job easier, and added
enjoyment and insight to a constantly growing community of readers.
I will send any games/letters to you which come my way which fall
into your area of concern.  Here is a list of the kind of positions
I would like to fill. If you want to fill more than one position,
you are quite welcome to do so. Conversely, It would be even better
if I could have several people writing in each area. To the rest of
you, don't think for a minute that this means I'm no longer
interested in your submissions. I most certainly am. There are
times when people will be unable to contribute for one reason or
another. Also, if I limited the magazine to a small group of
submitters, it would not grow into the forum for discussion and
argument which I would like to see this magazine become. Positions
which I need filled include:
1. A sports corespondent.
2. a card-game corespondent.
3. A board-game corespondent.
4. An educational game corespondent.
5. An Internet games corespondent.
6. A technical consultant willing to help answer technical
questions involving various speech packages, operating systems,
etc.

Well, I guess that about wraps it up for this issue. I hope you all
find reading the rest of this magazine an enjoyable and worth-while
experience. to all who contributed, my deepest thanks and
appreciation. Keep up the good work, and I'll keep putting this
magazine together.

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The Ultimate Article Contest

In support of this magazine, PCS has authorized me to offer a free
game to the winner of a contest of my choice. At long last, I
believe that I have come up with a contest worthy of this prize.
For the past couple of months, I have been trying to come up with
an idea for a contest which would be as open to everyone as
possible. No specific knowledge or gaming experience is required
which might be hard for people to obtain due to one circumstance or
another. Any of you, my readers, can win the free game. the winner
may choose this free game from the selection of PCS games which
will be included in the next issue. Your submissions must take the
form of an article, story, or review which must be at least five
hundred words long. As long as this piece of writing is concerned
with games and/or the issues raised by games, it is valid. if you
have an opinion on a game, or type of game, why not write an
article? If you have an amusing story about a game you played,
share it with us. All submissions will be reserved for possible
future publication. In your submission, please include a password
which can be any word at all. I will give the password of the
winner to PCS, so that they can verify the identity of the winner.
It is then your responsibility to contact PCS. You'll need to give
them the password, as well as your mailing address, and tell them
which game you want to receive. Not much trouble at all for a prize
worth around $30 US.

Remember that I am not as strict about the length of a submission
as I am about its quality. I will choose the best submission I
receive before the July issue is published. I wish all of you good
luck. the articles will be judged by myself and by the famed Adam,
the Immortal Gamer. What would you choose as your trophy? Do you
crave the strategy found in Any Night Football, or the devastation
of a tank battle found In Panzer97. Might Bowling be up your alley,
or would the PCS Shooting range be a bit closer to the mark? any of
these could be yours, as well as several other games. Fun is within
your grasp.
 
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Letters:


Just a Thought
By Allen Maynard

Why do most of text adventures seem to have to have mazes?  I truly
don't think mazes add anything to a game.  You go north, and then
try to go back south, and you either get a "You can't go that way"
message, or you actually end up going up or something. 

Oh sure, you can drop items to try and mark your path through a
maze, but pretty soon, you run out of objects to drop when you're
not even a fourth of the way through the thing.  But for some
reason, virtually every game, involving interactive fiction, has an
area of the game which is a damn maze.

I would love to hear other gamers' opinions about my soapbox speech
here. I'm also wondering, since I can't play them, do video games
either for pc's or Mac, or Super Nintendo (or whatever) contain
mazes.  From sitting by and watching my brother play them, I don't
recall mazes being a factor
in the multitude of cool games he played.

Okay...okay...whew!  (gasp) I'm done.

I hope I've started an argument or two.

Just in case my intent wasn't clear...I HATE MAZES!!!!!!
+
Quite an interesting issue has been raised here. For my own
response, see the article called Twisty Little Passages found later
in this magazine. What do the rest of you think about mazes? Are
they amusing puzzles, or just nuisances? Has anyone found a
particularly original or creative use of a maze which they
appreciated? What are some of the worst mazes you've come across.
Let's hear some thoughts and experiences from you.
+

Hi.  I'm Jayson Smith, the person who told you about also getting
started with computer games via The Great Escape.  I'm very glad
you told me about FTP.GMD.DE.  I hadn't ever heard of it, and I
have found it to be a treasure trove of neat stuff both for playing
and writing games!  I have on my computer the latest version of
Inform, and the latest (last?) version of Tads.  I've just been
playing around with them, but somehow, I have found Inform to be
easier to learn and use.  Have you ever experimented with a game
creation system like this?  The first one I used was good ol' AGT,
but I think Tads and Inform can do much more now.  Speaking of
Great Escape, I down-loaded the IBM port, and my GWBasic version
actually is more speech friendly.  The other person I think just
wrote directly to the screen rather then going through BIOS.  The
only changes I made were necessary to get it to run on the IBM, it
still talks about a villian!  Of course, I left that misspelling in
there on purpose.  I thought it would be neat to leave that in as
a kind of remembrance of the good ol' Apple days or whatever.
     Well, what I really wrote you for was to say that I was
looking through my games directory the other night and I found a
few games you might want.  Let me know if you already have any of
them, or just want me to send them to you.
Nextrek:  This is a simulation of what it might be like to be
Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise.  In the galaxy that is
created, there are starbases, Federation ships and threat ships.
Of course, your goal is to kill off the threat ships, save as many
of the Fed ships as you can, etc.  You actually type in commands
such as "red alert", "cancel alert", "scan" and the like.  The
other crew members will respond to you.  However, you do need to
have the ability to review the screen character by character, as
the only real way to find out where other ships etc. are is to look
at the scanner display.  I have no idea where to get this game over
the Internet or any other source.  I got it from a local BBS which
has since gone down.
DND:  This is a Dungeons and Dragons game.  I guess kinduh like
Nethack although I've never played Nethack.  Basically go into
dungeons, kill monsters, find treasures, and try to make it out
alive!  You use the numeric keypad a lot for movement, but the
regular numbers work as well, I think.  You might need to have
character-by- character screen review capabilities.  Note:  Once
your character dies, it is completely erased (no resurrection is
available).  Once again, I have no idea where to get this game now,
I just have it.
Trivia:  your basic Trivia game.  In fact, I think it actually
might have been written in Basic!  It's probably pretty old, and it
is public domain.  It has several categories, and it probably
wouldn't take just a bunch to add your own.  Very speech friendly,
but you need to put that caps lock down!  Once again, I have no
idea where to get this game.
If you want any of them, just let me know.  I'll zip them up and
send them to you!  If I send you any files via UUencode, do they
need to be split up, and how long can each part be?

+
Good to hear from you again, Jayson. Many thanks for the games. I'm
still trying to figure out that Nextrek game, and will probably be
mystified by parts of it for the foreseeable future. I hereby
announce that all of the games Jayson listed in his letter are
available through me to everyone. I can put them on a disk if you
send me one, or send them in uuencoded form over the Internet.
Jayson has earned my eternal gratitude, and doubtless that of many
other gamers who wanted a trivia game. He has uncovered the first
freeware speech-friendly trivia game found for the PC. It comes
with several categories of questions, and adding your own is quite
a simple exercise as long as you can dig up the questions. For more
details, see the Latest Finds section. I certainly look forward to
more of your thoughts on games, particularly as you become more
familiar with some of the development languages available to game
designers. Our developer's section is in need of input, and I am
not really suited to any kind of programming. Regarding the
uuencode question, it doesn't seem to matter with mail coming in
how large the files are, but I am forced to split files up into
smaller parts to send them out. also, if you actually get around to
making a game, I'll gladly include any announcements, previews,
etc, which you might want to write. This goes for all game
developers. So far, PCS is the only developer of games which has
taken advantage of this magazine for advertising purposes. I hope
that will change in the future.
+
 From Zachary Battles:
Here is a review of the bridge program.  I am not sure of its
quality, but I hope that it is helpful.  I am quite sorry for not
contributing anything to your magazine, but the academic load has
become quite heavy.  However, an idea for Adam the Immortal has
crossed my mind, but I am not sure that I will have time to write
it anytime soon.
+
Thank you very much for the Bridge review. It's exactly the kind of
review I am looking for. To find Zachary's review of Bridgepal,
look in the Game Reviews section. To Zachary and the rest of you,
don't worry if you find that you don't have time to contribute
often. It is certainly true that I need as many articles, reviews,
etc, that I can get. It is also true that there are other aspects
of life that are far more important than games. As a student of a
university, I am well aware of how absorbing an academic year can
be. Contribute when you can spare the time. Hopefully, enough of
you will send in your work so that others can take breathers when
they need to. Well, Zachary, I look forward to that Immortal Gamer
idea, and any other reviews you manage to write. Good luck with
school, and with any games you play to stave off stress.

+
From - Maurice Scott Peret
Dear Michael;


I have just finished reading the first 5 issues of your magazine,
Audyssey" and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I can't wait to down-load
subsequent issues.  I find your  descriptive prose to be extremely
engaging and your imagination inspiring. I want also to express my
appreciation for your carefully detailed explanations of the
various
games and their definitions.  Without being condescending you don't
assume that your audience is as conversant in computer terms as you
are.  Besides being entertained by your episodes of "Adam, the
immortal gamer," I was also educated about how some of the
assistive technology works. 

In order to raise with you some thoughts of my own and perhaps a
few
questions as well, I think that a few words by way of introduction
might be useful. 

I am a blind factory worker currently living in Morgantown West
Virginia.  About a year and a half ago I acquired my first speech
based equipment from Artic Technologies.  My original purpose was
to
facilitate my need to communicate with the outside world.  I needed
a
way to be able to write letters, articles, and take notes or
minutes
at meetings.  Although I am sufficient in braille and can type,
this
alone does not adequately meet those needs.  The Artic TransType
note
taker was a real plunge into the world of modern communication. 
After some months of frustration with an incompatible printer I
finally began to get a glimpse of what is possible with this new
device.  I must also mention as you may already have gathered, that
I
am almost exclusively computer  illiterate.  Having said that,
however, it was when my companion finally acquired her own personal

computer that I was able to explore (with her diligent help) for
the
first time some of the possibilities opened up by the TransType. 


What led me to your magazine was the startling disCovery that
included in the latest up-date of my TransType came the Artic
black-jack version 1.0 game.  I became instantly addicted.  I then
wanted to see whether or not there were other games available to be

down-loaded.   I am rapidly finding out the limitations of not
having
a screen reading program such as BusinessVision or WinVision.The
main
limitation to not having a screen reader is that files cannot be
down-loaded onto my TransType unless it is in bookreader format.
So
my first question to you is:  Is it possible to down-load a
freeware
game without the use of a screened reader? 

Since I have razed the question of screen reading programs, can you

help in suggesting the one best suited for the TransType?  I am
on the verge of purchasing the software called WINDOW-BRIDGE.

 In your review you described a number of interesting games.  Here,

I would like to tell you those that interested me in particular. 
Fallthru seems like an intriguing game because of its stress on
strategy.  For the same reason I was really happy to read
the previous review of computer chess games.  Because of my
preoccupation with politics, in particular building a working class

movement to confront the spiralling economic crisis faced by
labour,
military strategy is of real interest to me.  Not having played
chess
for many years, however, I would need to relearn the game from the
beginning. My interest in history and philosophy would be right in
the
league of the game you described as "Jigsaw."

I would be interested to hear more about how you became involved in

computer games adapted for the blind.  For my part, I did not even
get exposed to any of the assistive technologies  until I was in
college a dozen years ago.  Since then the matter has been more a
question of the expense.  My notion is that you must, to some
degree,
have been blazing uncharted territory for the last 11 years as you
described.  Its good to see how far yours and other efforts have
come.  I can relate only through my own experience in seeking and
holding jobs in industrial manufacturing.  There are still a scant
few
of the blind working in these types of jobs in the United States.


I have often been envious of those who could spend hours in
fascinating challenges that computer games seem to offer.  This
being
my first exposure to games adapted for the blind, I have many
questions that I don't think I can cover in this short note to you.

As I read and learn more through "Audyssey" I will undoubtedly find

more questions to try and answer.  I am sure that the inquiries
that
I have raised here are quite elementary.  I hope that there might
be
something useful in solving problems that other people might be
having as your magazine gets more circulation.  I will, in the mean

time, look forward to the next issue of "Audyssey."

I would be glad to receive any response from you by writing to the
above address or by e mail.  Feel free to edit and publish this
letter
as you see fit. 

Sincerely,

Maurice Scott Peret

+
Glad I was able to provide you with some interesting reading. I've
been doing a bit of digging, but I'm sorry to report that I'm still
stumped about this Bookreader format business. I haven't come
across any mention about games written in this format, freeware or
otherwise. If you have access to a computer, you should be able to
down-load games onto that with any number of communications
programs with sighted assistance. To do this kind of thing
independently, you would definitely need some kind of screen-
reader. You would also need it for playing any of the games covered
in this magazine without sighted assistance. The questions you
raise are far from elementary. I hope someone out there who is
reading this can provide some insight into this Bookreader format
question. As I understand it, the Transtype can act as a voice
synthesizer with several screen readers. One thing to keep in mind
when purchasing screen-readers is that you will need access to Dos
and windows to be competitive in the work-place. All of the games
I've come across are dos-based as opposed to Windows-based. I see
no reason why games couldn't be made in Windows which were speech-
friendly, but as Windows is geared towards visual access, it is
unlikely that any high-quality games will be written in it which
are suitable for the blind in the near future. One problem I have
with Artic Businessvision is that it has no command to remove it
from memory. To access Windows, I have to shut off my computer and
turn it back on again before entering windows. Asap is one screen-
reading package which apparently doesn't have this problem. I
haven't heard anything at all about this Windowbridge. There is one
free screen-reader for Dos that I know of called Provox. It's
available on Compuserve, and is doubtless out there on the Internet
somewhere, but I don't know any sites which carry it. I will be
happy to distribute copies of Provox to anyone who might want it,
as long as you send me a disk to put it on, or are able to handle
uuencoded files. This screen-reader is not suitable for playing
games using text characters to form graphics, like Nethack or Adom.
You would be limited strictly to word-based games. However, the
majority of games are word-based. I have tested Provox out with my
Artic Transport, and it seems to do fairly well with Wordperfect
5.1. Despite money shortages, it is usually worthwhile to find a
screen-reader which you are comfortable with. I've known several
people who went for the cheapest option and regretted it later. In
the next issue, I will finally give the long-awaited answers to all
of your questions about myself in an autobiographical article I'm
already working on. The next issue will mark the first anniversary
of Audyssey, and will look back at where we've come from, and
forward to the future. I always find it fascinating to hear about
the lives of my readers. Games have been a powerful influence on my
life, and finding out where other gamers have come from is useful
and interesting. Let's hear about more of you so that we can all
get to know each other better.
+
From J.J. Meddaugh
In case you didn't hear, WSBB, the World Series Baseball Game and
Information System has a web site now.
http://users.deltanet.com/
tdb/wsbb/wsbb.htm
the page was started by Tom Baccanti who incidentally does not
subscribe to Audyssey.
+
Thanks for the info, J.J. I'm sure all you Baseball fans will want
to check out that particular web-site, and perhaps, the owner of
that particular web-site might check out this particular magazine.

++
The Latest Finds
+
Trivia:

This game, found by jayson Smith, is a fine addition to anyone's
collection of games. It asks up to fifty questions in a chosen
category which are of the multiple-choice type. You simply input a
letter to answer the question. It comes with several categories
already made, and adding more is very simple. You must look at the
.dat files. Add the name of the category and the name of the .dat
file you'll create to store the questions and answers in that
category to the file called catego.dat. All .dat files are standard
text files. You can make or edit them with any text editor, and
with just about any word-processor. Use the options relating to
loading and saving dos or text files. the game is quite small, just
under four hundred K when fully expanded. The only real drawback
with it is that it isn't multi-player. A lot of you have wondered
whether a multi-player trivia game was out there, and so far, the
answer is no, as far as I am aware. It certainly seems like a
feasible idea, but no one has put one together just yet. this
trivia game is not time-dependant, so you could play it with a lot
of players, keeping track of their own scores. Also, I am uncertain
whether the fifty-question limit is necessary either. If anyone
finds out about this through experimentation, let me know the
actual limit of how many questions can be in a category file. the
number of choices given to players when answering is also an area
of uncertainty. Again, it might be possible to offer a lot more
than just four or five choices.
+
Anacreon Reconstruction

This game isn't entirely a "latest find". the long and sad story
goes like this. I found the game during my second year of
university, and decided that I liked it enough to order it. I did
this, sending out a money order for $35 US, as instructed. It ended
up costing me around fifty Canadian dollars in total to do this.
After waiting a while, I decided to call the author and
congratulate him about his fantastic game. All I got was his
message machine. I kept calling him, leaving who knows how many
messages on that infernal machine. I actually tried to get an
interview with him for this magazine, but to no avail. I probably
spent twice as much leaving him messages as I did in ordering the
bloody game. A year has passed, and I have yet to hear from the
game's author. Recently, however, I figured out how to join
newsgroups and have joined several. A fellow on one of these was
also wondering about the game. Like myself, he also had trouble
contacting the author, but agreed to send me the full version of
the game. To this person, my eternal thanks. Although I don't have
the complete manual for the game, the shareware version came with
basic instructions, and the on-line help is fairly good. I'll be
happy to distribute the shareware version to anyone who wants to
give this game a look. If I haven't heard from anyone who owns the
rights to the game by the next issue of Audyssey, I will feel
justified in giving the full version of the game out. If someone
actually cares about supporting this wonderful game, I firmly
believe that the owners of its rights deserve to earn a profit. I
will refrain from distributing the full version and tell all of you
who to contact in order to buy this game. Buying the game will
still be a better choice for all of you, since I can only give the
limited instructions available in the shareware version of the
game. While they cover the basics, they leave quite a lot
unexplained. Even though I have a full copy of the game, I would
gladly pay for the instructions for it by re-purchasing it. I feel
perfectly entitled to the copy which I have, and would feel so even
for the money I put in to attempting to establish contact with the
author. I'm against piracy, in most cases, but to see such a good
game go unplayed due to a lack of caring is something I deeply
resent. I've come across too many excellent products and games
which have been swept aside by so-called progress. If someone from
TMA Incorporated is reading this, I strongly urge you to contact
me. I will put contacting information in my magazine so that the
game can be purchased from you legally, along with the complete set
of instructions and/or utilities.

anacreon Reconstruction is a game of universal domination and
empire-building. You are in command of an empire trying to expand
into the universe. Using a fairly simple interface of menus which
require navigation by arrows or input of letters, you construct
fleets of ships to move supplies, conquer, defend, etc. The
industries on worlds can be controlled, and there are numerous
types of planets and structures to be found and built. This game is
a strategists dream. Although it isn't perfectly speech-friendly,
and is very complex, the patient gamer will be well rewarded for
his/her efforts. Despite extensive Internet searching, I couldn't
track down a site where this game is available. It can be found on
Compuserve. I'm fairly certain that it is in the gaming or gamers
forum.
+
Pz97

PCS has just released its much anticipated World War II tanks game.
In it, you take command of the tank of your choice and attempt to
destroy all enemy tanks on the map. You can move in eight
directions and at four different speeds. You may fire at any target
within range of your guns, and may also obscure targets with smoke
even if they are well out of normal range. Shooting is done via
aiming at a certain high-pitched click or clicks set in a series of
lower clicks. The closer the target, the more accurate your guns
can be when fired. An excellent job has been done with the sounds
in the game. there are approximately one hundred and sixty-two
sounds used in the game, including tanks being destroyed, cannons
and machine-guns firing, background war sounds, a warning beep
which tells of visible enemy tanks, shells passing through the air,
and more. You can tell how close tanks and shells are by hearing
the noise made by a shell's flight and impact. The coordinates of
visible tanks on the map can also be found out. However, the option
to shoot at x-y coordinates is not given. Also, there is no means
of repairing or re-supplying a damaged tank. Some kind of tank
repair yard, which might be attacked by enemy tanks, would add much
to the strategy of the game. Despite these minor short-comings,
Panzer97 is easily comparable in sophistication and strategy to
many video games enjoyed by sighted players. The price of this game
is $30 US, and this is fairly reasonable given the limited market
the game was designed for. Due to all of the sound files, the game
is more bulky than any other PCS game to date, requiring a little
over four megs when fully expanded. The game also comes with a
small text file recounting the history of tank battles in North
Africa during World War II.

+
Car97

The other game recently released from PCS is a racing game. You
control a race-car and attempt to successfully drive around one of
several different tracks as fast as you can. The price of this game
is $30 US. You control your car with the arrow keys, a few function
keys, and the space-bar. Turns are handled by pressing the left or
right arrow, depending on which way you have to turn, at the right
time. This is harder to do as you go faster, since the window of
opportunity to safely turn becomes smaller. The sounds are of good
quality, although the screeching heard when your car turns a corner
is a bit too uniform to be convincing. There has also been an
attempt to make this game easier to run on braille displays, but I
cannot personally testify to how effective this is.

Although the game realistically simulates the tension and
excitement of racing, it is limited by not including actual
opponent cars which must be out-manoeuvred. if you are expecting a
game which is comparable to today's racing games enjoyed by sighted
people, I'm afraid you're in for a disappointment. It is strictly
you against time records of other drivers. Even so, the game is a
fantastic way of honing your ear-hand reflexes and coordination.
Viewed in this light, it is excellent, as you can increase the
speed as much as you wish. It will always be a challenge to
players, no matter how good they get.
+
Betrayal at Krondor


In an extremely rare move, Sierra On-line, known for its graphical
adventures, has made one of its best-selling games freeware. they
have unreservedly placed it in the public domain. This game,
Betrayal at Krondor, is a fantasy role-playing game which
concentrates on story and characters rather than strictly combat.
It has sound and music, and also may have limited speech on
machines which can support it. You can run it in dos or windows.
The documentation is in Windows .wri files, but these can be
converted into text files if necessary. All documentation is
provided, including technical tips and the player's manual. The
file is on the Internet, and will be called krondor.exe, or
something similar to that. It is a self-extracting Winzip file. if
you only have dos, don't worry. You can still extract it. Just be
certain to change the name of the file before running it, since it
will create a krondor.exe file. it uses too much graphics to be
useable with speech synthesizers. the compressed file takes up
roughly ten to eleven megs of space, and the full game takes up
around eighteen megs when fully expanded. It took Adam and I around
six hours to down-load, but it is well worth the time. The game is
absolutely first-rate.

In order to really appreciate this game, you will need a sighted
person to play with you who enjoys reading out loud. Based on a
series of best-selling fantasy novels written by Raymond Feist, the
text is extremely well-written. Feist was deeply involved in all
aspects of the creation of the game. Both you and your sighted
companion(s) will need to be patient, and willing to piece things
together and experiment. Being the thick-headed fools that we are,
Adam and I started the game without first reading the manual. This
document is well worth the read, as it explained a lot which we
found puzzling, and provided a rich background to the story in the
game. I should warn you that this manual does not reveal all of the
items, spells, etc, that you will encounter in the game. If you are
a compuserve member, you can find Betrayal at Krondor in the gamers
forum. If you aren't, you might want to search the net with
keywords like Sierra or Krondor.       

++
News from PCS

IN late April, I decided to call PCS in order to offer some
constructive criticism of their original PZ97 demo, and also to
find out what their plans and concerns were. I was able to talk to
Carl Mickla, one of two programmers at PCS. He was happy to fill me
in on the latest happenings and ideas. The next product they are
working on is a pack of card-games which should be released fairly
soon. they are also planning to work on up-grading some of their
older products. for example, the Football up-grade will be worked
on. The Dungeons and Dragons game is also an on-going process,
although it has been put on the back-burner temporarily as work on
up-grading continues. Depending on the success of the PZ97 tank
battle game, PCS plans to produce more large-scale and complex
strategy games. Basically, they will try and produce what the
market demands.

As you might have seen in my reviews, I usually tend to find a lot
of room for added challenge and complexity in their games. I asked
Carl what their long-term strategy was, and he explained that what
these initial games were doing was familiarizing blind people with
the basic concepts needed to effectively play what they planned to
make in the future. For example, the Fox and Hounds game and the
PZ97 game are great ways of learning or teaching mapping skills.
Once blind people are familiar with these, they will be able to
properly understand and enjoy grid-based wargames. The racing game
is the next step along the ear-hand coordination ladder. if people
are interested enough in these kind of games, the way will be open
for more ambitious future projects, such as flight simulators and
space combat games.

When talk turned to the subjects of multi-player games and more
complex strategy games, Carl and I realized just how diverse the
desires of blind gamers actually were. It seems that the majority
of people who contact me are looking for more complex and strategic
games, while the people contacting PCS mostly want games of chance,
or games which are easier than those demanded by my contacts. The
other key difference we found was in multi-player demand. I get a
lot of requests for multi-player games which can be played by
several people who take turns entering their moves. In contrast,
PCS has received little prase for the multi-player games which they
have made, and no inquiries about possible future multi-player
games. Basically, PCS will make what they can sell. If you want
more strategic and/or multi-player games, you are strongly urged to
contact them via phone or e-mail, or via normal mail. they are
certainly open to both criticism and suggestions. To give an
example of this, you may have noticed a difference between the
first version and the current version of the PZ97 demos. I pointed
out that having the demo pause every three moves could be far too
annoying. It wasn't so bad on my laptop, but on other computers I
tried it on, it made a musical beep tone while it paused. this
detracted from the demo's playability to the point where eight out
of the twenty-two people I showed it to stopped playing before
firing a single shot. Soon after I explained this to PCS, a new
demo version came out. It only pauses once every ten moves. This
makes the demo a lot more enjoyable.

The final item to add to the PCS news brief, is that PcS now stands
ready to start shipping issues of Audyssey on disk. Each issue
comes with some of the games discussed in it. if you are interested
in subscribing to the disk-based version of Audyssey, or want to
present ideas, feedback, etc, you can contact PCS at:
551 Compton ave.
Perth Amboy N.J.  08861
Phone: (9 0 8) 8 2 6 - 1 9 1 7
Email: [email protected]

++
Adam, The Immortal Gamer

Adam awakens from oblivion and finds himself stepping out of a
stasis chamber. He is surrounded by technology. Sophisticated
machines, displays, and panels are everywhere. He starts wandering
around, drying to comprehend where he is, and why he is here. He
shakes his head in confusion, and discovers that he is wearing a
crown. He takes it off and studies it, noticing that what he first
took to be gems were in fact miniature representations of planets
and stars. Placing it back on his head, he finds a doorway and
walks through it. The room he next enters is beyond all
description. Maps of entire galaxies hover in the air. In the
centre of the room is a large throne. Looking at it more closely,
Adam notices the many controls mounted on the arm-rests. Wanting to
examine these more closely, and wanting an ego-boost, he climbs
into the strange throne and seats himself.

"I am the ruler of the universe! I am the ultimate emperor!"

"Hardly, my liege." Adam looked down and saw a man dressed in the
garments of a high-ranking official. "If you would care to study
the map of the universe, you might observe the numerous independent
worlds ready to be conquered, and the five other major powers in
the universe, which might very well conquer this empire if care is
not taken, sire."

Adam gives the map a mere glance, taking in the independent worlds
more than the other enemy forces. "I suppose we should expand a
bit, come to think of it."

Acting on this thought, Lord Adam expanded his empire. Planet after
planet was swept up into his control, and neglected the moment it
was taken. for a time, the Adam empire seemed to prosper. New
technologies were discovered, and many powerful fleets were built
to further Adam's expansionist goals. Gradually, Adam's seemingly
endless appetite for power was satisfied. Twenty worlds lay in
Adam's empire. Pausing a moment, he allowed his leisurely gaze to
take in the abundance of wealth at his command. It suddenly dawned
on him that this power, though enormous, was only imaginary. In
reality, he was nothing but a failure. He had fallen far behind in
his school work, had ignored his parents and friends, and had
generally made a complete mess of his life. Taking a closer look at
the map, he realized that all was not well in his empire either.
Several planets were critically short of supplies, and some were
threatening to revolt. He also noticed that his enemies had built
up their forces as well. Thousands of ships were poised and ready
to invade his ill-defended empire. He had allowed his ego to grow
so large that it was now ready to collapse in on itself. Could he
save himself in the game? Could he repair the damage he had done in
real life? His aggressive tactics, although useful, were not the
complete solution. Careful long-term strategy was needed. this
wasn't exactly Lord Adam's strong point, but he would give it a
try. Over the next half-century, Adam started to right some of the
wrongs in his realm. Planets which had gone neglected for decades
began to receive the supplies and attention they required in order
to better serve the empire. Fleets of urgently needed
reinforcements began to arrive at their destinations, and the
hammer which was once ready to break up the empire found itself
under heavy attack. With bold and decisive action, Adam began to
destroy the massive enemy fleets.

and so, it came to pass that Lord Adam became sole ruler in the
universe. As he gazed upon the universal map, he suddenly saw that
nothing needed to be done. There were no more worlds to conquer, no
battles to be fought. "What is there to do now?" He said to no one
in particular. "I haven't really done anything, have I? Nothing
here is real."

Slowly, the environment around him, in all its technological
splendour, faded into a void of nothingness, dispelled by Adam's
newfound insight. "You are correct, Adam." The familiar disembodied
voice came echoing into his mind. "It was only a game. Games can
teach us many things, and give us confidence, self-esteem, and
pleasure. However, no game can match the challenge, nor the
ultimate rewards of satisfaction offered by real life. Once a game
is finished, its universe ends for lack of purpose. The journey
ends, leaving us with whatever we have gained through experience to
take back as souvenirs into daily existence. You finally begin to
see how truly important and worth-while life is. You have only a
few more lessons to be learned before you can go back to the real
world."
"      

++
Twisty Little Passages
by Michael Feir

"You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike."
(Zork I: The Great Underground Empire)

Right from the start, the maze has been a strong element of
interactive fiction. There were at least two in the original
Colossal Cave adventure which started the genre of text adventures
which are now uniformly called interactive fiction. In the early
days, interactive fiction was flooded with mazes, even if there
really wasn't much point in having them in games. Afterall, until
Infocom came along with its sophisticated parser, they were the
most difficult kind of puzzle which could be placed in a game. The
original Colossal Cave adventure, and most of the games which
followed it, used simple parsers which only understood two-word
commands. Added to this was the fact that these parsers only looked
at the first six letters of the player's entered words. Vocabulary
was limited by memory constraints.

From this limited beginning, Infocom came into being. Its games
were written in a powerful programming language which was
independent of any specific computer. Games made by Infocom could
understand complete sentences. this powerful parser is what gave
the creators, or, implementors at Infocom the power to make complex
puzzles which were no longer strictly dependant on single items or
locations. The other tremendous edge that Infocom's implementors
had was that they used a compression technique which allowed them
to fit a lot more onto a floppy disk than anyone else. Although
several Infocom games contained different mazes, these were
different from the norm in that they either had original twists
added into them, or had a good reason for existing based on the
plot of the game.

For players unfamiliar with Infocom's treasure-trove of games, it
may be helpful to know about some of their creative uses of the
maze. In the Enchanter saga, each game contained at least one
extraordinary maze. In Enchanter, you must not only find your way
through a maze of slimy rooms, but use the maze to trap an evil
creature while recovering a powerful scroll from its lair. In
Sorcerer, there are two mazes worth noting. these are the glass
maze, which you must fly through while in the form of a bat, and
the coal-mine, which is a part of a temporal paradox puzzle. In
spellbreaker, the final episode of the enchanter saga, you are
confronted with a magical maze which you must solve in order to
recover a scroll. In this maze, you must use a compass rose,
touching it to the direction you want to travel. You may only
travel in a given direction once. Other original maze-based ideas
used by Infocom include the royal Puzzle in Zork III, the Catacombs
in Leather goddesses of Phobos, and the hedge maze in Hollywood
Higinx.

Because of Infocom's high standards and an early over-abundance of
mazes, even the sighted community of interactive fiction players
has become jaded about mazes. Despite having the ability to easily
map out a maze on paper in order to solve it, many of them find
them too tedious or troublesome to work out. Fortunately for us and
them, walkthroughs exist which provide step-by-step solutions to
mazes, as well as the rest of the game they correspond to. The same
process happened again when interactive fiction saw a revival which
is still going on today. Initially, everyone was putting mazes in
their games. Most of them weren't just ordinary mazes. They were
like the maze in Deepspace Drifter and Sofar. For an excellent
example of an original maze in modern non-commercial interactive
fiction, see Barsap's Gambit in Spiritwrahk. This maze involves the
strategic use of beams of wood of varying strength to get you from
the top left to the bottom right of a cubical maze.

This takes us up to the present day. While mazes are now used much
less abundantly, they still remain an important element of
interactive fiction. This, i think, is as it should be. Personally,
I don't like mazes which are included in games merely for the sake
of having one. I always end up using a solution for this kind of
maze. However, for the more original and/or fitting mazes, (those
which actually belong in their respective games, and are a key
element in their plot), I make a serious effort to solve them
before resorting to a solution file. Mazes such as Barsap's Gambit,
found in Spiritwrahk, can be quite intriguing and interesting to
work through, and they make me glad that people haven't completely
given up on the maze as a puzzle type. The maze is quite a central
part of the quest, and it is good that interactive fiction has made
the maze available to be experienced by blind people relatively
safely. Any reader of fantasy can recall several dungeons, caverns,
labyrinths, etc, which a party of intrepid adventurers had to find
their way through. there is the myth of the minotaur, in which the
hero had to defeat a minotaur within a labyrinth. The maze is also
a powerful representation of mystery and the unknown.

Many video games also involve mazes which must be worked through.
Examples of this kind of game include such modern hits as Doom and
Quake. The mazes are a bit easier to solve in these games since
they are mapped out on the screen as the player explores. this is
true for blind people as well when they play games such as Nethack,
which use text characters to form graphical maps of dungeons and
other locations. Interactive fiction mazes are particularly hard
for blind people to work out because we cannot map them out
effectively unless we have access to brailled graph paper. Making
mental maps of mazes can be quite difficult and troublesome.
Fortunately, not all interactive fiction makes use of mazes. Games
such as Jigsaw are examples of mazeless interactive fiction. Many
of Infocom's mysteries also lack mazes.

In the future, a balance will probably emerge as mazes are used
less frequently in interactive fiction. Their time will never
completely pass, but their dominance has thankfully fallen behind.
Now that they are used more judiciously, their overall quality has
improved to the point where they are no longer simply nuisances.
One friend I talked to about this article pointed out that another
reason blind players might not like mazes is that they hit close to
home in a fundamental way. We're all afraid of losing ourselves, of
losing our sense of purpose or direction. This is true both
physically, and also figuratively in the context of our lives. In
a way, we're all lost in a maze of twisty little passages.
Fortunately for us, they're not all alike.

++
Game Reviews
+

Review of Bridgepal
by Zachary Battles


 I have been searching for a bridge program to practice my skills,
and the Bridgepal program, written by WR Software,  has
sufficiently met this need.
Although it is not as speech friendly as one might expect, it is
still quite usable, and an excellent beginners tool.  The reason
for its unfriendliness is that it utilizes ascii characters, and,
this could potentially confuse individuals who have very little
knowledge of the ascii code.  For example, an
ascii code of 6 represents a spade, but if one is not familiar with
the ascii code, one may not be able to ascertain that the ascii
code of 6 is a spade.  The layout of the screen is slightly
complicated, but with a good review mode, one
can easily read the necessary information.  However, these
complications are only minor, and are easily conquered, allowing
blind individuals to enjoy hours of bridge.
      The accompanying documentation provides a beginner with
valuable information, and, if the user has a propensity to read
beyond a tyro's level, one may easily find more information on the
internet.  Also, there is a feature in the game to help a beginner
with his/her bidding.  The computer will make a
suggested bid for you when instructed to do so (pressing the "h"
key).  Note: in order to count cards, one should not elect to have
tricks automatically picked up, allowing screen review before the
next trick is played.  If automatic trick pick up is enabled, the
last card goes by before the user is able to tell what
it is.
(Editor's note: Bridgepal is available on Compuserve.)

+

Review of baseball by Jim Kitchen and comparison with Harry
Hollingsworth's World Series baseball
by Allen Maynard

I will begin this review by discussing the Baseball game created by
Jim Kitchen.  It is an innovative challenging game:  one of the
best I have found in my computer software travels.  It comes
complete with multimedia sounds which add realism to the game.

There are actually levels of difficulty which was a surprise to me,
but a pleasant one.  They range from 1 (greatest opportunity for
scoring runs) to 15 (very few runs scored) depending on your taste
in type of baseball game.  You then get to type in the name of your
and the computer's team. When you are on defense, you are the
pitcher and you have 7 different pitches you can throw.  They are:
fast ball, curve, slider, sinker, change up, knuckle ball, and
screw ball.  When you are the hitter, you have the option to take
the pitch, swing away, bunt, or have the lead
runner attempt to steal.  But the greatest feature of this game is
that you have to possess some skill in swinging the bat.  If you
select to swing away, you will hear 1 of a few different speeds of
ascending tone. You must press any key to swing the bat when you
hear the solid low tone.
This solid tone always can be heard in the same general area of the
ascending tone, this being near the upper range of the ascending
tone, but don't sit back and yawn.  It isn't as easy as it sounds
(no pun intended).

You hear such soundblaster sounds as the first female umpire
calling balls, strikes, out, safe, foul balls, and a hearty "take
your base" on ball 4.  Other sounds include 3 different cracks of
the bat depending how close you come to swinging the bat in
relation to the solid tone described
above.  But the best and funniest sound is when the batter is hit
with a pitch.  The first time I heard it, I nearly fell off my
chair I was laughing so hard.

The very first game I played, I was defeated by the White Sox (I
was the Cubs--big surprise, huh?).  The score was 8 to 7.

It is a thoroughly enjoyable and fun game.  It is the first
DOS-based baseball game where you need skill to swing the bat.  It
relieved me to find that getting a hit is not 100 percent chance.

Now, I would like to offer some suggestions for Jim for a possible
later version of this game.

1.  There does need to be a little more documentation because I
didn't realize that you didn't have to press enter after most of
the selections. I was doing this, which had the effect of cutting
off some of the sounds.

2.  I wouldn't change the batting practice.  This was an awesome
idea for this game.

3.  It would be nice to have more than 3 function keys so you can
hear the information that you want.  Currently, f1 lists all the
stats such as the count, the score, men on base, etc.  F2 gives you
only the count, men on, the outs and such.  F3 gives only the
score.  I think it might work even better if one function key gave
each major stat, so if you only needed the
count, you would push the appropriate function key.

4.  We need a seventh inning stretch and a crowd booing noise.

5.  At one point in the game, the computer hit a deep drive and the
description was, "the left fielder watches the ball go over his
head."  I think this needs to be more specific since I didn't know
if it was an extra-base-hit or a home run until a few minutes
later.

6.  The game doesn't tell you how many bases the runner advances.
This would be nice to know.

7.  It would be cool if, as pitcher, there was an option to throw
to any base to keep the runner on, or potentially throw him out.

8.  It would be even a little more challenging if the ascending
noise when batting, had a few little twirls or spikes in the noise
to depict different pitches rather than just a slightly slower or
fast tone.

9.  This might be difficult, but it would make the game even more
user controlled.  This is allowing the user to control where the
ball is thrown. For example, if the shortstop grabs the ground
ball, you could then press "f" to throw to first, "s" for second,
"t" for third, and "p" for the plate.  Of course, there would have
to be a short time frame to make a
decision or all the runners would be safe.  I suggest this because
sometimes the computer decides where to throw the ball when I'm on
defense and I wouldn't have thrown it there if I had control.

10.  Finally, because of the different processor speeds (like my
computer is a 100 mhz), the speech wasn't timed properly with the
sound effects. This wasn't a very big deal, but the umpire had
called a strike then my speech said, "here's the wind up."  It
would be nice to be able to select the speed of the computer so the
pauses in the game in relation to the sounds would mesh properly.

But even without these few suggestions, the game is frankly
excellent.  I applaud Jim's effort and his result.

Now, I prefer Jim Kitchen's baseball game to that of Harry
Hollingsworth's World Series Baseball for one main reason.  With
Harry's game, to pitch or swing the bat you simply hit the enter
key.  There is no ear-hand skill required.  You are simply the
manager who makes certain decisions. Granted, Harry's game is much
more involved with actual players' names and team names and stats,
but it wasn't as fun to play as Jim's was.

A demo version of World Series Baseball by Harry Hollingsworth can
be found at the internet address:
http://www.gbx.org in the games library section.

Baseball by Jim Kitchen can be found at the following address:
http://www.primenet.com/~blinky
The file name is "dosbball"

Anyone wishing to contact me to give me there opinions, whether
agreeing or disagreeing with my views, can reach me at the e-mail
address:
[email protected]

+
Ancient Domains of Mystery (created by Thomas Biskup)
Reviewed by Adam Taylor (The Immortal Gamer)

Chaos has gripped the land. Creatures of corruption stalk
through the ancient, once peaceful caverns in the Draklor
Chain, an ancient mountain range. You were born to be a
hero. To put an end to the spawn of chaos, or die trying.
Welcome, to ADOM. A new adventure game that  takes you to
peaceful villages, mysterious caverns, and to the edge of
the rift, a separation between good and evil itself. This
text based RPG is very similar to Nethack. Many things are
the same, but much has been added.
Choose your race out of those that inhabit the chain. From
Human to Dark Elf, Trolls to Drakelings, a race of lizard
men. Then, choose your class. What shall you be? Noble
Paladin, or shady Assassin? Humble Farmer, or wandering
Bard? Maybe a Priest is more to your liking, serving the
beliefs of your race? Or how about a feared Necromancer,
able to bring back the dead to follow his command? Every
race and class gives you new possibilities, and endless
replay value.
The basic setup of the game is simple enough to get use to.
The character is still the `@~ that we all got used to.
Walls are made up of number signs. Closed doors are pluses,
that change to a backslash when opened. Some symbols have
been used for more than one item. The `&~ sign has been used
to represent tools, and Demons. So be careful. The game has
a handy LOOK command, used simply by pressing `l~. You can
then move the cursor around and examine your surroundings.
Probably the best element of the game is Abilities. These
are the various skills that your character possesses. There
are many, ranging from basic skills like Listening,
Haggling, or First Aid, to the complex, Alchemy, Smithing,
or Appraising. Your skills are selected from the race and
class that you choose. Though skills can be learnt later in
the game, if you know where to look. Naturally, certain
races and classes are more adept at certain skills. For
example, Trolls excel at Bridge Building, Hobbits are great
with thief skills such as Pick Pockets or Lock Picking, and
naturally the Elf races are unmatched at Archery.
ADOM introduces a new style of inventory menu that is very
simple to use. All a character~s locations for items, such
as Armor, Missile Weapon, Right and Left Hand, each have a
letter assigned to them. When in the inventory menu, just
press the letter which corresponds to the position you need,
and a list of all possible items for that spot is shown.
Simply make your selection and the item is equipped. Items
are classified under certain listings. Helmets, Armor,
Shields, Gauntlets, Cloaks, Girdles, Boots, Necklaces,
Bracers, One-handed Weapons, Two-handed Weapons, Missile
Weapons, Missiles, Tools, Instruments, Rings, Wands,
Potions, Scrolls, Books, Food, Valuables, and Gems. When in
the listings, you can narrow down your search by pressing
the symbol for certain items, so pressing `!~,  will list
only potions, `(~ will list one and two handed weapons.
Along the bottom of the screen is the familiar status bar.
This shows all the player~s stats and conditions. It
contains the character~s name, Strength, Learning,
Willpower, Dexterity, Toughness, Charisma, Appearance, Mana,
Perception, Hit Points and Power Points. These are all
pretty obvious stats. Strength determines how much you can
carry, how much  damage you do, etc. Two stats that are
different from most games are Defense and Protection values.
The Defense Value determines how hard it is to hit a
character, be it in hand to hand combat or projectiles.
Protection Value is a measure of how much damage your armor
and other defenses can absorb before you take damage. So if
a hit connects for 12 damage, and you have a Protection
Value of 9, then 9 points of damage would be absorbed by
your armor, and you would suffer the remaining 3. So players
now have a choice when customizing their armor, to choose
which is more important to them. With a higher defense,
you~re harder to hit, but take more damage when you are hit,
whereas with a higher protection value, you~ll get hit more
often, but you~ll take a lot less damage. Items that give
defense and protection are followed by [+D, +P] (for Defense
and Protection)
Potions, scrolls and spellbooks are a lot like Nethack. But
now you can use the Alchemy skill to create your own
potions. As the skill rises, more recipes are added to your
list. Feeling a little beat up? Just mix up a potion of
extra healing. You will need to have the proper ingredients
though. But the most useful recipe you can get, is the one
for a potion of  gain attributes. Just dip it into a potion
of holy water and, poof, all your stats go up one. There is
a limit of 99 on all main stats though. Scrolls are
everywhere. If you thought Nethack had some nasty scroll
effects, you ain~t seen nothing yet. Scrolls of Item
Destruction, ~Oh no, my [+15, +15] Dragon Scale Mail!~. Ill
Fortune, how'd you like to bee doomed, having every creature
inflict double damage when they hit. Danger, it didn't seem
to do anything, but where did all those monsters come from?
Spellbooks have a certain number of uses before they crumble
to dust. Each time you  successfully read one~ did I mention
you have to learn how to read? Must of slipped my mind~ you
add an amount of knowledge to that spell. Each time the
spell is cast,  it drains a small amount of knowledge, until
you can~t cast it without learning it again.
There is a god. Actually, there are three for each race.
Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic. Make sure you don't upset them.
When mad, they tend to wipe out everything you~re carrying,
lower your stats, give you nasty intrinsics, take away
levels, and permanently curse and doom you. Other than that
it~s not too bad. Praying and the gods work the same way as
in Nethack. Offer up a couple of corpses, a few powerful
items, maybe even an Artifact or two. Your god will start to
get all chummy with you. And if you~re lucky, maybe even
make you the Champion of your alignment. When this happens,
you become permanently blessed, gain a random immunity, and
receive an amulet of your alignment, which basically keeps
you from accidentally changing.  Of course until that
happens, your god will cheerfully help you in other ways.
Removing starvation, curing sicknesses, and other godly
deeds. Just make sure you don't bother your god too much, or
you might end up with a curse. You~ll know this has happened
because your god will show off his powers by making the
ground shake. One nice thing, so to speak, is that you can
sacrifice living creatures. Just get them to stand on an
altar, and make your offering.
And for the last topic, a nasty little side effect of living
in a world of chaos. Corruption. There are certain creatures
wandering about called Chaos creatures. These include Chaos
Spawn, Chaos Lizards, Chaos Wizards, and even Elder Chaos
Wyrms. There are two courses  of action when encountering
these creatures. Kill them before they get a chance to touch
you, or run. Every hit adds a little bit to your corruption
level (or a lot if it~s a Wyrm). Every time you reach a
certain amount, you are mutated by the powers of chaos. Some
effects are useful, like reptilian skin that gives you a
bonus to your Protection Value. But most are bad, like
poison hands. Every bit of food you touch becomes poisoned.
Not very good when you~re starving. And after a while all
these mutations add up, and you turn into a little bubbling
pool of chaos. You also start building up your corruption
the further down in the caverns you go, as you get closer to
the heart of chaos. Don't worry, there are ways to undo
corruptions, the obvious way is to find a scroll of chaos
resistance, bless it if possible, and read it. This will
drop your corruption quite a bit, but they are hard to come
by.
That seems to cover most of the basics. This is a definite
must have for anyone who enjoys adventure games. It~s
available all over the place, just look for it. Or, you can
send me an e-mail asking for the latest release. I'll gladly
send you back a copy. You can also contact me if you have
any questions about the game. Like I~m stuck here. What do I
do with such and such. Where to now? I can answer any
questions. After all, I am the Immortal Gamer. So just
contact the all mighty one at:
[email protected]

++
Contacting Me

I can be reached in two ways. The easiest is through
Compuserve. My
e-mail address is as follows:
[email protected]

alternatively, you may correspond with me on 3.5-inch disks,
provided you be sure to send them in returnable
disk-mailers. I
don't have the money to pay for postage. My mailing address
is:
5787 Montevideo Road
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Postal code: L5N 2L5

I have recently acquired a copy of UUencode and UUdecode for
dos,
so you may send files to me via this means.


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