Occasional ramblings on games, generally retro related

​When my parents brought home a ZX81 one day (complete with wobbly 16K RAM pack, of course) I discovered the joy of programming. But it wasn't until I got my hands on a ZX Spectrum that my obsession with games really began, which continued with the C64, Amiga, right through to this day. The 80s and early 90s were an amazing time for games, not just for the games themselves but for the fascinating people behind them - it was truly a time of pioneers and creativity.

I myself have spent the last (almost) 20 years working in the games industry on all manner of platforms, most recently iOS. Ziggurat Development Ltd is my company here in NZ that provides contract programming services.

Filtering by Tag: Infocom

Confidential Magazine #10 April/May 1990

In this month's issue...

The subject on the editor's mind was, perhaps unexpectedly for an adventure gaming mag, taxation as he had a good rant about how much money from each game the club sold went to the HMRC.

  • Games making the news this month included several horror games ("Elvira", "Demon's Tomb - The Awakening", "Mystery of the Mummy"), the next title from The Bitmaps in the form of "Cadaver", and some new games from Origin.
  • Official Secrets had managed to snaffle a load of copies of Infocom's back catalogue which was a good excuse to take an indepth look at the legendary developer.
  • A round up of recent war/strategy games.
  • The second installment in a beginner's guide to adventure gaming.
  • "Ultima VI" was about to be released and there was a look back at the previous games in the series.
  • In addition to that, an interview with Lord British.
  • With doubts being cast on the continuing commercial viability of the adventure game market, there was a round up of active adventure focussed software houses.
  • This month's featured Play By Mail was "Arcania" from Marlin Games.

Confidential Magazine #6 August/September 1989

This month's mag included:

  • A rather depressing Editorial which opened with "Boom-time for the computer games world is over, at least for the next few years." The Japanese consoles were wiping the floor with computers - the 8bits were barely hanging on, the ST not far behind them. There looked to be some life left in the Amiga, but it was the IBM PC that stood the best chance of lasting. Perhaps the grimmest thing about this was the high entry bar for console development - what would happen to all the small UK devs?
  • In other not so happy news, the once great Infocom had been assimilated into Mediagenic (prev Activision). The office was moved to the West Coast, but it seemed no designers or developers relocated with it. Steve Meretzky and Dave Lebling were among the most recent to quit.
  • An interview Level 9's Pete Austin about their upcoming Scapeghost. He was rather coy about their plans beyond this one, but now that we have the benefit of hindsight and know that it in fact would be their last, it did seem like they saw the writing on the wall.
  • A look at "Ranch Wars" which was a Play By Mail game except it wasn't - it was an "on-going graphic adventure that comes through the post" and was a "strange amalgam of interactive fiction, graphical war-gaming and strategy all mixed together".
  • The Encyclopedia Frobbozzica - an indepth reference of all things Zork.
  • An interview with Joe Dever, author of the Lone Wolf books.
  • A look at Role Playing Play By Mail game "Calvana".
  • Was the icon driven Infogrames "Kult" the future of adventure games?
  • Sandra Sharkey presented some general musings on writing adventures.
  • Confidential went on a bit of LARPing with "Mythlore".
  • A short story by Ian Urquhart.

Confidential Magazine #4 April/May 1989

This issue came hot on the heels of British Telecom's decision to bail out of the games industry. They were looking to sell off the Rainbird, Firebird and Silverbird labels as one lot, while winding Telecomsoft down. The official reason given was that games were no longer in line with the goals of BT, and the asking price was rumoured to be around £5 million. The editorial questioned the motives, highlighting a series of recent misteps resulting in significant financial losses, which included the purchase of Beyond Software (closed down soon after due to poor performance), and the US based Firebird Licensees Inc which lasted less than a year.


  • A look at the state of computer chess games and whether they were worthy opponents.
  • Mini (tongue in cheek) profiles of the Confidential team.
  • A visit to French game studio Lankhor.
  • A space trading game face off: Elite vs Federation of Free Traders. Conclusion? FOFT had a long way to go...
  • Keith Campbell delved into the adventure game development process.
  • An introduction to Play By Mail gaming.
  • Diverging somewhat from the adventure theme, Jeff Minter was interviewed.
  • The results of the Golden Chalice Awards for 1989, which was held by the Adventurer's Club.
  • A look at free BBS MUD game "MirrorWorld".
  • A guide to mapping adventure games.
  • A visit to "The Spirit of Adventure" LARP group.
  • Michael Bywater lamented on the prospect that adventure games had now entered an evolutionary period with no revolutions anywhere on the horizon.