Ziggurat

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: Level 9

Confidential Magazine #8 December '88/January '89

As we bid goodbye to the 80s, the Editor pondered what lay ahead in the coming decade. After the world had lived in fear of nuclear annihalation for so many years, the arrival of the likes of Gorbachev meant we could now focus on the "prospect of irreversible doom" thanks to global warming. Technology would, of course, play a significant role in what was to come: "Our ability to manipulate information and communicate the results to the whole World within seconds, could lead us into chaos."

Overall, a cheerful way to open this issue.

As for the rest of the mag, it featured:

  • A report from the PC Show at London's Olympia.
  • An interview with the team behind the Cthulu inspired adventure, "The Hound Of Shadow" from Electronic Arts.
  • With the bombshell news reported in a previous issue that "Scapeghost" would be the last adventure game from genre legends Level 9, Confidential wanted to find out what was behind the decision, and what to expect next. There were a raft of reasons, but declining sales was - unsurprisingly - the primary, and they were tight lipped about their plans aside from saying "Contractual secrecy prevents me saying much about Level 9's future games, except that they are 16-bit, with state-of-the-art animated graphics."
  • A guide to the Kingdom of Kerovnia, the setting for the games of Magnetic Scrolls.
  • A look at to the upcoming titles from Sierra: "Hero's Quest", "The Colonel's Bequest", "Codename: Ice Man", "Leisure Suit Larry 3" and "Sorcerian" (unreleaased).
  • Game agent Jacqui Lyons continued her reporting from behind the iron curtain.
  • This month's Play By Mail game was "Pop Star" from Ideal Games.
  • An interview with adventure game reviewer/journo Keith Campbell.
  • A preview of Novalogic's naval sim "Wolfpack".
  • The Adventure '89 convention saw twenty multi-user games represented.
  • The third part of "Writing Your Own Adventures".
  • A guide on running your own LARP events.

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.

Contents:

  • 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.