Collecting, Retro gaming

A bit from my personal collection – Softporn

Created in 1981 by Charles Benton for the Apple II. Softporn initially was an exercise for Benton to teach himself Applesoft Basic. Friends who tried this comedically adult oriented text adventure really enjoyed it and encouraged him to selfpublish it.
Under the name “Blue Sky Software” Benton sold around a 100 copies of the 1000 that was produced.
At a tradeshow sometime in 1981, where Benton was promoting and selling his game, he encountered Ken Williams co-founder of On-Line Systems (Later Sierra On-Line), who eventually decided to publish the game under the On-Line Systems name, an estimated 50.000 copies where sold and Ken estimated that Softporn temporarily doubled On-Line’s sales – Not a bad feat.
Softporn is On-Line Systems only text adventure.

A “modern” remake

When Sierra lost their Disney license in 1986, Al Lowe suggested a remake of Softporn, using their improved tools – layout and puzzles were the same as in Softporn, but Al introduced a protagonist, Larry Laffer.
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards was released in 1987 and like Softporn it was met with controversy due to the adult nature of the game.
Unsure of how the game would be received, Sierra’s management chose to release it with no publicity or advertising budget. Only around 4.000 copies where sold upon release but by the end of the year it had surpassed 250.000 copies.
My Leisure Suit Larry collection can be seen here

Below we have my On-Line Systems Softporn folders
I do have the Blue Sky Software release but only the folder, it’s stored away at the moment.

On the right we have the better known black folder with the infamous hot tub scene, featuring none other than Roberta Wiliams, a couple of other On-line Systems employee and a waiter from a local restaurant. The photo was taken at Ken and Roberta’s house.
On the left we have a much rare version featuring Charles Benton’s own artwork, the same used on the earlier “Blue Sky Software” release (Benton’s self published release).
This white folder version is believed to be used for a very brief time before On-Line Systems had the black folder version ready for shipment – Not much info is  available, if anybody has more info I would love to hear it – In my 15+ years of collecting I have only seen a couple of copies of the white folder, the others I’ve seen has a different placement for the label on the floppy.


Collecting, Retro gaming

A bit from my personal collection – Indiana Jones

I just love everything and anything Indy…and I love Lucasfilm..
I played both the action and adventure games released by Lucasfilm in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the action game wasn’t really my cup of tea but the adventures were really something else. I have really fond memories of The Last Crusade, The Adventure Game, loved the location and the puzzles, it was very true to the movie of the same name.
I played it originally in all it’s EGA glory, which looked absolutely fantastic. I later on played the VGA version, which didn’t leave a strong visual impression.

Fate of the Atlantis
One of my favourite adventure games has to be Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Fate of Atlantis was the sequel to the 1989 adventure game Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, both developed by Lucasfilm Games/LucasArts. Atlantis was met with critical acclaim when released in 1992 and it sold well over one million units (on all platforms which it was released for).
In 1993 an enhanced “talkie” edition with full voice acting and digitized sound effects was release on CD.
The story was written by Hal Barwood and the designer Noah Falstein, who had rejected the original plan to base it on Indiana Jones and the Monkey King/Garden of Life, a rejected script written by Chris Columbus for the third movie.

Below is some of my sealed Indiana Jones games.

Collecting, Retro gaming

A bit from my personal collection – Accolade

Founded in November 1984 by Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead, who both previously had co-founded Activision in October 1979, alongside David Crane, Jim Levy and Richard Muchmore.
Accolade developed and published a large array of games for the most popular home computers of the 80’s (and consoles), titles like Test Drive and Hard Ball, both which ended up as two of Accolades longest running franchises.
By the mid-90s most of Accolade’s published games was developed by third-party developers, sales we declining and many of the published titles were perceived to be indistinguishing and lacking polish.
One franchise which saw a huge success in the later part of the 90’s was Test Drive, with Test Drive 4,5 and 6 seeing sales in the millions. In 1999 Accolade was bought by Infogrames which name later was changed to Atari, the same name of the company both founders worked at, before founding Activision in the late 70’s.

Copy cats?
Everybody loves Larry Laffer, right?.  While Sierra had great success with their adventure games and especially the Leisure Suit Larry franchise in the late 80’s and early 90’s it could look like that success might have been the driving force behind Accolade’s development of their own geeky and nerdy protagonist Les Manley, which would be featured in two games Les Manley in Search for the King released in 1990 and Les Manley in Lost in L.A, released the year after in 1991.
I played both games in the early and mid 90’s and actually, in a funky and strange kinda way, like both of them.
Les Manley in Search for the King had some really bad design decision, crazy puzzles and a text parser that showed absolutely no mercy but nonetheless it was quite fun at places – and really challenging.
The first point and click adventure games with VGA color graphics would arrive around the same time as the first Les Manley game and with its sub-par parser the game already felt a bit dated when released.
The graphics were great and the music accompanied the game and settings very well.
Accolade dropped the text parser for a more modern point and click interface in the sequel which made the game more enjoyable. Lost in L.A. featured 256 color VGA graphics and looked really great at the time.

Both Les Manley games were only received with mediocre reviews, but they do have a following to this day and they have become pretty collectable – I really like the two titles both as games and as items I treasure in my collection.

– I really do like Accolade’s EGA graphics in the late 80’s, it was very distinguished and bright.

Fast and hot
In 1987 the original Test Drive was developed by canadian software developer Distinctive Software Inc., who developed a few of Accolades hit in the late 80’s.
Test Drive featured five of the hottest supercars the 80’s had to offer, cars like the Lamborghini Countach, the Ferrari Testarossa and the Porsche 911 Turbo.
The code base for 1987’s Test Drive was also used for Test Drive II: The Duel and 1988’s Grand Prix Circuit. I played both games a lot as a kid, Grand Prix Circuit on our IBM/PC at home with it’s CGA Graphics and PC-Speaker and Test Drive on a friends Commodore 64.

Reverse console engineering
In 1991, Accolade was served with a lawsuit, from Sega, regarding copyright infringement, that eventually would lead to the concept of reverse engineering for interoperability purposes. Sega wanted all its Genesis console titles to be exclusive to Sega. Unwilling to conform to single platform games, Accolade engineers reverse engineered the Genesis and created their own development systems. Sega sued Accolade over the practice and won an initial injunction, forcing Accolade to remove all Genesis product from store shelves. Accolade, however, won on appeal and reached an out of court settlement with Sega that allowed Accolade to continue building their own Genesis cartridges, but as an official licensee.

Here we haved my sealed Accolade collection.

Collecting, Retro gaming

A bit from my personal collection – Origin Systems – not counting Ultima’s

Founded in 1983 by brothers Richard Garriott (Lord British) and Robert Garriott, their father Owen, and Chuck Bueche (Chuckles).

Chuck was a high school friend and university roommate of Richards and was introduced to computer and programming by Garriott back in 1981.
Before Origin Chuck had started his own company Craniac Entertainment (which still exist today!) and had a few titles published by Sierra On-Line. (you’ll find “Chuckles” written on many fine game covers).

Ultima III – Exodus was the very first title to leave Origin Systems headquarters in Austin, Texas in 1983, following the success and reputation with earlier Ultima titles, Origin survived the video game crash the same year.
Chuck was tasked to port Ultima III from the Apple II system to the Commodore 64. Besides porting Chuck designed and programmed titles like Autoduel and A.D. 2400.
Chuck also featured as one of the characters in the Ultima games as Lord British’s court jester known simply as “Chuckles”.
Chuck Left Origin Systems in 1988, by that time the company had 15 developers in Austin, and 35 other employees in New Hampshire.

Computer games and much more
Wing Commander, the biggest space combat franchise to ever hit the home computer, saw it’s first flight in 1990 spawning many sequels, spin offs and even animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures.
Chris Roberts
The first Wing Commander featured stunning VGA graphics, fast paced space arcade action and player progress and was highly acclaimed. Wing Commander was designed. directed and produced by Chris Roberts, who joined Origin in 1986, after returning from England, where he grew up.
-Before Wing Commander Chris created Times of Lore in 1988 and Bad Blood in 1990.
Chris was involved in the first four installments of what would become the Wing Commander franchise – producer on Wing Commander 2 and Director on 3 & 4, before leaving Origin in 1996.

Strike Commander was, after numerous delays, released in 1993 – also designed by Chris Roberts. Strike Commander was a combat flight simulator with impressive and innovative 3D graphics and used both gouraud shading and texture-mapping on both aircraft-models and terrain, an impressive feat at the time. Significant plot elements were presented through in-game cut-scene animations, a hallmark storytelling vehicle from Chris Robert’s previous Wing Commander titles.
The Strike Commander project took more than four years and over a million man hours on background development.
A lot of the technology developed and used on Strike Commander went on to be used in later titles like Pacific Strike.

Dennis Loubet
Just as a quick note (since we are not talking Ultima which he is probably most known for), Loubet did the artwork for the following titles shown below:

  • Wing Commander & Wing Commander II
  • Wing Commander: The Secret Missions
  • Wing Commander: Secret Missions II
  • Strike Commander
  • Crusader: No Remorse
  • Autoduel
  • Ogre
  • Tangled Tales
  • Omega
  • Bad Blood
  • Knights of Legend
  • Times of Lore

I was and still are a huge Origin fan, unfortunately I sold most of my Origin collection 5 or 6 years ago (still regretting it to this day). Below is what is left of my sealed collection, not counting Ultima’s, which will have their own post.

Collecting, Retro gaming

A bit from my personal collection – Electronic Arts – The Small box era

Electronic Arts original US small box releases, 1988-1991.

Founded by Trip Hawkins, a former Apple employee, in 1982.
After 4 years of publishing and releasing in the LP folio style format, Electronic Arts changed to the more common small box format, used by most other publishers at the time.
This didn’t mean they moved away from their very cool way of honouring the developers as artists and “superstars”, which were a big part of the folio-design on the earlier releases, this idea was very much kept throughout the small box years, showing both pictures and telling about the developers.

A great time
I played most of the small box games in the late eighties and early nineties, some were played on our IBM/PC we had at home, some were played on friends C64’s and Amiga’s, but no matter the platform these games were absolutely great and for me really defines an era in my gaming life. I might go out on a limb here but I personally don’t think EA published one bad game in a small box – a really big feat when we take a look at how different most of these games are from each other, ranging from action, sports, RPG, Simulations, fighting and strategy – and when we look at how fierce the competition was at the time.

Legends never dies
Madden NFL which is widely popular today saw it’s beginning in this era, with the very first Madden game, John Madden Football released in 1988 (partly developed by Bethesda Softworks). Since its first release Electronic Arts has sold more than 100 million copies of Madden NFL.img_6587.jpgEarl Weaver Baseballwhich spawned a few sequels, were a smash hit in 1987 and alongside John Madden Football really helped pave the way for the EA Sports brand which were launched in 1991-92. We all know EA Sports today for titles like NBA Live, NHL, Madden NFL, FIFA and Nascar.

the grand farther of futuristic post apocalyptic RPG’s, developed by Interplay and published by Electronic Arts, became the basis of the original Fallout game, which is still spawning sequels to this day.img_65601.jpg

Wasteland saw a sequel in 2014 with inXile Entertainments succesful Wasteland 2 kickstarter campaign. InXile was formed in 2002 by Interplay founder Brian Fargo and has most of the original Wasteland crew on board.

Modem Wars, the first multi-computer online game, Modem Wars was played over a modem connection between two machines (via telephone or null modem serial connection). Features such as fog of war, varied unit types, terrain, and formations, all now standards in the genre, were implemented despite the daunting technical limitations of late 1980s computers. img_65741.jpg

Dynamix. Before Dynamix started to publish their own titles, and before they were bought by Sierra On-Line, they developed a great array of titles in the mid to late eighties some of these titles were published by Electronic Arts – titles like Skyfox, Caveman Ugh-Lympics, Abrams Battle Tank and, in my opinion one of best games for the C64, Project Firestart, developed at Dynamix and designed by Jeff Tunnel and Damon Slye. Project Firestart was released by Electronic Arts in 1989img_65611.jpg

Starflight has been widely praised by both contemporary and modern critics, and is one of the earliest instances of a sandbox game. It led to the development of a sequel, Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula, and influenced the design of numerous other games for decades after its first release.img_65691-e1524064009381.jpg

Here we have my Electronic Arts small box collection for the various platforms I used to play these fine gems on back in the days.

Collecting, Retro gaming

A bit from my personal collection – The Maxis

Here we have my sealed Maxis collection, while most of these items have been in my collection for over a decade, I did have the chance to obtain of few signed items from a former Maxis employee, last year – These items were given to the development team, who all signed them, they got numbered  and then they went on and got shrink-wrapped.

I don’t collect anything much newer than 1994, unless of course it was something I played myself, so no Sims etc.

Collecting, Retro gaming

A bit from my personal collection – The Black Cauldron

Here we have my sealed copies of The Black Cauldron.
The copy on the right (in the gallery below) was designer Al Lowe’s personal copy (also signed by him).

The movie was released in 1985 by Walt Disney Pictures and the year after the game, with the same name and designed by Al Lowe and Roberta Williams, was published by Sierra On-Line.
Along with The Dark Crystal it remains one of only a few adventure games by Sierra to be based on films.

To make the game more accessable for kids and a-like the classic text parser was removed and instead used the function keys to perform various actions.