True Playwright Confessions
This weekend I came across the code of a few programs I wrote in QBASIC at the tender age of fifteen. This was the twilight of my programming career, but the beginning stages of my career writing for the stage.
After learning BASIC, I created a few “Choose Your Own Adventure”-styled games with my cousins. They featured film noir parodies, imitation Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure time travel exploits, and a high-concept text adventure concerning a fictional attempted assassination of John Major! I also copied a blackjack program from 3-2-1 Contact magazine that I could never get to work.
The program I’m most proud of is an RPG in miniature that I created from scratch. Just a few stages more complex than Progress Quest, it allowed a player to press the arrow keys to move up and down a “map” (represented by a set of coordinates). As the player moved, he entered into random battles and encountered traveling salesmen. There wasn’t much to do besides kill monsters, win gold, spend the gold on healing potions, and continue killing—essentially, I was creating my own Diablo years ahead of time.
I abandoned the program before adding specific locations and actual goals, but I did write an introduction to the game and its fantasy world. I also created a scripted encounter for my role-playing hero upon his arrival at a specific location. These prose sections were written in haste as a proof of concept; they were never meant to be serious writing. With time, they have gone from mildly embarrassing to completely hilarious. Let me present selections from
After 2 years in the dungeon of the dragon/man Geess, you are finally released and sent home thinnly [sic] armed to your castle. Something isn’t right though. The sky is more smoke-filled [sic] and redder than before. Then you realize the truth; your land has been abandoned and has fallen into ruin. Depending only on an old map and a few potions for survival, you must figure out what threw your land into dispair. [sic]
Press Q to return to the options menu
After the wizard Tuhess turned the inhabitants of the castle to stone, the dwarves of an allied kingdom sent some of their finest warriors to protect the castle from invading monsters. Some dwarves greet you as you come up to the castle’s gates. The leader of the soldiers, Denman Wyndag, speaks with you in the main tent.
“Greetings, warrior!” he says to you, “We have awaited your arrival. My warriors know of a wizard who may be able to break the spell on this castle. His name is Cagdeb, and was last seen in the Swamp Tunnels.”
He marks the location of the tunnels on your map and wishes you luck as you leave the castle, wounds healed.
What vivid writing! I could have been that Eragon kid!