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The Quill & AdventureWriter

The Quill is a text adventure creator made by Gilsoft, very popular in the 80s for the Sinclair (ZX & Spectrum), It was ported to different platforms as Atari 8bit family, Commodore 64, Apple II, BBC Micro, but only was released Database version A (it exists also version C, which brings more statements to make smaller scripts as AUTOG, AUTOW, etc. please see The Quill's manual for more information).

This version was published in USA as AdventureWriter (ADW) by Codewriter Corporation, more information can be found at Wikipedia.

Regardless Quill's fame in Europe in the Atari scene wasn't that successful, now with great collection of games in the net I could find several titles, however a few were made in the 90s.

Comparing both versions, they use different screen resolution based on the default text screen each computer has. Atari has 40 characters and Sinclair has 32 width, with this difference of resolution, problems in text padding and showing the whole screen (when the screen is full of text) makes trouble.

Also Sinclair version may used UDG where the programmer could insert its own defined character to make graphics, besides the text in Sinclair has more effects as INK, VIDEO, BLINK, etc. in constraint Atari only we can use inverse video.

And the last and probably the most important different (and constraint) is the Atari version has only 22,923 bytes and Sinclair has 30,553 bytes becoming a difference of 7,630 what is almost 8kb! (a lot for these vintage machines).

Summary between ports:

System Free Memory
Sinclair 30,553
Atari 22,923
Commodore 31,754
Apple IIe 21,760
Amstrad 27,995

It's fun the warning the manual says:

Caution:

When creating an actual adventure, it is possible to run out of memory, which would cause an error in operation and likely corrupt your database. Use the option M from the Main menu every so often to see how much available memory you have left. For safety's sake, leave yourself plenty of space

of course... plenty of space...

The idea was to convert as many games for Atari (yeah, I know not many players are going to play it in this machine, however it was something always got my attention since I had ADW from the 80s). With the help of the great parser Unpaws for Z80 Quill games from IF Archive I was able to see the code and automates the process.

finally I had to make three kind of conversions:

  1. text padding from 32 to 40 ("wasting" memory)
  2. modifying the Atari screen resolution to 32, but with side effects loosing last three lines for printing (including if the input line is at bottom).
  3. converting the CRLF-tabs (is like tab of 16 characters with the Quill does in the Sinclair)

Software

  1. AdventureWriter Disk Image
  2. AdventureWriter file version
  3. French AdventureWriter French rare version

Scans

adw front adw back

New Games

Feasible games I was able to convert successfully:

  1. The Quill Demo (zx)
  2. The Quill Demo 32 (i) (zx)
  3. The Quill Demo 32 (i) (iii) (zx)
  4. Diamond Trail (zx)
  5. Aural Quest (zx)
  6. Commando (zx)
  7. La Princesa (zx) (g2f)
  8. Magic Castle (zx)
  9. The Rifts of Time (zx)
  10. Time Quest (zx)
  11. A Spell of Christmas Ice (zx)
  12. Survival (zx)
  13. Sea of Zirun (zx)
  14. Countdown (zx)
  15. The Dragonstar Trilogy Part II (zx)
  16. The Adventures of Basark the Dwarf (i) (zx) (g2f)
  17. Alter-Earth (i) (zx)
  18. The Hexagonal Museum (i) (zx)
  19. Classroom Chaos (i) (zx) (g2f)
  20. The Moreby Jewels (ii) (zx)
  21. Last Will and Testament (ii) (zx) (g2f)
  22. Sorcerer (zx)
  23. Leo Wanker's Quest (zx)
  24. Quest for the Holy Joystick (i) (ii) (iii) (zx) (g2f)
  25. Wychwood (zx)
  26. Abington (zx)
  27. Bungo's Quest For Gold (zx)
  28. Day Trip (zx)
  29. Goldwood (zx)
  30. School (zx)
  31. School 2 (zx)
  32. Treasure (zx) (g2f) (g2f) v2
  33. Dragon Notacare (zx)
  34. Escape From Sylon 6 (zx)
  35. Evil Realm Darkness (zx)
  36. Faulty Towers (zx)
  37. Fuseman (zx)
  38. Goldseeker (zx)
  39. Jhothamia 6 (zx)
  40. Rescue From Doom (zx)
  41. The Prophecy (zx)
  42. The Warrior's Return (zx)
  43. Time Lords Amulet (zx)
  44. Whistle (zx)
  45. Within The Pentacle (zx)

(i) used 32 characters width to avoid many text padding thus saving bytes, otherwise wasn't fitted.
(ii) I had to use ". " for CRLF.
(iii) it has been filled every message with 8 spaces for padding.
(g2f) it has a presentation screen in g2f, done with Integrator 3.0.
(zx) original sinclair game

All these fixes make games sort of unreadable, but it was the only option to fit the whole game in ADW.

G2F

Integrator is a tool to join an G2F picture before an executable. Several neat conversions from the original zx games were done, from Arkadiuz and Kaz: G2F gallery.

Legacy

Games made with AdventureWriter by other authors (obtained from atarionline.pl)

  1. Adventure
  2. The Atlantis Adventure
  3. The Bow Of Beura
  4. The Breath Of Life
  5. California Gold
  6. Corsair!
  7. The Hyams Adventure
  8. Rescue (this comes bundled with AdventureWriter)
  9. Saucer
  10. World Of Pleasure
  11. The Island is it a ADW game?
  12. The Adventure Trilogy a game compilation with: The Caves Of Madness, The Mansbie Quest and The Computer Solution
  13. The Caves Of Madness
  14. The Mansbie Quest
  15. The Computer Solution
  16. Agent CIO and its help
  17. Odieus Quest For The Magic Flingshot
  18. Denis Through The Drinking Glass
  19. The Tomb Of Death
  20. Adult games compilation it has World of Pleasure

These are other games found at atarimania.com

  1. Magic Castle this was made in 2005, different text layout from above conversion
  2. Casebook of Hemlock Soames #1 (The) There are two adventures here: "Murder at Mathison Manor" and "Pursuit of Dr. Mortenson"
  3. Casebook of Hemlock Soames #2 (The)
  4. Casebook of Hemlock Soames #3 (The)
  5. Star Voyage 1 / Star Voyage 2
  6. Star Voyage 3 / Star Voyage 4
  7. AdventureWriter French this is a French version, dumped by atarimania :)
  8. L'Enigme du Triangle commercial game from Atarisoft France
  9. AURA Adventures a game compilation including: The Atlantis Adventure, The Bow Of Beura, The Breath Of Life , Corsair! and The Island
  10. The KGB Kill
  11. Magic this comes inside Adventure French version
  12. Dr D Adventure (19xx)(-).atr new found

Games found at homesoft

  1. Computer Adventure it needs confirmation if it is done with ADW

Games found at Page 6

  1. Atari Adventure It's the same than "Computer Adventure". Which is the real name ?

TODO

Acknowledge

Many thanks to authors and owners of the different software/sites where I retrieved information: to atari , atarimania, atarionline.pl, atariage, wikipedia, world of spectrum, homesoft and many others.

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