Journey (1979)   3 comments

I picked up the thread of this one with an academic paper.

Al Tommervik’s 1981 Softalk feature highlighting the Williamses and their company shelves any claim to ADVENT’s primacy: “Roberta discovered and mastered Microsoft’s Adventure and fell in love with the genre. She bought Softape’s Journey and every Scott Adams adventure that was released. She loved them all, and then there were none left.”
Let’s Begin Again: Sierra On-Line and the Origins of the Graphical Adventure Game, Laine Nooney

The quick summary is: other academic papers just jump directly from Crowther and Woods Adventure to Mystery House, but Roberta Williams clearly had other influences.

Given what I’ve been doing on this blog for 7 years, I can support a thesis like that, but it struck me: what is this Journey game? The paper gave no detail, but based on the time span, it had to be a game from 1979 that I hadn’t heard of before. After an exhaustive archive search, I didn’t find the game anywhere on the internet, the only reference being from the Museum of Computer Adventure Game History which apparently had a copy. (It’s now listed on the CASA Solution Archive as well.)

From the Museum. The design here is pretty clever: that’s a hole where the tape goes, so the outer packaging works with any of Softape’s games.

I emailed Howard Feldman, the proprietor of the Museum, and after some back-and-forth on tech issues he managed to pull the game off his tape. The game is quite rare and without Howard’s help there is a strong chance it would have fallen into oblivion.

You can now download the game with the manual, right at this link. You will need an Apple II emulator (I recommend AppleWin if you’re using Windows.)

So, yes: this is one of the only games aside from Adventure and the Scott Adams games that Roberta Williams played before she embarked on writing Mystery House. I hoped there might be some obvious connection with her work, and there is a strong one in particular.

I’m not going to go into detail yet, because I feel strange spoiling the game immediately after announcing its discovery. I will post more next week.

If you do plan to try it, note there is an Integer Basic version and an Applesoft Basic version (the tape had one version on each side). I recommend the Applesoft one generally, but if you want more specific spoilers as to the main difference: (in ROT13) Gurer vf n eng va gur tnzr gung nggnpxf lbh ng enaqbz ybpngvbaf va gur Nccyrfbsg irefvba (nxva gb gur qjneirf bs Nqiragher) gung qbrf abg frrz gb nccrne va gur bgure irefvba ng nyy.

Also, while it is mentioned in the manual, I should give fair warning DESCRIBE is used instead of EXAMINE as a verb.

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Posted August 31, 2018 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “Journey (1979)

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  1. Wow. This is just great news. Maybe the most important discovery since WANDER?

    • … probably? (I was trying to think of someone else finding something in between, I guess there aren’t a lot of people actively unearthing old text adventures.)

  2. I assume the company’s name is meant to refer to the fact that programs were published on tape, but I read it as “Soft Ape”.

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