Mystery Item #5!!
Folks, I’ve run out of ways to express my astonishment. With a little over one week remaining, the 50 Years of Text Games book now has 3,000 backers pledging more than $280,000 to bring this book to life: almost ten times my original goal. It’s now the #2 most funded nonfiction book about games (of any kind, digital or physical) in Kickstarter history. And the pledges keep rolling in! If anyone tries to tell you no one cares about interactive fiction any more, I’m beyond pleased to provide a useful counterexample.
If you’ve been following the project for a while, you know I’ve been revealing the contents of the “feelies box” of bonus goodies in the Ultimate Collector’s Edition a week at a time throughout the campaign. As a reminder, the contents so far include:
A reusable display box printed with text art
An 11" x 17" poster featuring one of three original maps (your choice) of games from the series
A piece of genuine computer punch tape, used to store programs in the 1970s
A 3.5" floppy disk with a vintage label, containing the text of the book and a few bonus surprises
A hint book with hidden clues for all fifty games (and a secret decoder wand)
There’s only one item left to reveal. Without further ado, here it is!
The final mystery item from the feelies box is:
a detailed replica prop of one of the first commercially sold adventure games: a double-sided cassette of Adventureland and Pirate Adventure!
The first computer software was sold on cassette tapes, an existing analog storage medium that could be plugged into the earliest home computers before dedicated disk drives became commonplace and affordable. In 1978, Scott and Alexis Adams began selling Adventureland and Pirate Adventure out of the backs of magazines. This release was one of their earliest, predating the official launch of their company Adventure International and published instead by Creative Computing, then the leading magazine for amateur home computer enthusiasts.
Original copies of this release are now hard to find. As an exclusive backer reward for Ultimate Collectors, I’m making an exactingly-recreated modern reproduction of this historic release, letting you experience what it was like to unbox it and hold in your hands.
The replica features:
A real cassette tape, with labels on each side replicating the lettering and layout of the original release
a plastic case with a reproduction of the original case insert
the small folded instruction booklet inside the original cassette box
The tape won’t include the original game data, since I don’t have the rights to redistribute it... but there just might be something loaded on there.
I reached out to Scott Adams earlier this year and received his blessing to make this replica prop a reality. (He's still making games, by the way, 44 years later—check out his latest projects at clopas.net!) Scott in turn reached out to David H. Ahl of Creative Computing, who in response confirmed that he’s released all of the Creative Computing legacy into the public domain. Creative Computing showed up multiple times in the 50 Years blog series; I’m super excited that this great material is now freely available for new generations to learn from and be inspired by.
Note that your replica cassette will contain a few minor differences from the original, to keep it from being confused with an authentic copy (especially in light of the recent scandal about forgeries of old games!) These differences will be clearly advertised once the replicas are ready to go into production.
This will be a wonderful prop you can put on display or pull out to impress your friends with: a real physical connection to a bygone era of computer games.
It’s not too late to pledge for any edition of the 50 Years book, if you haven’t joined the adventure yet! If you’ve already pledged and want to upgrade to the Ultimate Collector tier, you can do so on the project’s Kickstarter page by clicking the “Manage Your Pledge” button. (Full instructions here.)
We’ve got one more week of this campaign left. What an incredible journey it’s turned into! We’ll see where the last few hills and turns of this roller coaster take us.
A few other projects worthy of your time before I sign off:
Kandria is an indie open-world RPG with a big focus on story and character. They’re hoping to reach some stretch goals that will let them open up their custom level editor and narrative scripting engine Speechless (inspired by Ink) to modders. Check out the project page to find out more!
Need even more books about games in your life? The latest volume of Brett Weiss’s series on console games just finished crowdfunding and is still available for pre-order. Check out The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1988-1998 if you’re interested in colorful, in-depth looks at some of the biggest games from this seminal period.
The creators of Dwarf Fortress could use some support: if you’ve ever enjoyed their incredible roguelike-cum-world-simulator (featured in the 50 Years blog series), check out their Patreon and consider helping Tarn and Zach stay afloat while they continue working to get the game ready for a wider audience when it’s released on Steam.
That’s all for now—take care and talk soon!
This has been so far beyond a delight to watch. And so well deserved. CONGRATULATIONS. (I'm a proud backer.)