Founded in 1981, Hopesoft was the publisher of Atom Adventure, a very early UK text adventure for the Acorn Atom (Not to be confused with the Program Power/Micro Power game with a similar name, or the Acornsoft Atom adventures compilation)
...as well as the Write Your Own system; one of the earliest examples of a commercial adventure creation system.
PS1A Atom Adventure
Atom Adventure is listed as being a "best-seller from Hopesoft for 15 months" in the November 1982 issue of Acorn User magazine (see further down the page); giving an approximate release date of perhaps July/August 1981.
Like the other Hopesoft Atom titles, it is included in the excellent Atom Software Archive maintained by David Banks and the contributors at Stardot, which works seemlessly with the Atomulator emulator.
PS2A Sample Adventure
A sample adventure created with the 'Write Your Own' program...
Thanks to Hoglet at Stardot for his help with this and other aspects of the Hopesoft research.
PS3A Pirate Adventure
Pirate Adventure - reviewed in 'Computer & Video Games' February 1982.
Xanadu Adventure (BBC Micro)
See Mocagh for the scans of the game inlay, instructions and tape picture.
They also have the later version of the inlay, shown below.
The Hopesoft titles were written by Paul Shave - StairwaytoHell interview from 2000
From that interview: "I left university in 1967 with no clear idea of what I wanted to do. My first job was as a trainee programmer, and I took this because it offered more money than the other jobs (£1150 a year!). I was a mainframe operating systems assembly programmer for ICL (as it became), and in those days you wrote your programs on coding sheets and sent them off to the punch room, whence they would emerge in due course as a deck of punched cards. I soon got into software development management, and did less and less programming, which I really missed.
So in 1981 when the Acorn Atom came out, it seemed a wonderful opportunity to get back into programming (but obviously not giving up the day job). I splashed out on the top-of-the-range model with 12Kb of RAM and taught myself 6502 assembler. Later that year, Hopesoft was born. I'd recently come across the original Colossal Adventure on the mainframe and was fascinated by it. I started doing text adventures and arcade games for the Atom, but the adventures were my real love, with the challenge being how to cram the maximum amount into my 12Kb. When I'd got a few programs ready, I put a small ad in one of the computer mags, and it all grew from there. I started off buying data cassettes from WH Smith, and spent the evenings saving the programs onto the tapes as the orders came in.
When the BBC Micro came along, I moved on to that, and sub-contracted the duplication of the tapes. I got the local computer games shop in Newbury to sell them too."
I got in touch with Paul in June 2020, and he very kindly told me a little more about his adventure games.
There were a few attempts to squeeze the mainframe Adventure into home computers in 1981. Syrtis Software and Level 9 both managed to make versions for the 16K Nascom. Fitting it into 12K for the Atom must've been a challenge?
"Yes - there's a lot of text which doesn't leave much room for the program. But both for the Atom and the BBC Micro, a lot of the fun was in squeezing as much as possible into the spece available."
Your 'Write Your Own' program is of particular interest; being one of the earliest examples of a commercially-sold text adventure writing system, pre-dating well known systems like the Quill, and not coming too long after Trevor Toms' ZX81 Book's system.
"I haven't heard of them. As I had intended writing more than one adventure, I wrote the program to create them and then thought, why not sell it too, as a Write Your Own. I don't think I sold any!"
It's a shame that the manual isn't preserved anywhere, but it looks like a really clever piece of software. The source code is compiled into a database which the interpreter program uses for the finished adventure game. The format of the source code is very easy to follow.
Is Pirate Adventure (and indeed Atom Adventure) basically running on the WYO system?
Was the system inspired by the Ken Reed article in Practical Computing? That seems to have been a very influential piece.
"No, I didn't see that either. It was all my own work.
Like all the early adventure developers, I was hugely influenced by Colossal Cave which I had seen at work."
It would be remiss of me if I didn't ask about Xanadu Adventure; especially as it's one of just a handful of home computer text adventures with multiplayer, and certainly the earliest of that type that we currently have on record. What prompted the idea of incorporating two players?
"I don't remember! I think maybe it just came to me as an idea while thinking how to develop adventures on the bigger BBC Micro and what to add to the Atom ones. Or it may have come from my sons, who were my test team - they were about 10 and 8 at the time, and got 50p for every bug they found.
Xanadu Adventure was as far as I wanted to go with adventure games and I moved into arcade games, but as the capabilities of home computers increased it was needing more resources to take advantage of them and after a brief foray on the Archimedes, I gave up.
You will have seen Anthony Hope's contributions re Xanadu Adventure. He contacted me in 2014 and over a long period I and (mostly) my sons helped him to solve the adventure. I'm pretty sure he was the first. And the gentle humour of his video walkthrough is delightful."
My thanks go to Paul for his time. He also shared some additional material for Xanadu Adventure including the original artwork for the cassette cover (below) and the instructions supplied with the software.
Play online using BBCMicro.co.uk
Related Advertising & Mentions...
Source: Acorn User November 1982
Source: Your Computer January 1983
Source: Acorn User April 1983
Keith Campbell's review of Xanadu Adventure...
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