View Full Version : Early Computer Games

08-07-2009, 03:15 PM
Oooh, I like Hotel Oregon. We could tribute the Oregon Trail computer game.

"Wife died of cholera...tried to ford the river, and my damn oxen drowned!"

08-07-2009, 07:05 PM
Ooooh, Oregon Trail! I remember that game!

When I was in third grade (1983), our elementary school was experimenting with using computers in education. Oregon Trail was one of the first "learning-oriented computer games" out there, so the school got a copy and chose two people - one boy and one girl - out of every grade to experiment on, lol. For some reason, I was selected for the third grade level (guess my attraction to computers started early!) I got to leave class for one hour once a week to play the game with the other "test subjects" lol. I felt so lucky! (Guess the test went well, as it soon became commonplace.)

At the time, the game looked like this:


Wow, I feel old.

08-08-2009, 09:03 AM
A couple have mentioned Oregon Trail, the educational game available during the development of micro computers.

I guess I got started playing around with microcomputers somewhere around 1983 or 1984 when Commodore put the Vic-20 on the shelves. The machine language they used for an operating system was very similar to the computer language used on IBM Mainframe computers and I had been working on that for 15 years! What threw me was "BASIC" that was "on-board" on the Vic-20. It was "real time" in that you didn't have to "compile" code to see it work...you just typed in your code and ran it! That took some getting used to.

I can't remember the "first" game I played on computers. Most were very early arcade games or elaborate text adventure game.

Arcade, "Pong" of course. Those were already out in the stores before the computers with adapters by Atari for TVs.

But the Adventures were my favorites. "Star Trek" where you had a weapons system that decreased in value, health, that you decreased in value, well, pretty much the same stuff I saw listed by Sodascouts about "Oregon Trail".

I think my favorites though were by Scott Adams. "Adventureland", "Pirates Cove" and a couple of others. Later, the text "Zork", (and versions II and III)came out.

None of these had any real graphics. Certainly not "animated" graphics.

These text Adventure Games inspired me to put together an Adventure Generator that was really popular with my friends and family. With this, you could design your own adventure game to challenge your family with. I tested it by creating an Adventure based on my In-Laws house. Each room in their house was described including the basement and also their separate garage. Of course, I had to build in secret passages and mystery items the the family had to figure out. But with the generator, you could build an adventure with unlimited levels and with unlimited rooms....limited only by the memory you had on the computer and the computer memory was expandable.

You could go in any of 8 compass directions plus "UP", "Down" and a special one that I called "Teleportation" that could be used if the author of the game wished, as either an escape hatch to always return the player to a specified location if they got into real trouble, or you as the author of the game could select "random" which would randomly pick any location in the Adventure game to "send" the player to. That was kind of fun....in my initial game, I used it when someone fell into the sump pump (that used to terrify the grandkids when it would kick on in my In-Law's basement!).

You could define movable objects that could be placed anywhere in the adventure game. Then you had stationary items that could be like a table or chair. Each item had a description that might contain a clue or might be used as a false lead or could hold another object that might or might not be movable. Each movable object had a list of criteria that could be specified before it could be "picked up" (i.e. you couldn't take a necklace out of a locked jewelry box unless you had first found and taken the key that opens it.)

There was a category of special verbs you could specify if there was a "secrete word" or "phrase" that you needed to use to do something. Something like "abracadabra" to make something disappear.

Anyway, I wrote the generator so that someone completely unfamiliar with computer programming could load it up, define the rooms and levels of their game by simple parameters and then save them. To play the game, you loaded the generator, then when prompted, you loaded the parameters you had saved off and bingo! You were playing a game designed by YOU.

I had a lot of fun designing the game generator. But as a direct result of the generator, I have a nephew who is now the IT director of the local Police and Fire Department!

08-08-2009, 11:46 AM
My first computer games (after Oregon Trail) were played when my family got an Atari in 1984. The first game we played was the one that came with it - and that I hated - Combat

The other games we got right away:


Space Invaders

From 1983-1987, we got about 20 more games... then Atari became "uncool." My favorites besides the wildly popular PacMan were:


Super Breakout



Ah, fun times!

08-08-2009, 12:32 PM
"Frogger" and "Space Invaders" were both available on the Vic-20 under different names. "Combat" was called "Amok". Sort of fun. I hacked that game and changed the music and then added an "escape" key to use if you got cornered and couldn't get behind something....Of course, escaping put you somewhere randomly on the screen but it took a few seconds for the enemy to orient on you which gave you time to find cover or make it to the enemy side to start another round.

"Jupiter Lander" was a blast! You had to control a landing module using keyboard or joystick to get it through some tight vertical caves to the ground before you ran out of fuel.

We also had one called "Montezuma's Revenge" that loosely was patterned after "Mario Bros".

Yeah, there was also PacMan and Ms PacMan. Oh, and Super Breakout! I cut thousands of hours of my life playing that! Verna still plays a version of that she found on-line somewhere.

08-11-2009, 06:32 PM
We had a remarkably similar experience! Only the top six math students in the class were allowed to play, on one of those giant old Macs the color of applesauce. The screen was only green and black, just like your cap! Now they have version 2 or something with colors and whatnot... Anyway, we'd be playing, and some smartalec would holler over my shoulder when my oxen drowned, "Should've taken that left at Alberquerque!" Okay, thank you Chuck Jones. Glad someone else appreciates that game! Truly a cornerstone of my childhood.

Seeing as this is a H&H thread... of all the aspects of the book that grated me, the absolute epitome was one of his closing statements, offered as part of a laundry list: "...I have the love of a good woman..."

Really? In the continuing theme of women being possessions... At least Henley has the sense to say things like "I didn't know it then, but the universe was just leading me to Sharon...."

"A good woman"! Did someone just order a Victorian, straight up?

08-12-2009, 05:31 PM
Ms. Pac-Man was all the rage for us. The little bow was quite a charmer. I recall playing Frogger once or twice, but it never really stuck.

The game I miss most is Paperboy from the original Nintendo - clamping that > button wildly and somehow slamming right into the kid doing a cartwheel down the sidewalk regardless. Every day half my customers cancelled their subscriptions. They were so rude! Sure I broke a few windows; you received your paper, did you not?

My little sister bought me a Wii for my birthday and I'm clinging to this insane hope that Toe Jam & Earl from the original Sega Genesis will be reinstated and find its way to me by some divine intervention. Honestly, though, I'd love to have virtual reins to hold for the Wii and have to actually "steer" a wagon through the river in an amped-up Oregon Trail. Maybe then I could prompt the quadripeds to activate a doggy paddle response when we're fording a river...

09-23-2009, 07:43 PM
Ok so they aren't very old, just within the last 20 years, but has anyone played the LucasArts games like Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, Sam and Max etc?? I absolutely loved them, must download them again if they are still available. There were other similar ones too that weren't by LucasArts, like Eye of the Beholder - similar game methods but more of a D&D style!

09-23-2009, 08:40 PM
I used to be totally addicted to a couple of LucasArts games. They were early development computer games. One was a StarWars game and one was an Indiana Jones game. They were basic but fun! both were search and find adventure games where the hero had to collect stuff and avoid dangers and eventually make it back to the town. Lost em when my first computer crashed and I never got them back again :cry: