This week marks the fourth episode in my ongoing Lo-Fi Let’s Play series! This time, we examine Apple IIe game The Dark Crystal, a surprisingly-rich tie-in to the classic 1980s fantasy film of the same name.
Before we get into the world of passing Mystics and sunset-tinged Gelfling journeys, though, I’ve got something exciting to share from last week: Our journey into Dallas Quest caught the attention of John Butrovitch, who was working at Datasoft at the time it developed and published the game. I begged him for permission to republish his email, so here it is for you below!
Just finished watching your play through (as much as you did) of Dallas Quest. Having been a software development manager at the time at Dataosft (the developer-publisher of the game), it brought back memories! Unfortunately, not enough memories to answer all your questions.
You wanted to know if the game was tied to a particular plot in the TV show. Not as I remember it. The puzzle was contrived to use what characters personalities we could. But the puzzle was internally generated and approved by the license holder. (This was just after the time of the E.T-The Game debacle. So, it wasn’t simply rubber stamped out the door.) I remember pitching my idea of pipes-like game and not winning the prize. James Garon, who programmed the game on the Atari 800, had done some adventures before this one won the pitch competition. He had done a number of adventures before (though primarily on TRS-80 systems.) So, he had an upper hand on the tech-assessment side of the equation. Sadly, James passed away a dozen or so years ago. So, I can’t get more information for you from the source.
I did have dinner with Jim Ratcliff last week. He did the Apple port of the game. He was our Apple II programmer at the company. I first met him when he was doing Zaxxon. I could ask him if he has any recollection of the game innards if you are that interested. But, being it’s been 30 years and many games under our belts, it may be an effort to sweep the cobwebs away.
Your questions though add fuel to the fire of us old-timers’ fireside recollections. We have been talking about writing a book to memorialize the game making of 80’s (least as we remember it.) If you have any general questions, ask us. It may become a topic in our tome.
I often liken my childhood in Apple II games to having been raised by some quirky, thoughtful, creative old uncles. It nearly drops the floor out from under me to hear from the people who built that universe in those days. I really hope they do that book.
Anyway, you can find the newest Lo-Fi Let’s Play here — although I know this game fairly well, this episode seems to find me lost in The Dark Crystal’s saddest and emptiest places — and please subscribe to my YouTube channel. While young men scream obscenities over new video games, we adult women will speak softly over old ones.