ZX81 Prototype: Echoes from the Tower of Love

Promising start for your adventure, but the story's not quite there.

I've talked about Tower of Love before, but that was a much different version of the game. That version was all about the intro screen and my initial attempt at the story. I even showed another design I had made. To my surprise, I had a third version of the adventure that I started. Time to share!

# A little bit of story.
Unlike the first article I shared, the intro of this game starts with a map. But this is not the same map as that one. I actually found the printout of the map attached to the program. I was surprised and didn’t realize it was for Tower of Love until I read the title. Even better, it had some story.

Tower of Love, Chapter 1, Opening Screenshot, 1984 by Steven ReidTower of Love, Chapter 1, Opening Screenshot, 1984 by Steven Reid

Okay, it isn’t a ton of story. At least not by modern standards. Given the ZX81 had such limited memory, that shouldn’t surprising. This program with a map and two paragraphs of text weighs in at 2KB or an 1/8 of the available memory. That doesn’t give me much for additional text, graphics or even game mechanics. For that reason alone, I suspect that is why this game didn’t get much further.

# The Story continues.
The story itself isn’t bad. I did clean up the text a bit to fit properly on the screens. The story sets up the map and is open ended. I often wonder what I had planned next. Would I let the player wander that map? Would there be directions and rooms? i really don’t know.

Tower of Love, Chapter 1, Second Screenshot, 1984 by Steven ReidTower of Love, Chapter 1, Second Screenshot, 1984 by Steven Reid

I do like the way the text is presented. Each paragraph fits into the bottom underneath the map. Gives kind of an adventure vibe with text. I give the player time to read and press a button. Sadly, since this is only a couple of paragraphs it repeats pretty quickly.

# The map and more.
I decided to look through my old notebook and actually found the original map. This helped me type in the map. It is a long PRINT statement and was a bit of a hassle to line up. Sadly, I couldn’t find any additional notes about the map and how it is used in the game.

[Image]Tower of Love Map by Steven Reid, on Flickr

The minimal nature works for this program. I do think scrolling the text would be more interesting. There are a couple of ways to do that in BASIC, but if I decided to improve I’d probably use machine code. I have a lot of routines to compress text and print it to the screen. The only problem is would this be a text adventure or something else?

Overall it was a pretty fun little program. Not quite the full screen treatment of the original version. But it works.

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