SAM Adventure System
SAS - the SAM Adventure system a GAC/PAW for the SAM Coupé.
Your Sinclair review, (Recovered) courtesy of the YS Rock 'n' Roll Years YS82
SAM Adventure System Axxent £30 Oct 1992
It's been a while coming, but at last Colin Jordan's eagerly awaited SAM Adventure System (SAS) has arrived. The minimum set-up needed to run the program is a SAM 512 with ROM 2.1 or later, though provided the finished adventure is small enough, it'll run perfectly well on a 256K model. Happily for higher-spec machines, SAS also supports the 1 MB module, the SAM mouse and a second disk drive.
The number 255 plays a big part in SAS. You can have up to 255 locations (each with up to ten exits), 255 movable objects, 255 unmovable objects, 255 flags (each holding values from 0-255), and 255 MODE 3/MODE 4 graphics screens (memory permitting). In addition, you have the use of 1024 messages and 30 system flags. Phew! But hey, let's not get too technical. (Too late! Bemused Ed.) Without having written a masterpiece using the system I can only give a brief first impression, but let's face it, first impressions count for a lot, so pull on your goggles and we'll dive straight in.
The system consists of three main parts. The Editor is where you create the adventure 'source' - the building blocks of the adventure such as locations, vocabulary etc. The Compiler converts the adventure source into executable code, and the Interpreter is a set of routines which combine with your compiled adventure to form a completely separate stand-alone game.
Before you get to grips with SAS, you should load up the demo adventure that comes with the program. It shows you exactly the kind of thing that you can accomplish, and should inspire you to persevere and learn the ins and outs of the system. After a quick play (the game shouldn't take you too long to complete) it's time to snuggle down with the manual. Little time is wasted in getting you up and running, and the first section in the hefty 111-page tome leads you gently into actually using SAS. You begin the tutorial by loading a start-up file that contains a set of the most popular adventure verbs, as well as the usual compass directions. From here it's a simple enough matter to type in the tutorial adventure. It's only a wee one, but it gets you off to a good start, demonstrating how to enter and alter data and switch between the various menus.
Other sections in the manual deal with the likes of adding vocabulary, verbs, unmovable objects, valid exits from a room and - the biggie - using the source banks. These are the areas here you define the actual game routines. Variously, they deal with Initial Game Conditions, High and Low Priority Commands and Local Routines. Between them the four banks cover every eventuality. Everything is explained quite clearly - within half-an-hour you'll have grasped the fundamentals (as they say).
The real meat of the system is the grandly acronymic S-PL, or SAS Programming Language. This is the language you use to write your routines into the source banks, and it's pretty darn comprehensive - there are some seventy commands in all.
After writing your adventure, you'll want to compile it. At this stage, you can choose a handy text compression option (more adventure per byte!) and define the number of characters your adventure will recognise at the beginning of a word. (For example, at the default setting of five, you can type EXAMI ECTOP BARRI instead of the whole EXAMINE ECTOPLASMIC BARRIER.). Graphics can be added to your adventures, and those produced using the world-famous FLASH! are ideal. (You can also use ordinary SCREEN$ if you want.) Only the top two thirds of the picture are available to you, though this split-screen format is vastly preferable to full-screen graphics anyway. The grabber program supplied with SAS takes care of incorporating your screens rather nicely.
So there you have it. Once you're familiar with the basics, you can devour the manual to discover how to use memory efficiently and commands more effectively, as well as how to incorporate BASIC and machine code subroutines, user defined graphics and different fonts. To round things off, there's a glossary of source commands and a couple of nifty appendices.
If you've used any of the other adventure creation utilities on other computers then you'll have no problems with SAS. The only thing you need is a bit of common sense, a pinch of perseverance and a great big dollop of imagination to get the best out of it!