In the summer of 1991 Phil Glover contacted me after reading a letter that had been published in SAM Supplement. Phil described himself at the time as a ‘keen adventurer’, whereas if I’d been asked I would have probably said that I was an ‘adventure hacker’.
Before the SAM Coupé came along my ex wife Sue had got heavily into text adventures on the ZX Spectrum; picking up various titles from computer fairs, or buying direct from places like Zenobi Software. I wasn’t so much interested myself, but I allowed myself to be persuaded to buy a Plus D floppy disk drive interface and a 3.5 inch DSDD drive from an advertiser in the Speccy mags - MGT. At around the same time, Simon Goodwin broke the news about MGTs upcoming new super 8-bit machine SAM in the ZX Crash magazine
Looking around for software that could make use of the Plus D (besides its snapshot feature) I was interested to find Gilsoft’s PAWs (Professional Adventure Writing System) had been modified to work with it (as well as a few other disk systems).
I’d been using a Romantic Robot Multiface to inspect the workings of my wife’s games - to see if I could hack the variables and cheat… Oh that was fun. Anyway, I decided that PAW would be a great piece of entertainment. I’d be able to make my own games and I’d have a better understanding of how they worked.
I pre-ordered a SAM and I was interested to know if Gilsoft might want to develop a version of PAW for it. They told me that if the machine was to sell in vast numbers then they might be interested. Well, you know that didn’t work out, but that’s more or less the sequence of events that made me start shouting that SAM would be a great adventure machine.
So, quite a while after SAMs release, and after the liquidation of MGT, the emergence of Search: “SAMCo” and all the little helpers that were doing their various bits to keep the machine going, Phil wrote to me and we decided to make a disk mag. I sent him a demo, and the next thing we knew we were publishers! It’s quite amusing to think back to the ‘scene’ at the time, all the different mags - Fred, Enceladus (already established), and all the others that came out at the same time, and those later. Everybody wanted to run disk-mags. It was great fun though - travelling to the computer fairs and meeting all the SAM people. It was good to be appreciated for what we were doing and Alan Miles would phone and we’d vent our frustration that the SAM was going nowhere.
I think I gave up hope when it became clear that the legendary West Coast Computers wanted the scene to remain a ‘cottage industry’. I’d got an Amiga by the summer of 92 - the games were better but it just wasn’t SAM. We wanted to carry on with the club but it seemed like we could only preach to those who were already converted and that was that.
The next direction (for me) was with Comms, with Search: “Cookie” and a guy called Search: “Slawomir Grodkowski” from Germany helping with ye olde Dalmation BBS. Phil later got into making websites for the Brum district Campaign for Real Ale, and the others went their various ways, but some of us still keep in touch.
We weren’t programmers and we weren’t writers. We just loved our hobby. :-)
From issue 7 onward some of the games were licensed from Zenobi Software - where a royalty was paid for their inclusion. For this reason, the code files were erased before they were made into disk images. However, if you have a disk editing program, you could unerase them quite easily.