Saturday, October 1, 2016

Adventures in GW Basic: The Podigan

When I was a kid, our family got an IBM Compatible PC.  

We got it in about 1983, I think, and man-oh-man it changed my life!

It introduced me to Digger, Alley Cat and King's Quest...  
...but importantly, we also got GW Basic!

The video below shows my GW Basic exploits, including a bit of graphics drawing, a maths program, and the biggest thing I ever wrote...  PODIGAN!

Podigan was an infamously unfinished sci-fi space-fantasy text adventure, inspired by the likes of Space Quest, King's Quest and Transylvania...

Check it out in this video!

Here's a screenshot of PODIGAN in action!

I think I was about 11 or 12 years old when I wrote it.  
It was about 1990.  

I remember sitting up in our old pine walled computer room, on the PC.

The whole thing was just made up of a few simple variables and tons of GOTO commands. ie:
10 IF input "Get dagger", GOTO 1050

I craved to be able to do more advanced programming, to make games like the ones I was playing...  King's Quest and Digger.  

I had no proper idea of what GW Basic was fully capable of, or how to do anything with functions or classes, or anything that might have the appearance of object oriented programming!

I knew I really needed to write SYSTEMS that could repeat themselves, and iterate over data.  But all I could figure out was to write IF THIS, THEN GOTO sort of statements.  :)

I would have to say that writing this was a pretty clear sign that I really wanted to make computer games.  It was very time consuming, and required lots of testing and iterating. And I enjoyed those things!

I tried to imbue the story with humour, even in the way the silly PC Speaker soundtrack was composed.

The game was never finished (surprise!).  You can play through the first section of the game, and then it suddenly ends.  You know the deal.

You can download my GWBasic folio here.  The ZIP includes DosBox, GWBasic, and a handful of my GWBasic projects, including a Menu that lets you load up each one.  

But frankly, it's much easier to just watch the video above!  Enjoy.  

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