Zeno's Basic Freeware


An Adventure in Programming Techniques was a book I wrote for Addison-Wesley on adventure game programming in 1985-85. It's long been out of print, but there are still copies in the UK public library system. I know because every year the Public Lending Right organisation writes to me to tell me how many times they calculate it's been borrowed and the number has not yet sunk to zero!

Anyway, the book was designed to support the launch in Europe of the ill-fated PC Jr which, because of poor US sales of the machine, never happened. The typical PC Jr owner wasn't likely to use a language other than PC Basic, so the publishers decided that that was the language the book should use for examples. In fact, most of the book was about design and used pseudocode which could be applied to any procedural language, but the diskette of software supporting the book was all in PC Basic.

Although Addison-Wesley own the copyright to the book (so you'll not find it here), I own the copyright to the diskette. Most of the software on it was designed to be used with the book - there were dictionary building programs, parsing routines and so on - and makes little sense without it, but there was also a small, sample adventure, ZENO, to show what could be done. Here's a screen shot of ZENO:

As you can see, it's a text adventure, in the style of the old ZORK games. Writing a game that can handle inputs like:

  take the steel chair and put it on the table

turns out to be quite an interesting challenge and offers a way of introducing quite a bit of computer science, which was one of the points of the book.

This ZIP file contains: