From John Betteridge, author of Codename Midnight Sun, Escape From Khoshima, Morgan's Seal and Trapper:
April 12th, 2006
Thanks for your interest. Yes I have started to resell adventure games written back in the mid 80s on eBay. I found that there appeared to be some interest on eBay for these types of games and, having only licensed one back in the eighties (a bad experience which made me decide not to bother with the other four), I thought people might be interested in games that had never been released on to the market. I have spent some time addressing minor issues with the games that, over the years, experience has taught me caused frustration and trying to make the games more interactive.
I started back in 1985. At the time I was teaching computing at a local Hi-Tec college, mainly BASIC programming but some assembler for the A-level students and decided to write an adventure initially as a teaching aid for the students. At around the same time the GAC was published and the bare bones of The Guardian was used by myself to determine how easy the GAC was and what kind of product could be produced. The Guardian was chosen as the first adventure mainly because most students had seen this type of adventure before and could more easily associate with it. Whilst the class room assembler never got much past linked lists etc the GAC game progressed well. It was at this point that I thought more closely about trying to create and sell an adventure game. I tried to come up with a game that had a new background rather then the all too familiar "kill the monster" plot and laid out the outline for Escape from Khoshima, this time adding graphics as they seemed to be all the rage.
I did in fact work on both Escape and The Guardian at around the same time. Having completed The Guardian I felt quite pleased with it and felt that it was as good as many commercial games available and as such submitted it to a software house to see if they would buy or license it.
Unknown to me I had left a copy of Escape from Khoshima on the reverse side of the tape. The software company Atlantis wrote back that they had no interest in The Guardian as it was just text but were very interested in Escape the graphic adventure. Eventually Escape was published and The Guardian confined to the archives so to speak.
I cannot say that the deal worked out very well for me. Basically Atlantis were not really a problem, but the returns were abysmal. There seemed to be high costs for artwork, duplication, distribution, marketing etc., so the amount left for royalties was very little. I have probably already made more from the sales on eBay! In the meantime I had determined to write several other games thinking that I would be able to publish them and get rich quick. No way, if anybody got rich it was not me! So I never pursued any further publishing contracts. I had by now written Trapper as a graphical adventure and Morgan's Seal as a graphical adventure, this being what the market wanted, following the decision not to pursue any further publishing contracts I converted Morgan's Seal to a text adventure, a format I prefer, it allows more text descriptions and allows a lot more memory to be creative with messages and conditions.
The final adventure written at that time was Codename Midnight Sun, set in the second World War (having just watched Where Eagles Dare it seemed to lend itself to an adventure). This was more as an exercise of what could be achieved, to add an element where the adventurer had to think carefully about their actions or lack of actions, i.e. time was introduced: certain actions in daylight would get you killed, you had to think about stealth and using the darkness, likewise stumbling around in the dark could have dire results. Just walking up to a German had the same effects as in real life - you died. You needed to creep up on them preferably after dark etc. At the end of this adventure I left the door open for a follow-up which I am currently working on.
For myself I moved on to IBM and PC computers in around 1987 and worked as a manager in the computer-training department for a large local authority. I spent a lot of time writing training material for use with Microsoft products to be used in our training facility and an equally large amount of time using Visual Basic to program databases for the management of the training facility. I continued to teach A-level students programming in BASIC and Assembler for the 8088 series of chips up to around 1998. In 2000 I relaxed into a kind of semi-retirement and now after 20 odd years in the computer industry I work as a self-employed gardener on a semi-retired basis.