Title: ||Adventure in Time
||Publisher: ||Phoenix Software|
Paul Berker |
Year of release:
Apple II, Atari 8-bit |
|Copies sold: ||
A text adventure, Adventure in Time was Phoenix's first game. The player must pursue a criminal through different eras to stop him from assembling a deadly weapon which could threaten the human race.|
Paul Berker explains how he got started and how Adventure in Time came about: "I bought my Apple when it first cam out with 16k of ram and a cassette recorder for $1095. I was already a Fortran programmer doing the punch card thing at the United States' Gypsum Research center on an IBM 1130 computer. I changed jobs and went to work for Quasar in 1978 and worked on their IBM 360 doing Fortran, and that was when I saw the game Star Trek that had been floating around on various mainframes. That was when I decided to write my own version of the game for Apple. It had some really neat features that were not on the Apple Trek version that had been released. I don't think I could have squeezed one more byte into it and have it still run. It was written in Apple BASIC. It was pretty popular... at least judging by how many people had a copy of it!
At the end of 1979, I went to visit my brother in California for a few months (I had left Quasar and was taking some time off). While I was there, I started writing 3D Space Battle. This game was written in 6502 assembly language and made use of a joystick and you flew though star fields in 3D hunting down a flying saucer and shooting at it. A lot of people told me they bought joysticks just so they could play this game. By this time floppy drives had come out and Apples were really getting popular. This is when I started selling games out of my trunk in Southern California to make some extra money while I
I was back in Illinois by the spring of 1980. I had people I knew asking me to write software for them. Some of the first programs I wrote for customers were Payroll, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable, which stabilized my income supporting clients in my area with these programs.
Up here in Northern Illinois there was NIAUG (Northern Illinois Apple Users Group) and there would be a meeting once a month where a lot of us got to know each other. I went to a few meetings with Terry Cronin (manager of Data Domain in Schaumburg), Dav Holle, and a bunch of other people who hung out at the computer store. We would sit up high and back and cut up a little, Dav Holle would be drawing doodles and passing them around. After the meeting broke up a lot of people would drift around and wind up at someone's house, sometimes my place. I had an office that was a converted garage about 24'x20', done up really nicely inside, and we had some "pirate" parties there, which seemed pretty popular in those days. I had written the two games I mentioned above and found that was how most of the people I bumped into knew of me... they had pirated copies of those games. There was no copy protection on them, I had them in Ziploc bags and sold them out of my trunk to various computer stores I could drive to. There were some other computer vendors that sold a few for me as well.
Around that same time, Ron Unrath was starting a software company (Phoenix Software) and had some ideas for some adventure games but had not found any programmers he felt he could communicate with. In those days (maybe still) programmers had some weird reputations of being in a different world (I am sure Ron probably has a few stories on the topic). Somehow Ron got my phone number and contacted me and we set up a meeting. Ron probably tells this story better, but when we met he started his pitch about writing an adventure game for the Apple, my first question back to him was how much money do you think I could make on this? (Later he told me when he heard this he knew he found the right guy he could talk to...) He said everyone else he had talked to went off into some weird things about what motivated them to program and how they weren't sure if they could be motivated to work on it.
We hit it off really well, and I started writing Adventure in Time for him (that was the first one)."
Interestingly enough, this came out before On-Line Systems' Time Zone...
As to what he does nowadays, Paul adds: "I program business software and web pages for customers, most of my clients I have had for years. I am currently writing a huge EDI web order entry project using PHP and MySql for a client. I manage the IT department for one of my customers as an outside consultant, taking care of all their software and hardware needs. I have written a Point Of Sale system that can run large restaurants, and specialized Union Payroll software. More info can be found at www.lochness-productions.com."