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review 2018-01-14 22:01
The Feyguard series by Anthea Sharp (and Feyland)
Spark - Anthea Sharp
Royal - Anthea Sharp
Marny: Feyguard Book 3 - Anthea Sharp

I recently finished reading the last of the books in the Feyguard series by Anthea Sharp - Marny. I first encountered the books about the magic world Feyland on Wattpad. Since I loved the first book, I wanted to read the rest of the series. Eventually, I bought both the first series - Feyland, then the second one too - Feyguard.

Basically both series are set in the (near?) future. There are computer games that you can enter, like Star Trek's Holodeck. Throughout the books you get to know several people and in the first book it's Jennet and Tam. At the beginning of the first book (later a sort of prequel) Jennet finds out that the game Feyland is connected to a real Fairyland, but not a cute Disneyland type of faerie, a really dark world where you can end up injured or even dead. And your injuries sustained in game can carry over to the real world. In the 'real' Feyland the main characters encounter various magical creatures, need to complete quests etc, rather like in a computer game, but of course here, the stakes are higher.

I liked the whole Feyland world. The 'real' world is very well done too. I also liked all the characters but I think my favorite was Marny. In the end, she gets her own book (book 3 of Feyguard).

The plot is fairly straightforward, but not in any way dull. If you don't like YA books you might not like this series, but it's a well written, well researched series of books and it's not too dark. If you like YA fantasy I think you'll like these two series. You can still read some of the books for free on Wattpad, so if you're there you might want to take a look.


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review 2015-04-18 11:03
The ancient history of interactive fiction
Exploring Adventures on the Commodore 64 - Peter Gerrard

The reason I liked this book so much when I was a kid was because it contained the code for four adventure games (which you had to type into the computer yourself). I was always trying to get my hands on it so that I could type them up and then play them. As I have mentioned previously, back in the early days of computers you did not have that many games available so one had to resort to typing games out by hand, and these books were great because they also assisted you in learning how to program a computer. Mind you, back in those days you would not see anything like this:


GTA Bus ad



or this:


GTA Bus Shelter Ad



Computers and computer games were the hobbies of a small minority and as such it was difficult to make a profit from a computer game since the market for such games was quite small. As such, you would have magazines like this:


Byte Magazine



which were devoted to providing you with the code for games and other programs so that you could either enter them into the computer (which was time consuming), or use them as examples so that you could develop your own programs (or games). I also remember magazines like this:


Zzap 64 Magaine



which were little more than advertisement rags for new computer games, though they also contained a section with hints for adventure games and cheat codes for arcade games.

The internet has changed all of that because if one wants to share programs, hints, or cheat codes, one simply places it online. In the older days one would have to release their products through computer stores, or publish their code in a magazine. Now all they have to do is upload their program to the internet. The days of sitting down in front of a computer typing out code is long gone (though people still do it – they are called computer programmers).

However my Dad (who has used computers his entire life and has witnessed their development from one room monstrosities to the laptops we have today) told me last night that these books were quite useful as they taught people how to program a computer. I know that I learnt most of my computer skills from sitting down for hours on end copying out code. There were also some games that one could hack into the code so that you could work out the solution to the game (at least if they were adventure games). However, I think I will move on to the next topic of discussion when I get to my next computer book.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/767735407
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review 2015-02-13 01:29
Feyland: The Bright Court
Feyland: The First Adventure - Anthea Sharp
Feyland: The Bright Court - Anthea Sharp

First I'll just mention the prequel, Feyland: The First Adventure. I hadn't seen it before I read Feyland: The Dark Realm, which is really the first book in the trilogy, and only just discovered it when I was looking for the sequel. So I read the prequel first. I must say it didn't really contribute much to the storyline. What happened in that short story, wasn't really new, just a bit more fleshed out than in the sort of flashback, or intro, so in a way, I might as well just have skipped it entirely. Then again, since I wanted more from the Feyland Trilogy, it was fun to get just that. Maybe it would have been better to just add the intro to The Dark Realm, but I'm not complaining.

The Bright Court begins more or less right after The Dark Realm ended. It feels a lot like the second part of the same book. I don't really have much to add to my first review of this trilogy, but just for the record: I loved this book as much as the first.

This time, you get to see more of Tam Lin's old friend Marny, who in my opinion is a very cool, rather underused character. Maybe it would be unfair to say that she's a more interesting character than Jennet, but there, I've said it. On the other hand, Jennet has matured a lot from the prequel to the second book.

The situation at the end of the first book is pretty much unchanged when The Bright Court begins. The same threats exist, except at the moment, Marny is the one in most danger. Why that is, you'll have to read the book to find out. Even when she's in danger, she's a pretty resourceful person, so she's not totally helpless, but at the moment, she needs a bit of help and her friends are ready to risk entering Feyland again to give her that help.

It's a very good book. If you love fantasy, Faerie and computer games you should read it. I only wish Book 3 would be available for free. On the one hand, I'm prepared to buy the whole series in print, but on the other, I'd prefer to know what I'm buying. Someone told me there's a second trilogy by the same author, set in the same 'universe'. If it's as good as this trilogy, I'd love to read it too.

Source: ilirwen.booklikes.com/post/1109999/feyland-the-bright-court
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review 2015-01-05 03:19
Time to learn how to write a complex fantasy RPG
Write Your Own Fantasy Games - Cheryl Evans,Les Howarth


Well, I had pretty much become an expert in writing text based games, but after a while that had become a little boring so I wanted a bit more of a challenge, so imagine my surprise when looking through a catalogue of Usbourne books I discovered that they had published a book about writing Computer Roleplaying Games (CRPG), which were pretty much my favourite type of game because I could play Dungeons and Dragons on the computer. Okay, back in those days CRPGs were (and still are) pretty complex programs to create, but I really admire the fact that Usbourne managed to produce a short book to assist us children (or teenager as I was at the time) tackle something a lot more difficult.

I can still remember some of these really old games. The first ever CRPG I ever played was an incredibly basic affair using only keyboard graphics. In fact there wasn't even a dungeon to explore, but rather you would move from room to room (or wilderness location) and deal with the traps and monsters located there and then collect any treasures that you might find (you couldn't even move around the location). You even got to go up levels, but that was basically it. The other types of games that I would play were simply maze games, and one we had on our computer was called Labyrinth and was basically a maze game where you would wonder around a maze using the first-person perspective.






It wasn't long before they decided to have a monster roaming around the maze which you had to avoid as well as trying to find the exit.



Then they decided that it might be an idea to give you a weapon so that you could fight the monster.

While I am not an expert on the history of the CRPG I can still remember a few things from my childhood. There were earlier games that I can recalled but the first game that I know by name was called Wizardry where you would create your character and purchase your equipment before delving into the dungeon making your way to the lower levels so as to kill the big bad guy. All there was at this stage was a town at the entrance to the dungeon where you could visit various shops and then once you entered the dungeon you would make your way through the maze descending ever deeper until you reached the bottom. In those days there was no automapping feature so you would have to draw the maps by hand (something that I loved doing).

Another early game I remember was a game called Ultima (though the first version I played was Ultima II). Unlike Wizardry, you also had wilderness areas which you could explore, and the towns were also mapped out, as opposed to being a text based screen with options to select depending on where you wanted to go. Ultima even have a section where you would go into outer-space. However the dungeons were much the same as the dungeons in Wizardry, namely being a 3D Labyrinth with monsters. The other thing about these early games where that there was only one character, and it was only in some of the later incarnations where you could put together a whole party.




There were also other developments in these style of games, such as Sword of Fargoal and Gateway to Apshai which were more of a mix between a CRPG and an arcade game namely because the gameplay was much simpler and you used a joystick (and some keypresses) to move the character around and interact with the world. However both of those games did not use a town but was set entirely in a randomly generated dungeon (and my brother even managed to hack Sword of Fargoal to make the dungeons much easier because, well, it was written in BASIC).

As for the dungeon in this book, it is a basic underground dungeon which includes a creator, meaning that you had to build all of your adventures from scratch. It was also set up into three programs which you had to load each of them to create the dungeon, and then the character, before playing the game. Mind you, since the authors were dealing with a really complex game, the program itself had to be limited, especially when typing it into one of those computers that had an extreme limitation on memory. As for me, I do remember typing this game in, and I even worked out how to save things to disc (as opposed to tape because I never liked using tape). I even managed to work out how to add different graphics and to create a wilderness setting, especially since the authors outlined how to create different graphical characters. However, before I could advance any further beyond that I ended up losing my computer and was not able to get another one until years later when my interest in computer programming had declined.






Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1156118505
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review 2014-12-29 14:03
A quick & easy guide to writing Adventure games
Write Your Own Adventure Programs for Your Microcomputer - Jenny Tyler,Roger Priddy,Penny Simon,Rob McCaig,Mark Longworth

I remember back in the days that I was a wee toddler (okay, I was a little older than 2, but you know what I mean) my dad had purchased a computer called a 'Sorcerer' which he would use when he wasn't at work (because even though he was an engineer, he would come home and fiddle with electronics and computers that had nothing to do with building missile defense systems – and before you jump up and scream that I am releasing classified secrets, this was back in the 80s so anything he worked on back then would be well and truly obsolete by now). Anyway, he had got some really basic games from this computer including space invaders:









and Pacman:




among others. Mind you, unlike the screen shots above, these games were in black and white since the Sorcerer was a really primitive computer. Anyway, even though I would play around with these games the games that I became addicted too where a type of game known as Adventure Games, or as they are now known, interactive fiction (though I will continue to refer to them as adventure games). However, I have already written an entire post on these type of games here so I won't repeat what I have already written. Needless to say I absolutely loved these games.

The problem with having a really old computer back in the early 80s was that the amount of content that was available was incredibly limited – there was no internet and there was no Google Play where you could download I don't know how many games (I've got a heap on my phone at the moment and I don't even play any of them), so if you wanted a new game, and didn't want to pay new game prices for them (just go into your local EB and have a look at the prices of games there – taking into account inflation, that is basically what you would be paying for them, and this was Space Invaders) you would have to create them yourself, or at least type them in from a computer magazine.

Now, the thing with Adventure Games is that they were actually one of the easiest games to write (okay, there are easier games, but what I am talking about here are games that were commercially available) which is why you ended up having quite a few books dedicated to creating these games (and also why there were so many available in the discount section of the computer shop).

As for this book though, as a kid I loved this book – in fact I loved all of the Rigby Usborne books – they were so cool. However, reading through this book now it is interesting to see how they set it out. For instance there are a couple of times where they indicate that knowing how to write an adventure game can actually be a useful skill later on in life as not only are they complex databases, but also the design and implementation aspect of programming is something that is required as a professional programmer (I remember that I would simply write the program straight onto the computer and when I ended up doing IT in highschool I discovered that a lot more was required than simply writing code).

While this time I didn't pay too much attention to the code in the book, it does break the program up into its component parts to demonstrate how each section works. What was interesting was that as I read through it I was sure that the adventure games that I wrote (one of them was based on a Doctor Who episode called 'State of Decay' however the name I gave the game was 'Temple 2000', which I had blatantly ripped off another game which was called 'Pyramid 2000') were a lot tighter than the game in this book, however that was probably because I learnt how to write these games from a variety of sources which included my father (and of course, this book).

The other thing about reading through this book again was that ideas for Adventure games came flooding through my head (such as being a pilot of a spaceship that crashes on an alien planet and you have to go and scavenge components to fix it), and also computer code (namely BASIC) would also flood through there. Sometimes I wonder why it is that I never ended up studying computer science at university because it seems like I do have a knack for it. Moreso, when I was watching Elysium the other night and saw the scene where he plugged his laptop into the door and began to alter to code to enable the door to open I said to myself 'I would love to learn to be able to do that' until I realised that that is hacking, and hacking is illegal (not that that stops anybody).

Before I finish off though, the world of adventure games is still alive and well, as this article from The Guardian indicates.






Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1146804419
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