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Enchanted Scepters

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Enchanted Scepters
Studio Silicon Beach Software
Publisher Silicon Beach Software
Lead Developer William Appleton
First publication 1984
Platform Mac OS
Game Engine World Builder
Genre Adventure
Medium Floppy disk
Language English

EnchantedScepters is a 1984 computer game that was released exclusively for the Apple Macintosh and is considered the first point-and-click adventure game in the history of computer games.

Storyline

Enchanted Scepters is set in the fantasy kingdom of Callion.[1] The hostile Hurks are gathering a large army on the southern border of the kingdom. Callion’s only hope is the wizard Elron, who could stop the Hurks with a powerful spell. For this spell, Elron needs the four namesake scepters, associated with the elements of air, water, fire, and earth, which disappeared decades ago and are believed to be in various parts of the kingdom. For Elron himself, the search for the scepters is too dangerous, so his apprentice Saber is entrusted with the task. The player takes on the role of Saber.

Gameplay and technology

Enchanted Scepters is a 1st-person 2D point-and-click adventure game with still images. The screen is divided into three elements: Two-thirds of the screen is taken up by a window for hand-drawn still graphics, showing a section of the 200+ room game world from the player’s perspective. The right third is reserved for a window in which the gameplay is output in text form. At the top are dropout menus with commands for controlling the game, which are based on the control system of the then new Mac OS. Technically, Enchanted Scepters works like a text adventure: commands and objects or people to which the commands refer are analyzed and processed by a parser. The innovation of Enchanted Scepters is that, for the first time, inputs were not entered via the keyboard, but could be generated using the mouse by clicking on a command as well as on elements of the current still image. Text input is possible in parallel and also necessary in several places.

The game contains role-playing elements. NPCs can be hostile to the player. In this case, combat is turn-based. The game manages the player’s physical and mental health, as well as their experience and assets, just like role-playing games. As in role-playing games, the player dies when he runs out of life energy during a battle.

The game included a system called “RealSound” for playing digitized sound effects.

Production notes

Designer William Appleton was a graduate school business student when the Macintosh 128k appeared in January 1984.[2] He bought the machine. Initially, there were no suitable programming languages for the Mac, so he learned assembly language. As a fan of text adventures, he wanted to create an adventure game himself and, like Scott Adams, Infocom or Level 9, chose the approach of first creating a game engine and a scripting language on the basis of which a game could then be created. Using the World Builder engine thus created, he designed the game Enchanted Scepters as a sample program and offered the engine to San Diego-based Silicon Beach Software for marketing. Silicon Beach bought the rights to World Builder and Enchanted Scepters and initially published the game. The company originally planned to produce four adventure games based on the World Builder technology. However, due to disappointing sales, the other three adventures were never realized.[3] The game engine itself was launched as a stand-alone product in 1986; in 1995, programmer William Appleton placed it under a freeware license.

In 1990, Lost Crystal, a fanadventure also created with the World Builder engine, was released, tying in with Enchanted Scepters in terms of content, so it is referred to as an “unofficial successor”.[4]

Reception

The Eurogamer spin-off US Gamer evaluated in a retrospective that Enchanted Scepters did not look like much from today’s perspective, but was “a glimpse into the crystal ball” for gamers at the time. It had remarkable sound effects and detailed graphics at the time.[5] The US magazine GameGrin noted that fans of the genre at the time would have “thought they were in heaven”, since the novel control concept eliminated the need to memorize precise commands that had to be typed in.[6]

Web links

Individual references

  1. MacintoshGarden.org: Enchanted Scepters Manual. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  2. Richard Moss: The Secret History of Mac Gaming. Unbound Publishing, London 2018, ISBN 978-1-78352-487-7.
  3. Gamasutra.com: The making of Dark Castle: An excerpt from The Secret History of Mac Gaming. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  4. MacintoshGarden: Lost Crystal. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  5. USGamer.net: The Return of a Macintosh Shareware Classic. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  6. GameGrin.com: An Adventure Game Retrospective. Retrieved November 3, 2018.