The Austin Chronicle

Garriott Challenges Public to Update His Game

By James Renovitch, April 17, 2014, 8:00am, Picture in Picture

Gaming forefather and Austinite Richard Garriott has been in a nostalgic mood of late. Not only is he revisiting his trademark series, Ultima, with the upcoming release of Shroud of the Avatar, but he’s going way back for a recently announced contest.

How far back, you ask? Garriott's harkening back to a time before his DIY days sending out Ziploc bags with floppy discs labelled Akalabeth. Back to his work with a teletype machine at a high school in Houston. Using other awesomely dated equipment like paper tape spools, an acoustic modem, and a PDP 11 type minicomputer the teenaged Garriott made Dungeons and Dragons-esque maps for would-be players to explore. The ASCII maps looked a little something like this:

This asterisks – bitchin' 70s asterisks at that – represent walls. Letters and symbols are monsters and treasure. The games were named and numbered D&D #1 through 28 with the 28th map becoming the blueprint for Akalabeth.

In an effort to bring those maps to a new generation of role-playing-game fans, Garriott is looking for people to use his original BASIC source code and recreate the D&D series for PCs, browsers, and mobile devices. If you think you can handle the task read the complete rules and download the original code on the contest website. Entries must be received before May 15.

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