What book about BASIC programming did I read as a child?
May 4, 2015 12:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to remember a book I read about BASIC game programming when I was a child. I don't know the exact publication date, but it would have been in the late 1980s or early 1990s that I borrowed it from the library. It was about how to write a text adventure game set under the ocean. Can you help me?

This is a really obscure question, but my friends on MetaFilter have often surprised me with how quickly they can identify things based on not much information.

The book was about how to program a text adventure game in BASIC. The game itself was underwater-themed, perhaps featuring a scuba diver or submarine. The game was very old-style BASIC, of the sort that had line numbers on each line and a lot of "GOTO 150"-type statements. When the game was run on the computer, it would describe the current "room" you were in as text (which was underwater, so it'd be describing a coral reef or a sunken ship or something), and it was programmed to recognize simple commands like "go west" or "take harpoon". Everything was very hard-coded, so the command processing often looked something like this:
30 IF A$ = "go west" THEN GOTO 780
40 IF A$ = "take harpoon" THEN GOTO 560
The book was aimed at children. And I *think*, though am not sure, that it was a blue hardcover book.

Do you know what book I read? Thanks Mefites.
posted by Vorteks to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
similar, but probably not what you're looking for are the Scholastic "Micro Adventure" and "Magic Micro" series from the 1980s.
posted by mean square error at 12:57 PM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's a list of 72 books that contain the words basic programming language games somewhere in the description, published between 1975-1995, and geared towards a juvenile audience. Unfortunately, most of the covers aren't shown, but I was able to find a cover image for most of them with a Google image search.

This and this looked promising.
posted by thingamarob at 12:57 PM on May 4, 2015

Best answer: This question has taken me on an enjoyable trip down memory lane looking at info on old Usborne type-in programming books, which I too borrowed from the library way back when. There seem to have been even more of these than I remember, and a lot of them had multiple games, so it may be hard to narrow down.

The best fit I could find was:

The book Creating a Database Adventure Game which contains a text adventure called Neptune's Cavern.

This was found in this wonderful list of C64 type in books which was the biggest single resource I could find. If the one I mention isn't it, it might be worth scanning the covers and program names here.
posted by protorp at 1:09 PM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The .pdf linked on the first link I gave is dead, I found another with the full book text here
posted by protorp at 1:18 PM on May 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I remember this book too, and I think it was an Usborne book. I can't find the underwater one, but there was a similar one called Write Your Own Adventure Programs. It's shown on this page from the Centre for Computing History and this page from the Museum of Computer Adventure Game History. It's also on Amazon. Might be worth looking at that one to see if it contains the underwater one, though my memory, like yours, is the underwater one was a book in itself.
posted by paduasoy at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2015

Response by poster: @Protorp - I think you found it! I get a strong sense of deja vu when looking at the map on page 8 and 9 of Creating a Database Adventure Game. And although some of the details of the game differ from my (undoubtedly flawed) memories of the book I read almost 25 years ago, it seems more or less like what I remember. Thanks so much for your help. And thanks to everyone else as well! I didn't realize there were so many of these types of books.
posted by Vorteks at 1:37 PM on May 4, 2015

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