The fourth of my five "Usborne engine" text adventures is the one I've come to regard in my memory as the best. I think I made it two years after Sword Of Evil, which would be the difference between the output of a thirteen-year-old and the output of a fifteen-year-old. Teenagers tend to evolve quickly in this age group and I was not an exception, so Dark Arts is better programmed than what came before, and the writing is a little better and the puzzles a little improved. The use of the whistle in this game is a puzzle that I still think of as being pretty good today. Au contraire, the statues puzzle in Dark Arts is pretty silly because of how the solution is implemented.
This was also the first adventure game into which I programmed save and restore functions, though the player only has one save slot.
The original graphic title page for this game was a hack I did of the title screen for the Datasoft action game Conan. I removed the word Conan and the copyright notices, retained the picture of the forest and castle and added my game's title. Over that I programmed a randomly moving dot to give the title screen a sparkling effect. When I revisited this game in 2001, I found that the part of the floppy disk which had the title page on it had become corrupt, but it also struck me as gauche that I had used another game's graphics. So, because I had to make a new title screen anyway, I made a simpler one with the flickering dot effect and some crackling sounds.
On the new title page it says "(c) 1991, 2001" but I think I must have been mistaken about the 1991 date because when I checked the adventure I made after this one, Demon's Keep, it turned out to be a sequel to Dark Arts. And Demon's Keep has a definite date of 1990. Therefore Dark Arts can only be from 1990 at the latest, and might even be from 1989.
Below are my design notes for Dark Arts. Click any thumbnail to view a full size scan of that page.
wade_clarke_5_adventures.zip (Contains wade_clarke_5_adventures.dsk)