Wade Clarke's memoir of growing up writing games for the Apple II


My records suggest that 1990 might have been my most prolific year for making large-scale Apple II games. I produced two Hi-Res fighting games, a Hi-Res platform game and a parser-based adventure game. I also made Droidquest, a Lo-Res odd man out.

(Don’t watch the video if you want to play the game fresh. It shows every room)

Droidquest is a colourful walking-to-the-right-while-avoiding-obstacles game with big sprites and varied, if simple, content. Though it ends after one multiscreen level, I was very satisfied with it because of how easy it was to make. That is, compared to these Hi-Res games I'd been making where both the programming of the whole system and each individual screen took a fair while, I found that using just BASIC and Lo-Res for Droidquest, I could quickly create lots of screens with a different gimmick on each one.

Droidquest jumped over pit screenshot
Droidquest screenshot 2 (death)

The neatness of this whole way of programming a game was a discovery I made by accident. I was at my aunt's house on a family holiday, away from all my usual tools and notes, so I just used simple programming techniques I could pull out of my head to make this game on her Apple IIe setup. Normally I would break out Beagle Bros Apple Mechanic (for Hi-Res shape tables and sound routines) and the Electric Duet (for title music) but those disks were back home in Sydney.

I do remember being excited when I later played the game on my Apple IIGS at home and saw how cool it looked in colour. I'd been programming the colours in an environment where I couldn't see them.

Looking at the copyright notice on the game (1990, 1994) reminds me that I didn't finish the whole thing during the course of that one holiday. Four years passed before I added the last few screens, and I think this was because I once again found myself at my aunt's house on holiday, happened to come across the disk with the game on it and did a little more work on it for fun. With those last few screens, I started exploring ways to make it look prettier (by introducing some solid colour-weaved scenery) or be more atmospheric (the sparkly teleport dots on the teleport screen).

Droidquest walking uphill screenshot

Had I finished the game, I would have set the number of player lives back to three, but when I last worked on it I must have set the player lives to about 100 for testing purposes, and that’s where they remain today.

The game also saves the highest score, though to activate this feature you'll need to lose all your lives (argh!) before reaching the end of the program, which occurs at the beginning of the non-existent second level.


I have a couple of scans of my programming notes for this game. Click either thumbnail below for a larger view. The first page, while not very legible, is the one I originally designed the game on. I assume I made the second page when I added to the game in 1994, and it’s a lot clearer.


droidquest.zip (Contains droidquest.dsk)


Press K to step left, L to step right and space to jump. Caps lock must be on.