Hatrack II

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Introduction

HATRACK II was a Text Adventure authoring system written for the Commodore Amiga computer by Tony Heap of Heyley Software in 1990 and updated in 1991. It was written in HiSoft Basic and came on one bootable floppy disk.

The program came with a default set up containing enough information for a basic game to be created. Finished games could be published onto a floppy disk for distribution.

Mechanics

Hatrack II was essentially a database system where the author filled in tables of descriptions, messages, objects, variables and vocabulary that were then compiled into a playable game. In this way it was not so different to GAC and Adventure Creation Environment and similar systems.

Hatrack came with a default file which gave basic functionality such as movement and standard commands like examine and Inventory. The default file included all the messages, vocabulary and variables to make these work. The rest was up to the author to add as needed to complete a game.

For example, the location descriptions were added by filling in a form on the screen where the text and then exits could be set. Vocabulary was a numbered list as were messages.

In order to make things happen, the author had to use a simple version of BASIC to create a "puzzle." The default file contained a standard set of "puzzles" which were actually the code to make commands like "examine" and "look" work. The bulk of the programming, from my memory, consited of nested if...then statements and subsequent manipulation of variables, moving objects and printing messages.

Opinion

By Froggy

In 1990-1991 in the UK, there were two main rival home computer systems, the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST. The PC had yet to make much impact as a computer for the home. The GAC had been available for many of the previous generation of computers, however the STAC (ST-Adventure Creator) was only available on the Atari and was never made available for the Amiga. When seen in this context, Hatrack II was the answer to many an Amiga owners prayers. There were a number of decent games written with it. My memory of the system was that it worked very well, but you needed a fair bit of programming skill and attention to detail to cope with the brute force if..then..else which was required.

The popularity of Hatrack waned as versions of the more powerful TADS and Inform became available via Public Domain libraries.

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