Graham Cluley is a British cybersecurity expert and the creator of the PC shareware games, including the text adventures Jacaranda Jim and Humbug. Upon registering these games, one would receive tips and maps to make successfully completing them easier. Both of these games have since been entered into the public domain, along with the maps and tips, and can be played online from Cluley's website.
Following an attack on his cargo-ship by a crack squad of homicidal beechwood armchairs, space cadet Jacaranda Jim is forced to crashland into the strange world of Ibberspleen IV. "Luckily", Jim is rescued from the burning wreckage by the mysteriously smug creature, Alan the Gribbley. Can you help Jim escape back to the safety of Earth?
Jacaranda Jim is a parser-based text adventure game that Cluley wrote while studying Computing at Guildford College of Technology, in Guildford, England. He began developing the game in 1987, borrowing liberally from an earlier unreleased adventure game of his named Herbie. The game "took about 6 months to write, and was finished by April 1988." In its original incarnation, the game only ran on a PRIME minicomputer and was named "Derek the Troll" in honour of its central character, based upon one of Cluley's lecturers.
When Cluley's maths lecturer questioned the lampooning of one her colleagues, the character was renamed "Alan the Gribbley" – inspired by one of Cluley's fellow students, "a failed accountant with vaguely homicidal tendencies" – and the game itself rechristened "Jacaranda Jim".
The game, which was written in Pascal, was then ported to the PC platform with the help of Alex Bull, another student at Guildford. Cluley then distributed it as shareware, advertising in computer magazines and sending the game out on on 5½- and 5¼-inch disks.
The game was well-reviewed, with Sue Medley writing in computer gaming magazine Zero that "Jacaranda Jim is well worth trying and will certainly give you some sleepless nights before you solve it!" Jacaranda Jim and Humbug were later praised as "shareware masterpieces" in PC Review.
A sequel to Jacaranda Jim called The Case of Spindle's Crotchet was planned and partially completed, but never released. Some of the content from this game, including "a lot of ideas and jokes," were later included in Humbug.
You, Sidney Widdershins, are sent to your Grandad's for the Christmas holidays. Lurking in the shadows is Grandad's evil neighbour – Jasper Slake. Jasper, a particularly sadistic dentist, is after Grandad's crumbling manor.
Humbug is Cluley's second and final text adventure computer game, first distributed as shareware with the February 1991 issue of PC Plus. The game was also sold directly by Cluley, along with Jacaranda Jim, and advertised in computing magazines. In a 1992 interview in SynTax magazine, Cluley estimated that the game "took about a year to write."
While maintaining the playful tone of its predecessor, Humbug is considerably more difficult than Jacaranda Jim, with one contemporary reviewer noting that it "is not, perhaps, an adventure for novices". A quite extensive review of Humbug was written in 2018 by Joe Pranevich on The Adventure Gamer. Pranevich noted that the game has "more charm than it has any right to have," but that "it's also quite difficult".
Later Work and Cybersecurity
After his two text adventures, Cluley released two graphical games: Wibbling Wilf, a pacman-style maze arcade game, and Blox, a Tetris-clone.
Until 2013, Cluley was also the senior technology consultant at anti-virus and anti-spam vendor, Sophos. Cluley now writes and speaks independently about computer security issues. Likely in connection with this work, his personal website has been targeted by DDoS attacks. He is regularly quoted in the press about computer security issues.
- Jacaranda Jim (1987; MS-DOS). Jacaranda Jim homepage Jacaranda Jim download
- Humbug (1991; MS-DOS). Humbug homepage Humbug download