He set up Abersoft (Aberystwyth Software) while he was working as a shift leader on the mainframe computing team at Aberystwyth University in Wales. The company released games for British micros, such as the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum, in the early 1980s.
Abersoft's first interactive fiction release was Adventure 1 for the 16K ZX81. It was a port of the Crowther & Woods mainframe Adventure, which John adapted from a Fortran version obtained from the University of Manchester. The initial ZX81 release was a 140 points version and managed to cram an impressive amount of the game into the limited memory; the bridge troll, dwarf and pirate being notable omissions. An expanded version of the game was later released for the 48K ZX Spectrum and also eventually for other microcomputers through Melbourne House, who retitled the game Classic Adventure.
John collaborated with Peter Moreland and Peter Donne on Mordon's Quest, also released by Melbourne House. The two Peters handled the design (contributing parts of their surname to the title) while John created a new version of the Adventure 1 engine to power the game. A sequel, Bostafer's Revenge (Bostafer being an anagram of Abersoft), was planned but never released.
After an offer from Level 9, John Jones-Steele left his university post and went to work for the Austin brothers for a while, contributing to KAOS (the Knight Orc Adventure System); an updated version of A-Code that went on to power Knight Orc, Gnome Ranger, Lancelot, Ingrid's Back and Scapeghost.
One of John's later projects was RAIL, the Rainbird Adventure Implementation Language for Rainbird, developed between 1987 and 1988 but ultimately cancelled well before release.
- Adventure 1' (publisher: Abersoft; 1982; Melbourne House as Classic Adventure).
- Technical details from John Elliott.
- Mordon's Quest (Authors: Peter Donne and Peter Moreland, implementor: John Jones-Steele, publisher: Melbourne House; 1985; ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, QL, Enterprise, Atari 400/800 Commodore).
- KAOS - Knight Orc Adventure System (Level 9).
- RAIL - Rainbird Adventure Implementation Language (Rainbird).
- The Classic Adventurer - Issue 1.