Stuart Smith is the legendary game designer and programmer of a number of influential, early to mid 1980s, computer role playing games, including: FRACAS, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Return Of Heracles, Adventure Construction Set and Rivers of Light (included as a sample game in ACS). His games were known for their classical mythology, descriptive manuals, multiplayer turn-based game play as well as the plethora of descriptive words during combat to describe hits, not unlike the “KAPOW!”s and “ZZZZZWAP!”s of the 1960s Batman TV show.
FRACAS – QUALITY SOFTWARE, 1980
Stuart Smith’s first foray into game programming was FRACAS, an adventure game for the Apple II. It was first released by Smith’s own company then later re-released by Quality Software in 1980. It is stated on the FRACAS manual cover that the game supported “any number of players”, when in actuality, the game supported up to eight players or in-game characters.
FRACAS is a Dungeons and Dragons-type game using a multi- player turn-based game mechanic. The video display used simple but crude colored-pixel graphics and text. There isn’t any real goal to the game other than to explore the unknown, fight enemies, collect wealth, increase your character’s abilities and survive…not unlike real life!
Today, FRACAS can be played using an in-browser Apple II emulator at archive.org (just search for FRACAS and find the Apple II version). The detailed game manual is also worth a read.
ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES – QUALITY SOFTWARE, 1981
Stuart Smith’s second game, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, was a 2D computer role playing game also released by by Quality Software in 1981. It was initially released for the Apple II and Atari 8-bit computers. Smith’s wife suggested the classic Arabian- themed story of Ali Baba.
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