Escape From Solaris (1984) by Graham Nelson

Previously I wrote about The Discovery, which is the first of two works of interactive fiction (known together as Galaxy’s Edge) that were written for the 8-bit BBC Micro in 1984 by Graham Nelson.

The Discovery is, more or less, a conventional single-player text adventure game. But the second game, Escape From Solaris, is for two players. It can be played either in split-screen mode on a single BBC Micro, with players taking alternate turns at the keyboard, or, unusually, on two BBC Micros connected together with a serial communications cable (RS-423).

This early form of “networked gaming” was an innovation. In fact, Escape From Solaris is the only Beeb game I know of that works in quite this way. (I did manage to find a BBC Micro version of Battleships that also used RS-423 comms between two Beebs, but Solaris is probably the only text adventure to do so.)

I’d been wanting to try to get the game running on two machines for quite a while, and last year I finally got around to it (after taking ages to realise that the way the comms lead had to be wired up was actually rather obvious). See the YouTube video above. Thanks to Lee for letting me borrow his setup and for helping me demo the game.

If you want to try Escape From Solaris yourself, you can play the game in an emulator in your browser, but only in split-screen mode in a single window (networked Beebs are not included):

Play Escape From Solaris online

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4 Responses to Escape From Solaris (1984) by Graham Nelson

  1. unwashedmass says:

    Not that it’s a text adventure, but I believe the tank game “Bolo” on the BBC also involved multiplayer networking under a similar scheme … perhaps spelled out somewhere in https://web.archive.org/web/20080704062624/http://www.lgm.com/bolo/guides/dissertation/Dissertation-5.html#RTFToC38

    • Ant says:

      Ah, yes. Bolo. Every couple of years it crops up in a feed or timeline for some reason, so I start reading about it again but quickly give up because it seems to have been so far ahead of its time that I almost can’t believe it was actually real! A lost Beeb classic. Thanks for the link!

      • Ant says:

        It amused me (and saddened me, at the same time) to learn that the name Bolo comes from bolo, an imperative form of the Hindi verb to speak, which was what the author’s girlfriend would shout at him because he was always sat in front of his computer, coding, and wouldn’t talk to her.

  2. Pingback: Xanadu Adventure (1982) — shop till you drop | Retroactive Fiction

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