M20 Olivetti M20

Modern text adventures for the Olivetti M20

By Davide Bucci
January 20, 2022

Introduction

When was the last time you saw commercial software written for the Olivetti M20? Well, it turns out that in the moment I am writing this there is something available right on the Internet! In the last few years, I spent a certain portion of my spare time working on text adventures that I distributed on many platforms. Given the presence of a good cross-compiler for the Olivetti M20, I could port them towards our beloved computer. All are available for free. If you fancy a nice old-style box, though, one of them, called The Queen's Footsteps is available on the Poly.play online store. But let's start from the beginning!

Fig. 1: The amazing box of The Queen's Footsteps, available from Polyplay. Art by Ralph Niese, inspired by Alfons Mucha

I wrote three moderately large text adventure games: Two Days to the Race, The Queen's Footsteps and Silk Dust. If you fancy the atmospheres of the beginning of XX century with a bit of steampunk touch, you will love them! Follow your hero, Emilia Vittorini in her quests in the north of Italy. Explore the Egyptian Museum in Turin. Breathe the sea air on an elevated square in Genoa. Admire the Como lake in Silk Dust. All on your M20!

The gameplay

An interactive fiction game is based on commands typed in a relatively natural language. Here are some hints:

look: describe again the location where the player is present
examine object: describe the specified object
north or n or go to north: moves to the north, if possible. Other directions are s, e, w, up, down.
The command bye allows to exit from the game and restart well... it restarts it. You can take objects that you "notice" and you can have a list of carried objects with inventory.

You can finish the game without using the verb use. This is similar to many classic text adventure games. If you are stuck somewhere and you notice you absolutely want to use something, try to reformulate your sentence with another verb.

The following abbreviations are available:

  • l for look
  • x or ex for examine
  • i or inve or inven for inventory

The game is divided in four parts. When you complete one of them, you will get a code that allows to immediately jump to the beginning of the next part. Write down that to resume the game in the future. Passwords are important. On some platforms, you can save and load the game (use save and load commands).

Two Days to the Race

Your name is Emilia Vittorini, You're the daughter of Augusto Vittorini, who founded the Industria Torinese Automobili (ITA) with his brother Tullio. Your father is abroad trying to raise funds, but something went wrong and you heard your uncle coming back slamming the door. Your mission is to find what happened and how you can help your family. I will be your ears and eyes. Good luck.

Here is the Olivetti M20 disk image (English version)

Here is the Olivetti M20 disk image (Italian version)

If you are interested to other versions of this game (and plenty of other stuff), here is the page on my personal website

Chris Carter has sent me some screenshots here.

The Queen's Footsteps

Today is August 27th, 1904. Nine months ago, you, Emilia Vittorini, joined the Italian Archeological Expedition in Egypt led by Ernesto Schiaparelli, the director of the Egyptian Museum of Turin. You are now back in Genova, Italy: your steam ferry arrived three days ago with 25 wooden boxes containing Queen Nefertari Meritmut's grave goods, a real treasure! They left Genova by train, heading towards Turin, yesterday evening. While they were in transit, you were invited to a sumptuous reception organised by a wealthy art lover, Eugenio Collovati, count of Raligotto, but it would be hard to say that you appreciated the evening.

But the reception was yesterday: now, you must catch the train to Turin and check that the treasure arrived safely. I will be your eyes and ears. Good luck.

Fig. 2: The splash screen of The Queen's Footsteps

Fig. 3: The splash screen of The Queen's Footsteps

Here is the Olivetti M20 disk image (English version)

Here is the Olivetti M20 disk image (Italian version)

If you are interested to other versions of this game (and plenty of other stuff), here is the page on my personal website

Chris Carter has sent me some screenshots here.

Silk Dust

Today is April 19, 1907. You, Emilia Vittorini, arrived yesterday in Varenna, on the shore of the beautiful Lake Como. You are hosted at the magnificent Villa Briccorosso; Princess Lucilla Briccorosso is preparing the Silk Road Race, a 10,000km rally raid between Cairo in Egypt and Peking in China, to be done by car.

You represent ITA, founded by your father, the company that built the car the Princess just bought to use during the rally. The car is supposed to be delivered today. Your role will be to assist the delivery and make sure everything is perfectly functional.

Here is the Olivetti M20 disk image (English version)

If you are interested to other versions of this game (and plenty of other stuff), here is the page on my personal website

Page log

  • January 20, 2022, Added link towards Chris Carter pictures on this site. Added links towards versions in Italian language.
  • January 17, 2022, First version of the page



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