FEATURE! The PAW Programming Bible ¡UPDATED!


The How to… section of The PAW Reservoir is intended to contain the intel about the software: manuals, tutorials, code snippets and routines, source codes, programming aids, how-to articles…

At this very early stage of the reservoir, we are mainly focused on getting hold of contents and stuff rather than making them look neat & nice. That’s why the Programming Bible, our own particular first-folio of the PAW culture, contains scanned documents, merely attached one to another and as yet is not organized at all. Every single piece of new PAW intel we may come across will be added to the file in due course.

One of the things we’re after is Cristopher Hester’s Adventure Code pages, one of the most reputed fanzines of the time. But we seem to be unable to get hold of Chris, of his editor (Mandy Rodrigues) or of anyone who may have these valuables in store.

Does anybody know how to get in touch with either of them nowadays?

UPDATE 29 jul 2013!!: Here are the much-seeked links to Chris Hester’s Adventure Code issues #1#2#3 and #4. Should Chris kindly grants his permission, the PAW Programming Bible pdf file will be updated to include these valuable pages.

As usual, all contributions in this respect are much more than welcome.


WANTED! Beta-testers for Larry Horsfield’s new PAWED (well, err, ACEd) text adventures

Our much-admired Master of the Guild of PAW Writers, HE Larry Horsfield, the creative talent behind those & many acclaimed PAWed text adventures published as FSF AdventuresThe AXE OF KOLT saga or the MAGNETIC MOON saga among many others – back in the eighties and a regular reported star in the magazines of the age – Sinclair User or Your sinclair, to mention just a couple –, has kept on working on his PAW creations over the years and is now, in 2011, ready to release respectively a brand-new adventure, Fortress of Fear, plus an updated version of The lost children, both authored using the PAW language and compiled using the ACE Adventures package (available for download at the software tab of the Reservoir), a 100% compatible tool with the original PAW language but with much extended capabilites in line with the requirements of the modern times.

Larry is looking for beta-testers so as to fine-tune both adventures to perfect release candidates in the very next months to come. So if you like IF and text-adventures and would like to have the privilege of collaborating with him for the release of these two long-expected & excellent pieces of text adventuring to the world, please write Larry at lazzah2000@yahoo.co.uk.

Happy adventuring!!

WANTED! … and obtained!

Despite the void that seems to have engulfed this reservoir for the last months, we have endured the hard work at the backstage to keep the PAW alive.

As yet, we have not been able to get hold of the SWAN nor the DAAD, but, thanks to the contribution of Dave Webb, you can now find the Opus discovery A080 version of the PAW at the software tab of the reservoir. Dave advises that the image contains the abandoned database of an unfinished adventure of his and, although he has been unable to delete it from the file, he has still decided to contribute it to the reservoir.

We thank Dave for approaching the reservoir with such a contributive attitude and invite him get further involved in whichever way he may feel like.

Do you want to contribute your own suggestions here? Please don’t hesitate to do it and WRITE NOW to paw@artematopeya.es.

The 10 commandments of adventure writing for small-screened devices

  1. Favour inverse-video (light ink upon dark background) rather than true-video when writing text games for small-screened devices (SSDs). Sights worldwide will be thankful and more eager to invite their hosting eyeballs to play it.
  2. A full-sized screen design squeezed in a small screen (100%>50%) is more uncomfortable than a small-sized screen design designed to fit in a small-sized screen (100%>100%). Design the interface of your game with the end-user screen size in mind. The fact that emulators can emulate all those nice features does not mean that you must, ought, need to use all of them.
  3. Colour is nice but makes reading confusing in SSDs. Stick to black background and white font ink. A touch of colour here and there is fine, but that’s it for now.
  4. Fonts are also nice but most of them are a pest to read. Stick to standard, square, bold types that print clearly on screen.
  5. In the end: never combine exotic fonts with colours.
  6. Make sure and test that all of your interface’s elements can be read effortlessly in the end-user device. Believe me: most times, it turns out that the appearance of your text adventure in the e.g. Nokia N95 looks as garbled as a nice porridge of scrambled eggs. Who feels like playing a game like that?
  7. Most emulators accept regular text input either via an emulated, transparent keyboard or an “input string” native menu option. But things like function keys (F1), extra modes, etc., are usually poorly implemented and can make of your game a headache to play. Avoid intricate inputs and stick your player’s input to numbers 0-9 and letters a-z.
  8. Keep your input as simple as possible: one- or two-touch commands is rule of thumb here. Map your vocabulary in advance and make sure that most, if not all, of the necessary commands feature a one- or two-letter synonim: EX for examine, TK for take, TAL for take all, DR for drop, etc.
  9. Learn from the masters and keep your vocabulary (verbs) as synthetic as possible.  Put them in an online screen and let the player have a refresh reading with a HELP command. Shortlist  your verbs (as Lucasarts games do) and create a core group of commands that can apply to most of the situations. Remember that the pleasure and beauty of playing IF and text adventures is the reading effect of events happening rather than finding the right word or emulating Shakespeare and prove that you can produce the most complicate phrasing.
  10. Put as much passion and work on a text adventure for SSDs as you may on a large, PC desktop text adventure. A small screen does not mean small descriptions, small puzzles (if that’s your adventure writing style), small attention to details, small mistakes here and there… small meaning bad, ugly, stupid, incomplete or simply unprofessional. When writing text adventures for SDDS, think bigger than big.

Do you want to contribute your own suggestions here? Please don’t hesitate to do it and WRITE NOW to paw@artematopeya.es.

Welcome, Philip Richmond

The Thin Basic Adventure Builder (a.k.a. TAB) is the creation of Philip Richmond. To make a long story short, TAB is a modern PAW replicant written in thin-Basic. If you download the latest version, you will feel at home with TAB as it also speaks PAW. A particular dialect, but PAW nonetheless.

You can report to http://tab.thinbasic.com/ for full information about TAB and to download the latest version available.

If you feel like watching TAB in motion, you can also visit Philip’s Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/catventure.

We sincerely thank Philip for his nice & friendly approach to this reservoir. We will keep you all posted about the evolution of TAB, the release of new versions and whichever info Philip may provide and contribute to the PAW culture through this reservoir site.

The PAW Monster Edition

PAW Monster

The PAW Monster Edition is a project of The PAW Reservoir for the development of a PAW replicant.

Another PAW replicant?!?!

The PAWME will replicate the original PAW design (database and language interpreter embedded within an editor) on the PC. The application will be self-contained and compact (no external libraries, no multiple executables, no file renaming, no compiler-interpreter architecture anymore… ). An .exe file will launch an editor that will provide the functions of the original PAW…

But why do we need another PAW system for Windows? We already have Doug Harter’s WinPAW, among others…

… hmm, that will provide the functions of the original PAW plus all many of the advanced features of the existing clones. This reset intends to upgrade the PAW design to the modern times and, while retaining all of the look & feel of the original software, make of it a serious tool able to produce top level games as many of those produced with the big ones. No object-oriented programming, no simulation paranoia, no endless lists of unaffordable plug-ins…

  • indexed database-driven system like the PAW but with extended capabilities: up to 65.000 locations, objects, dictionary, processes, flags, messages… (eventually unlimited).
  • expanded database structure with new data fields.
  • programmable PROCESS 0 (zero).
  • new PROCESS * (simultaneous to player’s input).
  • up to 20 user-defined windows for screen layout.
  • up to 65.000 flags (variables).
  • up to 100 local flags for locations and objects.
  • automatized behaviours via location and object flags: define attributes (container, non-player character, visited, foe, liquid, opaque… whatever) once and the system handles accordingly.
  • location routes.
  • stacks for FIFO operations with flags.
  • buffers for text ‘maths’.
  • flag indexation.
  • location routes.
  • authomatic & customizable light, hour and weather systems.
  • distant objects reporting and ‘atmospheric’ messaging for dynamic description effects.
  • simple macro programming
  • expanded PAW grammar: WINDOWx, WHATL(loc), WHATP (process), BITWISE condacts, OOPS and AGAIN, NPC interaction condacts, a power-boosted DOALL…
  • hard wired ‘start’ database with real and advanced functionality.
  • Hopefully, multiple target compilation: PC, DS, Java, Windows CE, etc.

… all interfaced via a user-friendly and simple editor similar to that of the original PAW. Plus some other nice and useful embellishments.

So, what are we supposed to be able to write with the PAWME?

Regardless of their beauty and retro-feeling, the 8-bit based windows versions of PAW are unfortunately too limited and cannot be used for large and text-plenty games or interactive fictions. To put it simply: they do not accommodate enough text nor database resources. SINTAC (which is, in fact, not a replicant of the PAW but of its elder brother DAAD) or CAECHO do in fact have most of the functions and the required expanded grammars that could in fact produce large and meaty text adventures. But SINTAC (absolutely beautiful) insists on the 8-bit limit of 256 of each class except for messages. There’s no use in having 65.000 messages if you can only use 256 flags to control such a monster, 256 objects and rooms with no local flags or attributes, if there’s not any bitwise operation grammar, etc. And the CAECHO system is a prodigy of design (the database is, simply, superb and massively fillable with so many values and flags and text maths and the language is so varied and so proficient…) but the paw-like grammar has been translated into a strange C-like spanish dialect. A beautiful software design by a computing engineer for computer engineeers. Mortals cannot simply make any sense of it, let aside write a game with it. And both of them only run under MS-DOS plus their authors have turned their back on the PAW forever and reject to update and recompile these fantastic tools to run under Windows. Sic.

We are starting to evaluate Superglús and ACE as both are superb PAW replicants. But we still feel that a rewrite, a new design and an editor version would be much better. Among the reviewed programming packages for our rewrite, Multimedia Fusion has taken the pole position for the time being…

You can report to the Project tab at for further information about the PAWME.