Creativity – Me & the ’70s and ’80s

There were lots of things that inspired my imagination as a kid, many of them rooted in fantasy and science fiction.

The Pre-Macintosh Era

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been into things medieval. Knights, castles, and all that. I don’t know where it started, but I do recall something that was a big catalyst for the fascination.

Around age 10, I was home sick with the flu or something, and my mom got me a couple books to read.
Cover of the first Time Machine book, called Secret of the Knights, with a knight of horseback holding a lance.Cover of the first Wizards, Warriors and You book, called The Forest of Twisted Dreams, showing a knight on a hilltop battling a dragon.

They were both those Choose Your Own Adventure type books, where you make choices and go to the specified page. One was from the Time Machine series, the other from Wizards, Warrior & You. I read the hell out of them, and over the years, collected more. In fact, I managed to complete the Wizards, Warriors & You collection in my adult life and still occasionally page through them.

One of the single most influential pieces of entertainment that inspired me to daydream and write was a movie called Krull. It was far from a success, but I bet at least a few of you remember it. It was classic Dungeons & Dragons style fare, with a group of adventurers helping a king rescue his bride from evil invaders.

krull

I remember writing my own versions of it, complete with sequels. There is something about that movie that, to this day, is undeniably awesome.

They are all long, long gone, but man I sketched a ton of storybooks about material like that. I can still picture the stylized stick figures that I’d draw as characters.

And Then Came the Macintosh…
My family's first computer, the Apple Macintosh circa 1986.

After our family visited a friend and were dazzled by his fancy new computer, my parents bought an Apple Macintosh in 1986.

As I said last time, it was life changing. I was a pretty introverted kid, who would often just play by myself (Star Wars and He-Man action figures, LEGO toys, and Hot Wheels to name a few). When we got the Mac, while everybody was initially interested in it, I was the only one who got hooked and stayed hooked.

I’d spend hours upon hours using MacPaint, drawing things and playing with fonts. Later on, I’d make my own story covers (more on that in the next post).

And then there were the games.

The first one we got was Transylvania, a graphical and text adventure about rescuing a princess from a vampire. The princess’ name was Sabrina, a name I’d use many times in my own story writing.

Next came a pair of outstanding role-playing games – Wizardry and Ultima III. I can’t even say how many hours I spent playing either.

The reason I bring up Wizardry is that it proved to be a huge source of inspiration for my creativity. I created a party of adventurers in that game with these names: Wizardry (yes, for some dorky reason I thought it’d be funny to create a warrior named after the game and for something he didn’t use), Moonshadow, Sperry, Sazzor and Guild.

The game itself didn’t have much of a storyline. My characters had no depth other than some stats and unique icons, but they became the main heroes in a series of stories I first wrote in my pre-teens, and then re-invisioned in my high school years. Of course, these stories borrowed heavily from things that influenced me, namely Dungeons & Dragons (which I never actually played until my college years, yet I managed to accumulate quite a collection of rule books during childhood, just to read, re-read, and conjure up ideas with), movies like Krull, and the Forgotten Realms series of novels.

Looking back, I did more than borrow. It was kind of silly how unoriginal some of the ideas were, but for a kid, they were ambitious, lengthy stories. I think the original series was about 6 or 8 in total, somewhere in the range of 20-30 pages of single line, 12-point text.

The original stories – the Knights’ Quest series (yes, I was also more than a little influenced by Sierra On-Line’s King’s Quest computer games too) – are lost. However, I still have fragments of updated versions of them as well as a bunch of notes about how the entire series could be laid out. More than anything else my imagination has come up with, I’ve spent ridiculous amounts of time thinking about this series – how it could be written, how it’d look in movie form, etcetera. Even now, when I’m daydreaming on bike rides or elsewhere, I flesh out a little bit more of those stories.

a map drawn in MacPaint in the late 1980's, of the fictional world Montore, where my Knights' Quest stories took place.

MacPaint-drawn map of Montore, the setting of my Knights’ Quest series. With pencil corrections later on!

To revisit them in their original scope would be a daunting challenge. When you’re not writing at all, taking on novel-length stories might not be the best way to get back into things. But I’ve never truly given up hope that they might see the light of day in some capacity.

In between the last post and this one, I found some stories I wrote in the mid 1980s. Some of them made me laugh out loud at how silly they are. I’m going to share some of them in the next post. Particularly hilarious – I had completely forgotten that I went by a pen name back then too!

Screenshot of the interface of Ultima III by Origin Systems, for the Macintosh.

Ultima III, screenshot from http://www.filfre.net/2014/02/28/

Screenshot of the interface of Wizardry I: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord by Sir-Tech Software, for the Macintosh.

Wizardry I: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

Screenshot of the interface of Transylvania by Polarware Software, for the Macintosh.

Transylvania


Creativity Series

  1. Creativity
  2. Creativity – Me & the ’70s and ’80s
  3. Creativity – More Fun in the ’80s
  4. Creativity – The Late 80’s and 90’s
  5. Creativity – Then and Now

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