We all had a lot of fun, tweaking the code to cheat and just playing the game the proper way.
What are you... Barbarian or Wizard?
Time went by and other kids moved on to different, more visually exciting games, but I always kept the Boots C15 cassette I kept The Valley on near to hand. Dragon games were more expensive and less exciting than their Spectrum equivalents, so I didn't have a lot else to play. Only Ken Kalish's Doom-before-its time Phantom Slayer got as much screen time.
But The Valley got me really programming. A Frogger clone came first, with 6809 machine code routines Poke'd into place to handle the side-scrolling logs and lorries.
Screen magic: text-as-graphics in glorious monochrome
And I carried on playing it. Until A levels took up almost all of my free time. Then University.
Computing Today was long gone, but I never stopped thinking about The Valley. It never ocurred to me not to hack into the Amstrad PCW 8256 I bought up to type up my third-year Physics project.
I came back to The Valley many years later only to find that old Boots C15 tape was long lost - though I still have the Dragon 32, Phantom Slayer, a fiendish Donkey Kong clone and a few other titles, all of which still load and run. I occasionally get it out for my son, who's young enough still not to dismiss the ancient four-colour blocky graphics out of hand.
IT professionals, take up your swords...
I pondered coding it up for Mac OS X, but without the listing I'd not only be re-inventing the wheel but producing a hybrid of recollection and guesswork. It would be a Valley, but not the Valley.
Since I couldn't remember the name of the publication The Valley first appeared in, Google proved unhelpful.
Until a couple of weeks ago, when I came across Fraser Charlton's Valley memorial page, complete with a version written in BBC Basic, a Windows runtime of BBC port, and some scans of the original pages - it's where I got the pictures from for this article.
Fraser's now a Consultant Pathologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle Upon Tyne, but he still remembers The Valley fondly. I do too, and I suspect we're not alone.
Right, last one to Vounim's Lair is a wuss... ®
I'd like to thank Fraser for not only posting the sample scans and BBC Basic code, but also agreeing to my cheeky request to scan in the entire listing.
(Back) into The Valley
I feel Old, (but not as old as soom).
I remember keying in BASIC on an old Commodore 16+4, pages and pages of code from the manual to teach you how to code.
I also remember crying at my computer to myself after hours of typing a certain program and nothing happening.
At least I don't do that at work whn my code fails, I leave the room first.
Time for a quote
"...the teaching of BASIC should be rated as a criminal offence: it mutilates the mind beyond recovery." - Edsger Dijkstra
Never done me any harm etc.
Well... Apart from finding out at the age of 8, upon typing the fateful RUN [Enter] after inputting my first ever listing (the one for a version of Breakout supplied in the manual for the ZX Spectrum +3) that said listing was broken. I think that did do irreversible harm of the sort that played on my clearly genetic desire to fix anything that's broken and suckered me into coming back for that kind of punishment day in, day out, for the rest of my life. I often wonder whether the people responsible for that manual did it deliberately. Either way they changed the course of my life.
Aaaah .... memories.
I remember doing a 'conversion' of The Valley on the Commodore 64 around 1983/84, whilst another friend of mine did it for the Spectrum - writing it for the Speccy posed a few problems but the net result was a very faithful conversion.
Because the original code was for the PET, the C64 conversion wasn't *that* difficult even if it did take a bloody age to type in. Heady days indeed, and could well be the reason why I love rogue-like games even now.
Thanks for the links too .... it's *very* tempting to download the source and re-jig The Valley in Java or Perl :-)
I was on the other side
A little later than The Valley I worked for the magazine group which published Computing Today. My job was to test the games readers had sent in and prepare the listings to go into the magazines. I spent hours on the phone to people who'd typed them in and couldn't get them to work. People who didn't know the difference between a "(" and a "<" - well they are both brackets.
I suspect calls from people who'd typed in The Valley helped me get the job as Technical Editor there.
That brings back some memories! Thank you.