Art D’s Batch Adventures

It’s time at last to get around to the first post of 2017. I’d like to say I’ll be posting more regularly this year but realistically that is unlikely to happen. When I do get round to it, there are still old games to play so lets start with a handful of Origin games I forgot about when I was originally blogging through them all.

Probably the most significant Easter eggs ever to make their way into Origin products were 3 text adventure games hidden away in the files for Privateer, Privateer – Righteous Fire and Wings Of Glory. These were all created by Arthur DiBianca, a coder at Origin during the 90’s.


To find these hidden games, you need to search through the files for each game and look for the one starting with tab. The filename is actually reversed and in this case should be advent.bat, so it simply needs renaming and copying into an otherwise empty directory.


You then type advent setup to start, except I discovered at this point that with all this batch file trickery going on, DOS ran out of environment space.


To fix this, you just need to edit your config.sys file and reboot. The relevant line is shell=c:\dos\ /P /E:1024. This maxes out the environment space in DOS and will fix the errors running these games.


Running the setup generates a load of little batch files for all the commands in the game. These text adventures play entirely from a tweaked command prompt so there is a look.bat and n, s, e and w.bat files, etc. Each command in the game is actually a call to run the relevant batch file.

These files pass along their calls to the main advent script which does the heavy lifting. If you supply a second word, i.e. look lamp, then lamp is passed as a parameter into the batch file. Presumably all the variables for the game are stored in the DOS environment. It’s kind of ingenious really and shows how much you can do with batch scripting. I would imagine it’s not the most practical language for the job but it clearly works.

Of course with the whole game being played from a DOS prompt, you don’t want to be typing any unwarranted DOS commands while playing this (other than dir which gives a verb list).


Having spent a while getting it running, the first game took all of a couple of minutes to beat. I won’t give away too much but it essentially revolves around learning a few magic words to teleport around the world. There isn’t a plot to describe in any of these games, it’s along the lines of Zork with somewhat random locations and puzzles to conquer. At the end of the game, I’m rewarded with a magic word to carry into the next game which was included with Righteous Fire.


The second and third game are substantially larger with maybe 10-20 locations each and a good deal more puzzles. That isn’t to say they will last more than 5 minutes a piece but they did make me think. I’m glad to say there was no resorting to that staple of text adventures, large mazes with identical locations. Did anyone ever actually enjoy those things?

I can’t say I’m any the wiser having got to the end of these as to what exactly is going on. There is some mention of a crowned man apparently obsessed with breadsticks. This has to be Lord British but don’t ask me where the breadstick interest comes from.

Unfathomable as they may be, all 3 games are a fun little diversion and if you want to try them out without using the original files, they can be played through a browser at

Privateer : Righteous Fire Review – PC Zone

Wing Commander Saga is still keeping me occupied so I’ll just add another magazine scan today. Having said that I wasn’t great at flying an Arrow, the Saga designers seem determined to make me fly the whole game in one. I have got a lot better with the practice and am making decent progress but I expect I’m not even halfway through the missions yet.

Back to the scans anyway. This is a review of the Privateer expansion Righteous Fire from the May 1994 PC Zone:-

Privateer Review - PC Zone

Day 127

The first job today is to collect all the bounties on Menesche. I’m in the same system as Lynch so I call in there first. He isn’t paying me but he offered to wipe out my record will the various factions in the Gemini sector. I didn’t realise quite how useful this would be beforehand. The only groups that attack me now are the retros & kilrathi. This means I don’t have to cope with endless attacks from pirates and hunters as I have been doing the rest of the game and the vast majority of nav points are now non-hostile.

Next up its Edom to collect a not too impressive 20,000.

Next its Perry to collect 40,000. This gives me enough cash to buy the speed enhancer. This ups my speed by 18.5% which is pretty unimpressive for all that money. All these upgrades are nice but seem to be entirely unessential – I guess that too large an improvement would completely unbalance the game.

Goodin also has another mission for me helping out Confed against the Kilrathi. I have to fly off to a nav point and get instructions there.

I meet up with a confed cap ship at the nav point. I get to patrol 3 nav points and meet up with them at another while they hold the jump point to Kilrathi space. Suffice to say there are loads of Kilrathi to kill in this mission.

One of the Kilrathi decides to give away the plot while attempting to kill me. The new retro ships are being supplied by the Kilrathi who are using the Retros to weaken Confed. This makes some sense and the new ships look sort of Kilrathi (although a little too cute).

I clear the points but when I meet up with confed again they are under attack also and not doing too well. I just about manage to keep them alive although the cap ship is badly damaged.

That completes the mission so I just have to fly back to the base.

On the other side of the nav point, is a Kilrathi cap ship + escorts. I mess this fight up and am only kept alive by the new armor + some afterburning.

Back on Perry, I’ve impressed the admiral enough that he wants to see me again.

The confederation want to shut down the retros and kill off their new leader. The know which quadrant he is in but no more than that so are recruiting volunteers to help in the search and cover the area more quickly. I get to search the not so pleasant sounding systems of death, war and pestilence (passing through famine on the way). These are a long trek away so I have to stop at another base on the way.

I search the systems and have to cope with a large number of enemy ships but otherwise I come up empty. I’m out of fuel by this point so I just head for the nearest base. Before I land a pirate tells me his employer wants me to meet up with him at Drake in Capello. The admiral was adamant about returning to see him after the mission so I head to Perry first.

The search has come up empty so far for everyone else also. The admiral puts an 80,000 credit bounty on Jones head which would be the single largest payout I’ve had in the whole game. By this point I’ve got everything except the advanced repair droid. Since I rarely take enough hits to need repairs this really doesn’t sound very useful.

I head to meet with the mystery employer at Drake and its the informant who handed over the coded documents earlier in the game. This guy is full of information. He is actually high up in the church of man but due to circumstance we are on the same side. He has discovered that Jones doesn’t actually believe in the retro cause and is simply using the church as a tool to take over the sector. On that basis he wants me to go to the church headquarters using a secret jump point and kill him. Even if I tell Confed the location he still considers the destruction of the base a reasonable price to pay to remove Jones. He promises he will destroy all the Steltek guns if I complete the mission although I still don’t get my gun back.

Its a long haul to get to the retro planet. I stop off the system before to get a chance to save my game as I’m anticipating it will be tough. On the far side of the jump point I’m attacked by the Kilrathi/retro ships this time armed with steltek guns. These definitely hurt a bit more but its not like the alien weapon was that much better than other alternatives so they aren’t too hard to handle.

I land on the retro’s home planet and head to their temple. I was expecting the place to be a bit more hostile but they just assume I’m a new convert and I manage to learn that Jones is heading for their gray moon.

I fly out to try to catch up with him. I’m not sure at the time if I’ve got the idea right but I point my ship at the moon and afterburn towards it. The moon is just a background image and not a real object so I’m not really expecting this to work.

I’m suprised when this tactic works and I locate Jones. He is guarded by an insane number of Steltek armed ships which seem to keep warping in as fast as I can kill them. I have to cope with the bug from the original game where if you enter a nav point in normal flight your shields get wiped out. This means I start with no protection and have to be careful for a bit.

After killing off 8 or so he tells me his guard cannot be defeated. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if he’s right and they will just keep respawning indefinitely.

I finally kill the last ones off though and now have to chase Jones down. Hes 30000m away by now so I afterburn to him as quick as I can. What I don’t realise is that he is in the middle of an asteroid field and I manage to smack straight into one at full speed. This isn’t going to make the fight any easier.

Having said that, I’m pretty surprised this final fight is in the middle of an asteroid field. The opposition in this game don’t have a clue about how to fly in them and usually end up blowing themselves up. This guy is no different although his ship is obviously very tough and he also has steltek guns. Its not a hard fight – he just takes a little wearing down.

After he dies another retro appears and attempts to take revenge. He appears right next to a jump point that isn’t on my map and is very obviously only put in the game to draw my attention to it.

This secret jump point saves me a long trek back and drops me straight in the Rikel system.

I head straight for Perry to collect my reward from the admiral. In the same manner as the last game he also gives me end credits if I talk to him again.

That completes Righteous Fire – there was no end cutscene but I didn’t really miss it too much. In fact I’d say the games story improved enormously in this final days play and its left me a lot more impressed than I thought I would be. I like the idea of visiting the retro world – expanding on this sort of thing and being able to explore the planets in more detail would have been fun. You could even add an adventure game element and get a bit of the complexity of Space Rogue.

I’d say Space Rogue was my highlight of this entire blog so far. Something similar using the Wing Commander engine with the Ultima 7 engine tacked on to explore the planets/space stations could have been fantastic. Privateer and its sequel are great games but there isn’t much incentive to just explore systems as despite minor cosmetic differences nearly every planet and station is the same. The gameplay is closer to the much older Autoduel than it is to Space Rogue in many ways.

Next: Metal Morph

Day 126

I complete the final Oxford mission flying to Perry base and back. Just like a lot of the other final missions, I run into a load of those unknown fighters. I’d swear flown with any skill at all, my ship is pretty much invulnerable by this point in the game so they aren’t any trouble.

I get the name and location of his contact at last and head straight there.

He’s waiting around in the bar like everyone else and also wants me to fly missions for him. The only surprise is that he isn’t going to pay me other than in information. I learn that I’m on the retros most wanted list for some reason. Before he will tell me more I have to fly him to Detroit. On the bright side that means I won’t be flying back to this station surrounded by asteroids for every mission so the relocation is fine by me.

I get a bit more information when we land, this time about the Retro’s becoming more organised under their new leader. I had noticed more retros around but then again theres more of everyone else as well. My next mission is just to fly to a particular station and get a mission off someone else.

When I land, the informant hands over some sort of coded documents and tells me to fly back with them.

I land with the documents and now get sent to clear out a nav point in the Nexus system where an ambush awaits for my employer.

I clear out a few waves of Retros and fly back with the news. I still don’t get any information about Jones but I do get a mission to kill off this Meneche character who has so many bounties on his head. This mission involves searching 5 systems and is the longest mission in the game so far. Just finding him takes long enough with me having to search around 20-30 nav points before I finally catch up with him.

He confesses to stealing my gun and selling it to the Retros in turn so that they can put it on their ships. He runs for the jump point and I get left dealing with a few waves of the previously unknown ships which turn out to be retros. I have to kill 12 of them before I head into the jump point. Up to this point all the new gadgets on my ship weren’t strictly neccessary but I would have struggled here without them. As it was even up against this many, I don’t think they ever got my shields down.

I follow Menesche through the jump point and have to cope with him in his Centurion + more waves of the unknown fighters. I manage to kill him off – by this point I’m nearly out of jump fuel so I head for the nearest inhabited system and land. I’ve got 3 bounties to collect on this guy which is the next job – I expect another mission will come out of that as I’ve no other loose ends to chase up.

I feel like I’m getting close to the end now and will attempt to finish it up tonight. It still hasn’t thrown anything new at me and the storyline doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in particular. The limitations of the game are in strong evidence after all this time – there is just enough variety to carry this mission pack but a second would have been pushing it. I’ve not been disappointed by this add-on but its not going to leave me wanting more.

Given the difficulty level of the last mission, I should probably expect to have a lot of enemies to cope with from here on out. It needs to up the difficulty a bit as it has been far too easy so far. It could get easier still as I’ve nearly got enough money for the speed boosting gadget which is the last upgrade that I really want. All that leaves is the advanced repair droid + the thrust enhancer (which increases acceleration). Neither of these sound all that useful although they are both relatively cheap.

Day 125 – Privateer:Righteous Fire

Its straight on to another add-on pack but this is the last add-on that Origin ever released for any of their games. Privateer isn’t the most obvious game to get a mission pack as the story was pretty much complete in the original game and you’ve already built up your ship. The first game was one of my favorites in this blog so far, however, so I’m all for more of it. I would like to see a bit more originality than SC-Tactical Ops.

There is a new intro which is more than SC-TO had. It’s not up to the standards of the original but isn’t bad for a mission pack. My fancy Steltek gun that I spent the whole of the last game acquiring has been stolen so the aim of this game looks like getting it back again. This sounds a little dull for a major plotline but I expect there will be more to it.

I start off the game with no idea of where to go. I can import a savegame from Privateer so I carry over all my equipment and money. This means I start the game with a fully equipped Centurion + 140,000 credits. However, its not a fully equipped Centurion any more. There is quite a bit of new equipment available in this game – my ship will now take shield and energy generators 1 size larger, there is a new gun type out (fusion), speed enhancers, advanced repair droid, new armor, shield recharger, gun cooler, etc.. In short its possible to improve every single aspect of my ship with these new parts. They are however very, very expensive. E.g. the gun cooler is 300,000. To buy the lot I’m looking at somewhere over a million credits which is going to take a bit of privateering.

Using my money from the last game, I immediately improve my shields, armor and generator. Even without all the other new additions my ship is seriously powerful now. I randomly take missions and check out every bar I arrive at to see if there is a plot character there. When I arrive at Perry naval base after a cargo run I run into a familiar face who offers me work. It’s a paltry 10,000 credits but I’m sure I have to accept all plot missions.

I blow a few Kilrathi up and its back for the next mission which is more or less the same thing at a different nav point.

Back again and this time its a patrol mission.

I return successful once more and get a final mission, another patrol.

I encounter some sort of new craft on this one. They register as unidentified and refuse to communicate so I’ve no idea who they are. The ships don’t look Steltek (they don’t glow green) but they do look a bit alien as they are all curves. I blow them up but I’m none the wiser at the end of it. They are quite quick but not too tough.

Thats the last mission for now. For plot missions, I’m not much the wiser – all I know thats new is that there are some new ships in the system. I do get a final mission of sorts to kill a Governer Menesche but I don’t know where to find him. For now its back to the random missions and looking in every bar.

In Pentonville, Taylor (another of my employers from the last game) is still around and has work for me if I want it. Its a pitiful 10000 again but its a short run. I don’t remember the Sherwood system being in Privateer – the sector has been expanded somewhat in this game.

Tayla meets me at the other end and has more smuggling work for me. This time the payment is a little larger.

I complete the run and get another even better paid mission.

One final mission, smuggling Brilliance. Despite what she says the Pyranees system isn’t that far off and no further than the last missions destination. I don’t complain about the 40000 payment.

I land with the Brilliance and another old face is in the bar. This guy tried to kill me in the last game – it seems a bit out of character not to take revenge at this point. He doesn’t have any missions for me as such but he also wants this Menesche guy killed and will wipe my records if I do it. This will presumably mean that everyone in the sector will be on friendly terms with me if he does this and would make life a lot easier. He will also do it for 200,000 credits but I think I’ll pass on that one, I’m still trying to outfit my ship.

That leaves me jobless again and still no nearer finding my gun. I end up at Oxford and find more work there. Going to all my old haunts from Privateer seems to be the best bet for finding missions. This guy actually says he will introduce me to his friend who should help with finding my gun which makes him my first lead since I started. In the meanwhile I get to fly a series of low paid missions for him.

I land with the shipment of books and see Murphy in the bar, who also has missions for me. I expect she is paying better so I take her mission before flying back to Oxford.

Next up she wants me to bust a blockade. These are the easiest missions as I just have to afterburn to the planet when I get there. When I land the merchants guild here has two missions paying 15,000 each to deliver cargo to Oxford. This is far too much to turn down when I need to go there anyway so I head back there next.

The next Oxford mission is a simple 3 nav point patrol. The Oxford missions seem easier than the others – I guess I should have gone there first.

Next its another delivery to Junction. I’m near to Murphys location so I stop off there on the way back.

Murphy has another delivery mission for me. Like Tayla her payments are going up each time so I’m starting to pile up the cash.

Her final mission is a patrol of the Metsor system. This place only has 2 nav points so how hard can it be. As it turns out its pretty tough with several waves of fighters at each nav point + more of those unknown fighters to deal with on my way back. My ship is pretty well equipped by this stage though so I’m close to invulnerable.

I complete the mission and get my nice fat payout. Thats all the work for now but she is also after Menesche. If I ever get this guy I can just travel round collecting all the bounties.

I head back to pick up the rest of the Oxford missions. Next up is an escort mission – its strange just how few escort missions are in Privateer.

I have to kill off quite a few waves of Retros – I’m not sure how much damage the cargo ship takes but this strikes me as a tougher than average mission and it looked to be taking a lot of hits. I have to wait for the cargo ship to fly the whole way to the jump afterwards which is probably why there are so few protection missions. Wing Commander coped with escorts and wings of fighters so I’m not sure why this isn’t in Privateer.

I have another delivery to make to Perry next which will have to wait for another day.

I’ve done quite a few missions but I’m barely any nearer to finding my missing gun and I can’t really say there has been any plot as such. In many ways, Righteous Fire has all the same faults as Tactical Operations. Its very much a case of more of the same with little overall story.

However, the concurrent plot mission structure works well and is highly preferable to the structure used in Privateer. I’m taking out non-plot missions at the same time to try to increase my income on each run and I feel far more like a privateer as I’m then using the income to improve my ship. Privateers plot was kind of an extra to start after you had the games best ship, I much prefer this structure where I’m buying the new upgrades as I go along.

I’ve got most of the upgrades available at this point and own the armor, gun cooler, shield recharger + 2 fusion guns. There are still speed and thrust enhancers + an advanced repair droid available. I could also buy more neutron guns but I’m not sure this wouldn’t drain power too fast to be useful.

I’m thoroughly enjoying playing this but there isn’t enough originality so far. Trying to get the new upgrades and the fact that I liked the original so much are enough for RF to get away with this up to a point. I’d like to see the plot get moving a bit after I finish the Oxford missions.