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

Early Privateer Full Page Magazine Ad Proofs

The Wing Commander CIC will be celebrating 15 years in a couple of hours time with the usual birthday chat, trivia, quizzes and no doubt multitudes of updates on the site. While I’m waiting for that to start, here is one of the final bits of Wing Commander memorabilia I’ve not already put on the site (at least as far as I can recall):-


It’s a pair of proofs for a full-page Privateer advert + the negatives/positives they were created from. The one on the right was created with the positives and the image is slightly darker and clearer but that’s unlikely to show in one of my photos. Whatever the quality of my camera, I have to say these do look good in the flesh. Later adverts had more screenshots and text with a smaller boxart image which may have done a better job of selling the game but was nowhere near as pretty.

The early date of these (October 1992) puts them almost a year before the actual September 1993 release date with the screenshots used being the mockups I just about remember seeing in press releases of the time. The logo is noticeably different to the one that was used in the final product and for some reason the year (2670) is one year later than the 2669 used in the intro cinematic of the game. The Origin working culture is once again in evidence with the fact that the timestamp on these is slightly after 3:00 AM. I’ll be attempting to at least match that time at the CIC bash tonight but whether I’ll manage it is highly debatable.

Privateer – Full Page Ad Proof

After 24 hours of non-stop webcasting, the Star Citizen fundraising ended at a staggering $6.2 million. It’s so much money that they ran out of stretch goals, although it may be an idea to come up with some more as the money is still trickling in on the RSI site and is nearly up to $6.5 million.

It must be a good time for sharing a bit of Chris Roberts’ related memorabilia. I don’t have much left that isn’t on here but there is this proof and negatives for a full page Privateer magazine ad from July 1993:-

Wing Commander Privateer - Full Page Ad Proof

This may well not be the final version of the ad as I’m sure I’ve got proofs for some other variants with different screenshots and/or a larger background image without the border. I ought to check but it will wait for another post when those other proofs make their way to the top of the pile.

PC Format Origin Collector's Series

This is a 32 page pullout from the September 1994 PC Format. It’s the first entry in their collector’s series which featured companies like Microprose, Lucasarts & Gremlin. Since it’s on here, it goes without saying that this first volume is entirely on Origin:-

PC Format Collector's Series - Origin

It includes a brief history of the company, interviews with Richard Garriott and Chris Roberts, previews of coming games (with Warren Spector interviews) and a look back at the Ultima and Wing Commander series. There is so much misinformation in the Ultima history that it beggars belief but there is plenty of good content in here otherwise. According to the Ultima 8 article, at this time Garriott saw the Avatar as being separated from the human plane and more of a supernatural being in Ultima 9 and already had an Ultima 10 plot ready to go.

Wing Commander Academy Review – PC Format

After all the Underworld posts yesterday, I’ll rein myself back to an entry a day again for the moment. If you still want more Underworld, I’d strongly recommend having a look at the anniversary page over at the new home of Ultima Aiera ( There is an interview with Dan Schmidt (including a handful of questions from yours truly), design notes, concept art by Warren Spector and plenty more besides.

I’ve not started Wing Commander Saga yet so I’ll get back to some magazine scans today. These all come from the October 1993 PC Format. First is a review of Wing Commander Academy. It didn’t bowl the reviewer over and I can only agree in this case. It was a product that a lot of people had asked for to be fair but in my opinion it really could have done with coming out at least a year earlier if it was to find a large market:-

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This lack of timeliness is especially apparent when you see a 2 page advert for Privateer in the same issue, not that my PC could actually cope with Privateer when it came out. WCA did have that in its favour but it was still a poor option compared to any of the existing Wing Commander games or mission packs if you didn’t already own the lot. I’m sure I’ve got a proof and the negatives for this Privateer advert or at least a variant on it around here but I’ll save them for another time:-

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Not content with having a 2 page ad, there is also a full page for Shadow Caster:-

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