NEW SHAREWARE PROJECTS TO START OFF SOON
by Richard Karsmakers
When I came back to Holland, on April 1st, I felt as if carrying
a spiritual child. Nothing like Cronos Warchild, however: I felt
the weight of an unsatisfied desire to do some programming. I
wanted to release a whole load of little programs yet to be
programmed. I wanted to release parts of my imagination in one or
more text adventures.
So that's when I came up with two vaguely new shareware
What is shareware?
A shareware program is a program that can be copied and
distributed non-commercially as often as you want (and, indeed,
as often as possible) and that is completely for free up to the
moment where you decide to play it regularly. At that moment, you
are expected to pay a reasonable fee, a so-called shareware
registration fee. This makes it worth the shareware programmers'
while to continue developing more shareware products.
The advantage of shareware programs is that you can check them
out before you pay anything. Only good programs will sell that
way, and in the long run only good programs will be made. The
user is clearly the winning party there, whereas the programmer
doesn't lose anything, either.
The disadvantage is that you do not get any fancy packaging. But
do you find it worth to shell out two to four times more for a
product with fancy packaging that you have not been able to play
LAUGHWARE(TM) is a special form of shareware. Basically, it's a
neat little utility program with an irritating load of
unnecessary ballast contained in it.
The program will start to call you names at times, for example,
and it will fill the screen regularly with my name and address
with an urge to register. Apart from the fact that this will eat
your nerves, it will also cost precious memory that you would not
want to waste.
Here, the principle of LAUGHWARE(TM) takes over.
Upon me receiving the registration fee, you will not only become
a registered owner, but you will also get the latest update of
the program sent to you by return mail. And the clue is the
following: This registered version will NOT have all the
'humorous', slightly 'absurd' touches to it!
Thus, the registered copy of a LAUGHWARE(TM) program will not
only save you memory and disk space, but very likely also your
Although I have not done much of the actual programming yet
(though I have done some universal initialisation routs), I
eventually intend to release the following programs:
- The Hiscore Management Utility (HMU)
A utility by means of which you will be able to keep track of
all your hiscores for all your favourite games; invaluable for
games that don't save hiscores! Different databases can be set
up for different computer systems, and you can not only specify
the game title and the score, but also remarks (like 'level',
'difficulty', etc.). Registration: US$15.
- The Brain Replacement Utility (BRU)
Are you the kind of person that keeps on forgetting birthdays,
anniversaries and meetings? In that case, this extremely
flexible utility is made just for you. It can warn you a
specified number of days before the date, it can nag you for
things that NEED to be done, and generally keeps track of
everything you would want to keep track of. You can enter
annual events, but also weekly or monthly events, end use of
wild cards and statements like 'each first saturday of the
month' are allowed. Registration: US$15.
- The Virus Checksum Utility (VCU)
A utility that adds something to protecting yourself from link
viruses that no virus killer can: It calculates a checksum of
any file on disk, and succeeds in writing that in close
connection to the actual file it belongs to, without absorbing
ANY disk space. This discards the need to have extensive
library files with checksums linked to file names, and
effectively eliminates the problems that occur when several
files (or several different versions of one program) have the
same name but not the same checksum. It can also recognise all
known link viruses (of course). Registration: US$10.
- The Software Diary Utility (SDU)
A utility that is actually an electronic diary. Each day can
get a new page where you want to stuff all kinds of interesting
information like who you happen to have fallen in love with
today, who you've had tea with, and other shuddering emotions.
Of course, there's password protection (and password-coded
files). Registration: US$15.
- The Harddisk Backup Utility (HBU)
None of the backup utilities on the market are perfect, and
that is why this Utility exists. It will not compress files,
but it will store them as economically as possible on disk in a
sure and relatively fast way. Of course, you can work with
partial backup, the archive bit and all that stuff.
- The Text Conversion Utility (TCU)
A program with which it is possible to convert from and to a
variety of word processor formats, including the odd MS-DOS
one. Registration: US$10.
- The Memory Management Utility (MMU)
This tiny accessory makes it child's play to specify the amount
of memory in your computer that it is allowed to use. This is
extremely handy if you have a 2Mb machine, yet you have to
check your program whether it works on half a meg or something.
Memory above your new, lower, top of RAM can be used to store
code, but will not be overwritten in case of a reset! If you're
a programmer you will find you can't do without this.
Please note: None of this stuff is available yet but I'll keep
you posted in ST NEWS. Do not yet send disks and registration
fees - this bit of writing was only done to make you aware of the
fact that things are happening!
All registration fees will be increased by US$5 for non-
You will probably already have noticed me mentioning the word
'text adventures' in the starting bit of this article. For this,
I have introduced the concept of TALEWARE(TM).
TALEWARE(TM) is a specific variety of the shareware concept as
well, which in this case encompasses the entire range of
MERCENARY TALES text adventures. In these programs, you will be
drawn into a tale of humour and heroism, only to find that after
a certain number of moves, or once having passed a specific
location, you will be requested to type in a password.
Without typing in that password you will not be able to continue
playing. You cannot complete the adventure.
You will receive that password upon registering a particular
Volume of the MERCENARY TALES, i.e. after paying us the money we
would like to receive according to the shareware - TALEWARE(TM) -
The password will be asked when you've already played quite a
bit of the adventure, so that you already know if it's worth
paying the registration fee for - or if it's not, of course.
The TALEWARE(TM) registration fee for any one Volume of the
MERCENARY TALE series is US$20. For people who live outside of
Europe, this amount is US$25.
In each of the MERCENARY TALE adventures, you become Cronos
Warchild, the highly talented, lethal and obscenely dim-witted
mercenary annex hired gun. These adventures will be written by
Stefan and myself, and the parser's already virtually finished.
We have many ideas up our sleeves, which may or may not be
released as separate volumes. We have not yet decided whether we
will release many big ones or less TRULY MAJOR ones.
Anyway, here are some the ideas we're having.
At approximately 22 million light years' distance of the earth,
a relatively unimportant little planet called Sucatraps floats
gently through the immense vastness of space.
This planet, however, is your home planet and stage for a most
terrifying battle for power lead by an Evil King with a craving
for human flesh. He seeks to challenge and eliminate the only
rightful successor to the throne - a person completely unaware
of this fact, located at approximately 22 million light years'
You have to travel back to Sucatraps to release your mother,
your foster mother and your fiancee - held hostage by the Evil
King in exchange for your life!
LLAMAS, YAKS, COWS, SHEEP AND THE ODD CAMEL
The Men With Suits, a powerful guild of ruthless businessmen,
seek to rid themselves of a radical element that constantly foils
their plans - a rather zarjaz games programmer known as Yak the
They put poison in his bitter, muzzled his llamas, burned his
chili, shaved his yaks, sabotages his bong, shot Dave Gilbert and
transformed his sheep into medium rare showarma lunches. Then
they touched his Panther...
Now he's angry.
You're an old friend of Yak's, so he's asked you to join him in
the battle for this Worthy Cause: A fierce fight in which you'll
have to face Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Rambo, Teenage Mutant
Hero Turtles and Michael Jackson. A quest where you'll have to
smoke Camel, drink Inka Cola, dodge cats & dogs, wear an Afghan
and listen to lotsa Pink Floyd.
Death to the Men With Suits!
Hopefully, this particular volume will be with graphics,
additional story board and character design by Yak the Hairy
himself: Jeff Minter. We are negotiating.
BLOOD, GADGETS, CONSPIRACIES AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS
The entire economy of the planet Googogulpex, which is based
solely and only on the growing of Brussels Sprouts, stands at the
edge of merciless devastation: The evil emperor of the
Zzygyalaxians, who for some reason bears a grudge against the
Googogulpexians, has unleashed viruses that mutate all Brussels
Sprouts into Self-adhesive Bathrobe Hooks.
Only you, who for some reason bear no grudge at all against the
Googogulpexians, can stop the irrevocable demise of an invaluable
culture and the extinction of an entire race, re-instating the
GADGETS FOR HIRE
With all your American Express Traveller's Cheques stolen, there
is no way for you ever to get back to your home planet in time to
witness the ceremonial burial of your foster mum's second cat to
which you have been invited.
Through various sub-quests you have to find the means to bridge
the gap between planets. Not attending at the funeral will mean
utter desecration and dishonour, leaving only one way out you'd
rather not take...
WARCHILD VERSUS THE WESTERN SPIRAL ARM OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE
When the Imperial Prator Heinz VII, the most powerful man of the
western spiral arm of the known universe, meets his death in
rather suspicious circumstances, all evidence leads unmistakably
(and unfortunately) in your direction.
Instantly preyed upon and hunted by the best trained killers of
the universe, you start a quest on the search for the true
assassin and proof that will speak of your innocence. Billions of
Pangalactic Credits are put on your gonads (a strange custom in
use on the Imperial Prator's home planet), making sure that even
housewives, telephone sanitisers and retired hairdressers
undertake desperate attempts to put an end to your pitiable life.
Will you succeed in completing your own life saviour quest? Will
you evade the myriad attempts on your life?
A long time ago, even before the times of Volume I of the
MERCENARY TALES, you left Loucynda, your fiancee, behind on the
planet Sucatraps to make a life of fighting beings on other
planets. You left her with a rather sturdy chastity belt locked
around her waist, held together with three sturdy locks.
During one of your previous adventures, though, the key found a
way of getting mislaid...
Although stupefyingly strong, you can't find a way to get rid of
it now, and therefore there is no alternative than to find the
blacksmith who forged it - or to find another means of getting
rid of it without dividing Loucynda herself into billions of non-
OPERATION HEARING AID
Unfortunately, you have lost one of your vital gadgets: Your
customised hi-tek hearing aid. You haven't got the foggiest idea
of where and when you lost it. Even if you had, you would only
have found it had been used by an Indiana Jones clone to kill
Your search leads you to a planet called Audio where,
remarkably, everyone is stone deaf (yet they're all trying to
tell you something). In the depths of ancient jungles filled with
fearsome monsters, you suddenly see something glimmering on the
ground, next to a corpse, before a gigantic gate to some kind of
Inca-ish building which is comfortably ajar.
LORD OF THE THINGS
At the sudden and rather rude end of a space journey, you find
yourself crash-landed on a strange and forbidding planet. Upon
roaming through the mysterious surroundings, you meet with a
about fifty little, furry creatures who are (for no particular
reason) into Speed Metal and J.R.R. Tolkien.
They see in you their God, their Liberator. Now, you (You) have
to find ways to rid these creatures of their greatest foe:
Entities from another planet who simply harvest them for use as
test animals for the cosmetics industry!
Directed by a deafening sense of justice (and by the fact that
these creature think you're God), you finally meet their foe. But
will you succeed in challenging the entities' leader, He Who
Farteth The Smelliest On Multifizzic Omega?
CRONOS MEETS THE CLONED NINJA STICK INSECTS
Peace and quiet has manifested itself on Sucatraps after too
long a time. You live happily together with Loucynda, but on the
fateful day of your wedding a bunch of rather rude Stick Insects
from Outer Space decide to interrupt everything and go looking
Only two humans can flee in time not to be deep frozen and taken
away by these horrid creatures: You being one of them and the
other being an insanely witty person by the name of Drag.
You have to get on board of the Stick Insect spaceship, rescue
your people and convince the monsters it's really better for
everyone when they'd head back for Sucatraps.
But that's just the easy bit - you also have to keep Drag from
getting in a lot of trouble.
THE MUTANT SEXFIEND FROM SOMEWHERE IN TIME
When one day, on your way to the local bar, you happen to get
lost in a library of some sort, you stumble across a picture of a
painting of a most gorgeous female.
Unfortunately, the picture turns out to be several centuries old
- but the face looks remarkably similar to that cute nurse in the
Amulor Eight Hospital of the Very Very Splattered, the girl that
had looked so much like the identical twin of Gloria Estefan.
Travelling through the endless voids of time and space, you set
out to search for that woman. Through the Middle Ages you
eventually end up in the future - on a planet filled with with
It is there that you find out everything you always wanted to
know about sex, but never dared to ask.
And a lot more you'd rather not know.
This is the X-rated Volume of the series, which is not
particularly suited to humans who have not yet reached maturity.
WARCHILD IN PURSUIT OF HIS PULSATING PECTORALS
Once again without money (and without American Express
Traveller's Cheques), you have to make a living of Championship
Wrestling. Everything goes smoothly, and you were just about to
win enough money to allow you to fly off to some planet to get
some radical writer killed when, one sunny morning, you wake up
Unfortunately, going bald has immediate effect on your bulging
muscles, i.e. they've instantly gone soft and useless.
Now starts the quest for a true potion to grow your hair, a
quest that lets you visit hair fusion studios, meet bald
professors and kill nothing. This is not made particularly easy
because, on top of being weak, you're as daft as a brush.
Without this potion you'll be written off. You simply have to
find it, even...even...if it means being NICE to people.
The mere thought appals you.
A PREHISTORIC TURD
Some kind of fancy scientific organisation has hired you to try
and prevent the dinosaur from becoming extinct. This is done by
teleporting back into the dark ages, millions of years ago, and
finding eggs of representative kinds of dinosaurs - teleporting
them back with you into the current time for them to thrive once
Unfortunately, both the adult dinosaurs and generally the entire
prehistoric world doesn't particularly like you hassling those
You'd better use your Compact Universal Nuclear Time Traveller
wisely, and try to outwit the witless dinosaur race - which can
be hard if you're witless yourself, too.
THE SEVEN GATES OF HELL
For no particular reason, a demon has stolen the battery pack
you desperately need for proper functioning of your Mega Absorb
Groin Protector. The demon thereupon withdrew back into the very
womb of Hades, only accessible after passing through the
legendary Seven Gates of Hell.
You have to acquire the special items and abilities that will
allow you to pass through these Seven Gates unscathed. Each gate
has its own puzzle to solve.
You'd better get that Protector functioning quickly, for many
peculiar creatures occupy hell which do not limit themselves to
merely kicking your ass...!
THE RETURN OF THE MEN WITH SUITS
After having been successfully beaten in MERCENARY TALES Volume
II, the Men With Suits have once more gained the commercial
strength needed to infect the world with their pathetic views on
what people should and should not be buying.
Once more, Yak the Hairy requests your aid to battle the Men
With Suits' evil ways - finding that these are now even more
devious and cunning than before.
An even more perilous quest lies ahead that will take you across
the Andes, to a planet where the Ancipitals roam, and finally
into the magic mountain kingdom of Batalia where the Batalyx
dwells. Here, the Way To Beat The Men With Suits will be
This must invoke the end of the Men With Suits, or all is
Another MERCENARY TALES Volume that will hopefully be with
graphics, additional storyboard and character design by Jeff
Minter (we'te negotiating).
THE UNMASKING OF THE PLANTIAC CONSPIRACY
A rather nice cult drink from Earth (the Divine Fluid called
Plantiac) slowly but certainly finds high acclaim - especially
among people of Brilliant Mind and Good Taste - throughout the
Saboteurs seek to annihilate these people who, rather
coincidentally, reside at key positions in the universal
infrastructure, injecting resident poison in one of the main
Before the universe finds out, an evil organisation already has
these Important People in their power - they will die within 48
hours, leaving the entire universe lamed and ready to be taken
Unless someone (i.e. you) provides them with an antidote, of
course. Unfortunately, this antidote is yet to be developed, and
there is no way to developing this without getting to know the
formula of the poison itself - which' secret is carefully locked
in a guarded vault deep into the deepest dungeons of this evil
Take upon yourself the Holy Task of cleansing the Call of the
THE INFIDEL EXPERIMENT
You're likely to do strange things when you're broke, but was it
such a good idea to get this job as a missionary?
Without further questions and equipped only with a Coke Bottle,
some tattered old Holy Scriptures and a self-adhesive bathrobe
hook, you are sent off to the deep and mysterious swamps of
Proximity Sigma, the swamps that have been rendered endless
because of a rather unfoprtunate freakout in the space/time
There, you have to spread the gospel of the Worshippers of the
Empty Coke Can to anyone who is prepared to stop and listen - and
those who'd rather not.
THE TOMB OF TUTH-AL-ABAQ
You have heard of an ancient, mystical and fabulous killer
gadget used by the ancient Egyptians. Drooling from every mouth
particle (and every pore), you set out to Egypt to explore the
Pyramid of Pharaoh Tuth-Al-Abaq to get it...
Not only do you have to find the proper Pyramid, but you will
also have to negotiate the many dangers which you will find
lurking once you've penetrated into its darkest depths. Ravenous
Adorers of the Empty Sarcophagus, Souls of Deceased Grave
Violators and other assorted rabble are but a few of these!
And there's Undead Mummies as well (of course).
THE RENEGADE ROGUES OF SECUNDA ALTRA
The prison planet Secunda Altra has suffered an overall revolt.
Lead by a charismatic person named Elvis, they threaten to take
over power in the Universe as we know it. If they succeed, life
will just never be same again - but then again, nor will the
The Imperial Prator, Heinz VIII (yes, the son of Heinz VII),
calls in your aid when the Rogues stand almost before the very
gates of his residency.
All on your own, you must infiltrate enemy ranks and work your
way up to this illusive leader, Elvis. After assassinating this
man lovingly called 'The King' by his followers, you must take
his place and convince the Rogues they had better go home, start
a family and take up gardening.
A SUCATRAPSIAN WERENUN IN LONDON
Once more out of money, you have found means of making a living
by doing shoppings for a local nunnery. After them having
discovered an issue of Penthouse in your possession, you get
bitten by rather angry nun. That was when it all started.
At the mere glimpse of violence - even on TV - you change into a
fanatic methodist nun. Instead of obliterating your enemies, you
hug them and tell them to love each other. At the end of these
fits, you always find yourself waking up in a nun's dormitory,
scaring everybody and not quite knowing what has happened.
This has to end.
Carefully trying to avoid violence, you set out on a quest for
the nun that bit you. Only armed with a cross, a tattered issue
of Methodist Monthly and, strangely enough, a self-adhesive
bathrobe hook, you end up in London...
Again, you need to be made aware of the fact that none of these
Volumes yet exist. They will be made in due course (though
several of the Volume ideas mentioned here may be merged together
into one more powerful adventure).
Of course, the time that passes between the release of any of
these projects and the moment you read this can become very short
of enough of you write to me in more or less of an enthusiastic
fashion. Additional ideas are welcome, of course - full credits
will be given where due.
The address to write to: Richard Karsmakers
NL-3523 GV Utrecht
A note for MS-DOS users
The MERCENARY TALES Volumes will be available on Atari ST as
well as MS-DOS computers. The reason for this: I have had "AT
Speed" installed in my system, and I bought "GfA Basic" for MS-
DOS. With a relatively small amount of work it is possible to
port GfA programs from ST to MS-DOS now!
So tell your friends about it!
I am at the moment already setting up an infrastructure for
distribution of these adventures, both for ST and MS-DOS. If
you've got a powerful PD library and if you wouldn't mind
getting the above products first, please write for more info to
the address above (enclose IRC's!!).
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.