I've always been drawn to the earliest Amiga games, especially pre-1990 stuff. And the really early stuff - I'm talking 1986-ish - really fascinates me. These games were often being sold side-by-side my C64 games, but with more graphics and colors. But they were also being made at a time when most game devs were only barely scratching the surface of what the Amiga could do. I find that dawn of the Amiga really interesting.
Early last year I connected with a guy in California who was looking to sell some of his really old Amiga collection. He still had a few odds and ends, but one game in particular caught my eye. It was his original Faery Tale Adventure game in the "flat" box style.
But it wasn't just the game and original disk and original map. No, it had much more.
First, there were several copies of the game and each disk had different games in completely different directions trying to seek out different outcomes and clues.
He'd also taken the original map and photocopied it a dozen times, so each campaign he was running he could make unique notes for each. Then, on the side were additional hand-written notes about important events and clues found within each side quest. I think he had a "main" game, and then side games for pure exploration to help enrich his "real adventure".
I love stuff like this.
I don't ever rely on these types of notes myself (trying to even parse someone else's notes can be brain crunching), but from a historical perspective I just love browsing through it all. It's as if I'm seeing my young self hunched over my C64's desk with graph paper, plodding my way through dungeons and trying to figure things out.
It's my fountain of youth.
After locating that incredible stash, I also located a never-opened hint book from a gentleman in Florida who had a stack of them for some reason. So I picked one of those up, too.
I find with a lot of games the clue books actually extend the stories of the original games. They flesh out the characters, the plot - the why and the when - so much better than just the original manuals or game text ever do. This isn't always true (e.g. Infocom games) but seems to be pretty much the case with most RPGs. Pretty cool stuff.