In the early 1980s I had acquired a Tandy-1000 computer and shortly afterwards I was given a copy of the game "Rogue." This game quickly ended up my favorite game at that time, at last I had some D&D-like game to play.
In late 1983 to early 1984 I had discovered and read "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" by Stephen R. Donaldson and was enamoured with the world those books took place in and thought that it would be a great setting for a computer game.
I had also just acquired Turbo Pascal 3.0 and wanted to learn Pascal. At this point all the interests converged and I began working on a game that was patterned after Rogue, but set in the world of "The Land", the place where all the action takes place in the "Thomas Covenant" books. When I first started designing my new game, which would end up being titled: "The Land", I looked at the things that I did not like about Rogue, and came up with the following things:
Next I laid out my design goals for my game:
I began actually coding the game in mid 1984 and spent a year on the initial project. In mid 1985 version 1.0 was complete and I uploaded it to the local FIDO-Net BBS (Sacramento, CA). Within a week "The Land" had become the number one downloaded file and within 6 months it was spread across the globe, all in the pre-Internet age!
Several years later I had decided to make a new game based upon the codebase of "The Land", this time improving on some of the drawbacks in the original code. First, "The Land" had much of its data hard coded which made creating another game from the same engine really difficult. Second, "The Land" was my project for learning Pascal and contained a lot of bad coding practices. This new game would be completely original in its setting and was patterned after my real-world D&D campaigns that I had designed in the 70s. It was to include many of the towns and dungeons that I had used in my D&D and would take place in the same land, Halkanar.
My main design goals of this new game were:
I began coding the new game, as yet untitled, in early 1989. I took the original codebase from "The Land" and refactored it to remove any data used by the engine to exist entirely in the data files. Afterwards I worked on expanding the capabilities of the engine. After the main game engine had been reworked and layout of the world, including towns and dugneons. The upland world was 12 times larger than the world in "The Land" and contained over 60 dugeons and a dozen towns. Even tho there are a large number of dungeons, only about 5 were necessary to completing the main goal of the game. The rest contained useful items that if gone after would make the end goal easier.
The game was completed in 1990 and uploaded to my local BBS, again pre-Internet days here. "Quest for the Unicorn" underwent several revisions between 1990 and the mid 90s, mainly fixing bugs and adding a host of features as computer hardware became more capable. Sometime in the mid 90s the last version for MSDOS was released, version 2.1.2. A version 4.0 was created when I had upated my Turbo Pascal to a new version, but never publicly released.
In the mid-2000s I decided to port the codebase for "Quest" from Pascal to C, a project that took me nearly 2 years, working on it off and on. Version 5 was the first c version and was distributed only on my website in the late 2000s.
In 2010 I decided to take "Quest" back to its roots and patterned it more after the game "Rogue" by replacing the graphic tileset with an ascii graphics interface and adding perma-death.
In early 2014 I decided to undergo another major refactoring of the game to make the underlying enging more adaptable to new features. It took me over a year and a half to complete this second major rework of the game, just in time to release it 25 years after version 1.0 was first distributed.