Making computer games from scratch in 1987

Originally published at:


Probably my favorite game for the Amiga. God I loved that computer. So far ahead of its time.


Wasn’t Lord British the same kind of guy? Created Ultima, and then cosplayed as himself for the rest of his life?


He also made himself this incredible suit of science-fiction armor, around which an entire 1980s BBC TV series could be based…

No 1980s BBC TV series would have had the prop budget for it.


Nothing will hold the place in my heart that the Commodore 64 and the early Apple computers did because of their timing and the doors they opened in my life, but man I also loved Amiga from its era. Their graphics capabilities were very impressive for the time. Video Toaster combined with the Amiga 2000 was a gamer changer for video.

One of the first pieces of software I wrote that had wide spread use was for the PET, it adjusted the read interval from the cassette tape so that you could read data off of tapes that were stretched out. the PETs data tape drive was notorious for stretching tapes rendering data unreadable and I didn’t want to lose my own programming work so necessity is the mother of invention. Programming back then was pretty different than the full stack enterprise apps i develop now. I am glad that I haven’t had to write assembly in years, these days its all dev ops deployed to aws clusters, what a change…smdh.


If I recall correctly, he also had to go to the hospital when his home-made vacu-forming setup leaked poisonous gas into his poorly ventilated workspace.

Great armor, though. Nowadays you can buy Stormtrooper armor on eBay, but in those days it was all just individuals making things for their own amusement.

Yeah, Lord British was Richard Garriott. Roughly 10 years ago he was getting a lifetime achievement award at the Game Developers Conference and a friend and I were up for a couple of awards at that year’s Indie Games Festival. So we got to sit right up by the stage for the awards ceremony, and who’s sitting at the table right beside us? Lord British! We both played Ultima as kids, so it was a real geek-celebrity moment for us.

My friend had a great time telling Garriott about all the ways he tried to kill his Lord British character in the early Ultima games. He finally succeeded in one of them (I think maybe Ultima IV) by finding a loophole allowing you to stab Lord British when his character was in “sleep” mode. You could hang out in his bed chamber whenever you wanted to, but the code wouldn’t allow you to hurt him while he was awake. Garriott couldn’t have been nicer, and seemed to get a real kick out of this even all these years later.

A couple of months later I saw in the news that Lord British paid $50M to be one of the first civilians in space, with the Kazakh space program.


I never liked playing games. I liked writing them. However Fairy Tale on the Amiga was one of the exceptions. Great game. Awesome to get to read about the history.

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