Learning about computers
Back in the 1980s, I was just learning my computing. It was the second wave of the boom in microcomputers. All the kit stuff had been replaced by mass produced, pre-assembled machines. I had been using the Sinclair ZX81 but was very pleased to hear that my Dad had ordered the most eagerly awaited machine on the British computing scene, the BBC Micro.
It was on this machine that I learned about structured programming and soon learned that there were other lads in the area who also had BBC Computers. One of these was Tony Heap who only lived one street away. To cut a long story short, we were both interested in adventure games and we spent time modified an adventure-authoring program called "Adventurescape" which was written by Jonathan Evans and had been published in a magazine called A&B Computing.
The formation of Heyley Software
We played around with it, wrote some games but couldn't find anyone to publish them. So I borrowed some money from my parents, took an advert out in A&B Computing and we sold the games ourselves. We got some good reviews and the games got progressively better as we came to understand how to string a plot together. At one point we even had a double-page spread in the Electron User magazine when Nic Outterside, who wrote the Adventure column under the name of Pendragon came to interview us.
We also made significant improvements over the Adventurescape system and had re-written so much of it that it was actually most of our own work, albeit based on someone else's original work. We renamed our system HATRACK, which stood for "Howard And Tony's Radical Adventure Creating Kit" (well...we were only young).
The arrival of the Acorn Archimedes
When the Acorn Archimedes came out we stopped writing for the BBC and wrote a game called "Rise in Crime" which was published through Robico Software. This was Heyley Software's final game as I had started work full time and Tony was in the middle of his A Level exams. He still found time to write a totally new system for the Commodore Amiga which he named HATRACK2. This was actually all his own work and was an excellent system. You actually scripted the adventure in a BASIC-like language which you then compiled. It was almost infinitely flexible. You can find a review here.
When I moved house in the year 2000, I discovered all the original notes and some of the discs for these games and this led me to investigate the world of emulators. I found some good BBC and Archimedes emulators and managed to extract the data from the Archimedes master discs. It was such a blast playing all these old games that, purely out of vanity, I decided to created these pages. I hope you like them.