I started programming Paladin’s Legacy in High School shortly after receiving a Tandy Color Computer for Christmas from my father. I was a big fan of games for the Apple computer specifically Ultima by Richard Garriott the founder of Origin Systems. To this day, I can remember the first time I played Ultima at a friend’s house. We stayed up all night adventuring and killing orcs. Ultima and Wizardy were some of the very first computer games to represent D&D on computer and I was hooked at first sight. I was horrified to find that there were no games like Ultima for the Tandy Color Computer and even at the time I was fairly certain the Color Computer market was too small for Origin Systems to port the game to Color Computer. Had that happened, I’m sure I would have never made my game. I started learning programming on my own and slowly started making a game. I wrote just about the entire game in Basic and quickly realized that it wasn’t going to work. It was just too slow. At the time, I called the game "Quest for the King of Zandor" Ouch! I still have the 5.25 floppy disk with that title on the label.
I started learning 6809 assembly and it was a slow process. Books were very hard to come by on 6809 assembly. The turning point was when I showed my game to Charles "Chuck" Jones, one of my swimmer teammates at the University of Kansas. He was enthralled with the game and he was a computer science major. Compared to me, he spoke in computer language. He took my assembly book and in about 4 sessions of study hall, (where he should have been studying because his grades were ….not good…) he wrote in free hand with pencil and paper a movement routine in assembly. We met at my college house after study hall and typed into Edtasm+, the editor assembler/compiler everyone at the time used for the Color Computer, his code. Unbelievably the code compiled on the first attempt and a few hours later we had a character flying across a graphical map with such speed it was almost impossible to control. A few delay loops later and we had a working game engine purely in assembly.
I was re-motivated, and when not in class or swimming, I was programming. When I went home that summer all I did was swim and program. I had a friend named Morgan Reed who did all of the play-testing, noting bugs and game quirks. I rewrote just about every basic routine in assembly, looping everything into that main movement game engine. It took me about 6 months before I really figured out how the movement engine worked. I have no idea what happened to Chuck Jones after college but he was a prodigy coder.
I sent what I thought was the final game to three different game publishers whose addresses I found in Rainbow Magazine. Sundog Systems called back in late 1988 indicating that they wanted to publish the game but that I needed to get it working on the Color Computer III since that was the most current platform. However in order to ensure the largest market, I needed to make sure it still ran on the older Color Computers I and II. Luckily my brother had a Coco 3 that he was willing to part with. I spent the next year, my junior year in college, converting the game for Coco 3 and fixing bugs and design issues for Sundog. Glen Dalgren owner of Sundog Systems also rewrote the Disk Drive access routine converting it from basic into assembly. That was the final code I still had in basic because I was never able to learn Disk I/O in assembly. Again I couldn’t find a book on the subject at the time.
The final game with Sundog Copy Protection was published just before Christmas in 1989 and was advertised in Rainbow magazine on the inside front cover. Sales continued for about 4 months and then the Color Computer market collapsed and sales stopped.