BASIC Writing Goals 

If my goal is to practice writing, much as someone practices music, then I have to remind myself that these first entries are not going to be as complete and polished as I would like them to be. Reading an article about the chiptunes I mentioned in the previous blog reminded me of that, as well as recalling my own programming projects I tried to create on my TRS-80 color computer when I was ten. Offering encouragement to beginning chiptune musicians, one person wanted to remind people interested in composing this kind of music that it take a lot of work and that the first 50 tunes they created sounded horrible. (Of course, being more hip that I, the word he used wasn't "horrible" and rhymed with bass.)

As for the home computer I owned, I was ambitious; I easily spent more time coding self-written text adventures into BASIC than I ever spent doing homework:

10 PRINT "You're are in a small room. You see troll footprints, garbage, and a key to the north"
30 IF A$="grab key" THEN K=1 AND PRINT "you grabbed the key!"
40 IF A$="go north" THEN GOTO 9800
50 IF A$="search garbage" THEN PRINT "eww! gross."
60 IF A$<>"" THEN PRINT "What did you say?"
70 D=RND(10) : IF D>9 then print "you are attacked by trolls" : goto subroutine 10000
80 -- You pretty much get the idea.

I never completed any of these programs, as they took far too long to write. What's more, the best part about text adventures was the ability to fight monsters, and I could never figure out how to create a random monster that would not be either killed in single blow or would be capable of threatening your character's life without killing him outright. My programming skills were tragically too limited for my ambitions.

When I found Dungeons of Daggorath, I was entranced as only a pre-teen boy could be with the exciting promise visual adventure video games. I tried to program my own versions of walkthrough dungeons based on the lined glory that were the Dungeons of Daggorath (I had given up on monsters), and I even managed to create one small three panel sequence of movement. Yet, after that and a lot of ignored homework, I gave up.

Now it's 2003. And after thinking about it, I realize I now have an adult's capacity for patience that I lacked as a electronic dungeon spelunker. Thus, as my goals and projects have matured to wanting to be able writing great prose, so too has my capacity grown to stick with a difficult project. I've learned, the hard way, that you shouldn't give up just because something my be challenging or takes a lot of work. Of course, I also have an adult's capacity for regret, so while I know I can now stick with something much longer than I could, I can regret the fact that I gave up so easily before as a kid. Who knows what I could have accomplished by now?

16 December 2003
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