Interview with Frank Traut
After receiving this fine product, I immediately emailed Frank and asked for an
interview to go along with the review. Being a friend of Frank's (he even put me
in the credits on the CD, since I traded him the TI that started the ball
rolling for this great project, much thanks!), I was pretty confident he would
do one. The only problem was I received the CD on Saturday and the newsletter
was due by Monday. I would like to thank Frank for quickly answering the
questions and taking the time to answer them for me. So here is a quick
interview with Frank Traut about the Scott Adams CD and the work that went into
Tom-Once you decided to do
this CD, how hard was it to find Scott Adams and convince him to do it?
Frank-It wasn't hard
finding him at all. After doing a lot of research on the web for my project, I
found that there were Scott Adams Adventure pages. Further probing landed me at
his very own web page! It was great to see that he was still around and only
lives a few hours from me. I simply E-mailed him one day and told him about my
project. He was really excited that someone like me (a casual fan), wanted to
make such a thing. I basically asked him if it were okay to go ahead with the
project and asked him for an interview. Scott had mentioned that he was working
on a Windows version of Return to Pirates Island and that he wanted his
publisher (Mike Berlyn) to handle the distribution of that. After some
negotiating, Mike and I came to an agreement about how I would handle the
distribution of my "charity" newsgroup CD.
How do I fit in with Scotts new project? I believe that they will use my
ideas as a template for the new Scott Adams release. It will be identical, minus
the TI audio tracks and include a better Windows interpreter for use with his
new game 'Return to Pirates Isle'.
Tom-How much input did he
have in the making of the CD?
outside of the interview. He mentioned that he wanted people to be able to play
his original Return to Pirates Isle game with the graphics included. After some
fooling around with various emulators, I found that none wanted to play this
game right. He also said that it was one of his greatest achievements, mixing
graphics with a text adventure. There is a commercial emulator which may run
this program (no one has replied as to it's success), but licensing it would
have made the cost of my CD greater than I had wanted it to be anyway, so I gave
up on the idea.
Tom-I especially liked the
extra effort you put in by including Walkthroughs and hints. How long did it
take for you to complete this project?
Frank-To be honest, all of
it was found on the Internet. I just basically edited and re-tooled them in
HTML. Like I mentioned in the CD, I had all the ideas, but thanks to the
Internet, I found that there were already lots of fans out there like me who had
similar "ideas". I think I was just the first to put it all on one neat and easy
to use CD :-)
Tom-The packaging of the CD
and the CD label are both very nice touches. Was this all done by you or was
there any help?
Frank-The images are all
from various sources on the Web. Almost all of the images came from Scott
Julians web page. Again, instead of tracking down all of the boxes, etc. I was
lucky to find such a person like Scott J. who already had what I was looking
for. Once again, I just edited them to look like what you now have.
Tom-Was the CD limited to
50 copies because of anticipated sales or was there other factors involved?
Frank-Three reasons why I
wanted to limit the distribution by me:
1) Calculating the original responses and requests I got for the CD (from the
newsgroups), I found that there should have only been 30 or so interested in the
project. Once people saw that I was serious and had it done by the time I said
it would be (thanks to the resources on the Web), I easily got another 20
requests for the Scott Adams CD.
2) I simply did not want to make any more than this! Factors include wear and
tear on my precious CD ROM burner, the fact that the 'Neato' CD labeling
software sucks and the time it takes !
3) This number was a part of the negotiations as we all agreed it might compete
with the Win95 version of Scott's CD.
Tom-Now that you finished
the project, anything you wished you could have included but didn't?
Frank-Yup... I wanted there
to be an 'autorun' program, so when you popped in the CD, it would 'autorun'...
duh! I have a program that will do this and almost included it, but I discovered
that once in a while, a message window would pop up saying that you have an
unregistered 'autorun' program and it asked if you would like to learn more
about registering it! Considering that there was already a minor "glitch" when
running the Windows 95 program from CD, I did not want there to be any other
things which made this humble disc look any more humble ;-)
I too wish it was possible to play the Return to Pirates Isle game the way I
grew up playing it on the TI - but I figure anyone who is into this kind of
thing is going to have a TI and the real cart to play it on so it's not *that*
big of a deal. After all, I had originally set out to make this disc playable
only with a TI computer and the Adventure Command Module. This is the "real"
nostalgic way to play the games :-)
Tom-Any plans for other
compilations like this? Any dream ones you would love to do?
Frank-Now that I have a CD
ROM burner, I have all sorts of plans and ideas (you know, the stuff that you
think about, but never do). One of them includes a Tunnels of Doom disc :-)
I think that there are a lot of people who are still playing and programming
their TI's. It would be neat if someone like me came up with some kind of users
group collectors disc, playable on a real TI. One that included games, etc.
written in Basic, Extended Basic or TMS9900, that people have contributed. It
would be a great way to keep in touch with other 99'ers and insures that our
great computer stays "current".
I would also like to do instrumental musical interpretations of Scott's first 12
games (I play the drums BTW). You could listen to it while you play the games! I
have a band and some other people who would be interested in such a project, but
I think that it would be cool to do this using classic collectors that happen to
be musicians also - big Dan... c'mon down! I am really excited about the notion
of such an album, but it really is just a dream... or is it?
Tom-How many of these
adventures have you been able to complete? How many without any hints or
I have only completed a couple of them by myself back in the day. They are:
Pyramid of Doom and Strange Odyssey. I remember not being able to complete
Mystery Funhouse, Ghost Town and Return to Pirates Isle without help from
friends who had the hint sheets. I had all of the other Scott Adams games on a
compilation tape that a friend gave me, but didn't really play them as much as
the 5 listed above. It's weird... I didn't set out to beat those that were
Lately, I've been too busy to really sit down and play these the way that I
would like to. One of the largest reasons I set out to put my tapes onto CD is
because I am afraid of the degradation inherent to tape. I am hoping that there
will come a day when I can really take the time to play and beat them! ;-)
Frank Traut wants to let everyone know that the CD is sold out and thank
everyone who ordered it. He can be reached via email at
email@example.com. Also check out his
web page at