GOG.com is currently giving away digital copies of Lord British’s first game, Akalabeth: World of Doom, for free.
For those that don’t know, Akalabeth, was developed by a young teenage Richard Garriott during the late 1970’s. In a longball/Shaw Shank Redemption-esque development timeline, that began as a mere school project based on Dungeons & Dragons, Garriott would slowly grow the project over several years. His goofy little dungeon crawling pipe dream, that started on his school’s mainframe computer, would soon draft his D&D friends as play testers and gain the financial backing of his parents to complete the project (his parents bought him an Apple II computer).
In the summer of 1979, after Garriott would graduate high school, the game would be completed. His distribution method was word of mouth and his packaging was Ziplog bags. No steam greenlight, no kickstarter, and no iTunes distribution to unload his dream onto the masses. Finally, California Pacific would discover the game and publish it in 1980, shoveling a $5 royalty to Garriott per copy sold. In the end, Garriott would claim to have made over $150,000 off of the deal (after accounting for inflation that would be $429,886.53 in today dollars).
The game is archaic, crusty, minimal and bare bones as hell. But by today’s standards you couldn’t retro design something more amazing looking than this. Minimal lines art and your imagination sell the premise of the game being the only motivation to push through a difficult and punitively punishing video game.
The FREE download of the game can be found here: www.gog.com/game/akalabeth_world_of_doom
And don’t even think of trying to play this game without first grabbing the manual here: Akalabeth Manual