Level 9 Computing, Ltd.

Overview

Level 9 Computing Ltd was founded in 1981 in the United Kingdom by three brothers: Mike, Pete and Nick Austin. Its aim was to produce and publish high quality text adventures initially for the BBC computer, and later the company expanded to other 8-bit and 16-bit computers of that era.

Mainly due to the decline in sales of text based adventures at the end of the 80s, Level 9 Computing had to close down in mid 1991. In the ten years in between it published over 20 main titles plus some licensed titles which have helped shape the adventure scene. Most of those releases were highly appreciated (and compared against those of Infocom). The theme of these adventures was initially set in fantasy and Middle Earth (which yielded the compilation: Jewels of Darkness), and later it published adventures with a Sci-Fi theme (Silicon Dreams trilogy). In the mid-80s it added relative rudimentary graphics to new and existing releases.

Around 1987 Level 9 Computing worked together with British Telecom to publish new titles under the Rainbird Software label. After the end of that venture, it found Mandarin Software to publish future titles which included digitised graphics to enhance the game.

Note: Level 9 used its in-house developed adventure interpreter called A-Code. An advanced interpreter which yielded a very compact adventure through compression and saved space up to 50% to fit into the 32K of RAM of the computers of that time. Where the initial adventure had 200 locations, their game Snowball, for instance, had 7000.

Trivia

Until release of the floppy-disk based Spectrum +3 in 1987, Level 9's Spectrum games were only released on cassette in text-only form. Later titles were released on both cassette and disk, but the disk versions also came with a utility called Upgrade, which could be used to create a text-and-graphics +3 version, by converting the Amstrad version into something the Spectrum's OS could understand.

Related Web Sites

  • Level Nine Fact Sheet (Extensive text file with lots of information, trivia, facts about the company and their games.)
  • The Level 9 Memorial (This page has the history of Level 9, plus tools for playing their games today.)
  • The Level 9 Memorial (This site offers details about the company, the games, technical tips for playing these vintage games today and more.)


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