Disk retrieved from the archives of Synapse Software programmer Bill Darrah and dumped by John Hardie.
The program occupies two disk sides and was an early work by Paul Reiche and Erol Otus for Synapse Software. The game would have been in the vein of Synapse Software's Electronic Novels, namely Mindwheel, Essex and Brimstone.
Here are some excerpts from conversations with the authors courtesy of John Hardie...
Erol Otus - "My misty recollections are that the Connoisseur was a text adventure we wrote to learn the system and that the initial plan was to do another more "grand" adventure, although I have this vague feeling taking the Connoisseur further / bigger was also a possibility. However, we ran into difficulties with the business side and couldn't come to mutually agreeable terms, so this never went the distance."
Paul Reiche - "Evan and Nicky Robinson - my partners on Electronic Arts' Mail Order Monsters and World Tour Golf - had previously worked with Synapse Software, porting Picnic Paranoia to the Commodore 64. I think they recommended me to Ihor Wolosenko or perhaps Cathryn Mataga (under the name William), the developer of BTZ (Better Than Zork), a text adventure system written in assembly language and compiled with SynAssembler. I was a fan of text adventures and I really wanted to work with Erol on a story project, so this opportunity seemed great. Erol and I made a loose design around a project called Small Town, a very ambitious take on a complex horror story adventure set in and around a small, creepy town somewhere in the US. I found the BTZ system a little tricky to use at first. As a way to ease that learning curve, Erol and I created a "short story" text adventure, something that a player could finish in an hour, but was very stylized and flavorful compared to the somewhat simple writing I knew from Scott Adams' adventures, early Infocom games and the teletype games I'd played at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. We wrote the design and text in a scientific logbook and then sat down at Cathryn's house in Berkeley to type the details in BTZ with her assistance. The dev set-up had many - three or four - floppy drives attached to her Commodore 64 which also had a Fast Load cartridge. We needed Cathryn because BTZ was really a set of data structures and commands written in assembler and macros - very technical. Over the course of eight hours, we got a portion of the game running but I don't think it worked start to finish, hence the crash you experienced. We were simultaneously talking with Ihor about the contract which, compared with my Electronic Arts contracts, was not a good deal. We couldn't come to an agreement in terms so Erol and I left the BTZ project."