I’m not done with Mystery Mansion, but I’m in dire need of hints on a few things so I’ve emailed Bob Sorem and James Garnett (authors of the two ports I’ve been using) to see if either can help. If that fails I’ve done enough on my own (including source diving) to wrap things up.
In the meantime, I wanted to try the next game on my list: what appears to be the first adventure game in a language other than English.
Du står på en brygga någonstans i Småland. Bakom din solvärmda rygg åker man vattenskidor. En kyrkklocka (som du inte ser) slår tolv. Du ser ett hus rakt fram.
You’re standing on a jetty somewhere in Småland. Behind your sun-warmed back people are
water-skiing. A church bell (which you can’t see) strikes twelve. You can see a house straight ahead.
“Stuga” is Swedish for “cottage”. According to the website above, it was one of the most widespread PC games in Swedish during the 20th century. Four years ago it was ported to Inform by Fredrik Ramsberg and Johan Berntsson, and two years ago Johan Ottosson translated it into English. That’s the version I’m going to play.
But first, a little history straight from the ABOUT text:
The first version of Stuga was written in 1977-78 by the brothers Kimmo and Viggo Eriksson (Viggo’s last name is now Kann) and their friend Olle Johansson. When the project started in the summer of -77 the authors were 10, 12 and 14 years old . . . The game was written in DEC Basic on the mainframe computer Oden at the Stockholm Computer Central for Research and Higher Education, QZ.
Through QZ the young authors had come into contact with the mainframe game Adventure by Crowther and Woods, which was released in 1975 and practically invented the text adventure genre. All three of them already had some experience making games: Kimmo had written a gaming machine simulator, Viggo a Hangman-like guess-the-word game, and Olle a Mastermind game where you played against a character called Thorvald.
They started talking about combining all three games into one – a kind of virtual gaming arcade where you would choose which of the games to play. Inspired by Adventure they added some surroundings to walk around in, and the idea of making a Swedish counterpart to Adventure started to take shape. At one point Kimmo’s father commented on the project: “That’s impossible – you can’t write large programs in Basic!” The gauntlet had been thrown: they decided to make the game, and to make it big.
By how I’ve been dating mainframe games, I’ve been using the first year people outside the author or authors were able to play the game in some form. In this case the game was started in the summer of 1977 — right when Zork was still being developed — but nobody other than the authors had access until 1978.
The history of early computer games seems to be full of young authors; in addition to this game Greg Hassett started writing adventures in 1978 when he was 12, and a teen-aged Richard Garriot was soon to come out with Akalabeth leading to the Ultima series. Are there teen authors out there publishing any more? It seems like the resources are out there.