Observations about Crowther’s original Adventure (1975)   5 comments

A long held-belief about Crowther’s Adventure was that it was designed as a “cave simulation” and it was Woods who came along added magic and treasures and turned it from interactive simulation into interactive fiction.

We know, from the hard work of Dennis Jerz locating the original source (before Don Woods started modifying it) that this is not the case: the original Adventure included puzzles, treasures, and fantasy. However, it never answered the question that seems to follow immediately: how does it play? (Past this point there are spoilers.)

(Click the image for a full PDF map.)

The map is much smaller than the Woods-modified game, although many of the iconic locations like the Hall of the Mountain King and J2 are there. However, one gets the strong sense this was an abandoned work in progress. The bottom level (with Bedquilt and the Swiss Cheese Room) has exits that don’t work, and one that crashes the game. The area even has a sign that says: ‘CAVE UNDER CONSTRUCTION BEYOND THIS POINT. PROCEED AT OWN RISK.’ I first took this sign as an signal of danger in the in-game universe, but instead it appears to be Crowther’s marker that the code is unfinished past that point.

There’s a long featureless hall to the west leading to nothing. Nearby is the twisty maze of passages, all alike, although it’s different here than in the Woods version:

There’s no items and no point in entering the maze (other than noting it is rather less twisty than the one Woods came up with!).

There are three puzzles (grate, bird, and snake) and five treasures (marked at the end with an exclamation point, like THERE ARE MANY COINS HERE!) but they are all distributed very near the Hall of the Mountain King, as if Crowther had just started scattering them. Besides that, there’s no score, and no special message or ending if all the treasures are brought back to the brick building.

Other items worth noting:

* Upon dying, there’s an option to continue playing:


PAUSE GAME IS OVER statement executed
To resume execution, type go. Other input will terminate the job.
Execution resumes after PAUSE.

It works just like an UNDO command would.

* TAKE ALL doesn’t work (not surprising) but INVENTORY doesn’t either (!), so the player is forced to keep track of their inventory separate from the game.

* Going down the grate is a one-way trip. However, “PLUGH” works in the Y2 Room to get the player back to the brick building.

* XYZZY also seems to be in (it is described in the text and parsed) but I was never able to get it to work. (ADDED: It works just fine, see my followup post.)

* The axe-tossing dwarf is in, although there doesn’t seem to be anything the axe is usable for. More dwarves can come later to throw knives, but the only recourse seems to be ATTACK (verb only) and randomly kill one (while they randomly kill you back, although the undo feature mitigates that).

* Typing out NORTH and WEST and other directions in full will eventually yield the message:


* Swearing is recognized.

* There’s a dynamic hint for the bird puzzle in the source code, where the game ought to print:


whereupon you should be able to type YES and get a hint. However I wasn’t able to get it to trigger, it could be the code is buggy here.

* The source also mentions the crystal bridge, but again, I haven’t been able to get this to trigger and suspect it might be buggy. (ADDED: I was able to get it to work, see my followup post.)


Posted March 7, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “Observations about Crowther’s original Adventure (1975)

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  1. At some point I will contact you for more… I had a concerned paper approved that explored the gameplay of the original Adventure, but personal things intervened and I had to set that project aside. But you are right — there is much more to be said about Adventure, and mapping is a big part of learning about it.

  2. That’s good stuff. Most of what I had ever thought I knew about Crowther’s Adventure has been proven wrong over the last few years, in very fun and informative articles. =)

  3. You mention that the grating is one-way, “down” only. In fact, it’s possible to escape “below the grate” to get back “outside grade” by typing “outside”.

    There’s a few other map connections that are counterintuitively non-symmetrical in Crowther’s version; for example, “down” is allowed to travel from the hill to the end of the road, but not “up” to move in the opposite direction. Some of these (oversights?), including these two, were corrected by Woods in his version.

  4. Using your very useful “Observations” I have re-coded Crowther original game into 8-bit Basic:

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