The Crowther and Woods version of Adventure (1977)   4 comments

I figured while I was poking at Adventure I might as well move on to the 1977 Crowther and Woods version. Unfortunately, even getting the “most authentic” version can be a challenge; the list of available versions is epic. It would seem a simple matter to just pick WOOD0350 (the original Fortran source) but that version has never been ported directly (due to technical issues with the source being particular to the PDP-10).

David Kinder discusses several other close versions:

Kevin Black’s DOS version of his and Bob Supnik’s DECUS version, available as a DOS executable.
Kenneth Plotkin’s version, available as a DOS executable, MS Fortran source code and the PDP-11 Fortran source code from which the former was derived.
Don Ekman’s version, available as a DOS executable and MS Fortran source code, derived from Fortran source for the PDP-11/70. There is also an Amiga executable, compiled from the MS Fortran source.

I decided to test all of them, comparing with what is allegedly an image of a printout from Adventure being played on a PDP-10.

Kevin Black’s is out fairly quickly:

You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully. In the distance there is a tall gleaming white tower.

While the gleaming white tower makes me curious it’s certainly inauthentic. Kenneth Plotkin’s version is better — the text essentially matches — but it normalizes the capitalization, which makes me wonder if there are any other minor changes.

Hence I went with EKMA0350, the Don Eckman Microsoft Fortran port (according to the READ.ME file, the only tweaks were for the sake of compiling).

HAVE PATIENCE. IT TAKES A WHILE TO INITIALIZE…
Effective immediately Colossal Cave is open all day, even during working hours. Although we are no longer locking the cave, you are expected to exercise some degree of self discipline.

WELCOME TO ADVENTURE!! WOULD YOU LIKE INSTRUCTIONS?

Already there’s a dose of charm, a reminder that this used to be playable only on very expensive servers that were normally used for “work” and “productivity”. There’s even an HOURS command (mentioned in the game information):

COLOSSAL CAVE IS OPEN TO REGULAR ADVENTURERS AT THE FOLLOWING HOURS

MON-FRI: OPEN ALL DAY
SAT-SUN: OPEN ALL DAY
HOLIDAYS OPEN ALL DAY

I presume this was originally set to be down during work hours. I confirmed this by trying a version of Adventure (440 point version) available on a PDP-10 simulator via telnet. Trying to start a game led to a very curious prompt:

I’m terribly sorry, but Colossal Cave is closed. Our hours are:

MON – FRI: 0:00 to 11:00
17:00 to 24:00
SAT – SUN: Open all day
HOLIDAYS: Open all day

Only wizards are permitted within the cave right now.

Are you a wizard?
#YES

Prove it! Say the magic word!
BLAHBLAH

Foo, you are nothing but a charlatan!

We do allow visitors to make short explorations during our off hours.
Would you like to do that?

I could go on a theoretical tangent about how the server is hosting a literal location that can be open or closed like an amusement park, rather than a story-narrative, but I’d rather get back to the Don Eckman port:

YOU ARE INSIDE A BUILDING, A WELL HOUSE FOR A LARGE SPRING.
THERE ARE SOME KEYS ON THE GROUND HERE.
THERE IS A SHINY BRASS LAMP NEARBY.
THERE IS FOOD HERE.
THERE IS A BOTTLE OF WATER HERE.

I and INV don’t work, but INVEN and INVENTORY do, hooray!

YOU ARE CURRENTLY HOLDING THE FOLLOWING:
SET OF KEYS
BRASS LANTERN
TASTY FOOD
SMALL BOTTLE
WATER IN THE BOTTLE

In the room it’s called a “lamp” and in inventory it’s called a “lantern”. Also you can still refer to it as a “headlamp”.

The “Forest (2)” room is rather mysterious: it can only be reached by going north from the regular Forest room, and only by random chance (1 out of 4, seems like). Why include that room? I suppose already at this stage Crowther was trying to make the outside seem larger than it really was. I remember in the 80s when I first played Adventure I wandered outside a long time curious if there was some obscurely hidden treasure. (I double checked and this map oddity is also in the Crowther original, so this isn’t a Woods addition. They means I’ll probably shuffle this comment into the other post at some point, but for the moment I’ll let this stand.)

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Posted March 14, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “The Crowther and Woods version of Adventure (1977)

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  1. Wikipedia says this is a Windows port of the original Crowther’s Adventure…. don’t know if it is exact.
    ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/pc/adv_crowther_win.zip

  2. I love the observation about the forest room. Maybe we’ll never know the reason it worked that way, but your idea seems plausible. I remember having a feeling like “maybe there’s more stuff outside I missed,” and what an elegant technique to accomplish that. Of course, as a gullible pre-teen infatuated with Adventure, I was also convinced that the nasty little dwarf had complicated reasons for attacking me, and that there must be a Mountain King somewhere in the game.

    • I was also convinced that the nasty little dwarf had complicated reasons for attacking me, and that there must be a Mountain King somewhere in the game.

      Some of the expanded-points versions of Adventure seem to have the premise of people who wanted to make those sorts of dreams real.

      Also, relevant to link instead of your comment, but it’s way neat you were involved with Thimbleweed Park!

      • My company’s involvement in Thimbleweed Park was small, but it was very interesting to work with Ron and see how he thinks through his project. I am hugely looking forward to the release.

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