Stuga (1978)   6 comments

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.

[Source.]

“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.

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Posted May 19, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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6 responses to “Stuga (1978)

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  1. I think there are still authors in their (high) teens publishing; I know of at least one IF author who published stuff while still in high school, and the credits of one of this year’s comp entries strongly suggest that the author is also in high school.

    • I don’t consider comp entries “publishing” exactly (I would have done it 3 times in my teen years then). I’m meaning able to buy off Steam or the iTunes store or whatever.

      • Durrr, I was thinking of interactive fiction exclusively, which by your definition very few people publish anymore. Never mind.

        I think Droqen and Tyler Glaiel are both 19 and have had Flash games sponsored by major online portals, so maybe that counts. Though Glaiel’s most recent blog entry seems to be about why he dropped out of school, so that might not suit your needs.

    • ….and having said that I totally forgot about Lost Masterpieces of Infocom which published some of the the 1995 comp entries (including mine). It’s unfortunately not exactly my best work.

      Anyway, my question is also not purely academic, it’d be nice to have something to point to for my students who all seem to think programming and publishing computer games is distant and alien and unattainable.

  2. There are plenty of games on places like X-Box Live that were crafted by young folks. I don’t know how many are of high school age (although I’m all but sure some are), but there are definitely lots of games being put out by university-age people. Most of the game programs now being started up at various universities and trade schools require students to form a small team and create a game as their final project, and the best of these generally end up for sale and/or at least featured someplace like Play This Thing (http://www.playthisthing.com). Most of these games are platformers or physics-based puzzlers that interest me personally not at all, but they’re definitely out there, and out there in numbers.

    Of course it’s not so easy to make a huge splash nowadays the way that Richard Garriot did with the early Ultimas. But that’s true whether you’re 12 or 120. :)

  3. Ah, sorry I never got your email, Jason. As I’m sure you realized, the email in my source tree for the port is long since dead. Glad you had fun playing the game, though.

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