Adventureland: Compact   Leave a comment

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This is going to sound like a bizarre statement to anyone who has played a Scott Adams game, but Adventureland is the first game in my chronological series that has felt modern.

To anyone scratching their head, some clarification is needed. While yes, the game is simply an excuse to collect Treasures and put them in the right location and get a high score, and yes, the text is absurdly minimalist, everything is also compact.

Aboveground.

Aboveground.

The adventures I’ve played so far have a certain expansiveness to them (see Zork: Open spaces, painful geography) with a giant map and a lot of confusion. While I’ve appreciated this style with space lending to world-immersion, I’ve also missed the feeling of small set-pieces that come from, say, a tightly structured IFComp game.

Using the TRS-80 as opposed to a mainframe with spacious memory forced Adams to think small. The swamp at the beginning (see map) gives a good idea of what I mean by “set-pieces”:

I am in a dismal swamp. Visible items:

Cypress tree. Evil smelling mud. Swamp gas. Patches of “OILY” slime. Chiggers.

Some obvious exits are: NORTH EAST WEST

The evil smelling mud can be used to cure bites from the chiggers (which are themselves useful in a different puzzle). The mud also will wake up a sleeping dragon (found just to the north) if you bring next to him. The swamp gas has a property useful in a puzzle, and the “OILY” slime I have not actually figured out yet.

The tree can be used in two ways:

> CLIMB TREE

I am in a top of a tall cypress tree. Visible items:

Spider web with writing on it. Ring of skeleton keys.

Some obvious exits are: DOWN

> GET KEYS

OK

> READ WEB

Chop ‘er down!

> DOWN

OK

> CHOP TREE

TIMBER!
(Room description changes to: -HOLLOW- stump and remains of felled tree.)

> ENTER STUMP

I am in a damp hollow stump in the swamp. Visible items:

Old fashioned brass lamp. Water in bottle. Sign “Leaves *TREASURES* here, then say: SCORE”.

Some obvious exits are: UP DOWN

While the text might only be appreciated now as a sort of anti-poetry, the tight implementation gives the locations in my mind a stronger imaginative force than the hundreds of rooms of Acheton.

I’m about 3 hours in — I supposedly have 70% of the treasure — and having reasonable fun. Likely the last 30% will get me stuck. Perhaps the last lingering puzzles will be hideous; it’s hard to know.

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Posted January 22, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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