Quest (1978)   5 comments

This game feels like what would happen if someone had played Adventure, tried to make a fangame on a TRS-80, and realized what a daunting task a real parser would be. (NOTE: There are some updates on the history of this game in the comments. It was originally written for the Commodore PET, and I have also revised the release date from 1979 to 1978.)

Roger Chaffee’s Quest consists solely of direction commands.

questscreenshot

There aren’t even any “intermediate treasures” or such: the only objective is to get the pirate’s treasure and get out. There’s a score, but based on the number of rooms visited rather than any kind of treasure count.

The twisty little maze, the pit with a stream, and the pirate are all here. Also some deeply weird rooms, like

YOU’RE AT THE HOME OF THE GNOME-KING. FORTUNATELY, HE’S GONE FOR THE DAY.

or

YOU’RE IN XANADU. BELOW YOU ALPH, THE SACRED RIVER RUNS THROUGH CAVERNS MEASURELESS TO MAN, DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA.

or

YOU’RE IN THE CRYSTAL PALACE. THE WALLS RESONATE WITH AWESOME MUSIC.

With only direction commands to work with there isn’t much here (Delightful Wallpaper this is not) but the game manages a few twists:

1. It’s possible to ignore the opening cave and tried to do something different:

YOU’RE OUTSIDE THE CAVE. GO SOUTH TO ENTER.
WHICH WAY (UDNEWS PQ)? E

YOU’RE LOST IN THE WOODS.

WHICH WAY (UDNEWS PQ)? W

I DON’T THINK YOU CAN FIND THE CAVE.
YOU’RE LOST IN THE WOODS.

WHICH WAY (UDNEWS PQ)? N

I DON’T THINK YOU CAN FIND THE CAVE.
YOU’RE LOST IN THE WOODS.

WHICH WAY (UDNEWS PQ)? U

YOU’RE NOT A BIRD. YOU CAN’T FLY!

YOU’RE LOST IN THE WOODS.

I was ready to give up, but: it turns out that this is a maze, you can in fact get to the cave, and taking this weird side detour gives you an extra 6 points. However, since the game never conveys what the maximum possible score is I imagine most people would just miss this entirely. With a possible high score this could have made an easter egg puzzle at least.


questmap

[Click on the image above for a full map. Note that there are dead ends which are not included, and the forest maze is not mapped.]

2. Here’s the scene of finding the pirate treasure:

YOU’RE ON THE LEDGE ABOVE THE GUILLOTINE ROOM.

THE TREASURE IS HERE!!
DO YOU WANT TO TAKE IT WITH YOU?
YES

OK, LETS GET OUT OF HERE!

However, trying to get to the exit results in being blocked because the gnome-king referenced above is no longer gone for the day, and the other possible passage to the exit is too narrow to fit the treasure through.

Hence an alternate exit is necessary, but while searching …

3. …the pirate of the aforementioned treasure appears.

questscreen2

Remembering the Adventure reference, I checked the dead ends in the twisty maze and found the treasure there. After claiming it back the pirate did not reappear.

4. The actual exit was pretty tricky to find. There’s a “labyrinthe” arranged such that any direction other than south loops back to the opening room. Going south four times leads to a “developer room” which teleports you out to a random part of the map.

There is an exception in the maze to the “direction other than south” rule, and that’s in the third maze room where going down leads to a chute and the exit. The first time through this series of rooms I figured the pattern continued so I missed the exit. This led to a “hidden in plain sight” type scenario.

questendshot

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Posted January 18, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “Quest (1978)

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  1. 66 points is the max for this one. You can read all about it in the July 79 issue of Byte, where a complete listing of the game is provided in BASIC. This game was actually commercially available as early as May 1978 for the PET, but it was probably only known on the West Coast. So if it feels primitive, that would be why. It predates any of the Scott Adams stuff being sold anywhere by a good 6 months from what I can tell. You can read a review of it in a mid-1978 issue of the PET User Group’s Newsletter.

    Links:
    PET User Group, p2 — http://archive.6502.org/publications/pet_users_group_newsletter/pet_users_group_newsletter_v0_n3.pdf

    Byte, p176 — https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1979-07-rescan

    • Neat! I like the bit where he originally didn’t have points but “The children who used it soon said they wanted points.”

      Scott Adams didn’t start publishing until the very end of 1978.

      Gordon Letwin’s first port of Adventure for Heathkit starting being sold by at least August 1978, probably a little earlier.

      May 1978 is almost certainly before that, anyway. I do find it interesting Roger Chaffee goes at length at the impossibility of something as complex as Adventure on home computers, when it gets managed very shortly after. I also think my initial description as “tried to make a fangame” but “realized what a daunting task a real parser would be” is roughly accurate.

      Also cool — haven’t seen a lot of love for the Commodore PET.

      • Yeah, the PET is interesting. It seems to have spawned a ton of newsletters and loads of programs were traded around on tapes, but hardly any of that has survived into the Internet age from what I can tell.

        Your comment about Quest being a fangame is even more apt now that I’ve realized that it was actually advertised back in the first issue of that newsletter, but with the name Adventure. Chaffee must’ve renamed it at some point. That would actually put the availability date somewhere around Jan/Feb of ’78. That school must’ve gotten their hands on one of the first wave PETs; it had only just been released in Oct ’77.

        PET User Group, p2 — http://archive.6502.org/publications/pet_users_group_newsletter/pet_users_group_newsletter_v0_n0.pdf

        I’ve read very little about the Heathkit yet, so I didn’t even know Letwin had made a port of Adventure at that early date. I suppose it helps to have written the OS and have some mad hacking skills to pull off that feat. Has the source or a disk image of that version survived?

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