A History of Early Versions of Adventure   14 comments

I have been trying to detangle the history of Adventure — the Crowther / Woods game — so I know which ports I should be playing in which order for the All the Adventures project. This turns out to have been very complicated as information is spread over a tangle of websites and not all of it is accurate. This is my best attempt to sort everything together.

This document will likely get edited as I tangle more things out. Looking at the full list of modifications gives a small glimpse into the insanity.

Adventure Family Tree, by Nathanael CJE Culver based on work by Russel Dalenberg

advchart

I link to sources whenever I can.


1975

In the 1975 academic year Will Crowther starts what we know as Adventure. [Source.]

All Crowther family testimony is consistent with the 1975-76 date range. Responding to a direct request via e-mail, Crowther (2001) dated his original “Adventure” to 1975, “give or take a year.”
— Dennis G. Jerz

1976

Will Crowther stops work on Adventure. The game is noticeably incomplete (there is a sign mentioning maintenance in a lower section of the cave where advancing further causes the game to crash). [Source.]

The most likely timeline places Crowther ceasing work on his original game in early 1976.
— Dennis G. Jerz

Original source code here

Windows compiled version here

1977

Starting March, Don Woods discovers the source code and starts working on it. He produces a 250 point version [source] on his way to finalizing a 350 point version several months later.

I’m relying solely on memory which tends to be fallible (see above: the dwarf ‘vanishes’, not ‘disappears’) but my best recollection is that ADVENT.EXE first appeared on the PDP-10s at ADP (the old First Data in Waltham, Mass.) in 1977. It was an incomplete version which only had about 250 points worth of treasure. I seem to recall that there was nothing past the troll bridge but an ‘under construction’ sign or some such. I believe our copy came from WPI, but word at the time was it was developed at Stanford. Two or three months later we got the full 350 point game.
— John Everett

This version is then ported, in a fairly literal way, by Jim Gillogly into C. [Link to source code.]

The original 350-point version is separately ported July 1977 by Kent Blackett. [Source]

ADVENT.FOR: C REV. 17 ADVENTURES MODIFIED BY KENT BLACKETT ENGINEERING SYSTEMS GROUP DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP. 15-JUL-77 ORIGINAL VERSION WAS FOR DECSYSTEM-10 THIS VERSION IS FOR FORTRAN IV-PLUS UNDER THE IAS OPERATING SYSTEM ON THE PDP-11/70″.

This is followed by Bob Supnik, circa October (date given in his own source code). It has 366 maximum points and the cumulative efforts of Blackett and Supnik (probably) represents the first modification of the game past the Woods version.

Stephen Lidle’s version of Bob Supnik’s code modified for modern compilers, based on a SCOPE version by “R. Emerson, W. Wirth, S. Hobson, W. Hein, S. Connard”, et al.

There’s also a version of Bob Supnik’s port on if-archive, although I have been unable to confirm if it is exactly the same as the 1977 code.

Source code of Bob Supnik version

Kevin Black’s compilation of Bob Supnik’s source for DOS

1978

Gordon Letwin made a 350 point version available by August 1978. It was the first version available on a personal computer — the Heath. [Source] It was not a literal port. [Source]

The version I played was written in FORTRAN. One of the treasures was an African gray parrot in a pirate aviary, accessible by a rubber raft. There was also an office of some kind with the words “how do you spell relief?” on the wall, and after you read the message, you could use “Rolaids” to teleport to and from the well house. I think the magazine at Witt’s End might have been a copy of Byte magazine.
–Carolyn VanEseltine

While this version has been lost, there is a downloadable Osborne port which may be derived from the same source although I have been unable to test it as of yet. The actual 1978 version seems to be a this archive.

Don Woods expands upon his own work, producing a 430-point version with 5 new difficult-to-find treasures.

David Long at University of Chicago starts on his own modification of Adventure (a process which goes on until at least 1980), although no versions from this year exist.

Peter Luckett and Jack Pike finish “Adventure II” by the end of 1978. [Source and executables]

1979

George Richmond (“with the support of Mike Preston”) makes a 500-point version of Adventure in Pascal. [Information source] [Source code]

David Platt writes yet a different modification of Adventure into a 550-point version. [DOS version]

Microsoft Adventure is released as a commercial game for TRS-80 computers, with both v1.0 and v1.1 dated as June 1979. Gordon Letwin, who wrote the Heath port from 1978, is the one responsible. [Info from the Game’s Manual] It includes some slight modifications which mirror the 1978 Heath version somewhat. [Downloads for v1.0 and v1.1]

This year has a “501 point” version of David Long’s code (“Version 5.2/2, October-79”) although it rather confusingly this might be a “side release” by an anonymous contributor. Even more confusingly the version might actually be intended as 500 points (?) and the vanilla compile goes to 496 points (??) although the version online is fixed to be at 501. [Source code] [501 point version compiled for online]

The David Long story gets very messy past this point into the 1980s and I’m not going into every variant from his code, but I should mention the last version from David Long himself was at 751 points. While this version was playable on Compuserve for a while, it now appears to be lost except for a remake by Carl Ruby into QBASIC.

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Posted August 8, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

Tagged with , ,

14 responses to “A History of Early Versions of Adventure

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  1. Isn’t Platt’s version 550 points?

    My suggestion would be to play versions if – and only if – they add something different to a previous version (so, the Gillogly 350 pointer is skipped, but the Platt and Long versions and the Pascal version would be added.) Of course this is your blog, not mine, so do whatever you want.

    • (The Platt score was a typo, thanks.)

      Yes, that’s the plan. I already consciously skipped Gillogy. I did Luckett and Pike already.

      https://bluerenga.wordpress.com/tag/adventure440/?order=ASC

      I only became aware of Blackett / Supnik fairly recently which is why it didn’t occur in 1977. (I’m still not 100% on the status of the ports so it will probably wait a while longer.)

      • It’s okay, we all mess up sometimes.

        I’m enjoying this series, and hope you continue with whatever game you decide next (are you just picking games randomly?)

        If you are, here’s a suggestion for the future: Every so often in your randomized list of games, place one you’ve heard of or at least one from a reasonably well known author. This is what some other bloggers (see: the CRPG Addict – I’m sure you’ve heard of him) are doing.

        But then again, you may have to cut some games off – the Classic Adventures Solution Archive lists no less than 649 (!) games released in 1984. Most of these are probably type in games from old magazines and relatively obscure, and I don’t know if you ant to slog through hundreds of short, obscure games.

      • Well random insofar as they are all in 1979 (except for the prior year stragglers which I didn’t know existed at the time I was in that year). I usually pick based on my mental state — can I handle a really long game right now? How much mapping? How difficult?

        Unfortunately “famous” for 1979 is a pretty tiny category. I am trying to spread the Scott Adams out since they’re pretty much the only ones people recognize now.

        I tried going non-chronological once and it fizzled (on my end, motivation-wise). I do have an idea how to get some more modern games in there and maintain chronology-ishness but I am not ready to unveil that just yet.

  2. I’m late to the series, but I must say that I’m enjoying it. Keep up the good work!

    I would like to ask for the motivation of the series and the stretch of it. I want to know if you are gonna play just early adventures, or underrated ones for modern perspective. And if would get to play forgotten Spectrum gems.

    And one more question about Scott Adams games. Do you feel that the early innovation of the “puppet” is really well used in some moments of his games? If there’s value in the use of the puppet so we could learn for modern usage? (although graphic adventures always has depended on third person characters).

    That’s all,

    Regards.

    • Mission statement is here. https://bluerenga.wordpress.com/all-the-adventures/

      Wherein I play and blog about every adventure game ever made in chronological order.

      I do think I’ll eventually do some non-chronological, but as I mentioned in a comment above, I have to be careful how I do it because the completist nature of the project is part of what keeps me going.

      A really interesting more recent game that uses the “puppet” concept to good effect (from 2000) is LASH

      Another one from 2007 which feels very much “puppet” style is Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for the Gameboy DS. Even though it is presented like you are controlling the character directly, it feels in the dialogue like you’re playing the “conscience” of the character; you can steer a bit but they go on their own dialogue tangents.

      I should also add in languages where verb tense needs to be included in the parser, imperative is pretty popular and I know from talking with some Italians that the “puppet” notion is pretty common..

      • Oh yes, what I mean is that if you find the puppet in Scott Adams games pretty notable. I’m aware of LASH, great example of the concept.

        and, what a mighty mission! Good luck!

  3. We had a 500 point version in AOS BASIC on our school system’s Data General ECLIPSE. That would be around 1980 or so. I remember being pissed off at the dwarf with his sharp little knife killing me, so I added some code to let you pick up the knife and throw it back at him and kill him. Still have the source on big green and white tractor feed printout in a box somewhere.

    • That’s intriguing. I don’t know of any surviving 500 point versions. If you happen to find the source, please let me know.

      Do you remember any other features that might help to identify your version? The knife isn’t helpful because it’s in all the versions I know of.

    • This sounds like it might be a port not currently on that giant list. I cross-checked all the 500-point ones.

  4. Pingback: Weekly Links #133 « No Time To Play

  5. Pingback: Adventure 366 (1977) | Renga in Blue

  6. Hello. Just ran across your site. I appreciate all the work you’ve put into your research on the history of Adventure. I’ve got some questions about one assertion. Under 1977 above you say:

    “This is followed by Bob Supnik, circa October (date given in his own source code). It has 366 maximum points and the cumulative efforts of Blackett and Supnik (probably) represents the first modification of the game past the Woods version.”

    I wasn’t aware of a 366-point version by Supnik (or of any 366-point version for that matter, until I followed your link to Gobberwarts). I’m not sure where the 16-point extension comes from, but I haven’t been able to trace it to Supnik. The source you link to at http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/source/adv350kb-src.zip and describe as “Source code of Bob Supnik version” actually appears to be BLAC0350; I note at least that its A4TOI4.FOR claims Kevin B Black as author, and dates itself to Dec. ’87.

    Meanwhile, there is http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/source/adv350kp.zip which is Kenneth Plotkin’s MS Fortran translation for MS-DOS. It contains RT11SRC, which appears to be the actual Fortran IV source of Supnik’s SUPN0350.

    Do you have any further information on this? I’ll also drop an email to Steven Lidie to see if he can shed further light on it.

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