Spelunker (1979)   9 comments

For reasons unrelated to this project I was browsing 1979 issues of the Apple II magazine Micro and happened upon this one from October:

Here’s a link to the issue in question.

Thomas R. Mimlitch’s Spelunker is not the very first type-in parser adventure (that honor goes to Dog Star Adventure) but I’m guessing it’s the second? (I’m excluding Quest — which appeared in a July magazine — because it doesn’t have a parser.) In any case, this game is so wildly obscure that I’ll be impressed if someone can post a personal story of having tried this before.

Fortunately, the program was featured on a compilation disk (Micro Apple 1) so I don’t have to type in the type-in. However, there’s another catch which you’ll learn about shortly.

Imagine if when computer games were invented the idea of a “stand-alone” game was unknown, and the computer was more of an aid or companion to play:

This is an adventure fantasy series in which you become directly involved in exploration of a mysterious cavern in southwest Kentucky called Devils’ Delve. If you have never played before, you should take a guide along. The guide will read the chamber descriptions as you enter each room for the first time. He can also supply some hints and clues to help you when you are stuck. Only the guide should use the room descriptions, word lists, and the map of the caverns.

Just to be clear:

a.) It’s an adventure game with an inventory and puzzles and map and so forth. However …

b.) All the room descriptions are inside the magazine, rather than the source code. Furthermore …

c.) The room descriptions are supposed to be read by the “guide”, analogous to the Dungeon Master of Dungeons & Dragons. While the room descriptions are numbered, the numbers are not given in the game itself, forcing the guide to check against a table. Not only are the room descriptions not shown in the computer, but the visible objects aren’t shown either; they have to be listed by the guide, again by cross-referencing off a table.

There are four things in this room, three which you can pick up, and they all have to be described by the guide. Update below!

UPDATE: Well, there was a bug in the code from the compilation I found! The line 9320 reads

9320 IF (STA(1) MOD 100)#LOC THEN 9360

but it’s supposed to say

9320 IF (STA(I) MOD 100)#LOC THEN 9360

screenfix

After changing it appropriately, objects show up in the room description, huzzah! However, the room descriptions themselves are still printed in the magazine only.

In any case, I can’t really “play” this game without help. Also, in order to set things up / check the code’s sanity / realize what was going on I had to spoil a large chunk of content. So I think the most appropriate course of action is for me to be the Guide, and for some of you — yes, I’m speaking to you, the readers — to be the players.

So, quick survey: if you’d be interesting in playing, make a comment to this post. Also let me know which option you’d prefer:

Option 1: We could play-by-post where people put their parser commands into the comments and I provide the screenshots and guide commentary.

Option 2: We could play live. It would likely be sometime during the weekend of March 25th-26th; I would stream the game on Twitch, and y’all could type parser commands in chat.

ADD: We went with option 1. The play-by-post starts here.

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Posted March 15, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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9 responses to “Spelunker (1979)

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  1. This sounds amazing. Yes.

  2. This reminds me of the “room description” books that accompanied Temple of Apshai.

    I’m intrigued. Out of pure and admitted selfishness I’d prefer Option #1 simply because I will likely be busy most of the weekend of March 25 and unable to participate in a stream.

    • Thanks, and your vote is noted!

      I was struck by Temple of Apshai as well (and Wasteland, and the Gold Box games, all which had separate “paragraphs” to save space in the game) although those are still single player games. With this one cross-referencing the paragraph (and especially the objects) requires enough effort it really seems intended to have the “guide” do all the work.

  3. I’m interested and I vote #1 too–I can drop in and out asynchrously but wouldn’t be able to do a stream.

  4. I have a preference for #2, but I’m OK with #1.

  5. Just a quick note. Based on voting it looks like we’ll do play-by-comments. I will set it up likely today or tomorrow.

  6. Pingback: End of March Link Assortment | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

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