Adventure 501: Finished!   12 comments

I gathered all the necessary treasures, but the endgame wouldn’t trigger. Cross-checking with the source code, I’m definitely at maximum, so I must have run into a bug; I can call this one done. (Also, the source code indicates an essentially identical endgame with Adventure 350, so I’m not missing anything.)

Before I made it to the end I was going to call this post “Annoyances” because I ran into legions of them. Case in point: gathering the necessary treasures isn’t just a matter of dropping them in right room. There’s a safe that stores most of the items. However, some of them don’t fit, but *do* fit in the pirate chest (it is unclear how one would know the pirate chest can contain extra loot and is an acceptable holder). Some don’t fit in either so really are just dropped on the floor. One of them (a radium stone) is radioactive and can only be stored in a special container; the score only increases when storing the stone in the container and it doesn’t matter where the container goes in the well-house. The only way to figure all this out (other than spoilers) is to keep an eye on the current score and test every possibility out.

You might remember last time an outdoors location that was reached by going north from a certain location where the destination was chosen via random number generator. The game does it again on an important indoors section, going south from the East End of Long Hall:

(Rant Mode On) Again, I should note the room-exit based version of this doesn’t seem to be a Thing outside of ports of Adventure, but in other adventures I have seen characters and/or objects only appear in certain rooms based on a random chance. Suppose, as a game designer, you want an Event to occur in a certain central location. Since the location is central, you expect the player to pass through 10 times, and you set the Event to happen with 25% probability. Surely the player will see it?

75% to the 10th power is 5.6%, so approximately 1 out of 20 players will never see the event by random chance! Don’t be lazy: engineer things so the event may seem random but the player is guaranteed to see it in a timely manner. (/Rant Mode Off)

The sad thing here is that the annoyance is followed by the best puzzle in the game, and in fact the best instance of re-appropriation of an object I’ve seen any of the Adventure variants.

You’re in the Cloakroom. This is where the dreaded Wumpus repairs to sleep off heavy meals. (Adventurers are his favorite dinner!)
Two very narrow passages exit NW and NE.
A lovely silken cloak lies partially buried under a pile of loose rocks.
In the corner, a Wumpus is sleeping peacefully.

The Wumpus stays asleep until you grab the cloak, at which point it starts chasing you. You have about six moves to somehow escape or defeat the Wumpus. As is tradition, I will not solve the puzzle here, but I did leave enough information in this post (as long as you’re somewhat familiar with original Adventure) to figure things out. Answers in the comments are welcome.

From Dennis Donovan’s map of Adventure 751.

Back to annoyances: I ran into two deadly guess-the-verb issues in a row. I’ve tried to argue before that guess-the-verb is rarer than the reputation of old adventures suggests, and then a game like this comes along and asks me to exit a boat:

>EXIT BOAT
I don’t know in from out here. Use compass points or name something in the general direction you want to go.

>LEAVE BOAT
I don’t know in from out here. Use compass points or name something in the general direction you want to go.

>OUT
I don’t know in from out here. Use compass points or name something in the general direction you want to go.

>U
There is no way to go in that direction.

>ESCAPE BOAT
I don’t understand the word escape.

>QUIT BOAT
What do you want to do with the boat?

I pretty much rammed through every verb I could think of until I came across this, which is so bizarre it might be a legitimate bug.

>PULL BOAT
Dropped.

Immediately after this there are some bees where I wanted to get to their hive. I had some flowers where I thought >GIVE FLOWERS, >THROW FLOWERS, or some variation thereof would work. It eventually came down to >FEED BEES which I guess sort of makes sense, but I don’t think is the word most people would use.

One infamous aspect of 350 point Adventure is “the maze of twisty passages, all different” which contains a vending machine that dispense batteries for the battery-powered lamp. It was a way to extend the time allowed for solving puzzles, but since getting the batteries required using rare coins (and thus destroying a treasure) the vending machine was useless for anyone who wanted a high score.

One consequence of expanding the map in Adventure 501 is that the battery-powered lamp doesn’t have enough charge to get through every puzzle, even in the most optimized route. In this game there are “lead slugs” you can find which work in the vending machine. However, the map is big enough that once the lamp starts going out, there often isn’t enough time to go pick up the lead slugs and trudge all the way to the maze. I lost one of my “final runs” just from getting in an impossible scenario here, and on my subsequent attempt made sure I picked up the batteries early before I even needed them. This isn’t outrageous, but it did surely count as an Annoyance.

(Adventure 550 had a similar conceit of needing a lamp recharge, but there was a magic word that recharged the lamp when it got low and the magic word could work anywhere. Therefore, the annoyance was neatly avoided.)

I suppose if there’s anything positive I can grasp out of this experience, it’s that a coherent map is a pleasing thing. The expansion allowed many gaps to be filled in, and many more routes to be created to get from points X to Y. It led to routing decisions: if I want to reach object Z, do I use a boat, do I walk in from the bridge going the other direction, or do I teleport in with the ruby slippers? (Predictably, they’re just a Wizard of Oz reference; wearing them and typing >CLICK works.) The general feel of Adventure 501 was exploring an real environment, not a node graph.

I’d still recommend Adventure 550 over this one, though; it didn’t suffer nearly as many annoyances.

And that’s it! I can say I have played and written about every adventure game of the 1970s. I’ll likely make a summary post at some point and dive into 1980, but before that, I’m going to do something entirely different.

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Posted August 9, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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12 responses to “Adventure 501: Finished!

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  1. I wouldn’t bet on it working, but I would absolutely try leading the wumpus over the Hall-of-Mists bridge and waving the rod when it’s halfway across.

    • As the bridge disappears, the Wumpus scrambles frantically to reach your side of the fissure. He misses by inches, and with a horrible shriek plunges to his death in the depths of the fissure!

      This was especially satisfying in that the bridge had always been sort of a meaningless flourish (even though it was in Crowther’s very first version) due to the fact there’s an alternate route (most walkthroughs of Adventure 350 completely skip it).

  2. I’ll leave some comments here and on the other posts on Adventure expansions.

    I can say that the 551-point version (or at least the Z-code translation) avoids both “guess the verb” situations you listed above” I have an old transcript from one of my sessions, and “leave boat” does work in that one, as does “throw flowers”. But, I will concede that there really is no way to know you’re supposed to store (most) treasures in the safe without checking your score (and who checks their score after every trip to the building?) Also, although the method of recharging the batteries is neat, it’s just too inconvenient to be of much use. And I too see what you mean about being annoyed with random exits, but at least in the original (and 550) I don’t think there is any random exit you have to use to win the game.

    • Yeah, I gather 551 is a lot more polished, and I’m guessing the Z-code port is a lot more stable besides. (With the port I used I had to water the plant early, because later in the game >POUR WATER would crash.)

      The only other version of Adventure that requires the random-exit trick to win is Adventure 500, which technically is a re-imagining rather than an expansion.

      I hit both mazes when I was getting the pirate chest, since you can pick up the batteries without using them yet. Then when I found I was on a trip that included the dreaded “your lamp is flickering” message I reloaded and made sure I took the batteries along.

  3. Wumpus: I’d go south from East End of the Long Hall and pray the Wumpus would end up in another room. The chance is almost one out of five!

  4. I recall having to type the same command 99 times or something stupid to win at the end.

  5. Congrats on finishing the ’70s, and thank you for the series. I’ve enjoyed reading your play throughs and commentary, and learning about all of these games I’d never heard of before.

  6. I remember finding out about the bridge from the text file for the 350 Adventure. I never would have thought of putting the diamond by the chasm and waving the wand. Luckily, as you as say, it’s not needed to win.

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