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Adventure II (aka Adventure 440) (1978)   Leave a comment

There are so many variants of the 350-point Crowther and Woods Adventure that it might be consider the first heavily “modded” game.

I even have to preface by saying the 350-point version; Don Woods himself made a 430-point version in the mid-90s. The number of points possible in a particular port is the “identifying marker” for an entire family tree.

I’m not trying every version — especially since some really are just straight ports — but I think it’s worthwhile to dive into Peter Luckett and Jack Pike’s version, because the original source code is dated 31 Dec 1978. Other sources indicate it was worked on until 1981. However, the 1978 source seems complete, and the availability date makes it the earliest mod of the 350-point version of Adventure.

I’m using this port from the original source although there is a z-code version. Some comparison indicates the versions are identical except for normalizing the old-school ALL CAPS style.

adventureIIports

Replaying when I have truly detailed notes in the form of my old posts about 350-point Adventure feels like I’m playing a find-the-difference puzzle. I’ve taken my original maps as a reference and will poke carefully at each nook and cranny for extra rooms.

Outside. This map is preserved all the way back to Crowther's version of Adventure, before Woods came along.

Outside. This map goes all the way back to Crowther’s version of Adventure, before Woods came along.

The time to a map break seems to be one step…

out

YOU’RE AT THE END OF THE ROAD AGAIN.

w

YOU HAVE WALKED UP A HILL, STILL IN THE FOREST. THE ROAD SLOPES BACK DOWN THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL. THERE IS A BUILDING IN THE DISTANCE. TO THE NORTH LIES A SNOW-CAPPED MOUNTAIN RANGE WITH PEAKS THAT RISE INTO THE SKY. TO THE SOUTH, PARTLY OBSCURED BY A THIN HAZE, LIES A WHITE FORTRESS WITH SEVEN TOWERS. BEYOND THE FORTRESS, SHIMMERING IN THE SUN, THERE SPARKLES A GREAT EXPANSE OF WATER.

…but other than that description being elongated, I haven’t found any changes yet.

Posted April 18, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Places related to the All the Adventures project   Leave a comment

All the Adventures has been continuing apace, but I thought I’d take a moment to mention other places that are useful to visit because they have similar goals.

Blogs:

Gaming After 40

This blog is probably the closest in terms of games played to what I’m doing now — the author has plowed through nearly every TRS-80 game out there. Walkthroughs are included. Oddly, it means I haven’t read it much because I’ve been avoiding spoilers, but I did find their How To Emulate the TRS-80 Model I/III post helpful.

The Adventure Gamer

This isn’t “ALL the adventures” because it’s skipping text adventures. It has a fairly thorough treatment of graphical adventure games that’s sort of a blog version of a Let’s Play. There’s also a rating system, so if you dislike my allergy to applying numerical scores to things you can get your fix over there.

The Stack

This blog is probably the closest cousin to mine in my attempted writing style (small, trenchant observations rather than replication of everything that happened in a particular game) and also covers some very old adventures, like Time Zone.

The Digital Antiquarian

No computer gaming blog anywhere matches Jimmy Maher’s depth of historical research; he’s also surveyed quite a few adventure games through his blog’s history.

Archives:

The Classic Adventures Solution Archive

The folks over here seem to be determined to play (and write walkthroughs for) every classic adventure game, no matter how obscure.

Interactive Fiction Database

This is a mindboggling comprehensive and well-organized catalog of interactive fiction, with plenty of helpful links. Some of the commercial work from the 1980s seems to be missing, but combined with The Classic Adventures Solution Archive nearly everything is covered.

Museum of Computer Adventure Game History

This site has a plethora of original cover art and documentation (both useful in my own quest).

The Internet Archive

The Internet Archive seems to have everything about everything, but I’ve found it most useful for finding old books and computer magazines of the time (including type-in adventures).


 

Any sites I’m missing?

In a related question, often my writing leans towards short posts like The Stack but occasionally I go a bit longer, like The Adventure Gamer. What do people prefer?

Posted April 15, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

House of the Seven Gables: Dewitched   5 comments

From The Captain 80 Book of Basic Adventures by Robert Liddil. I think the cover is supposed to be the hero tentatively entering the haunted house, but it just reminds me of the axe scene from The Shining.

From The Captain 80 Book of Basic Adventures by Robert Liddil. I think the cover is supposed to be the hero tentatively entering the haunted house, but it just reminds me of the axe scene from The Shining.

Out of the two wandering enemies (the ghost which wants one of your treasures and the ghoul who just kills you) I managed to defeat the latter:

gableghoulend

Unfortunately, doing so triggers a bug which causes the inventory slot to not be properly reduced, causing inventory capacity to drop by one. This would not be such a problem if more ghouls didn’t drop by unannounced.

I also defeated a witch; after destroying the witch you’re no longer trapped in the house. In this spirit of my “solve it yourself” Acheton puzzle, I’ll give an inventory list and let you figure it out:

VALUABLE RECIPES
SILVER CANDLESTICKS
BEAUTIFUL ROSE
SULTON’S DAGGER
OLD RUSTY AXE
FRESH GARLIC
SOME CHEMICALS
BUCKET OF WATER
BANANA PEEL
TEST TUBE OF FLUID
PRICELESS REMBRANT
SPARKLING DIAMOND

Finishing the game was truly odd. Clearly there were adventures to collect, but there was no obvious place to put them. I tried the living room in front of the exit, typed SCORE, and noted it went up. That’s wildly meta.

gablesend

There were still plenty of loose ends, but knowing Hassett’s strange red herrings from his last game, I’m not sure if there’s anything to them.

1.) I never did defeat the ghost, but it seemed like it would only appear if I had treasure, so I waited until late in the game before I moved treasures around. Both solutions at the CASA Solution Archive just expect the player to rush through without meeting either the ghost or the ghoul.

2.) Occasionally, for no apparent reason, my score would start dropping by 10 points each turn. I have no idea why this was happening. Negative numbers are possible.

3.) #2 might be related to a black cat which — if you attempt to take it — will teleport somewhere else, where you can attempt the same routine. It doesn’t seem to have any use or relevance other than atmosphere.

4.) The compass starts off as a “shiny new compass” but ends up as a “tarnished old compass” throughout the trip. I don’t know when it happens or if it’s significant in some way.

gablesfinalmap

(Click the image above for my final map. Notice the only addition from my last map is that going down from the top of the staircase does not bring you to the bottom, but rather an entirely different area. Sigh.)

Posted April 13, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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House of the Seven Gables (1978)   1 comment

madcatalogcover

houseofseven

 

Greg Hassett followed Journey to the Center of the Earth Adventure with yet another game based on a book title (by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and once again there’s no relation otherwise. It even seems to fundamentally misunderstand what a “gable” is. This is a gable:

gableroof

That is, it’s an architectural feature, not a room. Yet, here’s my map so far (currently incomplete):

gablesmap1

I guess he means “the room next to a gable”?

I’M AT THE FIRST GABLE. IT OVERLOOKS A HUGE YARD OF TALL GRASS.
I CAN GO — E

At the beginning of the game there are no compass directions mentioned, but a “shiny compass” on the ground. After picking up the compass, the compass direction to the south appears. If you drop the compass later, you can’t move at unless you pick the compass up again. (Mystery Mansion has a similar but more elaborate trick which allows relative motion. Every few years on interactive fiction forums someone brings up how artificial compass directions feel; this anxiety apparently went to the beginning of adventure game history.)

There’s two enemies that can pop up randomly: a “ghost” and a “one-eyed ghoul”. The ghost wants a treasure; I’ve found exactly one (silver candlesticks) which I can give to the ghost who will leave me alone. I have yet to defeat the ghoul, so my gameplay consists of wandering around until the ghoul randomly appears, then reloading.

Other than the maze, I have solved essentially one puzzle: going east from the dining room.

gablesdoorknob

Rather unusually, I figured out what object would work before trying the object. I knew there was an “axe” on the map (I wasn’t holding it — see ghoul reloading) but I wanted to test if it would work, so I tried CHOP DOOR.

WITH WHAT, MY BARE HANDS?

Typing YES results in

I DON’T KNOW KARATE!

so even though I couldn’t solve the puzzle right at that moment I knew the use of the axe.

I suspect other puzzles may be due to verb difficulties, which are extreme here. Garlic + vampire seems to go together, but I have yet to be able to use the garlic in any fashion. It’s possible I have used a successful counter to the ghoul without realizing it because the verbs are so picky. This is a problem common to the TRS-80 games at the time; I may give in and dive into the source for a verb list. Especially since HELP is not as useful as in Journey to the Center of the Earth:

gableshelp

Posted April 12, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Treasure Hunt: Victory   Leave a comment

treasurehuntwin

There’s no special message for getting all 20 treasures. But it still felt good. Complete spoilers below.

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I. The plan

Efficiency is important, because there’s a time limit due to the lantern running out (with one refresh from putting a gold coin in a vending machine).

There are a number of objects that resolve other problems. I was careful on my winning run not to pick up the puzzle-solving objects until I was ready to solve the puzzle in question. This is not only because of the inventory limit of 3 objects, but that returning to the cave entrance (room 0) will deposit everything being held. Hence, if the gold coins are picked up early (I found them first thing), they need to be marked and ignored until the lantern starts to run low.

Other puzzles include keys being used on a lock box (which is too heavy to pick up)

treasurehuntlockbox

and a wand that is used to extract a sword from a stone.

treasurehuntwand

II. The dragon

I was stumped for a while by the dragon, which I presumed needed to be slayed. It turns out the method requires superior firepower.

treasurehuntdragon

I will leave the “treasure” without comment.

III. The (dis)pleasures of randomness

Three random things can foul up even the best of plans in Treasure Hunt.

1.) A bat can pick you up and deposit you randomly, causing anything you are carrying to be spread at random on the map.

2.) While being carried, the magic carpet treasure can just fly off on its own; it’s not something you can stop. I’m not even 100% certain the carpet is retrievable; the times I’ve had it happen I never saw it again.

3.) Earthquakes can randomly rejigger where the pits and dragon are.

With the lantern time ticking away and every earthquake requiring a re-exploration of the entire map, things are very tense. In my winning playthrough I had found the old gun and was ready to take on the dragon, when a bat swooped down and moved me (and the gun). While trying to find the gun again I experienced three (3!) earthquakes, with the dragon changing location each time.

treasurehuntfinale

With my lantern running low, trying my best to dodge pits and hoping I didn’t run into another bat, I finally met the dragon in 42 in triumph.

The last time I’ve been that tense in a text adventure was the first part of Border Zone, and that was a real-time game.

I’m not sure how much of Treasure Hunt I’d want to emulate (it is singularly unfair) but I still appreciate it as a raw experiment.

Posted April 11, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Treasure Hunt (1978)   3 comments

I. A more perfect model to copy = less experiments

One of the things I’ve found jaunting through adventure games that’s … not exactly “disappointing”, but I can’t think of a better word … is that unlike CRPG history, there doesn’t seem to be that many early unique experiments. CRPGs sprang from pencil-and-paper where the computer equivalent was unclear, but most everyone in early adventure games seemed determined to copy Woods and Crowther.

There is one exception, and the game is so obscure it is quite possible I’m the first one who has played it since the 1980s.

SoftSide Magazine, October 1978.

SoftSide Magazine, October 1978.

Lance Micklus later on went to publish Dog Star Adventure in 1979, which appears to be the first published type-in text adventure. Treasure Hunt I’d call marginally an adventure, but in a form generally unrecognizable because rather than branching off Adventure, it has roots in Hunt the Wumpus.

II. A brief analysis of Wumpus

Hunt the Wumpus is a 1972 offering by Gregory Yob. Jimmy Maher has a two-part series on the full history here and here.

To get into Treasure Hunt — which has some of the same concepts in the gameplay — I thought a transcript of Wumpus with analysis might help. (I used the Z-code version.)

You are in room 5
Tunnels lead to 1 4 6
Shoot, Move or Quit (S-M-Q)? m
Where to? 6

I’m playing on the classic “squashed dodecahedron” from the original game.

squash

It helps to have pre-mapped what room numbers correspond to what places on the map, although the dodecahedron structure makes it possible to “feel out” the geography off the cuff.

You are in room 6
Tunnels lead to 5 7 15
Shoot, Move or Quit (S-M-Q)? m
Where to? 15

I feel a draft!
You are in room 15
Tunnels lead to 6 14 16
Shoot, Move or Quit (S-M-Q)? m
Where to? 14

The “draft” indicates a room nearby has a bottomless pit. Since I came from room 6, the draft has to be either rooms 14 or 16.

A careful strategy would be to note that as a sort of logic puzzle condition, go back to 6, and save the knowledge for later. For instance, if a later room has no draft but room 14 adjacent, that means room 14 is safe.

In order to keep this transcript short, I foolishly plunge ahead to 14:

You are in room 14
Tunnels lead to 4 13 15
Shoot, Move or Quit (S-M-Q)? m
Where to? 13

Risky! But now I know the pit has to be in 16.

You are in room 13
Tunnels lead to 12 14 20
Shoot, Move or Quit (S-M-Q)? m
Where to? 29
Not possible – Where to? 20

I feel a draft!
I smell a wumpus!
You are in room 20
Tunnels lead to 13 16 19

Since 16 is the “draft” and we came from 13, 19 has to be the wumpus. Time to fire a shot:

Shoot, Move or Quit (S-M-Q)? s
No. of rooms (0-5)? 1
Room #? 19
19
Aha! You got the wumpus!

Hee hee hee – the wumpus’ll get you the next time!

There’s more to the game — the wumpus can wake up, you can fire the arrow through multiple rooms, and there are “bats” that can carry you around — but this is enough of an introduction because things are about to get much more complicated.

III. The Lumus Caves

Imagine Wumpus having treasures you have to find.

thunttitle

If you bought the game it came with a map, but I had to resort to making my own. I have no idea if it is something sensible like “a dodecahedron only larger” or “a moebius strip with an extra twist” so my version is a bit of a mess.

The full map I made -- click to enlarge.

The full map I made — click to enlarge.

This definitely reflects one of the downfalls of non-compass mapping — it’s hard to get relative positioning right on a complicated map. Should this particular branch go right or left on the map? I didn’t know until I got farther and had to erase and redraw.

IV. How items work

YOU’RE IN CAVE 2 WHICH LEADS TO:
CAVE 1
CAVE 4
CAVE 5

THIS CAVE HAS GOLD COINS IN IT.
DO YOU WANT TO TAKE IT WITH YOU,
TYPE 1 FOR YES, OTHERWISE TYPE 2? 1
O.K. YOU’VE GOT GOLD COINS.

I should emphasize that even though the map is fixed, everything inside the rooms is randomly placed. In a different game the gold coins might be in room 63.

WHAT CAVE DO YOU WANT TO EXPLORE NEXT? 5

YOU’RE IN CAVE 5 WHICH LEADS TO:
CAVE 2
CAVE 10
CAVE 11

YOU’RE CARRYING:
GOLD COINS

THIS CAVE HAS A MAGIC WAND IN IT.
DO YOU WANT TO TAKE IT WITH YOU,
TYPE 1 FOR YES, OTHERWISE TYPE 2? 1
O.K. YOU’VE GOT A MAGIC WAND.
WHAT CAVE DO YOU WANT TO EXPLORE NEXT?

Important points to note:
a.) There’s at most one object to a room. When entering a room with a portable object, you can either take it with you or leave it be.
b.) Leaving it be is more interesting than you might think, because there’s a three-object inventory limit. If you go back to the entrance of the cave (room 0) you will deposit all your treasures, but won’t be able to take any back. This is important because …
c.) …some treasures double as puzzle solutions. For example, the gold coins can be used on a vending machine to get new lantern batteries (yes, Lance must have been familiar with Adventure) but since this is done automatically upon entering the appropriate room, it is better to note the gold coins on the map and get them when the lantern starts to run low.

V. Dangers

Just like Wumpus, there are obstacles that will kill you if you wander in the wrong room.

YOU’RE IN CAVE 20 WHICH LEADS TO:
CAVE 10
CAVE 40
CAVE 41

THERE IS A PIT NEARBY. wATCH YOUR STEP.

YOU’RE CARRYING:
A NECKLACE

WHAT CAVE DO YOU WANT TO EXPLORE NEXT? 41

SORRY, BUT I TRIED TO WARN YOU.
YOU FELL INTO A DEEP PIT AND KILLED YOURSELF !!!
READY
>_

There are also potential cave collapses, a pirate that can steal your treasure, and a dragon.

VI. A puzzle example

There’s a room that has a barking noise. There’s also an invisible man looking for his dog, and he needs you to type the room number his dog is in and he’ll give you a $1000 bill. However, if you type the room the barking was heard in, you will fail.

invisman

It turns out — using Wumpus logic — the barking means the dog is in an _adjacent_ room. So to solve the puzzle you need to find three rooms the barking is coming from and triangulate.

barkmap

(The “B” means “barking”. The red means a room with a danger notice, so there’s some adjacent room that is deadly or at least has an enemy that needs to be defeated by the right item.)

In any case, I’m not quite up to a successful run with 20 treasures, so I’ll save what will hopefully be a winning post (and the true secret to slaying a dragon) for next time.

Posted April 7, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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Renga in Four Parts now playable online   Leave a comment

rengainfourpartsonline

This was released last year, but I gather most people don’t want to download an interpreter just to try interactive poetry.

You can play, online in your browser, right now (just click on the image below).

rengaimage2

Thanks to Juhana Leinonen! (Also, you can find everything else in Hugo as well.)

Posted April 2, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Poetry

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