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

Tagged with

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.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

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

Tagged with

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

Tagged with

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

Pirate Adventure: 100 out of 100   Leave a comment

From the rare Australian cover at the Museum of Adventure Game History. Given there's only one pirate, it seems to imply you're the one on the left.

From the rare Australian cover at the Museum of Adventure Game History. Given there’s only one pirate in the game, it seems to imply you’re the one on the left.

So “Beginnner” as a difficulty was right. Perhaps “confusing plot-wise” might also be apropos.

The pirate I mentioned in my last post is indeed the missing crew-mate. You find him sleeping in your flat.

 
Perhaps he’s the same teleporting one from Adventure? In any case, I’m not sure why he’s all happy at helping you. I almost suspect there was some missing conversation from before the adventure started, but why would he be grouchy at taking your treasure chest then?

So having the pirate on board allows you to sail to Treasure Island.

piratemap

(Click the image if you want the complete game map.)

Following the map conviently obtained from the pirate’s treasure chest you can dig up a box with a shovel. The box has … rare stamps? Not what I’d associate with pirate treasure, exactly.

The other treasure involves braving typos:

My dictionary weeps.

My dictionary weeps.

The snakes will kill you if you try to take the treasure. However, the helpful mongoose from earlier … is apparently not a mongoose, and if you try to use it, you will end up with a “dead squirrel”.

The parrot, on the other hand, will chase the snakes away, again just like in Adventure.

I liked the parrot so much that I took it home with me in triumph.

piratefinal

You may plausibly ask, what happened to the pirate? Well, he got drunk again, then after I woke him we sailed back to Pirate Island and I went home and got the screen above. He didn’t seem to care about the treasure. I guess for him, rum was the real treasure.

Posted March 28, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

Tagged with

Roasted Misfits   Leave a comment

I made something for the limit-yourself-to-300-words Twiny Jam.

It is poetry.

I didn’t think I could do much else in 300 words.

Click here to try it out.

roastedmisfits

Posted March 28, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Poetry

Pirate Adventure: Making a boat   Leave a comment

Picture from eBay.

Picture from eBay.

The only real obstacle I made it through since last time was getting by the crocodiles, but that let me make a boat.

pirateboat

>MAKE BOAT
CONGRATULATIONS !!!
But your Adventure is not over yet…

The clever bit was the lagoon; the tide goes in and out. A fish out farther in the ocean gets away if you bring it back when tide is low. If you wait for the tide to be higher (so the fish stays in water longer) you can bring it to the crocodiles and feed them, who let you pass (and access all the supplies mentioned above).

The dynamic aspect helped add to the feel of the environment; too much IF (even modern works) has static terrain.

I’m stuck immediately after.

piratesetsail

The only possible “crew” I’ve seen in the game so far is a pirate I immediately bribed away with a bottle of rum; he disappeared and I stole his treasure chest and parrot. Somehow I don’t think he’d be happy to join.

I’ve found a mongoose that has been no use so far, and apparently mongooses also do not count as ship crewmates. The parrot chatters quite a bit and eats crackers but remains unable to hoist the mainsail.

Posted March 27, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

Tagged with

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers