Archive for the ‘adventure-500’ Tag

Adventure 500 (1979)   1 comment

The 2008 comedy movie Be Kind Rewind introduced the idea of “sweding”, recreating scenes of a movie from memory.

Yes, this is relevant to the game at hand. Let me back up a moment.

One of the legendary “lost copies” of Adventure is by George Richmond from 1979 (“with assistance from Mike Preston”). It was written in CDC Pascal and while people reported playing it in the late 70s / early 80s, until recently it was considered to be entirely lost.

That is it *was* considered lost, until roughly a year ago a mysterious “Tom A.” sent a source code package to Arthur O’Dwyer. However, it’s sat since then, and I can reliably say nobody except for possibly “Tom A.” has ever played it since 1982.

Still, maybe nothing to get excited over. With another lost version of Adventure, you might think (as I first did before booting this up) that all we have here is yet another port, with extra rooms tossed for flavor.

That doesn’t describe this at all.

It’s more like — the author played Adventure, liked it, had some notes — then decided to write his own game from scratch, riffing off his notes but filling in the gaps with his own imagination. It’s like he made a full length sweding of Adventure.

The picture above is a (mostly complete) map of the outdoors. You have to go *southwest* to the entrance of the cave, not south. There are two routes deep in the forest that lead directly to the maze of twisty passages (and not the same maze as the original game!) There’s a lake to the west that requires a boat to get across.

You’re in front of a Wellhouse. A stream flows to the southwest.
> in
You’re in a Wellhouse. The center of the room is occupied by a well.
I see objects here.
A bottle full of water.
Tasty food for nourishing Adventurer and beast.
A ring of unmarked keys.
A kerosene lantern. It is hard to tell how much fuel is left in it.

As far as I can tell so far, the game uses almost none of the original room descriptions. Early on you find a box of matches (which is required to light the lantern) and a claw hammer. Instead of XYZZY as a magic word, you get this:

You’re at a dead end. A plaque on the walls is inscribed with the saying: “If you were in a hurry you would ‘     ‘ along”. Unfortunately, the word you need is obscured.

Posted April 19, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure 500: Tilted   Leave a comment

I think most of my readers are familiar with the Crowther and Woods version of Adventure, but just in case, here’s a link to my playthrough.

Being familiar with the original is necessary to be rattled by responses like this one:

> xyzzy
I don’t know the word xyzzy
Please rephrase that.

Yes, XYYZY has been left out entirely.

Other curious aspects:

1.) The underground map is strongly oriented along the diagonals, with lots of travel northeast/northwest/southeast/southwest.

2.) Instead of dwarves, you are attacked by orcs:

An ugly and mean orc has found you.
The orc throws a knife at you.

It misses you!
> throw axe
You’ve killed an orc.
He disappears in a cloud of greasy black smoke.

3.) The dragon is here, but the “bare hands” gag from Adventure is not present. I’m not sure what to do here yet.

This room is filled with the foul odor of a dragon. The floor is littered with the remains of ‘Johnny come lately’ Adventurers. The dragon blocks your way!

> throw axe
The axe bounces harmlessly off the dragon.

4.) The bird has the desired effect on the snake, but you have to THROW BIRD to indicate you are directing it at the snake.

5.) There’s a boat and an underground lake (I think more than one expansion of Adventure added waterways, and there’s the river in Dungeon, so that feels like a perfectly natural expansion at least).

6.) In addition to the lantern requiring matches to be lit, it also fairly quickly runs out of oil.

The lantern is running low on fuel.
You may be able to fill it WITH some oil.

There’s a pool of oil in the twisty maze; I don’t know how many uses I get before it runs out (hopefully it won’t)?

I also want to warn everyone ahead of time it’s possible the game is not winnable in its current state. First, the port (which is based on an scan of a paper printout of the source) has some text bobbles here and there. It’s faintly possible there are code errors on the side, although I haven’t run into any. Second, there is this part of the game:

> d
This is the bottom of a chimney beneath the bedrock room. There
is a doorway to the south made out of massive iron.
The iron door is rusted shut.
> oil door
Please rephrase that.
> pour bottle
The oil frees the door and it swings open.
> s
Colossal Cavern is under construction in this area. Please return
to this location at a later date for interesting Adventures.
Th43e iron door is open.

which suggests to me that there was a definite intent for expansion, but it could also mean the treasures necessary to reach the desired 500 points hadn’t all been added yet.

Posted April 22, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure 500: Mazes of Cruelty   2 comments

The world had not only failed to learn the right lessons, it seemed to have internalized the wrong ones.

— From “Inside Every Utopia Is a Dystopia” by John Crowley

The quote above, which is about the more serious issue of social design, also captures for me the history of art.

Something fabulous and novel is made, other artists duplicate the ideas, and then there are copies of those copies. Generally, artists aren’t copying everything, just what they think made the original fabulous and novel in the first place. This isn’t necessarily a bad approach to art, but sadly, sometimes it’s the wrong things that get copied.

Do adventure games need a maze? Nearly everyone from the era seemed to think so. They just needed to do them “better” than Crowther and Woods Adventure somehow.

Adventure 500 takes the maze concept and runs it off a cliff. I’ve never quite seen anything like this.

First, the twisty maze of passages, which is the first maze encountered in the game (the other one can’t be reached without an item in this maze):

This certainly doesn’t look too bad, but there are two tricks, one common, one nasty.

The common trick is that when entering the maze from the outside, you start in what I call a “all-or-nothing” structure. All exits are possible, but any exit except for the correct one will lead you to the space marked “start from NE forest entry”. I’ve seen this sort of structure lots of times, presumably because it makes it very hard to just guess your way through the maze and luck into the correct 4-move sequence (WEST, EAST, SOUTH, UP).

The nasty trick occurs in original Adventure (Crowther, even before Woods) in that when outdoors there is a link that will randomly take you to a different forest area than you usually go to. However, the extra area is totally optional and the intent seemed to be to add an aura of mystery.

Adventure 500 puts this same trick in the maze:

Going down in a particular place will *usually* loop you to the same place, except for something like a 20% chance where it takes you to the room with the planks of wood instead. The planks of wood are absolutely necessary for beating the game. I found this by sheer luck (I had already mapped the loop, but went down by accident).

On top of the evil above, there’s this:

You are about to enter an area of Colossal Cavern for which you must carefully prepare. Do not proceed unless you are ready.
> e
You’re in a crazy maze of weird passages.

First I was unsure as to the gimmick; I dropped a bunch of items to start mapping by dropping them in the rooms, as normal. I ran out of items, blundered my way to the exit, and grabbed some more items.

So far, so normal. But then, the new set of items ran out, and there were yet more rooms.

And more rooms.

And more rooms.

This is only part of the map. I started running out of space on the paper and scrawling everywhere. I’m not done — there are more rooms I haven’t mapped. I’m guessing the total is around 35 rooms or so.

Surely the author wouldn’t be so cruel as to pull the same-passage-goes-two-ways trick? Yes, he would. Not only that, it appears the random chance of a particular passage going to an “alternate exit” is rolled upon entering a room, which means saving one’s game and testing out an exit repeatedly will not help.

Posted April 25, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure 500: RNG   4 comments

RNG, aka “random number generation.” Picture by Jeremiah Andrick, CC BY 2.0.

There’s quite a bit that happened since I last posted, but I wanted to focus on one part in particular. This is an actual transcript of play:

> throw axe
The axe bounces harmlessly off the dragon.
> get axe
OK.
> throw axe
The axe bounces harmlessly off the dragon.
> get axe
OK.
> throw axe
The axe bounces harmlessly off the dragon.
> get axe
OK.
> throw axe
The axe bounces harmlessly off the dragon.
> get axe
OK.
The dragon singes your hair WITH his breath.
> throw axe
The axe bounces harmlessly off the dragon.
The dragon singes your hair WITH his breath.
> get axe
OK.
> throw axe
The axe bounces harmlessly off the dragon.
> get axe
OK.
> throw axe
The axe bounces harmlessly off the dragon.
>

One might be forgiven for not realizing there is a one-third chance of this happening:

> throw axe
You’ve killed the dragon.
It contracts into wrinkles and disappears.

The author seemed to think if they include a random number generator which triggers one-third of the time, then players will maybe have one or two misses before they have a hit. Unfortunately, that’s not how random number generation works, and it’s quite possible by dumb luck to have a situation where it would be nearly impossible for the player to surmise they were doing the correct action. (The probability for the 7 misses in a row shown in the transcript is two-thirds to the seventh power, or approximately 5.85%.)

This issue happens in a different way in A Fine Day for Reaping (2007) and Nevermore (2000). Both cases include texts that appear in random order, the idea being equivalent to leafing through a book and happening upon important information. If one expects random chance to act intuitively, most of the needed text should be found in short order, but in actual practice, some players will just keep missing a certain text by luck (it happened to me with both games).

This is on top of the uncertain feeling any randomness is occurring at all. With an adventure game, the general expectation is for an action to work if it is the right one, and a clear signal is needed if something random is awry. With our recent Spelunker play (and the Eamon games I blogged about) it was very obvious we had a D&D combat type system with random outcomes, broadcasting the information to the player that with a “miss” all one needed to do was try again.

I think the thief combat in Zork is somewhat between the extremes. There’s enough variety in the thief’s messages that I personally realized random chance might lead me to defeat him, but I would like to ask, in general: was there anyone who got stuck by the thief because they assumed there was a puzzle-method of winning, rather than just lucking out in raw combat?

Posted April 30, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure 500: Finished!   Leave a comment

I found all the treasures, and deposited them in the wellhouse as is ancient tradition. I’m short by 3 points, but I’m ok with that; I’m not sure if the points actually exist.

You moved 353 times.
You gave me 477 commands.
Your score was 497 out OF 500.

You have reached master adventure, class C.
You need 3 more points for the next rank.
not completely exploring the park.

First, I wanted to (maybe) backtrack on a statement I made about the “crazy maze”. If you recall from last time it was a maze with an overwhelming number of rooms which I said also had a situation where leaving one exit would randomly go to a different room than normal.

I’m a little unsure about the latter point now, given I found out I was done in by a different trick altogether. Since I was out of objects, the way I was mapping was to save, try a particular exit which led to an indisguishable room, then try all the exits in *that* room to figure out which ones worked. I assumed if, say, the northeast exit led to room I had left a bottle in, that would be the *only* room where leaving northeast goes to a room with a bottle. I was entirely wrong about this. There are at least 3 rooms which in fact intentionally seem oriented to foul up this particular trick. I had to add rooms with names like (1B) to my map to account for the fact I was in a “fake” room 1.

The maze with passages that are all different appears in the game too, changed from the Crowther/Woods version:

To be honest, I was not fond of the original, and this one seemed eminently more workable. I avoided the same mistake I made with original Adventure and made sure I dropped objects in the rooms to help me map, even though the room names could be used for mapping (“little twisty maze of passages”, “maze of little twisting passages”, etc.) Rather than a vending machine, the end of the maze has the pirate’s treasure. (The pirate can appear to steal your treasure just like original Adventure, but he’s a lot rarer in this game.)

I got caught by an entirely evil and new different trick. You see, after you get the chest, if you just backtrack in a normal way, when heading north from the exit room (“little maze of twisty passages”) it will not leave the maze as it normally does. The game switches the passage off to prevent escape. I’m still not 100% sure the logic behind it, but I did eventually find a slightly irregular route back to the little maze of twisty passages where going north did allow for escape.

I would not have needed to be so complete about either mapping job except for a unique scoring feature: the game gives you 1 point for every room you visit. So while I found the crazy maze’s treasures within about 10 minutes of entering, if I wanted the points for the maze I had to map out and create a route that passed through every room. For posterity, so nobody else need suffer in the future:

Crazy Maze walkthrough:

From starting room: D. U. D. W.
GET DIAMOND
SE
GET CUP
NE
GET NECKLACE
E. SE.
GET CUBE
W. NW. D. NE. NW.
E. U. W. U. NE. SE.
GET RUG
SE. W. U. NE. SE. SW. S. NW. E. NE.
U. D. U. W. NW. SW. SW. E.
SW. N. D. D. U. W.
(OUT OF MAZE!)

All Different Maze Walkthrough:

From starting room: D. S. W. S. S. W. E. S. E.
N. SW. D. S. SE. W.
GET CHEST
E. NE. NW. D. E. U. N.
(out!)

There were a few puzzles other than mazes! For example:

  • There’s a clam with a pearl in it, just like the original. There’s even a trident sitting nearby, but the trident is no help in opening it. The correct way to open the clam is drop the clam by water; when touching the water, the clam reacts and opens, exposing the pearl.
  • You find a hammer, nails, and wood at one point. There is one spot where you can >BUILD BRIDGE and another where you can >BUILD LADDER. Despite the unusual verb, this was fairly well hinted and not hard to figure out. The main issue was logistical, because the wood is quite heavy and it’s hard to carry the necessary construction items as the same time as other things.
  • One of the few aspects to remain entirely unchanged from original Adventure is the Ming Vase, which requires that you drop a pillow first before dropping it in the wellhouse.
  • The lantern is not electric; it requires oil and matches. There are various oil pools across the map, but once your lantern starts running out of light you have to plan your route to get to an oil pool in time. Additionally, there’s a limited number of matches to light the lantern, so even though the lantern is refillable there’s still a “time limit”. One of the extra implications is you can’t turn the lantern off during outside trips to save turns, because lighting the lantern again after dousing it costs a match!
  • There’s a fissure that requires crossing; in the original, you could just wave the rod with a star on one end and a bridge would appear. Here, the same thing occurs, but you have to >THROW ROD for some reason. Waving the rod instead has a random chance of creating a lightning flash and showing the contents of the room (as long as the room is dark).

(Click the image to get the full underground map, excluding mazes.)

In any case, while the game allows for maximum points (or at least close to it) it’s clear this game was an aborted work in progress; there’s an “in construction” room…

> POUR BOTTLE
The oil frees the door and it swings open.
> S
Colossal Cavern is under construction in this area. Please return to this location at a later date for interesting Adventures.

…and a “bear”, “wolf”, “chain”, and “troll” which appear in the source but are nowhere in the game. Because of this and the fact I cross-checked every room in the source code, I have fair confidence (let’s say 65%) that I have in fact visited every possible room, and 497 is the max score.

To be honest, even if those 3 points exist, I’m fine leaving them on the table. This one has exhausted me.

Posted May 11, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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