Archive for the ‘adventure350’ Tag

The Crowther and Woods version of Adventure (1977)   4 comments

I figured while I was poking at Adventure I might as well move on to the 1977 Crowther and Woods version. Unfortunately, even getting the “most authentic” version can be a challenge; the list of available versions is epic. It would seem a simple matter to just pick WOOD0350 (the original Fortran source) but that version has never been ported directly (due to technical issues with the source being particular to the PDP-10).

David Kinder discusses several other close versions:

Kevin Black’s DOS version of his and Bob Supnik’s DECUS version, available as a DOS executable.
Kenneth Plotkin’s version, available as a DOS executable, MS Fortran source code and the PDP-11 Fortran source code from which the former was derived.
Don Ekman’s version, available as a DOS executable and MS Fortran source code, derived from Fortran source for the PDP-11/70. There is also an Amiga executable, compiled from the MS Fortran source.

I decided to test all of them, comparing with what is allegedly an image of a printout from Adventure being played on a PDP-10.

Kevin Black’s is out fairly quickly:

You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully. In the distance there is a tall gleaming white tower.

While the gleaming white tower makes me curious it’s certainly inauthentic. Kenneth Plotkin’s version is better — the text essentially matches — but it normalizes the capitalization, which makes me wonder if there are any other minor changes.

Hence I went with EKMA0350, the Don Eckman Microsoft Fortran port (according to the READ.ME file, the only tweaks were for the sake of compiling).

HAVE PATIENCE. IT TAKES A WHILE TO INITIALIZE…
Effective immediately Colossal Cave is open all day, even during working hours. Although we are no longer locking the cave, you are expected to exercise some degree of self discipline.

WELCOME TO ADVENTURE!! WOULD YOU LIKE INSTRUCTIONS?

Already there’s a dose of charm, a reminder that this used to be playable only on very expensive servers that were normally used for “work” and “productivity”. There’s even an HOURS command (mentioned in the game information):

COLOSSAL CAVE IS OPEN TO REGULAR ADVENTURERS AT THE FOLLOWING HOURS

MON-FRI: OPEN ALL DAY
SAT-SUN: OPEN ALL DAY
HOLIDAYS OPEN ALL DAY

I presume this was originally set to be down during work hours. I confirmed this by trying a version of Adventure (440 point version) available on a PDP-10 simulator via telnet. Trying to start a game led to a very curious prompt:

I’m terribly sorry, but Colossal Cave is closed. Our hours are:

MON – FRI: 0:00 to 11:00
17:00 to 24:00
SAT – SUN: Open all day
HOLIDAYS: Open all day

Only wizards are permitted within the cave right now.

Are you a wizard?
#YES

Prove it! Say the magic word!
BLAHBLAH

Foo, you are nothing but a charlatan!

We do allow visitors to make short explorations during our off hours.
Would you like to do that?

I could go on a theoretical tangent about how the server is hosting a literal location that can be open or closed like an amusement park, rather than a story-narrative, but I’d rather get back to the Don Eckman port:

YOU ARE INSIDE A BUILDING, A WELL HOUSE FOR A LARGE SPRING.
THERE ARE SOME KEYS ON THE GROUND HERE.
THERE IS A SHINY BRASS LAMP NEARBY.
THERE IS FOOD HERE.
THERE IS A BOTTLE OF WATER HERE.

I and INV don’t work, but INVEN and INVENTORY do, hooray!

YOU ARE CURRENTLY HOLDING THE FOLLOWING:
SET OF KEYS
BRASS LANTERN
TASTY FOOD
SMALL BOTTLE
WATER IN THE BOTTLE

In the room it’s called a “lamp” and in inventory it’s called a “lantern”. Also you can still refer to it as a “headlamp”.

The “Forest (2)” room is rather mysterious: it can only be reached by going north from the regular Forest room, and only by random chance (1 out of 4, seems like). Why include that room? I suppose already at this stage Crowther was trying to make the outside seem larger than it really was. I remember in the 80s when I first played Adventure I wandered outside a long time curious if there was some obscurely hidden treasure. (I double checked and this map oddity is also in the Crowther original, so this isn’t a Woods addition. They means I’ll probably shuffle this comment into the other post at some point, but for the moment I’ll let this stand.)

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Posted March 14, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure (350 points): On saving and mapping   1 comment

At this point I honestly don’t remember much about Adventure goes, so I’m going to blog about my playing experientially, like The Stack and The CRPG Addict.

I’ve hit a snag on the Don Eckman port:

I CAN SUSPEND YOUR ADVENTURE FOR YOU SO THAT YOU CAN RESUME LATER, BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO WAIT AT LEAST 90 MINUTES BEFORE CONTINUING

IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?

Specifically, SAVE doesn’t work (other than to give this original message, which has interesting implications for authentic play) so I have to restart every time.

I switched over to the Kenneth Plotkin port, which has a single save game that works and normalizes capitalization, but otherwise seems to be fine.

I’ve been playing a lot of old-style adventures lately, and one thing I’ve noticed is my initial forays into the dungeon/fortress/whatever have been purely mapping expeditions. It’s curious if I imagine it in a story sense, that I am creating alternate-universe clones to scout for me before the “real” expedition begins. This is especially the case for old adventures with lots of instant-death-puzzles. For me, part of getting over the amount of instant death was not to imagine each traversal of the map as a coherent narrative: only the last successful trek matters in a story sense.

While Adventure doesn’t have anything in the way of instant death that I’ve seen so far, now there’s an inventory limit of 7 items (*ahem* thank you Don Woods) so inventory optimization is important; fairly early on without any special effort I find myself maxing out my limit.

So I’ve been avoiding picking up things for the moment and just mapping, but even without solving any puzzles (except for the dragon, which I distinctly remember because it was unfair) I can map a huge chunk of the area:

Click the map above for a full sized PDF map.

I find refreshing the vast amount of exploration available for solving only a few puzzles. It’s hard to find the equivalent in modern games (or even many older ones). One tendancy that I’m glad has died out is the “go north one way, go west to go back” trick. Drawing the bottom section around Bedquilt has been torturous. It does, however, accurately convey the same confusion as crawling about a cave.

I’ve been making my maps with Trizbort, which has been working great except for the mazes. They’ll likely be the focus of my next post.

Posted March 17, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure (350 points): On the worst maze ever   13 comments

I thrashed around in that maze awhile longer. Finally, Alsing said, “Look carefully at the messages on the screen.”
“They’re all the same.”
“No, They’re not.”
Each chamber of this maze within the big labyrinth had a slightly different and unique address, formed by a particular arrangement of the words twisty, little, passages, and maze.
“And what do you do when you get lost?” asked Alsing.
“You make maps, of course.”

— Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine

Click image for a larger PDF map.

So I wanted the full original Adventure experience, and that included mapping this monstrosity. Despite the clever trick which could be designated the first wordplay puzzle in IF, I hold it is the worst maze ever made. To wit:

a.) It requires, if solved as designed, keeping one’s eyes from blurring the distinction between “twisty” and “twisting”; it is still possible to drop objects around as is more typical, and I would have done so had I not been more than halfway through the above map before the insight struck.

b.) It has no purposes other than dispensing an item which extends lamp life, the usage of which reduces one’s score so there’s really no reason for going into the maze at all.

c.) Even realizing (b.), given Adventure is a treasure hunt and there is the slight possibility of a secret dead end, it’s pretty much necessary to map the whole thing anyway just to be sure.

d.) This is, following a comment in this thread, a spreadsheet rather than a maze. I made a failed attempt at a coherent map before starting on my one-way diagram:

Compare with the entirely reasonable maze found in Crowther’s original:

e.) The dwarves or pirate dropping by could lend some excitement, but they don’t visit. Can’t blame them, really.

f.) The trick shows the way for future “tricks” and caused an endless stream of mazes in games to come, whereas if there was just the twisty maze of passages all alike that might not have happened. (Hyperbolic stretch, sorry.)

I tried to get into the exercise as a zen sort of experience, I really did, but even given the shock of the new Adventure had back in the 1970s (as seen in the Tracy Kidder quote) I have trouble imagining why anyone would want to duplicate this with other mazes back in the day. (There’s the maze of passages “all alike”, of course, but I’m guessing it isn’t that much better.)

The one saving grace is that both the vending machine and exit are naturally findable about 15% of the way in the mapping process. It is possible someone treated the rest of the maze as an “acceptable unknown” and only kept track of the valid routes in and out. Does anyone remember doing this back in the day? I recall being completist about maps even then because I had played too many other games with hard-to-find side passages, but it’s possible with Adventure being the only example at the time people weren’t so scared to leave things untouched. Even given that token of forgiveness there’s no reason NE, NW, SE, and SW should have been allowed as directions other than sheer sadism.

Posted March 19, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure (350 points): On the best maze ever   2 comments

The twisty maze of passages, all alike:

So, so much better. (See previous installment: Worst Maze Ever.) It was clear early on there was some sensible geography going on with bottlenecks and specific sections. Being forced to drop items like a breadcrumb trail is much more interesting than squinting at the difference between “twisting” and “twisty”.

But also, perhaps more importantly: both dwarves and the pirate are active. The dwarves will pop up at randomly and throw knives at you; you need to throw an axe at them to kill them (it may or may not hit on the first try). Their knives also have a random chance of connecting and killing you back.

THERE IS A THREATENING LITTLE DWARF IN THE ROOM WITH YOU!

ONE SHARP NASTY KNIFE IS THROWN AT YOU!

IT MISSES!

YOU ARE IN A MAZE OF TWISTY LITTLE PASSAGES, ALL ALIKE.

throw axe

YOU KILLED A LITTLE DWARF. THE BODY VANISHES IN A CLOUD OF GREASY
BLACK SMOKE.

The pirate will steal any treasure you might be holding and store it “deep in the maze” as he says.

OUT FROM THE SHADOWS BEHIND YOU POUNCES A BEARDED PIRATE! “HAR, HAR,”
HE CHORTLES. “I’LL JUST TAKE ALL THIS BOOTY AND HIDE IT AWAY WITH ME
CHEST DEEP IN THE MAZE!” HE SNATCHES YOUR TREASURE AND VANISHES INTO
THE GLOOM.

This led (for my game) to some fascinating tactical and story implications. My first time in the maze I entered by dropping from the stalactite (meaning I couldn’t get back or find an exit easily) but I also left behind the axe so I could have more room for items to drop to help make a map. This was a mistake: dwarves started popping up and chasing me around the maze. It turns out you can duck into a dead end and they won’t follow, but will still be waiting for you outside. So a story came out where I was playing a game of cat-and-mouse, ended ignominiously by running out a dead end and getting skewered by a pair of dwarves waiting for me.

My second attempt came from the West End Hall (where it was easy to go back) but things were still interesting because there aren’t enough “normal” items to drop in every room for mapping so I had to resort to treasures. Of course the pirate can at any time snatch those treasures. While collecting treasures for the maze I had to balance out the reward from having more items to use vs. the risk of wasting more time vs. the fact they might be snatched while in the maze anyway. Eventually I realized the geography was sensible and started moving items that were already present rather than bringing in new ones (perhaps the only good effect of the twisty maze of passages all different is that I came in paranoid the geography would be bizarre and didn’t realize this would work straightaway).

Having an actual goal (the pirate’s lair) helped both with motivation and with story. As I kept getting treasures snatched and battling my way through dwarves I felt a tangible sense of getting closer and closer to the source.

The (general) elimination of NE / NW / SE / SW led to a much faster traversal even with the extra story involved. The map above took about an hour to make rather than three hours. Also interesting is that the pirate’s lair requires a northwest exit, so is somewhat “hidden in plain sight” — by that point players may have stopped even trying those directions. However it is still fair because the pirate does explicitly state he’s hiding his treasure deep in the maze, so it makes a puzzle of sorts based on one compass direction.

Everything put together for the most satisfying maze experience I ever recall having in interactive fiction. I can understand a little more why authors at the time wanted to copy it, but most that followed didn’t have the interesting considerations mentioned above.

Posted March 25, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Adventure (350 points): Puzzles and concluding remarks   8 comments

Huzzah! and so forth:

YOU MARCH THROUGH THE HOLE AND FIND YOURSELF IN THE MAIN OFFICE, WHERE A CHEERING BAND OF FRIENDLY ELVES CARRY THE CONQUERING ADVENTURER OFF INTO THE SUNSET.

It was easier to finish than I expected. I’m not sure if I’m better at these things now or if my success is attributable to vague half-memories of how puzzles worked. In any case, it was a pleasant enough experience which still holds up as a game. There’s shadows of emergent behavior (as I discussed with the maze), a strong sense of environment (given many of the rooms are based on the real Colossal Cave, see this article for pictures) and the impression of a rational system beneath the workings of the puzzles (I discuss what I mean by this below).

WARNING: The rest of this post gives spoilers on various puzzles.

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I did use the dynamic hints twice — once in the Dark Room and once at Witt’s End (a puzzle I had solved by luck, but I wanted to know how it worked).

Just to clarify how dynamic hints work, in the case of Witt’s End you end up in a maze with this map:

After wandering in circles for enough turns, there’s this message:

YOU HAVE CRAWLED AROUND IN SOME LITTLE HOLES AND WOUND UP BACK IN THE
MAIN PASSAGE.

YOU’RE AT WITT’S END.

DO YOU NEED HELP GETTING OUT OF HERE?

yes

I AM PREPARED TO GIVE YOU A HINT, BUT IT WILL COST YOU 3 POINTS.

DO YOU WANT THE HINT?

yes

DON’T GO WEST.

That is, keep going in any direction except west you like until by random chance (I can’t be certain without looking at the source, but I think it’s 1 in 50) you exit the room.

This is strikingly unfair, except that the place is purely optional except for the Last Lousy Point. Just outside the room is a magazine addressed to Witt, so dropping it at Witt’s End will get a single point and push the final score from 349 to 350 out of 350.

Perhaps I still ought to be somewhat upset, but given in context Adventure was tackled on mainframes as nearly a group game I can understand having one too-hard-to-get point to force the group to band together (like a difficult alternate reality game puzzle). Quoting from Tracy Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine:

That isn’t the worst maze, however. You can get caught in Witts End and think that you’ll never get out. Some of the engineers at Westborough who had come close to mastering the entire game believed that the only way out of Witts End was to tell the computer you wanted to commit suicide — AXE ME. That worksl you get reincarnated shortly afterward. But you lose points; suicide isn’t the best solution.

What I find most puzzling is that they should have at least been able to figure out the problem from the dynamic hints. Were they playing a port that had them removed?

I am somewhat less forgiving of the endgame puzzle. If you’ve been following along my posts closely (vanity, etc.) you may remember from Crowther’s original this odd message in the source:

blast
BLASTING REQUIRES DYNAMITE.

Woods must have noticed the verb and decided to run it as a puzzle. The endgame section is divided into two rooms with the premise that it’s a stockpile for the various items from the adventure:

YOU ARE AT THE SOUTHWEST END OF THE REPOSITORY. TO ONE SIDE IS A PIT FULL OF FIERCE GREEN SNAKES. ON THE OTHER SIDE IS A ROW OF SMALL WICKER CAGES, EACH OF WHICH CONTAINS A LITTLE SULKING BIRD. IN ONE CORNER IS A BUNDLE OF BLACK RODS WITH RUSTY MARKS ON THEIR ENDS. A LARGE NUMBER OF VELVET PILLOWS ARE SCATTERED ABOUT ON THE FLOOR. A VAST MIRROR STRETCHES OFF TO THE NORTHEAST. AT YOUR FEET IS A LARGE STEEL GRATE, NEXT TO WHICH IS A SIGN WHICH READS, “TREASURE VAULT. KEYS IN MAIN OFFICE.”

Notice how the black rods have rusty marks and not rusty stars. (Rods with rusty stars are in the other room.) It turns out if you pick up one of those rods and type BLAST it will explode. How one can feasibly know this without checking a walkthrough I am unsure. (I checked a walkthrough 15 years ago when I beat this thing, and remembered the solution to this puzzle because of how unfair it was.)

Just so you don’t get the wrong impression, let me discuss two puzzles I liked, although one of them might be considered an edge case on the fulcrum of good puzzle-bad puzzle.

The troll and the bear. There’s a troll guarding a bridge who wants treasure to cross.

A BURLY TROLL STANDS BY THE BRIDGE AND INSISTS YOU THROW HIM ATREASURE BEFORE YOU MAY CROSS.
THE TROLL STEPS OUT FROM BENEATH THE BRIDGE AND BLOCKS YOUR WAY.

Already there’s a bit of a dilemma since maximum points require gathering all the treasures, but it’s possible to sacrifice a treasure here for the purpose of moving the plot along and simply be content with a lower score.

However, in another portion of the cave in the Giant’s Room there are a set of golden eggs with the magic words FEE FIE FOE FOO. Taking the golden eggs elsewhere and saying the four words causes the eggs to disappear; it turns out they teleport back to the Giant’s Room. So you can give the eggs to the troll and teleport them back to your possession, still claiming all the points for the treasure. Working this out was a lovely ‘aha!’ moment: I had puzzled out the egg behavior, knew I somehow had to outwit the troll, and the connection seemed perfectly logical on contemplation. This correlates with Andrew Plotkin’s own experience with the puzzle as a child:

Not too many days later, I solved a puzzle that he described. (How to get past the troll bridge.) I saw the elements, I saw how they could interact, and the answer was obvious. He tried it the next day, and it worked. That was it, for me. I knew this game was doing it right.

After the troll there’s an area with a bear and puzzle that was satisfying (for me) for reasons other than difficulty. Feeding the bear tamed at and you could TAKE BEAR and have it follow you; this came to me fairly immediately. The satisfying part for me was not the taming of the bear but the final result of taking the bear back to the troll:

THE BEAR LUMBERS TOWARD THE TROLL, WHO LETS OUT A STARTLED SHRIEK AND SCURRIES AWAY. THE BEAR SOON GIVES UP THE PURSUIT AND WANDERS BACK.

This brought me a glow of karmic contentment.

The Dark Room. I had a good experience with this puzzle, and it makes for a striking early example of “training” a player in a system.

Deep in the cave there’s a narrow passage:

SOMETHING YOU’RE CARRYING WON’T FIT THROUGH THE TUNNEL WITH YOU.
YOU’D BEST TAKE INVENTORY AND DROP SOMETHING.

In particular the lantern is too big. Going on in:

YOU’RE IN A SMALL CHAMBER LIT BY AN EERIE GREEN LIGHT. AN EXTREMELY NARROW TUNNEL EXITS TO THE WEST. A DARK CORRIDOR LEADS NE.
THERE IS AN EMERALD HERE THE SIZE OF A PLOVER’S EGG!

Going northeast:

IT IS NOW PITCH DARK. IF YOU PROCEED YOU WILL LIKELY FALL INTO A PIT.

So the problem involves getting light to the dark room. I originally thought perhaps the geography was such that one of the pits mentioned around the map connected on the way down, so throwing the lantern down there would get it to the right place. No luck.

Later I was thinking about how magic words worked. Early in the game there’s this iconic description:

YOU ARE IN A DEBRIS ROOM FILLED WITH STUFF WASHED IN FROM THE SURFACE. A LOW WIDE PASSAGE WITH COBBLES BECOMES PLUGGED WITH MUD AND DEBRIS HERE, BUT AN AWKWARD CANYON LEADS UPWARD AND WEST. A NOTE ON THE WALL SAYS “MAGIC WORD XYZZY”.

Saying XYZZY teleports the player back the building, but more importantly (and fortunately a strong temptation), saying XYZZY in the building teleports the player back to the debris room.

Later there’s a room with a marked “Y2” where a hollow voice says “PLUGH”. PLUGH in that room will also teleport back and forth to the building.

I already mentioned the FEE-FIE-FOO-FOE combination worked on the golden eggs.

Given the setup of a.) magic words used for teleporting and b.) magic words related to objects I decided “why not” and while in the room with the “emerald the size of a plover’s egg” I typed PLOVER. And lo:

YOU’RE AT “Y2”.

Typing PLOVER again teleported back.

I feel like I shouldn’t be pleased with this — it is decidedly unfair — I still appreciate that I managed the puzzle with a lateral leap of logic, and that there is a primitive sort of “training in a system” just like was recently discussed on this thread at Emily Short’s blog.

That’s all for now. Was this worthwhile reading? Should I do the same thing for other games? If you’ve played it, how does it match with your own experiences of Adventure? Let me know in the comments.

Posted March 27, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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A History of Early Versions of Adventure   14 comments

I have been trying to detangle the history of Adventure — the Crowther / Woods game — so I know which ports I should be playing in which order for the All the Adventures project. This turns out to have been very complicated as information is spread over a tangle of websites and not all of it is accurate. This is my best attempt to sort everything together.

This document will likely get edited as I tangle more things out. Looking at the full list of modifications gives a small glimpse into the insanity.

Adventure Family Tree, by Nathanael CJE Culver based on work by Russel Dalenberg

advchart

I link to sources whenever I can.


1975

In the 1975 academic year Will Crowther starts what we know as Adventure. [Source.]

All Crowther family testimony is consistent with the 1975-76 date range. Responding to a direct request via e-mail, Crowther (2001) dated his original “Adventure” to 1975, “give or take a year.”
— Dennis G. Jerz

1976

Will Crowther stops work on Adventure. The game is noticeably incomplete (there is a sign mentioning maintenance in a lower section of the cave where advancing further causes the game to crash). [Source.]

The most likely timeline places Crowther ceasing work on his original game in early 1976.
— Dennis G. Jerz

Original source code here

Windows compiled version here

1977

Starting March, Don Woods discovers the source code and starts working on it. He produces a 250 point version [source] on his way to finalizing a 350 point version several months later.

I’m relying solely on memory which tends to be fallible (see above: the dwarf ‘vanishes’, not ‘disappears’) but my best recollection is that ADVENT.EXE first appeared on the PDP-10s at ADP (the old First Data in Waltham, Mass.) in 1977. It was an incomplete version which only had about 250 points worth of treasure. I seem to recall that there was nothing past the troll bridge but an ‘under construction’ sign or some such. I believe our copy came from WPI, but word at the time was it was developed at Stanford. Two or three months later we got the full 350 point game.
— John Everett

This version is then ported, in a fairly literal way, by Jim Gillogly into C. [Link to source code.]

The original 350-point version is separately ported July 1977 by Kent Blackett. [Source]

ADVENT.FOR: C REV. 17 ADVENTURES MODIFIED BY KENT BLACKETT ENGINEERING SYSTEMS GROUP DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP. 15-JUL-77 ORIGINAL VERSION WAS FOR DECSYSTEM-10 THIS VERSION IS FOR FORTRAN IV-PLUS UNDER THE IAS OPERATING SYSTEM ON THE PDP-11/70″.

This is followed by Bob Supnik, circa October (date given in his own source code). It has 366 maximum points and the cumulative efforts of Blackett and Supnik (probably) represents the first modification of the game past the Woods version.

Stephen Lidle’s version of Bob Supnik’s code modified for modern compilers, based on a SCOPE version by “R. Emerson, W. Wirth, S. Hobson, W. Hein, S. Connard”, et al.

There’s also a version of Bob Supnik’s port on if-archive, although I have been unable to confirm if it is exactly the same as the 1977 code.

Source code of Bob Supnik version

Kevin Black’s compilation of Bob Supnik’s source for DOS

1978

Gordon Letwin made a 350 point version available by August 1978. It was the first version available on a personal computer — the Heath. [Source] It was not a literal port. [Source]

The version I played was written in FORTRAN. One of the treasures was an African gray parrot in a pirate aviary, accessible by a rubber raft. There was also an office of some kind with the words “how do you spell relief?” on the wall, and after you read the message, you could use “Rolaids” to teleport to and from the well house. I think the magazine at Witt’s End might have been a copy of Byte magazine.
–Carolyn VanEseltine

While this version has been lost, there is a downloadable Osborne port which may be derived from the same source although I have been unable to test it as of yet. The actual 1978 version seems to be a this archive.

Don Woods expands upon his own work, producing a 430-point version with 5 new difficult-to-find treasures.

David Long at University of Chicago starts on his own modification of Adventure (a process which goes on until at least 1980), although no versions from this year exist.

Peter Luckett and Jack Pike finish “Adventure II” by the end of 1978. [Source and executables]

1979

George Richmond (“with the support of Mike Preston”) makes a 500-point version of Adventure in Pascal. [Information source] [Source code]

David Platt writes yet a different modification of Adventure into a 550-point version. [DOS version]

Microsoft Adventure is released as a commercial game for TRS-80 computers, with both v1.0 and v1.1 dated as June 1979. Gordon Letwin, who wrote the Heath port from 1978, is the one responsible. [Info from the Game’s Manual] It includes some slight modifications which mirror the 1978 Heath version somewhat. [Downloads for v1.0 and v1.1]

This year has a “501 point” version of David Long’s code (“Version 5.2/2, October-79”) although it rather confusingly this might be a “side release” by an anonymous contributor. Even more confusingly the version might actually be intended as 500 points (?) and the vanilla compile goes to 496 points (??) although the version online is fixed to be at 501. [Source code] [501 point version compiled for online]

The David Long story gets very messy past this point into the 1980s and I’m not going into every variant from his code, but I should mention the last version from David Long himself was at 751 points. While this version was playable on Compuserve for a while, it now appears to be lost except for a remake by Carl Ruby into QBASIC.

Posted August 8, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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The Long-Lost Earliest Version of Crowther/Woods Adventure, Hiding in Plain Sight   5 comments

Starting in 1975, Will Crowther wrote a game that began thusly:

WELCOME TO ADVENTURE!! WOULD YOU LIKE INSTRUCTIONS?

YES
SOMEWHERE NEARBY IS COLOSSAL CAVE, WHERE OTHERS HAVE FOUND FORTUNES IN TREASURE AND GOLD, THOUGH IT IS RUMORED THAT SOME WHO ENTER ARE NEVER SEEN AGAIN. MAGIC IS SAID TO WORK IN THE CAVE. I WILL BE YOUR EYES AND HANDS. DIRECT ME WITH COMMANDS OF 1 OR 2 WORDS.
(ERRORS, SUGGESTIONS, COMPLAINTS TO CROWTHER)
(IF STUCK TYPE HELP FOR SOME HINTS)

YOU ARE STANDING AT THE END OF A ROAD BEFORE A SMALL BRICK BUILDING . AROUND YOU IS A FOREST. A SMALL STREAM FLOWS OUT OF THE BUILDING AND DOWN A GULLY.

The original, abandoned in early 1976, was thought to be lost forever until it was unearthed in 2007 by Dennis Jerz. It included three puzzles, axe-throwing dwarves, and an early version of the twisty maze of passages, all alike. Aside from the recently-discovered Castle (which never had an impact at the time) it was the earliest text adventure.

Now, the way the story traditionally continues is this: Woods comes across the source code in 1977, and codes the game to completion, with a maximum score of 350 points attained by finding all the treasures and winning the endgame. This version spreads the world — including to Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels and Dave Lebling, the creators of Zork — and a new genre is born.

This story is close, but not quite right. The first Crowther/Woods version didn’t go up to 350 points.

I only know about it from this recollection:

I’m relying solely on memory which tends to be fallible (see above: the dwarf ‘vanishes’, not ‘disappears’) but my best recollection is that ADVENT.EXE first appeared on the PDP-10s at ADP (the old First Data in Waltham, Mass.) in 1977. It was an incomplete version which only had about 250 points worth of treasure. I seem to recall that there was nothing past the troll bridge but an ‘under construction’ sign or some such. I believe our copy came from WPI, but word at the time was it was developed at Stanford. Two or three months later we got the full 350 point game.
— John Everett

I admit, I didn’t think much of this account, and neither did anyone else, apparently; even this exhaustive family tree of versions of Adventure doesn’t mention it. Given the lack of material I figured it was the last I would hear about it.

Now, I was just embarking on my playthrough of the 550-point version of Adventure as part of my All the Adventures project when I found this map while looking for images to use with my blog posts:

It was drawn by Dave Lebling (of Zork) himself, so I figured it would make a nice starting image. I noticed, idly studying, that the usual exit southwest of the Hall of the Mountain King leading to the dragon was absent; I assumed that was a mistake. I tagged it as being a rendition of 350-point Adventure, and that was that.

Later, I decided to browse over the entire map (find the high-res version at the Adventure Gamers link) and I spotted something in the southwest corner:

The chasm section of the map is missing and the portion of the map is marked with an under construction sign.

That consequently means this is a map of the first release of Crowther/Woods Adventure.

Not only that, this is the version Lebling played before embarking on writing Zork.

There’s not a lot of differences; other than the disconnect with the Hall of the Mountain King (which I still grant might be a mistake; the map shows the entrance works the other direction), the maze of passages all different is absent. If you also slice away the two treasures past the chasm (the golden chain and the spices) and cut the endgame (it’s a decent assumption it wasn’t done yet; it also doesn’t show on the map), I get 244 points, close to Mr. Everett’s recollection of approximately 250 points.

In the end, this might be trivia and will not do much to change adventure game history. Still, it’s a lovely surprise.

Again note, the full high-resolution version can be found at the Adventure Gamers article.

Posted July 25, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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