Warp (1980)   9 comments

WARP \`wo(e)rp\ n 1: a series of yarns crossed by the woof 2: a mental twist or aberration 3: a computer fantasy simulation of adventure and intrigue ~ vt 1: to deplete weight by expungance of existance 2: to become warped

— via the WARP user manual

Rob Lucke and Bill Frolik’s Warp is a tricky game to date because it never had a “release”, and kept getting developed all the way to 1983. Work seems to have started very late in 1979 (and arguably people other than the authors weren’t playing until 1980). Hence I would normally save this game for later in my sequence, but

a.) The only way to play it is via logging in a HP3000 mainframe via telnet. The authors were very canny about not releasing their source so it never has had a modern port. Having this sort of circumstance makes me paranoid the game will disappear forever so I’d like to play sooner rather than later.

b.) Due to the long development time it is very large, with 49 treasures and 1216 points possible. I hence likely will be spreading it out amongst shorter 1979 games.

c.) I have had people reach this blog searching for Warp specifically so there’s at least one person out there waiting for this one.

So, random anonymous Internet person, here you go.

(ADD: I later moved this up to 1980. This makes Warp more consistent with my other mainframe games which start at when the game was first playable by others; I also had gotten worn down at my first attempt. My prophecy that the telnet server would disappear came true, but fortunately there’s a way now to play offline.)


Despite Warp being described as a “fantasy” above, it appears to be generally set in contemporary times. The objective seems to be to collect treasures about the world and put them in a “curator’s case” although I haven’t found any such case yet.

Central Plaza.
You are standing in what appears to be the central plaza of a small seacoast resort. There is a large fountain in the center of this square, and the plaza extends quite a distance to both the north and south. You can see the ocean in the distance to the west, and to the east there is a large building on which there is a sign that reads “WARP BUILDING”.

I can see the following:
Round Peg

Round Peg taken.

Warp Building Lobby.
You’re standing in the lobby of the Warp Building. On the door to the north you read “MEN”; similarly, on the door to the south, “WOMEN”. There’s a security desk between you and the corridor to the east. The only other exit is to the west.

I can see the following:
Security Guard, who possesses:
a Gun

Women’s Room.
Welcome to the women’s room. Looks a lot like the men’s room in many respects, except that there’s only one exit — to the north. A message carved into the wall says: “Call 333-2583”.

I can see the following:
Digital Watch

The digital watch is the first treasure of the game.

There’s a wandering mugger who will take your treasures and stash them in an alley, and a wandering policeman who will take your “weapons” and stash them … I’m not sure where, exactly. There’s a police station but I didn’t find anything there.

“Weapons” seem to include the round peg and a banana. Someone could slip!

I have just been trying to get the feel of the land, which includes dying:

Columbus was wrong.
You’ve floated right off the edge of the known world. All around you lie the remnants of past explorers and their vessels, coffins of worthless hulks. High above you, the waters of the ocean spill down from the world’s edge and splatter like grandiose raindrops all about you.

You begin to thrash madly in the waves as the shark fins come nearer. Your thrashing, however, only serves to send the man-eaters into a feeding frenzy as they home in on you. You hear the crunching of bones as the first shark removes your leg. Suddenly, everything grows dark around you …

You sense yourself leaving your physical body — A spiritual entity in a black haze. The bleakness begins to clear, however, and you begin to recognize familiar things, only everything appears in various shades of grey.

This small cemetary appears to serve the City of Warp, but it does not have room to contain many graves. Small simple grave markers show the location of those in eternal sleep. A large fence prevents you from going east into a very deep ravine.

I can see the following:

Noteworthy is that even that you are *not* resurrected (“>DIAGNOSE” returns “You are dead.”) you can still wander around and look at things, although you can’t pick anything up. I don’t think I’ve hit another game with this feature before.

There’s some interest in Warp past obscurity and massive size; it’s got some monster ambitions for the parser which includes an attempt to make it “smarter than Zork”. It has: backtracking (letting you type BACKTRACK 4 and retrace your last four rooms, for instance), macros (letting you define a set of actions as one command) and conditionals (“IF SEE THE BEAR THEN LOOK AT IT. GO NORTH”). I’ll explore these (and the rest of the game, of course) and report back next time.

Posted January 3, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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9 responses to “Warp (1980)

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  1. Pingback: January Link Assortment | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

  2. Hi, I found this site, it’s very interesting. I started playing this one recently. I’ve made some good progress (my score is 180), but I’m stuck on a few things. I’m having problems with the boats (can’t seem to get it to move, and I guess I’ll need it to avoid getting eaten by sharks), the scarab ring (when ever I try to leave after taking it I die), the emeralds (can’t take them), and the bathing ugly (no clue here). I’ve managed to reach an island by swimming, but I can’t take any stuff, and I know I’ll need the lamp because there’s a dark cave here, and I risk falling in a pit (or whatever this game does if you wander in the dark). Any clues for these? I’ll keep trying a few more ideas, but light clues would be appreciated.

    • You are stuck on pretty much the same things I am!

      I have a walkthrough by Russ Karlberg, and he was pretty friendly when I emailed him so I’m sure he’ll send it to you. (link at http://empire.openmpe.com/empire/other_games.html) Unfortunately walkthroughs are the opposite of light hints, so again I think we’re stuck on the same problem.

      I should be able to whack on this more seriously in a couple weeks, and hopefully I can make progress from there.

    • Hello there. I spent an inordinate amount of time wrestling with the boat. The problem is an old one in IF; directions not described. I accidentally typed a direction I had not essayed before and the rest fell into place! If you do choose to splice the mainbrace I would recommend a thorough mapping of the seas around Warp as there are manifold atolls and reefs, together with random elements like a Spanish Galleon that brooks no colloquy and storms that brew up out of nowhere.

      As for the ring and the ugly, I am none the wiser at the moment. My map on Trizbort is rapidly assuming gargantuan proportions, that is over four hundred places with much power to add.

  3. There’s a comment on the Wikipedia page that states, “Circa 2003, Lucke also ported the code to ANSI C, initially for HP-UX, and later for Linux.”

    If someone could get a hold of Rob Lucke, he may release the code for Linux.

    I played this in the early 80’s via a modem connected directly to an HP3000 at HP. It would be great to be able to play this on a modern computer.

  4. I think I was the the mystery Warp searcher! I played the game on an HP3000 via dial-in to HP in the evenings as a kid. Got quite a few treasures, but maybe a little less than half way through the game. Also found some vexing bugs and unintended solutions to puzzles. Love to see a full walkthrough some day.

    • I have a walkthrough (although I haven’t looked at it yet because I was planning on returning to Warp and playing w/o hints more)

      I think the sequence is going to be
      finish Goblins (probably this week)
      Wizard and the Princess

      so I’m guessing I’ll be playing again around … February sometime? (Battlestar is supposed to be much more story emphasis than puzzles so I don’t anticipate it taking long even though it’s another mainframe game.)

  5. Wow, great to see this awesome game getting played. I first played it at MIT back in the 80s and got up to 1215 points. Finally about 20 years later I found the last point and finished the endgame. I do have a high level walkthrough and map if anyone is interested. Had a brief email chat with Rob Lucke and learned that some puzzles like the Secretary were never finished and are not needed to win. Still don’t know why the authors want to take the source code to their graves…

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