Spelunker: Finale and Final Comments   3 comments


We fled by the ghost, who wasn’t blocking our passage, and found an ogre guarding some gold.


As you enter this room, the first thing that you notice is a pile of golden treasures nestled into a nook on the far side. Before you take another step, a foul-smelling ogre jumps out from a hole in the side wall and rushes forward to protect his gold.

With two strikes of our mighty ax, we were able to defeat the ogre.



We were rewarded by a generous supply of gold! (How we were able to carry such a heavy weight, a common superpower of all adventurers, remains a mystery.) Passing by the ghost again (who wanders from room to room) we came across the last treasure of the cave guarded by bats:


Bat room: The ceiling is all but invisible for the tens of thousands of bats sleeping there. In one corner of this room lies an old, rusted chest. As you open the chest, the bats begin to stir. Inside the chest is a king’s ransom in jewels: diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.

The bats were indeed guarding, because our attempt to just take the treasure and run failed:


We attempted to swing our lantern to scare off the the bats, but at the moment of our swing the ghost wandered in and took the hit instead!


None of our weapons were effective on the bats afterwards. Pondering for a bit, we found a burning fire and brought it over:


With the bats gone, we had a clear route take all 4 of our treasures to the exit in triumph!

Where we traded our treasure for cold, hard, cash; accounting for inflation that’s about $161,000 in 2017 money. I feel like we may have been ripped off. Probably we took it to a pawn shop or something.

Or possibly we went the altruistic route and gave most of it to a museum and only sold off a few items to fund our expenses.

Still, we survived without wasting too many clone bodies, huzzah!

Side note: we had one monster we hadn’t slain. It doesn’t guard a treasure, so it’s optional. It has a “CURSE” in the room which strongly reduces attack value, supposedly neutralized by the apple. However, even with using the apple I still was only able to do 1 hit point of damage with using the fire, and the bones are quite good at killing us back, so I had to leave it be.

Assorted final comments:

1.) As pointed out by the players, the second half of the game was rather like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Given the built in feature that the game is supposed to be played with a dungeon mast — er, guide, that isn’t too surprising. You might want to read the article with the type-in, though — it really feels like one of those campaign books, complete with tables of enemies and weapons.

Link to the magazine with the article

2.) Being a guide let me smooth over a lot of issues that have might made the game otherwise unplayable. In some cases the players threw out 5 or 6 verbs in an attempt to do something, and I was able to just pick the right one. In other cases they weren’t using the right verb at all, but I went ahead and did it for them, because that’s a silly way to get stuck.

Also, even on successful commands the game doesn’t give a lot of feedback (there’s a very tight line / memory limit to the game, so I imagine the author just didn’t have room). As a guide I was able to work around that a little, except for cases where I couldn’t understand what was going on, even with access to the code.

The general feeling was a Mechanical Turk-type scenario where a computer’s very limited intelligence was “enhanced” by my being behind the controls.

3.) I still have no idea what rubbing the lamp does. It’s an understood command, and the lamp (if maybe not the verb) seems to be accounted for in the code, but I don’t quite understand this line.

2335 IF NOUN=28 AND M(50)>0 THEN 1070

4.) I never pointed it out, but the GUI with the 4 separate windows really is quite audacious and innovative for the time. I don’t think we’ll get another dynamic compass rose that displays available directions until 1980.

The author Thomas R. Mimlitch does show up later in the history of interactive fiction:

Educators who use Apple Writer II for word processing can create branching texts similar to Story Tree’s by taking advantage of WPL, Apple Writer’s built-in Word Processing Language. WPL lets users automate editing routine by writing short programs that take over the word processing. It was designed for repetitious tasks like printing envelopes or adding addresses to form letters, but it can be put to more imaginative uses. Thomas R. Mimlitch describes an ingenious WPL program which enables youngsters to write branching stories using all the editing features of Apple Writer. Once the story is typed in, the program runs in page by page, displaying each page on the screen and waiting for the reader to answer yes or no questions which determine the next page. In addition to a complete annotated listing, Mimlitch includes a sample story written by a ten-year-old. He tells about a group of neighborhood twelve-year-olds who became so engaged in their seventy-page narrative that they spent five months on the project.

[From The Electronic Text: Learning to Write, Read, and Reason with Computers by William V. Costanzo.]

Posted April 22, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “Spelunker: Finale and Final Comments

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  1. The array M appears to be monster stats. Cross-referencing the initialized values of M to the monster chart, I’m pretty sure that M(60) is the life force of the ice. Line 2335 appears to be reached from a test in 2300 on whether the verb was 8 or 11, which is CARRY or TAKE. And line 1070 is the line that prints “ICH VERSTEHE NICHT.” So it looks to me as though line 2335 is doing is preventing you from taking the lamp unless the ice is dead.

    I don’t see any check on whether Verb=20, which should be “RUB” according to the verb chart, so it may be a red herring… but I haven’t looked too closely.

  2. Awesome, thanks for running this!

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