Ringen (1979)   12 comments

The very first text adventure in a language other than English was Stuga (1978), written in Swedish.

What about the second?

According to the one and only source I’ve found, Ringen was originally written in Norwegian by an author going by “Hansen”, probably at the University of Tromsø. It’s based on the area around Moria (shown above) in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books.

9 years later (that is, in 1988) it was translated into English and ported to the online MUD Genesis by Pål-Kristian Engstad, and in 1991 Per Arne Engstad took the same area and added it to VikingMUD.

While I’m not generally writing about MUDs — although I did write about MUD1 a little — I made an exception here because the original source is lost. Genesis MUD has since done major modifications to its Tolkien area, but VikingMUD’s is roughly like it was in 1991, so I played that game (as a guest) and went through to the “Ringen” area (from the newbie room, go south, east four times, north four times, then east once).

So far all I’ve been able to do is explore above-ground.

Long Road. A fairly broad and flat road it is, and it seems to continue eastward for quite a while. Surrounding is the mighty Hollin forest, or Eregion, as elves liked to call it. It is not to be confused with the Great East Road further north, which leads to the hobbit Shire, since this one probably will lead to the Redhorn Pass, and not to Rivendell, where Elrond holds his house.
There are two obvious exits: east and west
Long road. You are walking along a hard and flat path through the Hollin forest.
There is a big sign here saying something important. An old root of a tree.
There are two obvious exits: east and west
A wicked woman with her nose stuck in (he he) the tree-stump
The woman says: If you aid me, I’ll reward you, I promise!
The woman says: Please help me get free from the stump!

Other than the scenario above, which might be a puzzle (?) all I’ve seen so far is scenery, things to examine, and orcs that want to kill me.

You are on a path that winds along side a dried out river. This once was the mighty Sirannon-river, which came gushing and foaming from the Misty Mountains. The path goes up, steeply to the east, where it meets some steps in the rock. To the north the path gets wider. A small footpath leads west towards a scree. The dried out river continues somewhat south.
There are four obvious exits: east, north, south and west
Urk arrives searching for human flesh.
Urk screams uglily and starts bashing and slicing you!
You notice Urk approaching you with murder in its eyes.

The enemies are the “mobs” from the MUD system I’m playing on. They did kill me twice but otherwise I’ve been able to basically ignore them and get on with looking around the map. I’m considering them “outside the game” so to speak, assuming they aren’t really part of the original Ringen. Of course, the original game may have had some sort of enemies and combat system, but it would have been different than the MUD’s system, and without hearing from the author or translators it’s impossible to know details.

I did run into Bilbo Baggins …

Bilbo Baggins arrives.
Bilbo says: Think about it! The whole party was lost!
Bilbo says: Howdoyado that? Oh, see you later, ok?
Bilbo Baggins leaves east.

… although he seems to be just a “peaceful” wandering character; I wasn’t able to get any interaction out of him.

The literary-adaptation angle otherwise seems to be restricted to geography and map references.

You are wading across a green and slimy brooklet The stones are very slippery, so take care not to fall! The main path continues east and west.
There are two obvious exits: east and west
This is the east side of a green brooklet. The path continues east between some gentle slopes.
There are two obvious exits: east and west
This is the northern edge of the plain in front of the Misty Mountains. Paths from the west, north and south meet here, and to the east there is a long and narrow wall of rock. To the south however, a plain covered with soil, pebbles tussocks opens, and to the south-west extends the Sirannon Lake.

I’m not discounting the possibility there’s something else hidden though, because the sign near the old woman mentioned earlier has this:

This is the new area made by Sir Rogon. Please use ‘bug’ and ‘typo’if you find my English terrible.

It is rumoured that great treasures and terrible monsters dwell under the Misty Mountains, in dungeons called Mines of Moria. If you only could find the entrance!

The closest I could find to a possible entrance is the famous “friend” door.

You are standing under a polished vertical wall.
As the moon shines upon the grey face of the rock, faint lines appear, like slender veins of silver running in the stone. At first they are no more than pale gossamer-threads, so fine that they only twinkle fitfully where the moon catch them, but steadily they grow broader and clearer, until their design can be guessed!

There are three obvious exits: north, south and west

I haven’t found any command that works here. It’s possible Ringen is just meant to have some open exploration and that’s it, but I suspect there’s at least one thing hidden I haven’t unearthed yet.

Posted February 14, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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12 responses to “Ringen (1979)

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  1. You have of course tried SAY FRIEND and SAY MELLON?

    • I had tried, but apparently, I can’t spell Elvish correctly.

      >say mellon

      Suddenly the star shines out briefly and fades again. Then silently a great doorway gets outlined, though not a crack or joint has been visible before. Slowly it divides in the middle and swings outwards inch by inch, until both doors lay back aginst the wall.


      You run into the mountain!
      A dark place.
      A deep sound roams through the room, followed by a shock of damp air! Something has shut the Hollin Gate! You are trapped in the Mines of Moria! The only way out seems to be on the other side of Moria, the Eastern Gate by the Dimrill valley.

  2. One more reason to read the books instead of just watching the films :-)

  3. Hey, I have a semi off-topic question. Do you plan to play what I call proto-graphic adventures? You know, minimalistic adventures that use icons or a minimal UI. For example Cobra’s Arc, World of horror, or something like Read only memories.

    I’m interested to learn when those kind of games where invented and such.

    • Yes.

      We had a few (Quest, Dante’s Inferno, Treasure Hunt) that probably would have had an icon interface had that sort of thing been possible on a TRS-80. Also, some of the conversions of Mines were point-and-click on a minimal list of commands.

      • Thanks! Ok, I think this is something worth mentioning in the index of the project. You know, you had a post mentioning the advances of the medium, with “the first game to have graphics, the first game to avoid compass, the first game but to be a treasure hunt”. But now that I look, that list or post is not indexed in the project index. I think it deserves the effort that you keep documenting those advances and experiments, etc. And to create a proper taxonomy for those interesting points.

      • I’ve been thinking about a cross-reference index of sorts, although I’d want to be not dealing with “first” but the entire subset of instances (not the least being in that the dates are sometimes such it’s impossible to tell who was actually first); I’d also include indexing theoretical things I’ve brought up in my writing (for example, “guess the noun” has come up in a topic for Acheton, Pyramid of Doom, and Battlestar).

  4. Pingback: Lazy Reading for 2019/03/03 – DragonFly BSD Digest

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