Before Adventure, Addendums   1 comment

First off, Jason Scott over at The Internet Archive managed to fix what was ailing my upload, so you can now try out The Public Caves as it was exhibited at Narrascope 2019:

Special thanks to everywhere there who contributed, even if you only added one line or room.

Second, let’s talk about Caves 4 and Wumpus 4. Yes, really.


Caves 4 may have never existed “(PROGRAM NOT AVAILABLE YET)”; it looks like Dave Kaufman was still trying to make his original design more game-like. I’ve been trying to armchair-design a fix for the original Caves based on the prompt, but I’m really not sure where to go with it.

The existence of Wumpus 4 is only known through a hand-scrawled note on the source code of original Wumpus as printed in the same PCC Games issue:


This one’s fun to theorize about. It loops back all the way to the thing that started it all, the educational game Hide and Seek. Could it be a version of Wumpus where the location clues are slightly more enigmatic, so you have to “triangulate” like the original grid?

Last, and this is for the sake of completeness, is it possible Wumpus came *before* Caves? It certainly doesn’t read like that from the newspaper issues (May and September 1973):

There is one wrench in the equation, and that’s in the September issue on the same page:

We know Mugwump came first, because it was based on Hide and Seek which was written outside the People’s Computer Company. So these particular arrows are sequencing in terms of complexity rather than order being written.

This could get really in the Thicket of Historical People Not Clearly Dating Things for Posterity. It isn’t like Gregory didn’t know how things were being published (and wrote an article himself about his computer language Pilot in the April 1973 issue of PCC). He also mentions Dave Kaufman specifically in his famous narrative about how Wumpus was created.

If you like, send me a picture of your version of a Wumpus. Perhaps friendly Dave, our editor, will publish the best one in Creative Computing.

Keep in mind Dave Kaufman himself was the editor for this very article explaining the history of Wumpus. He didn’t seem particularly upset to leave Caves out.

Still, Caves has some very complicated code. and it’s much easier to imagine Wumpus being made while looking at Caves rather than the other way around. The “tree” basis of the Caves series has mostly dropped off by The People’s Caves, suggesting the order went something like a.) use a computer science structure to make the idea of physical caves (Caves 1) b.) use the idea of nodes-as-caves on a dodecahedron structure (Wumpus) and c.) realize it’s much simpler to drop the tree (Public Caves).

This may have all just been a manifestation of the hacker culture of the early 1970s; just trying to get things made when there was barely anything to work with, both borrowing and creating with equal measure. Maybe there was an aspect of parallel creation between Wumpus and Caves but Gregory and Dave decided to go with the simplest story. If some future historian wants to get finicky about a timeline, they’re welcome to try, but it looks like for the people involved it didn’t really matter.

Posted June 25, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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  1. Pingback: Lazy Reading for 2019/07/07 – DragonFly BSD Digest

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