City Adventure   8 comments

You can generally rank the obscurity of my games for All the Adventures by how many of my three main sources they appear in (CASA Solution Archive, Interactive Fiction Database, and Mobygames).

As of this writing, City Adventure appears in zero.

Joining the ranks of teenage entrepreneurs Greg Hassett, Joel Mick, and Charles Forsythe is the team behind Software Innovations; according to the article above, it was founded in 1980 via “$100 investment donations from parents and the selling of shares in the company for $25.” The employees listed in the article above are

Evan Grossman, aged 16: stock, advertising, company catalog
Roy Niederhoffer, aged 14: orders and mailing labels
Steve Sanders, aged 16: treasurer
Tim Binder, aged 16: mailing lists and printed company material

The physical tape (marked copyright 1980) only mentions it is by Software Innovations, and the article states “All the executives pitch in to produce the company’s marketable software” so I’ll credit it to the company label.

One thing you may notice is missing from the advertisement above is the overall goal of the game. This isn’t the first ambiguous objective I’ve hit during this era, but it previously hasn’t been a hindrance in my gameplay; eventually, I’d find some treasures lying about or otherwise run across some kind of directions. Here, I genuinely reached a point where it seemed like I was “done” but I wasn’t done. More on that (and the odd reference to “Interludes”) later; you start, as in common in Your House Games, in a bed:

Any direction leaves the bed, which does make sense, yet this is the first adventure game bed I’ve seen with such a setup.

While they later became a plague of the text adventure enthusiast community, in 1980 Your House Games weren’t even a genre yet. Out of the all the adventure games up to 1980 (including the ones I haven’t written about yet) the other only ones that seems to start with “you in your house” are Pirate Adventure, Lost Dutchman’s Gold, Dracula Avontuur, and Will ‘O the Wisp.

There are no fantasy elements at all in the opening to City Adventure; the obstacles are along the lines of finding your glasses (you feed your Doberman and then get them to FETCH), getting exact change for a bus (you have a five-dollar bill and the driver needs $1.10), turning off an alarm system, and unlocking the front door.

I’m unclear why there would be a code needed to unlock the door from the inside. Maybe we’re still playing The Prisoner.

While in this section the game drops hints about various locations at city intersections.

The reason why becomes very clear after you finish wrangling the bus change; you get dropped off in the city.

Going north reduces the street number, south increases it. Going east reduces the avenue number, going west increases it. This system isn’t purely mechanical either, as “Lexington” is squeezed amongst the low-numbered avenues. To find the locations of the game, you have to get to the right intersection; for example, 44th and 5th has a bank. (This is similar to Thomas M. Disch’s Amnesia, but six years early.)

For a not-many-K TRS-80 BASIC game, this does effectively deliver the illusion of a big environment without the coders having to add many more rooms. The problem is the MUGGER as seen in the screenshot above. The mugger is quite aggressive and has (according to the source code) a 1 out of 7 chance of stealing something at any particular turn. While you can find the stolen items later, there’s a bug where the act of an item being stolen reduces your inventory capacity. After not too long I had the hilarious scenario of carrying no items at all yet also not having room to pick anything up.

If you bring the Doberman with you to the city, the mugger stays away, but there’s a 1-in-50 chance of the Doberman running away, and once that happens, the mugger visits start in. I eventually resorted to the tried-and-true method of “edit the BASIC source code”.

159 IFO(15,0)=-1THENF2=F2+1:IFF2>25ANDRND(50)=1THENF2=0:O(15,0)=-2:PRINT”DOG BARKS AND JUMPS DOWN”:O(143,0)=R:GOSUB6

Rather than stopping the mugger code, I just changed the dog code above so RND(50)=1 became RND(1)=9, meaning the dog will never run away.

As a note from the house indicates, “Suzy” is waiting at 45 & 6 NY. I’m not sure how to express GO ON A DATE, and the game didn’t seem to either; all I could do was TAKE SUZY and cart her around (so the adventurer is toting around both a dog and a girlfriend).

I found a SCRAP of metal and a place nearby I could wash it; it became a SHINING MAGIC RING.

IF YOU BY CHANCE SHOULD SAY MY NAME, I’LL TAKE YOU BACK FROM WHENCE YOU CAME!

A “magic shop” at a different intersection had the clue to this:

Typing “SAY ONE” teleported me back to the bed. (I guess riding the bus back was too hard.) However, I haven’t been able to end the game here. It’s possible to KISS SUZY while at the bed, but the game says “THIS IS FUN! BUT YOU HAVEN’T COMPLETED YOUR ADVENTURE!” Studying the source code, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere the “date” can go to (maybe being in town was the date). There is a computer store (the player avatar’s workplace) where the TRS-80 program INTERLUDES resides, which was famous in 1980 as an adult computer program (the manual comes with suggested activities). The player’s home does have a TRS-80, so I imagine the goal is to then run the program, but I never worked out a syntax how. Checking the source code, the end message is then

CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’VE COMPLETED YOUR ADVENTURE!
(BUT I CERTAINLY HAVEN’T COMPLETED MINE!)
MOVE OVER A BIT THERE, SUZY!

I’m 95% sure I just need to puzzle out the parser issue to attain the endgame message, but I’m fine bailing out early on this one.

Posted September 27, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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8 responses to “City Adventure

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  1. Curiosity got the better of me, and after some further research (not as difficult as parsing Deathship’s code, thankfully), it appears the final set of commands for “victory” are (in ROT13):

    1. oevat gur Vagreyhqrf cebtenz gb gur GEF-80 naq hfr gur pbzznaq VAFREG CEBTENZ;
    2. gura gur pbzznaq YBNQ CEBTENZ;
    3. gura cvpx hc gur GEF-80 naq oevat obgu vg naq Fhml vagb orq (ubj pbml); naq
    4. svanyyl GLCR EHA. (Gur tnzr jba’g yrg guvf unccra va gur Fghql jurer gur pbzchgre ortvaf, tvivat n “ABG URER!” erfcbafr gb GLCR EHA.)

  2. I’ve only been able to view a pretty munged-up version of the source code (by changing .bas to .txt), but it seems to me like “INS” is a verb, so maybe inserting the microsette in the recorder? Though I don’t know how you would do a two-noun command. I guess you also have to do “INSERT” to use the bank machine.

    There is also another verb that you might try with Suzy to get a happy ending maybe? And one that makes me want to go back in time and slap these punks.

  3. By the way, if anyone is looking to try the game, you can play online here

    https://willus.com/trs80/?-a+1+-p+129619+-f+1+q=city

    just click “Emulate edited program” and wait a bit.

    It also isn’t hard to switch line 159, which normally looks like this

    159 IFO(15,0)=-1THENF2=F2+1:IFF2>25ANDRND(50)=1THENF2=0:O(15,0)=-2:PRINT”DOG BARKS AND JUMPS DOWN”:O(143,0)=R:GOSUB6

    but you can change into this

    159 IFO(15,0)=-1THENF2=F2+1:IFF2>25ANDRND(1)=9THENF2=0:O(15,0)=-2:PRINT”DOG BARKS AND JUMPS DOWN”:O(143,0)=R:GOSUB6

    and not have to worry about losing the dog.

  4. That “Rated PG” in the advert is interesting. I’m pretty certain it’s the oldest “certification” we’ve seen for a computer game, certainly long predating the CRL game in the UK that made all the song and dance about it in ?1983.

    • There was also a rated R in the Death Dreadnaught ads. (Since they were and are trademarked you technically Can’t Do That but in 1980 software they were more about asking forgiveness than permission.)

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