Archive for the ‘bilingual-adventure’ Tag

Bilingual Adventure (1979)   5 comments

Vous etes dans la maison. C’est une maison de captage d’une grande source.

Il y a plusieurs clefs la

Une lampe de cuivre brilliant est ici

De la nourriture est ici

Il y a la une petite bouteille

This game seems to be the very first text adventure playable on home computer in a language other than English. It’s a translation of the Crowther/Woods version of Adventure, released by Creative Computing for the CP/M operating system.

Via an old eBay auction.

You pick a starting language (English or French) and then can swap between the languages at any time by typing “english” or “francais” appropriately. (The design seemed to allow for new languages, but those two are the only ones that were made.)

It’s another formerly “lost” game, but I managed to unearth a copy (via a dead link that the Internet Archive, fortunately, had saved). I’ve now uploaded it so you can play online.

It was written in the obscure computer language SAM76, the brainchild of Claude Ancelme Roichel Kagan. It claimed to be “designed by people for people“. SAM76 removes all English text from coding and uses only cryptic symbols and abbreviations. (Why this would make the language more user-friendly is an exercise left to the reader. I guess this makes the language potentially more international? … but it never took off, anyway.) The side effect is that while it was originally released on CP/M, the version at the link above is essentially the same, with a DOS instead of CP/M interpreter.

The credits go to:
– Jim Manning (did the majority of the implementation)
– Ancelme Roichel (author of SAM76, added some features and wrote the French)
– Harley Licht (proof testing, verifying)
– Fran├žois Brault and Thierry Gauthier (checked the French)

This was written in New Jersey, not France, but Ancelme was originally from France and Fran├žois and Thierry were visiting from France. So: written and checked by native speakers. I’ll bring that up again in a moment.

This is not an exact port by any means. Eagle-eyed readers may have already spotted “XYZZY” got changed to “SAM”. There’s text changes aplenty in general:

Original: A huge green fierce snake bars the way!

New: A huge vicious looking green snake is eyeing you malevolently.

The way dwarves worked in the Original Adventure was that the first one you met threw an axe, while the remainder threw knives, but the axe was the only thing you could take. In Bilingual Adventure:

There is a sharp knife lying on the ground here

The dragon has been removed entirely. There’s a silver sword embedded in a stone. (Borrowed from Adventure 550 maybe? It’s smack dab in the middle of the swiss cheese room, though.) Dropping the magazine in Witts End does not yield you an extra point, and the magazine in fact counts as a treasure (5 points).

There are enough differences I’m going to have to play this through (and even remap things) so I’ll save details for next time. Before closing out I wanted to point out a study done in 1983 on using computers to study languages where “teachers and supervisors of foreign language programs from 29 high schools in six states provide reviews of foreign language microcomputer courseware.”

French included some standard tutorial software, but also both this game and the French version of Mystery House. (…there’s a French version of Mystery House!?) The reviewers did not think well of the quality of the French:

The French version is clearly a translation of the English. The translation is frequently awkward and occasionally incorrect.

Clearly, just being a native speaker is no guard against spelling and grammar errors.

Like most text adventure software at this period, the parser only accepts the first couple letters of each word (so TOOTHPASTE and TOOTHBRUSH would be considered the same thing.) One of the educational catches of this is not catching word endings in languages where it matters!

The grammar is rudimentary (every input is imperative verb with direct object, and incorrect forms are accepted).

Since the game doesn’t even read to the end of the word, it can’t tell if word endings are correct, and as the 1983 study points out, accepts “prend nourr” for “prends la nourriture”. (Native French speakers: is leaving off “la” that horrifying? I don’t have a good sense.)

In spite of problems with language usage, vocabulary level, lack of instructions, etc., La Grande Aventure would be a strong activity for some students and, if it were accompanied by a variety of sound teaching devices (such as discussion, in French, of the goal after a session, speaking French during the game, requiring that the students draw and label the map that develops while playing, acting out scenes or situations from the game, having students’ compose their own branches of La Grande Aventure or their own games), could evolve into a very beneficial learning tool.

I like the idea of a class “acting out scenes and situations” in Adventure. Too bad the bit where you punch out a dragon is taken out.

Posted June 28, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Bilingual Adventure: This Space Unintentionally Left Blank   4 comments

This post assumes casual familiarity with the Crowther/Woods version of Adventure, so if you’ve just wandered in, you might want to go read about original Adventure first.

Ad from Kilobaud Magazine, December 1979.

Amongst the various changes I encountered one major system change, one serious bug, one general parser oddity, one old puzzle with a different solution from the original, and one new puzzle I can’t yet solve.

The most noticeable change in terms of gameplay feel is that the Bilingual Adventure enforces use of the lamp only very weakly. It doesn’t get mentioned as required until this room:

At your feet is a pit breathing traces of white mist. An east passage ends here except for a small crack leading on.

It is might dangerous to grope in the dark.

The game stops you if you try to go down without the lamp lit, and if you are persistent and attempt again, you die.

However, *past* this point you can turn the lamp off just fine. The room description never goes black or the like. The only other time the lamp is needed is the dark room (I’ll return to that it a moment). This has the effect of allowing a more casual stroll through the game rather than trying to optimize for lamp light.

There are a few of intentional removals from the map, no doubt to be able to stuff the entire game on a 38K floppy; the “dragon” section seems to be gone and a couple “side tunnels” that did nothing other than add atmosphere are also gone.

Removals are marked in red.

In the process, two spots on the map got broken. The Swiss Cheese room mentions an exit to the northwest, but it’s impossible to go that way; they only way to make it to the rooms with the Ming vase is to go around the other direction (the beanstalk that sprouts up from watering the plant leads there).

Rather more seriously, there’s a room west of the crystal bridge spot that’s a literal void. As in, there *is* a room there, but it has no description or exits, so if you land there you end up in limbo and have the quit the game.

Even after I knew about the “void room” I got caught in it once; to get the diamonds now you have to use the rod to make the crystal bridge, but the crystal bridge now doesn’t stay: you have to wave the rod again to go back. I had dropped it on the east side of the bridge so my only possible exit was to the void.

It’s possible the intent was to remove that place entirely to force solving the bridge puzzle, but the authors messed it up and made the bug instead.

On to the oddity: if you type a single unrecognized verb, the parser responds asking what noun you want to go with it. This is true even if the verb is unrecognized.

?? get
get what ?? bottle
Done ?? asdasd
asdasd what ??

This possibly was meant as a purely “helpful” feature for those who forgot to type a noun, but that ranks very low on the list of Actual Typos People Make.

I could maybe see this being useful in regard to the design allowing other languages and the bilingual nature of the game causing “syntax mixing” to happen. While the subject can be waved away with the parser (having an implied “I” or “you” or whatever pronoun you want to assign to the player character) the order VERB-OBJECT isn’t universal (in languages with an order preference, subject-object-verb is the most common). This would only make sense if the “split command” syntax in the excerpt let you type the noun first, but the game doesn’t let you.

Speaking of mixing, here’s what happens if you switch to French and try to type w for west:

?? w

C’est “ouest” en Francais.

The changed puzzle is at the dark room; in the original, it involved an adjacent room with a treasure “the size of a plover egg” with the implication you can type PLOVER as a magic word to teleport there and back. This lets you bring a lamp in, so you can go northeast and pick up the item there.

You are in a small chamber lit by an eerie magic >GREEN< light. An extremely narrow tunnel exits to the west. A dark corridor leads ne.

There is an emerald here the size of a green parrot's egg

?? ne

You're in a room so dark that you cannot see the treasure that might lay here. A corridor leading south is the only exit.

The magic word to arrive and bring the lamp is “green” (apparently the authors was trying to make the game more fair than original Adventure; I’m guessing that’s also why the dragon was cut). However, the same word is supposed to be used to get out, and it doesn’t work!

?? green

We cannot go there

What does work is this:

?? y2

You have walked up a hill, still in the forest. The road slopes back down the other side of the hill. There is a small brick building in the distance.

This might normally be fair, except the “Y2” room description had also been changed:

You are in a large room with passages to the south and west, and a wall of broken rock to the east. A large “Y” is painted on the north wall.

This means there is no way to beat the game without the outside knowledge of what the original room looked like (which had “Y2” rather than “Y”). So in the process of the authors trying to create a fairer puzzle, they made an (essentially) impossible puzzle.

As what I’m guessing is meant to be a replacement for the dragon puzzle, there’s a sword in a stone. I haven’t gotten anywhere.

There is a large gleaming silver sword imbedded in the block of stone.

?? get sword

The sword is stuck firmly in the stone and won’t come out.

In Adventure 550 the solution was to eat a strength-enhancing mushroom, but there doesn’t seem to be any “new” objects in Bilingual Adventure other than this one. I tried using the oil on the sword but it doesn’t work (giving a blank message, which means the solution might just be buggy).

I could, of course, do source diving to try to work out the puzzle, but I’ll hang on a little longer trying to solve it the “real” way. Feel free to drop any suggestions you might have. Any object available in vanilla Adventure (other than the carpet) is available.

Posted July 1, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Bilingual Adventure: Consumed in Its Own Fires   2 comments

I can’t really write “Finished” because this is yet another Adventure clone that doesn’t want to trigger the endgame, but it’s safe to say I’ve seen nearly everything.

If you’ll allow me a lateral analogy:

In Pac-Man 256 you are being chased by “the glitch” from level 256 of the original arcade Pac-Man. Weird numbers and broken shapes follow Pac-Man as he tries valiantly to escape the universe being consumed.

With Bilingual Adventure, distressing bugs kept creeping up. I found more “void rooms”. (Fortunately, I found out that the magic word Y2 works everywhere, even in those rooms.) The lamp started running out of power even though I had the lamp off (the game seems to be “cheating” and just keeps a timer once the lamp is turned on, and never bothers to check if it’s off or even in the player’s possession). Halfway through the game, trying to THROW AXE at a dwarf just led to the dwarf mysteriously disappearing and a blank prompt. My inventory capacity started reducing for no apparent reason until I could only hold 3 items at a time.

Dropping from the stalactite puts you in the room marked with the purple arrow (it’s different than in Original Adventure). The two rooms marked red are void.

Last time I was stumped by a sword in a stone, when Draconis mentioned that the HELP message should really be in the description of the item.

?? help

I guess you need some help getting the sword out. Well this might help. There is an inscription on the blade which says – “ONLY MY NAME WILL WIN YOU FAME”.

Ah, this must be one of those “magic word based on pop culture” deals.

?? excalibur

The sword begins to quiver and suddenly springs into your hand.

Now, I need to do a big mea culpa: the dragon *is* in the game. However, you aren’t allowed in the right area until you’re holding Excalibur. So this whole process seems to have been meant to “fix” the absurdity of the original scene.

You are in a secret canyon which exits to the north and east.

A fire breathing green dragon as big as a Winabago bars the way. He is standing on a priceless Persian rug.

There is a rare Persian rug lying here

?? kill dragon

With one mighty stroke of the sword you have offed the beast. His once mighty body is being consumed in its own fires. There is nothing left now but a little green ash on the carpet.

One other change:

You are in the giant room. The ceiling here is too high up for your lamp to show it. Cavernous passages lead east, north and south. On the west wall is scrawled the inscription, “FEE FIE FOE FOO sic”.

There is a nest of golden eggs here

In the original, saying FEE, FIE, FOE, and FOO in order would summon the eggs back to this spot if they’re gone. The words don’t work here; the game makes jokes instead.

?? fee

There is no fee – this is a free game.

?? fie

You seem to have a slight accent liebchen?.

Instead, the final word of FUM from the original fairy tale is what summons the eggs. (This may have been intended to be another cheap way to avoid keeping track of state — that is, the game expects people to say the four words and then FUM at the end, but only bothered to record the FUM.)

The joke is different in French.

Sur le mur de ‘louest on voit un graffiti: “BA BE BI BO etc.”

?? ba

BABA au rhum? – Interdiction absolue d’avoir de a’lcool ici.

?? be

BEBE ou? J’espere pas, c’est la nourriture favorite des sorcieres.

This is a good moment to segue out to my last point: Bilingual Adventure really seems to be the only parser text adventure with mid-game language switching in existence. I’m not meaning “the first since 1979” I’m meaning “the first and only since 1979.” (Language switching is common in lots of other games, but parser does raise the difficulty a bit.) I’m happy to be proven wrong here, but even if there’s another example or two I’m missing, I’ve got to give the crew of Manning and friends some props for blazing a trail that (almost?) nobody else followed.

Posted July 2, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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