Archive for the ‘spelunker’ Tag

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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Spelunker Play-By-Post (IV): Slaying the Mighty Clam   26 comments


We found a rope and used it to climb a deep pit leading to a misty lake underground.

Using the nearby raft, we found a clam with a pearl in the middle of the lake.


You are in the middle of Misty Lake. A strange glow emanates from the bottom of the lake. You turn off your light and notice an enormous, bright pearl nestling inside a gigantic clam. The clam is at the bottom of the lake, in only ten feet of water.

Exploring our surroundings, we also found a room full of ice.


Mysteriously, ice forms very quickly in this chamber, encapsulating anything left there for too long. There is so much ice that you can’t even get into the room; however, you see an exit on the other side of the chamber.

We disposed of with the ice in a radical fashion via bomb-hurling…


… and then returned to the clam, for some clam-to-knife combat action.


The clam put up a fight, but we slew it in two hits, averting the danger!

(Seriously, there was danger – in my test runs of this game I only won 1 out of 8 times. The amount of damage from the knife wounds was very high this time.)

In any case, after a bit of shuffling, we have grabbed the lamp (treasure #1 out of 4!) and pearl (treasure #2 out of 4!). While nobody said so, I’m going to guess we’re interested in what’s beyond the ice room.

A magnificently decorated chamber with crystaline designs and intricate rock formations. A narrow, fast moving river flows through the hub room.

Oh no, a ghost! What do you want to do next? (Just write a comment! Anyone can join in!)

Verb list:

Current map (circles indicate places we’ve been, the arrow indicates where we are):

Posted April 15, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Spelunker Play-By-Post (III): Blowing Ourselves Up, Again   15 comments


After finding a bomb, our interpid explorer comes across a deep pit.


Our hero, with an apparent death wish, decides to blow up the bomb here, sealing off the cave and eventually dying of thirst.


Meanwhile …

With much trepidation, our hero enters the dreaded MAZE.


You lose your sense of direction because twisting passages are coming and going at all points of the compass.

Following Standard Adventurer Protocol, the adventurer drops a tent in the room in order to keep track of directions. Proceeding NORTH just goes in a loop, but proceeding EAST leads to something new!


What appears to be a petrified river bed slopes gently upward leading toward the west. It has a low, four-foot ceiling.

At this point, our adventurer decides to blow the bomb up again. Rocks rain from overhead and the cave shakes. However, the frozen river remains frozen.


What would you like to do next?

(Places we have been marked in green.)

Posted April 5, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Spelunker Play-By-Post (II)   21 comments

It’s time for a action summary!

Our hero, the unnamed adventurer, arrived at the Devils’ Delve in Kentucky. After surveying their surroundings and taking a light, tent, and knife, the adventurer hopped back in their truck and drove home.

The End.


… and in an alternate timeline …

The adventurer found a thirsty tree, and from a river outside brought in some water. After some confusion, the tree yielded an apple.

In a thoughtful mood, our adventurer decided for no apparent reason to return to the mouth of the cave and then stab themselves to death.

The End.

… and in another timeline …

Moving on further south, the adventurer found a room with cryptic characters that spelled out “THE SPIRITS OF THE FRUIT.” There was a bomb there, which the adventurer then set off, causing part of the cave to collapse, sealing themselves from civilization forever.


The End.

… and in yet another timeline …

After a brief amount of exploring, the adventurer paused for a moment to taste a bite of the apple in front of the cryptic wall. It was delicious, but no secret doors or other obvious effects revealed themselves.

Now, what do you do next?

Protocol: Just reply to this message what you want to do next. Follow along in the replies for responses!

Posted March 25, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Spelunker Play-By-Post   30 comments

To recap: I found an obscure, probably-only-ever-played-by-a-literal-handful-of-people game in the October 1979 issue of the magazine Micro. Partly due to it being printed in a magazine, it’s meant to be played with a “guide” who reads the location descriptions printed therein.

We’re going to do a little experiment where you, yes, you the readers, get to play. I’m going to consider the map off the cover to be fair game:

as well as this verb list:

Opening screen:

As the guide, I can also say:

You are at the mouth of a large cavern. The sides of the entrance slope steeply upward, and a mysterious passage leads west into the cave.

There is a KNIFE, TENT, TRUCK, and LIGHT here.


1. Post a comment with one or more parser commands you’d like to do.

2. After a unspecified amount of time I will take all the commands and try to put them in some sort of sensible sequence. If one player wants to pick something up and the other wants to move to a different room, I will sequence the item-picking first.

3. If two commands are contradictory, but one commands has been “voted on” more than the other, I will go with the majority. If there is a tie (say one person wants to go west and the other person east), I will flip a coin.

4. I will be posting future screens / room descriptions / responses to this post until it gets somewhat full, then making a new one which summarizes the action and keeps things going. Also, I’m going to use “guide discretion” and may occasionally give responses not provided by the Apple II program, but I will specify when it’s the computer and when it’s me.

Good luck! You’re welcome to plan/discuss in addition to just giving parser commands.

Posted March 23, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Spelunker (1979)   9 comments

For reasons unrelated to this project I was browsing 1979 issues of the Apple II magazine Micro and happened upon this one from October:

Here’s a link to the issue in question.

Thomas R. Mimlitch’s Spelunker is not the very first type-in parser adventure (that honor goes to Dog Star Adventure) but I’m guessing it’s the second? (I’m excluding Quest — which appeared in a July magazine — because it doesn’t have a parser.) In any case, this game is so wildly obscure that I’ll be impressed if someone can post a personal story of having tried this before.

Fortunately, the program was featured on a compilation disk (Micro Apple 1) so I don’t have to type in the type-in. However, there’s another catch which you’ll learn about shortly.

Imagine if when computer games were invented the idea of a “stand-alone” game was unknown, and the computer was more of an aid or companion to play:

This is an adventure fantasy series in which you become directly involved in exploration of a mysterious cavern in southwest Kentucky called Devils’ Delve. If you have never played before, you should take a guide along. The guide will read the chamber descriptions as you enter each room for the first time. He can also supply some hints and clues to help you when you are stuck. Only the guide should use the room descriptions, word lists, and the map of the caverns.

Just to be clear:

a.) It’s an adventure game with an inventory and puzzles and map and so forth. However …

b.) All the room descriptions are inside the magazine, rather than the source code. Furthermore …

c.) The room descriptions are supposed to be read by the “guide”, analogous to the Dungeon Master of Dungeons & Dragons. While the room descriptions are numbered, the numbers are not given in the game itself, forcing the guide to check against a table. Not only are the room descriptions not shown in the computer, but the visible objects aren’t shown either; they have to be listed by the guide, again by cross-referencing off a table.

There are four things in this room, three which you can pick up, and they all have to be described by the guide. Update below!

UPDATE: Well, there was a bug in the code from the compilation I found! The line 9320 reads

9320 IF (STA(1) MOD 100)#LOC THEN 9360

but it’s supposed to say

9320 IF (STA(I) MOD 100)#LOC THEN 9360


After changing it appropriately, objects show up in the room description, huzzah! However, the room descriptions themselves are still printed in the magazine only.

In any case, I can’t really “play” this game without help. Also, in order to set things up / check the code’s sanity / realize what was going on I had to spoil a large chunk of content. So I think the most appropriate course of action is for me to be the Guide, and for some of you — yes, I’m speaking to you, the readers — to be the players.

So, quick survey: if you’d be interesting in playing, make a comment to this post. Also let me know which option you’d prefer:

Option 1: We could play-by-post where people put their parser commands into the comments and I provide the screenshots and guide commentary.

Option 2: We could play live. It would likely be sometime during the weekend of March 25th-26th; I would stream the game on Twitch, and y’all could type parser commands in chat.

ADD: We went with option 1. The play-by-post starts here.

Posted March 15, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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