Archive for the ‘stuga’ Tag

Stuga: Map tension   5 comments


I’m nearing the end and a new feature has hit (I don’t know exactly when it happens, but I’m guessing when your score reaches a certain point) where map exits start closing off. Two examples:

You are in a room with an upward escalator and a door forward.


Just as you’re approaching the escalator, it stops and a man runs in and closes it.
You are in a room with an upward escalator and a door forward.
The escalator has been closed by Cottage’s highways department.


You are in the Studio.


The lock of the door has jammed so you won’t get out that way!
Your keys don’t fit the keyhole.
You are in the Studio.

Mind you, there’s still a way to get where is necessary, but it starts to be more circuitous as the game goes on. The portions of the map that involve (more or less) random travel start to get more appealing.

This led to a welcome kind of tension, lending a modicum of atmosphere and the feeling of other presences, rather like when entering the trapdoor from Zork it gets closed and barred from the other side. It’s not exactly a horror tension (the game is too silly for that) but more of a strategic tension.; I felt like I needed to do some actual planning.

Posted January 17, 2013 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Stuga: Resurrection   2 comments


There is a particular art to reviving a half-finished adventure game. Quite often I find I have to restart because I have a.) lost my maps or b.) lost the thread of the plot.

b.) is no worry: there’s no plot. As for a.), I posted my most recent map on the last post on this blog (back in 2011) so I don’t have to reconstruct everything. I still have the same sluggish feeling about this game though, so I need a battle plan.

I went to the hint file and pulled out the list of all the treasures as well as all the things that get points. Fingers crossed: a checklist might help me psychologically get through this thing.

Posted January 11, 2013 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Stuga: Puzzles   5 comments

Two puzzles are spoiled below.

Click on the image for a PDF version of the map.

Work has delayed me a bit in finishing Stuga, but also Stuga itself has been stalling me; I’ve been having a hard time working up the energy to play it in my spare moments. I’ve being trying to isolate why. One reason is the puzzles (more on that in a second) but also because Stuga turns out to be another “find the treasures and gather them in the right location” plot, but without any time limit via expiring lantern batteries or otherwise. This seems like it ought to make it easier for me to want to play, but oddly once I realized there was no time pressure it was causing the opposite. I think it’s perhaps because there’s appeal in these old games still (and uniquely for the era) as an optimization puzzle, and I was having fun in Zork (for example) plotting out the best route to take to grab the diamond, like I was a real adventurer plotting over a dusty map. Stuga makes me feel not like I’m a character in some world, but an avatar of an avatar; like LASH, controlling someone not myself who is themselves controlling a robot from a distance. This is all weird and irrational and imprecise but that’s the best way I can express how it feels.

The puzzles, also, to use the words of Jimmy Maher, are either extremely simple or blatantly unfair. In my last post the word SESAME was mentioned in a room, prompting David Welbourn to say his next command would be OPEN SESAME. Well, it’s almost as easy as that — it’s just SESAME, and you use it at a locked gate and that’s that.

On the other hand, there’s a dark room. If you type TAKE (not TAKE ALL or any other variation) you will pick up a hidden lamp, and then be told the lamp will disappear if you leave the room so you should “stay put”. So you type STAY and then wait (in real time, yes, you actually sit still for 30 seconds) and then you get scooped out of the room and get to keep the lamp.

The Muppet sequence in my last post has been the best puzzle so far, just because it turned out to be a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure interlude with binary choices where figuring out the correct route led to a treasure. It was so unique and weird it was oddly fun to work out.

Posted July 2, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Stuga: Seriously?   2 comments

In the midst of mapping a maze I came across this:

You are on the edge of a deep well. If you jump down you won’t get back up!


Little you is winding.
Fozzi the bear is sitting here asking:
What’s your name ? Jason
Someone says: This is THE MUPPET SHOW with tonight’s guest artist: jason
The curtain rises and you are on a stage with Kermit the frog. The puppet audience is applauding.
Answer RUN or PERFORM : perform

Kermit asks you if you want to sing or tell a story.
Answer SING or TELL : sing

You start singing: I’m a poor lonesome cowboy and a long way from home…
The audience is cheering but the singers Wayne & Wanda are angry with you for taking their place. They want to kill you!
Answer PEACE (with Wayne & Wanda) or FOLLOW (Kermit) : peace

You approach Wayne & Wanda to make your peace with them.
You decide not to sing anymore so that W&W can keep their job. Fozzi comes up and says:
Enter an interest that you have! Dice
Fozzi gives his thanks and leaves. There is a door to your left.
Answer FOLLOW (Fozzi) or LEFT : follow

Now Fozzi enters a door. There’s also a door forward.
Answer FOLLOW (Fozzi) or FORWARD : follow

You are inside a torture-chamber. The door locked itself behind you! The walls are closing in. The only way out is blocked by a monster!
Answer RUN (out) or STAY : run

You run straight into a monster devouring vegetables! He grabs you and throws you high into the air.
You are in the loft, a small nook at the top of the house. From here you can go everywhere. On the wall it says: SESAME

Posted June 11, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Stuga: Lost in Småland   Leave a comment

A little faun runs in intending to tread on your foot but he loses a shoe and runs away howling.
You are in the Swiss clock room.
There is a faun shoe here.




A horde of fauns comes rushing out. Nnnnnow you are a pulp.
Do you want me to bring you back to life ? no
WHAT? Don’t you trust me? Only yesterday I revived a DEC-2020 and it worked for several minutes…

But I won’t make a fuss. Have it your way.

I’m starting to get the hang of this, somewhat. The short minimalist descriptions do have one advantage: they make it entirely reasonable to play in a split screen format, with a map on one side and the game window in the other.

The only issue is once I swapped my mental key as to “top of page” meaning “forward” and “bottom of page” meaning “backward” so my forward and backward exits were all wrong in a section.

Since “I just mapped some more” doesn’t make an exciting post, let me mention ASCII art. I’ve seen two instances so far in Stuga, here’s one:

A small faun appears.
He throws a knife at you… It hits you! !
Do you want me to bring you back to life ? yes
OK, but don’t blame me if something goes wr…
POFF!!! You are surrounded by a cloud of green gas!!
You’re alive! When the gas has dispersed You can see that
You are in a grave. There’s a musty smell here. The priest is looking down. He looks like this:

It’s interesting that Zork from the early 1977-1978 period also had ASCII art. It’s like the impulse for graphics was already bubbling.

Posted June 9, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Stuga: Third circle of mapping hell   2 comments

I’m in the “mapping” phase of playing Stuga, and the LEFT/RIGHT/FORWARD/BACK is making things a pain. Just to be clear, this is fixed relative directions, so LEFT from a particular room will always go the same way.

With Zork even though there were numerous passages where going west and then east would not lead you back where you started, with here the tendency is pathological and it’s impossible to even guess what a good spacial relationship would be. With my tangled mess up there I can see the Hilbert room and its accompanying exits could be better placed, but I only knew that after painstaking drawing and testing. I’ve taken up saving when I enter a room with many exits and restoring to test all of them rather than returning the way I came because so often I don’t know which way to go back.

My second attempt made LEFT = left side of map, RIGHT = right side of map and so on for an ounce of sanity.

It’s still somewhat insane and disconcerting, though. Even though it’s functionally equivalent to N/S/E/W I’m still very uncomfortable while playing. Do any of my Swedish readers know if this became a common thing in Swedish games, or if most of them are in traditional compass directions?

Also: the lift has access to nine floors. Eek!

Posted June 2, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Stuga: A brief excerpt   1 comment

The back cover from the commercial version of Stuga.

I’m not that far in Stuga yet (I’m close to a finish on Mystery Mansion and should have an ending post soon) but some things are immediately striking. A short excerpt should illustrate what playing is like in general.


You are in the forest, southwest of the lake.


You are south of the lake. A cavern leads EAST.


You are on the shore of an underground lake beside a huge gambling machine. On it is written: ‘PULL THE LEVER IF YOU


I don’t know what that means.

You are on the shore of an underground lake beside a huge gambling machine. On it is written: ‘PULL THE LEVER IF YOU


You are on the shore of an underground lake.


The water is still, you swim fast.

You are in a cemetery. You are standing by a tombstone on the edge of a grave. A path leads forward and backward.
There is a spade here.


You are in a misty rock shelter. Cold raw air is blowing in your face. There is a wardrobe here.
A path is leading upwards and downwards.


You are in Thorvald’s room. A big sealed up chest is standing by the wall. In the ceiling is a hatch and in the floor is a hole.
On the wall it says: CORKSCREW HELPS WITH THE SA…
There is a diamond here.


You are in the Hilbert room, a room with four doors and holes in the ceiling and the floor.


You are in an empty room. There is a hole in the ceiling and a set of wall bars leading there. Doors lead to the right and to
the left.


You are in the Hilbert room, a room with four doors and holes in the ceiling and the floor.

Some observations from the text:

1. Outdoors compass directions work, while indoors it’s FORWARD/BACKWARD/LEFT/RIGHT only. I’m not sure yet if they’re fixed (like Hunter, in Darkness) or if they adjust based on the direction a room entered from (like Mystery Mansion — that is the game keeps track of which way the player is facing and describes left and right based on that).

2. The map moves around. Going north from the underground lake has led me to four different destinations, seemingly at random. The mismatch with Rock Shelter -> up -> Thorvald’s -> down -> Hilbert room (instead of Rock Shelter) seems to be more an instance of the destination shifting rather than a strange connection.

3. EXAMINE doesn’t work. This is like Adventure, but unlike Zork or Mystery Mansion. This isn’t absolutely a bad thing: a while back on the group there was a spirited defense of games that don’t allow examine:

There, I feel better…
Far too many games involve “puzzles” whose solution is “Oh, you didn’t notice you could ‘x minefield’ or ‘search countryside’ because these were built into room descriptions”. I was brought up to believe that the computer was your eyes and hands. Thus if the dial is set to 8, you get told this, without having to say ‘x dial’ every time.

Peter Killworth

4. The room descriptions are oddly minimalist, even moreso than normal for the era.

You are in a dark room.
There is an old man sitting here wearing a pearl necklace.
In his arms is a water bottle.

The entire effect I’d describe as “surreal gonzo”, slapping together ideas without pattern or reason. It’s the stereotype for all games from the era, but while it fits this game I’m not sure if it’s a fair characterization in general; even the wildly out-of-place robot in Zork was in a technological section of 3 rooms rather than dumped in the middle of the map.

Posted May 23, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Stuga (1978)   6 comments

I’m not done with Mystery Mansion, but I’m in dire need of hints on a few things so I’ve emailed Bob Sorem and James Garnett (authors of the two ports I’ve been using) to see if either can help. If that fails I’ve done enough on my own (including source diving) to wrap things up.

In the meantime, I wanted to try the next game on my list: what appears to be the first adventure game in a language other than English.

Du står på en brygga någonstans i Småland. Bakom din solvärmda rygg åker man vattenskidor. En kyrkklocka (som du inte ser) slår tolv. Du ser ett hus rakt fram.

You’re standing on a jetty somewhere in Småland. Behind your sun-warmed back people are
water-skiing. A church bell (which you can’t see) strikes twelve. You can see a house straight ahead.


“Stuga” is Swedish for “cottage”. According to the website above, it was one of the most widespread PC games in Swedish during the 20th century. Four years ago it was ported to Inform by Fredrik Ramsberg and Johan Berntsson, and two years ago Johan Ottosson translated it into English. That’s the version I’m going to play.

But first, a little history straight from the ABOUT text:

The first version of Stuga was written in 1977-78 by the brothers Kimmo and Viggo Eriksson (Viggo’s last name is now Kann) and their friend Olle Johansson. When the project started in the summer of -77 the authors were 10, 12 and 14 years old . . . The game was written in DEC Basic on the mainframe computer Oden at the Stockholm Computer Central for Research and Higher Education, QZ.

Through QZ the young authors had come into contact with the mainframe game Adventure by Crowther and Woods, which was released in 1975 and practically invented the text adventure genre. All three of them already had some experience making games: Kimmo had written a gaming machine simulator, Viggo a Hangman-like guess-the-word game, and Olle a Mastermind game where you played against a character called Thorvald.

They started talking about combining all three games into one – a kind of virtual gaming arcade where you would choose which of the games to play. Inspired by Adventure they added some surroundings to walk around in, and the idea of making a Swedish counterpart to Adventure started to take shape. At one point Kimmo’s father commented on the project: “That’s impossible – you can’t write large programs in Basic!” The gauntlet had been thrown: they decided to make the game, and to make it big.

By how I’ve been dating mainframe games, I’ve been using the first year people outside the author or authors were able to play the game in some form. In this case the game was started in the summer of 1977 — right when Zork was still being developed — but nobody other than the authors had access until 1978.

The history of early computer games seems to be full of young authors; in addition to this game Greg Hassett started writing adventures in 1978 when he was 12, and a teen-aged Richard Garriot was soon to come out with Akalabeth leading to the Ultima series. Are there teen authors out there publishing any more? It seems like the resources are out there.

Posted May 19, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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