Archive for the ‘trek-adventure’ Tag

Trek Adventure (1980)   5 comments

There were many Star Trek games before even 1980 (mostly simulations based on the 1971 mainframe game), but Trek Adventure by Bob Retelle is the first Star Trek text adventure.

From the June 1980 Aardvark newsletter.

This game also marks this blog’s first occurrence of the Ohio Scientific computer (or OSI), a computer so obscure that even though there is a category for it at Mobygames, it seems to have been linked to 0 entries (including the one for this game).

There does happen to be a lovely emulator for OSI computers which even has Trek Adventure as one of the games in the original package, so I gave it a try.

To clarify: you don’t play any of the main characters of Star Trek. You play a random crew member who has been left behind; perhaps you might even say YOU ARE THE REDSHIRT.

YOUR COMMAND? PLAY TAPE
———————–
Ship severely damaged by freak Ion Storm-
Engines damaged-
Transporter out-
Abandoning ship in
Shuttlecraft-

I’ve been back and forth on whether this scenario is reasonable. The Enterprise has at minimum around 100 crew, and seems to have at least about 12 shuttlecraft, so it looks like there’d be room for everyone to evacuate at once. As far as the crew member being left behind, I suppose they were assumed dead.

The premise lets you wander around the ship without any of the pesky “characters” or “conversation” making things complicated for a coder trying to stuff a game into 8K of BASIC.

Many games of this era — like the Scott Adams ones — only recognized the first three letters of each word as a compactification method. With this game, only the first two letters of each command are recognized, which gets to the point of genuine confusion. Does the verb PU push or pull something? Does FI fix or fill? Is PR pry or … something else? Usually the game’s responses would be enough to infer what was going on, but the responses are often either “Can’t do it!”, a blank line, or “Does not compute!”

Most of the gameplay occurs on the “middle floor” of the Enterprise as shown above. The game tries hard to make things feel bigger than they are; there are quite a number of “jammed” doors but my suspicion is most don’t open. There’s a “ventilation” system you can climb into, but that consists of a single room where NORTH, SOUTH, EAST and WEST and loop back to the same room. Sometimes (at random, when “looping”) a DOWN exit appears and you can go down into any of the main rooms of the ship. (And again, I said “at random”: if you’re aiming for, say, Storage, you have to keep trying over and over until you land there.)

In Auxilary Control I found a message

Extremely FRAGILE
Magnatomic VALVE
On the Starboard ENGINES
is CRACKED! Starting
Engines will result in an Anti-Matter IMPLOSION

which strongly suggests the final goal of the game is to fix the ship.

There is a “parts storage” right next to engineering that has a replacement VALVE, but unfortunately, it is too big to get into the ventilation system so you have to get through the door the “regular” way. However, the door asks for an ID card which I don’t yet have.

There’s a third floor with just a shuttlecraft bay, but the game says I can’t get in there without a spacesuit because the room is depressurized. There’s a spacesuit in STORAGE next to the TRANSPORTER ROOM, but the only way to get into storage is via the ventilation system, and the spacesuit is too bulky to bring back through the ventilation system.

I’ve essentially made no progress otherwise, even though I suspect I’m missing something very small. The almost-no-responsiveness parser doesn’t help matters. I did work out PU was “PUT” (you can PUT SPACESUIT to put it on) but I’m still fuzzy on FI and PR. I also found (via brute force search) that BL corresponds with a verb, I’m guessing BLAST? … but I don’t really know. There’s also SH (for SHOOT I suppose) but I haven’t found a phaser yet — there’s an “Armory” in security that presumably has one, but it requires an ID card (just like the parts storage does).

Everything above makes the game sound like a bit of a mess — and it truly is — but I’m having more fun than you’d expect. I think this is because the subject matter manages to match vaguely enough to the real thing that it does “feel” like the Enterprise. I’m able to blast some Star Trek The Motion Picture music and get tingly retro-futuristic vibes. I imagine this is why people write fan fiction; it’s easy to paint a few broad strokes, rely on people’s rich memory of past stories, and get to the action.

Hopefully, a break will lead me to finish this by next time, although it looks like source code diving will be required.

Posted April 8, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Trek Adventure: Finished!   2 comments

If the parser was just a little bit better and the game was a tiny bit less cheap with “pockets” I might consider this a 1980 classic. It has, at least, a nice set piece for a finale.

From the Star Trek Annual 1980 comic book collection.

First, to get the hardcore stuff out of the way: I stubbornly wanted to continue using the OSI version, but I ran across two broken lines of code while playing. I’m guessing the file got corrupted, because they were character swaps, but if you’re actually planning on playing the OSI version, you need to replace these lines before starting.

570 IFS>7THENIF(L(S-7)=0)THENL(S-7)=L:C=C1:GOTO9
860 IFL=23ORL=1THENP(23,3)=-10:P(10,4)=-23:Z=0:GOTO9

The code above is also a pain to type because the OSI keyboard does not match a modern one. I highly recommend just using the C64 version (link to play online).

To recap from last time: I was left in an abandoned Enterprise, trying to get to the engine to replace a broken valve. I hadn’t made much progress but suspected I was stuck on a small thing.

Indeed I was. In the gym there is a locker with UNIFORMS and SHOES. I picked up both and valiantly tried to wear them and LOOK at them to no use.

If you LOOK AT UNIFORMS while they are still in the room you will get something different happen:

Do you see it? Yes, the room location now has POCKETS.

Wrrr.

OPEN POCKETS yielded an ID BADGE, which let me get at two areas: the parts storage — which had the replacement valve I needed for the engine — and the armory — which contained a phaser and a kligat. [1]

What’s a kligat, you ask? Allow a redshirt to demonstrate:

Via Imgur.

Space ninja stars, fun! Also not helpful for my predicament. On the other hand, the phaser let me blast all the closed doors. This included the ones I thought were permanently jammed — they just led to adjoining rooms, although it was still a nice touch. So I now had full access to the second floor of the map without having to clamber around a ventilation system:

It was time to try to fix the engine. This required going into the shuttlecraft bay and using a spacesuit, since the bay was exposed to the vacuum of space.

So far, so good: PUT SPACESUIT to put it on. [2]

Then I opened the door, entered the bay, tried to GO OUT whereupon I floated away and tumbled into space. Whoops.

I also found out that the oxygen in the spacesuit runs out very quickly. So any actions had to be fast. It took me about 4 runs to figure things out, and each time I was very tense. (There are no saved games or save states so I had to repeat my steps to get to that point every time.) Here was where I had the strongest feeling of being in an actual Trek episode.

The Original Series never had any magnetic boots, but some of the later series and movies did, like this scene from Star Trek: First Contact where Worf does combat in zero-gravity.

After a bit of fussing I realized the LOCKER in the bay had some magnetic boots and another (fresh) spacesuit. Actually going through the process of putting on the low-oxygen spacesuit, retrieving the locker materials, going back to the turbolift, resealing the door, and removing the spacesuit right before dying felt very dramatic. [3]

The new spacesuit fortunately seemed to have infinite oxygen, so I was able to get all the relevant materials together, including wearing the magnetic boots and new spacesuit, and step outside for a repair …

… only to try to open the hatch leading to the broken valve and be told “THEY’RE PHILLIPS SCREWS!”

Argh! (Double Argh, because you can turn a Philips screw with a flathead — just not the other way around.)

At this point I resorted to a walkthrough, which told me that Bob Retelle really likes pockets. If you LOOK SPACESUIT it becomes a “spacesuit with pockets” and then you can LOOK POCKET to find a PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER.

That was the last difficulty — it was just a matter of REPLACE VALVE [4], heading back in the Enterprise, resealing the shuttlecraft, and going to the auxilary control.

One last observation: while this game had many red herrings (in addition to the screwdriver fake-out there was a flashlight, wrench, and hammer that never got used) they really were necessary for the atmosphere. The Cabin, for instance, only has one necessary item (the pillow, which keeps the valve from cracking when you set it down) …

You ARE–
In a CABIN

You Can See-
Saurian BRANDY
PILLOW
MIRROR
VIEWPORT
VENTILATOR
Computer TERMINAL

… but it would feel out-of-place and sterile without the brandy and mirror there, especially since the minimalist style means no room descriptions.

>LOOK MIRROR

You Can See-
rerutnaevdA ydraH A
YDNARB nairuaS
WOLLIP
TROPWEIV
ROTALITNEV
LANIMRET retupmoC

Next up, another Star Trek game, one that you may have encountered recently on another blog.

Also, there is a Part 6 of the Before Adventure series coming, but it’s going to take a little longer to arrange than the other 5. I promise it will be worth the wait.

[1] The “PR” verb I was wondering about last time was short for PRESENT — you can PRESENT BADGE as a method of getting by the security places, but it maps as a synonym for DROP.

[2] I got used to the weirdness of using PUT rather than WEAR — I assume the game means PUT ON, and you can even type PUT ON SPACESUIT and the game will be fine — but every single time I used SUIT first instead of SPACESUIT. It’s interesting how games can easily “train” you to do certain odd things easily while other behaviors are almost perversely ingrained.

[3] It would help if it didn’t get undercut by REMOVE SPACESUIT by default referring to the one being carried, not the one being worn, which is how I racked up another death.

[4] I guess “RE” wasn’t “READ” after all. REPLACE at least was hinted as a word in an early message, but you had to have remembered the exact wording for it to count as a hint.

Posted April 10, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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