Archive for the ‘warp’ Tag

Warp (1980)   9 comments

WARP \`wo(e)rp\ n 1: a series of yarns crossed by the woof 2: a mental twist or aberration 3: a computer fantasy simulation of adventure and intrigue ~ vt 1: to deplete weight by expungance of existance 2: to become warped

— via the WARP user manual

Rob Lucke and Bill Frolik’s Warp is a tricky game to date because it never had a “release”, and kept getting developed all the way to 1983. Work seems to have started very late in 1979 (and arguably people other than the authors weren’t playing until 1980). Hence I would normally save this game for later in my sequence, but

a.) The only way to play it is via logging in a HP3000 mainframe via telnet. The authors were very canny about not releasing their source so it never has had a modern port. Having this sort of circumstance makes me paranoid the game will disappear forever so I’d like to play sooner rather than later.

b.) Due to the long development time it is very large, with 49 treasures and 1216 points possible. I hence likely will be spreading it out amongst shorter 1979 games.

c.) I have had people reach this blog searching for Warp specifically so there’s at least one person out there waiting for this one.

So, random anonymous Internet person, here you go.

(ADD: I later moved this up to 1980. This makes Warp more consistent with my other mainframe games which start at when the game was first playable by others; I also had gotten worn down at my first attempt. My prophecy that the telnet server would disappear came true, but fortunately there’s a way now to play offline.)


Despite Warp being described as a “fantasy” above, it appears to be generally set in contemporary times. The objective seems to be to collect treasures about the world and put them in a “curator’s case” although I haven’t found any such case yet.

Central Plaza.
You are standing in what appears to be the central plaza of a small seacoast resort. There is a large fountain in the center of this square, and the plaza extends quite a distance to both the north and south. You can see the ocean in the distance to the west, and to the east there is a large building on which there is a sign that reads “WARP BUILDING”.

I can see the following:
Round Peg

Round Peg taken.

Warp Building Lobby.
You’re standing in the lobby of the Warp Building. On the door to the north you read “MEN”; similarly, on the door to the south, “WOMEN”. There’s a security desk between you and the corridor to the east. The only other exit is to the west.

I can see the following:
Security Guard, who possesses:
a Gun

Women’s Room.
Welcome to the women’s room. Looks a lot like the men’s room in many respects, except that there’s only one exit — to the north. A message carved into the wall says: “Call 333-2583”.

I can see the following:
Digital Watch

The digital watch is the first treasure of the game.

There’s a wandering mugger who will take your treasures and stash them in an alley, and a wandering policeman who will take your “weapons” and stash them … I’m not sure where, exactly. There’s a police station but I didn’t find anything there.

“Weapons” seem to include the round peg and a banana. Someone could slip!

I have just been trying to get the feel of the land, which includes dying:

Columbus was wrong.
You’ve floated right off the edige of the known world. All around you lie the remnants of past explorers and their vessels, coffins of worthless hulks. High above you, the waters of the ocean spill down from the world’s edge and splatter like grandiose raindrops all about you.

You begin to thash madly in the waves as the shark fins come nearer. Your thrashing, however, only serves to send the man-eaters into a feeding frenzy as they home in on you. You hear the crunching of bones as the first shark removes your leg. Suddenly, everything grows dark around you …

You sense yourself leaving your physical body — A spiritual entity in a black haze. The bleakness begins to clear, however, and you begin to recognize familiar things, only everything appears in various shades of grey.

This small cemetary appears to serve the City of Warp, but it does not have room to contain many graves. Small simple grave markers show the location of those in eternal sleep. A large fence prevents you from going east into a very deep ravine.

I can see the following:

Noteworthy is that even that you are *not* resurrected (“>DIAGNOSE” returns “You are dead.”) you can still wander around and look at things, although you can’t pick anything up. I don’t think I’ve hit another game with this feature before.

In any case, there’s some interest in Warp past obscurity and massive size; it’s got some monster ambitions for the parser which includes an attempt to make it “smarter than Zork”. It has: backtracking (letting you type BACKTRACK 4 and retrace your last four rooms, for instance), macros (letting you define a set of actions as one command) and conditionals (“IF SEE THE BEAR THEN LOOK AT IT. GO NORTH”). I’ll explore these (and the rest of the game, of course) and report back next time.

Posted January 3, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Supermassive   Leave a comment

This is only a fraction of the overall map.


(3 out of 49 treasures found, no idea where to stash them!)

There’s a lot of sameness to the rooms to enough an extent I normally associate with MUDs, not single player games.

Easy Street.
You’re in the middle of a long north-south street. To the west you can see the ocean in the distance, and to the east you can see a large building.

Easy Street.
You’re in the middle of a long north-south street. The ocean is in the distance to the west, and a large building can be seen to the east.

Wall Street.
You’re in the middle of a long street, extending primarily to the north and south, but also at this point there is a side street going to the east. The ocean is in the distance to the west.

West Bridge.
This is the famous West Bridge of Warp, known primarily for no reason at all other than the fact that Warp needed a bridge and this was a convenient place to put one. The road extends to the north and south, and there is a river below running east-west.

Easy Street.
You’re at a point where a north-south street meets an east-west street. To the south you can see what looks like a large park.

In a MUD, there needs to be some space so not everyone is crowded in small spaces, and even the most neutral of rooms can build up character if events occur in them throughout inter-character interaction (Battle of the West Bridge, say). Unfortunately, Warp is a single player game. The currently roaming NPCs just aren’t that impressive yet (I keep getting followed by a mugger with “A sordid individual is following you.” being displayed, which is far less interesting than anything in Adventure or Zork.)

I did manage to solve one puzzle (getting into the Warp Building by wearing a nametag) but otherwise my gameplay has consisted entirely of mapping.

Unfortunately I’ve also had crashes. Remember I playing by logging into an HP3000 terminal and the experience is much flakier than I’d like; while I haven’t built up a game yet and am simply in the gathering info phase, if I want to be serious about attempting a win I need to work out how to get a little more stability.

I haven’t played with the new parser features much other than to try a macro.

(Define X)
=E LOOK @1
(X defined)


Round. Made of wood. Not very big.

The command above reroutes the command “X” which is normally unrecognized into “LOOK”.

One last random observation before I sign off: I’m finding the “reject a command” response grating.

This is part of the lush grounds of Warp Park.

I can see the following:
Fig Tree

>climb tree
That makes no sense.

>FLAP FLAP FLAP< I think it's hopeless.

shake tree
"Shake" is Danish to me. Try English.

This is made worse by the existence of a nearby tree that you can climb (by going up). I know authors sometimes try to be colorful in their error messages, but it is highly unlikely the reason a player’s command is unrecognized is a lack of being in English. It’s like the game is expecting the player to apologize and not the game itself.

Posted January 10, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Help solve it   10 comments

I have been occasionally hacking at Warp but I am still mainly just adding rooms to my map and don’t have anything interesting to comment on yet (other than it is ludicrously easy to die — my favorite was entering a desert and having a rock fall on my head out of the sky).

I did hit one puzzle that might be self-contained enough I can send it to you, the readers. Or possibly we’ve got a red herring here. I’m in the Warp Museum (which has the display case you need to put found treasures in, hurrah) and just next to the display case room there’s a room with a stone disc that has a green, red, blue emeralds embedded within. All three count as treasures (and the stone disc is too large to move) so they must be extractable somehow. There’s an inscription on the stone disc.


It might be a cryptogram. If not, then there’s likely some item that will clarify that I haven’t found. Either way, I’m curious what all of you can do with this.

(Incidentally, ASCII art such as the above is extremely common in Warp. It has the most ASCII I’ve seen of any text adventure game of the mainframe era.)

ADD: Definitely a cryptogram. I have rejiggered letters to put it in more traditional form if anyone else wants to have a go.


I solved it with this website which is not an autosolver but lets you easily make substitutions and have them automatically carry to all letters.

Also, thanks to Tjeerd who has the solution in the comments.

Posted January 24, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Fancy/stupid parser tricks   8 comments

There are two ways to look for creative innovation.

The conventional way is to look at recent efforts in a field (see, for example, Emily Short’s post Experimentation in the Parser Domain).

The paradoxical way is to look at older work. Many times a work’s innovation is lost because the work itself is obscure or the implementation of a promising concept was badly done. Often you can find the future in the past.


This seemed neat, but I had trouble making it work until I tried to ride a bus. The bus moves about the map at three stops travelling back and forth, and if you want to get on the bus it sometimes takes a long wait. Several times I accidentally waited past the bus arriving. I made a macro.


Now every time I type “X”, the game will first check there is a bus. If so it will ride the bus (in needs to be in that exact syntax; for all the advanced tricks the parser can do it misses some obvious synonyms). If not then it takes inventory to wait a turn. (While WAIT is an actual command it causes a real-time delay.) The game still takes inventory when successfully getting on the bus, but it doesn’t cause an issue with timing.

Here’s the macro in action:


You are carrying the following:
Transit Pass


The roar of an engine and squealing tires can be heard up the street.

You are carrying the following:
Transit Pass
You look in the distance and see a large bus approaching. The bus
pulls to a stop before you and its doors open with a loud hiss.


There is a large bus here that looks like it’s getting ready to leave.

You wave your bus pass and the bus driver smiles as you climb aboard the bus.
Easy Street. (on bus)

The bus door closes and you hear the grind of gears as it pulls away
from the stop.
The bus rattles somewhat as it carries you ahead.
Easy Street. (on bus)

The bus rattles somewhat as it carries you ahead.
Easy Street. (on bus)

Now I can just rattle of Xs until the bus arrives and the player character hops on automatically as opposed to spamming just a wait command and missing the bus altogether.

ADD: I realized this would be a better way to write the macro:


This way there’s not the extra turn taken after riding the bus. This required a bit of a programmer’s sensibility; the player won’t see the “bus object” after getting on the bus, meaning if the statements are in reverse order the NOT SEE statement will still trigger after boarding the bus.

This is so convoluted it only seems thematically appropriate in a “robot character” game like Dan Shiovitz’s Bad Machine or Paul O’Brian’s LASH. I’m not convinced the “IF” command is that helpful in more standard text adventure games.

Posted February 3, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Playing Offline   8 comments

My last update promised I would get to the mainframe game Lugi soon, but in the process of trying to set it up I made a new discovery regarding Warp.

Brief reminder: Warp is a gigantic mainframe game with 1216 points possible on the HP3000. It has an unusual parser that allowed “conditional” statements and macros. The only way I had of playing it was via a telnet server, so I was paranoid it would eventually disappear forever.

In May of last year, a genuine expert at the HP3000 (Big Dan the Blogging Man) made a “packaged” version of the HP3000. If you’ve tried the Digital Antiquarian’s TOPS-10 in a Box, this is similar: you just download and run.

HP3000 with Simh

In any case, to get to the games, start with


which is the games account, and then you can RUN WARP to play Warp offline! Bill Wolpert’s Mystery Mansion from 1978 is on there too (RUN MANSION) so you can emulate it running on the original hardware rather than using a port.

To quit, press CTRL-A to enter console mode, then type SHUTDOWN.

Posted February 7, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Everything So Far   15 comments

So, IFComp 2019 is about to hit, and I do intend to play and even possibly write about some of the games, but I also wanted to keep my momentum going on 1980. What better contrast to a bunch of small games than a very, very, very large one?

From >READ POSTER in an early room in Warp.

I will try to keep my Warp posts to a more-or-less weekly pace, and put my IFComp posts in between.

You may want to read my old entries, but the summary is: Warp was an attempt one-up Zork developed all the way from 1980 to 1985, and made gigantic in the process. The sole objective is to gather all the treasures and get all the points (1216 of them). Even though I have my old map, just looking at it scares me.

Even given the amount of work I put in, I barely made any progress. This is one of those wide-open puzzle games where there are far too many things to work on at once and I’m not sure where to start.

I often have this sort of “game paralysis” with strategy games — I’m on move 3 and there’s lots of choices already, and I’m worried that the wrong direction will screw my game up at move 40 (because sometimes, it has) so I end up just losing interest. If I can overcome this kind of start and get immersed, the game can get going. I’ve never come up with a good coping mechanism for strategy games (I’ve only got through the start of every Six Ages game I’ve played and it’s been on my phone since release day).

With adventure games, sometimes it helps for me to list everything out. Both for my benefit (given my last “real” Warp post was over 3 years ago) and so y’all fine people see what’s going on, I broke the giant map into five regions.


Central Plaza.
You are standing in what appears to be the central plaza of a small seacoast resort. There is a large fountain in the center of this square, and the plaza extends quite a distance to both the north and south. You can see the ocean in the distance to the west, and to the east there is a large building on which there is a sign that reads “WARP BUILDING”.

The game starts right outside the “WARP BUILDING”. Nearby the building is a place with a video game (I have no coins for it) and a police station. The police officer wanders the area and will arrest you if you are carrying a weapon.

It is unclear what the building is used for. After getting by a security guard (with a nametag out in the PARK area) there’s an abandoned kitchen and dining room, an two elevators with three buttons each (one which is “out of order” and kills you if you use it), and a “mad doctor”.

Operating Room.
This is a very clean, sterile-looking room with white walls and chromed stainless-steel fixtures. There is a large operating table in the center of the room, and various pieces of machinery surrounding it. There are exits to the north and west.

I can see the following:
Mad Doctor
Suddenly the doctor produces a huge syringe, and quickly flings it at you.
You feel a painful sting as it sticks in your leg!

The mad doctor runs rather like a Zork battle with random messages; I haven’t experimented with fighting back yet.

Other items: Round peg, Digital watch, Digital scale, Banana.

The banana is considered a weapon, and the policeman will arrest you if you have it.


You’re standing in the northeast corner of Warp Park. The grass in green, the sky is blue, and you can go almost any direction. There is one particularly large tree growing nearby.

There’s a silver flute here which counts as a treasure (and makes a high pitched “dog whistle” sound), a nametag (used in the Warp building), a sign which warns you not to dig on the grass, a crank and well, a random fig tree and pine tree, and a “bathing ugly”.

There’s also a koala bear high in a redwood which also counts as a treasure, although it eats through your inventory if you’re carrying it around. Also, if you try to put it in the display case for treasures (see the next area), it wanders off, so I’m guessing I need some sort of sedative-laced food.


Just east of the park is the museum, which has a wandering curator and a display case for storing the treasures of Warp.

Curator’s Office
This is a large office with a musty smell. The walls are lined with rows and rows of books. Numerous stacks of paper and partially restored objects are piled about the room. A large desk with a leather-backed chair stands in one corner of the room. The only exit is through the door to the east.

I can see the following:
Display Case

The display case has a lamp (which the curator doesn’t mind if you take). The curator does mind if you abscond with anything else; there’s a Mayan Room with an odd disk (with a cryptogram I’ve written about before), a gemstone room with “Leeverite”, a Sarcophagus Room with a casket, a dinosaur room with a Warpasaur.


To the west of the park, if you dive through the ocean and swim, you can find an island and a lighthouse.

You’re standing in a gently sloping meadow, surrounded on three sides by steep rising cliffs. To the east, there is a small sheltered cove, its waters placidly lapping near your feet. A rickety boat dock extends somewhat out into the water. You can go most any direction.

There’s a cave entrance but it is dark inside and I haven’t been able to get the lamp from the display case over because the ocean washes away any items I try to carry.

Other items: hardhat, rusty shovel, ruby lense. (Spelled that way in the game.)


To the east of the Warpian building is an area with a mall, an alley, and a desert.

You’re at the northeast corner of the Cobblestone Square, where before you looms a magnificent statue of Miles A. Weigh, one of the most famous of the Warpian explorers. The cobblestones stop, but the square appears to continue to the north.

The alley has a mugger who is Warp’s equivalent of the thief from Zork, and is keen on stealing all your treasures.

The mall has a bank and a subway station, which I haven’t quite worked out how to use even though I have a “transit pass”. I assume I can reach another new large section once I get in.

Heading east from here there is a “desert” with a sign warning of falling rocks, and if you keep going east you die via a rock randomly falling out of the sky on your head.

Immediately after making this list, I went over to the “hardhat” (which required swimming over the ocean in the far southwest of the map), wore it, was able to get through the ocean without dropping it (since I was wearing it) and used it to scoot through the desert safely and make it to a region beyond, which looks like it might also be big. This game just keeps going and going.

I have marked the location of the hardhat and the place where it solved a puzzle, just to give an idea of what kind of back-and-forth is required in this game.

Posted September 30, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Swimming and Sailing   25 comments

With IFComp, I’ve managed to plow through about 10 Twine games and 0 text adventures. Warp occupies enough headspace that I have trouble fitting anything similar in, but other interactive fiction seems to occupy a different brain category. (I will probably do reviews, but as a “compilation” where I will compare a bunch of games at once.)

A “majestic Spanish Galleon” which patrols the seas. If you’re swimming, it doesn’t bother you; if you’re sailing, it fires cannons. Warp has the largest amount of ASCII art I’ve seen in an adventure game. Both mainframe Zork and Stuga included a handful, but I’ve seen something like 30 pictures in Warp so far.


I’ve opened up quite a bit of map and found many more treasures, although I haven’t done a run yet where I’ve gathered them all at once. Part of this has to do with a nasty discovery Roger Durrant made.

I had (without too much difficulty or fanfare) discovered that in the Bank of Warp, the vault opens at a particular time (hinted at by a note in the Director’s office). I was then able to sneak in and grab some gold bullion, delivering it to the display case in the Warp Museum and netting a total of 35 points. Roger subsequently tested out the same solution and found he couldn’t do it; essentially, if you miss the time window near the start for entering the vault, you have broken the game.

I am hence somewhat paranoid about other potential softlocks, and since Warp is fairly open, I’ve got various save games running in parallel as I thwack at the various mysteries and puzzles. Most notably, there’s a lamp with a battery having limited time, just like Adventure/Zork/Acheton, and I’m worried once all the uses are taken into account the time limit is tight. I still remember in the last part of Acheton having to walk through darkness to the endgame (saving repeatedly and restoring when I fell into a pit by chance); with Warp I have no such way out, because if your lamp gives out in darkness you die right away.

My major lamp use went into mapping a maze.

I first thought this was going to be a “well-behaved” maze where directions go back and forth in the direction you expect, and indeed the first portion of my expedition went that way. The map was laid out in “micro-floors” with up-and-down stairs connecting a little randomly, but each floor being normal. There was a treasure which took a little effort to find, I mopped up most of the available directions, and that was that.

However, in one of the last exits I checked (in a pair of rooms marked “Kilroy Was Here” and “Kilroy Was Here Too”) the micro-floor idea continued, but there were now many more “punishment” one-way exits. By that I mean if you went the “wrong way” you were sent far off course, essentially guaranteeing there was no way to find a good route at random. Structurally, this seems intended as a fake-out — trying to coax players into giving up at finding the first treasure and assuming the maze has nothing else to yield.

Secretarial Pool.
This is a large room with a high ceiling, glass walls, and a large, deep, swimming pool in the center. There is a sign next to the diving board that reads

(Executives Forbidden)
Please Wash Toes Before Entering
the Pool.

There are two ways out, to the east and back to the north.

I can see the following:
Swimming Pool
Postage Stamp

Incidentally, JUMP IN POOL is death.

You gracefully execute a perfect swan dive into mid air. In your great haste, however, you failed to notice that the Warp Building Maintanence crew has drained the pool to keep it from leaking into the Operating room below. But they are efficient, and will undoubtedly scrape up your remains before refilling the pool …

In an adjacent room there’s a hole that you can pick up, and move to other places (!). I haven’t worked out the full mechanics of how this works. I was too busy otherwise trying to map out the ocean.

Haunt’s 7 by 7 by 7 cube of water was technically larger, but this still trumps anything I’ve previously played in terms of elaborateness. You can swim out alone (although if you are out more than 3 turns, you get attacked by sharks). There is the occasional stable position which resets the “shark counter” — like a fog bank — so I was able to use those to do produce quite a bit of the map.

Some locations are just too far from shore and you need a boat. There is a boat sitting out in the open and I’m fairly sure using it wasn’t really intended as a puzzle, yet it’s very easy to miss how to launch it. You can go DOWN and find another room.

You find yourself in the main cabin of the boat. The walls here are dark paneled, and there is a well-used bunk along the port side. A small wooden cabinet is built into the wall at the bow end of the bunk. At the aft end of the starboard wall is a large closet, and the remainder of the room sports nothing of interest other than a few shelves. A few short steps at the aft end of the cabin lead back up to the main deck, while next to them another short stairway leads down, apparently to a lower deck.

I can see the following:
Wooden Cabinet

There’s a sail in the closet; take it upstairs and RAISE SAIL and the boat will become mobile.

While reefs are no threat while swimming, they smash up the boat if you hit them while sailing. I find the dual-meaning to the locations intriguing. (There actually seems to be triple-meaning because diving underwater seems to be possible, although I haven’t tested it yet — hopefully next time.)

I will be traveling so the next post might be delayed a little. If you need some reading material in the meantime, there is a spreadsheet that is collecting the current reviews for IFComp.

Posted October 6, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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