November 03, 2004

XYZZY, But Don't Panic

"You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike..."

If you recognize those words, you've probably played one of the greatest text-based computer adventure games of all time, Colossal Cave.

Wait, you say, text-based computer adventure games?

That's right. Once upon a time, back in the old days, we did not have interactive immersive environment games like today's first-person shooters. Instead, we had to read our computer games a line at a time on a monochrome monitor, using our imaginations to bring the descriptions and clues to life. We had to run around in the dark looking for different objects, using simple one or two word commands.

>There is a threatening little dwarf in the room with you! You're in Hall of Mt King. There is a small wicker cage discarded nearby. A cheerful little bird is sitting here singing. There is a little axe here.

>get axe

>throw axe
>You killed a little dwarf. The body vanishes in a cloud of greasy black smoke.

Like the good D&D gamers we were, we meticulously mapped out the gamespace with graph paper, and kept lists of the inventory we carried, along with the properties and uses of the different items. Great fun, and whenever you solved a clue, realizing which object you needed to get across the bridge, or how to scare away the snake, or how to map the maze, you felt exhilarated. Of course, not quite the same exhilaration as blowing a flood warrior away with your shotgun in Halo for the first time, but still thrilling.

All this is a long-winded way of leading up to this über-cool Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy text-adventure game. Note that this is not a pure text game like Colossal Cave, since you can use your mouse to click on objects and directions, but playing it really brought back some fun memories of early computer gaming. Have fun!

(Via Mixolydian Mode).

Posted by JohnL at November 3, 2004 09:20 PM

I did a similar post a while back on the old InfoComm games like Zork and such. There were links to online resources in it too.

Posted by: Ted at November 5, 2004 11:54 AM
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