Somewhere Nearby is a Colossal Cave Paper

Posted: September 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: production, Text Adventure History | 2 Comments »

Finishing off a first version of the Adventure portion of GET LAMP, I am reminded of some of the shortcomings of the documentary form – when there’s a ton of information, an absolute pile of detail or aspects about a subject, you will be given a tantalizing amount of insight into a subject but crave more.

Or maybe you won’t crave more. For some, the subject covered over a few minutes will be sufficient. But for some of us, a certain few, you want to find out every last thing. And not just find it out… find it out definitively, where observation and verification rule the day, and not best-guesses and what-is-saids polluting the landscape.

To that end, as regards the game Adventure and its roots in real caving, as well as exactly what parts the two authors played in the project, you will simply not do any better than Dennis G. Jerz’ Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther’s Original “Adventure” in Code and in Kentucky. It is, very simply, the last word on the subject – I can’t imagine anyone going further than this into the history and aspects of Adventure any of us might want an answer to.

Jerz was and is critical to GET LAMP – his project proved to me that it was possible, very possible, to gain access to the cave that Adventure was based on. I had been told this was simply not within the realm of something I’d achieve, and here, he had done it. It drove me through a lot of barriers, intended or unintended, as I got there.

Several people photographed and mentioned in this paper appear in the film, including Roger Brucker, Nick Montfort, Noah Wardruip-Fruin, Don Woods, Andrew Plotkin, Warren Robinett, Jerz himself, and Dave West. Again, this is based on Jerz’ efforts and his highlighting the cast of characters I might meet.

For example:


Dennis Jerz, in the cave, pointing to the rusty rod (without the star on the end). (Photo by Lynn Brucker)


Jason Scott, next to the same rusty rod, a year or two later. (Photo by Peter Bosted).

Believe me, these are footsteps I have no misgivings of walking in, shoulders I have no issue whatever standing on.

Seriously, this paper is as good as it gets. If you’ve already known about it, great. If you haven’t… you’re welcome.

Nick Montfort’s 2009 IF List

Posted: September 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction | No Comments »

Nick Montfort’s been mentioned a number of times in association with this production. With a doctorate in text adventures, and what is likely the first academic book on text adventures (Twisty Little Passages), he’s an authority on the subject, and a great guy too.

Just recently, he took it upon himself to answer the simple question: It’s 2009 and you want to play some decent interactive fiction – where to start?

The resulting weblog entry on his weblog Post Position gives some of his personal recommendations.

Here’s the list reposted here, although of course you should also read his original posting for links. What I like about the list is how it shows how the form has matured from the early days, and the plentiful directions people/authors are taking the medium.

Anchorhead by Michael Gentry, 1998

A sprawling horror based on the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, with exquisite attention to detail and compelling characters and places.

Bad Machine by Dan Shiovitz, 1999

The surface of this game seems to be a confusion of code, error messages, and a small bit of English, but its strange science fiction world is deeply systematic.

For a Change by Dan Schmidt, 1999

Schmidt’s game programming is better known thanks to Guitar Hero but before he coded that up he was inspired by Ben Marcus’s The Age of Wire and String and wrote this piece of interactive fiction, which features an odd lexicon and curious, magical assemblages.

Varicella by Adam Cadre, 1999

A sort of revenge-play, difficult, complex, and worth several attempts. A strange palace holds intrigues, surprises, an array of excellent characters who wander and plot against the player character, the palace minister.

Shade by Andrew Plotkin, 2000

The most famous “one room game in your apartment.” What seems to be a sleepless night undergoes a disturbing transformation as the character, undertaking ordinary actions, uncovers a different reality.

Slouching towards Bedlam by Daniel Ravipinto and Star C. Foster, 2003

An intricate steampunk piece with that deals with insanity and language and offer several different concluding threads.

Whom the Telling Changed by Aaron Reed, 2005

A reframing and reworking of Gilgamesh, the first known epic, which combines elements of hypertext-like word selection with the usual command-based IF interface.

Bronze by Emily Short, 2006

Reworks the beauty and the beast legend, embedding memories in an architectural space in compelling ways. It has a special “novice mode” and a status-line compass that will aid players in understanding and navigating IF locations.

Lost Pig (And Place Under Ground) by Admiral Jota, 2007

A hilarious underground romp that brings every major type of puzzle together in miniature form. The really wonderful aspect is the orcish, semi-literate narration that is used throughout.

Violet by Jeremy Freese, 2008

A graduate student locks himself in his office to try to make progress on his dissertation. The puzzles, as the player seeks to overcome distraction, are amusing, but the atmosphere and the voice of the character’s absent, imagined girlfriend are extraordinary.

Great Map of Adventure

Posted: September 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, Text Adventure History | No Comments »

A warning – any maps you look at for a game you haven’t played will undoubtedly spoil the game for you. If you haven’t played Adventure yet, what are you doing here? You should check it out; play it for free either here (flash version) or here (java version) or even here (java version).

Maps are, of course, inherently spoilers by their very nature – they tell you where everything is, how much left you need to explore, and sometimes how to solve the puzzles to get there.

They’re usually scrawled out while the game is being played, or drawn by the software company/author behind the game itself to provide as a solution or hints.  They’re rarely nice works of art by themselves.

I thought this map, done by Mari Michaelis, was particularly well done:


I also find it surreal that I’ve actually been inside some of these locations.


Posted: September 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: production | 19 Comments »

I’m pursuing a bunch of ideas for the distribution of GET LAMP. I thought I’d take a moment to ask people to write in with their own opinions. I’ve created a survey below. Feel free to answer, but don’t feel you’re committing to buy it. Thanks for your time.

More entries will be coming very soon, by the way.

UPDATE: The survey was closed on September 20th. Thanks, everyone.