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Colossal Cue Adventure: a Zork-style text-based programming adventure game (cueup.com)
88 points by rwalker on Jan 18, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments

Return to Zork, the first graphical non-text based Zork, is the most memorable computer game I've ever played. It was the first time I saw computer graphics so beautiful in such a haunting mysterious world. Sometimes I still have dreams about it, and occasionally during world travels I'll see something that reminds me, "oh I was at a place that looked just like this before... in Zork!"

RTZ was even better than Myst, its cultural successor.

I realized, a few months ago, that Rebecca Snoot from RTZ is Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life. WHAT? Yes, it's true.

You are in front of a white house...

Pick up rock, throw it at vulture...

Remember to dig up the bonding plant -- if you cut it, you won't be able to get into the comedy club by the cliffs of desperation later on.

Want some rye? Course ya do!

It's now been 20 years since that game came out. Woah. Two decades. 1993. It's still vividly seared into my mind.


If you can find an ISO of it, it'll run in DOSBox, I believe. Beware, though, that you need the encyclopedia that comes with the box -- awesome primitive copy protection.

Great game, good times. Any other RTZ nostalgites here?

Oh man. The phrase "Want some rye? Course ya do!" is one of those phrases that is burned into my brain. It is now a fundamental part of my brain's structure. Anytime I hear something even remotely similar, my brain just automatically pulls it up, complete with memetic mutation. Did someone bake a pie? "Want some pie? Course ya do!"

I still have my original copy in my closet somewhere. I should set DOSBox up and see if I can make it go.

I dish out upvotes sparingly, and you just earned one my friend!

That was one of he first games I played on my super-computer (200Mhz) back in the day (along with King's Quest VI)!

The intro music was fantastic, and the live-action videos made the graphics even better.

I had my girlfriend (now wife) follow a guide and talk me through the entire game so she could experience it. The "want some rye?" line is stuck in her weekly-quotes, too!

We didn't have many games on our first computer, but Zork was one of them.

For some reason none of us could get past the swamp at the witch's house. I was 5 or 6 at the time so I don't blame myself, but when I figured out how to run it via DOSBox I was very very careful to poke everything with my walking stick (or whatever it was).

"Here's to us!"

Who's like us? Damnnnn few! And we're allll dead.

We figured this would be good for some Friday fun! Admittedly, a few of the problems are solvable by hand, and we wish there were more jokes about gnus, but overall we just hope you enjoy playing as much as we enjoyed building it.

I haven't gotten far into the game yet, but so far I really wished that you had followed the text-adventure idioms better, the interface feels really clunky for someone who is used to playing text-adventures.

Feel free to call me a youngster that is spoiled by modern games if you want.

If you have any specific idioms you think we should add, let me know here or at robbyw@cueup.com

x for "look at" and i for "inventory". (I see that you have already fixed these).

"look around" used to be "look" even in the old days iirc and in these days "l" is the common alias. It seems like you have given to many functions to a "use" verb, in the case of the switch the verb is usually "pull".

The navigational verb seems a bit odd, go is usually used with a direction, like "go north" (which is expected to have the alias "n" btw). What you seem to be aiming for is the enter and exit verbs, for example "enter door" or "exit cage".

"take" is usually "get", having "take" as an alias is probably good though.

"look at me" and consequently "x me" is almost always implemented in text-adventure games and here I expect something fitting and hilarious. ;)

For this game most of my points doesn't matter, but I recommend having implementations of the "x", "l" and "i" aliases.

A minor glitch, you don't seem to be able to look at the "chips".

Btw, I'm really loving the concept so far. :)

Fixed most of these. "use switch" and "flip switch" both work, and now "pull switch" does too. "enter door" works now.

changing get will take a little more work, so for now I just aliased it to take.

"go north" is already in the game, just later...

really appreciate the feedback!

You're missing like, all the verbs! "switch on", "read" are the ones I came across in the first minute. Seriously think about implementing everything which the How to Play IF Postcard mentions: http://pr-if.org/doc/play-if-card/

For that matter, serious consider using an existing IF engine.

I built a terminal shell like this a while back. Nice to see you have a history for the input box. Have you seen terminal.js?

Google seems to resolve several different things as "terminal.js" - which do you mean?

Or, a shorter answer to your question: no. :)

Hey there ! Congrats for getting it done. I'm sure you've probably thought about this already - but have you considered wiring it up to google talk or a few other IMs ? That way people can play it a bit more easily on their phone etc etc.

Very nice! I like the RNG puzzle you started off with. This reminds me of the Python Challenge, but inspired more by HAKMEM than by exercising random Python library code.

A couple of minor issues I tripped over due to experience with other text adventures:

- Consider adding the standard text adventure shortcut commands: "x" or "examine" for "look at", and "i" for "inventory".

- I found it surprising that "look at inventory_item" didn't work. "look at boat" or "look at vest", for instance.

- How about "help command" for each command listed in the "help" output?

Deploying these fixes now - thanks for the feedback!

Thanks for the rapid response! All of those changes work perfectly here, and the interface feels much more comfortable now.

I kinda expected "x chips" and "x radionuclides" to do something, at least as a joke. (Out of curiosity, did you get some inspiration from "no tea" there?)

Also, how about "x me", "talk to me", and "help help"?

Any way you could provide scrollback?

The bit about "Absolutely no uranium, plutonium, thorium, or radionuclides derived therefrom" was actually not inspired by the "No tea" inventory item in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It should have been. I wrote that part, and I've played THHGTTG, but there was no causal relationship between these two events. I put in that inventory item because there was a "fission" verb, and I wanted to be explicit about the fact that you do not have any critical masses of fissile elements anywhere on your person, nor any elements from which you can breed fissile isotopes using some spare neutrons.

(I probably would have made the radionuclides examinable, if I hadn't been too busy making all the verbs apply to pigs. There's probably a lesson in here somewhere.)

Added those now as well! (and, yes, that and as a complement to the fission verb)

Do you mean scrollback across refreshes or something else? (you can email me at robbyw@cueup.com since HN will start time-limiting our conversation at this depth)

> Added those now as well! (and, yes, that and as a complement to the fission verb)

Thanks! Most of them seem to work, except for "talk to me" and "help help".

> Do you mean scrollback across refreshes or something else?

No, I meant scrollback within a single session. I'd like to scroll back through the log of my interaction with the game, all the way back to the logo and preamble.


First puzzle: You might think you have to do an exhaustive search of all possible seeds for the random number generator, but it turns out they've made it easy for you. The initial seed is at one extreme end of the possible range....

Second puzzle: Just create a stack, and walk through the string pushing and popping as you go.

By the way, I'm sure there's a mistake in there. I got the answer x (and I checked it by hand) but it only accepts the answer x - 1.

Third puzzle: My approach used dynamic programming algorithms. If you're unfamiliar with this technique, you'll probably want to find a different way to solve it.

First, I used dynamic programming to find all routes of the form (north|east)+ (i.e. all routes in which the rabbit only goes north and east). That didn't work, but it was clear that the rabbit could only double back on itself a limited number of times, so I extended my code to find all routes of the form (north|east)+((south|west)+(north|east)+)

vim and emacs both know all about matching arbitrarily nested parentheticals...

> They fail to reach consensus on what it means to `pwd` a pig, then as one, they fall silent.

Clearly this version doesn't have pig paths.

I definitely bookmarked this. This is going to be a fun diversion in my spare time.

hah, love this! pretty clear you guys spent a ton of time on it, was loads of fun. definitely one-upping ours ;)

This is really cool.

Is there a standalone, open-source version of this available?

Not at the moment, but with enough interest, it's something we could do at some point.

A Z-machine file would be nice. :)

That was a nice diversion for a Friday afternoon - thanks. I finished the bonus round, but didn't find any pig jokes or easter eggs.

Good game! I enjoyed the first puzzle most, mainly because the second was a pain to write and I didn't think to allow backtracking in the second. I'm stuck, though, on the bonus puzzle; Is there a hint I'm missing? Brute-force doesn't seem a sensible answer.

Here is the puzzle-solving code that I wrote as I played: https://gist.github.com/4571643. It’s written in Ruby 1.9. You can check it out if you’re stuck or just curious.

It is a pretty neat game. I have no idea what MTH$RANDOM is.Can you suggest some links where could i look it up?

The best reference that Google turned up, IMHO, was the info page for the GNU Scientific Library's random number generators, which has MTH$RANDOM under the name gsl_rng_vax():


Of course, that info page can't tell you what seed the VAX in the game is using....


Unfortunately, I can't get the numbers to fit, even with accounting for 00, and using an actual roulette board order.

Roulette board order doesn't matter. It's calling the RNG sequence.

My mistake was feeding the mod 36 output back in as the next seed; it's the output from the RNG itself, and a good thing too...

That was fun - thanks Robby and team!

Can I take a ^ from the ^ shack?

A popup preventing me from closing the page? Seriously? In 2013?

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