Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Evolution of Adventure Games Prelude: Castle & Wander

There has been a major development in adventure game history that has happened since I first started this feature in 2014. In 2015, a long-lost fantasy story tool titled Wander was found after being lost for decades.

An interactive fiction enthusiast, with the handle "ant", contacted Wander's author, Peter Langston, in 2015. The 1980 version of the Wander game creation system was discovered in an e-mail archive by a man named Lou Katz, but it only contained a version of Colossal Cave Adventure partially converted to Wander. The entire 1980 version was discovered when a man named Doug Merrit found the files included with a PSL Games collection released that year.

A 1984 version was also discovered and, as that version was said to be easier to compile than previous versions, it was used to make the engine and the included games compile on modern systems.

Because of this, it's now apparent that the title of the first text adventure game belongs to the first game developed with Wander.

Wander was written by Peter Langston in HP BASIC, likely on an HP2000 in 1973. He converted it to the C programming language in 1974. The first game developed with Wander, Castle, released in 1974, contains many of the hallmarks of the adventure game genre, including story-based gameplay, an inventory, and puzzles. These elements are present in the well-known game that was had its initial release the following year, in 1975. These elements also remain present in most western adventure game released to this day.

1973 also saw the release of Hunt the Wumpus by Gregory Yobb. This game was not a text adventure, but it did contain some elements that were present in text adventures including multiple rooms accessible by using a text parser. It also contained bats that transported you to a random room. The latter is the primary reason that this game was worth mentioning in this article, as these same bats would later appear in the Colossal Cave Adventure, the game that popularized adventure games and gave the genre its name.

On To The Next Part

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