Notes from Witt's End #1 On Adventure


I was more joking than anything…but yes, the lack of a link makes anything said or any rating on that page meaningless.


Besides the Doctor Who connection I don’t really get the reference. I don’t really agree that anyone can rate or review their own game with anything resembling objectivity, so I think such ‘reviews’ are only valuable in the same way as a promotional blurb, since that is all they are.

If the game doesn’t exist then no IFDB should have been written, although the mere lack of a link doesn’t really speak to the value of a review — that would render all reviews valueless from before hyperlinks existed, and that doesn’t seem right. I bet some old luddites would disagree. 8)


Your suspicions would be well-founded, sir!

Lauren, the obnoxious schoolgirl? It’s only Tate’s most famous character. :wink: Well, besides Nan, I guess.

I agree with you - an author can come up with some objectivity but it will never be true objectivity, but that’s par for the course, it’s what one would expect. But if Emilt Short were to review Galatea and Bronze and Alabaster now, written at different points of her life and when IF was at different states, it would make interesting reading, as I’d expect she’d talk about the decisions she made, compare them with the decisions she’s making now, see her faults and her strengths more clearly…

An author talking about their work, especially after some time has passed, can be very interesting indeed. Maybe the name “review” doesn’t apply, which would be where you’re coming from. I can get behind that - shall we call author’s reviews “reflections”? IFDB does separate “author reviews” and labels them clearly, which is a good thing, they’re not all lumped together,


I didn’t look close, but there are times on IFDB where the person who submits the game is not the author. Like if I made a page for Infocom’s Trinity and then rated it five stars. I would assume that’s why that functionality exists - for people who are submitting a game they didn’t make to review it.


So what are plans for essay 2? I imagine this must be tiring to think up and execute.


finally getting halfway through it. An interesting essay in a very amusing narrative style.

And here is the most amusing account I have of Adventure:

I remember being fascinated by this game when John McCarthy showed it to me in 1977. I started with no clues about the purpose of the game or what I should do; just the computer’s comment that I was at the end of a forest road facing a small brick building. Little by little, the game revealed its secrets, just as its designers had cleverly plotted. What a thrill it was when I first got past the green snake! Clearly the game was potentially addictive, so I forced myself to stop playing — reasoning that it was great fun, sure, but traditional computer science research is great fun too, possibly even more so.

Now here I am, 21 years later, returning to the great Adventure after having indeed had many exciting adventures in Computer Science. I believe people who have played this game will be able to extend their fun by reading its once-secret program. Of course I urge everybody to play the game first, at least ten times, before reading on. But you cannot fully appreciate the astonishing brilliance of its design until you have seen all of the surprises that have been built in.

I believe this program is entirely faithful to the behavior of Adventure Version 1.0, except that I have slightly edited the computer messages (mostly so that they use both lowercase and uppercase letters). I have also omitted Woods’s elaborate machinery for closing the cave during the hours of prime-time computing; I believe John McCarthy insisted on this, when he saw the productivity of his AI Lab falling off dramatically (although it is rumored that he had a special version of the program that allowed him to play whenever he wanted).

by Donald Knuth in:

if you’re into compsci and never heard of Knuth or McCarthy, shame on you…


Sorry for the late reply! — I’m so far behind in various things I’m supposed to be doing lately, I never felt the luxury of browing some forums for quite a while, but it’s been too long.

Part 2 was already completely outlined and laid out before I published the above post (they were originally supposed to be one piece but I think the above is quite long enough for one sitting). Now I’m working on a game and I’m so far over the deadline I set (over 2mths & counting) that splitting my time further would just be not good, so it’ll have to wait.

Also, since it’ll probably be as long as Part 1, even with an outline it’ll take a while to write, so when I do start with the blog again, I may post shorter, easier stuff first.


Knuth’s account is pretty cool. Thanks for posting that!


Need help testing? It might be stuff you could check but it might take too much time. I often do that instead of handing it off–testing your own stuff can be a tangle.


Adventure is once again on the foreground!

Laroquod, you’ll probably want to take a look at this. Your expertise will be invaluable input.


Thanks for the tip - I will take a look!


I will, actually, need help with testing, pretty soon, for that game and for one other from before that’s looking like it’s going to actually be ready sooner. I’ll return to this forum when the time comes.



Just a general update on this. Blogging plans ended up (probably unsurprisingly) taking a back seat to my ever-dilatory dev projects. But Part 2 is still in the works although there will be a shorter interlude post, first. If things go as I wish I’ll have both the interlude and Part 2 posted before summer’s out. And then I plan to move on with game review, moving from Adventure to Zork and the rest of Infocom’s classics. Obviously this circuit is well-travelled, but as with Adventure, no one seems to have ever said the things I want to say about these games, so the past is prologue.

I’m hoping to release two games this summer too, though that is a stretch goal: I’ll count myself ‘in motion’ if I can deliver on one. Both are being created as templates for further games based on the same models: one involving a game that is always in motion through a non-room-based geography so that ‘rooms’ can be repurposed for something else (I discussed these ideas at length on the Code of Conduct forum maybe a couple of years ago); the second is the one I started for ‘GG jam’ that has ended up expanding into a fairly generalised bar life handling and drink-ordering template. Both will be very ‘gamey’ despite being focused on story, since that’s the design that I believe is in greatest need of demonstration, judging from how few people seem to get that those two things aren’t opposed.

If the blogging fails it’ll be because I got too wrapped up in the dev. If the dev fails I’ll have no excuse for that especially now that I’ve quit arguing with censorious anti-gamers on Twitter.

Wish me luck! Any original observations or commentary or tips or guides I come up with regarding i7 and game design in general will be made on this forum, if not on the blog. No more Twitter (at least not until I start reviewing games again, at which point I’ll probably want to use Twitter for its strength in spreading the word).



Good luck!
<Dum de dum, padding it out to make it at least 20 characters…>


Already faltering. I’m not sure I’m going to continue to try to blog at all anymore. Face it I suck at it: I take incredibly laborious pains with it and then get so sick of having done that, that I put it down for long periods, and end up apparently only able to produce a post like every 6 months. That’s not really the way that somebody ‘cut out for’ blogging does things, is it? My living situation is going through some changes too and it’s all very discouraging and soon I may have very little free time, and it may stay that way indefinitely. I’ll keep up with the dev I guess — my plans might be much delayed, but burying my head in code when I can helps keep me sane, regardless. But the blogging is just a chore I can’t really afford to think about anymore. I guess! Or maybe I’m just depressed? Maybe everything will look different in the morning. In any case, I shouldn’t have come back here making promises — I’m too much of a flake for that and I always end up regretting opening my mouth about my future plans.


Some people have a harder time writing quality stuff. And Notes from Witt’s End is definitely quality stuff. I don’t know how someone “cut out” for it does it, but I do know that everyone works differently and it’s unfair to judge someone on someone else’s yardstick. It’s even more unfair for someone to judge themselves by someone else’s yardstick.

If it’s a chore, by all means leave it to simmer. If you decide to move on, and never return to it, that’s fine too - you’ll have moved on, is all, to other things.

I really, really want to reply to this but I keep erasing and rewriting because it feels very familiar; cuts pretty damn close. So i’ll go straight to the point: if you’re an ambitious and dedicated person, and aren’t as good as managing that as you’d like, and on top of that have little free time, then yes, you’ll have a hard time accomplishing all your plans. And you crumble and throw them all to the wind.

That doesn’t make you a flake, and it doesn’t mean that all your future plans will come to nothing. It just means that you need a break; you need to come back to it when it’s fun again. It’ll be waiting, and so will we.


I also know what that’s like - opening my mouth about plans for stuff I wouldn’t finish anytime soon is where I got this name. The projects I’m most proud of are the ones I worked on in spurts of a couple months at a time, spread out over many years. If you’re not feeling this project now, it’s OK to wait until you are.


Guilty of this as well. I often put personal projects on the side burner until I’m “ready” to tackle them…wish I could do the same on work projects as well at times.


Thanks guys. Yesterday was a bad day for several reasons. Nothing’s really changed today but I don’t normally panic like that. It’s true though that I shouldn’t have made promises. I’m just going to keep coding and see what happens.


Well, I tend to try to underpromise. Or I’m at my best when I do. E.g. “It seems like I can fix this dumb bug and anything else is gravy.”

Sometimes I even feed myself dumb bugs to get started. It’s a momentum builder. I also try not to hit home runs too much. But it’s tough to balance not trying to do everything at once vs recognizing when a good idea is just there.