Tantalizing Details for Colossal Cave Adventure Enthusiasts

The most detail I’ve ever seen about Will Crowther’s other creative projects; here, in a conversation dated 1996, he discusses “different ‘adventures’”, and reveals that he wrestled with many of the same challenges that interactive fiction programmers faced through the 1980s and on to the present.

I have at various times made different “adventures.” Two stand out. One had hundreds of objects. I made a dump next to the well house, with all sorts of junk. My goal was to implement the semantics of all the concrete nouns I could think of. I particularly remember the problems involved in “cutting a rope.” Cut a rope and you have two ropes ? everyone knows that. Cut the rope 1000 times and what do you have? Certainly not 1001 ropes. On the other hand, burning something was easy. If you set it afire, it changes into a new thing (which emits light and heat), and then after N ticks changes again into something else (often ashes). This is just an object with three states, just like the plant in the original adventure.

The second had an elf. To succeed at the elf puzzle, you had to talk to the elf for a while (10-20 utterances) without making him mad. Then he would invite you home for tea, where you could get on with the rest of the game. I didn?t do very well at making an elf who was a good conversationalist, but that was the goal. The elf, of course, had emotions and goals and opinions; you had to learn which conversational buttons to push to get his emotions into the “friendly” state. That involved asking (politely) about his family (W. Crowther personal communication, November 6, 1996).

via Chet Hedden, A Guided Exploration Model of Problem-Solving Discovery Learning (University of Washington dissertation, 1998)