Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Cavern of the Morlocks: Beware the Carrrots Hommeaux!

Matra Hachette Alice Version
This text adventure in the 8-bit Basic program category is unique in several ways. First, its design permits multiple narrative pathways to the completion of the adventure (despite the limits imposed on these possibilities by the 8-bit machine hardware it was developed on--the Matra-Hachette 'Alice' computer). Second, its single key entry decision and navigation system is a refreshing departure from the much more standard two word parser system, and is very appropriate for its multiple attempt variable ending play format. Third, it is based (very roughly) on a classic work of fiction. Although its single keystroke system is somewhat similar to other extremely simple early Basic text adventures, the number of rooms, the multiplicity of narrative arches (in which randomness, decisions and the objects and paths selected make a substantial difference), and the playful and well crafted scenarios make for quite an enjoyable hour or so of distraction. Although a game like this will be of no interest to hard core modern players of interactive fiction, it certainly will be of interest to those curious about early 8-bit computer systems and the Basic programming efforts of coders grappling with the inherent limitations of such systems.

My English Language MC-10 Port from the Alice
The Alice was a French introductory computer system somewhat akin to the Sinclair ZX-81 or even the Spectrum, which shared some hardware elements with the TRS-80 Micro Color Computer from Tandy, upon which it was based. I ported and translated the game from the original Alice program by Fran├žois Coulon.

In the course of porting it I also fixed a few discrepancies in the walls between rooms.  For example, in the "bear" room you were allowed to go West into the Cook's room, but you couldn't go the other direction.  When debugging I used the following "super cheat" code.  Just hit the break key and snip and use the special paste" function in the emulator.  Then type CONT and hit ENTER.

CO=1:BI=1:TR=1:MR=1:AI=1:ME=1:MI=1:GO=1:ST=1:SB=1:CQ=1:CS=1:DI=1

** SPOILER ALERT **

Below is the layout of the dungeon.  The "Y" and "N"s after each room title tell you how to respond to the question.  I'll leave it up to you to figure out the objects you come across.

Thanks to auraes over on the SolutionArchive.com for the maze layout

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