Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Adventure of the Week: An Adventure (19??)

My schedule has been very busy of late, which means I actually didn't get to put together an Adventure of the Week post last week.  And this week's entry is just going to be a brief novelty post, though that's not what I expected it to be when I ran across a copy of its BASIC source code in the obscure nooks and crannies of the Internet.

This TRS-80 game, known simply as An Adventure with no year or publisher cited, is clearly unfinished and not in any kind of publishable condition.  It's notable mainly for what I presume to be a pure coincidence in naming on its title screen:

Wait... Tim Schafer?  The spelling matches that of Double Fine founder and game designer extraordinaire Tim Schafer, whose storied Lucasarts history included the point-and-click classics The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle, and whose in-progress Kickstarter phenomenon currently known only as Double Fine Adventure is eagerly anticipated.

But I have to rein in my enthusiasm and conclude that An Adventure was not written by the same Tim Schafer -- or, if by some odd confluence of events it was, it must have been a late-night bender project, begun and left unfinished in the space of a few hours.  For this is an unfinished choose-your-own-adventure style game, which starts with poor grammar and spelling and goes downhill from there.  I'm not even going to put a *** SPOILERS *** boundary in this post, because there's nothing to spoil here, really!

Here's the premise:  The player is bored and decides to take a road trip (at least that's the more interesting of the binary choices presented.)

Going to bed is an instant end-of-story - HOPE YOU HAVE A BORING EVENING.  Presuming we decide to call our best friend, the next "challenge" is to remember their phone number.  We can look it up, non-interactively, if we don't know the number, so this is not really an obstacle.  Grammar and spelling remain questionable as we WAIST NO TIME looking up the friend's phone number.

Then we get to impose a choice on our called friend as to whether or not they want to take this road trip, and even if we choose the negative response, the story barges ahead by insisting that we somehow manage to talk our friend into it.

The only non-binary choice is that we get select the color of the Camaro Z-28 for the trip, which was recently given to our character by his or her parents in recognition of an 18th birthday.  And then -- perhaps forebodingly -- the game crashes with a SYNTAX ERROR in 1170.

I managed to patch up this line of code -- some quotes were in entirely the wrong place -- and learned that we can then choose to go north or south, east or west.  Selecting to travel east or west crashes the game with an undefined line number.  North or south doesn't produce an error, but making this choice simply clears the screen and ends without further comment.
Looking at the code verifies that this game is unfinished -- it appears that the author simply made it up as he was going along, and the final choices branch to nonexistent line numbers.  I'd have thought the source code file was corrupted or something, but the "real" ending that clears the screen and just ends appears to be entirely intentional, and the general sloppiness of the code at hand suggests that this was just a lark.

It's often said that half of success is just showing up.  The other, more difficult half is actually finishing something.  This effort clearly lies somewhere in between.


  1. Though the game is unfinished indeed ,you could call it a lark, but maybe it was an exercise, programming in BASIC.

    I checked the code too and you missed an error at line 1020: FOR without NEXT. Maybe then you should have seen the next question in this game

    1. Hi, Javri! Thanks for taking a closer look at this one and reporting in -- a little code archaeology is always interesting. :) I am really curious about how this one survived -- there are published (or at least advertised) games that are lost to the ages, but this one made it into the archives somehow. :)

  2. I was about 50% sure this was going to turn into a Halloween creepypasta installment. Which, come to think of it, wouldn't be a bad idea. "This is a strange coincidence, but when I opened my mail today...."