Adv440 history

Adventure II was a superset of the original Adventure, developed in 1978 by Peter Luckett and Jack Pike, both at the time at RAE Farnborough UK (RAE: Royal Aircraft Establishment). The maximum score in the game being 440, this version is now generally referred to as adv440, in accordance to the established naming conventions.

The game was written in the then standard Fortran66, and distributed to Prime users on paper tape, which is how we got it at Glaxo (I am still kicking myself for chucking that paper tape some years later!). It got promptly installed as a part of our regulated games package, available to Prime users outside core working hours. Few programs don't have bugs, and when some fatal bugs were encountered by Glaxo players, I got in touch with Jack Pike, to report the problems and to propose fixes.

This Glaxo copy was eventually superseded by my merge of Adventure II and Dave Platt's adv550, and what with one thing and another, after some years I realised that (a) nobody seemed to be aware of the game any more, (b) I no longer had its source and (c) I had lost contact with Jack Pike. Repeated attempts by myself and others to find the game or its authors came to nothing, and hence for some years Adventure II was considered to be one of the lost variants of the game.

Come year 1999 and the Y2K scare, and Glaxo (now GlaxoWellcome) finally got around to decomissioning the last Prime (some 12 years after all Primes were supposed to be gone from the Company! :-). As a part of the resulting cleanup, a friend dug through his stuff stored in the Glaxo Prime archiving system and discovered what appeared to be the source code and the database of AdventureII! Unfortunately, the excitement turned out to be premature. The program seemed to be complete, but the database was not. It was missing all of the travel table, the object location table, the vocabulary and the hints table.

Then in 2001, out of the blue, Jack Pike got in touch. He was on a business trip to the US, and while waiting for somebody else to do their job, idly typed his name into a search engine, checking the visibility of his new Web page. It came as a bit of a shock that the returned hits also showed a link to my Web site, lamenting the loss of the game.

Surprisingly, this was not the end of the story. While Jack did have the complete database (albeit a paper copy only), he didn't have the Fortran program to go with it. Also, Fortran66 compilers are hardly common these days, so I had to convert the code rescued from the Glaxo archives to F77, as well as typing in the missing parts of the database. Unfortunately, once this was done, it became obvious that Jack's data file did not match what the program was expecting!

After some further discussions and some digging in our correspondence archives, we finally worked out that there had been an intermediary program, which converted Jack's plain text data file into a lightly encoded version, and that it was this derived version that got distributed with the F66 program.

Emulating the missing code in a bit of Perl was not hard, and thus was Adventure II (a.k.a. adv440) once again made available to Adventure lovers.


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Mike Arnautov, Friday, 05-Aug-2011 11:50:44 MDT