Sunday, May 14, 2006

Adventures in ADL

ADL[^] is, of course, Adventure Definition Language, a freeware language you can use to write Adventure games similar to the Zork[^] series.

Zork was, if you've never seen the game, the best text game ever! None of those fancy graphics! The graphics were in your head as you read the text descriptions and built your own vision of the Great Underground Empire. A pretty good description of reading any novel of the last 500 years I'd reckon!

I have wonderful memories of playing Zork in the mid 80's; of spending hours trying various combinations of button pressing to solve the dam puzzle; of learning to save early and often! Thus a game teaches us survival patterns for the real world!

In 1987 the internet was a different place; there were no web sites. Everything was either ftp or gopher or usenet. I saw a post in an email about some new C program available on usenet, distributed as encoded chunks within the emails. As I remember, it was distributed as a bunch of ksh self describing scripts which, when run, created a source directory containing the source code. I still have the output of those scripts; it's part of my standard 'burn to DVD when rebuilding' sequence.

The program was ADL and I used it to write a game based on the characters I met at Hewlett Packard.

What game would be complete without a monster? My monster was the memory leak! My game included some examples of leaking source code and the solution to the puzzle was the repairing of the bug!

The game had a description of our office where each 'room' was a desk. One of the desks had a collection of Playboy magazines and if one of the characters, Theo, picked one up and went to the toilet the game would send me email. The surprising thing is that I received many more than one email from that source.

Since I didn't tie the action of taking a playboy to the dunny to a specfic user ID I suspect that Theo was much maligned!

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