1977 Greats #01 – DUNGEON

IMAGE NOTE:  (my own photoshop creation)

Dungeon
Year:  1977-1979
Platform:  Mainframe Computers
Developer:   Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels & Dave Lebling
Genre:   Interactive-Fiction (Text)

10-dungeon2DUNGEON is actually one of the names this game was known by, and the other name is the one that most people recognize – “ZORK”.  However, the Zork games (at least to me) really speak to the commercially released series of games developed by Infocom, and released on many of the new microcomputers of the era.  So, to distinguish what this award is for — I’m referring to “Dungeon” to mean the mainframe version of Zork.

You see, before there was Zork as we know it… four guys were programming this epic adventure on a mainframe of the day.  Inspired by “Adventure” (see Gaming Great #4)  Zork set out to do it bigger, and do it better.  Puzzles continued to be added, the parser was improved for a more natural input and more complex commands, and the game developed its following.  Eventually the game ran into the limit of its development cycle when it reached the maximum file size of 1MB.

10-dungeon3
This is a HUGE game.  I spent about 2-3 weeks working my way through the game and putting together a solution & hint file guide. When I was finally finished, I really felt a sense of accomplishment! Not only are there 616 treasure-hunting points to earn, but also an additional 100 point end game. It really is a wonder of its time when compared with the available arcade games, and even more so compared with the limited capabilities of home computers.  There was simply no way to even play Dungeon unless you had access to a high-end mainframe that played host to this game.

When computers had advanced enough (namely floppy-disk access and at least 32k of available memory), Dungeon began its journey to the home computer market.  What existed as one huge game eventually was broken down into three parts – Zork I, II, and III (with some additional material added to each game).   Like many others, Zork was my introduction to Interactive-Fiction… so to go back now and play Dungeon was a heady mix of nostalgia and new discovery.  What a treat to go back and experience the origin story.

From an interactive-fiction history perspective, this was a milestone.  Zork was to become one of the killer-apps for a number of early computers… and Infocom went on to produce some of the greatest works ever in this genre.
– And it all started here.  For that, you simply can’t ignore it’s “GREAT”ness in the history of the game industry.

>examine portrait

                ||||||||||||||
               ||   __  __   ||
               ||   $$  $$   ||
              \||     >>     ||/
               ||  ________  ||
                |  -//-----  |
                \\_//_______//
               ___// |  |
              /__//  |  |
                     |  |
          __________//  \\__________
         / $ /       ****       \ $ \
        /   /         **         \   \
       /   /|         **         |\   \
      /   / |         **         | \   \
     /   /  |         **         |  \   \
     ^   ^__|______$Z$**$Z$______|__^   ^
     \         *   $Z$**$Z$   *         /
      \________*___$Z$**$Z$___*________/
            |      $Z$**$Z$      |

            J.  PIERPONT  FLATHEAD
                   CHAIRMAN

>examine coin

           --------------------------
          /       Gold Zorkmid        \
         /  T e n   T h o u s a n d    \
        /        Z o r k m i d s        \
       /                                 \
      /        ||||||||||||||||||         \
     /        !||||          ||||!         \
    |          |||   ^^  ^^   |||           |
    |          |||   OO  OO   |||           |
    | In Frobs  |||    <<    |||  We Trust  |
    |            || (______) ||             |
    |             |          |              |
    |             |__________|              |
     \                                     /
      \     -- Lord Dimwit Flathead --    /
       \     -- Beloved of Zorkers --    /
        \                               /
         \       * 722 G.U.E. *        /
          \                           /
           \                         /
             -----------------------

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