Fun_People Archive
10 Jul
Adventure history

Date: Sun, 10 Jul 94 18:19:16 PDT
To: Fun_People
Subject: Adventure history

Forwarded-by: John Gilmore <>
Forwarded-by: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Forwarded-by: "Adam C. Engst" <>

Colossal Cave Revisited
- -----------------------
  by Mel Park <>

  I just received my copy of Apprentice, the CD of source code put
  out by Celestin Company (mentioned in TidBITS #228_). My CD came
  so soon because I am one of the hundreds of authors whose work is
  contained within.

  Looking through the CD's contents, I was pleased to see that the
  source code for Advent is on the disk. Advent is the successor to
  the game of ADVENTURE, which in one form or another has been known
  to the computing community for 30 years. On one hand, having
  ADVENTURE still distributed in 1994 pays homage to the tradition
  of this first of all the text-based computer games. On the other
  hand, I am pleased even more to see it because of my close
  association with the real cave on which the game is based and
  because of the tradition within the caving (call it spelunking if
  you must) community that the game ADVENTURE represents. How many
  know that the world you explore in ADVENTURE is a real place? The
  online help for Advent gives this brief description:

>                   ** By Ima Wimp **
> ADVENTURE was originally developed by William Crowther, and later
> substantially rewritten and expanded by Don Woods at Stanford Univ.
> According to legend, Crowther's original version was modeled on an
> a real cavern, called Colossal Cave, which is a part of Kentucky's
> Mammoth Caverns.  That version of the game included the main maze
> and a portion of the third-level (Complex Junction - Bedquilt -
> Swiss Cheese rooms, etc.), but not much more....

  "According to legend" - Hah! ADVENTURE is based on a real cave,
  one that is, indeed, now part of the Mammoth Cave System in
  Kentucky. The cave is not Colossal, however, but Bedquilt Cave. In
  our small circle, Willie Crowther is a famous, as was his wife
  then, cave explorer of the 60's and 70's when Colossal, Bedquilt,
  Salts, Crystal and the other caves under Flint Ridge, Kentucky
  were mapped together to become the longest cave in the world. In
  1972 the Flint Ridge caves were joined to Mammoth Cave, over on
  the next ridge, in a series of difficult trips in low, half-water-
  filled passages under Houchin's Valley. That connection is still
  called the Everest of speleology. The total known length of the
  Mammoth Cave System exceeds 350 miles and exploration is still
  going on.

  Bedquilt was Willie's favorite part of the cave system. I still
  have a copy of his map of it. Computer types who grew up exploring
  ADVENTURE don't realize how accurately the game represents
  passages in Bedquilt Cave. Yes, there is a Hall of the Mountain
  King and a Two-Pit Room. The entrance is indeed a strong steel
  grate at the bottom of a twenty-foot depression.

  On a survey trip to Bedquilt, a member of my party mentioned she
  would one day like to go on trip to Colossal Cave, where she
  understood the game ADVENTURE was set. No, I said, the game is
  based on Bedquilt Cave and we are going there now. Excitement!
  Throughout the cave, she kept up a constant narrative, based on
  her encyclopedic knowledge of the game. In the Complex Room
  (renamed Swiss Cheese Room in Advent) she scrambled off in a
  direction I had never been. "I just had to see Witt's End," she
  said upon returning. "It was exactly as I expected." When we
  finished with our work, I let her lead out, which she did
  flawlessly, again because she had memorized every move in the
  game. Believe me, the cave is a real maze, and this was an
  impressive accomplishment for a first-time visitor.

  A second funny incident also reminded us of the game. About three
  years ago, a party was returning from a survey trip in Bedquilt.
  When suspended in space at the most awkward point in the climb out
  of the Hall of Mists, one party member, Roger, noticed to his
  horror a copperhead snake (was it THE SNAKE?) on the ledge next to
  his right hand. This climb is more difficult than just typing "up"
  or "down" on your computer terminal. At the top of it, you are
  stretched all the way out, pressing against one wall with hands
  behind you and against the other wall with outstretched legs,
  while fervently searching for place to put your butt or back in
  order to support your weight. You can't move anywhere quickly in
  that predicament. Confronted by the snake, Roger was so beside
  himself that all he could do was yell "strike, strike" as the
  copperhead proceeded to do just that. Tom, the party leader, had
  already made the climb up (and not seen the snake). Looking around
  for something to do, he found a stick (was it the MAGIC WAND?), in
  the Bird Chamber (the room with the rivers of orange stone,
  actually a beautiful column of orange travertine). Wand in hand,
  he moved the snake away. Fortunately, the snake lacked energy from
  having been in the 55-degree cave for a while, and Roger was
  wearing gloves and heavy caving attire. None of the snake bites

  An exciting and readable history of the modern exploration of
  Mammoth Cave, up to the 1972 connection, is in "The Longest Cave"
  by Roger Brucker and Richard Watson.

  As a final irony, the Apprentice CD contains a small map of
  Bedquilt Cave and it happens to be from Willie Crowther's mapping
  data. It's in the About box for Vectors, my cave-mapping
  application that I hadn't planned to be on the CD because it is
  such an esoteric program (it's okay, Paul, you have my belated

[=] © 1994 Peter Langston []