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About the Story
The Abort/Retry/Fail team is proud to present the famously lost INFINITE ADVENTURE. This game is a visionary pioneer in procedural text generation, randomly generating rooms, maps, items, descriptions, and puzzles for a text adventure set in a Victorian mansion. INFINITE ADVENTURE was available for sale for only one month through a Spring 1987 shareware catalog published in Cleveland, Ohio. After the authorís tragic, sensationalized death (his loverís ostrich farm in Arizona remains a grim roadside attraction), all extant copies of the game were destroyed. According to our anonymous donor, this 3Ĺ-inch diskette was recently purchased for fifty cents at a garage sale in Appleton, Wisconsin. Requires DOSBox (recommended for Windows, download at DosBox.com), DOSBox-X (recommended for Mac and Linux, download at DosBox-X.com), or a similar DOS emulator or environment to play.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2021
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: Custom
Referenced in And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One, by B.J. Best
54th place - 27th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2021)
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Number of Reviews: 4
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This game is intended to run in a DOS emulator such as DOSBOX. It has a nice aesthetic; there was a guy a few years ago who would constantly crank out BASIC games that ran in DOS and their best feature was the cool ascii art and overall look and style, and this game has that.
The parser may be a heavily modified Inform, but is more likely some kind of custom parser, since it doesn't understand standard Inform verbs like VERBOSE or PULL ME.
Gameplay is procedurally generated. You are in a maze of a house with NESW directions and one item or less per room. One of the items is a 'goal' (in my 11 playthroughs, I saw a wet elf, hungry goblin, pedestal with inscription, chest, etc.) and one of the other items is meant to be picked up and put in the goal.
I had always wanted to write a game like this as a meta-commentary on generic adventures, a game that would have random aesthetics and map but always be about gathering 'something' to put in a trophy-case analogue. But I never got around to it, and this game is a better implementation of my vision, so I'm glad to play this and see a better version of my own dreams.
In the end, of course, the game is very slight. It itches my 'play an adventure' desire, just like Nick Montfort's Amazing Quest last year, but that's it.
Mild spoiler if you haven't looked through other comp games: (Spoiler - click to show)This game seems to be part of a pair, since BJ Best has a game called "And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One" that appears to have you play a pair of kids who are playing this very game, with the same text and same credits.
(Spoiler - click to show)There may be something hidden in the game, perhaps a secret that must be communicated between BJ Bests games, of which there are three (I saw on adventuron discord that he entered an adventuron game as well). I'll change my rating if I see anything new from those games.
If you played another game first in IFComp 2021, this game may've set alarm bells ringing. (Spoiler - click to show)Because it is the game featured in BJ Best's And Then You Come..., the one Emerson and Riley play and alternatively sort of like and sort of find stupid. It's a part of their past. I apologize for the spoilers here--working out why IA is as it is was fun, more fun than playing IA, and it was pretty clearly planned that way. So I recommend playing "that game" first.
And on its own, IA's got a bit of simple charm that wears out quickly. It wouldn't deserve to do well, entered on its own. That's intentional, and unlike more overt "haha, this quick game I wrote is kinda lame" efforts, it works. Especially since I think it would generally have been impressive in the 80s, and I could've pictured myself playing it 50 times in a row just to feel better I couldn't get that one Infocom puzzle. So it evokes a bit of nostalgia there, for all the cheap games I played when I was frustrated by the hard games. "Hey, look! I'm solving something different every time!" I'd get back to that tougher game eventually. But I'd usually get tired first. So it waited until the next day.
Well, yes and no. You're dumped in a procedurally generated house of 5 to 12 rooms It's not really even a maze, just rooms connected horizontally and vertically wherever possible. Somewhere, maybe right next to you, there's an NPC or a box or an idol. Whichever it is, it requests a certain type of item, whether verbally or in writing. You then GIVE them the right item. It's pretty hard to bungle what to do. They ask for an umbrella, you search for one. The box requires something fancy, and it's probably not the VHS tape. You might have to go through all the rooms for a new item to turn up, but it'll be there. Since the rooms are procedurally generated, the fetch-quests, while clear, often have minimal sense or existential purpose. A zombie wants an eggplant. An orc wants a raincoat. You start seeing the same items. The game keeps track of wins (do what you're told) and losses (your quest giver overreacts and blows up the whole house.) Also, the text automaps for each area are legitimately neat--you can see the whole house even if you just arrived. It's the sort of thing that made me think "no way someone could do this" back then (Beyond Zork's randomized areas blew my mind for a bit,) but now I can see it's not too bad to plan out if you sit down and figure it out. Of course, they're there at the expense of things that seem more generally convenient now. Commands like GIVE IT after TAKE VIOLET don't work. You must type the whole thing out.
This is all pretty clearly the real author having the purported author, Adam Scotts (no biological relation to Scott Adams, I assume,) make a "nice big long" adventure. Especially since the garage sale where the disk was found is in (Spoiler - click to show)Appleton, Wisconsin, the location of the game above.
Except ... except ... there's more to the game. ABOUT ABOUT gives different text, which along with ABOUT suggests there are other commands. And, most importantly, one command reveals poor Mr. Scotts's production values and testing (either by himself, or by his friends) as utterly lacking. It's a command that really shouldn't fail, though the game is "winnable" without it. On seeing the unusual response to this command, I got to byte hacking, and the things I tried were much more obscure than they needed to be. I missed something relatively obvious.
I still feel The Ascot is a gold standard for "oh my goodness you do THAT" moments from an abstract point of view, and I utterly will not spoil it, and I'm not sorry if you go play the Ascot and fail to figure it out at first, because getting it right feels great. However, what to "really" do in Infinite Adventure had more emotional payoff than The Ascot or the (also quite nice) four-person meta-puzzle in the 2010 IFComp. It's cool to be able to do certain things you couldn't do in real life.
Other reviews may spoil things more explicitly than this one. I'd just like to say that the levels don't change, but in a reasonable amount of time, you get some some neat fourth-wall breaking stuff. How long do you need to play? I won't tell. I gave up at adventure 12 my first time through. But let's just say you don't need an exorbitant wait, and a perfect game isn't really the point. You can make more than one mistake. Oh, and if you really want to see what's up, the hex file editor you may've used to open the save file? Use it on the EXE. There are certain strings you can search for. Doing so made me feel like a hacker, the hacker I always wanted to be when I was a minor, even though robust hex editors remove many of the mental calculating challenges real hackers from the 80s had to face.
Also one odd thing that may be personal remembrance: I had to download DosBox to my (relatively) new computer to play this. My old one had it, but I hadn't use it. It brought back nostalgia for the first time I loaded DosBox. What was the nostalgia for? For the nostalgia I experienced of games I remembered or never quite got to play, or maybe I got to play slightly improved versions of old Apple games, or sequels to old Apple games that were too big for the Apple IIe. (Magic Candle II, for instance.) It reminded me of times I, as a kid, played a game I knew I could beat, so I could put off stuff I really needed to get better at. I knew I should be challenging myself a bit more, but winning at an easy game made me feel smart. Then, as an adult, I replayed some games--including some I never beat, but this time with cheat codes I'd snagged from the web. It provided closure, even just knowing that a certain "3 lives and you're dead" game looped. But playing IA and its connected game felt more satisfying than those actual games. In fact, so did looking at the source code the real author so kindly shared. As a kid, I got stuck with BASIC and had a disappointing experience with programming courses for compiled courses. So, more closure. Yay.
This may not apply to you, but I was at just the right age and had just the right life experience for this all to work. I like nostalgia that helps me move on, and IA provided a good deal of that for relatively little investment.
This game was released as part of IFComp 2021 alongside another game, And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One, which is an excellent game about playing THIS game, Infinite Adventure. IA is effectively a "feelie" for ATYCtaHNUtPO, a bit of extra content designed to enhance the experience of playing ATYCtaHNUtPO.
BEWARE that IA doesn't work properly in DOSBox 0.74-3 on 64-bit macOS or Linux. (The text is messed up, with missing letters.) Use DOSBox-X instead. https://dosbox-x.com
IA is a procedurally generated adventure game. Each time you play, there's a small randomly generated map, a goal, and an item to take to the goal. Sometimes the goal is an NPC, so you'd give the item to the NPC; sometimes the goal is a pedestal or a chest, so you'd put the item in/on the goal. You "win" a round of IA when you deliver the item (or "lose" if you deliver the wrong item).
But there is also more to it than that. Spoilers follow for both IA and ATYCtaHNUtPO; I recommend not reading the spoiler until you've beaten ATYCtaHNUtPO and a few rounds of IA.
(Spoiler - click to show)There's a fractured wall between ATYCtaHNUtPO and IA, where objects in the IA game are also present in the "real world" of ATYCtaHNUtPO. This version of IA does something similar.
(Spoiler - click to show)Some of the stuff in the office from ATYCtaHNUtPO is here.
(Spoiler - click to show)Some of the NPCs are, too.
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