[ANNOUNCE] Mystery House Taken Over

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

The MHTO Occupation Force is pleased to announce the launch of Mystery
House Taken Over:

http://turbulence.org/Works/mystery/

The Mystery House Advance Team - Nick Montfort, Dan Shiovitz, and
Emily Short - has reverse engineered Mystery House, the first
graphical adventure game. Members of the Advance Team have
reimplemented it in Inform, and have fashioned a Glulx kit to allow
others to easily modify this early game.

Modified versions of Mystery House have been created by the elite
Mystery House Occupation Force, consisting of individuals from the
interactive fiction, electronic literature, and net art communities:

Adam Cadre (Varicella, Photopia)
Daniel Garrido, a.k.a. dhan (Ocaso Mortal)
Michael Gentry (Little Blue Men, Anchorhead)
Yune Kyung Lee & Yoon Ha Lee (The Moonlit Tower, Swanglass)
Nick Montfort (Ad Verbum, Implementation)
Scott Rettberg (The Unknown, Implementation)
Dan Shiovitz (Lethe Flow Phoenix, Bad Machine)
Emily Short (Savoir-Faire, City of Secrets)


Visitors to the site can play these modded games and can also create
their own versions to offer online there. The Mystery House Occupation
Kit allows artists and authors, with or without programming experience,
to hack at and reshape Mystery House, easily modifying the "surface"
aspects. Artists and writers may also choose to undertake more
substantial renovations, engaging with, commenting on, and transforming
an important interactive program from decades past.

Mystery House is a primitive interactive fiction for the Apple II by
Roberta and Ken Williams, who published the game in 1980 through their
company, On-Line Systems (later called Sierra). The game was a hit -
Sierra sold more than 10,000 copies in a very small, new market for
home computer software. Mystery House accepts one- or two-word typed
commands from the user and presents crude, monochrome line drawings and
terse textual descriptions. In 1987, in celebration of Sierra's 7th
anniversary, Mystery House was placed in the public domain. The
modifiable Mystery House Taken Over reimplementation has likewise been
placed in the public domain by the Advance Team.

Mystery House Taken Over is a 2004 commission of New Radio and
Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It
was made possible with funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the
Visual Arts.
19 answers Last reply
More about announce mystery house over
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    Ashiq Alibhai wrote:
    > Is this legal? You guys are talking about reverse-engineering
    something
    > that Sierra published and sold--something that is, if not
    intellectual
    > property, copyright material. That is, in my limited understanding
    of
    > law, very, very dangerous if done without proper setup. What are
    > Sierra's comments on this? If they don't care, great. But like ID
    and
    > Commander Keen, if they do....

    Quite.

    Mystery House was released into the public domain in 1987.
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

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  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    Is this legal? You guys are talking about reverse-engineering something
    that Sierra published and sold--something that is, if not intellectual
    property, copyright material. That is, in my limited understanding of
    law, very, very dangerous if done without proper setup. What are
    Sierra's comments on this? If they don't care, great. But like ID and
    Commander Keen, if they do....
  4. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    I'm slightly confused by the reimplentmented original version of Mystery
    on the site. The downloadable version is a .z5 file, containing no
    graphics. There is however a note saying to download the MHTO kit to
    get the graphical version.

    I tried this, but the kit contains only tools, resources, and source
    code, and no playable game file. I'm sure I could sit down with the
    included docs and compile the game myself, but I'm probably more
    technical than many who download the game.

    Why not offer the game as a downloadable Blorb file on the site for
    those who just want to try it out?

    Thanks,
    Jimmy
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    Jimmy Maher wrote:

    > Why not offer the game as a downloadable Blorb file on the site for
    > those who just want to try it out?

    I'm not sure if it was in response to my message or not, but the
    downloadable .z5 file has been replaced with the .blb version. Thanks
    for that, if you are reading.

    I'm looking forward to digging into these games soon. With this project
    plus the Spring Thing coming up, there's something of an embarrasment of
    new IF riches at the moment.

    Jimmy
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    emshort@mindspring.com wrote:
    > The MHTO Occupation Force is pleased to announce the launch of
    Mystery
    > House Taken Over:
    >
    > http://turbulence.org/Works/mystery/
    >
    > The Mystery House Advance Team - Nick Montfort, Dan Shiovitz, and
    > Emily Short - has reverse engineered Mystery House, the first
    > graphical adventure game. Members of the Advance Team have
    > reimplemented it in Inform, and have fashioned a Glulx kit to allow
    > others to easily modify this early game.
    >
    > Modified versions of Mystery House have been created by the elite
    > Mystery House Occupation Force, consisting of individuals from the
    > interactive fiction, electronic literature, and net art communities:

    Um, guys, will these games be placed on the Archive sometime soon?

    Just asking...

    Thanks,
    Arnel
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    On or about 3/15/2005 12:10 PM, emshort@mindspring.com did proclaim:

    > The MHTO Occupation Force is pleased to announce the launch of Mystery
    > House Taken Over:
    >
    > http://turbulence.org/Works/mystery/
    >
    > The Mystery House Advance Team - Nick Montfort, Dan Shiovitz, and
    > Emily Short - has reverse engineered Mystery House, the first
    > graphical adventure game. Members of the Advance Team have
    > reimplemented it in Inform, and have fashioned a Glulx kit to allow
    > others to easily modify this early game.

    This is *very* cool. I have many fond memories of playing Mystery House
    on an Apple ][ back in the day.
  8. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    On or about 3/15/2005 3:35 PM, Ashiq Alibhai did proclaim:

    > Is this legal? You guys are talking about reverse-engineering something
    > that Sierra published and sold--something that is, if not intellectual
    > property, copyright material. That is, in my limited understanding of
    > law, very, very dangerous if done without proper setup. What are
    > Sierra's comments on this? If they don't care, great. But like ID and
    > Commander Keen, if they do....

    Did you even bother to read the entire post?

    On or about 3/15/2005 12:10 PM, emshort@mindspring.com did proclaim:
    > In 1987, in celebration of Sierra's 7th
    > anniversary, Mystery House was placed in the public domain. The
    > modifiable Mystery House Taken Over reimplementation has likewise been
    > placed in the public domain by the Advance Team.

    IMHO, Emily was way too polite in her reply to you.
  9. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    Jimmy Maher wrote:
    > I'm slightly confused by the reimplentmented original version of
    Mystery
    > on the site. The downloadable version is a .z5 file, containing no
    > graphics. There is however a note saying to download the MHTO kit to

    > get the graphical version.

    I agree that this is somewhat confusing. The impression that I got
    from reading the text was that I could play the z-machine file online
    and download the glulx but both links are z-code.

    > I tried this, but the kit contains only tools, resources, and source
    > code, and no playable game file. I'm sure I could sit down with the
    > included docs and compile the game myself, but I'm probably more
    > technical than many who download the game.

    I have done this and it is not too difficult. The instructions in the
    readme are a bit difficult (because they are detailed) but for playing
    the strait reimplementation they boil down to double clicking (or
    running in some other way) the file dos-build-all.bat for windows
    (similarly linux-build-all.sh for linux and mac-build-all.command for
    the mac) and then load the resulting mhto.blb into a Glulx interpreter
    (if like me you have one installed this involved double clicking on the
    icon).

    > Why not offer the game as a downloadable Blorb file on the site for
    > those who just want to try it out?
    >
    > Thanks,
    > Jimmy

    I'm curious about this too. There could be any number of reasons not
    to include it in the package download (size is only the most obvious),
    but why not include it as a stand-alone link. Overall great work
    everyone.

    I do have one minor question. I found Emily's mod noticablely slow on
    my 1.79GHz 320MB RAM machine which is annoying for an all-text game (or
    any game for that matter but you expect 3D graphics to be resource
    hogs). Is this a common accurance? 7 Short NPC's presumably have big
    Daemons to run every turn but maybe Inform 7 could be better optimized?

    Cirk R. Bejnar
  10. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    Heya.

    samwyse wrote in message ...

    >This is *very* cool. I have many fond memories of playing Mystery House
    >on an Apple ][ back in the day.

    Baf's guide http://www.wurb.com/if/game/150
    has it as an apple diskimage. I've tried this with several apple emulators,
    but only the old DOS one (A2) worked on my system; have not seen any
    graphics though.

    Greetz, Katzy.
  11. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    > I do have one minor question. I found Emily's mod noticablely slow
    on
    > my 1.79GHz 320MB RAM machine which is annoying for an all-text game
    (or
    > any game for that matter but you expect 3D graphics to be resource
    > hogs). Is this a common accurance? 7 Short NPC's presumably have
    big
    > Daemons to run every turn but maybe Inform 7 could be better
    optimized?

    This is absolutely *not* an Inform 7 issue; what Inform 7 produces is
    not inherently slower than I6. (I think I address this somewhere in the
    help, but possibly not.)

    Anyway, there are two things going on:

    1) there is a slight pause inserted before NPC actions in some cases,
    which is deliberate: partly to space out text dumps, partly because I
    felt it made the activity feel more lifelike, partly because the
    original game has text with pauses in it.

    I thought about adding an option for people to turn that off if they
    found it unutterably annoying; I didn't get around to it. If it turns
    out to be desired, I'll think about it if I release a new version of
    the game.

    2) besides that, yes, the NPC daemons have a lot to do. I cached some
    of the pathfinding stuff for speed, but they still do have a fairly
    long set of instructions every turn.

    Given your machine's speed, maybe the issue is the interpreter you're
    running? Different terps have different efficiencies. I did test this
    for speed on Mac OS X Zoom and Frotz (Unix Frotz running under OS X)
    and found that things seemed to move along briskly enough. My
    betatesters using a Windows Frotz did not report themselves to be
    acutely miserable either.

    It *will* be slow run over ZPlet, and probably intolerable on a
    handheld. Sorry.

    -- Emily
  12. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    >The Mystery House Advance
    >Team - Nick Montfort, Dan
    >Shiovitz, and Emily Short - has
    >reverse engineered Mystery
    >House, the first graphical
    >adventure game. Members
    >of the Advance Team have
    >reimplemented it in Inform,
    >and have fashioned a Glulx
    >kit to allow others to easily
    >modify this early game.

    I've been into the reimplementation/remake thing myself lately. It's
    nice to see this particular game again. And the customization feature
    is also something I've been considering for one of my own projects.

    One thing I should note about the first graphical adventure game is
    that it depends on whether said game is of the text variety, or the
    purely graphical variety. For the former, I would say Mystery House was
    first. But for the latter, Adventure for the Atari 2600, released
    Christmas 1979, which ironically was inspired by the original text
    adventure by Woods and Crowther.
  13. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    > I found Emily's mod noticablely slow on my 1.79GHz 320MB RAM machine
    which is
    > annoying for an all-text game (or any game for that matter but you
    expect 3D graphics
    > to be resource hogs).

    I didn't notice any slowdown on a similar machine. But you raise an
    important point, which I'd like to address separately from any specific
    game.

    In a 3D game, an action game anyway, any degree of slowdown can ruin
    the experience. But in a text game, who cares if there's a few seconds'
    pause between prompts? Sure, if I have to wait a bit and it's doing
    nothing impressive, I might ask "what's the holdup?" and I might even
    get some "ROAD RAGE!"

    But then, if you're playing an IF piece that's interesting you, and
    needs a couple seconds to think about how to do it each turn, this is
    well and fine, no?

    Good text, not lightning speed, is the priority in IF. Not that we're
    in a "it must be lightning fast" brain-lock, but the priorities can be
    sometimes misreguarded.
  14. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    > Did you even bother to read the entire post?

    Yes, I did. However, I skimmed the last three to four lines. How
    unfortunate for me. I apologize, since I seem to have greatly offended
    you for some reason.
  15. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    samwyse wrote:
    > On or about 3/15/2005 3:35 PM, Ashiq Alibhai did proclaim:
    >
    >> Is this legal? You guys are talking about reverse-engineering
    >> something that Sierra published and sold--something that is, if not
    >> intellectual property, copyright material. That is, in my limited
    >> understanding of law, very, very dangerous if done without proper
    >> setup. What are Sierra's comments on this? If they don't care,
    >> great. But like ID and Commander Keen, if they do....
    >
    >
    > Did you even bother to read the entire post?
    >
    > On or about 3/15/2005 12:10 PM, emshort@mindspring.com did proclaim:
    > > In 1987, in celebration of Sierra's 7th
    > > anniversary, Mystery House was placed in the public domain. The
    > > modifiable Mystery House Taken Over reimplementation has likewise been
    > > placed in the public domain by the Advance Team.
    >
    > IMHO, Emily was way too polite in her reply to you.
    >

    In my opinion, you were much too rude in your reply to Ashiq...
    Gads, who are you? The newsgroup police?!
  16. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    Donnie Russell wrote:

    > One thing I should note about the first graphical adventure game is
    > that it depends on whether said game is of the text variety, or the
    > purely graphical variety. For the former, I would say Mystery House
    > was first. But for the latter, Adventure for the Atari 2600, released
    > Christmas 1979, which ironically was inspired by the original text
    > adventure by Woods and Crowther.

    Yep, you're completely right. While I certainly knew about the Atari
    VCS Adventure predating Mystery House, I slipped up on that part of the
    project description. I just changed "first graphical" to "first
    text-and-graphics" both on the MHTO site and in Grand Text Auto
    announcement.

    -Nick
    http://nickm.com http://grandtextauto.org
    (To contact me, send your message to nickm.com, username nickm)
  17. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    On or about 3/16/2005 7:43 PM, Jeff Houck did proclaim:
    > samwyse wrote:
    >> IMHO, Emily was way too polite in her reply to you.
    >
    > In my opinion, you were much too rude in your reply to Ashiq...
    > Gads, who are you? The newsgroup police?!

    No, we're the USENET police: Dum-de-dum-dum.
    It's an endless, glamorless, thankless job that's got to be done.

    http://www.holyducttape.com/tomservo/news.html
  18. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    steve.breslin@gmail.com wrote:
    > > I found Emily's mod noticablely slow on my 1.79GHz 320MB RAM
    machine
    > which is
    > > annoying for an all-text game (or any game for that matter but you
    > expect 3D graphics
    > > to be resource hogs).
    >
    > I didn't notice any slowdown on a similar machine. But you raise an
    > important point, which I'd like to address separately from any
    specific
    > game.
    >
    > In a 3D game, an action game anyway, any degree of slowdown can ruin
    > the experience. But in a text game, who cares if there's a few
    seconds'
    > pause between prompts? Sure, if I have to wait a bit and it's doing
    > nothing impressive, I might ask "what's the holdup?" and I might even
    > get some "ROAD RAGE!"
    >
    > But then, if you're playing an IF piece that's interesting you, and
    > needs a couple seconds to think about how to do it each turn, this is
    > well and fine, no?
    >
    > Good text, not lightning speed, is the priority in IF. Not that we're
    > in a "it must be lightning fast" brain-lock, but the priorities can
    be
    > sometimes misreguarded.

    It probably was the bult in delays that I was noticing, at least I
    found it certainly fine tonight. But as for Steve's responce, I think
    that it depends on playing style. I often think several moves at a
    time and generally don't take time to read and plan each move. "Go to
    the Hall of Mists" or "Find out what's in the chest" are one goal to me
    even though I communicate them to the parser over several turns. I
    don't usually pause in between directional commands when I know where
    I'm going or parts of a composite command (UNLOCK CHEST WITH KEY, OPEN
    IT, GET THING FROM CHEST, X THING). I do admit that this style is
    severely non-optimised with respect to turns and so I despise time
    limits with a passion but I make no appologies for my preference.

    Cirk R. Bejnar
  19. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction,rec.arts.int-fiction (More info?)

    Arnel wrote:
    > Um, guys, will these games be placed on the Archive sometime soon?

    Yes. I checked with contributors and got permission from most of them
    to do this. For posterity's sake, and so that people looking through
    the archive can happen across them, I just uploaded the MHTO Occupation
    Kit, our compiled and blorbed reimplementation of Mystery House, and
    seven modded games to /incoming. Generally, contributors are welcome to
    upload updated versions of their games to the Archive, or make their
    games available for download on their own sites, or do anything else
    that they want with their work.

    For those who know about the project, though, it's definitely best to
    go to the site -- http://turbulence.org/Works/mystery/ -- to experience
    it. The latest versions of games and new games by others should appear
    there first; there are capsule descriptions of and images from the
    games; there's a Web-based system for modifying Mystery House; and now,
    all of the modified games are playable online -- including the Glulx
    games, thanks to Java Web Start and Jon Alfred Zeppieri, developer of
    Zag.

    -Nick
    http://nickm.com http://grandtextauto.org
    (To contact me, send your message to nickm.com, username nickm)
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