Without question, I’ve spent too much time on Tidepool Adventure, my game-within-a-game tribute to the 1977 classic. Were I my own objective project manager, I’d have said long ago, “Move on.” Between parsing the original Fortran data file and adding features to get gameplay to work, Adventure’s been a project all its own, one likely a distraction at best.
So why have I stuck with it? What value does Adventure bring to Tidepool to justify this extended detour?
The best reason for Adventure is that it’s a non-trivial development example for all of Tidepool. It proves what can be done, using someone else’s game design, which forces me to say, “Ah I didn’t think of that, I need to add this and this.” Adventure’s been part of the plan from the start precisely because I knew it would guide the design of Tidepool in ways I couldn’t anticipate early on.
The next reason for Adventure is that it’s a great template for players to modify and extend. Colossal Cave has a long history of new versions, starting with the Don Woods one. My goal is to encourage players to make changes over time. Adventure (and MUDs) lend themselves to spontaneous extensions.
The last reason is to honor this ancestor of all story-based games. Colossal Cave Adventure was a big part of my early experience with computers. I’m sure it’s influenced my software designs over the years, even my general thinking. Exploring a huge state-machine like this is a true cognitive playground.
All good reasons, but now I want out of the cave. Perhaps today will be the day.