Author Topic: Computer Games: Crowther's _Adventure_  (Read 233 times)

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Offline AlligatorDicax

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Computer Games: Crowther's _Adventure_
« on: September 07, 2020, 07:00:09 PM »
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  • This being a U.S. federal holiday on a Monday, a technically-fun diversion might be in order.

    I found an enjoyable distraction in accounts of the original role-playing-game (RPG) on computers: Colossal Cave Adventure [*].  It was written by Will Crowther [♢] in the late 1970s.  He was a computer programmer at the prestigious federal technical contractor Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BBN), and also an experienced caver & rock-climber, who was involved in the mapping of the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System in Kentucky [#].

    Nowadays, quite an irony has arisen: Altho' Crowther's highest academic achievement was a B.S. in physics from MIT, some parvenues have earned Ph.D.s in fields with names like "History of Technology", by documenting what Crowther and comparable programming pioneers did to solve the challenges of figuring out how to make them actually work.  And in Crowther's case, coding in FORTRAN [♣]!

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    Note * : <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossal_Cave_Adventure>

    Note ♢ : <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Crowther_(programmer)>, which shows him as still alive (now) in his early 80s.  But <https://conservancy.umn.edu/bitstream/handle/11299/107235/oh184wc.pdf?sequence=1> (<https://web.archive.org/web/20180430115650/https://conservancy.umn.edu/bitstream/handle/11299/107235/oh184wc.pdf?sequence=1> if needed), from the the Charles Babbage Institute, Center for the History of Information Processing (U. Minn., Minneapolis) is certainly a better, i.e., more reliable & detailed, reference.

    Note ♣ : Whatever was available on the DEC PDP-10 to compete with IBM FORTRAN IV (G or H).  If your only tool is a hammer, there's not much of an alternative to treating every challenge like a nail.

    Note # : Cave-mapping in the mid 1970s involved survey-data-crunching computation and plotting, resulting in printed cave maps, in which the connections of passages were most important.  But that activity preceded the availability of personal computers by a decade (more-or-less).  Instead, it was performed on, ummm, highly unofficial bases in which relatively ummm, flexible personal access to institutional, organizational, or corporate computing resources was allowed to certain employees.  So it was performed, e.g., at universities, federal labs, and federal contractors, when the employer's computers could be claimed to be more-or-less idle.

    Offline AlligatorDicax

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    St. Helena/Re: Computer Games: Crowther's _Adventure_
    « Reply #1 on: September 07, 2020, 08:00:07 PM »
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  • There's a reason for this digression: Pondering the topic "A Catholic Video Game" [*], I received an inspiration, which evokes a liturgically important feast in exactly 1 week [♪]: Finding of the True Cross!  Might that be the basis of a Catholic computer game?  Or even a feature-length movie!?

    The heroine is St. Helena [✞] (ob. ca. AD 330), who was the mother of Flavius Valerius Constantinus, i.e., Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great (r. AD 306--337).  She was apparently quite the adventuress.  And if she wasn't, one can nevertheless imagine her as such.  How often would the denizens of Roman Palestine have answered a request from the mother of the uncontested emperor with a "no"?  Especialy when it seems highly likely that she was accompanied at all times by a detachment of the Pretorian Guard [☠].  So it was that 'twas she who is credited by Catholic tradition as having found the True Cross.

    I could certainly implement such a game as an Adventure RPG. But without lots of study, not as an FPS.  Why an FPS?  Because a game-designer might profitably cherry-pick the "Laura Croft" Tomb Raider computer game for ideas.  St. Helena might not need to be a toga-clad combination of the Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot "Wonder Woman".  It might suffice for her to be a feisty elderly woman played by 1 of those British actresses who've been awarded the title "Dame", albeit perhaps skilled with a Catholic equivalent to a Jedi light sabre.

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    Note * : <https://www.cathinfo.com/computers-and-technology/a-catholic-video-game/>.

    Note ♪ : Cue theme (music) from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Note ✞ : "This sojourn in Jerusalem proved the starting-point of the legend first recorded by Rufinus as to the discovery of the Cross of Christ."  Johann Peter Kirsch 1910: "St. Helena".  The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 7.  <https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07202b.htm>.  Or if one feels a need for a secular assessment: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena_(empress)>.  Also (hastily added) Fernand Cabrol 1908: "The True Cross".  The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 4.   <https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04529a.htm>.

    Note ☠ : It seems highly unlikely that Helena's imperial guard would not have been operating under a personal threat from Constantine I about the consequences of harm to as little as a hair on his mother's head during her travels/pilgrimages.


    Offline AlligatorDicax

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    Re: St. Helena/Re: Computer Games: Crowther's _Adventure_
    « Reply #2 on: September 08, 2020, 04:00:10 PM »
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  • I received an inspiration, which evokes a liturgically important feast in exactly 1 week: Finding of the True Cross [✞]!  Might that be the basis of a Catholic computer game?  Or even a feature-length movie!?

    Sigh.  Either it wasn't really inspiration from God, or I simply glanced too quickly at my Traditional Catholic Calendar.  The correct dates:

    Quote from: Cabrol 1908 in Catholic Encyclopedia

    The 3rd of May was called the feast of the Invention [i.e., Finding] of the Cross, and it commemorated in a special manner Saint Helena's discovery of the sacred wood of the Cross; the 14th of September, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, commemorated above all the circumstances in which Heraclius recovered from the Persians the True Cross, which they had carried off.

    It's worth noting that the upcoming Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is the basis date for determining the autumn ember days for each year.

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    Note ✞ : Fernand Cabrol 1908: "The True Cross".  The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 4.    <https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04529a.htm#section3>.


     

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