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Colossal Cave Adventure
Box artwork for Colossal Cave Adventure.
Developer(s) William Crowther
Publisher(s) CRL Group
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Adventure
System(s) MS-DOS, Apple II
Players 1
Rating(s) None
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Colossal Cave Adventure (also known as ADVENT, Colossal Cave, or Adventure) was the first computer adventure game. It was originally designed by Will Crowther, a programmer and caving enthusiast who based the layout on part of the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky. The Colossal Cave subnetwork has many entrances, one of which is known as Bedquilt. Crowther reproduced portions of the real cave so faithfully that cavers who have played the game can easily navigate through familiar sections in the Bedquilt region on their first visit.

Crowther had explored the Mammoth Cave in the early 1970s, and created a vector map based on surveys of parts of the real cave, but the text game is a completely separate entity, created during the 1975-76 academic year and featuring fantasy elements such as an axe-throwing dwarf and a magic bridge.

The version that is best known today was the result of a collaboration with Don Woods, a graduate student who discovered the game on a computer at Stanford University and made significant expansions and improvements, with Crowther's blessing. A big fan of Tolkien, he introduced additional fantasy elements, such as elves and a troll. Until the 2007-2008 academic year, students at Stanford University were required to re-implement the game as an assignment in the first computer programming course.

Colossal Cave also holds a prominent place in computing history: when Roberta Williams and her husband Ken found the game, and were subsequently unable to find anything similar, they were inspired to found On-Line Software (later Sierra Online, and then Sierra Entertainment), which created the first graphical adventure game (Mystery House), and then quickly came to dominate the entertainment software market for the next two decades.

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