Adventureland was released in 1978 originally as a TRS-80
game. The game later went on to have versions on other game and computer platforms such as the Atari 8-bit
, Commodore 64
and the Apple II
The game is the work of Scott Adams and was the first text adventure game released for home computers, previous works in the genre available only on university mainframes. Scott Adams went on to create many other text adventure games, Pirate Adventure, Secret Mission and The Count among them. The game had a classic fantasy background. Like most text adventure games we now know, the game was based on finding objects by looking in and around the environment that was desribed in text, and then using those objects in different areas of the game's environment.
The game packaging read "You wander through an enchanted world trying to recover the 13 lost treasures. You'll encounter wild animals, magical beings, and many other perils and puzzles. Can you rescue the Blue Ox from the quicksand? Or find your way out of the maze of pits? Happy Adventuring..."
Adams has said in interviews that he created the game in one month and that within two months of completing Adventureland he had commenced work on his next game. He distributed the game himself. His first order for Adventureland was from a single Radio Shack retail store in the Chicago area that ordered fifty copies of the game. Adams made the copies of the game himself, which was difficult at the time since TRS-80 games were on cassette tape.
Scott Adams went on to found his own company, Adventure International
, to distribute his work. The company went on to release many other games created by Adams and eventually re-released some games, including Adventureland, with graphics or as full scale graphic adventure games.
Adventureland used a simple two-word parser for its input. Players could type commands like "go north" or "take egg". More complex commands, such as unlocking a door with a key, had to be typed as two different commands. At the time, this was already a step back from state-of-the-art adventure parsing, introduced by Zork
the previous year, that could understand full sentences. Simplifying the parser was necessary for Adams to fit a game into early home computers.
Players had to gather several artifact objects to complete the game. These artifacts included the jeweled fruit, the golden fish, a statue of Paul Bunyon's Blue Ox Babe, a golden net, a magic carpet, a dragin's egg, a diamond bracelet, a diamond necklace, the royal honey, a pot of rubies, a crown, a magic mirror and a fire stone.
Supposedly, Scott Adams' wife got so frustrated with him when he was making the game that she placed the code discs in the oven of their home because he spent so much time working on the game, and the discs survived.