May Contain Blueberries

the sometimes journal of Jeremy Beker

A few months back as I was getting ready to go to XOXO I was reminded of the early days of computing and the advent of the classic text adventure. Even though i never really played them regularly as a kid, I remember hearing about Zork and enjoying the idea of the simple interface (although it is combined with the frustration the few times I did play them of figuring out what to type). However, this simplicity of interface, a typed command followed by a description of an environment or result of an action brought to mind the back and forth of a Twitter conversation. And that thought spawned this idea; a melding of the old and new.

It seemed an easy enough proposition to hook up one of the older text adventure games to a Twitter bot that would allow one to send commands and receive the output. Mapping the conversation thread between a user and the bot as a single adventure with the bot maintaining persistence on the back end.

The original Colossal Cave Adventure has been dutifully reconstructed and the code is available as open source. With some slight modifications to work around some situations where multi-line answers were required and allow saving without penalty, I was able to get the code in a form that matched a back and forth Twitter exchange.

A simple ruby application acted as the go between for the old C program and Twitter. Each conversation was saved off based on the username of the recipient and commands sent back and forth.

And Colossal Cave Bot was born.

It was a fun little exercise that a few people played around with and seemed to have fun with. The code on the ruby side is not pretty but I might at some point clean it up and share it.

(To those who find this in the future, apologies if the bot is no longer running.)