Mystery House

Taken Over

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The Mystery House Advance Team has reverse engineered Mystery House, the first text-and-graphics adventure game. Members of the Advance Team have reimplemented it in a modern, cross-platform, free language for interactive fiction development, and have fashioned a kit to allow others to easily modify this early game.

Modified versions of Mystery House have been created by the elite Mystery House Occupation Force, consisting of individuals from the interactive fiction, electronic literature, and net art communities:

Visitors to the Mystery House site can play these modded games and can also create their own versions to offer online there. The Mystery House Occupation Kit allows artists and authors, with or without programming experience, to hack at and reshape Mystery House, easily modifying the "surface" aspects. Artists and writers may also choose to undertake more substantial renovations, engaging with, commenting on, and transforming an important interactive program from decades past.

Mystery House is a primitive interactive fiction for the Apple II by Ken and Roberta Williams, who published the game in 1980 through their company, On-Line Systems (later called Sierra). The game was a hit -- Sierra sold more than 10,000 copies in a very small, new market for home computer software. Mystery House accepts one- or two-word typed commands from the user and presents crude, monochrome line drawings and terse textual descriptions. In 1987, in celebration of Sierra's 7th anniversary, Mystery House was placed in the public domain. The modifiable Mystery House Taken Over reimplementation has likewise been placed in the public domain by the Advance Team.

Nick Montfort is an interactive fiction author (Winchester's Nightmare, 1999; Ad Verbum, 2000; Book and Volume, forthcoming) and a scholar of interactive fiction, electronic literature, computer games, and other sorts of new media. He wrote Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (MIT Press, 2003) and co-edited, with Noah Wardrip-Fruin, the book and CD The New Media Reader (MIT Press, 2003). He collaborates frequently on online literary projects and blogs at Grand Text Auto. In November 2004, he and Scott Rettberg completed the distributed narrative Implementation, a novel published on stickers that were placed by participants in various locations around the world. He has also co-authored the world's longest literary palindrome, 2002: A Palindrome Story, and co-authored the online hoax and novel The Ed Report, both with William Gillespie. His other e-lit and net art includes, written with Josh Kellar, and Fields of Dream, a collaboration with Rachel Stevens. His recent critical writing has dealt with print-and-paper computer interfaces and the Atari Video Computer System. Montfort holds masters degrees in media arts and sciences, creative writing, and computer science, from MIT, Boston University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Dan Shiovitz writes code for a Seattle-area Internet company for pay, and writes code for other people for free. He is the author or co-author of a number of interactive fiction games, covering a range from hard science fiction (Bad Machine) to space opera (Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus) to would-be lucrative sponsorship deal (Coke Is It!). Dan has also produced a certain amount of IF-related paraphernalia, including Jetty (an applet enabling interactive fiction written for the TADS virtual machine to be played on a Web page), Snap! (the incredible new interactive fiction authoring system), and several essays on game design (most notably, "How to Write a Great Game"). He has also been reviewing games in the text interactive fiction community for the last seven years. Dan has a masters in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Emily Short is the author of several award-winning works of interactive fiction that explore new possibilities in character conversation and physical world modeling, including Best of Three, Metamorphoses, Pytho's Mask, and Savoir Faire. She has written numerous short works of interactive fiction (including The Last Sonnet of Marie Antoinette and A Day for Fresh Sushi) and is co-author of Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus. Her Galatea, winner of the 2000 IF Art Show, is assigned reading in several new media courses; her most recent game, City of Secrets, was listed among the Games Magazine "Top 100 Electronic Games of 2003." Short has written about interactive fiction extensively, has contributed library extensions to Inform to aid programmers, and has reviewed dozens of games. She is currently editing IF Theory, a book on interactive fiction which explores the form both as literature and as game.

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