In 1972, while Mike Mayfield was plugging away on Star
Trek, Gregory Yob began work on what was to become another
While on a trip out to California,
Gregory happened by the PCC offices and was able to take a
look at several of the maze games they had available. Using a
10 x 10 Cartesian coordinate grid, games like Hurkle, Snark,
and Mudwump were all very similar.
As Gregory put it -
"There has to be a hide and seek computer game without that
He thought about creating a maze
using a dodecahedron (his favorite shape), with the vertices
being the tunnels that connected the caves. While meditating
(this was the early 1970's after all) he came up with the name
Hunt the Wumpus. Thinking about the came that entire
afternoon, he came up with the basic concepts. In a letter to
the PCC newsletter in 1974 he wrote:
My basic idea at this time was for
the player to approach the Wumpus, back off, and come up to
him by going around the dodecahedron. To my knowledge, this
has never happened ... most players adopt other strategies
rather than this cold-blooded approach.
Anyway . . .
how to get the Wumpus! How about an arrow which could turn
corners as it goes from room to room. Let the hunter tell
the arrow where to go and let it fly. The shortest round
trip without reversals is 5 caves - and thus the Crooked
Hmmm ... How does one sense the Wumpus? It's
dark in yonder cave, and light would wake him up. If one got
one cave away, the wumpus's distinct smell would serve as a
warning. So far, so good ... but Wumpus is still too easy,
so let's find some appropriate hazards for the caves.
Bottomless pits were easy. Any imaginary cave would
have a few of those around the place. Superbats were harder
to come by. It took me a day or two to get that idea. The
Superbats are a sort of rapid transit system gone a little
batty (sorry about that one). They take you a random
distance to a random cave and leave you there. If that's a
pit or a Wumpus, well, you are in Fate's hands.
Wumpus was nearly done in my mind ... (hint to a
games-writer: Have a clear notion of your game before you
start coding it. This saves MUCH confusion.) yet I felt it
was a bit dull. Once you found the Wumpus all you had to do
was shoot it. To fix this, the Wumpus was given a little
life. If you shot an arrow or moved into his cave, he woke
up and chose to move to a neighboring room or to the same
room (one of 4 choices). If you and the Wumpus were in the
same room after he moved, he ATE YOU UP!!
Wumpus and dropped it off at PCC. Then I went home and
dreamed up Wumpus 2.
Gregory had written the game
in BASIC on a timesharing system in only 50 lines of code.
Bob Albrect and the rest of the people that ran PCC were
significantly impressed enough that they decided to use Wumpus
Around a month later, I went to the
Synergy conference at Stanford, where many of the far-out
folk were gathered to share their visions of improving the
world. PCC had a few terminals running in a conference room
and I dropped by. To my vast surprise, all of the terminals
were running Wumpus and scraps of paper on the floor with
scrawled numbers and lines testified that much dedicated
Wumpus-hunting was in progress. I had spawned a hit computer
PCC published it in their
newsletter, and the game soon started appearing on mainframes
across the country. David Ahl also contributed to it's success
and eventual legend status in 1975. At the time, his magazine
Creative Computing was consisted of content that was mostly
reprints of articles from various newsletters and journals.
Frequently tapping PCC's newsletters as a source, he decided
to print the Wumpus code in his magazine, and eventually in
the Basic Computer Games book. David even regularly published
drawings sent in by readers that attempted to draw what they
thought the mysterious Wumpus looked like.
already a mainstay on mainframes everywhere, this helped to
solidify the game in the coming personal computer scene as
well. Ported to many different personal computers in many
different programming languages, the game even found it's way
to the commercial market in the 1980's when Texas Instruments
released a popular cartridge version of it for the TI99-4A