.-~' Been Much Play'd to Great Amusement `~-.

One Robin Johnson, among whatever other miscellaneous and sundry accomplishments he may have attained (self-described at his homepage as scientist, artist, clown, slob, weirdo, atheist, surrealist, technocrat, malcontent, actor, web programmer, snappy dresser, unstable genius, former dot-com wonder boy turned secretary's secretary's secretary, and all round great person), enjoys the highly dubious distinction of being the only person (likely a title that will not be challenged for some time) to compose and program an entire InfoCom-style text game based on a query (his own) to the UseNet Oracle, whose salient bits are alluded to in this node's title. (Hurry up and be the first to adapt your own favourite piece of net.lore into interactive fiction today! (Well, interactive drama in this case...) You're too late for the BOFH, who enjoyed an official game tie-in in the '02 IF-compo... but if you're fast, you can still likely be the first to send players through Kibo's A Mind Forever Greping or Alt.fan.lemursFall)

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} You are in a room.
} > look room.
} The room is small and round. There's a door in the wall
} leading west and a staircase leading down.
} > go west.
} You are on a terrace.
} > look
} There are walls around the terrance and two guards. And
} a ghost.
} > look ghost
} The ghost is a transparent sort of white. It looks like
} your late father.
} > Hi Dad!
} I don't recognize that command.
} > say hi.
} Nothing happens.
} > touch ghost.
} Your hand moves through the ghost. It feels slightly cold
} but nothing happens.
} > look ghost.
} The ghost is a transparent sort of white. It looks like
} it is talking.
} > listen.
} You hear a faint voice, saying: "Careful Hamlet! The new
} king is after you! He killed me to become king. And your
} Mother won't help you!".
} > as if she ever did.
} I don't recognize that command.
} > never mind.
} I don't recognize that command.

(The Oracular response -- whose stated payment for this answer was the Dungeons & Dragons set to James Joyce's "Ulysses". goes on for quite some length towards the bottom of http://cgi.cs.indiana.edu/~oracle/digest.cgi?N=1333 , skewering conventions and idioms of the prickly text adventure genre, but here I'm valiantly holding myself back from my tendancies to sample overgenerously and permit the texts to speak wholly for themselves. With a situation this postmodern, more than your average quantity of context demands establishing to permit the texts' merits to be appreciated. Look out, here I go again.)

A tremendous pastiche, the game largely unfolds in the general vicinity of Elsinore Castle but draws in threads from the settings of other plays, including nods to Richard III and the great tragedies Macbeth, Othello and Romeo and Juliet so broad and superficial that even the most narcoleptic slacker who dozed through all of their high school English classes -- under the tree in the park -- could still "get it". You don't have to be an A-student to blitz through the game, though a casual familiarity with the plays named above will help the puzzles generally come across more as reference and homage rather than the notorious sadistic and arbitrary "read the author's mind" showstoppers tainting the game-genre's reputation to this day. (Me, I think that more of this sort of thing could crumble the Coles' Notes (read that as "Cliffs Notes" for the readership below the 49th parallel) empire -- more games as educational tools! Yeah, and my favourite part of the Grapes of Wrath was the part where you try to hit the Okie with the bug mister to keep them from stealing your fruit trees. No wait, that was Donkey Kong 3.)

Robin cooked together a simple Nondescript text parser (about which I'm sure there's lots to say -- that's actually its name!) that plays right through yr web browser. (At least, through mine.) Not only does it keep the game cookin' in grand Adventureland verb noun style, it cunningly can reliably save up to four save games via cookies, in case you just can't resist trying to fight your way past Banquo into Dunsinane Castle. (What is Banquo doing in a Hamlet game? Come now -- we know that Shakespeare monkeyed with the historical facts available to him for purposes of telling a better story; the same thing is going on here. One might say it would be unfaithful to The Bardic tradition to play it straight!) For those unfairly challenged by the unusual demands of thinking textually, the game also contains within itself a full walkthrough.

You can play it at: http://www.robinjohnson.f9.co.uk/adventure/hamlet.html http://rdouglasjohnson.com/hamlet/ where, with luck, you may get more out of it than did my pal PlaceboMan:

} > not be
} Sorry, I didn't understand that.
} > shuffle off mortal coil
} Sorry, I can't do that.
} > talk to self
} I talk to myself for a little while, but the conversation soon peters out.

Stupid game.

Thanks to Sylvar for inadvertently turning me on to this fine piece of, uh, derivative nonsense!

Bonus extra value update! This isn't even the /first/ text game to be based on Hamlet, an honour properly extended to Charles A. Crayne's 1983 (!) title Castle Elsinore (which you can download at http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/pc/elsinore.zip.) Nor, for that matter, is it the most recent -- at press time a title held by Tomasz Pudlo's hilariously baroque and queerly Jewish telling in Gamlet (Inform, 9th place in the 2004 rec.arts.int-fiction competition -- see http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/zcode/gamlet.z5.) It can likely be safely assumed that Benjamin Fan's 2003 Java effort Ophelia also drinks deep draughts from the same well. (http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/mini-comps/introcomp/introcomp03.zip.)

Of course, Shakespeare as grist for the text adventure mill is hardly something new -- no less a personage than Graham Nelson himself produced an adaptation of The Tempest in 1997 (http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/competition97/inform/tempest/tempest.z5 -- placing a humbling 25th place in that year's competition) but he's not a man with new ideas (if {reinterpretation of a centuries-old play based on mythological themes} can be considered "new") but rather one who straightens out the whimsical and addled half-baked brainfarts of others... in this case, David R. Grigg's own AGT adaptation of the Tempest five years earlier (http://mirror.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/agt/tempest.zip.)

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