English Computing Dictionary
◊ HUNT THE WUMPUS
Hunt the Wumpus
(Or "Wumpus") /huhnt th▫ wuhm'p▫s/ A famous
family of computer games, dating back at least to 1972
(several years before {ADVENT}) on the {Dartmouth Time-Sharing
System}.
Hunt the Wumpus was created by {Ken Thompson} on an early
version of {Unix}. It was created from a game in a children's
magazine, and was made to give his young son something to do
on the computer.
The wumpus lived somewhere in a cave with the topology of an
dodecahedron's edge/vertex graph (later versions supported
other topologies, including an icosahedron and M"obius
strip). The player started somewhere at random in the cave
with five "crooked arrows"; these could be shot through up to
three connected rooms, and would kill the wumpus on a hit
(later versions introduced the wounded wumpus, which got very
angry). Unfortunately for players, the movement necessary to
map the maze was made hazardous not merely by the wumpus
(which would eat you if you stepped on him) but also by
bottomless pits and colonies of super bats that would pick you
up and drop you at a random location (later versions added
"anaerobic termites" that ate arrows, bat migrations and
earthquakes that randomly changed pit locations).
This game appears to have been the first to use a non-random
graph-structured map (as opposed to a rectangular grid like
the even older Star Trek games). In this respect, as in the
dungeon-like setting and its terse, amusing messages, it
prefigured {ADVENT} and {Zork} and was directly ancestral to
both (Zork acknowledged this heritage by including a super-bat
colony). A port was distributed with {SunOS} and as
{freeware} for the {Macintosh}. There is a freeware {C}
emulation of the original {Basic} game.
(1999-02-15)