Mar 15

Super Star Trek (1985)

In 1983, I discovered a file called WHTHSE in the Chemical Engineering files on the campus MVS mainframe.

Curious, I opened the file. It was obviously a computer program, but in a language I didn't recognize, and it seemed to contain references to Klingons... and the Enterprise.

What I'd found was the PL/I source code to a souped-up version of the venerable text game Star Trek, probably based on the original version popularized by Dave Ahl.

Naturally I couldn't resist tweaking it myself.

After teaching myself PL/I, I started modifying this game with a few new twists of my own. A couple of years later, I left the university, but not without dumping a printout of the game's source code.

In 2014, I had just finished a game prototype in DHTML, and it occurred to me it might be fun to see if I could get Super Star Trek running in that more modern language so that today's gamers could enjoy it. In a real sense, this game predated Rogue, so to call it a roguelike is a little inaccurate... and yet it's very accurate, because Super Star Trek includes many of the features we associate with roguelikes today, including permadeath and random generation of worlds. It's a very simple (early) version of these things, and so it's a remarkably harsh and unforgiving game -- but it's not really meant to be won. (Although it can be won.) Mostly it's about seeing the different ways of not winning, because there are many. ­čÖé

I present Super Star Trek to you in as close to the same way it was originally enjoyed as I could make it. There's no internal help; you were expected to play it a few times and figure out for yourself how it worked. But I can tell you that you can simply hit the Enter key to bring up a list of game commands.

Also, while I've worked to make the game playable in IE 8+, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and both desktop and mobile (iOS) Safari, there may be some quirks. If you do notice anything seriously wrong, please feel free to let me know.