Wednesday, December 6, 2017

King Tut's Tomb: Complete Victory!

OCD strikes again!

As you can see from the image above, I managed to get the full score of 207 points in King Tut's Tomb.  I owe it all to Adamant, who has been doing a wonderful job of dissecting the code of this game in the comments section of my previous post.

As I had surmised, you lose points if you take too many moves.  I had also suspected that the number of matches you finish with influences the score, but it's more insidious than that.  To get all of the points, you need to complete the game using just a single match.  Given that the torch goes out roughly every 32 moves it seems that this is impossible, but there are some quirks in the code that can be exploited.  Simply put, the torch only goes out on move 32 if you have just entered a room (or used the LOOK command).  If you do anything else on move 32 (or any multiple of 32), the torch stays lit.  By counting my moves carefully, I was able to achieve the screen you see above and satisfy my inner completist.

Obviously this is the sort of thing that can only be done with careful dissection of the code, or an extreme amount of luck.  You'd need even more luck than it seems, though, because get this: whenever you light the torch it uses a random number of matches between 1 and 4.  I spent more time lighting the torch at the start of the game, checking how many matches had been used, and reloading than I did actually playing.  There's also the mummy, who you can't defeat by burning if you want the full score; you just have to rest your hopes on the 50/50 chance that he'll slip on a banana peel rather than kill you.  So yeah, the chances of getting this score without knowledge of the code are practically zero, but with Adamant's help I was able to do it.  Thanks!


  1. Happy to be of help. And Yeah, the reason I found it so fascinating to dig around in this game in particular is because it's SO broken and full of weird design choices I kept finding something weird worth commenting on as I looked through it.

    (Oh, and the mummy has a 2/3 chance of slipping on the banana peel, not 50/50, so the odds are slightly better than you thought they were.)

    1. Yes, you're correct, and that does explain why the mummy rarely killed me.

      I think that "brokenness" and weird design is probably a factor of Hassett's age when he wrote these games. He was 12 at the time, and there's a certain unfettered quality to the stuff that kids create. I know that when I look back on stories I wrote and D&D adventures I designed at that age, I can't fathom what the hell I was thinking half the time. I suppose you can also throw in just how new video games were at the time; there were no rules to break, and no design principles to follow.

    2. I want to add that with The House of Seven Gables* and 1980's Journey to Atlantis (which I played a bit out of order), Hassett has figured things out, and is providing some decent puzzles and a reasonable structure and challenge. I bet there are still all sorts of funky things in the code though.

      * I suspect that I've played Hassett's 1978 adventures out of order as well. Journey to the Centre of the Earth and King Tut's Tomb are similarly unfocused and lacking in real puzzles, whereas Gables has more polish.

    3. I think his age has a lot to do with it, yeah. Scott Adams' contemporary adventures were a LOT more competently designed. On one side it IS impressive that a 12 year old was able to create and publish games like these, but on the other it really shows that they were made by a 12 year old.

    4. However, the Goobers and the mummy are definitely just products of the era. Random encounters were a staple of early adventure games, and would stick around as a common element for years, all the way into graphic adventures like King's Quest and Deja Vu, until designers eventually caught on to the fact that they're seriously just annoying and add absolutely nothing of value to the game.

    5. Also, I'm fairly certain Gables predates Tut. Gables may feel more polished as an end product, but Tut has some pretty involving code relating to how the Goobers, the snake and the reincarnation works, while I don't think there's anything in Gables that isn't present in Tut (apart from an actual win condition, but that was in Journey too. And oddly enough, the Score command in Tut implies there's a way to "win" the game as opposed to just "quit" it).

  2. Glad to see new entries on the blog. Just a short comment to encourage you in keeping it up. You have an audience here even though it is a silent one for the most time.

  3. Thanks man! It's good to hear sometimes that people are still reading.