Deep Space Drifter:
Interactive Fiction by Michael J. Roberts and Steve McAdams
Copyright (c) 1990 by Michael J. Roberts and Steve McAdams.
All Rights Reserved.
In Deep Space Drifter, you play the part of the lone space explorer. As the
game begins, you are adrift in your trusty spaceship, just having discovered a
terrible miscalculation leaving you nearly out of fuel and in the middle of
nowhere. Now you'll have to send out a distress call and hope that somebody
hears your signal. But, as you'll soon discover, getting rescued could become
an adventure in itself...
DSD runs on several computer systems. These instructions describe the
general operation of the game that is common to all or most of these systems.
You may also need to know certain details that are specific to your computer,
such as how to install the game on your computer and how to start it, or which
keys are used for certain functions. Another file in the DSD distribution
should provide your system-specific information.
A NOTE ABOUT TADS, THE TEXT ADVENTURE DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM
Deep Space Drifter was written using the Text Adventure Development System, or
TADS, which is a programming tool designed for writing text adventures. TADS
is available as "shareware," so you may be able to obtain TADS from the same
place as DSD. For more information about TADS, please contact us at High
Energy Software, P. O. Box 50422, Palo Alto, CA 94303, or through electronic
mail on CompuServe (user ID 73737,417) or GEnie (mail ID M.ROBERTS10).
PLAYING THE GAME
In an adventure game, you play by typing commands that describe what you want
to do. Unfortunately, the game isn't as smart as you are, so it can't
understand nearly as many sentences as a person could. In this section,
we'll describe most of the types of commands that you will need to use while
playing the game.
Each time you see the prompt, ">", you type a command. Your command should
be a simple imperative sentence, or a series of imperatives separated by
periods. Press the RETURN (or ENTER) key when you are done typing your
command; DSD doesn't start interpreting the command until you press RETURN.
You can use capital or small letters in any mixture. You can use words such
as THE and AN when they're appropriate, but you can omit them if you prefer.
You can abbreviate any word to six or more letters, but DSD will pay
attention to all of the letters you type. For example, you could refer to
a FLASHLIGHT with the words FLASHL, FLASHLIG, and so forth, but not with
At any time during the game, you are in a location. DSD desribes your
location when you first enter, and again any time you type LOOK. In a given
location, you can reach anything described, so you don't need to type commands
to move about within a location.
You move from place to place in the game by typing the direction you want to
go. DSD will always tell you the directions that you can go from a location,
although it usually doesn't tell you what you will find when you go there. You
will probably find it helpful to make a map as you explore the game. The
directions the game recognizes are NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST, NORTHEAST,
SOUTHEAST, UP, and DOWN. You can abbreviate these to N, S, E, W, NE, SE, NW,
SW, U, and D. In some locations you can also use IN and OUT.
Generally, backtracking will take you back to where you started. For example,
if you start off in the kitchen, go north into the living room, then go south,
you will be back in the kitchen.
Most of the time, when DSD describes a door or doorway, you don't need to
open the door to go through the passage; the game will do this for you. Only
when DSD explicitly describes a closed door (or other impediment to travel)
will you need to type a command to open the door.
In DSD, you will find many objects that you can carry or otherwise
manipulate. When you want to do something with an object, type a simple
command that tells the game what you want to do; be explicit. For example,
you could type READ THE BOOK or OPEN THE DRAWER. Most of the objects in the
game have fairly obvious uses; you shouldn't have to think of any obscure or
unrelated words to manipulate the objects.
You generally don't have to specify exactly where you want to put an object
that you wish to carry; you can just type TAKE (followed by the object's
name) to carry an object. We didn't think it was particularly interesting
to force you to specify which object you wish to put in your left pocket,
which you wish to carry in your right hand, and so forth. However, there
is a limit to how many objects you can carry at once, and to how much weight
you can handle. You can carry more objects (but not more weight, of course)
by putting some items inside containers (for example, you may be able to put
several objects into a box, and carry the box), since this reduces the number
of objects you actually have to juggle at once.
Some basic verbs that you will use frequently are TAKE (to pick up an object),
DROP (to drop an object), OPEN and CLOSE, and EXAMINE (which you can abbreviate
to X). You can PUT an object IN or ON another object when appropriate. The
game recognizes many other verbs as well. We tried to make all of the verbs
obvious; if you find a knob, you will be able to TURN it, and if you find a
button, you will be able to PUSH it. By the same token, you probably won't
need to turn the button or push the knob.
Some examples of commands that the game recognizes are shown below. These
aren't necessarily commands that you'll ever type while playing DSD, but
they illustrate some of the verbs and sentence formats that you may use.
TAKE THE BOX
PUT THE FLOPPY DISK INTO THE BOX
LOOK AT DISK
TAKE DISK OUT OF BOX
LOOK IN BOX
WEAR THE CONICAL HAT
TAKE OFF HAT
TURN ON THE LANTERN
LIGHT CANDLE WITH MATCH
POUR WATER INTO BUCKET
THROW KNIFE AT THIEF
KILL TROLL WITH SWORD
LOOK THROUGH WINDOW
UNLOCK DOOR WITH KEY
TIE THE ROPE TO THE HOOK
CLIMB UP THE LADDER
TURN THE KNOB
TYPE "HELLO" ON THE KEYBOARD
TYPE 1234 ON THE KEYPAD
GET IN THE CAR
GET OUT OF THE CAR
GET ON THE HORSE
GIVE WAND TO WIZARD
ASK WIZARD ABOUT WAND
You may encounter other characters in the game. You can interact in certain
ways with these characters. For example, you can GIVE things to them, and you
could try to attack them (although DSD is a non-violent game, so you
shouldn't expect to solve any of your problems this way). In addition, you
can ask characters about things:
ASK WIZARD ABOUT WAND
You can also tell characters to do something. To do this, type the character's
name, then a comma, then a command that you want the character to perform. You
can type several commands for the character all on the same line by separating
the commands with periods. For example:
ROBOT, GO NORTH. PUSH BUTTON. GO SOUTH.
Of course, you shouldn't expect that characters will always follow your
instructions; most characters have minds of their own, and won't automatically
do what you ask.
Time in DSD passes only in response to commands you type. Nothing happens
while the game is waiting for you to type something. Each turn takes about
the same amount of time. If you want to let some game time pass, because
you think something is about to happen, you can type WAIT (or just Z).
DSD assigns you a score while you play, indicating how close you are to
finishing the game. At certain points in the game, DSD will award you points
when you solve some puzzle or obtain some item. The score is intended to
provide you with a measure of your progress in the game, and increases as
you get further in the game; you never lose points once they are earned.
REFERRING TO MULTIPLE OBJECTS
You can usually use multiple objects in your sentences. You separate the
objects by the word AND or a comma. For example:
TAKE THE BOX, THE FLOPPY DISK, AND THE ROPE
PUT DISK AND ROPE IN BOX
DROP BOX AND BALL
You can use the word ALL to refer to everything that is applicable to your
command, and you can use EXCEPT (right after the word ALL) to exclude certain
PUT ALL EXCEPT DISK AND ROPE INTO BOX
TAKE EVERYTHING OUT OF THE BOX
TAKE ALL OFF SHELF
The word ALL refers to everything that makes sense for your command, excluding
things inside containers that are used in the command. For example, if you
are carrying a box and a rope, and the box contains a floppy disk, typing
DROP ALL will drop only the box and the rope; the floppy disk will remain in
"IT" AND "THEM"
You an use IT and THEM to refer to the last object or objects that you used
in a command. Some examples:
TAKE THE BOX
TAKE THE DISK AND THE ROPE
PUT THEM IN THE BOX
MULTIPLE COMMANDS ON A LINE
You can put multiple commands on a single input line by separating the
commands with periods or the word THEN, or with a comma or the word AND.
Each command still counts as a separate turn. For example:
TAKE THE DISK AND PUT IT IN THE BOX
TAKE BOX. OPEN IT.
UNLOCK THE DOOR WITH THE KEY. OPEN IT, AND THEN GO NORTH
If the game doesn't understand one of the commands on the input line, it will
tell you what it couldn't understand, and it will ignore the rest of the
commands on the line.
If you type a command that leaves out some important information, DSD will
try to figure out what you mean anyway. When the game can be reasonably sure
about what you mean, because only one object would make sense with the command,
the game will make an assumption about the missing information and act as
though you had supplied it. For example,
>TIE THE ROPE
(to the hook)
The rope is now tied to the hook. The end of the
rope nearly reaches the floor of the pit below.
If your command is ambiguous enough that the game doesn't feel safe making
assumptions about what you meant, the game will ask you for more information.
You can answer these questions by typing the missing information. If you
decide you didn't want to bother with the command after all, you can just type
a new command; the game will ignore the question it asked. For example:
>UNLOCK THE DOOR
What do you want to unlock the door with?
Which key do you mean, the gold key, or the silver key?
The door is now unlocked.
DSD will sometimes use words in its descriptions that it doesn't understand
in your commands. For example, you may see a description such as, "The
planet's rings are visible as a thin arc high overhead, glimmering in the
sunlight." If the game doesn't know words such as "rings," you can assume
that they're not needed to play the game; they're in the descriptions simply
to make the story more interesting. For those objects that are important,
the game recognizes many synonyms; if the game doesn't understand a word you
use, or any of its common synonyms, you are probably trying something that is
not necessary to continue the game.
SAVING AND RESTORING
You can store a snapshot of the game's state in a disk file at any time.
Later, if your character is killed or you find that it has become impossible
to finish the game (due to a lost or broken object, for example), you can
restore the state of the game exactly as it was when you saved it to the
disk file. You can save your position as many times as you like, using
different disk files for each position. Saving the game also allows you to
play DSD over the course of many days, without having to start over from
scratch each time you come back to the game.
To save the game, type SAVE at any prompt. The game will ask you for the
name of a disk file to use to store the game state. (You will have to
specify a filename suitable for your computer system, and the disk must have
enough space to store the game state. The game will tell you if the game
was not saved properly for some reason.) You should give the file a name that
does not exist on your disk. If you save the game into a file that already
exists, the data previously in that file will be destroyed.
When you wish to restore a game, type RESTORE at the command prompt. The
game will ask you for the name of a disk file that you specified with a
previous SAVE command. After reading the disk file, the game state will
be restored to exactly the position when you saved it.
The game understands several special commands that you can use to control
the game. You can use these commands at any prompt.
AGAIN or G: Repeats your last command. If your last input line was composed
of several commands, only the last command on the line is repeated.
INVENTORY or I: Shows the list of items you are carrying.
LOOK or L: Shows the full description of your location.
OOPS: Allows you to correct the spelling of a word in the last command.
You can use OOPS when the game displays this complaint: "I don't know the
word ." Immediately after this message, you can type OOPS followed by
the corrected spelling of the misspelled word. You can only type one word
after OOPS, so this command doesn't allow you to correct certain types of
errors, such as when you run two words together without a spce.
QUIT: Stops the game, and returns you to your operating system.
RESTART: Starts the game over from the beginning.
RESTORE: Restores a position previously saved with the SAVE command.
SAVE: Stores the current state of the game in a disk file, so that you can
come back to the same place later (with the RESTORE command).
SCORE: Shows you your current score, the maximum possible score, and the
number of turns you have taken so far.
SCRIPT: Starts writing everything you see on the screen (your commands and
the game's responses) to a disk file. The game will ask you for a filename
to be used for the transcript; you should select a filename that does not yet
exist on your disk, because if you use an existing filename, data in the file
will be destroyed. Use the UNSCRIPT command to stop making the transcript.
TERSE: Tells the game that you wish to see only short descriptions of
locations you have already seen when you enter them. This is the default
mode. See also the VERBOSE command.
UNSCRIPT: Turns off the transcript being made with the SCRIPT command.
VERBOSE: Tells the game to show you the full description of every location
you enter, whether or not you have seen the description before. By default,
the game will show you the full description of a location only when you first
enter it, and will show you the short description each time you enter the
location thereafter. Of course, you can get a full description at any time
by typing LOOK. See also the TERSE command.
VERSION: Shows you the current version of the game.
WAIT or Z: Causes game time to pass. When the game is waiting for you to
type command, no game time passes; you can use this command to wait for
something to happen.
COMMAND EDITING AND RECALL
On most computer systems, DSD has a special feature that allows you to
use your keyboard's editing keys to modify an input line as you are typing
it, and to recall commands that you have previously typed for editing and
re-entry. The specific keys you use vary depending on your system, and some
systems don't support this feature at all; see the system-specific
documentation for more information.
While you are typing a command, the game allows you to go back and change
part of the line without "backspacing" over the rest of the line to get there.
Simply use your left and right cursor-arrow keys to move the cursor to any
point in the command line. The BACKSPACE key deletes a character to the left
of the cursor, and the DELETE key deletes the character at which the cursor
You can insert new text at the cursor simply by typing the text. You can
press the RETURN (or ENTER) key with the cursor at any point in the line (the
cursor need not be at the end of the command line).
You can recall the previous command that you entered by pressing the up
cursor-arrow key; pressing the up-arrow key again recalls the command before
that, and so forth. Using the down cursor-arrow key reverses this process,
until you get back to the original command that you were typing before you
started pressing the up-arrow key.
Once you have recalled a prior command, you can re-enter it by pressing the
RETURN key. In addition, you can edit the command, as described above, before
entering the command.
The exact number of commands the game retains depends on the lengths of the
commands, but more than a hundred of the most recent commands are generally
retained at any given time.
Another special feature that DSD supports on many computer systems is
called "review mode." The game remembers text as it "scrolls" off the screen;
by invoking recall mode, you can go back and look at text that is no longer
visible on the screen. On most systems, review mode is activated by pressing
the function key F1.
Once in review mode, the status line that is normally at the top of the
screen will be replaced by the review mode help line. This line shows the
keystrokes you use to view previous screenfuls of text, and also shows you the
key that exits review mode and resumes normal game play (this is generally the
game key that you used to activate review mode).
While in review mode, your screen becomes a window onto the text that the
game has stored away. When you first activate review mode, you are looking
at the very bottom of this text, which is the screenful of text that was
just displayed. Use the up and down cursor-arrow keys to move the window up
and down. Pressing the up cursor-arrow key moves the window up one line,
showing you one line of text that has scrolled off the screen. Most systems
also provide keys to move up and down by a full screenful (also called a
To resume game play, press the same key that you used to activate review
The number of screenfuls of text that the game stores away for review depends
on how much text is actually on each screen, since the game has a limit on the
number of characters it can store, not on the number of lines. Normally, more
than twenty of the most recent screens of text are saved and available for
review at any given time.
We're very interested in hearing about your experience playing Deep Space
Drifter. We hope that you find the game entertaining, not frustrating, and
we want your adventure to be unmarred by programming errors.
Please write to us and tell us how you liked the game. Tell us if you have
any ideas for improving the game. If you find any problems, or encounter a
situation you find confusing or illogical, try to be as specific as you can
about the problem. If you find a bug, please try as best you can to tell us
how we can reproduce the problem ourselves (every bug is easy to fix, but most
bugs are hard to find), and be sure to note the version of the game you are
playing (type the VERSION command to obtain this information).
Send your comments to:
High Energy Software
P. O. Box 50422
Palo Alto, CA 94303
If you prefer to contact us through electronic mail, we can be reached on
CompuServe (user ID 73737,417) or on GEnie (mail ID M.ROBERTS10).