You hear bats. You feel a draft. You smell a Wumpus.
Along with a mainframe Star Trek adventure game, the next widely popular computer game after Spacewar! is Hunt the Wumpus aka Wump, developed by Gregory Yob in BASIC on a Time-Sharing System at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth in 1972. He is inspired by his lack of appreciation for early computer games he has seen coming from the People’s Computer Company in California, such as Hurkle, Snark and Mugwump. He is most put off by their 10×10 grids used as a playfield. Wumpus is a text based game where you move around a system of connected caves, arrayed in the shape of a dodecahedron. Armed with only five arrows, you must seek out the elusive Wumpus creature who will travel about the maze in deference to your actions. Upon arrival in each numbered room you are given clues to happenings in the surrounding caves…you may feel a draught from one of the lethal bottomless pits scattered around, hear a pack of bats that will carry you away to a random cave, or even smell the mighty beast itself. The object is to fire an arrow into the room which contains the Wumpus.
The code is eventually published in the magazine Creative Computing in 1975, after the game becomes a huge hit over the ARPAnet. After this printing, Yob quickly follows up with Wumpus 2, featuring further maze configurations such as the mobius strip, a hex network, as well as the ability for users to design their own.
You can’t throw a brick at the Web without hitting six online Wumpus games nowadays. Probably the most complex, with graphics and a multi-player element, is Web Wumpus from Glenn Bresnahan at Boston University.
Sources (Click to view; inert links are kept for historical purposes)
Creative Computing, “Wumpus 2” by Gregory Yob, pgs. 66-68, Jan-Feb 1976. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Creative Computing collection, Sep 26 2015.
Superwumpus ad from Byte, pg. 199, June 1979. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Byte magazine collection
Image of Title and illustration for Hunt the Wumpus, as well as other information, from Creative Computing, “Hunt the Wumpus” by Gregory Yob, pgs. 51-54, Sep-Oct 1975. “Two years ago I happened by People’s Computer Company (PCC) and saw some of their computer games…” Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Creative Computing collection, Sep 26 2015.