Throw Water at Sparkle Pony

by Whatsblem the Pro

You'll never get it up the steps!

You’ll never get it up the steps!


Tribes That May Be is a text adventure project by Jonathan ‘Gadget’ Freedman and Adrienne ‘Ashtar’ Haik that takes players to a virtual version of Burning Man 2013.

The game is available to play for free online at

So, what’s a text adventure, you ask? Get off my lawn, kid!

Text adventures – sometimes called ‘Zork’ or ‘Infocom’ games – have no graphics, and require the user to type in actions like “get bicycle” and “unlock door with key.” The responses given by the computer are also straight text, with no graphics. Tribes That May Be differs only in that your choices are presented to you as hyperlinks you can click on; you can do it the old-fashioned way if you like, but to navigate around and use the basic functions of the game you’re not required to do any typing.

Infocom, the makers of the game ZORK, came to define the genre after releasing the original version of their text adventure game sometime in 1977. However, Zork drew heavily on an earlier, even more seminal work by Will Crowther (and later, Don Woods), a programmer who worked at the company that developed the packet switching scheme that runs the Internet.

Crowther was a spelunker, and modeled his game ADVENT (aka ADVENTURE, or COLOSSAL CAVE) on his explorations of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. This reporter spent many a prepubescent hour plumbing the depths of his creation, killing dwarves in Bedquilt, shouting magic words like ‘XYZZY’ and ‘PLUGH’ and “FEE FIE FOE FOO” at the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or wandering lost in “a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.” I even managed to port ADVENT to my Altair 8800 at one point, and wasted whole forests playing it on the attached teletype.

Who knows what you’ll find on the virtual playa, circa 2013? We’re not revealing any secrets here; you’ll just have to discover the wonders of Tribes That May Be on your lonesome, stranger.