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I'm working on an emulator for the Soviet mainframe BESM-6. Among a few games written for it there was a game called "Inspector" (or "Detective"). Its code didn't survive; the only mention of it I can find on the available disk images is that it was "adapted and reworked" without mentioning the source. The usual source for non-original computer games in the USSR in the early 80s were Western magazines, which means that there should likely be a BASIC language prototype for the game.

The game play was, IIRC, as follows: the player is a detective trying to solve a murder of a party host, that happened between 1am and 9am in one of the ~6 rooms of the house. The player can interrogate each of the ~5-6 guests asking questions like "Which room were you in at N o'clock" and "When were you in such-and-such room?" In their responses guests would mention who else was in the room with them, including the host if he was still alive, and could provide some additional information. The culprit could lie. The guests could move from a room to an adjacent room between the hours, the host stayed in one room. A good result was solving the murder in 4-5 questions. The program allowed up to 9 questions.

Does this ring a bell?

I've reproduced the gameplay from memory as a C++ program. Here is a sample successful session:

There was a murder in a country house between 1am and 9am
during a party. The party host has been murdered. You have to
interrogate five guests: Andrew, Bob, Charles, David and Evan.
The questions you may ask are ``At what time were you in a given room?''
and ``Where were you at a given hour?''.
The plan of the house is:
Bedroom - Study - Living room - Dining room - Kitchen - Greenhouse
The questions are entered as <letter><letter> for the first question
using initial letters of the suspect name and the room, or
<letter><digit> for the second question (the time is given as one digit 1-9).
The host had stayed in the same room both alive and dead;
the guests could move from a room to an adjacent room between the hours.
The innocent will answer truthfully, the culprit could lie.
An accusation can be entered as <letter><digit><letter>, mentioning the time
and the room.

Question 1: a1
Andrew: At 1 o'clock I was in the Study.
        The host, still alive, was in one of the adjacent rooms.
        David was in the adjacent rooms.
Question 2: d1
David: At 1 o'clock I was in the Bedroom.
       The host, still alive, was also there.
       Andrew was in the adjacent rooms.
Question 3: db
David: I was in the Bedroom at 1 o'clock

Oops, David never was in the bedroom after 1 o'clock. Let's ask Andrew again.

Question 4: ab
Andrew: I was in the Bedroom at 7, 9 o'clock
Question 5: a7
Andrew: At 7 o'clock I was in the Bedroom.
        Bob was in the same room.
        There were no guests in the adjacent rooms.

It is known that the guests never mention the dead body. This means that by 7 o'clock the host was already dead. Let's see what Bob says about an earlier hour.

Question 6: b5
Bob: At 5 o'clock I was in the Bedroom.
     The host, still alive, was also there.
     There were no guests in the adjacent rooms.

This means that the host was murdered at 6 o'clock, and as nobody could enter the bedroom between 5 and 6 o'clock, it was Bob who had murdered the host.

Question 7: b6b
With your help, the murderer was tried and convicted!

It was helpful that as the culprit was not asked about the exact time or the location of the murder, he answered truthfully.

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    From the story, the game seems to be a computer version of Cluedo (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cluedo) – tofro Dec 10 '16 at 8:07
  • That suggestion has been made in private conversations I had about the subject, but I don't think that Cluedo was the prototype. I've played Cluedo against a computer some years ago. It is substantially multi-player, and the game mechanism is different: making accusing suggestions in turn (restricted by the current room) and accepting a disproof, rather than interrogating. For "Inspector", the map of the house served only as an aid which rooms are adjacent.The only common trait of "Inspector" and "Cluedo" is the goal to solve a murder. I don't think that "adaptation and rework" went that far. – Leo B. Dec 10 '16 at 8:31
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    The Commodore PET game CLUE (CLOUZOT) is closer (it's a single-player logic puzzle), but still no cigar: web.archive.org/web/20081008015034/http://www.commodorepet.org/… – Leo B. Dec 10 '16 at 23:52
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Leo B. Jul 31 '18 at 20:59
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No sign of the actual game but found a mention of it in the "besm6" mailing list:

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/besm6/qCfnrd8i0jQ/Ac1j6ik60akJ

It was based on a BASIC game, publishes in the '70s in a magazine such as BYTE (or Datamation). I my time I've read such magazines in ГПНТБ(Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology), and programmed plenty of similar games for СМ-1420 (SM1420), one of them had text equivalent to that of "Inspector"

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    Right; it was me who asked there 7 years ago. We couldn't find the author of the adaptation, but as least I got a confirmation that the game was taken from a Western magazine. Now, this forum is a better place to ask. – Leo B. Dec 9 '16 at 20:45
  • @LeoB. Okay, but even assuming you discover the original, what then? You still won't have the BESM-6 version. – Igor Skochinsky Dec 11 '16 at 11:43
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    At least I'll be able to appreciate the amount of "adaptation and rework" that went to the BESM-6 version because I remember it fairly well. We do have working binaries of a few other games written in Pascal, for which we have a compiler, and we would like to have them decompiled sooner or later. – Leo B. Dec 11 '16 at 18:33
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    Scans of the BYTE magazine, though not all issues, are available on archive.org, in case that is any help. The table of contents also seems to be available, so I guess you could do some kind of automated search for "Inspector", "Cluedo" etc. – dirkt Dec 11 '16 at 20:19
  • Thanks, I'll try. It should be at most 3-4 years to look at. Did Datamation publish sources of games? – Leo B. Dec 11 '16 at 23:04
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A post to /r/tipofmyjoystick has brought the answer virtually instantaneously: the original game is Inspector Clew-So; other locations, some including the plaintext source can be found by searching for CLEWSO.BAS, for example, https://archive.org/details/riag_006_Volume_244_-_Games

The game I remember was slightly modified compared to the original: apart from the simplified interface, the most noticeable difference was that in the original, the "suspects" would mention that the host was already dead, and would be silent about the moment of the murder, whereas in the adapted Russian version, they would be silent about the dead body but would say something like "at that time the host suddenly died" if asked about the exact time of the murder.

How much it reflects cultural differences between the U.S. and the USSR, is anyone's guess.

  • Re: the other answer referencing it being a type-in from "a '70s magazine", did you download that game and check for any REM statements or anything else that might extend the trail even further back? I'm just curious. You've already got my vote, for the detective work that you were inspired to perform in order to be able to simulate detective work. – Tommy Feb 12 at 19:07
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    @Tommy In archive.org/details/riag_006_Volume_244_-_Games I see 82 REM * AS FOUND IN * 83 REM *RECREATIONAL * 84 REM * COMPUTING * 85 REM * MAY/JUNE 1979 * – Leo B. Feb 12 at 19:33
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    It's also in Creative Computing, June 1979: Inspector Clew-So, by Ronald J Carlson. The Recreational Computing scanned issue is incomplete and is missing the listing – scruss Feb 12 at 20:03
  • @scruss The listing on page 106 seems complete, it ends with 1610END – Leo B. Feb 12 at 20:28
  • @scruss Sorry, I missed your point; my link to archive.org above apparently contains the scanned Recreational Computing version, albeit corrupted. – Leo B. Feb 12 at 23:42
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Nothing like this game appears in 101 BASIC Games or any of its descendants like More BASIC Computer Games. I can't find anything like it in What To Do After You Hit Return. Nor is it in Announcing: Computer Games, which is a good one to look in because it has a "different" collection than most books.

AFAIK, Byte did not publish a collection of games (?) so this seems like a likely suspect. They stopped printing type-ins after they sold to McGraw-Hill in 1981, so that gives you the 1975-1981 period to look in.

Do we have any other time constraints? The Wiki puts the release of the BESM-6 as 1968, but perhaps the BASIC was released later? That's assuming it was in BASIC and not ported to some other language the BESM supported.

NOTE: I'll edit this as I poke about on Archive.

Added: the comment currently above mine suggests a possible time-frame: when was the SM-1420 on the market?

  • I think I've looked through all of the Byte issues in 1980 and 81 on archive.org since this question was first posted, and suspect I would have spotted it if it were in one of those, so I'd suggest it's probably older than that. – Jules Jul 31 '18 at 14:34
  • @Jules - I'll have some time later today, would you be interested in dividing up the 1975-1980 period so we can get through them? I don't think this was in Byte, but an index of type-ins from that era would be valuable anyway. – Maury Markowitz Jul 31 '18 at 14:53
  • SM-1420 was on the market since 1983. The original game is definitely older than that; and likely older than 1980. It had to be ported to Pascal-BESM (a dialect with break/continue-like constructs, but otherwise close to Wirth's) as there was no BASIC implementation for the BESM-6, at least at the time - as a matter of fact, I don't know if it was ever done - and the room names had to be modified to make their initial letters unique in Russian. – Leo B. Jul 31 '18 at 16:26

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