Crowther was an experienced caver, who applied his experience in Mammoth Cave (in Kentucky) to create a game that he could enjoy with his young daughters.
Crowther had explored the Mammoth Cave in the early 1970s, and created a vector map based on surveys of parts of the real cave, but the text game is a completely separate entity, created during the 1975-76 academic year and featuring fantasy elements such as an axe-throwing dwarf and a magic bridge.
The version that is best known today was the result of a collaboration with Don Woods, a graduate student who discovered the game on a computer at Stanford University and made significant expansions and improvements, with Crowther's blessing. A big fan of Tolkien, he introduced additional fantasy elements, such as elves and a troll.
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