Dunnet (video game)

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alt=Screenshot of a computer terminal. Command: emacs -batch -l dunnet. Output: [loading messages] Dead end You are at a dead end of a dirt road. The road goes to the east. In the distance you can see that it will eventually fork off. The trees here are very tall royal palms, and they are spaced equidistant from each other. There is a shovel here. >
The first scene of Dunnet
Developer(s)Ron Schnell
Genre(s)Text adventure

Dunnet is a surreal, cyberpunk[1] text adventure written by Ron Schnell, based on a game he wrote in 1982.[2] The name is derived from the first three letters of dungeon and the last three letters of ARPANET.[citation needed] It was first written in Maclisp for the DECSYSTEM-20, then ported to Emacs Lisp in 1992.[3] Since 1994 the game has shipped with GNU Emacs;[4] it also has been included with XEmacs.[5]

The game has been recommended to writers considering writing interactive fiction.[6]


The game starts out with the player standing at the end of a dirt road, but it turns to the surreal when players realize that they are actually walking around inside a Unix system, and teleporting themselves around the Arpanet. There are many subtle jokes in this game, and there are multiple ways of ending the game. Throughout the game the player moves through different areas and rooms trying to collect treasure to earn points.


Dunnet is playable on any operating system with the Emacs editor.[7] Emacs comes with most Unices, including macOS (prior to version 10.15 Catalina)[8] and distributions of Linux. Several articles targeted to Mac OS X owners have recommended it as an easter egg as a game that can be run in Terminal.app.[9][10] It can be run by running emacs -batch -l dunnet in a shell or the key sequence M-x dunnet within Emacs, the former being the preferred and official way to run it.[11] Dunnet was used as a benchmark in the effort to port Emacs Lisp to Guile, progressing from running standalone games[12] to running the entire Emacs system in less than a person-year of work.[13]


  1. ^ "There Is A Surreal Cyberpunk Adventure Game Built Into OS X That You Never Knew About". 15 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Original 1982 Dunnet predecessor found in MIT archives". GitHub. 8 April 2021.
  3. ^ Ron Schnell (1992-07-28). "dunnet - text adventure for e-lisp".
  4. ^ Richard M. Stallman (1994). GNU Emacs Manual. Free Software Foundation. p. 314. ISBN 9781882114047. M-x dunnet runs an adventure-style exploration game, which is a bigger sort of puzzle [compared to the other puzzle-games that ship with GNU Emacs].
  5. ^ Ben Wing. "A Tour of XEmacs". Archived from the original on 2000-06-19. Retrieved 2015-07-27. Most of the actual editor functionality is written in Lisp and is essentially an extension that sits on top of the XEmacs core. XEmacs can do very un-editorlike things; for example, try running XEmacs using the command xemacs -batch -l dunnet.
  6. ^ "Interactive Fiction – An introduction (updated)". Archived from the original on 2015-08-23.
  7. ^ "Dunnet". A text adventure that is built into almost every copy of the Emacs text editor.
  8. ^ "EmacsForMacOS". EmacsWiki. Archived from the original on 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2021-04-16.
  9. ^ "Play an 'old-school' adventure game".
  10. ^ "Discover the Text-Based Adventure Game Built Into Your Mac's Terminal". 14 April 2013.
  11. ^ Dunnet help command: "NOTE: This game *should* be run in batch mode!"
  12. ^ "Guile Scheme Emacs-Lisp Compatibility Matures". 2 April 2012.
  13. ^ "Re: Emacs Lisp's future".

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