West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here
a character-based terminal connected to a university mainframe, and a kid's imagination, that's all that was needed.
this granddaddy of gaming had no instruction manual, no training course, no obvious goals, no hud, no walkthrough or faq, no guidance what-so-ever. just a command prompt and a blinking cursor. you had to figure it out as you went. very wargames (including the handset phone modem thingy). very hacker. part of the thrill was simply discovering another command you could use. .
the world and the story as it unfolded was filled with all the elements a kid wanted. a great undergound empire, treasures, puzzles, grues, zorkmids, flood control dams, various creatures, and a mysterious thief that appeared randomly to steal your possessions or kill you (or, ultimately, to be killed by you). you could go pretty much anywhere you wanted to (once you found a way there). you returned to places frequently. if you picked up something, moved locations, dropped it and left, it would be there when you returned. a primotive first attempt at an open-world sandbox.
because it was all text, there was no map, no pictures, no video, no nothin'. it all had to be imagined and retained in the mind (with lots of notes and crude maps drawn by the player).
this type of text-based game would continue on mainframes and into early pc games from infocom (a few which appear on my list).
the game is playable online through various emulators.