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I can tell you straight away, it's NOT the 1982 illustrated text adventure "The Hobbit". This was out before that. It may even have been late 70s.

What I remember:

  • I played on a friend's computer. I don't think his was a standard, popular model. i.e. not a Vic20, C64, Atari etc
  • The graphics were ASCII text based. I think there were only three characters used: an 'H' to represent you, the player; a special character to represent orcs; and another character to represent trees.
  • The playing area was fairly small, maybe 50 characters to a side.
  • Gameplay was turn based. You would move one space in any direction, up, down, left, right. I can't remember if diagonal moves were allowed.
  • Once you'd moved, the orcs would all move one space straight towards you. If one of them reached you, game over.
  • If an orc moved into a tree, it died.
  • The object of each level was to move around, positioning yourself such that the orcs would move straight at you in such a way that they'd each run into a tree and die.
  • A level ended when either an orc captured you or the orcs all died.
  • If you finished a level, the game would continue with the next level being more complex, usually more orcs and fewer trees, possibly on a larger playing area.
  • Each level had a name. You started as a 'Hobbit'. If you finished the first level you became a 'Strider', I think. Finish the last one, maybe the tenth, and you retired as a 'Ranger Lord'. The others had names like 'Guide', 'Courser' and 'Tracker'.

The playing area looked something like this:

enter image description here

Obviously, H is you, the hobbit, each T is a tree and each O is an orc. It wasn't actually T and O for tree and orc, but I can't remember what characters were used.

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    That's a variant of a classic game, I think in the original they were Daleks rather than Orcs. If you don't get an answer here, you might want to delete the question and repost on Retrocomputing. FWIW, there's another variant here under the name "Exterminator". – Harry Johnston Apr 16 '18 at 4:26
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    It might help in searching for this game to know that there's an entire genre of games that are similar to what you describe, and which are as a group called "roguelikes" (after "rogue" which was the first such game). There are some differences to what you're talking about and a typical roguelike (they usually have some kind of combat system with more options than leading enemies into traps, for example), but it's clearly similar enough that somebody might use the term to describe it. – Jules Apr 16 '18 at 5:20
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    I've found an early version, just named "Chase", in a 1979 book, "More BASIC Computer Games". They're not Daleks after all, I guess that was just another variant. According to the book the very first version was by Mac Oglesby. Unfortunately I don't think any of this will help you find the particular variant you're looking for, but FYI. (Is it possible your friend took the original game and modified it himself to be Hobbit-themed?) – Harry Johnston Apr 16 '18 at 7:04
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    This might be better asked in Arqade. – Jeff Zeitlin Apr 16 '18 at 11:30
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    The gameplay is a variant on en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robots_(computer_game) , but I don't know of a LotR-themed version of that game. – Daniel Martin Apr 16 '18 at 21:21

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