Key & Compass presents:
Ditch Day Drifter
by Michael J. Roberts

Ditch Day Drifter is a TADS 2 interactive fiction game and is © 1990 by Michael J. Roberts. This was a sample game included with its source code in the TADS 2 distribution. The sequel Deep Space Drifter was also released in 1990, followed by Return to Ditch Day in 2004.

In this game, you play as an underclassman at the California Institute of Technology. Today is Ditch Day, where seniors lock their doors with devices and puzzles called "stacks", and underclassmen attempt to solve the stacks.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1.0 of the game.

SPOILERS AHEAD. Reading a walkthrough prematurely can sometimes diminish one's enjoyment of an interactive fiction game. Please make an honest effort to play the game before reading this walkthrough.


Map 1: Campus

Maze Bookstore B & G HealthCenter BehaviorLab ViewingRoom Quad BiologyBuilding Walkway(west) Walkway(east) ComputerRoom AlleyOne(north) ExplosionLab SecurityOffice OrangeWalk(north) Room 4 AlleyOne(south) Room 3 DiningRoom Kitchen OrangeWalk(south) Breezeway Courtyard Lounge SpaceshipRoom Hallway(1) d d u

Map 2: Basement hallways

SteamTunnel(1) StorageRoom(guard) Hallway(5) Hallway(6) Courtyard Hallway(4) Laundry Hallway(1) Hallway(2) Hallway(3) d u

Map 3: Steam tunnels

Maze OutsideMaze Top ofPit SteamTunnel(12) SteamTunnel(13) HugeCavern StorageRoom(rope) SteamTunnel(9) SteamTunnel(10) SteamTunnel(11) SteamTunnel(8) SteamTunnel(4) SteamTunnel(3) SteamTunnel(1) SteamTunnel(2) SteamTunnel(7) SteamTunnel(6) SteamTunnel(5) StorageRoom(guard) d u

Map 4: Great Undergraduate Excavation

SubwayStation(west) Tunnel,in therail car SubwayStation(east) StorageCloset Tunnel Top ofPit ComputerCenter MachineShop HugeCavern Hall(west) Hall(east) BioOffice Bio Lab Room 4 InsuranceOffice Bank ChuteRoom VaultRoom SpaceshipRoom Spaceship (win!) pushbutton d pushbutton in pushbutton d u out

Map 5: Behavior Lab Maze

Startof Maze BehaviorLab OutsideMaze


Room 3

> x bed. look under bed. x bill.

> x desk. open drawer. x food. take it.

> x basket. x bottle. take basket.

> w.

Alley One (south end)

> x sign. (Find and deposit these four items in the door's slot to solve this stack: The Great Seal of the Omega, Mr Happy Gear, A Million Random Digits, and A DarbCard.)

> n. w.

Computer Room

The undergrads are playing a text adventure where they find a dollar bill by looking under the bed.

> x undergraduates. x computer. z.

> e. s. s. e. e. n.

Dining Room

> x module. x cup. take all from table.

> e.


CAUTION: Don't drink the cola.

> x machine. put cup in machine. push button.

> take cup. x cola. (flat)

> w. s. w. w. w.

Orange Walk (south end)

> x trees. n. n.


> take flask. x it. x students.

> nw.


If you try to take the battery and leave, you learn that it costs five dollars.

> x battery. x clerk.

> se. n.


> take paper. read it. (Has three numerical codes.)

> s. ne.

Health Center

> read memo. (It warns that ToxiCola causes drowziness.)

> sw. w. n.

Behavior Lab

The door into the maze is always locked from this side.

> e.

Maze Viewing Room

You learn the maze uses equipment to disorient people's sense of direction.

> w. s. s.

Security Office

> x flashlight. take it.

> x security memo. (All steam tunnel entrances are guarded.)

> n. w. n.

Biology Building

> take notebook. x it. (To reverse the sex of a clone, use Genetic Factor XQ3, Polymerase Blue, and Compound T99 when cloning it.)

> s. s.

Explosive Lab

> x thesis. (Tells you how to make an explosive by putting liquid nitrogen into a plastic bottle then closing the bottle.)

Return to the the courtyard:

> n. e. e. s. s. e. e.


Start exploring the basement:

> d. e. e. n.

Laundry Room

> open machine. x jeans. take key.

> s. w. n. n. e. n.

Storage Room

> x guard. give cup to guard. (+10. He passes out.)

> unlock door with key. open door.

> n.

Steam Tunnel (entrance)

> w. w. s. w.

Steam Tunnel (at control unit)

The scrap of paper tells you which numbers to use here.

> x unit. (This is Station 2; "322: ON")

Turn on the north tunnel lighting:

> type 293. push green button. ("293: ON")

Turn off the maze's disorientation machinery:

> type 612. push green button. ("612: OFF".)

> w. n.

Steam Tunnel (at top of chute)

> x chute. (goes down, not big enough for you)

At this point, you have no idea where this chute leads or what you might want to put into it. But the short answer is to put everything into the chute, because you need to get stuff into the GUE, and there's a tight squeeze around the corner that prevents you from carrying anything there directly.

> put all in basket. put basket in chute.

> n. e.

Steam Tunnel (south of tight squeeze)

You can't carry anything north from here.

> n. e. s.

Storage Room

> x rope. take it.

> n. n.

Outside Maze

The maze is the only way to get things out from this side of the tight squeeze, but you're not ready to leave yet.

> s. w. w.

Top of Pit

> tie rope to railing. d.

Huge Cavern

> x plaque. se.

Chute Room

> x chute. take all.

> s.

Spaceship Room

> x ship. (has door, socket for warp motivator)

> in.


Just a launch button here.

> out. n. nw. sw.

Insurance Office

Lloyd offers you an insurance policy for only one dollar.

> x Lloyd. x policy.

> give dollar. (You get the policy, but Lloyd is now following you.)

> ne. w.

Machine Shop

> x machine. ("DANGER!")

> push red button. (You hurt your thumb, and Lloyd pays you five dollars.)

> e.

Huge Cavern

Now that you have five dollars, drop everything but the bill here, return to the bookstore via the maze, buy the battery, drop it into the chute, and return here.

> drop all but bill.

> u. e. e. n.

Outside Maze / Lost in the Maze

> n. e. n. w. w.

> s. w. s. w.

> n. n. n. e.

> n. w. w.

Start of Maze

> s. s. e. nw.


> take battery. give five to clerk.

> se. s. s. e. e.


> d. e. n. n. e. n.

Storage Room (with guard)

> n. w. w. s. w. w. n.

Steam Tunnel (at top of chute)

> put battery in chute.

> n. e. n. w. d.

Huge Cavern

> take all. se.

Chute Room

> take battery. put it in flashlight.

> nw. w.

Machine Shop

> turn on flashlight. n.

Storage Closet

> x gear. take it. (+5)

> s.

Machine Shop

> turn off flashlight.

> e. e. e.

Hall (east end)

> x creature. (It's male.)

> e. take slime.

> w. s.

Bio Lab

> x funnel. take it.

> x master. take it.

> x bench. x equipment.

> open cabinet. (has six chemicals)

The notebook said to use Genetic Factor XQ3, Polymerase Blue, and Compund T99 at the start to reverse the sex of the clone.

> put GF-XQ3 in master.

> put Poly Blue in master.

> put T99 in master.

> put slime in master.

> n. e.

Hall (east end)

> drop master.

> push button. (A female monster is created, and the two creatures run off together.)

> e.

Bio Office

> x seal. take it. (+5)

> w. w. w. s. s.

Vault Room

> x safe. (has door and slot)

> open bottle. put funnel in bottle.

> put nitrogren in bottle. take funnel.

> close bottle. put bottle in slot.

> z. z. z. z. (The safe door blasts open.)

> x safe. x card. take it. (+5)

You should be hungry by now.

> eat food.

> n. n. n. n.

Subway Station( (western))

> x car. enter car.

> put funnel in hole. put nitrogen in funnel.

> x gauge. (indicates green)

> push button.

The car levitates and enters the east tunnel.

Tunnel, in the rail car

While the car is in motion, stay in the car.

> z. z. z. z.

Subway Station (eastern)

> take funnel. out. s.

Computer Center

> x equipment. x book. take it. (+5)

Head back to Alley One with all your treasures:

> n.

Subway Station (eastern)

> enter car. push button. z. z. z. z.

Subway Station (western)

> out. s. s. u. e. e. n.

Outside Maze / Lost in the Maze

> n. e. n. w. w.

> s. w. s. w.

> n. n. n. e.

> n. w. w.

Start of the Maze

> s. s. e. s. s. e. n.

Alley One (south end)

> put book in slot. (+5)

> put gear in slot. (+5)

> put card in slot. (+5)

> put seal in slot. (+5. The door opens.)

> w.

Room 4

> x note. x warp. take it. (+20)

> d.

Spaceship Room

> put warp in socket.

> inorenter ship.


> push button. (+10)

Lloyd leaves before takeoff, and you continue to Deep Space Drifter.

Thanks for participating in Ditch Day!





Note also that it's possible to make the game unwinnable. For example:


Items are listed in the order acquired (or could be acquired) in this walkthrough.

You have a carrying capacity of 10 items, but the waste basket will let you carry more.

You will get hungry at every 250 turns; eat either the food or the fish protein module when hungry to avoid starvation.


The response to SCORE is:

In a total of many turns, you have achieved a score of your-score points out of a possible 80, which gives you a rank of your-rank.

Points are awarded as follows:

The known ranks are:

Thank You to my Patreon supporters

This walkthrough was funded via Patreon with

Support me on Ko-fi

Ko-Fi is a way to send me small one-time donations. Every little bit helps, and thank you!