Stuga: A brief excerpt   1 comment

The back cover from the commercial version of Stuga.


I’m not that far in Stuga yet (I’m close to a finish on Mystery Mansion and should have an ending post soon) but some things are immediately striking. A short excerpt should illustrate what playing is like in general.

SOUTH

You are in the forest, southwest of the lake.

EAST

You are south of the lake. A cavern leads EAST.

EAST

You are on the shore of an underground lake beside a huge gambling machine. On it is written: ‘PULL THE LEVER IF YOU
HAVE A FAUN SHOE TO STAKE’

EXAMINE LEVER

I don’t know what that means.

You are on the shore of an underground lake beside a huge gambling machine. On it is written: ‘PULL THE LEVER IF YOU
HAVE A FAUN SHOE TO STAKE’

E

You are on the shore of an underground lake.

N

The water is still, you swim fast.

You are in a cemetery. You are standing by a tombstone on the edge of a grave. A path leads forward and backward.
There is a spade here.

F

You are in a misty rock shelter. Cold raw air is blowing in your face. There is a wardrobe here.
A path is leading upwards and downwards.

U

You are in Thorvald’s room. A big sealed up chest is standing by the wall. In the ceiling is a hatch and in the floor is a hole.
On the wall it says: CORKSCREW HELPS WITH THE SA…
There is a diamond here.

D

You are in the Hilbert room, a room with four doors and holes in the ceiling and the floor.

B

You are in an empty room. There is a hole in the ceiling and a set of wall bars leading there. Doors lead to the right and to
the left.

R

You are in the Hilbert room, a room with four doors and holes in the ceiling and the floor.

Some observations from the text:

1. Outdoors compass directions work, while indoors it’s FORWARD/BACKWARD/LEFT/RIGHT only. I’m not sure yet if they’re fixed (like Hunter, in Darkness) or if they adjust based on the direction a room entered from (like Mystery Mansion — that is the game keeps track of which way the player is facing and describes left and right based on that).

2. The map moves around. Going north from the underground lake has led me to four different destinations, seemingly at random. The mismatch with Rock Shelter -> up -> Thorvald’s -> down -> Hilbert room (instead of Rock Shelter) seems to be more an instance of the destination shifting rather than a strange connection.

3. EXAMINE doesn’t work. This is like Adventure, but unlike Zork or Mystery Mansion. This isn’t absolutely a bad thing: a while back on the rec.games.int-fiction group there was a spirited defense of games that don’t allow examine:

I HATE EXAMINE!
There, I feel better…
Far too many games involve “puzzles” whose solution is “Oh, you didn’t notice you could ‘x minefield’ or ‘search countryside’ because these were built into room descriptions”. I was brought up to believe that the computer was your eyes and hands. Thus if the dial is set to 8, you get told this, without having to say ‘x dial’ every time.

Peter Killworth

4. The room descriptions are oddly minimalist, even moreso than normal for the era.

You are in a dark room.
There is an old man sitting here wearing a pearl necklace.
In his arms is a water bottle.

The entire effect I’d describe as “surreal gonzo”, slapping together ideas without pattern or reason. It’s the stereotype for all games from the area, but while it fits this game I’m not sure if it’s a fair characterization in general; even the wildly out-of-place robot in Zork was in a technological section of 3 rooms rather than dumped in the middle of the map.

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Posted May 23, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “Stuga: A brief excerpt

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  1. I first played it in the early 80′s, so I’m probably seeing this through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, but I actually enjoyed replaying Stugan recently. (I’ll always think of it as Stugan, the name on the front cover, which is the definite form (THE cottage) of Stuga.)

    There is a youthful charm to the surrealism and immature humor that doesn’t quite seem to carry over in the English translation. It actually reminded me of exploring old houses in the countryside with friends as a child.

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