Fallthru: From an alternate universe   5 comments

Fallthru feels like it came from an alternate universe where puzzle-based interactive fiction never really existed, and the market was dominated by games modeled after MUDs with unobtrustive room descriptions and a highlight on equipment and combat.

This cover is from the paperback version of the novel; the game is shareware and does not have a cover.

This cover is from the paperback version of the novel; the game is shareware and does not have a cover.

This is appropriate given the backstory, painted in minimally by the game’s manual: you have fallen into the universe of Faland from your own, and your quest is to find the way out.

The territory of Faland is comprised of several million square legons, one legon being the distance King Mordat of the Ancients was able to walk in 1000 paces while traveling on a good road over level ground. Most of the territory is sparsely inhabited with the bulk of the population living in and around five farm settlements. It is in the most northeasterly of these, Or’gn, where most foreigners gain entry into Faland and where this pamphlet is available.

In my last post I mentioned making a map using graph paper, but it turns out even that is too much.

fallmap

This is a sign just outside the starting town of Or’gn. The numbers represent actual numbers of steps, so reaching Biclif to the north by walking requires typing N for north 250 times. (I am not kidding.) I am very much hoping there is a horse or other alternate form of travel coming.

In the meantime, though, I’m just writing down coordinate points of important places, setting Or’gn at (0,0). From the sign above, for example:

Inn (-40, 0)
Forod (-125, 0)
Inn (0, 68)
Biclif (0, 250)
Slavhos (0,-25)
Inn (65, 0)
Rooden (135, 0)

Unfortunately, the alternate universe in which Fallthru exists also is the universe where parsers never developed, well, much of anything. There’s fortunately a command list, but it’s taking a while to get the hang of it. I keep wanting to TAKE to pick up items but GET is the only one accepted. Here’s a transcript with commentary:

In the dining area of an inn. The innkeeper is nearby. Water is free and meals can be ordered. The innkeeper can tell you the price. The lobby is north.
>hi
Meals cost 33 ems each. Put down your money before you order.
Thun is the name given to the massive cleft from which Fariver springs at its origin. The snowy griven abounds in the lands around it.

I found out from the command list that “hello” or “hi” will talk with a character. There is no other conversation option.

The innkeeper also gives a random piece of lore with conversation. This tends to happen with most of the characters.

>i
20 ralls in hand
>drop ralls
Nearby you find:
1 ralls

The unit of currency is the “rall”. 100 “ems” make up a “rall”.

>buy meal
MEAL not in context.
>buy water
There is nothing for sale here.

After studying the command list some more, I realized I had the wrong verb here.

>order meal
The innkeeper lays out a sumptuous feast and scoops up your money.
Nearby you find:
67 ems
>eat meal
You have no food at hand
>order water
WATER not in context.
>order 1 water
The innkeeper takes your money and lays out a packet of food.
Nearby you find:
1 lbs food

Ordering food causes the “hunger” stat to instantly go up, while ordering water gave me an item I can tote around. (I think food and water are just treated as synonyms, which is why the parser behavior here is a bit odd.)

As frustrating as things are so far, I’m not ready to give up yet. It is possible things *might* go smoother once I’m not struggling every couple minutes to work out a command.

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Posted June 26, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “Fallthru: From an alternate universe

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  1. Study “comlist.txt” to learn the commands. It’s not supposed to be guess-the-verb; actually, some of the more obscure commands kind of spoil the existence of items from later in the game. Learning the shortcuts will also make things to a lot faster.

    • I’m using it (comlist.txt is what I meant by “There’s fortunately a command list”)

      That’s doesn’t make MOVE FROM HAND TO BACKPACK 1 MEAL any more intuitive though.

      • MV FR HAND TO P01 1 MEAL

        Would that have been easier if you could just click and drag the thing? Probably! Not sure how you could make it any simpler for the text commands though.

  2. Most modern parsers would automatically remove and add things to the backpack as necessary. So if you need to drink the canteen but it’s in the backpack the parser would say

    (First removing the canteen from the backpack)

    and if you’re holding too much, it’ll say

    (putting the X in the backpack to make room)

    if you really need to do stuff manually, PUT X IN Y or TAKE X FROM Y are the usual forms.

  3. Well, you haven’t gotten very far, and I don’t want to give too much away, but the assumption that you will always stash things in a pack or that there will only be one pack is not valid. The system needs the extra specifications.

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