Empire of the Over-Mind: Finished!   Leave a comment

The Over-Mind is no more!

More than 1000 years ago there were a pair of planets, blue and red, hanging close in each other’s sky.

The blue planet was inhabited by the king Alcazar Rex, who ruled in peace with the help of four ministers: Gerald the Green, Rubin the Red, Byron the Blue, and Griffin the Gold.

Griffin was minister of the tax, and while the kingdom prospered, he worked constantly. One night, in a dream, he was spoken to by a dark angel. The angel spoke of a “tireless servant” in a “bright crystal city” in the form of a “smooth sphere of shining gold”.

Griffin found the city in his dream and located a golden sphere. Upon touching it, the golden sphere awoke:

I am Servant-Mind, to thee tireless slave.
The work of dull tasks forever I save.
Provide me the records kept in thy care;
Then I shall compute for each the fair share
Of taxes owed. Yet I can do much more:
Alcazar’s nation wastes goods by the score.
By my plans this will end. Thus shall it be,
If all confidence is given to me.

So it was done. The Servant-Mind gradually was given more and more information, and started to take over all the tasks of the kingdom.

Servant-Mind corrupted the ministers with false promises of power; as soon as the time was right, it declared itself Over-Mind and became a tyrant.

The Over-Mind summoned demons to protect itself; Alcazar Rex was unable to defeat them. The old king fled (via magical device) with his daughter to the red planet, where he built a tower and was able to live in safety.

With magical foresight, Alcazar cast a magic spell so his daughter would sleep, and the same for Griffin the Gold, now filled with regret. Griffin he put in a cave in order to be discovered by a stranger who would rescue the kingdom in 1000 years.

One implication of the plot is you can teleport between the two planets.

I mention all this to note that the the main enemy is, essentially, a static object. Here is the final showdown:

There are multiple ways to deal with the demons (including just shooting them, although you’ll need an ally for backup with that approach) but once the Over-Mind is alone you can pick it up and take it places. This results in a final dilemma of how to destroy it, as opposed to how to fight it (I’ll spoil the method how a little bit later).

. . .

While this is not one of the explicit goals of my project, I’ve mentally tallied along the way what I might consider “required curriculum” for a designer who wants to learn from studying interactive fiction. In addition to the original Adventure (for historical reasons) I’d tag The Count and Local Call for Death as having innovation that’s still relevant today.

Empire of the Over-Mind also belongs on the list.

Mind you, partly as a cautionary tale — anyone who claims compass directions became the norm in text adventures purely because of cultural inertia should try this game and see how often they find themselves going in circles because they accidentally went through a “wooden door” rather than a “trap door”. I did say in my last post the lack of compass directions gave an otherworldly feel to the game, but really, the negatives far outweigh the positives here.

But! The number of alternate solutions is really impressive. Take this late-game section, which is full of goblins:

It’s necessary to enter this area to get goblin ale, which helps protects against the pain the Over-Mind can inflict when you get close. However, you can enter by a.) using a climbing kit from above b.) using a pistol to blast in from the bottom or c.) teleporting in via a box which moves the player to random locations.

While there, you can deal with the many goblins via d.) using the PYRO spell word and summoning a flame salamander, who can help fight them e.) with a friendly dwarf ally, who also is talented at goblin-killing f.) by shooting them with a xenon pistol or even g.) evading them altogether.

As I came close the the end-game I experimented with a.) through g.) inclusive. I’m not even sure I’ve found every possibility; there are, for example, three stones whose use I was never able to discern.

There might even be more than one way to defeat the Over-Mind. I first tried using the black box to teleport to many different locations to find one that was deadly. In the end I used lava:

The Deluxe version (which I linked to at my first post) has some very different elements, so if you’d like to play the game yourself, I’d recommend that one; likely not much has been spoiled. According to the manual, the only thing that is really the same is the Poem of the Over-Mind itself.

(The entire map is shown above. Click for a larger view.)

Two last postscripts: I managed to finish without hints! I don’t know if you noticed how on longer games I invariably make a statement along the lines of “and then I had to get a hint” or “and then I found a map of the game” but in this case I did this one entirely on my own.

Also, the inventory system is designed so there is a difference between “carrying” and “holding”. You can “>HOLD OBJECT” to make OBJECT your current item. I was initially confused as to why >FILL WATERSKIN led to a message that I didn’t have the right object; I had to >HOLD WATERSKIN first before I could use it. It does make sense, it’s just very unconventional.

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Posted June 15, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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