Battlestar: Ending   4 comments

I never saw a “*** You have won ***” message, but I managed to kill Darth Vader, so I think I can call this one done.

Okay, maybe you need more backstory, but note I’m still as confused as you are.

To commemerate the moment, here’s a fan video where TIE Fighters and Vipers do battle. Sadly, I could not find a crossover video that also tossed Fantasy Island into the mix.

My first breakthrough came from a game of guess-the-noun.

You are at the clubhouse.
The clubhouse is built over the most inland part of the lagoon. Tropical bananas and fragrant frangipani grow along the grassy shore. Walking across the short wooden bridge, we enter. Along one wall is a bar with only a few people seated at it. The restaurant and dance floor are closed off with a 2 inch nylon rope.

There are some matches here.
An old-timer with one eye missing and no money for a drink sits at the bar.

I happened to have some coins so I tried >GIVE COINS or >GIVE COINS TO OLD-TIMER or >GIVE COINS TO MAN or a bunch of different permutations. Fortunately, the right action is strongly hinted in the text, but I still had to look at the source code to find the answer.

>give coins to timer
coins:
Given.
He fingers the coins for a moment and then looks up agape. `Kind you are and I mean to repay you as best I can.’ Grabbing a pencil and cocktail napkin…

‘This map shows a secret entrance to the catacombs. You will know when you arrive because I left an old pair of shoes there.’

I managed to find the right place, procure a lantern to explore darkness, and after some crawling and a ladder I came across:

Out from the shadows a figure leaps! His black cape swirls around, and he holds a laser sword at your chest. ‘So, you have come to fulfill the Quest.
Ha! Your weapons are no match for me!’
You look tired! I hope you’re able to fight.
>shoot man
With his bare hand he deflects the laser blast and whips the pistol from you!
He attacks…
I’m afraid you have suffered some minor abrasions.

I admit I was distracted at first by the notion I was supposed to fulfill a “Quest” I hadn’t heard anything about. I only realized after a couple failed combat attempts that I was dealing with this guy:

I got very stuck here — the laser quite easily blasted any other enemy I had come across but didn’t work on Vader — so I kept exploring both the game and the source code. I found out I could >USE AMULET:

The amulet begins to glow.
A light mist falls over your eyes and the sound of purling water trickles in your ears. When the mist lifts you are standing beside a cool stream.

You are on the bank of a stream.
The stream falls over several small boulders here and continues on left.

(Incidentally, you can do this from the very start of the game, while you’re on the Battlestar, and skip flying the Viper entirely!)

Continuing:

You are at the thermal pools.
Several steaming fumaroles and spluttering geysers drenched by icy mountain waters from a nearby waterfall heat half a dozen natural pools to a delicious 42 degrees. Enchantingly beautiful singing seems to flow from the water itself as it tumbles down the falls. There is a mossy entrance to a cave ahead.

A flower-like young goddess is bathing in the hot mineral pools. She is watching you, but continues to steep and sing softly.

Because this is also Fantasy Island, giving a diamond ring and kissing is sufficient to make a plot dump happen:

She cuddles up to you, and her mouth starts to work:
‘That was my sister’s amulet. The lovely goddess, Purl, was she. The Empire captured her just after the Darkness came. My other sister, Vert, was killed by the Dark Lord himself. He took her amulet and warped its power. Your quest was foretold by my father before he died, but to get the Dark Lord’s amulet you must use cunning and skill. I will leave you my amulet. which you may use as you wish. As for me, I am the last goddess of the waters. My father was the Island King, and the rule is rightfully mine.’
She pulls the throne out into a large bed.

You get a medallion after this scene to go with your amulet. The game still never quite says “This is your Quest!” but that might be intentional — I don’t find any “final message” for winning the game whilst diving through source code, so it’s possible things are supposed to be a little freeform and you can ignore all this lore if you want.

A bit after this scene I was hanging out with Mr. Roarke and Tattoo when this happened:

You are at the sea plane dock.
Native girls with skin of gold, clad only in fragrant leis and lavalavas, line the dockside to greet you. A couple of ukulele-plucking islanders and a keyboard player are adding appropriate music. A road crosses the clearing ahead. There are some tables set up right.

An unctuous man in a white suit and a dwarf are standing here.
A swarthy woman with stern features pulls you aside from the crowd,
‘I must talk to you — but not here. Meet me at midnight in the gardens.’

It seems to just be an event that triggers some time after the goddess scene and doesn’t happen anywhere in particular.

Later in the gardens:

The swarthy woman has been awaiting you anxiousy. ‘I must warn you that the Island has anticipated your Quest. You will not be welcomed. The Darkness is strong where you must search. Seek not the shadows save only at night, for then are they the weakest. In the mountains far from here a canyon winds with ferns and streams and forgotten vines. There you must go. Take this rope.’

(I never found a use for the rope, but I didn’t find the canyon either.)

In any case, I set to work trying to kill the Dark Lord/Vader, which after many failures involved the secret Jedi technique of “studying the source code”. I found that most of the weapons in the game (there’s a chain, a knife, a halberd, and a mallet) do very little damage, a rusty broadsword does a reasonable amount of damage, and a two-handed sword does the most damage.

I first tried to bring the two-handed sword to Vader, but it’s so heavy I needed to drop every single item not being worn. Unfortunately, this includes the laser blaster, and any attacks by elves on the way were deadly without the blaster. (It also included the lantern needed to see, but this wasn’t as much a problem since I knew what route to take when underground.)

Rusty broadsword vs. laser sword it was. I also dropped everything else I was carrying right before the battle because it looked like from the source code that the amount being carried factored into the combat result. Voila:

>kill man
His ribs crack under your powerful swing, flooding his lungs with blood.
He attacks…
You emerge unscathed.
>kill man
You swung wide and missed.
He attacks…
I’m afraid you have suffered a minor puncture wound.
>kill man
A bloody gash opens up on his right side.
He attacks…
You emerge unscathed.
>kill man
The steel bites home and scrapes along his ribs.
He attacks…
You emerge unscathed.
>kill man
With a mighty lunge the steel slides in, and gasping, he falls to the ground.
You have killed the Dark Lord.
A watery black smoke consumes his body and then vanishes with a peal of thunder!
It’s too dark to see anything in here!

I returned to the goddess but had no reaction. The source code indicates a “talisman” the Dark Lord had but I didn’t see one. (It also indicates a scene where the Dark Lord runs to another place and you have to give chase, so it’s possible some spots are just broken.) If you wear the amulet, medallion, and talisman all at once the game claims you are now a “wizard” and I suppose something fun might come out of that, but I’m satisfied with the result I have.

Incidentally, the “score” of the game tracks PLEASURE, POWER, and EGO as three separate scores. Shooting stuff raises power; romancing goddesses raises pleasure, and … I’m not sure on ego, but giving the coins to the old-timer boosted that one.

I can charitably say this was ambitious. Unfortunately, the same ambitions led to issues. It’s like all of them were half-way to a good thing.

By dropping puzzles, the game had a startlingly modern flavor, but there was a major lack of things to do. There was no examine command or way to manipulate any of the scenery; there was no way to have conversations with any of the characters, and in the few cases a verb was required picking the right one was often a struggle. On top of that, it didn’t really drop all puzzles, so the few that remained — like realizing what weapon would be good in a fight against Vader, or figuring out the right parser command to hand over some coins — were rather bad.

The fairly loose approach to the plot was admirable in a let-the-player-do-what-they-want sense but it led to major out-of-order confusion, and I’m still really not sure what to think of the main character (I guess he stopped caring about the Battlestar being in crisis).

I’m glad to see experiments like this, but I’m also glad to leave them behind for something more traditional. I’ll probably be hitting another TRS-80 game or two before getting back to a mainframe game, specifically the thought-to-be-lost-forever-recently-found game Lugi.

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Posted February 6, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “Battlestar: Ending

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  1. Well, this sounds like a total mess, and really about as far from a Battlestar Galactica game as you could have. Surely the opening scene was opportunistically grafted onto a completely different pre-existing game.

    • Based on the source code, that’d be really tricky — it’s written in a pretty unified way. I think the author just did the freeform fan-fiction thing where he started putting in stuff because he thought it was cool. This sort of randomness isn’t uncommon in static fan-fic but I’ve never seen it make the jump to text adventures before.

      Honestly, once the crossovers starting happening, I was hoping for more just for the gonzo effect. I wanted a finale where Cookie Monster and Bruce Lee fight off Dracula or something.

  2. Wow. I think you must be really happy for finishing that game.

    • Mainly due to the left/right/ahead/back thing. Even once I had a map I kept getting lost because I’d steer the wrong way. I’m reminded a lot of the infamous “tank controls” from some 90s games like Resident Evil and Grim Fandango.

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