Archive for the ‘Interactive Fiction’ Category

Aldebaran III: Finished!   2 comments

Wayne Barlowe’s rendition of our hero.

Last time I was supposed to find a “xyller”, “yangst” and “zwerf” as well as deliver 15 credits to “The Rep” who runs the government.

The next obstacle was a bridge, where only one item could be carried across at a time; at the other end of the bridge was a graveyard which doubled as a maze. All three of the quest items were hidden there, where I had to dig the objects out by shovel.

Also, the graveyard included a completely optional scene with a vampire, which feels like it was ported in from an entirely different game.

You’re inside an ancient crypt of oddly familiar design. It is dark and gloomy here with cobwebs hanging from every wall. Although there are no religious articles visible there is a large black coffin sitting on the ground. There are doorways to the east and west.
OPEN COFFIN
The lid seems to give a little …
and then springs off as a small bat escapes from the coffin.
You hear footsteps approach from behind you …

In any case, once attaining the necessary items, it’s required to cross the bridge again. However, you can’t leave the xyller alone with the yangst, or the yangst alone with the zwerf; otherwise bad things will happen:

As you watch, amazed, the yangst turns a muddy, opaque brown and starts to spin, rolling toward the zwerf which, in turn, melts into a green, viscous fluid and starts seeping into the ground!

The yangst is now spinning madly and rolls over traces of the zwerf which seem to boil away on contact!

After the last trace of the zwerf has been vaporized the spinning yangst slows to a stop and resumes its alabaster translucency.

After safely crossing the bridge, I found the subway tokens I had to leave behind stolen. (I had to induce this — they were in the room description, but picking them up resulted in an empty inventory.) They *seemed* to be necessary to get out of the area.

You’re on a street of gleaming white plasmeld. There is not a spot of dirt anywhere. A lovely building of slightly alien design is visible to the west and a bridge is visible to the east. There is a gate set in the wall with a small slot next to it.
You notice a fleck of dust fall from the sky only to be deposited in a hidden chute by mechanical hands.

The “mechanical hands” are a clue.

DROP DIRT
An alarm sounds and mechanical hands roughly grab you while they swiftly clean up the mess and then drop you back on the subwalk platform.

No, “dirt” isn’t otherwise an object. This is one of those Adventure-did-it-better things; items or even characters in Aldebaran III might be usable without them being separated as items in the game. While commands can be tagged to specific objects, a lot of them are coded directly into the rooms.

Another quick example; when going WEST from one room, this occurs without warning:

You’re in jail, the warden has taken your keys away, (natch), so you can’t get out…

You can BRIBE your way out of the situation, even though it’s not obvious from the description above that the warden or anyone else is hanging around to give money to:

Fortunately you’re a slick talker and get away with a very small bribe, (and your keys).

Here’s the actual source code:

#99 In Jail
You’re in jail, the warden has taken your keys away, (natch), so you can’t
get out…
help m=Nope
bribe v<6.1 m="You don't have any credits to bribe anyone with…"
bribe 21 v-6.1 t+keys m="\
Fortunately you're a slick talker and get away with a very small bribe,
(and your keys)."

Back to the main gameplay: after escaping the “clean” area into the subway, it’s only a few steps away to the Rep, and the conclusion to the game:

You are in the presence of the Rep.
GIVE XYLLER
“My Xyller!”, he exclaims.
GIVE YANGST
“My Yangst!”, he crows.
GIVE ZWERF
“My Zwerf!”, he coos.
GIVE CREDITS
“You Terries aren’t so bad after all”, admits the Rep as he flicks a switch that cuts the power to all the androids that were leading the uprising, “Why don’t you stay for dinner?”. Which, of course, you do.”

I’m not sure why this cover is so gritty compared with the rest.

I think we sometimes take for granted how good the 350-point Crowther and Woods Adventure really is. As a starting point for the text adventure genre it established a vocabulary of verb-noun interaction that led later imitators to have some grounding. Nearly every action involves a reasonable use of an object that the player can see, and the interaction with characters like the dwarfs is limited in a way that suited the parser.

It may have started a penchant for light source timers, treasure hunts, mazes, and general fantasy randomness, but at least it was (and still is) quite playable as a game.

Aldebaran III is hard to play because it demands actions from the players out of a possibility space that is too large. The ambitions for character interaction got overextended. With *very* specific commands you can get some interesting conversation, like

“Want, want, want! You Terries never talk about anything else!”

(Terry = Terran = Earthling)

but in general characters come across as brick walls.

It feels skeletal. Many rooms in the source code don’t get used.

#328 Police Headquarters

#329 Stellar and Park Place

#330 Stellar and Alabaster

#331 Stellar and Zero

#332 Stellar and Laser

#333 Stellar Street

#334 Crystal City Information

The overall impression is one of failed ambition. While I appreciated the humor and ideas of Aldebaran III, but I can also understand why it fell into obscurity.

BONUS READING: Nathan P. Mahney played and wrote about this game back in April, and he discusses some things I passed over (like some ruffians who I never met, and a bit with the board game Go).

Posted July 19, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Aldebaran III: Player as Conscience   2 comments

I once discussed with the game Warp the idea of looking for the future in the past; that often “a work’s innovation is lost because the work itself is obscure or the implementation of a promising concept was badly done.”

The same can be said for works that were ahead of their time, but not so far ahead their ideas haven’t been replicated. Aldebaran III hints at a relationship between player and character that arguably doesn’t appear again until Infocom’s version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1984) or possibly even Plundered Hearts (1987).

Unfortunately, in 1977-1978 the ideas were there but not the technology.

Last time I mentioned some notes which end with “(the notes continue, but your interest wanes)”.

You can keep reading:

READ NOTES
Page 2
The ruling species on Aldebaran III is a large, six “legged”, (actually “pseudopoded”), mammal with a roughly Humanoid torso and a perfectly spherical “brain-case” containing, in most cases, a brain the size of a filbert. (In a few, exceptional cases the brain is believed to be quite large. This increased “brain-power” has no effect on intelligence but is believed to provide the ability to alter body appearance at will.)

This continues (using more READ NOTES commands) all the way until past Page 6:

At this point the notes trail off into meaningless scribbles and, thinking back, you vaguely remember an interesting interlude with some rather illicit drugs and two stewardesses on the trip here … Ahhh … Anyway, going back to the beginning of the notes …

Let me be clear: this is a large infodump and not good game design. Still, this reflects the idea that the player is not just “role-playing” but is actually the “inner voice” of the character, forcing him to read through the notes that he wrote when clearly … distracted.

Somehow in the stories he is highly competent anyway.

This sort of plot demands quite a few characters, but the coding is so skeletal it’s hard to get anything at all to happen. For example, early on you encounter a bar:

You are in the dimly-lit Spaceport Bar on Aldebaran III, which appears to be nearly deserted except for you and the burly bartender whose eyestalks keep twitching suspiciously in your direction. A large sign hangs over the door to the south.
BUY DRINK
It cost 5 credits and tastes like kerosene but you slurp it down!
S
With an amazingly graceful movement for someone his size, the bartender leaps over the bar and blocks your exit while pointing at the sign!
READ SIGN
The sign says “Jsu Snarret POTE kirs meawed jokero quakonk!”
(obviously some local dialect).

It turns out you can do this:

BRIBE BARTENDER
The bartender solemnly folds your offering into his apron and leaves
something sitting on the bar.
Spaceport Bar
There is an electronic all-dialect dictionary here.

Upon which you can now use the >TRANSLATE verb:
TRANSLATE SIGN
Checking your dictionary you discover that the sign says:
“Due to new liquour law all Terrans MUST show papers before leaving!”

Showing papers results in a silly in-joke:

SHOW PAPERS
The bartender checks your papers and grunts in amazement.
You are in the dimly-lit Spaceport Bar on Aldebaran III, which appears to be nearly deserted except for you and the burly bartender who has brought you a drink, (on the house), after learning that you are a user of UNIX software.

but also means, separate from the bribe, you can also do this:

ASK FOR HELP
The barkeep feigns ignorance, but leaves something lying on the bar.
Spaceport Bar
There is a map here.

The map gives an important “secret word” where if you don’t have it you’ll get stuck on a conversation later. I’ll jump to that conversation in a moment, but first, note the improbability of coming up with BRIBE, TRANSLATE, and ASK FOR HELP completely unprompted. Not only that, but the bribery in order to get the dictionary has to happen *before* getting the map. Otherwise the game just gives the message “You can’t do that now.”

It’s like the author had a transcript in mind and coded it, but there wasn’t enough flexibility for all the parts to show up in actual play. This is not even referring to guess-the-verb, exactly; it’s more like the rules of adventure-play not being codified when it comes to character interaction to know some of the 100 possible reasonable actions that might be useful.

Later, you encounter a church:

N
As you pass through the door it silently swings closed. You’re in a magnificent seven-sided room with rows of pews in concentric heptagons facing the center. A door to the south is tightly closed. A small, gnarled native is standing in the center of the room and looking expectant.
TALK TO NATIVE
You can’t do that now.
ASK FOR HELP
“Why should I help you? I don’t even know who you are”, the native states.
House of Worship
SHOW PAPERS
“Papers can always be forged” he counters.
House of Worship

I have *no* idea how one is supposed to summon the next command without looking at the source code (as I had to do). Maybe it’s a reference to the stories? It’s the only way to make progress:

WHO ARE YOU
The man’s face turns purple with effort as he answers,
“My name iss Igna…
my name iss Ig…
Arrrrgh! I cannot lie here, my name iss … R. Nixon Shilth!, To defend yoursself, soft one!”
So saying, the man crouches as if to leap at you…
ATTACK MAN
As you battle with the man he starts to fade in and out and finally undergoes an amazing metamorphosis into a beautiful woman!

“Ignarp’s the handle”, she says, “Thanks for distracting Shilth while I regained control. I’m afraid I foolishly let him slip a Groaci drug into my prune juice which left me bound by a metamorph- dominance spell which I couldn’t break without a little distraction. I’d be glad to return the favor …”
You’re in a magnificent seven-sided room with rows of pews in concentric heptagons facing the center. A door to the south is tightly closed.
A beautiful woman is standing in the center of the room looking expectant.
ASK FOR HELP
I’d like to help you, whoever you are, but I’m not sure I should…

If you didn’t get the map earlier, you won’t know the the secret password. Even if you *did* get the map, it’s not all that obvious it applies here:

AXOLOTYL
So you’re Retief from the CDT? Perhaps you’d like to hear the story behind the Aldebarran anger at Terrans?
YES
Another day passes…
Mr. Shilth, whom you’ve already met, is interested in acquiring the grounds on which the Terran Embassy stands to subdivide into condominiums for vacationing Groaci Peace Enforcers. Because the land can’t be bought while the Embassy still occupies it, Shilth is hoping to have the Terran Embassy forcibly removed. Disguised as a native trader, he sold a set of “Native Art Objects” to your Ambassador Pouncetrifle. Unfortunately, the objects were stolen from the Rep’s Meeting Hall, the one truly sacred spot on Aldebarran III, which the thieves desecrated with obscene slogans. Ambassador Pouncetrifle learned of all this when he proudly displaying them at an Embassy reception. Naturally the Ambassador was imprisoned. After much verbal footwork the Ambassador convinced the Rep that the whole matter might have been a misunderstanding. The Rep graciously agreed that matters could be set to rights by the return of the objects and the payment of a token fine of 1,000 galactic credits. Shall I go on?
YES
The Ambassador paid most of the fine with the 985 credits he was carrying with him, (having expected to make further art purchases), and was released from confinement to gather the remaining 15 credits and the missing objects. Returning to the Embassy via Park Place the Ambassador made the mistake of trying out his Aldebarran-English phrase book on a native he believed to be participating in a quaint street fair. He has not been heard from since, but the deadline for returning the objects is only 29 days away and Shilth’s agents are reported to have stolen the objects again!
If you can find the missing objects and present them to the Rep with the final 15 credit payment he may be able to help avert the uprising.

The three objects are:
a pale Xyller
an alabaster Yangst
and a green Zwerf
They are rumored to be hidden in an isolated area near Pont St. Michel.

That’s about all I know about it.

I have found all three, and the process is a little absurd, and the Xyller will eat the Yangst if you leave them together alone. (I swear I’m not making this up.) I’ll get more into that in my next post (where I’ll hopefully have won the game as well).

Posted July 17, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Aldebaran III (1977)   3 comments

This is another game by Peter Langston using the Wander system. (For those who haven’t read about it yet, Wander is a system for writing text adventures originally from 1974, before Crowther and Woods Adventure.)

The first Wander game I played, Castle (original version 1974, current version 1978-ish) felt a bit conventional; without the oddness of the parser it’s not obvious it’s a “side branch” in the history of adventures. This is not the case for Aldebaran III.

Aldebaran III is based on the stories of Keith Laumer, and specifically his intergalactic diplomat Jame Retief. Hence, it’s the first adventure game where you are playing a well-defined character, rather than “yourself”.

You’re this guy, or at least Richard Martin’s imagining from the cover of Retief!

Keith Laumer was a diplomat himself (stationed in Burma) and consequently this is a bit like Ian Fleming and John le Carré going from working in intelligence agencies to authoring spy novels. His stories about Retief are satirical and contain jokes that are (apparently) funnier to those who have been in the real-life diplomatic corps.

Just Imagine …

You are traveling as First Under-secretary to the Ambassador for the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne, (CDT). Your direct superior, Mr. Magnan, has managed to duck out of the action and leave you as sole assistant to his superior, Ambassador Pouncetrifle. (The Ambassador is a classic bungler and would, if left on his own, mess things up badly.)

You have been sent to Aldebaran III where you are to avert an uprising against Terran nationals expected at the end of April.

The “Just Imagine…” is a strong cue that we are, in fact, roleplaying, a fact emphasized further by checking the papers we are holding:

READ NOTES
Page 1
Aldebaran III is an eighty-four percent earth normal planet which revolves around a brilliant red star, (Aldebaran, or Alpha Tauri). A III has an atmosphere consisting of 52% nitrogen, 26% helium, 20% oxygen and 2% other gases, (by volume). The period of revolution of A III is 18.628 Earth Standard hours which is expressed in local time as 24 hours. The axis of A III tilts less than a degree with respect to the ecliptic, (47.6′), providing virtually no variation in season and length of daylight, (sunrise is at 6:00 Aldebaran Standard Time, sunset at 7:00 p.m. A.S.T.).
… (the notes continue, but your interest wanes)

Note the last part “your interest wanes” — the character you are playing is bored, which is a good way even in modern games to avert having to write a lot of text for something that should be book-length.

The satirical approach to procedures from the original stories appears in the game, at least in this early encounter:

You are in a low-roofed customs building with long tables stretching between a door at the east and a door at the west. A large sign reads

+---------------------------------+
|    --> SHOW PAPERS HERE <--     |
|     --> PAY DUTY HERE <--       |
|  HAVE YOU ANYTHING TO DECLARE?  |
+---------------------------------+

in a dozen languages. A serious-looking customs official is eyeing you.

“Your papers, pleese”, lisps the official

SHOW PAPERS
“Hmm, a Terry” mumbles the official
“Have you anything to declare?” snaps the customs official

NO
“If you really have nothing to declare you may leave.”
Customs
W
“I don’t believe you’ve declared that credit card”, admonishes the official.
Customs
DECLARE CREDIT CARD
“Yes”, says the official sliding it down the counter and muttering to himself, “credit card — five credits”.

The parser is still as broken as Castle’s (I keep typing GET but the verb is unrecognized, it insists you use TAKE) but the main character still makes the experience feel weirdly modern.

I don’t know how long / difficult this is, I suppose we’ll find out next time!

Posted July 13, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pyramid of Doom: Finished!   Leave a comment

I’ve stored 13 treasures. On a scale from 0 to 100 that rates a 100. Well done.

So for the 13th treasure, I checked in a few of Voltgloss’s hints he provided on my last post. I had a hunch I was stuck on something not worth banging my head over.

I was not wrong.

Ok, what is it with early adventure games and goofy giant oysters? There was the one in Crowther and Woods Adventure that could be pried open with a trident (and only a trident), the one in Adventure 500 you just had to drop near water, and the one that waged mortal combat in Spelunker.

With this game, early on you find some “dried camel jerky”. There are some nearby starving rats who will gratefully eat it, and subsequently not attack you. I assumed that was that.

However, oysters like dried camel jerky … too?

WHAT SHALL I DO? FEED OYSTER
Oyster makes a slobbering noise
Visible items: Small Nomad, Pistol, Archway, Giant Oyster, * BLACK PEARL *

I can’t adequately express my state of mind about this puzzle so let me throw around some question marks: ? ???? ?? ?? ? ? ?? ? ? ???? ????

I mean (?), I guess a super-huge oyster (????) might eat something other than plankton (??), so this sort of (??????) makes sense (??).

No, no it doesn’t. But at least it was the last puzzle!

Progress update: I am shifting Warp, which I previously dated as 1979, up to 1980. I was always a bit tentative about it (I discuss the issue in my first post) because while the coding technically started in 1979 nobody outside the authors touched it until 1980. I also shelve HAUNT by John Laird (which has a copyright date span starting at 1979, but wasn’t really in a recognizable form until 1980) in that camp.

This leaves me with either 5 or 6 games to go to be entirely done with the 1970s:

1977

a3 by Peter Langston

1978

Library by Nat Howard
Tut by Peter Langston (this a binary arithmetic tutorial in the Wander system and may not be worth a post)

1979

Enchanted Island by Greg Hassett
Adventure 550 by David Platt
Adventure 501 by David Long

I might loop back and snag a few “supplemental games” which aren’t exactly adventures (like a full post on Hunt the Wumpus, and an obscure related game from the same year called Caves) but probably not until I’ve already started 1980.

Posted July 12, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pyramid of Doom: Heart of the Phraoah   2 comments

Last time, I had found a “throne room” with an “Iron statue of Phraoah” that killed me. There was a mural with the hint “Seek ye well the HEART of Iron” and trying to >TAKE HEART gave the message “Pharoah’s heart is red like yours, yet evil has darkened it!”

I have now solved this puzzle. Voltgloss mentioned in the comments this is the “defining puzzle” of the game. Since I’m going to spoil it, you should turn away now if you plan on playing Pyramid of Doom in the future.

I was stalled, and did my common procrastination tactic of browsing for more images to use in blog posts. Surprisingly, my act of procrastination broke open the case!

This is from the second catalog (1980 I believe) for Adventure International products. Specifically note the phrase “So, if you can’t seem to get out of the bog or locate the pharoah’s heart”. I assumed (via the somewhat deceptive parser response to >GET HEART) that the heart was in the throne room, but upon reading this comment I tried >GET HEART in an entirely different room and got the same message. It must be a hard-coded “hint”; and to be fair, while it led me astray at first, I wouldn’t have solved the puzzle without it.

So: considering the whole map, is there anything “darkened”? I did find a lump of coal in a fireplace, and had even tried using it in the throne room to no avail, but the word “darkened” suggested to me it could be cleansed somehow.

If you recall the pool of liquid that gave me trouble at the start of the game, I took the coal in the water and typed >CLEAN COAL.

The result: a ruby. Ah!

Alas, holding the ruby, rubbing it, waving it, etc. seemed to not do anything to the pharaoh. I decided I needed to destroy it. I utilized a nearby pool of acid:

WHAT SHALL I DO? THROW RUBY
OK Ruby falls into pool of acid, burns up.

Checking back in the throne room:

I’m in a throne room
Obvious exit: DOWN
Visible items: Small Nomad, Chain hanging from ceiling, Chest, Wall Mural, Pile of Melted iron

Pulling the chain reveals a secret staircase, and after a little trouble, I was able to get up to 12 out of 13 treasures found. The only issue: is the 13th treasure the ruby that I melted in acid? I’m not getting that back.

I don’t know if that means I solved the puzzle in the wrong way, or if the ruby just “doesn’t count”. I’m still stuck on the other puzzles from my last post (the giant oyster and the purple worm) so unless both are red herrings, I’m missing something else important.

But, close! Hoping for a victory post next time.

Posted July 11, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pyramid of Doom: The Possibility Space   6 comments

ONE

Going back to the moment of entering the pyramid, recall from last time I had trouble finding the “large key” leading to the main door due to a parser issue. Given someone who doesn’t have the issue and finds the large key right away, I believe the “intended” first method of entering the pyramid was this:

WHAT SHALL I DO? unlock door
Large stone falls on me!

To prevent this from happening, you have to dig and find a secondary small door; upon unlocking it, the large door can open safely.

I know traditionally the “diagetic plot” of an adventure is the one that goes through without deaths, but I’ve come to think this paints an incomplete picture. This particular death is amusing enough that it’s hard to imagine it won’t be “in the head” of the player, making the environment seem more dangerous. On the surface, the player is walking through a door. Underneath, the player is avoiding a death-trap. Without both branches simultaneously, part of the story is missing.

TWO

One of the puzzles I solved since I last checked in involved a room of mirrors, and was in several parts.

I’m in a long, narrow passageway
Obvious exit: SOUTH
Visible items: Small Nomad, Bricked up doorway, Rope

First, to get in requires busting through the bricked up doorway. There’s an iron glove nearby, and if you wear it, you can >PUNCH DOOR

OK Crash!!!

!!! That’s quite a glove, there.

Heading into the door:

Mirrors EVERYWHERE! Light blinds me, so I shut it OFF!

The room description is then just “It’s too dark; I can’t see.”

You can go in any direction (NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST, UP, or DOWN) although only one of them (EAST) leads to a new room. When entering the new room you have to remember to turn your flashlight back on.

I’m in a dressing room
Obvious exit: WEST
Visible items: Small Nomad, * GOLD SCARAB *

However, there’s yet another treasure, back in the mirror room!

WHAT SHALL I DO? FEEL
I feel a coin on the floor

Regarding the sequence as a whole, it strikes me as one of those where parser is stronger than a hyperlink-interface, in all three parts: A.) The idea that you can straight-up punch a door is hilarious and not even that hard to work out, but having the option “punch door” pop up would be much less satisfying then coming up with the action unprompted. B.) The hidden room based on direction-in-darkness which requires manually lighting up the flashlight after testing a direction would feel lawnmower-y if the six possible directions were available to click; I originally figured the coin was the only treasure (where the exit SOUTH went back as I expected) and only discovered the dressing room after later experimentation. C.) I have no idea how feeling in the darkness would work in hypertext without some persistent FEEL verb that works in every room; having the verb pop up in the dark room only would ruin the surprise.

THREE

I have discovered 9 out of the 13 treasures. The places I am obviously stuck on are:

1.) A “giant oyster” who blocks my entrance through an archway.

WHAT SHALL I DO? go archway
Oyster won’t let me

I am unclear how this works. I guess the oyster is … wedged in somehow?

2.) A “purple worm” that I found in a room with a dead explorer:

WHAT SHALL I DO? open portal
Nomad: `RUN YOU FOOL!`
WHAT SHALL I DO? SHOOT WORM
Doesn’t bother him.
Purple worm devours me.

Note the nomad’s warning, which is provided even before opening the portal. I theorized earlier the nomad might be helpful; I guess this (and stuck point #3) might be the reason the nomad has been around in the first place?

There’s a nearby pool of acid which I suspect might make a nice home for the purple worm, but I haven’t been able to get it to move around, so that might be a red herring.

3.) I’ll just let my transcript explain this one:

I’m in a throne room
Obvious exit: DOWN
Visible items: Small Nomad, Iron statue of Phraoah seated on throne, Chain hanging from ceiling, Chest, Wall Mural
WHAT SHALL I DO? read mural
Mural: Seek ye well the HEART of Iron.
WHAT SHALL I DO? pull chain
I hear a hollow laugh. . . The sound of machinery.
[In the room description, the statue changes to “standing statue”.]
WHAT SHALL I DO? pull chain
Nomad: `RUN YOU FOOL!`
I hear a hollow laugh. . . The sound of machinery.
[The description changes to “Iron statue, slowing advancing. . .”]
WHAT SHALL I DO? shoot statue
OK Missed…
Iron Statue tears me apart!

I’ve been puzzling over the “HEART” of Iron hint. I read over the Wikipedia article on iron in case this is some external reference, but I don’t think so.

ADD: Found this immediately after posting.

WHAT SHALL I DO? get heart
Pharoah’s heart is red like yours, yet evil has darkened it!

It still isn’t helping me out, though.

FOUR

Before I sign out, I wanted to share the blurbs from the 1979 and 1982 releases of the game:

1979: From jewels to gold – 13 treasures are concealed in this ancient pyramid. Watch out for the nomad and beware the curse of the pharaoh!
1982: An Egyptian Treasure Hunt leads you into the dark recesses of a recently uncovered Pyramid. Will you recover all the treasures or more likely will you join its denizens for that long eternal sleep?….

Notice how the first one seems to set the nomad up as an enemy? The nomad is still the only one I can use the pistol on, who as I explained last time comes back after disappearing in a puff of smoke. I think it’s possible the pistol is either a giant red herring or used in a very unconventional way, which I can throw some respect for.

Posted July 9, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pyramid of Doom: The Nomad   Leave a comment

As predicted, my issue last time was not from a “difficult” puzzle as much as silly and frustrating situation. I ran into both a parser issue and a visualization issue simultaneously!

From the first area of the game, I could >GET LIQUID to fill my canteen, but both >ENTER LIQUID and >GO LIQUID both result in “I don’t understand” messages. This led me to visualize the pool as something small (maybe the result of a spill). However, if you >ENTER POOL instead

I’m in a Pool of water
Obvious exit: EAST
Visible items: Large key

Clearly the intent was for the pool to be visualized like some sort of oasis.

Let me repeat for emphasis: The *exact same item* has to be referred to a LIQUID if we’re wanting to get water to drink, or a POOL if we’re wanting to jump in. I know the classical complaint with old parsers is guess-the-verb, but they can be bad in much different ways. (Related: my post on a part of Acheton that was guess-the-noun.)

In any case, once I got past that part, things opened up:

So far, everything I’ve seen is very traditional (including the objective of “gather all the treasures”), with the exception of the small nomad.

I’m in a sitting room
Obvious exit: NORTH
Visible items: Small Nomad, Ashes, Basket, Fireplace

The nomad discovers the player fairly early on in the game and follows them everywhere, silently watching but never doing any actions.

WHAT SHALL I DO? talk nomad
The nomad stuck out his tongue at me.
WHAT SHALL I DO? kick nomad
The nomad stuck out his tongue at me.

Now, it is possible to shoot the nomad…

Got him!! Nomad vanishes in a puff of yellow smoke.

…but the nomad shows up again shortly after, and continues following the player like nothing has happened.

Will the nomad help with an obstacle? Will they hinder the player at a specific time? Or perhaps both will happen? Does the nomad represent uncomfortable stereotyping or is the disappearance in a puff of smoke enough of fantasy-universe remove it doesn’t matter?

Posted June 27, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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