Archive for the ‘battlestar’ Tag

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
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!)


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.


Posted February 6, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Battlestar: Crossover   5 comments

Since last time I’ve walked around an island very confused, not just because of the still-horrendous mapping, but because of being entirely unclear what the game has turned into. There’s a reference to “Huggies” which suggests modern Earth …

You are in a secret nook beside the road.
Hidden from all but the most stalwart snoopers are some old clothes, empty beer cans and a trash baggie full of used Huggies and ordure. Lets get back to the road behind you.

… random battles …

There is a fierce woodsman here brandishing a heavy mallet.
>shoot woodsman
The Woodsman took a direct hit!
You have killed the Woodsman.

The road crosses the lagoon here.
Strange mists rising from the water engulf a rickety old enclosed bridge here. Spider webs catch our hair as we pass through its rotting timbers. I felt something drop on my neck. The road delves into the accursed forest ahead and behind you.

A dead woodsman has fallen here. He was savagely murdered.
A heavy wooden mallet lies nearby.

… a modern house …

This is the front lawn.
There is a small fountain here where the driveway meets the lawn. Across the driveway, right, is an ornate white house with and elegant woodworking. The bargeboards are carved with fylfots, the ancient symbols of luck. Even a bell tower has been built here. There is a road behind you which turns into the driveway.

… and finally, a place that led to an astonished/horrified revelation.

The natives are having a festive luau here. Beautiful dancers gyrate in the torchlight to the rhythm of wooden drums. A suckling pig is sizzling in a bed of coals and ti leaves are spread with poi and tropical fruits. Several natives have come over to you and want you to join in the festivities. There is a light burning in a bungalow left.

A kerosene lantern is burning luridly here.
An unctuous man in a white suit and a dwarf are standing here.
There are some ripe papayas here.
There is a ripe pineapple here.
There are some kiwi fruit here.
There is a ripe mango here.
A native girl is sitting here.

The “unctuous man in a white suit and a dwarf” in particular was the clue.

This is a Battlestar Galactica / Fantasy Island crossover game.

The basic premise of the TV show: guests can travel to the island to live out any fantasy they want (although the ramifications can be along the lines of “be careful what you wish for”). A sampling of the plot lines from the show:

The Boxer: A boxer named Billy Blake (Ben Murphy) wants to win a match despite the fact that it would kill him.

Ghostbreaker: A librarian named Elliot Fielding (Ken Berry) can’t get his ghost-busting guide published. To prove his skill, he lives out his fantasy where he must exorcize a real ghost.

The Over the Hill Caper: A blackmail victim named Spencer Randolph (Ray Bolger) and his aging buddies reunite their gang to defeat their blackmailer.

Aphrodite: Professor Alan Briar (George Maharis) is a picky man who wants the perfect woman. He ends up meeting Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (Britt Ekland).

I have still no idea what the goal might be, or even if this game has an ending. I’m going to call it and say — finished or not — next time will be my last post.

Posted February 5, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Battlestar: Verisimilitude   Leave a comment

In previous text adventures I’ve played involving a compass, taking the compass “activated the interface” so to speak and let you use north/south/east/west as directions. Battlestar decided otherwise:

You are in the old garage.
This is an old wooden building of the same vintage as the stables. Beneath a sagging roof stand gardening tools and greasy rags. Parked in the center is an underpowered Plymouth Volare’ with a red and white striped golf cart roof.

There is a length of heavy chain here.
There is a compass here.
The keys are in the ignition.
>-: get compass
>-: use compass
Your compass points right.

You still have to go ahead/back/left/right, now you just get to USE COMPASS in every room and try to decipher what the compass directions might be. The room descriptions are unchanged.

The road leads to several large buildings here.
There is a clubhouse left, a large barn and stable ahead, and a garage of similar construct to the barn behind you.

This strikes me as the author sticking with a noble pursuit in versimilitude, without considering the fact that the whole process of navigating with relative directions has been a sort of anti-realism, jarring at every step. (I can’t exactly be upset, though — this was so early in adventure game history it was hard to say what the result of such an experiment would be.)

As a more general point, though: having to communicate with the computer via some sort of interface always adds a level of unrealism. The player isn’t literally “in the story” — in this case they’re reading a constructed set of prose, drawing a map (maybe), and typing a response — which is why an attempt at adding verisimilitude can in practice reduce it, especially if the player “loop” goes haywire.

Posted February 4, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Battlestar (1979-1984)   2 comments

In the days before the darkness came, when battlestars ruled the heavens…

Three He made and gave them to His daughters,
Beautiful nymphs, the goddesses of the waters.
One to bring good luck and simple feats of wonder,
Two to wash the lands and churn the waves asunder,
Three to rule the world and purge the skies with thunder.

In those times great wizards were known and their powers were beyond belief. They could take any object from thin air, and, uttering the word ‘su’ could disappear.

In those times men were known for their lust for gold and desire to wear fine weapons. Swords and coats of mail were fashioned that could withstand a laser blast.

But when the darkness fell, the rightful reigns were toppled. Swords and helms and heads of state went rolling across the grass. The entire fleet of battlestars was reduced to a single ship.

— From the instructions for Battlestar by David Riggle

Well, we’ve seen a Star Wars game, we’re definitely going to see some Star Trek games, but what about fan games for other franchises, like, say, the 1978 TV show Battlestar Galactica?

From the Internet Movie Database. (The pilot for the TV show was given a theatrical release.)

As the long timeframe of creation implies, this is another mainframe game. The manual page claims it was written “in 1979” so I’m guessing the bulk of the writing happened earlier rather than later. I was also somewhat excited to get to this one, because of this comment (also from the manual):

… it’s slightly less of a puzzle and more a game of exploration. There are a few magical words in the game, but on the whole, simple English should suffice to make one’s desires understandable to the parser.

I was thinking maybe this would be a proto-version of a late-era Telltale game, dispensing with the idea of “puzzles” and reducing things to exploration and action. That’s sort of accurate.

I. The Plot

You awaken amidst chaos.

This is a luxurious stateroom.
The floor is carpeted with a soft animal fur and the great wooden furniture is inlaid with strips of platinum and gold. Electronic equipment built into the walls and ceiling is flashing wildly. The floor shudders and the sounds of dull explosions rumble though the room. From a window in\ the wall ahead comes a view of darkest space. There is a small adjoining room behind you, and a doorway right.

The first phase of the game has you wandering the Battlestar and finding a lot of dead people. Example:

This is the maid’s utility room.
What a gruesome sight! The maid has been brutally drowned in a bucket of Pine Sol and repeatedly stabbed in the back with a knife.
The hallway is behind you.

There is a knife here
The maid’s body is lying here. She was murdered!


This was the seen of a mass suicide. Hundreds of ambassadors and assorted dignitaries sit slumped over their breakfast cereal. I suppose the news of the cylon attack killed them. There is a strange chill in this room. I would not linger here. The kitchen is right. Entrances ahead and behind you.

And yes, it’s a little excessive. The bizarre thing is

a.) it’s unknown why you survived, given nearly everyone else around you is dead

b.) there are lots of explosions and bodies and stabbings and so forth, but no enemies.

I can chalk up (a.) to dumb luck, but (b.) really started to bother me — I’m still unclear about what was going on. The “cylons” mentioned in the second excerpt are the robot antagonists of the TV series but they are mentioned nowhere else in the game (I searched the source code to confirm this). There are enough knifings elsewhere it doesn’t seem like the main catastrophe is a robot attack. Also, would the “hundreds” of people in charge really decide spiking their breakfast cereal is better than, well, taking charge? Everyone still alive is for the most part mutely running around in panic, except for someone guarding a thermonuclear weapon (which you can activate by shooting it and killing everyone, but otherwise seems to serve no purpose).

All this time, we’re still in our pajamas, or possibly pajamas and a robe.

> i
You are holding:


= 2 kilograms. (3%)

You are wearing:


You are in perfect health.

In the end, there’s not much to do on the Battlestar. You can pick up some items, including the aforementioned amulet

The amulet is warm to the touch, and its beauty catches your breath. A mist falls over your eyes, but then it is gone. Sounds seem clearer and sharper but far away as if in a dream. The sound of purling water reaches you from afar. The mist falls again, and your heart leaps in horror. The gold freezes your hands and fathomless darkness engulfs your soul.

but you can’t talk with anyone or learn anything really. I suppose the intent is to soak in the atmosphere. The only thing to do is to get to a Viper ship and fly off.

Then things get really weird, but first I need to mention …

II. Relative movement

… the most painful aspect of the game. None of what happened above came out remotely smoothly, because the game eschews compass directions.

The compass directions N, S, E, and W can be used if you have a compass. If you don’t have a compass, you’ll have to say R, L, A, or B, which stand for Right, Left, Ahead, and Back. Directions printed in room descriptions are always printed in R, L, A, and B relative directions.

We’ve had movement with relative directions back in 1978 with Mystery Mansion, but it took a mercifully short time to find the compass and have everything switch to compass directions. Here, I have yet to find a compass and I’m a good chunk into the game. Not only does the direction of ahead/back/left/right change as you walk around, it changes sometimes when you just do an action, like picking up an item. You have to watch the room description like a hawk as it changes, from, say

A door is behind you.


A door is left.

I stopped trying to “map” in the full sense but just filled my page with a set of room interconnections. I can’t tell you exactly how many times I accidentally went back and forth between rooms when I was intended to go somewhere else, but I’m fairly confident (without exaggeration) it’s nearing the triple digits.

If you accidentally go in a direction that doesn’t exist, you still turn in that direction and cause all the other directions to change (I didn’t understand this until after I was done with the ship). So you might type >LEFT and be told you can’t go that way, and type >LEFT again immediately after and enter a door.

III. The Plot, Continued

So you jump in a Viper and take off — I’m not sure if the frame story is supposed to be you are running away, or being brave and getting help, or what.

You are in space.

You get no directions in space, so you have to wander more with the R/L/A/B system and get lucky. And you really do have to get lucky, because one of the things you can find is a “small blue planet”, where trying to land is disastrous.

You are flying through a dense fog.
A cold grey sea of mist is swirling around the windshield and water droplets are spewing from the wingtips. Ominous shadows loom in the darkness and it feels as if a trap is closing around us. I have lost all sense of direction.

All directions from here are just “You are flying through a dense fog.” The only recourse is to quit the game.

Another possible find when flying around space: a mini-game.

It’s the glory of ASCII combat. You can maneuver your targeting with U/D/L/R and it moves sluggishly, kind of like a game of Lunar Lander; the goal is to hit F (fire torpedos) when the enemy ship is in the center of the screen.

After a couple tries I lucked out and found the real destination:

You are orbiting a tropical planet.

It’s just another planet, only this one isn’t a trap; you can go down and land.

Feather palms outlined by mellow moonlight and a silvery black ocean line the perimeter of the island. Mighty mountains of emerald and amethyst rise like jagged teeth from black gums.

Then there’s a lot of forest and jungle to wander through. If you take a long time night can fall, and you can fall asleep from exhaustion.

You drop from exhaustion…
You are awakened abruptly by the sound of someone nearby.
A fiendish little Elf is stealing your treasures!
-: shoot elf
The Elf took a direct hit!
You have killed the Elf.
A watery black smoke consumes his body and then vanishes with a peal of thunder!

You are flying through a dense fog.

There is a knife here.

Yes, an Elf. Somehow we’ve wandered into Adventure.

I think making progress now is just a matter of making my way inland on the island. The relative directions confuse me so much it’ll likely be by luck and then maybe … something will happen? It’s disconcerting not knowing if I’m playing a hero or a villain.

Posted February 1, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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