Archive for the ‘philosopher-quest’ Tag

Philosopher’s Quest (1979)   6 comments

Last we saw of the folks at Cambridge was Acheton, an extremely long and somewhat unfair attempt to one-up Adventure.

Philosopher’s Quest (originally Brand X) was written as if the authors (Peter Killworth and Jonathan Mestel) had played Adventure, Zork, and Acheton, and felt like what the world needed was a “master quest” version.

This is yet another “grab the treasures” type plot, although I am unclear at the moment where the treasures go. There’s a “purple star” which was last seen in Acheton. In that game it teleported treasures to the vault. I’m not sure if it’s the same effect here because I haven’t found a treasure yet.

You are at the south end of the long passage. There is a tunnel to the south through which light is faintly visible. Someone has scratched the word ‘BLACH’ on the wall!
> s
You are on a sandy beach to the east of an enormous cliff which bars the way to the north everywhere except a small cave entrance at its base. Rocks to the south and east block these routes effectively. There is a ledge vertically above you on the cliff, but far too high to reach. A track exits west, parallel to the cliff. There is a purple star drawn on the face of the cliff.
> say blach
A wizened old dwarf appears in a flash of light. Before you can react, he disappears as rapidly as he came.
> say blach
There is a vast explosion! On picking yourself up, however, you find that nothing seems to have happened to you.
> say blach
There is a loud < < S N A P ! ! > >
> w

I actually played this game about 7 years ago, but I hit difficulty so quickly I relied almost entirely on a walkthrough. The upshot of that is the only puzzle I remember the solution to is chronicled below as Unfair Twist #1. Of the rest I only remember that a.) the game is relatively small but b.) also ridiculously hard.

Unfair Twist #1:

Welcome to Brand X (Version 0.00)!
You don’t need instructions, so you won’t get any.
Problems, comments and suggestions to PDK1 or AJM8.
You are standing in a small shop which normally has various goods
displayed for sale. There are areas of the shop
obviously intended for the display of treasure.
There is an exit south, above which hangs
a large sign, which reads:

philsign

There is an aqualung with a full tank of oxygen here. It
turns on automatically upon contact with water.
There is a fluffy lace-edged cushion here.
There is a bunch of keys here.
A piece of sausage is curled up here.
There is a small teabag on the floor here.

The conceit of being allowed only a set number of items from a pile is sort of interesting, since you don’t actually need to grab the objects right away but can return for them as needed. There’s a locked door that needs keys I found early but I worry the keys are a red herring there’s some alternate way through the locked door.

In any case, here’s the unfair twist:

> get keys
OK.
> throw keys
You throw the keys neatly through the exit.
A thunderous voice from nowhere intones:

“VERY CLEVER! BUT YOU WON’T GET AWAY WITH THAT AGAIN!”

Yes, you can take three items out. This would be clever if it represented an actual loophole in the sign above, but the specific phrasing is “only two implements may be removed” which seems to disallow the trick above. If the phrasing had been “you can only carry out two items” or “you can only walk out with two of the items” or something of that sort I can see this being a genuine loophole puzzle, but as given it strikes me as reading the author’s mind.

Unfair Twist #2:

From the very first room (which you might notice has no light source item):

> s
It is pitch dark.
>

At first I assumed you were supposed to wander in the dark a bit until finding a light source. If you go straight south you do get outside (although there is a chance of falling down a pit and dying), but still: no light source. I did solve this on my own, but it was through such a meta method the puzzle easily still falls in the unfair category.

You are standing in the kitchen of the bungalow, which is usually lit by some rather dubious-looking electric wiring high up. The windows are all boarded up. There is a door to the larder to the east, and another room to the north. The house entrance is to the south.
There is a dubious-looking power source here.
There is an empty cup here.
The door is closed.
There is an empty electric kettle here.
> turn on power
You’re not holding the lamp!

I’m pretty sure the parser took only the first two words, so I was just misunderstood. (I still have no idea how to interact with the power source.) This led me to realize there was a lamp somewhere. I took a wild guess and went back to the very first dark room.

It is pitch dark.
> get lamp
OK.

I remember now why I hit the walkthrough so early. I’ll try to give this game more of a chance this time.

Posted February 4, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Philosopher’s Quest: Three openings   1 comment

I’m going to make a clarification that might be a little too much inside baseball, but Jimmy Maher brought something up I felt deserved a more detailed response. I’ll get back to the main gameplay (and what might the cruelest maze ever) next time.

There are three versions of this game.

A mainframe version from 1979, titled Brand X.
A commercial version for BBC Micro computer published by Acornsoft in 1982, titled Philosopher’s Quest.
A commercial version for various computers published by Topologika in 1987, also titled Philosopher’s Quest.

I’m playing the mainframe version, ported to be playable on modern computers by Graham Nelson, Adam Atkinson, and David Kinder.

The 1982 version was shortened from the mainframe version. If that was the only version titled Philosopher’s Quest, I probably would consider the title assigned to a different game and say I was playing Brand X.

Via BeebMaster.

Via BeebMaster. No doubt tape capacity played some role in truncating the original game.

However, the 1987 version restored the original material (with some tweaks). I hence consider the title Philsopher’s Quest to be the “author’s choice” for the game and am calling it that, although I confess I had some angst over the decision (which indicates, possibly, I’m getting into this a little too much) but I have the side justification that most people searching for this game would know it by the latter title.

Here’s the 1979 version, reproduced from my last post:

You are standing in a small shop which normally has various goods displayed for sale. There are areas of the shop obviously intended for the display of treasure. There is an exit south, above which hangs a large sign, which reads:

philsign

There is an aqualung with a full tank of oxygen here. It
turns on automatically upon contact with water.
There is a fluffy lace-edged cushion here.
There is a bunch of keys here.
A piece of sausage is curled up here.
There is a small teabag on the floor here.

Here’s how the 1982 version starts:

You are standing in a small shop which normally has goods for sale. There are areas of the shop intended for the display of treasure. There is an exit south, above which hangs a sign, reading: “Leave treasure here. Please note that only two objects may be removed from this shop. So choose carefully!”
There is an aqualung here
There is a bunch of keys here
There is a cup of tea here
There is a steel rod here

Finally, the 1987 version:

You are standing in a small shop which normally has various goods displayed for sale. Areas of the shop are obviously intended for the display of treasure. Above an exit south hangs a large sign, which reads:

Adventurers please note only two implements may be removed from this shop under penalty of death.
So choose carefully!

A piece of sausage is curled up here.
There is a fluffy lace-edged cushion here.
A small teabag is lying close at hand.
There is a aqualung with a full tank of oxygen here. It turns on automatically upon contact with water.
There is a bunch of keys here.

Note that the references to Zork and Adventure are stripped away from the sign in both the commercial versions (kind of like how early Zork made a Wumpus reference but dropped it later, likely due to obscure injokiness).

Also not only does the 1982 version have some item differences, it mentions explicitly to drop treasures in the shop while the other two versions don’t. This makes me suspect treasures go somewhere else in those versions.

The difference in objects might be a sufficient hint to figure out which three are needed (remember, you can “cheat” and get one extra past the sign’s rule). Since the aqualung, keys, and tea are the only shared objects, I suspect those are the right ones (and indeed I think I know where all three are used).

Posted February 5, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Philosopher’s Quest: A series of unfortunate events   2 comments

I have made actual genuine progress (really!) but for the moment I thought I’d share the general feeling of playing Philosopher’s Quest.

. . .

> se
You find yourself in a short angular passage, with exits northwest and south.
There is a very smelly and ancient piece of gorgonzola here.
> s
The smell of the mouldy cheese hits your lungs like a sledgehammer, and you choke rapidly to death on the fumes.
Oh dear. You’re dead.

. . .

There is a small unopenable metal case on the floor.
> get case
As you pick up the case, you notice that it starts ticking.
OK.
.
.
(later)
.
.
> w
The case you are carrying emits a loud CLICK.
You’re at Piccadilly Circus.
> e
You don’t feel a thing as the bomb you are carrying blows you to pieces.
Oh dear. You’re dead.

. . .

You are in a bare anteroom. The exit to the north bears an overhead inscription, decorated with crossed human bones. It reads: Abandon most hope some of ye who enter here.
To the south lies a murky hole. There seems to be some sort of detection apparatus above the hole, but far too high for you to reach (or jump to).
> n
As you enter the room, your movement activates an air pressure sensor somewhere. Five spears shoot out of the wall at random intervals, at various heights. You simply can’t dodge them all, and one gets you.
Oh dear. You’re dead.

. . .

You enter the sea and begin to swim. Almost immediately the source of the buzzing noise becomes obvious – it’s lots of bees, all heading for you! After a few stings, you get the point and duck under the water. The bees hover overhead, waiting. You eventually run out of breath and drown.
Oh dear. You’re dead.

. . .

As you move along the plank, your weight causes it to tilt rapidly downwards, throwing you off into the air. You hit the ground exceptionally hard, killing yourself instantly.
Oh dear. You’re dead.

. . .

The old lady stares at your possessions as you enter. “You didn’t bring me my dog!” she cries, looking most disappointed. “I shall retire to my boudoir and never speak to you again!” She wheels her wheelchair off into the murky passage to the north. There is a sudden cry of “AAGH!” from the passageway, and an equally sudden thump. Everything goes still.
You are in the living room of the bungalow. The windows are boarded up in here, too. The only exits are north, through a dark passageway, and south to the kitchen.
> n
You are in the hall of the bungalow. To the north there has been a small earthquake recently, and a big pit has opened up. The old lady is lying at the bottom. She must have stumbled onto the pit in the dark, fallen in, and broken every bone in her body, poor dear! The only safe exit is back south.
> n
You stumbled onto the old lady’s pit, fell in, and broke every bone in your body.
Oh dear. You’re dead.

. . .

> n
You suddenly hear a dull rumbling noise and the floor starts to shake. Into the room stampedes an enormous elephant. It runs over you without noticing, squashing you in the process. Oh dear. You’re dead.

Posted February 16, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Philosopher’s Quest: Unreasonably Reasonable   3 comments

Against what appears to be all odds I am making progress in Philosopher’s Quest. I am coming across puzzles that are in analytic terms outrageous but I’m managing to solve them anyway.

Let me first mention the unfairest twist. Perhaps you recall the game starts with a shop that you can get three items from. The choices are a piece of sausage, a cushion, a teabag, an aqualung, and a bunch of keys. I determined (via actual use) I needed the aqualung, keys, and teabag (the latter you need to make a cup of tea for a “Victorian woman”).

What I did not anticipate is that if you don’t take the teabag, it appears later anyway. I need to emphasize here: if you do take the teabag, it will not appear in a later room, but if you don’t, then it will. There is absolutely no logical reason this would happen; the intent appears merely to be cruel.

I worked this out because I found a spot (making a safe landing from a cliff) where I realized the cushion would be useful, so I decided to experiment with grabbing the cushion from the shop (I was assuming at this time maybe there would be an alternative to the keys, like a way to pick locks). By random luck I left the teabag behind in the process, and found out about the magical appearing second teabag.

It’s hard to describe the sensation of solving a puzzle like this. It’s not satisfying, exactly, because there was a simultaneous and even greater sense of frustration that the game would do such a trick. Yet, the net result is I wanted to keep playing.

. . .

Then there’s external references:

> sw
You are standing west of the garden of Eden. A dark passage leads off westwards into a cave, while a path exits northeastwards. Above the westwards passage hangs a prim sign which reads “Those uncertain as to the meaning of existence are advised not to proceed further in this direction.”
> on
Your lamp is now on and burning brightly.
> w
As you enter the room doubts begin to grow in your mind. At first you worry about minor things, such as what you had for breakfast, but gradually you find yourself questioning the way you spend your time and wondering about the value of your life. This takes on a frightening new aspect, but after a while you cease to be bothered by it. In fact you cease to be. That which may once have been you does not exist.

You’re stuck here in a philosophical malaise. Take a moment to think of how you’d get out of this.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
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.
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.
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.
.

> think
The powers that be find themselves in a logical cleft stick. Your case is sent to the Descartes appeal court who after a brief consultation rule in your favour.
There is a sudden flash of light during which you see….
You are in the philosopher’s laboratory, where experiments on the meaning of concepts are performed. There is an exit east, and another northwest.

I think therefore I am.

This room is near an area outside of “Eden” and you need a magic word to teleport and get out (note the game does not explicitly say this, but I’m trying to make the puzzle a little more solvable).

> n
As you move through the garden you blink quite normally and are amazed to find that the garden suddenly moves a considerable distance southwards, leaving you behind. You feel disturbed, as though you have somehow fallen from Grace. You are standing north of the garden of Eden, which is surrounded by three sheer cliffs. Gravel paths lead off to the southeast and southwest, while a dark passage leads north into a cliff-face.
> se
You are standing east of the garden of Eden, from which the smell of a protruding grape-vine makes you strangely wrathful. A dark passage leads off eastwards into a cave, while a path exits northwestwards, past what reminds you of a row of canneries, for some reason. Outside the cave is an ancient drawing, depicting gatherings of men communing with mice.

Take a stab at this one in the comments.

. . .

Of course, no late-70s sadistic game would complete without mazes.

As you slide, one of your possessions tumbles away from you. You can hear it falling into the distance.
You’re in the M.E. passages. There is a slide in from the roof which you can’t reach, and four slides lead down from exits to the north, east, south and west.

The quote above is part of a maze where every step taken causes one of your inventory items to float away to the exit. Unfortunately, other than the opening room there is no easy way to the exit, so mapping via object-dropping is very difficult, and eventually your lamp will disappear meaning you can’t see anything at all.

There is a single treasure hidden in the maze. It took excessive persistence to get there, and I never did find a way to avoid doing the last few turns in the dark. Since traveling in the dark can randomly cause death via falling in a pit, I had to make liberal use of the SAVE/RESTORE cycle to get to the end (for the curious, the route is: N, E, E, N, E, N, get all, N, E, E, E).

There’s also a part underwater where you get swallowed by a whale.

whalemap

It was never intended that players map this monstrosity. While within the whale items dropped can be randomly carried to other places, and can be randomly transported as well. It took … let’s say “ludicrous” amounts of saving and restoring to figure the map out, and by the end I still had two rooms I had to work out by brute force.

The game’s intended solution is to light a match while inside the whale (which requires wrapping a box of matches in oilskin beforehand so they don’t get wet). The smoke from the match will travel in the opposite direction of the mouth of the whale, so if smoke is blowing west you go east. To work this out I used what I call the Chekov’s gun puzzle solving method; there was an oilskin I knew I could wrap things in to keep dry, but I had nothing to go in it that made sense except the matches. Hence I knew the matches were likely useful. Unfortunately, I figured this out after already mapping the maze.

At the mouth of the whale there’s a gold tooth that when taken will cause the room to fill with digestive fluids that will eventually dissolve you. I haven’t figured out how to get through yet.

. . .

The most elaborate set-piece is the plank. There’s a long plank above a beach that spans for multiple rooms. On the westmost side there is a large bucket in which you can drop in items. In particular if you drop in four heavy items the east side of the plank will tilt up such that you can reach a ledge. Unfortunately, reaching the ledge causes the plank to break. To get down you need to have placed the cushion (that I mentioned earlier) on the beach below the ledge. If you try to drop the cushion while on the ledge it will just blow away on the wind.

Inside the ledge area there is a n/s corridor with a mouse. Going north too far will get you squashed by an elephant. The mouse will scare the elephant, but the mouse it too skittish to be picked up. In order to attract the mouse, you need to bring some cheese. Unfortunately the only cheese available is so stinky you will die if you carry it without a gas mask, and even then you have to drop it every few turns and step away to avoid death by stink. After laboriously making it up the plank, grabbing the mouse, and scaring away the elephant, there’s a dog in a back alcove you need to rescue. If you just bring the dog out, the dog will fall victim to the stinky cheese. Just throwing the cheese off the ledge will not get rid of it far enough. The only solution is the BURY CHEESE in the same room as the elephant, at which point the stink will be reduced to safety.

After saving the dog, you need to return it to its owner which is in a house northwest of the large bucket from earlier. Unfortunately, breaking the plank caused the bucket to fall over and block the way northwest. Here I am stuck and have no way to deliver the dog.

. . .

The last puzzle I just described was built up a little at a time. Solve a portion, die to another portion, repeat. I don’t know why I’m enjoying this, but I really am.

There is one curious attribute that I think might be unique to the era: nearly every single item so far used in a puzzle has been out in the open right away. Solving puzzles tends to reveal rooms with treasures but not items used to solve other puzzles. There’s nothing hidden via an EXAMINE verb (that verb is not even recognized). Everything is laid out like a dare: here’s all the pieces to win the game, but I bet you’ll lose anyway.

Posted February 19, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Philosopher’s Quest: Riddles   22 comments

There’s a messy “danger room” segment which involves either using DASH, CRAWL, JUMP or SKIP to avoid deathtraps in a rotating room while answering riddles.

> dash north
What a strange mode of locomotion!
You decide to enter the room by running fast. Your movement activates an air pressure sensor somewhere. Five spears shoot out of the wall at random intervals, at various
heights. Fortunately, your speed is fast enough to let you dodge them, to your relief.
You are standing in the middle of the Danger room. Everywhere you look, there are peculiar contrivances set into the walls and ceiling, and suspicious-looking panels in the floor. Indeed, it was one of these which nearly killed you just then. The whole place is obviously booby-trapped to the ultimate, and not a place to stay long in.
> dash east
You decide to leave the room by running fast. Your movement activates an air pressure sensor somewhere. Five spears shoot out of the wall at random intervals, at various heights. Fortunately, your speed is fast enough to let you dodge them, to your relief. You are standing in a square stone room to the east of the Danger room. Passages exit west and north. Above the north passage there is a dimly illuminated sign which reads:
Crooked as a rainbow, slick as a plate,
Ten thousand horses can’t pull it straight.

Each danger room is connected to three riddle rooms. Each riddle has a single-word answer. There’s another mechanism which swaps between four different danger rooms, so in total there are 12 riddles. They were pretty solid as far as riddles go so I thought I’d share the rest. I’ve numbered them for convenience. (They are randomized in the game and do not appear in any particular order.)

1.
Crooked as a rainbow, slick as a plate,
Ten thousand horses can’t pull it straight.

2.
Little Nancy Etticoat,
With a white petticoat,
And a red nose.
The longer she stands,
The shorter she grows.

3.
What is it that every man overlooks?

4.
A rich man has and wants more of,
A fat man has and doesn’t want,
And a poor man wants but can’t get?

5.
Lives in winter,
Dies in summer,
And grows with its root upward.

6.
A skin have I,
More eyes than one,
I can be nice,
When I am done.

7.
What goes with a train,
And comes with a train,
And the train doesn’t need it,
But can’t go without it?

8.
My first is in people but not in crowd,
My second’s in shower but not in cloud,
My third is in apple but not in pie,
My fourth is in purchase but not in buy,
My fifth is in Peter but not in Paul,
My whole is a state desired by all.

9.
What has many keys but no locks?

10.
When first I appear I seem mysterious,
But when I’m explained, I’m nothing serious.

11.
The beginning of eternity,
The end of time and space,
The beginning of every end,
And the end of every place.

12.
A tea-kettle is a tea-kettle,
A tea-kettle has what everything has,
Now what has a tea-kettle?

For the last riddle I needed to get help from team euphoria, with Emily Short eventually coming up with the answer.

Now, as is par for this course for this game, getting through this segment and solving all the riddles (which took a long time due to the danger room choreography) was still not enough to yield results. Each riddle room opens an empty cell:

You are in a bare cell, riddled with passages too small for you to enter. The only exit lies south.

I didn’t find anything in any of the 12 rooms, and leaving with all riddles solved only has the result of the danger room being closed off entirely.

You’re in the bare anteroom. The exit north is barred by a huge, obviously immovable, iron sheet.

The pain just keeps going.

Posted February 23, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Philosopher’s Quest: Preparing for battle   12 comments

I finally had a session of Philosopher’s Quest where I got nothing accomplished whatsoever.

Such events lead to the downward spiral of hints and eventual clinging to a walkthrough. So I’m going to put my best effort and compiling my ideas and making a plan.

From the manual of the 1987 version of Philosopher's Quest.

From the manual of the 1987 version of Philosopher’s Quest.

I’m going to list puzzles and places I’m stuck on, although in an abbreviated style; check my prior posts for my details.

Bees: Trying to swim in the ocean results in a swarm of the bees forcing a dive in the ocean. This is ok with the aqualung but I suspect it might be possible to also get by the bees.
Dropped bucket: The giant bucket used in the plank puzzle blocks the way to an entrance I need to get into to deliver a shaggy dog.
Danger room: While I can pass through all the riddle rooms, I haven’t got anything to happen as a result.
Dog cave (& kennel): One room involves a cave where a dog obviously was staying, and another involves a kennel. I haven’t been able to use either.
Albatross: At one point you get an albatross on your neck. It seems like it maybe is a treasure, except it is impossible to get off.
Whale escape: I still get dissolved by acid here.
Tower of Babel: This location leads to my character being confused and not able to go anywhere or say anything.
Brown paint: There’s a room that dumps brown paint on you that flakes off. I haven’t found any effect.
Stars: There are three rooms with painted stars, but responses to magic words or waving items are so random I suspect these might be red herrings.

While it’s possible there’s item reuse (the keys have been used twice already), here are the items I haven’t used yet:

Explosive case: This case will blow up all the items in a room but I haven’t made it useful yet.
Driftwood: I can set it on fire but it burns away immediately and doesn’t seem to be of use.

I also have the magic word “BLACH” which hasn’t done anything and I suspect might also be a red herring.

Plan (?):

* I can try blowing up various things with the case. My main suspicion is it was helpful with the plank, and I managed to time it in a way that it went off in the bucket as I was stepping off the plank, but unfortunately the bucket survives intact. I could see it being useful in the whale but it goes off if you attempt to take it underwater (and it’s too large to wrap up in something helpful like oilskin). It blows up at the Tower of Babel but nothing useful seems to happen (and the player dies). Covering it with brown paint does nothing.

* It is vaguely possible completing all the riddle rooms unlocked something elsewhere, and I haven’t checked thoroughly enough to figure it out.

* There’s a hint probably about the Tower of Babel

You are in a smooth corridor hacked out of the living granite (whatever that means… I mean, whoever heard of living granite anyway? Oh, sorry…). There is a hole up, and round passages lead east and west. There are some words hacked out of the living (ahem), which read “WORDS IN TOWERS HAVE OTHER POWERS”.

and I suspect escaping the tower takes a single word or phrase.

* Lighting a match at the right part in the whale results in it coughing. It seems like the best thing would be to force a really big cough, but I am unsure how.

Posted February 29, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Philosopher’s Quest: How to persist on difficult problems   15 comments

Progress!

One of my issues from my last post was an albatross that stays tied to one’s neck. Apparently what’s needed to divest it is a story:

> e
Wheeeeeeeee…. Ooof!

As you slide, one of your possessions tumbles away from you. You can hear it falling into the distance.

As you drop into the room, you catch sight of a burly workman carrying three “Caution” signs over his shoulder. “I say,” you begin, “I’ve got this frightfully interesting story about an albatross. You simply must hear it!” So saying, you pour forth your tale. The workman is fascinated and thoughtfully suggests you switch your lamp off while you continue. This you do, and the two of you sit in the darkness for a while. After a while you come to the end of your story. The workman, visibly moved, shakes you by the hand as you relight your lamp, and then moves off carrying his warning signs. The load around your neck feels much lighter.

I admittedly only was down there because I thought the item-falling-away effect from sliding just might apply to the albatross, but I’ll take random luck as a win here.

I’m still persisting, though, and I’ve been thinking hard about persistence when there is no apparent progress. This is an issue that applies to my professional life as well as my hobbyist life.

The main trick, I think, is to make explicit: even when nothing is resolved, eliminating possibilities is still progress.

By that I mean while attempts X, Y, and Z may have failed, in the process we have learned that X, Y, and Z don’t work to solve a particular puzzle. Normally this doesn’t provide any user feedback, unless the user makes that feedback visible.

The Tower of Babel puzzle is on the high end of frustration. Here is my record of trying to solve it.

towerbabel

> n
You’re at the tower of Babel – a most imposing construction that seems to stretch up to the very heavens. Hundreds of people are milling around looking very friendly but confused. The atmosphere is most bewildering; it becomes difficult to understand yourself think after a while. A road leads north and south from here.

> climb tower
Before you can do anything the atmosphere of confusion seems to take control of your senses. You find you can no longer understand the language you are speaking.
You’re at the tower of Babel.

At this point the “>” parser disappears and nothing seems to help.

w
A man in a white coat shows professional curiosity as you make your utterance.
You’re at the tower of Babel.
n
A nearby trade-unionist, straight from the shop floor, bellows ‘Kadima hapoel!’ in your ear.
You’re at the tower of Babel.
s
A young woman is amused by your remark. ‘Rotse lishtot mashehu?’ she asks, pointing towards a hot drinks machine.
You’re at the tower of Babel.
jump
Some children burst into laughter and start copying your accent.
You’re at the tower of Babel.
blach
On hearing your words a passer-by offers you some wurst and asks, ‘Ooluy ata raev?’
You’re at the tower of Babel.
inv
You attract the attention of a passing group of troubadours. ‘Shir itanu!’ one exclaims at which they all start singing (in an assorted collection of keys, of course.)

The only other hint seems to be in a different room.

> d
You are in a smooth corridor hacked out of the living granite (whatever that means… I mean, whoever heard of living granite anyway? Oh, sorry…). There is a hole up, and round passages lead east and west. There are some words hacked out of the living (ahem), which read “WORDS IN TOWERS HAVE OTHER POWERS”.

There’s a few angles to work this problem.

I. Say the right magic word(s)

Other problems in this game have been solved by a single word like THINK or STEINBECK, so perhaps that’s the trick.

think

steinbeck

coleridge

jump

blach

pray (verb not even recognized)

any of the riddle answers

all of the riddle answers in the order encountered

II. Prepare immunity to confusion beforehand

bring gas mask

temporary deafness or blindness somehow?

III. Prepare a “time bomb” to startle out of confusion

Bringing the exploding case to the Tower
The case will eventually explode and kill the player, but it doesn’t help with escaping the Tower.

Lighting a match, having it burn out while at the Tower.
It hurts the player’s finger in another scene but here the match just burns to ash.

bring the shaggy dog

IV. Decipher the statements being made

It’s faintly possible the phrases the characters are saying are not gibberish, but coded language, and deciphering that language will allow escape.

Kadima hapoel! -> trade-unionist
Rotse lishtot mashehu? -> pointing to hot drinks machine
Ooluy ata raev? -> offered wurst
Shir itanu! -> right before singing

Checking every possible rot1-25 rotation

Attempting to say any of the words

Attempting to say any of the words backwards

Supposing a 1-1 cryptogram

. . .

Having the lists not only provides the feeling of momentum, but also prevents an issue I’ve had before: getting stuck on a puzzle because I thought I tried a particular action, but I hadn’t (or at least not in a certain exact way).

Additionally it’s possible the setup requires an item I haven’t seen yet — so it isn’t good for me to linger absolutely — but it means that if I leave and come back I have a better memory of what already has been attempted.

Posted March 4, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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