Archive for the ‘the-count’ Tag

The Count (1979)   8 comments

I could go back to Warp some more, but I’m rather exhausted of gathering treasures. The next Scott Adams game off my list has a reputation for being experimental and not just a treasure grab, so I decided to go for it next.

trs80

Despite the “what are you doing here” setup from the cover this does not seem to be amnesia.

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Rather, this is a case where the in-game character has knowledge that the player doesn’t, and part of the gameplay is simply deciphering what’s going on. It’s quickly established The Count means the vampire Dracula.

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(Footnote.)

The objective is (probably?) to destroy him

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but if that’s the case, why are we sleeping at the castle? And how does that match with the cover which indicates this might be a love story of some sort? Perhaps the main character intended to destroy Dracula but fell enamored instead? If so, is this voluntary or involuntary? If involuntary, why did we get “tucked in” apparently by Dracula without any physical damage?

Also experimental: the main map is tiny even for a Scott Adams game

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and it seems like the main notion is that time advances to sunset, at which point you get sleepy and awake in bed. Day Two below:

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Is the neck bite necessary to the story, or am I supposed to prepare Day One so it doesn’t happen?

It’s highly disconcerting to play a game without even knowing the player character’s motive (or if there was an original motive that changed). It’s a dream where you are dropped as an actor in a play and everyone else expects you know the lines but you have no idea what’s going on.

The only thing resembling a “puzzle” is there is a room visible underneath the window of the opening room, and it appears like the game wants you to get there somehow. Still, the whole thing is refreshingly odd and I might just spend some time mapping out if any changes happen when time passes. I’m suspecting an Infocom-mystery-game setup where certain things only happen at certain times and it’d be useful to get a map of the schedule.

Footnote: This is a bit of a side rant but I have to say — what’s up with the spelling and capitalization of Scott Adams games? “ADVEWNTURE?” This isn’t even version 1 I’m playing; nobody ever noticed the extra w? And why does “afternoon” have the spelling “AFternoon”? More than once in the game? And why does that sort of odd capitalization happen in multiple games? Is there some genuine technical reason? It’s been driving me bananas in every Scott Adams game. Also, tip for future players: the way to get out of bed is GET UP. Not STAND, UP, OUT, GET OUT, EXIT, or a dozen other variants that would seem to work. I spent about 40 turns at the start of this game just trying to do basic movement. It’s the first time in a while I hit a genuine guess-the-verb puzzle that took me more than one extra turn to resolve. My journey through the 1970s in general has hit much less guessing of the verb than the reputation of old text adventures suggests.

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Posted July 30, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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The Count: Illumination   Leave a comment

A chronology —

Day 1: I have no neck bites and a tent stake in my inventory. If I look into a mirror I see:

TODAY I look healthy…

A bell rings part of the way through the day (“DING-DONG”) at which point a postcard arrives just outside the castle.

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At the end of the day after the sun sets, I fall asleep and end up in bed.

Day 2: I now have neck bites (98% sure these are guaranteed to happen), and my tent stake no longer in my inventory (“I’VE A HUNCH I’VE BEEN ROBBED!”; 50% sure this is supposed to be hidden somewhere to prevent this from happening).

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A bell rings again and there’s a letter and a package.

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Day 3: I awake in bed again. If the cigarettes or blood from the package were in my inventory, those are now gone (although if I have a single cigarette, that remains).

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There are no new special events that I know of.

Day 4: I am a vampire! (Game over.)

I did make a bit of progress — I managed to get to a room underneath the starting room by tying a sheet to the bed. This leads to a room with a Dracula portrait that can be moved to reveal a dark tunnel. Unfortunately I have no portable source of light. If I try to light one of the cigarettes the game complains that I don’t have any matches. I’ll have to search around; my guess is there’s a secret item somewhere. Other than getting a source of light, I’m trying my best to find a hiding place for the tent stake.

The experience overall is far from anything I’ve played so far; Secret Agent had a few dramatic elements like The Count, but still was a collect-a-thon at heart; with this game it feels like the author intended a narrative where the puzzles are incidental, as opposed to designing a puzzle sequence with some narrative attached.

Posted August 1, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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The Count: Gearing for Battle   Leave a comment

So my best reconstruction of the plot is that the main character was sent to destroy Dracula (see: angry peasants outside who kill you if you try to leave) but there is some sort of vampire-spell when Dracula is awake that forces the PC to sleep. The first time around results in just being tucked into bed and the tent stake in our inventory being overlooked (maybe there was other equipment, too, so he was busy with that). The next day Dracula senses his mistake and makes sure the stake goes away (unless it’s hidden; more on that below). He also gets hungry (maybe our neck was secretly smeared with barbecue sauce and it needed 24 hours; maybe the day before Dracula already ate) and our neck is bitten, with vampirism resulting in 48 hours.

We’re hence either on a suicide mission or killing the source will cure the vampirism — either way it’s safe to say the end result of this game will be killing Dracula, meaning I need to find him during the day. Well, I found him, although the pun injury is severe:

coffin

I am fairly certain I am close to the end and just need to get my sequence of actions down. I have a set of items that seem kind of vampire-hunting-ish:

Tent stake
Rubber mallet
Dusty clove of garlic
Torch
No-doz tablets
Sulfur matches
Cigarette (that summons the coffin)

Note that the cigarette is from a package that arrives on the second day, after the neck bite, hence a first day kill would be impossible.

At the moment I can’t open the coffin:

Sorry I can’t do that
Its LOCKED from INSIDE!

I suspect this part is simply a matter of timing; I think Dracula himself will open the coffin and I need to use the no-doz tablets to be awake for the event.

I did manage to figure out how to keep the stake from being stolen. There’s a locked door downstairs, and I managed to PICK LOCK with a paperclip helpfully attached to a postcard that arrives the first day. Inside are the no-doz tablets on the list above. If I leave the stake in the room and lock it behind me, the stake is still there the next day.

There is one more item which may aid in vampire-killing, which involves an oven.

oven

I am unclear why an oven would emit SUNLIGHT but that seems strangely specific to mention. I could foresee somehow getting Dracula upstairs and … tossing him in? Maybe the stake immobilizes but doesn’t kill (there are so many vampire mythologies it is hard to know what’s getting used here).

In any case, I hope to have BIG WINNER attached to my next post on this game. Fingers crossed.

Posted August 3, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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The Count: Won!   3 comments

I was indeed close to a win last time, although I did need a hint to pull it off.

First off, while staying awake with the no-doz pills I went to have a face-off with Dracula, but he never came out of bat form.

draculameet

This led to some tense chasing about the castle, but unfortunately I realized Dracula would not be trappable in bat form. I did find after he left his coffin I could go in …

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… and I suspected I could fiddle with the lock somehow, but none of my objects worked.

This is the point I needed a hint. If you recall I mentioned an oven with “sunlight and heat” and I suspected I had to toss Dracula in somehow. I had a visualization problem, because it never crossed my mind I could *enter* the oven. It’s a solar oven that only works during the day, and going in night revealed a nail file.

This bit of annoyance led to the most clever moment in the game. You can make it in Dracula’s coffin on Day 2 and break the lock with the file, and then come back in Day 3 after he has gone to sleep and open the coffin (which is no longer locked).

Using preparation to outsmart Dracula felt like a perfect merge of action and narrative.

draculameet3

I want to take a moment before moving on to praise Scott Adams’s use of absence to tell a story. Secret Mission had the opening briefing describe a manila envelope that was not there, implying something had gone wrong. The Count takes this even further with an omitted first act (what did happen before the first day?) and nights where the protagonist sleeps while other things go on — items are stolen or removed, and the PC is harmed. This leads to a plot where half of it is reconstructed by evidence in a way unique to the medium.

Certainly The Count is the most coherent of any of the games I’ve played so far. Alas I didn’t find it quite as fun as, say, Voodoo Castle, or even Zork. The sparse structure led to too many moments were I felt completely constricted and couldn’t come up with any action at all that was helpful. Additionally, while the timed structure of The Count is very clever in retrospect, in practice I had a lot of annoyances of having to save and restore and restart and save and restore and restart. So while I might recommend a play, and it isn’t even that hard a game comparative to other works at the time, there would be no shame in using a walkthrough to see it to the end.

Posted August 3, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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