Monday, 4 November 2013

Game 37: Loom - Here be Dragons!

Bobbin Threadbare Journal Entry 4: "I knew about many things I might come across after departing Loom, but I never expected to meet a dragon! The Guild of Shepherds mistook me for a mage, and expected me to stop a huge winged serpent from eating all of their livestock. Somehow I managed to pull it off, but not without being taken captive myself!!! Thankfully my newly learnt drafts continue to help me out of sticky situations, but I have a bad feeling that won't be last I see of that now very cranky dragon. I've now met a young boy named Rusty Nailbender, who is a member of the Guild of Blacksmiths. He's an odd sort of character, sleeping at the weirdest times in the strangest of places, but I plan to pay his home a visit. Let's hope they're a friendly bunch!"


I am named Bobbin, Last Rejected of the Guild of Weavers.

So there I was in the little house owned by Fleece, First Chosen of the Guild of Shepherds. She believed me to be the “mighty wizard” that she’d hired from the Guild of Mages, but I was yet to find out why she may have required one in the first place. When I attempted to inform her that she was mistaken, she took it as nothing more than modesty. “Your modesty is very charming. But there is no mistake. My border guards were extremely impressed with your display of magic power.” Fleece then told me of her people’s plight: “One of our clients placed an order for ten thousand fattened sheep. Our local dragon seems to have acquired a taste for fresh mutton. Our sheep are bred for extra whiteness. It can see them from miles away. Only a mage can save us from this winged pestilence.” While she told this story, I was witness to the dragon swooping down, grabbing a sheep in its claws, and flying off into the distance. I was already quite certain how this matter would be attended to, having made all of the dozing shepherd’s sheep green earlier on. I figured I’d go back out into the field and do the same to the rest of their flock. Before I did that though, it seemed a good idea to check out the little lamb resting in the hay.


They did say good looking though right? Right?!


A dragon!? Listen lady, what exactly do you expect me to do with a dragon!?

No matter how I tried to interact with the lamb, I received the same message. “This lamb doesn’t look too well. Maybe I shouldn’t bother her.” This is where I must convey one of the limitations of Loom’s interface. There’s just no way to ask anyone about anything. In this instance, I couldn’t choose a topic of conversation with Fleece, nor could I select the lamb and then get a list of actions based on that selection. The only control I have in the game is through drafts, and then I can only weave drafts on others (not myself). So far the game has been pretty easy, and I think the biggest reason for that is due to the limitations of the interface. There’s only one way to attack puzzles, so it just becomes a matter of trial and error in most cases. I could have stood in that house for hours, but there was no way to progress anything. When I gave up and tried to leave, only then did Fleece discuss the lamb. “Not very curious wizard, are you? You’ve shown not the slightest interest in my little patient here. I don’t think she’s going to make it. Her mother was carried off by the dragon the day after she gave birth. My Songs of Healing don’t seem to be doing enough good.” The fact is that I was very interested in the lamb, making the storytelling feel forced. To be clear, it hasn’t tarnished my enjoyment, but I do think LucasArts would eventually figure out how to have the level of storytelling sophistication they were going for, without making the whole thing feel like it was on rails.


What? Didn't you see me trying to weave terror on it just moments ago?

Bobbin asked Fleece about the songs of healing she mentioned, at which point she raised up her hand and “sang” the threads of a draft (A,G,G,A). She then explained that she wasn’t very good at it, which was the likely reason that the lamb remained unwell. I would have happily weaved the draft myself, but I still wasn’t experienced enough to weave the A thread. “Healing: In Volume 19 of her Brief History of the Guild of Weavers (Guild Press, 5620), Third Elder Lazykate documents the way bandages were treated with Healing as early as 1716. The four threads have evolved far beyond their original form. They can now be spun into virtually anything which needs rejuvenation, with the notable exception of the spellweaver’s own body.” I was once again left standing there with nothing to do, so I tried to leave again. Fleece spoke to me again as I exited, telling me that “The flock has been led to pasture, Wizard. Good luck with the dragon!” The field that was previously empty was now filled with sheep, so I clicked on them and weaved the Dyeing draft. Just as I’d hoped, they all turned green, camouflaging them against the surrounding grass. The dragon arrived soon afterwards, and failed to find any sheep during its swoop. Victory I thought! Not quite. The dragon may not have been able to see the sheep, but it could still see me!!!


"A B C D E F G..."


That's me dangling from the dragon's claws. I wasn't worried though, because Lord Lucas made me invincible some time ago."

The dragon picked me up and carried me off to its volcanic lair. Thankfully it never intended to eat me, and in fact had collected me by accident. “Well, well. Silly me. This is what I get for being in a hurry. Thought you felt a little scrawny.” The dragon rested upon its large collection of gold while I tried to find a way out. There didn’t appear to be one, so I was going to have to do something with either the gold or the dragon itself (possibly both). The first thing that came to mind was the Straw to Gold draft but in reverse. I weaved it on the pile of gold and it worked, but as you might expect, the dragon wasn’t particularly pleased. “My! Aren’t we clever today! Just put it back before you leave.” The good news however was that I levelled up and finally gained the ability to weave drafts with the A thread in them! That meant the Healing, Sharpening and Sleep drafts were all at my disposal now. I turned the straw back into gold to see what would happen, but the dragon merely said “Thanks, sweetie. Glad you remembered how to do it.” I looked through my drafts to see what might work on the dragon and thought I’d try putting it to sleep. To my surprise, it worked, although I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to help me. Then I noticed that there was a waft of fire emitting from the dragon’s nose every time it breathed out, and knew exactly what to do!


Nope, still not worried.


Pissing the dragon off seemed like the most logical thing to do.

I turned the gold into straw again. “Uh-oh. It’s snoring on the straw!” The straw caught fire and quickly spread, causing the dragon to wake up in a panic. Shortly afterwards it flew away with its smouldering tail between its legs, leaving me alone inside the mountain. Rather fortuitously, there just happened to be a doorway leading out of the dragon’s lair right behind where it had been sitting. This exit didn’t take me outside though, instead connecting to a room of almost pitch blackness. I say almost because I could see two tunnels leading out of it, with the one I’d just walked out of having a red glow while the other, which I assumed would take me outside, was blue. It seemed obvious that I should use the Night Vision draft, so that’s what I did, lighting up the area around where I was standing. I guess it was a maze of sorts, but it didn’t take me long to find my way to a chamber with a staircase leading downwards out of it. It led back into the maze, yet I was getting closer to the blue exit now. Soon afterwards I fell into another chamber, at which point Bobbin exclaimed “Guess I won’t be going back that way.” This was comforting in a way, as it likely meant the maze was over. This chamber had a large pool of water in it, but that was all I could find to interact with.


Eeeek? Really? That's the best you can do?


Here comes the obligatory maze!


Computer game maze rule number 163: Always walk in the opposite direction to the intended destination.


No more maze? Oh how devastating!

I clicked on the pool, and four drops of water fell from the ceiling into it, with each one producing a thread. This formed a draft of course, and I was given a hint as to what it might achieve through Bobbin’s reflection temporarily appearing in the water in front of him. “Reflection: This draft was commissioned by the Guild of Dancers to expedite costume changes for their 500th anniversary performance of the classic ballet Olema. When properly invoked, the spellweaver immediately assumes the appearance of the being the draft is spun upon, and vice versa. The four threads are based upon the mating grunt of the slit-throated chameleon.” The slit-throated chameleon you say!? Anywho, the reflection draft was A,F,F,A, and weaving it again on the pool didn’t achieve anything. I brought up my ever-increasing list of drafts and decided Emptying was the most likely to work in this instance. It did, and all the water was drained out of the pool, leaving dry ground. There was a blue sphere, which looked identical to the scrying sphere I’d seen in Crystalgard, half buried in the rock. I clicked on it, and was shown a vision of a volcano erupting. What? That was it?!  I clicked on it again, and saw a different vision. This time it was a swan, and the four threads that make up the Transcendence draft were played. How could those two visions relate to one another?


That's one nasty looking bluebottle!


Some time in the future, there's a volcano...somewhere!


Transcendence into the peripheral

Confused, I clicked the sphere again. Yet another vision appeared, with this one being a smiling man in black and green. I couldn’t be certain, but I figured it was Bishop Mandible. Even if I was right though, it didn’t give me any more clarity regarding what I was supposed to make of all this. Would I find the Guild of Clerics in a volcano? Should I weave Transcendence on Bishop Mandible when the time comes? More importantly, what was I supposed to do right now? I tried weaving various other drafts on the sphere, but couldn’t get it out of the ground or do anything else. I could fill up and empty the pool of water repeatedly, but that didn’t seem to have any positive effect. I couldn’t go back the way I’d come, nor did there appear to be any other way out of the chamber. Perhaps I should have learnt from earlier mistakes, but the truth is I was stuck here for over twenty minutes before I finally figured out I could walk behind the tree-like protrusion in the centre of the chamber, and that this would take me to the final section of the maze. I’d already taken ages to figure out I could walk away from the shepherds, and that I could just walk past the sleeping shepherd and his sheep, but this one caused me the most trouble. It’s becoming clear that the puzzles in Loom are very straight forward, but the environment is tricky in a cheap sort of way. Once again I’d be surprised if I was the only one to get stuck here.


You'd think dental hygiene would have progressed by the year 8021.


As usual, it looks completely obvious in a screenshot.

The good news was that I was out of the maze, and was now strolling along a pathway that descended in a spiral around a pointed rock. I could easily walk down the spiraling stairway, but it ended abruptly with a gap much too big to jump over (not that I’d be able to anyway). I considered going through my drafts, but then the only thing on the screen I’d be able to weave one on were the spiraling steps. Aha! Perhaps I could untwist them by reversing the Twisting draft again. I felt very satisfied when the staircase literally unraveled and formed one long bridge. Now this was a true display of power! What a shame no-one else was there to see it. Well except for the dragon that flew by just as I left the screen (yes, the same one I burnt recently)! There was a dramatic shift in scenery between the screen with the bridge and the next one, with all blues suddenly shifting into reds. It immediately gave me the impression that I was somewhere dangerous, and that feeling wasn’t lessened by the fact there appeared to be a corpse lying on the ground a few feet away from me. When I selected the body I found it was a young boy, so I was relieved when he turned out to be merely napping. I weaved a reverse Sleep draft on him and successfully woke him up!


Al Lowe would be proud.


Tell me you saw that! It was frickin' awesome!


Should I be concerned that the sky suddenly turned blood red?


Well I guess it's better than face down in a plate of spaghetti in Chatsubo!

The boy asked me my name and I returned the favour. “My real name is Wellwrought, but everyone calls me Rusty. Rusty Nailbender. I’m supposed to be gathering firewood. But this plateau’s been picked clean.” Bobbin then asked Rusty what his guild was and instead of answering, he told me to follow him. We walked over to the edge of a cliff. “That’s us. The Guild of Blacksmiths.” In the distance was a magnificent structure in the shape of an anvil. “Our city’s been here since before the Shadows. We call it the Forge.” With that Rusty walked back to where I first found him sleeping. Bobbin asked him whether he’d seen a flock of swans passing by, but the only birds Rusty had seen were vultures. “Wake me if you find your swans. Never seen one before.” Before I could do anything else, he lay down and went back to sleep. I already knew that the planned sequels were to follow the exploits of Rusty Nailbender, so I can only imagine this won’t be the last time I come into contact with him in Loom. For now though, there seemed nothing else to do than to approach the Forge and find out what awaits me there. I know the game is short, but I’m really hoping I’m not coming up on the end already. If the two remaining threads I still require are anything to go off, I’m past halfway, which is a bit concerning given how quickly and easily everything has passed by so far.


It is not the nail that bends. It is only yourself.


Figures. Our guild on Loom is a giant sewing machine!

Session Time: 0 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

38 comments:

  1. I was stuck there for ages too. I have no idea how many times I emptied and filled the pool and pixel-hunted trying to find something to do there. I was annoyed with the game when I did find the exit. Particularly after Bobbin made a specific point of saying "I can't go back that way" with the graphics showing nothing but blackness to the right of the tree, making me think I had to go through the water instead.

    Even on your screenshot it looks to me like your path should just take you to the other side of the tree trunk thingy.

    I mentioned in a previous game that I don't like it when the game hides something out of my view because I can only see one angle but my character should see the thing easily. I still don't.

    I should stop ranting now... Done!

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    1. I got stuck in the cave pool area as well. I swear I clicked on every part of the screen trying to get out at first, but nothing seemed to work. I guess I just didn't click in the exact spot you need to move to where you can go. That wasn't the only time either, the area in the glass city with the chalice was also annoying at first because of that.

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    2. Honestly, I didn't have any trouble getting out of there, although I may have just been lucky when clicking around.

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    3. Stuck there to. For a LONG time.

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    4. I had no problem getting out of the cave. The reason it seems random is that you have to refill the pool to get out - You can't exit while it's drained. I think. :-)

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    5. I also got stuck by the pool in the caves. It just wasn't obvious where you were supposed to go, not for the first time in this game.

      Part of the reason I got stuck was that once the pool was empty, it leaves a hole behind. I figured it meant a hole like a tunnel, rather than an empty receptacle for the water.

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    6. I got out reasonably quickly, but I know it was a lucky click that got me there.
      Corey: I didn't refill the pool at all so I guess that wasn't it.

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  2. Ah, at least on the second Scrying Sphere you figured out that there is more than one vision. There would've been a hint for for the exit behind the dragon in the first one (along with another image of the swan and the Trancendence draft as the last image it shows.)

    Alternate solution for the dragon, if you missed the sleeping draft: Fur'f nsenvq bs sver, fb gur Greebe qensg gheaf lbh vagb synzrf, oheavat gur fgenj.

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    1. Oh, and alternate solution for waking Rusty: Whfg pbagvahr jrnivat qensgf ng uvz naq ur'yy or jbxra hc ol gur abvfr.

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    2. I found the alternative one for the dragon because I didn't realize the sheep draft was sleep. Sleeping draft explanation seems to be missing from the TurboGrafx manual. Even so, I managed to use the reverse sleep draft on Rusty just to see what would happen.

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    3. I also used the alternate one, because it seemed a reasonable thing to do. So I had no chance to think of using Sleep.

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    4. N qentba? Nsenvq bs sver? Junnnng?

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  3. "The fact is that I was very interested in the lamb, making the storytelling feel forced."

    Huh??? She should come over and talk about the lamb when you click on it. Weird bug. ScummVM again?

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    1. Maybe Trickster never double clicked the lamb, and only tried to use drafts on it. In fact, Trickster didn't mention the extra dialogue from interacting with the dragon and her pile of gold (she talks about having a collection of glass, and a sphere rolling away lost in the caves). I wonder if he's forgotten about it.

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    2. Yeah, I just noticed too that he apparently didn't talk to the dragon at all. She has her own closeup and everything!

      And about the lamb, I luckily had an old save just before meeting Fleece. I couldn't reproduce the message about wanting to leave the lamb alone. Weaving drafts results in him saying "That draft won't work on the lamb" and interacting with it results in Fleece trying the Healing draft, until just Bobbin says "Hope she gets better" after three tries.

      Are you sure Trickster that you know how the interface works? You can interact with things by either double-clicking on them or clicking on the image of them in the bottom right corner, and you can't interact until Bobbin has walked close enough and the item's name is shown.

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    3. Ah, finally I could reproduce the message. Bobbins says it when you try to dye the lamb green.

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    4. Nevermind, he must know how to do it; I mean he interacted with the scrying spheres.

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    5. Yeah, I don't remember any weirdness with Fleece either. I definitely double-clicked everything I found and I also tried to turn the lamb green.

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    6. So this actually shows the game designers thinking ahead, if the player somehow decides or opts not to interact with the lamb on their own, Fleece steps in to make sure you pick up that draft. Go go good game designers not dead ending you!

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    7. V'z abg pbzcyrgryl fher zvffvat gur urnyvat qensg jbhyq qrnq raq lbh. Hayrff lbh arrq gb urny rirelbar orsber pybfvat gur evsgf. I didn't try.

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    8. Good point Jarikith. One other thing the designers did to stop you dead-ending was the levelling up mechanic. It makes sure you use each required draft before it lets you leave an area that you can't return to. I like it.

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  4. Matrix reference! It's been awhile since I played this one, but I don't recall ever getting hung up in the environment. Then again, I guess that wouldn't be terribly memorable.

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    1. Here I was thinking that was a Kung-Fu reference. Of course The Matrix really was just full of the same sayings though

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    2. In the Matrix, there is no nail!

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    3. Strange that nobody has mentioned the obvious Neuromancer-reference (the game, that is).

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    4. Was that a Matrix reference? I thought the line in the matrix was the famous "You don't bend the spoon, there is no spoon"

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    5. Ilmari, are you referring to the spaghetti thing?

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    6. Yes, that thing. It seemed a bit obvious at the time, since I had just played the game along with Trickster.

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  5. New Adventure game up on Steam Fester Mudd: Curse of the Gold - Episode 1 Regular price 9.99
    http://store.steampowered.com/app/253310/

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  6. I'm trying to figure out that caption on why Al Lowe would be proud of that screenshot...

    Is it the tongue-in-cheek pun? Or the phallic mountain?

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  7. More Kickstarter Adventure news - Now Broken Sword 5 has a release date: December 4th!

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    1. For the first part of it. Broken Sword 5 has now been further broken into two adventures, though each half is allegedly large enough to be it's own game. Second episode will be sometime in January.

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    2. Yeah. I noticed that. My guess is that, because this game is also available on Apple and Android tablets, they had to split it in two so the tablets could cope.

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  8. Will you make Curse of Enchantia?

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    1. I'd like to think so. It might take me a couple of years to get there though. :)

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  9. Reference! "Here Be Dragons" is the title of the documentary done by Mark Cousins! Or just some medieval stuff people put on maps to scare the shit out of people about things they don't understand.

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  10. I know I'm posts and posts behind, I've been very, very busy. However, this arrived in my email, and I thought you lot would want to know ASAP. Pay what you want for 4 adventure games, add 3 more if you pay at least $6. https://www.humblebundle.com/weekly

    All by Daedalic Entertainment. Oh, and you can choose how much goes to Humble, how much goes to Daedalic, and how much go to Child's Play and the American Red Cross.

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  11. GoG 'Activate Autumn' weekend deal is up and running! Bunch of currently Activision games for 60% which naturally includes old Sierra Adventure games like.. QFG! Gabriel Knight! Phantasmagoria! Kings Quests, Police Quests, Space Quests!

    http://www.gog.com/promo/activision_weekend_promo_081113

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