Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Game 39: Earthrise - Introduction


Seriously? You're just going to throw that oversized beer can out into space?

I normally find myself sifting through pages and pages of information while putting together introduction posts. My task at these times is not so much about hunting down bits of trivia from the far corners of the web, but more about making a relevant and comprehensible snapshot of all that is readily available. Earthrise has by far the least amount of information available of all the games on the list so far, so this should be pretty quick! I do know that the game was written, programmed and animated by a guy called Matt Gruson. It was his first attempt at making a game, but he would go on to design and produce a better known adventure game, Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender a couple of years later. Gruson was assisted by Van Collins, who provided the artwork and backgrounds, as well as by Doug McLeod, who designed all the packaging. Both of these guys have been involved in other games over time, but none that are relevant to this blog. From what I can tell, Earthrise has an interface similar to the one found in Sierra’s adventure games, with a text-based parser and EGA graphics. The screenshots that I’ve seen look VERY simplistic, so the story is going to have to be pretty gripping if it has any chance of impressing me.


Mr. McLeod did a great job with this exciting cover. Let's hope it doesn't over-promise!

Speaking of story, Earthrise (its full title is Earthrise: A Guild Investigation) is a science fiction game within which I will play an astronaut that’s been sent to an asteroid to investigate some sort of communication failure. If I’m not mistaken, it will then become my task to save Earth from a collision with the asteroid, but that’s about as much as I’ve been willing to read to avoid spoilers. Interestingly, Earthrise is the name of an amazing photograph taken by real life astronaut William Anders during the 1968 Apollo 8 mission. I have to wonder whether the name of the photo and in fact the photo itself had any influence on Gruson when designing the game. I’ve downloaded a copy of Earthrise (I highly doubt it’s available to purchase anywhere, but please let me know if you know something I don’t) and will be playing it in DOSBox. I’ve not been able to find a manual of any sort, so hopefully I’m not required to look at one while playing. If anyone manages to get one somewhere, I’d reward them with CAPs. Well, that’s about it I’m afraid! I’m always excited to start a new game, and this one’s no different. Is anyone willing to join me on this one?


Anders' Earthrise photo from 1968

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's 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 CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance (see below for an example bet). If you get it right I will reward you with 40 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Example Bet:

Bar bs gur snfgrfg gung gurer jnf
Hagvy gung qernqshy, avtugzner qnl
V’ir frggyrq sbe gur dhvrg yvsr
Nf ybat nf sbyxf pbagvahr gb cnl

Jub nz V sbe 20 PNCf?

Extra Note: Once again, Lars-Erik will gift the next readily available game on the list to the reader that correctly predicts what score I will give this game. So, if you predict the right score (or are closest), you will get 10 CAPs and a copy of the King's Quest Collection from Steam (which includes Roberta Williams' King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown). How good is that!? Good luck!

35 comments:

  1. I've actually put an hour into Earthrise and while I won't give anything away to sway score predictions, I'm convinced that there was originally an introduction to the game that I haven't been able to see. In DOSBox the game jumps from the opening credits to "Time Passes..." and then shows my arrival at the asteroid, but there must have been something before that surely?!

    Can anyone confirm that there was an intro or find it anywhere online? I can guess why I'm on the asteroid, but it would be nice to know exactly what happened leading up to the situation I find myself in. Perhaps it was just in the manual, which I also don't have?

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  2. I found this, which is likely taken straight from the manual:

    "Attention: Guild Investigator

    All contact with out mining colony on Solus has been lost. The mechanically propelled asteroid is now traveling out of control, and Solus is predicted to collide with Earth- unless the main engines are restarted in time. Report to mining Guild HQ immediately for your assignment.

    That was all the message from the main office had to say. Why do you always get the tough assignments? After all, your solution to the Ursula IX incident was really just a matter of luck: But now as the Mining Guild's top investigator, it's up to you to save the company billions of dollars- and possibly billions of lives!"

    At least I now know why I'm there!

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    Replies
    1. That description is from the back of the game box:

      http://www.elisoftware.org/index.php?title=File:18439-03883B.jpg

      I think that at certain place the game mentions that the game came with a map of your space shuttle. I've managed without it.

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  3. For $50, you get the disks and the manual, complete with coffee stain!

    http://www.alibris.com/search/books/invid/10990652018

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    Replies
    1. I don't think that counts as "commercially available". ;)

      I wonder if they'd scan in the manual for a fee.

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    2. Best I can't find. Figured it was worth mentioning!

      Delete
  4. I love that image; it was my cell phones background for a long time (Pretty much the entire time I had a Palm Pre). What makes it even better is that it wasn't planned; they just decided they should take an image of earth, and captured one of the most iconic images ever taken.

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  5. Wow, a lot of good covers lately. Who else misses those hand-painted ones?

    The game doesn't look too good, I'm guessing 30.

    I looked at a YouTube playthough, it also goes to a "time passes" screen straight after the credits.

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    Replies
    1. I loved back when you got nice covers on games. These days it is usually just a logo or a screenshot.

      Delete
  6. I'm going to go for a low 36.

    With family for the holidays, so doubt I'll be have time to play along.

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  7. Laukku took my knee-jerk guess, but playing it for all of 5 minutes it seems fairly solid so I'll guess a little higher: 32.

    I'm sorry I put CAPs towards this Trickster, but hopefully it isn't too painful. Just seems such a shame to miss out on the indie scene for what it was in 1990. I'll try to play along between bouts of Circuit's Edge, other games, and family.

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    Replies
    1. Is it too late to lower my guess? If not, I'll take a solid 25... ;)

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    2. well, 1 hour turned into 4 and now I think I'm near the end, but can't figure out the next step. The game seems intent on its own solutions and I have not connected the next dot in an hour of attempts. I'm going to shelf this for a bit and really get into Circuit's Edge.

      Delete
    3. couldn't take it anymore. I knew I was missing something, but didn't know where. I blame the parser sbe jura V nfxrq nobhg gur fznyy bssvpr va gur frphevgl ebbz naq tbg n "vg'f abg irel vagrerfgvat" vafgrnq bs gur vaare bssvpr jurer V tbg n qrfpevcgvba bs gur bgure fvqr pbzcyrgr jvgu n pyhr gung gur znpuvar pbagebyyrq gur sbepr svryq. After that one thing everything else fell into place and I finished the game with all 800 points. I don't think I would have gotten through without that hint unless I spent a lot more time wandering around aimlessly since I was sure I searched everywhere.

      Delete
  8. Mmmhhh scores not looking so hot so far... I'll go with 28!

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  9. A bit of trivia: Today (24th Dec in Europe/US) is exactly 45 years since the Earthrise photograph was taken from lunar orbit. So a good day to start playing its namesake.

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  10. I've actually played the game once, but since I kind of recommended it, I might as well play it also. The worst part of the game is its dated look and interface that wants you to be in the exact spot to make the commands work. Both will probably drop its points in several categories. I don't think there was that much to hate about it otherwise, no significant bugs and no illogical puzzles. And there's fair amount of prose, inventory items had nice descriptions etc. I think I'll take my chances and bet the first score in forties: 42.

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    1. And I'm done with the game (very easy, since I had already played with once). The parser was perhaps a bit more inflexible than I remembered, but otherwise I had little to complain. Most of the puzzles were logical, but a bit unimaginative. The highlight were the various zbafgref, which required some creative thinking; my favourite was the urqtrubt gung fubbg arrqyrf. The plot was understandable without the manual, but I'd really like to know whether it would explained some tiny bits that were left unclear.

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  11. I'll go with 19. Cheers and Happy Boxing Day!

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  12. Whoah. Those scores look horrible. Surely the game can't be that bad. I'm going with a 'high' 40 for this one

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    Replies
    1. It IS that bad. Trix is gonna regret playing this instead of Circuit's Edge. Muahaha!

      Delete
  13. Increasing riddle reward to 30 CAPs

    One of the fastest that there was
    Until that dreadful, nightmare day
    I’ve settled for the quiet life
    As long as folks continue to pay

    It's hard to hear with just one ear
    But at least I didn't lose my sight
    As things are bad in this here town
    It's up to me to put things right

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Serqql Cunexnf, gur Sebagvre Cuneznpvfg!

      Delete
    2. Yeah, that sounds about right. Dammit!

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    3. Correct! 30 CAPs to Ilmari!

      What gave it away? The missing ear?

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    4. Yes, it was the ear. And it's one of the best game by Al Lowe.

      Delete
  14. I have no idea. 29? I tried to get into it, but found little to hold my interest. So I'm not going to play along with this one. Far too busy over the holidays as well it turns out. It'll be interesting to see how you find it though!

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  15. If you want to play along, Earthrise can be streamed from Archive.org at: https://archive.org/details/msdos_Earthrise_1990

    Note that you can't save in the streaming version of DOSBOX they use, but if you want to give it a go with zero set up, give it a try.

    ReplyDelete