Sunday, 8 June 2014

Guest Game 2: The Oregon Trail - Introduction

Quick note from The Trickster: We've reached the second game of 1990 that didn't make the Adventure Gamer playlist, The Oregon Trail. The guest blogger this time is the very knowledgeable Ilmari, and having read his intro and first gameplay post (which I'll post in a few days), I can promise you this is not something you want to miss! Over to Ilmari...


"Heading for the nineties, living in the wild, wild west!"

If someone had come to me two years ago and asked what I know about The Oregon Trail, I would have had to just shrug and admit I had never even heard of the game. I would have been amazed to hear that it is actually one of the most well-known games in the USA and Canada, even outside gaming circles. My ignorance could still be excused, because no-one ever thought about buying it for schools in Finland, and I suspect its fame is largely limited to English-speaking countries. The story behind The Oregon Trail is actually rather interesting. It all began in 1971, when Don Rawitch, a student teacher of history was trying to engage his pupils in the expansion of the USA into the Wild West. One of his ideas, in addition to dressing up as important historical figures, was to create a board game, in which the players assumed the role of frontier settlers, spent their money for various resources, used the dice to determine how fast their wagon moved, and encountered a number of obstacles hindering their progress for a number of turns.


Don Rawitch: Hasn't quite figured out how social media works yet.

Instead of becoming the Reiner Knizia of America, Rawitch abandoned his original idea, when discussing with his flat mates, Bill Heinemann and Paul Dillenberger, two math teachers with some experience in programming. One of the three had the notion that Rawitch's game could be turned into a computer program. In just a couple of days, Heinemann and Dillenberger wrote the first version of Oregon Trail, just in time for Rawitch to present it to his class. Although this was a time of main frame computers, accessed via a phone line and a teletype writer with no graphic abilities, the game was a success. But this was only one semester's work for Rawitch, who as yet had no permanent position, and while his friends quickly found steady positions, Rawitch had the bad luck of being drafted and was facing the possibility of being send to Vietnam. As a committed pacifist, Rawitch applied for alternative service in Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, which was a state agency, founded for the purpose of helping school children of Minnesota step into the computer time. MECC provided schools with computers and a library of educational programs. Rawitch thought that he might find some use for his old settler program, and in 1974, added it to MECC's library.


Go West, where the skies are blue

Rawitch's game quickly became the most beloved game of MECC. When MECC began working with personal computers, like Apple II, Oregon Trail also found its way there. Things went not so well with MECC eventually, which at first turned from agency of the state of Minnesota to a private company and was finally purchased by another company working in educational programs. Still, Oregon Trail survived, and even today new versions for different platforms continue to be developed. I will be playing the first DOS conversion of Oregon Trail from 1990. I have already tried the game once, and to tell the truth, I am a little bit perplexed why anyone would call it an adventure game. One could say that as one of the first games to have a real story, Oregon Trail is an ancestor of the modern adventure game. Still, a mere story does not an adventure game make, or else we'll soon see Trickster playing Doom. The game itself isn't that big, so I'll probably just make one gaming post and then the obligatory PISSED-rating. But before ending now, I shall announce a contest. In Oregon Trail, I have to name a crew of five persons, one of whom will be the leader of the party. Members of our adventuring community will probably know very well the members of my team, but can you guess who they are? I will give five CAPs to anyone who first correctly guesses a member of my team. Oh, and ten CAPs extra for the one who will guess who is the leader of the gang.


The most famous line of the game. What could make children laugh so much as death by pooping?

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: Please note that the same rules regarding spoilers and hints that apply to games The Trickster is playing through apply to games guest bloggers are playing through. CAPs will be awarded for required assistance and taken away for any unrequested spoilers not in ROT13. On a final note, last time we had a guest blogger we also had a guest sponsor (TBD). Is anyone willing to donate a game for the closest PISSED rating prediction? You actually get more CAPs for sponsoring than you do for winning!

50 comments:

  1. If you don't have "Guybrush Threepwood" as a member of the party I shall be disappointed!

    I've never actually played Oregon Trail, but there is a zombie apocalypse version on Steam that I have played (called Organ Trail), and while it was a decent game, I wouldn't call it an adventure game at all.

    I'd guess that the final score should be about 38, if only because it won't fit the categories very well.

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    1. Also, I'd be happy to donate a game for the closest PISSED rating, perhaps a copy of Organ Trail: Director's Cut on Steam?

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    2. OK then trusty 6D10, let's see what you come up with for this game.. 3+7+9+6+1+9=35/60=58. Guess this game will be better than Leisure Suit Larry 1 and 3 then. I'm really expecting great things. Especially if that's the most famous screen. I know nothing of this game or have any recollection of ever having heard about it, but I have seen that screen before.

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    3. Andy: I think Organ Trail sounds like a very suitable prize. Thanks!

      Also, I won't yet say whether your guess was correct, but if I will not see all the members of my party guessed after 24 hours, I'll post further hints for those still unguessed.

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    4. Am I allowed further guesses? I'm not sure if I should be guessing adventure game characters or my fellow commenter's names though...

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    5. I was thinking commenter's names. So I think the leader of the gang will be the obvious choice, The Trickster.

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    6. I'm torn, here. I feel like it'll be characters out of a Legend game (as you're constantly fawning over them) but there's so many of them that I wouldn't know where to begin. So, the natural guess:

      Groucho (leader), Harpo, Chico, Zeppo and Gummo. Whee!

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    7. Andy: Let's say five guesses from everyone, since there's five slots. And extra guess for the leader.

      Delete
  2. I'm gonna guess your lineup will be something along the lines of Graham, Rosella, Valanice, Alexander, and... oh. Maybe not Connor. Cassima, maybe?

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  3. Ooh. A contest. I'm going with Roger Wilco on your party and a score of... um... 32.

    I like the history of this game.

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  4. I'd almost stated Finn (leader), Jake, Bubblegum, Ice King and Marceline but I know it's not since Adventure Time is not a game.

    So: AFGNCAAP (Leader), Dalboz , Brog, Griff and Lucy.

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    1. I respect and admire where you're going with that.

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  5. I'm going to guess the leader is Roberta Williams, though Kenny's idea of it being AFGNCAAP is just brilliant. I'll also guess Al Lowe, Corey Cole, Mark Crowe, and Scott Murphy

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  6. OK, no one has guessed even a single party member and most of you have gone to quite wrong directions (although some of you had pretty good suspicions). So, here are riddles describing each member of the party in few lines. These should be ridiculously easy, but there's still 5 CAPs for solving each riddle, 10 CAPs if you guess who's leader and can explain why he's leader.

    1.
    Although I’m young, I still astound,
    How can I know so much of sounds?
    Fortune I earned, with no sweat,
    By making boldly winning bet.

    2.
    When you were child, I laughed and played,
    With wonder, beauty, games me swayed.
    In South I've lived my all life long,
    I was first companion playing along.

    3.
    I use my dice to solve my fights,
    I loudly speak for women’s rights.
    Please don’t hold enormous grudge,
    Although that French game was too much!

    4.
    Oh, hear me out you noble lords,
    I hail from land of frost and fjords.
    On top of list you’ll find my name,
    If you guess right, I’ll give you game.

    5.
    My name suggests, with first glance,
    That I’m daydreaming in a trance.
    Through console games I play and slog,
    Why don’t you visit my own blog?

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    1. 3. Chester (CRPG Addict)? 4. Lars-Erik? 5. Zenic?

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    2. And here I was going to guess fellow commentators, but I didn't want to leave anyone out.

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    3. Ooohh I think I got this!
      1. Laukku
      2. ....me? 。◕‿◕。
      3. Canageek
      4. Lars-Erik
      5. Zenic Reverie

      And Trickster leads!!

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    4. OK, Andy got two right, but Charles got the whole group, so I think it's fair if Andy got 10 CAPs and Charles 25 (5 for each correct guess).

      Now, there's still just the leader to guess. And to make it clear, it's one of the five team members, not Trickster (although that would have been great idea). As a hint, you might want to take the word "leader" quite literally.

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    5. Lars-Erik is the leader as he is leading the CAPs leader board and the five members of your party are the top 5 CAP owners (minus yourself of course, as none of us would ever put ourselves in a game that you knew you were going to shit yourself to death). I was so close to guessing that, then decided not to

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    6. Quite correct! 10 CAPs for Draconius for picking out the correct leader (Lars-Erik). Since he knew the reason why Lars-Erik is leader and why I picked these five commenters and he also was the first person to guess that commenters would be team members, I think he deserves another 5 CAPs. So 15 CAPs to Draconius!

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    7. Members of this blog was the first thing I thought of, but everybody else seemed to think of game characters, and I was afraid that guessing myself would seem arrogant.

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    8. Thanks for including me in the puzzle.

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    9. Wait, I'm the leader of this posse?
      *runs into bedroom, fetches whip and cowboy hat*
      *hitches Laukku, Charles, Canageek and Zenic to the front of the cart*
      *sticks Rawhide in the boombox*
      Yeehaw!

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    10. Ohh epic, now we're rollin' rollin' rollin', though we're disapprovin' !
      To Oregon or bust!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKC8pSFg1Vw

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  7. This game was worshipped in schools in the mid-to-late 1980s. The competition consisted mainly of typing aides and other edu-tainment ... while The Oregon Trail was actually a GAME. You shot things! You forded rivers! People died and you could leave hilarious epitaphs! And, best of all, if you hauled ass and had good luck, you could complete the game in the 45 minutes you were allowed in computer class.

    Ah, the '80s...

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    1. This was the first game to give me anxiety. I couldn't make decisions for these people! What if I screwed up and they all died!?

      On a completely unrelated note, I refuse to play The Sims.

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    2. *hug*

      *reads the next Oregon Trail post and hugs you tighter*

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  8. Glad I'm not in the team. Wouldn't want your future Dark Overlord of the 16 Infernal Realms to die of dysentery, would you?

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  9. Time for another competition!

    As Joseph Curwen rightly said, it's perfectly possible to beat this game in under an hour (or couple of hours, if you multitask). And the game gives you a score at the end of it...

    So, play Oregon Trail and send a screenshot of your score to Trickster for 10 CAPs. Whoever gets the largest score will win 30 CAPs extra. The winners will be announced with the PISSED-post for the game.

    And use the same version I am playing, that is, the 1990 DOS conversion, so that the scores will be comparable.

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    1. BOOOOOOOOOOOO. I was about to join in, but I'd want to use the early 1990s graphical version with the mouse control and pretty pictures.

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    2. Canageek: Yea, I'd really like to accept it, but even if the scoring would based on same formulas as in this version, the mouse control itself would be make it a completely different experience.

      But what if you played a round of the newer version, took some screenshots, posted them on your blog (even better, if you wish to add a few words of the gameplay) and then added a link to the comments in the Won-post? I bet that could well earn you some CAPs!

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    3. They redid the shooting minigame to be static perspective, click to shoot. Less frustrating then the Apple II version I played at school once. Also clickable menues and such.

      I might consider it, but I'm on vacation for the next bit, and didn't bring my web cam. On the other hand, I'll be at my parents place, so I could in theory find my old CD of it. Unless it was on disks....I bet it was on disks come to think of it.... But yeah, considering how fast it is, I bet I could remember enough to do a fast Let's Play and put it on YouTube. Do I have to do that by the time Ilmari finishes it?

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    4. Well, I've already finished it, but let's say by the time Trick puts up my PISSED-post, so there's still couple of days (I guess).

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    5. Damn, I'm on vacation for another week, not sure I will have time. On
      the other hand, can any of you recommend some good DOSBOX compatible
      capture software, in case I do want to make a Let's Play of this game?

      Delete
  10. Got a lot of catching up with posts and comments to do, but in the meantime, breaking news!

    Grim Fandango gets a HD remake, first for PS4 and Vita (other platforms TBA): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqA3WTdrlK0

    Wow, didn't see that one coming at E3.

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    1. Awesome, I only ever started this game as I had what I assumed was a corrupt copy and it would keep crashing about 20 mins in no matter what I tried to do. I'm sure there was probably a fix, but there was no wide world of web to find these things out. I do remember enjoying the 20 min or so that I played a few times.

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    2. Wow.

      Just wow.

      Last time I played it was with my family well over 10 years ago. I barely understood any of the English. I think it's soon time to replay it. Shame that it's exclusive to the PS4 and Vita... we only have a PS3.

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    3. It's the other platforms TBA that I'm excited about. Surely it will be on PC. I can't see this one staying a Sony only game

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    4. I would play, but I ruined it for myself watching a Let's Play. Damn fine writing on that one, and what I think a lot more adventure games should be like. It was a funny game, but dead serious. None of this "Look! It is a video game in the middle ages and thus FUNNY" BS.

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  11. Only for grown ups:
    http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=50569.0

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    1. This... this is... just... so damn wrong...

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    2. There is a game on Steam called Organ Trail, which I think is a parody of Oregon Trail, but I don't know anything about it.

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    3. It's zombie apocalypse Oregon Trail.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. I had a lot of fun with this. I loved the 90s graphical version, with the mouse driven shooting segments, as a kid.

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  14. "Don Rawitch: Hasn't quite figured out how social media works yet."

    Actually, that type of picture is commonly used as verification in Reddit Ask Me Anything threads. How do you tell that the person claiming to be Don Rawitch is actually him? Well, if you have a twitter that is verified they will take that, or you could put up a post on your personal website. However, if you are famous enough that people know what you look like (or can easily look it up), you post up a picture of yourself holding a sign saying something about Reddit and the date. Then everyone either knows you are actually who you claim, their identical twin, damn good with photoshop (Thus occasional requests to interact with the sign, bend it or such), or have managed to trick the person into holding up a sign for you.
    You can guess who likely all but the first one is.

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