Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Spellcasting 201 - Playing the Trunk Card

By Aperama

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #2: Well, turns out that my fame has gotten the better of me! Or that arse Chris Cowpatty just has it in for me. One pledge had to play bagpipes in class. Another to start a food fight in the cafeteria (which is pretty hard I'll admit given nobody actually eats the food there. Can you believe I found a firefly maggot in the casserole I got on the first day?) Me? I only had to steal an elevephant!!! It really seems like Chris doesn't want me to join HDP. Which just makes me want to join them even more, to be honest. It's thankful I take good notes, though, because I realised that my EWC-2 had some elevephant mating essence hidden inside it. So, after I made it through the drudgery of my classes today.. I'll admit that trying to learn the Moodhorn is something that definitely weighs in my mind, but I'm sure I can do it if I really put my mind to it.. I set out to rustle myself up an elevephant. I managed to create a simpleberry shrub from the Sorcerer's Appliance after a little prodding around – I snuck straight past Lyle, the pledge guarding the mascot, left my EWC-2 open and lured the elevephant down into the sewerways. Turns out that firefly larva came in handy after all.. and those blueprints I had of the sewer system! Babar and I found our way through with a little trial and error, and we snuck out through the boat dock. Thankfully, Hillary remembers me from when I had that dinner date with Dean Tickingclock all those years ago, and didn't mind me sneaking Babar in with the EWC-2 still floating in the air.. in exchange for a little fond reminder of our night together! A win-win, really. It was worth it all to see the look on Cowpatty's chicken-covered face!


But I don't want to abandon him! He's my friend!


I'll admit to having just a little bit of disappointment in this latest chapter of Spellcasting (and quite a bit of anger towards the latter half of it, but I can live with that). Sure, the actual gameplay remains much of what it is from start to finish – it's a text adventure with fairly tight time restrictions no matter what you do. I'd appreciate it if 5 minutes only passed when moving between rooms or somesuch, as to use an instrument requires each individual note to be played.. apparently, in 5 minutes a piece. I tried using the in-game commands to have a more sensible thing come up (WOOZLE RIGHT GALUMPHER then INTROWIG SLIDE for instance – if you don't understand what I'm talking about, you're not alone) but each action takes 5 minutes to complete. The notion of 'blowing a single note' being something that takes five minutes to achieve is kinda ridiculous. To follow my first train of thought, though, the issue is that the first load of classes had quite a bit of character to them – and the pranks were better fleshed out. Maybe it was budgetary issues that had these classes feel like they were less thought out? I'm unsure, but either way, day 1 felt like it was overflowing with fun things to do to a point that I felt almost pigeonholed into getting everything done in a short number of turns, whereas I only found a few new things on Tuesday. I'm not a hundred percent sure where this came about, too – but somehow, I attached the sextant from the trophy case in HDP to the Sorcerer's Appliance. I literally don't remember doing it – the only thing that made me second guess myself was the fact that the sextant wasn't in Ernie's room! Wonder if I got any points for it. Oops. Anyhow. On with the day..


Quest One: 'go to an office'! Woo!

The main entrance, directly outside HDP, is forcibly your first stop – and it also contains several copies of the University newspaper. 'News' told me that they were happy with the lack of noticeably injurious hazing, 'Arts' referred to the Blue Demons concert involving our fraternal smoke bomb incident (which many thought was actually an intentional part of the stage show), 'Editorial' again mentioned that the newspaper approved of the non-hazing policy and 'Sports' literally had nothing in it to speak of, as 'the editor and his staff are in Putzburg attending a convention'. This newspaper had no obvious clues in it for me to speak of unless it's for a future day unlike the one from day one which helped me to solve the 'break glass' puzzle. While picking up my copy of the newspaper, there's a short conversation between Professor Moldybreadcrust and a student which indirectly suggests that he's leaving something hanging around for the Professor. So as not to cause tension, it's a SRINKO (bioreduction) spellbox that the student leaves in his office desk. (9 points for its misappropriation.) While down this end of the University, I decide to take a look at the mascot we're tasked with moving – he's an 'elevephant' (absolutely no CAPs for guessing what this animal is – there's a picture of it included just in case you're really wondering). There's two issues – firstly, he's way too huge to get out of the room without being noticed, and secondly, there's a junior of TKB stopping any spells from being cast inside the room.


My first and last question is still 'how did they get the elephant downstairs in the first place?'

Thieving leaves plenty of time to mess around with the Sorcerer's Appliance. With both the Sheet Metal Bender and the Sextant attached, a new dial use unlocks – with the dial set to 2, we're capable of manufacturing some of the Figleaf Five. It's a pretty obvious puzzle with the in-game notes existing if you're like me and have over 300 screenshots taken by this point. I figured we needed some stealth and was trying to work out some form of potion to create (one of the Figleaf Five, the Simpleberry Shrub, was mentioned as having stealth-related effects) but then realized that I wasn't looking for a 'potion', just needing to be waved. The new dial has a series of plantlife (moss, tree and bush) all of which come up with buttons choosing a form of vegetation. It's as simple as turning the dial and then making it the form of bush we need (a flowering evergreen bush). With that done, it's just about time for Ethics 201. As I mentioned in my preamble, Ernie's Tuesday classes seem an awful lot less interesting than the Monday ones. Even with a prank going on during the class making things just a little more potentially spicy, the 'hornet' joke beat out the 'bagpipes' one easily. I was a little disappointed that there were no bagpipe noises popping up mid-class, even with how annoying I do find both the Realsound gimmick and the bagpipes alike. The class itself was pretty much like Ethics 101 – something that probably would exist in the world of Peloria were we there, but it's really nothing to write home about. Long story short? Magic is powerful stuff, you shouldn't use it willy nilly.


Figures. Of all the things we could need, we need a shrubbery.
(I don't know why it's listed as a 'bush' as an item)


The prank is kinda funny, but without the punchy finish it needed between the somewhat drab class

Inversely, the cafeteria food fight is a little funnier – repeatedly, Gary Dirtyjunkpile is caught attempting to do the 'stock standard' food fight starters, everywhere from simply yelling 'food fight' to throwing a meringue pie at a frat party leader only to hit the cook. I'm a little confused as to why the chef doesn't react – but the idea itself of having a failed food fight scene is enough not to have to look into it too deeply. He ends up succeeding by wearing the school colours of Paladin U, having everything the other students have on hand thrown at him for the offense causing a food fight. Still, it didn't get me going quite as much as the smoke bomb incident did. Unfortunately, you literally can't sit in on the whole thing without missing your introduction to Beginners' Moodhorn – and boy, is the class needed. Even with the full manual included in the game box, I don't think that this class can be skipped in the slightest if this thing comes out as being needed! You see, to play a moodhorn, you need to be able to trib the high glupp key, to thrub the low glupp key, to frombulate the shnoodal valve.. I'm fairly certain that there are some jokes in here that maybe I'm not getting, or is it just the 'music is hard' schtick? Regardless, it's so incredibly alien in its writing that it's pretty difficult to quite take in. I literally made myself a cheat sheet to work off of just so that I can then use the manual in order to work things out!


My head started spinning by about here (the first lot of options)


For those playing along at home! There's a sheet of songs that come with.
I've only tried the 'song of happiness' so far – it had no effect
.

Annoyingly (or mercifully – I'm really not sure) the final class of the day, which I was quite convinced was going to be the most entertaining of the lot.. Ernie is sitting out Physical Skills 201 due to a 'trick pinky'. I was really looking forward to jousting! I was convinced that we'd end up needing to cheat a physical skills contest using one of the potions mentioned in General Magic 201 – but it doesn't even give the option to watch the class in play, instead leaving you about your duties. I see the need for this – the mascot task takes easily three hours even if you know what you're doing. Still, I'm glad I'm playing this as I am – I can only imagine how difficult this game would be if you were trying to just immerse yourself instead of falling to the grind of the puzzles! I've already hinted at part of the solution to our elevephant problem. Waving the simpleberry shrub gives us a few turns of invisibility. SRINKO, as you might have guessed it.. shrinks. So, the first side of it – hiding then repeatedly SRINKOing the elevephant – was obvious enough..






Presto! Well, SRINKO...

The problem, unfortunately, was two-fold. I worked out pretty quickly that unchaining Babar the elevephant was going to be trouble when he trampled me to death. (It's a bit of a giveaway usually.) So, how did I work out how to resolve this? I'd love to say that I was paying so much attention that I really just had to rack my brain for the answers.. but I have already proved throughout the rest of my playthrough that I am a cheater. I did at least try to use the moodhorn first, thinking maybe we learned it today for a reason – the songs all took too long to finish before my shrub camouflage ran out. I've been keeping full scripts of my playthrough (via the SCRIPT command which saves every action taken within a play session) so I just used my trusty Notepad 'find' command for 'elevephant' through all of the lectures. I could have just as easily worked out by looking at my notes, however. Ernie makes a point of the same clue. It turns out that EWC2 (the blue fluid) has some elevephant mating essence in it. So all we have to do is open it and Babar wants to follow us! Problem? Taking him upstairs means we end up with the TKB fraternity leading the newly miniaturized elevephant straight back downstairs. The obvious need to FRIMP the manhole popped into mind.. and here is why I nearly didn't return this post on time. I had absolutely no idea as to where to go from there. Again, though, it was my screenshots that saved me (I had to do this again as I'd reloaded after doing so)...


's201_085.png' saved me a Request for Assistance!

So, let's be clear – this was not a solution borne of any sort of logic. I was rather convinced that I had to use the Appliance again to create a night vision potion, but I couldn't find any indication of how to do so – I could make the required Spatula Moss, but had no potion recipe to do anything with it. Instead, I had to PISEKS the insect larva from the casserole at the cafeteria to create a firefly.

Yeah, I wasn't impressed either. So, with our firefly-enhanced sight, we end up in an underground maze. The 'blueprint' found in-game was, yet again, included in the game box. It's a pretty simple maze with the map – you end up in a clearly marked area on the map and there's only one way I could think of going – the map literally leads off into nothing in its bottom right out of the 'Main Processing Plant' (which contains an UGUGOOWAH spell box 'of constipation') and leads out into the boat dock.


I'd love to know what these locator goggles – the Masterview 8000™ - are for.
Some 'codes' are in the map but I really don't know what they do.
If it's no serious spoiler, I welcome some feedback here


Level 4 Sorcerer! (Even though I was Level 5 at the end of 101!)

So, the rest is pretty straightforward. We drop off the elevephant and live for another day! Oh, and the Donkey Harness of Danderville drops out of the President's bedroom. (Ew.) I'd technically put up the cat picture here if I felt it was worthwhile – but unlike the majority of the times in Spellcasting 101 where it felt like there was some purpose behind.. er.. playing Gin Rummy as the game puts it in Nice mode.. This was a definite gratuity. There was just no real purpose in doing it. So I didn't! I did, however, investigate – the game seems to default to NICE mode. I have to remember to NAUGHTY every time I start it up,


She is remarkably calm about this


And just in case you were all wondering how I guessed that the game was in 'nice' mode

So, there's Tuesday down! As I suggested, this was somewhat lackluster compared to the day previous.. but that's more of an indictment of how incredibly varied and well-put together the first day was. I kinda feel like day one was the 'all bells and whistles, make the investor's jaw drop' day. Still, this series has proven time and time again that little details are going to be important ages later, so I could just be feeling slightly pessimistic after having to guess that the larva which only comes out of the casserole which appears to be a throwaway joke item by looking at it actually turns out to be the incredibly important spawn of a firefly..

*breathes*


I looked just for you, Ilmari. And I punched him just for you, Kenny.

Session Time: 2 hour 30 mins
Total Time: 5 hours

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 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!

8 comments:

  1. Hey, I put it in ROT13!

    Locator goggles do what they say they do - when you wear them, you'll see the coordinates, by which you can determine your position on the map.

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    1. I was more curious on the dial settings. I barely even read it - just set something randomly and worked with the map as closely as I could. As you might recall from my BAT experiences, I'm good at brute forcing a maze. :)

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    2. The dial is just for a copy protection - you'll have to turn it to correct setting, which is one of the codes in the map, or otherwise the goggles don't work.

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  2. I feel like I'm missing the joke. Why is it an "elevephant" rather than just an elephant?

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    Replies
    1. Good question. Maybe they decided that when put to the tusk, there just weren't enough puns to come off of the common term for a pachyderm?

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    2. It could be sentient ("elevated"). Though that could just be me having read all of Schlock Mercenary in a week.

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  3. Q: How did they get the elephant downstairs in the first place?

    A: Same way you got it up. Magic.

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  4. And thanks for pummeling Cowpatty, Ape! Never liked that "ash-wipe" (as Sean Connery would call it).

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