Thursday, 20 April 2017

KGB - The Waiting Game

Written by Torch

We’re still in chapter 2. In my previous post, I had to get rid of a dead body, interrogate prostitutes and foreign agents, and finally I got to trash a hotel room, rockstar style. No wonder I was dead tired by the time I got back to my hotel room. I emptied my pockets of hard and pointy objects, and threw myself on the bed.

Guess who found the chainsaw fuel

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

KGB - The Trouble with Viktor

Written by Torch

I’m still in chapter 2. During my previous session, I met a mystery contact, who I refer to as Cut-throat, based on the phrase he used to identify himself. I don’t know who he works for yet. Could be an organization, or someone independent. Nevertheless, I provided him with some info, and he returned the favor. I’m now back in my hotel room, right after our meeting, waiting for my Department P mission controller to show up at 7.30 pm.

Well, there’s no time to rest. At exactly 7.30, I hear a knock on the door. It’s the controller, Major Savinkov, and he has apparently decided to bring me a house-warming ( or rather hotel-warming ) gift, in the form of a dead body. Swell...

Gee, thanks for bringing in more work, major.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Dune - The Demolished Duke

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #3: "My power and range is greatly increasing. I will soon be able to bring the full force of the Fremen against the Harkonnens. I just need to maintain my focus even in the face of certain distractions. Still, I'm so pleased that Stilgar thought to bring me to Chani. She is a wonderful help and I want her by my side always."

So my main objective right now is to get my western troops trained and equipped and launch an offensive against nearby Harkonnen fortresses. I also need to keep my eyes open for more information about villages where I might be able to get more ornithopters.

The army troop that I set to "espionage" found a Harkonnen fortress just to the north of my northern sietches, but eventually he also discovered it had three heavily-armed sets of troops, so Thufir's instruction to attack from the west is a good one. I sent the troop off to join the ones in the west instead of continuing the espionage and potentially attracting attention from the Harkonnens.

Meanwhile, I still didn't know where the villages were, but I finally went back to my fortress and realized I hadn't talked to Harah for awhile. She remembered about a village located "in the fish's mouth" and suggested I'd have to look for it from an orni. When I looked at the map, I saw immediately what she was talking about: there's a rock formation shaped like a fish some ways southwest of the fortress.

The smuggler will sell me the orni I needed.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Missed Classic 39: Suspended (1983)

By Joe Pranevich

Over the past several months, we have followed a surprisingly complete history of Infocom through my reviews of the Zork marathon plus Ilmari’s look at Deadline and other early mystery games. For me, this has been a revelation both in how amazing these games hold up today as well as filling in much more of the early history of adventure games. When Trickster played King’s Quest so many years ago, he did so without first seeing any of its antecedents, Colossal Cave or the Hi-Res Adventures. We’ve already traced the formation of Infocom through mainframe Zork and its first five games but when it came time for number six, they charted a new course.

The five previous games (three Zorks, Deadline, and Starcross) were all the brain-children of two men: Marc Blank and Dave Lebling, the founders and creative geniuses behind Infocom. To keep up with demand, the pair worked on multiple games simultaneously but by 1983 it was obvious that they needed to recruit outside talent to grow. Sierra’s own Ken and Roberta Williams went through a similar transition in their Hi-Res Adventure series, handling the reins to their first outside developer with their fourth game, Cranston Manor. (A partially-completed review of that game remains in my drafts folder. I hope to be able to share it with you eventually.)

This is where Mike Berlyn comes in. He wasn’t part of the MIT community that coalesced into the original team, rather he was a published writer with three sci-fi novels under his belt (The Integrated Man, Crystal Phoenix, and Blight, released in 1980 and 1981) plus two sci-fi text adventures, Oo-Topis (1981) and Cyborg (1981). His fiction explored human-computer interaction and cloning, with more than a bit of horror mixed in. While he was an accomplished Apple II programmer, he didn’t have the “hard computer science” education that was the hallmark at Infocom. Bringing him into the Infocom fold, a company already priding itself on its literary aspirations, seemed like a match made in heaven. The output was one of the most innovative and different games ever released by Infocom: Suspended.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Call for Questions for Muriel Tramis

Written by Ilmari

Although we have had a bit of a love-hate relationship with French adventure gaming, I am sincerely of the opinion that a history of its early days would be an interesting field of study. Careful readers of our Missed Classics might have seen that I’ve done my share in trying to make this otherwise rather forgotten era more accessible. I have especially followed the career of Muriel Tramis, interesting not just as one of the first female game designers, but also as probably the first game designer hailing from Martinique.

Her official LinkedIn -picture
This remarkable person worked for Tomahawk, subsidiary of Coktel Vision, which later became a part of the enlarging empire of Sierra. In what might be taken as an ironic result, the takeover of a French gaming company was followed by a takeover by a French media company Vivendi. After few years in this media corporation, Muriel Tramis left Vivendi and founded her own company Avantilles in 2003. I’ve been trying to track her down, in order to conduct an interview with her, but for quite a long time, the trail was cold.

Until the beginning of April.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

KGB - Backtrack’s Back Alright

Written by Torch

The observant reader may remember that I mentioned the backtrack function in the intro post. Well, I’ll have you know that I became quite familiar with that particular mechanic over the course of this next session. The possibilities for failure in this game are numerous, but whereas the first mission was pretty forgiving and didn’t kill me at the drop of a hat, the gloves came off pretty quickly once I got to Kursk street.

Before I dive in, here’s a quick plot summary. Our guy, Maksim Rukov has been sent to Kursk street to further investigate the death of former KGB agent, now private investigator Pyotr Golitsin, who was supposed to meet tonight with a contact going by the codename “Hollywood”. Golitsin would present himself as “Buyer2”, and the meeting was arranged by someone called “Romeo”. I’ve been given a fake identity for the purpose of this undercover mission. My fake name is to be Kliment Kruglov, and I’m a bicycle brake repairman.

I arrive on Kursk street, outside a bar with the curtains closed.

A classy-looking establishment

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Dune - Do Fremen Dream of the Desert Mouse?

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #2: "The desert is changing me already. I’m seeing visions of things I can’t possibly know about directly. I’m even starting to look like the Fremen, which is all the better if I’m to win their loyalty and use them against the Harkonnen threat."

When I left off last time, Jessica had just told me I should go out into the desert. Alone, I wander out of the fortress and prepare to wait. Almost immediately, the screen fuzzes, and I get a brief glimpse of the Duke saying that there's a message from the emperor. Huh. I go back inside, and indeed there is a message demanding 970 kgs of spice to be sent today. I've got more than enough to be able to comply, but I don't see a way to send it right there. When I reach the throne room, the Duke and Jessica are both there, and Jessica seems to be expecting me. She knows I had a vision of the message and says I should talk to her later about my powers expanding.

In the meantime, the Duke has called a meeting on the balcony with all the members of staff at the fortress. He is pleased with my progress in gathering Fremen support. Harah confirms that there is a Fremen prophecy, and she believes Paul will be the one to fulfill it. Gurney seems to have disappeared, though.

Jessica's explanation of Paul's powers.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Check out a new Kickstarter

By the TAG team

We rarely advertise new Kickstarters, but this time we just had to make an exception. How could we resist, when we are the inspiration! That’s right, you read it correctly, The Adventure Gamer will get its own adventure game.

The Adventure Gamer 3000 tells the story of Lilah the Lurker, who one day wakes up to the awful reality, in which her favourite adventure game blog has suddenly gone offline. Lilah begins a desperate globetrotting attempt to contact all the reviewers and admin of TAG, before they have all been erased from reality by the evil and maleficent Doctor Dastardious. Will she be able to save Trickster from a fate worse than death and convince him to make one more comeback?

You can access the whole world with this easy-to-use interface

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

KGB - Hello, Comrade!

Written by Torch

Здравствуйте, товарищ! And welcome to the KGB. Since this is your first day, we’ll give you a generous 5 minutes to get settled in before sending you out on a mission.

I’m not an authority on Soviet work habits, but I find it hard to believe that their work days used to start at 4 pm.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Missed Classic: Starcross - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

The entire game summed up in one image.

Last week, I had a ton of fun exploring the alien vessel in Starcross. One part dungeon-crawl, one part “hard” science fiction, it wasn’t like any of the games that I have played so far in this series. Unfortunately, I found a few of the puzzles too challenging and I had to give up. I could not turn on the lights to explore the rest of the ship and I could not fix the leaks which caused me to run out of air. I also knew of several colored rods that I was unable to collect. With the help of a few hints, I was able to get the game moving again and complete my explorations. This week, I’ll conclude my tour of the accidental generation-ship and close out the fifth game in our marathon.

The first challenge I faced this week was turning on the lights, a problem so solvable that I had done it a half-dozen times without even realizing it.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Dune - Laying the Foundation

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #1: "My task is clear. Defeat the Harkonnens. I was born for this and only I can do this. They’ll never expect that I can make a fighting force out of the Fremen. They underestimate them and they underestimate me. I will become as one born here and the Fremen will have no choice but to accept me."

The ornithopter map at the beginning of the game has three Fremen sietches marked.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Discussion point: If Adventure Games were invented now, what would they be called?

By the TAG Team

Pirates! is surely a game full of adventure, right?

And Avatar is always on an adventure, right?

Heck, surely looking for diamonds in a cave full of deadly fireflies is an adventure!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Game 83: KGB - Introduction

Written by Torch

Fancy pants 3D logo

KGB is a french game, made by Cryo Interactive. But… we hear you say, didn’t you just introduce a Cryo game? What’s going on? Is it Deja vu? Haha, no, silly. Deja Vu was featured way back in December 2011. ( And no, it’s not Deja Vu 2 either )

No, Cryo did actually release 2 games during 1992. And - as if that wasn’t enough - 92 was also the year the company was founded. How’s that for ambition? Well, to be precise, they only formally founded the company. They’d been working together as a development team since 1989. But still. As you are undoubtedly aware, the other game released was Dune, the game based on the movie based on the book by Frank Herbert.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Missed Classic: Starcross - Zorks in Space! (Request for Assistance)

Written by Joe Pranevich

My trusty ship, the Starcross.

Last week, I embarked on an adventure: While searching our solar system for miniature black holes to mine, I instead found a gigantic alien ship. Before I knew it, I will pulled alongside and forced to dock. With my ship trapped, all I could do was board the vessel and see what was up. I solved one difficult (to me!) puzzle at the door only to find a long red hallway and suspiciously breathable air. We’re not in Zork anymore! It’s time to play Starcross.

Let me start with the usual disclaimer: I play these games like an OCD weasel on caffeine and so I’m sorting the events in a way that describes the individual areas even as it doesn’t quite reflect the jumping back and forth that happens when inspiration strikes. Much of the ship I am about to explore is open immediately and so a lot of the early part of the game is just getting the lay of the land in an alien ship. Although it is a very “Zork” experience puzzle-wise, the setting never feels like anything that has come before in this series. It’s mind-bending.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Game 80: Dune - Introduction (1992)

Written by Reiko

If you've read any science fiction, you've probably at least heard of Dune, the classic novel by Frank Herbert. It was originally published in 1965 and spawned five more books written by Herbert himself, plus several more written by his son Brian Herbert with Kevin J. Anderson. And of course, it's the basis for the adventure game developed by Cryo Interactive and published in 1992 by Virgin Interactive. Actually, the game was based completely on the 1984 movie, which was based on the novel but has some differences.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Eternam - Final Rating

written by Aperama

Eternam is probably one of the more divisive topics I've had to attack here on the blog. The 'win' post has made it very clear that there were people who actually found this game somewhat endearing and likeable in its own way. I decided to focus on the more negative aspects because every time I attempted to write about it up front, it simply read as gibberish and barely came out to more than a paragraph or two. Eternam is a big game where not a lot actually happens. There are plenty of jokes throughout the way, most of which don't necessarily tickle my personal funny bone. In contrast to most of the other games I've reviewed where I found personal interest, or could at least understand the target audience, this one just never worked for me. Given as much, I decided to spend the last few days researching reviews both of a time-specific nature (Zero, a UK magazine, has its highest review yet I can't find anything from it outside of the score so it's largely useless) and of a more up-to-date theme, not that a great many people have put together video reviews et al of it.

This is, just as a reminder, what happens after a train almost runs you over

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Missed Classic 38: Starcross - Introduction (1982)

Written by Joe Pranevich

A few weeks ago, Zork III fell to the might of my trusty elven sword. That’s four games on our Zork marathon completed and I remain excited for this series and what comes next. It’s time to take our first official side-trip: Starcross. Released simultaneously with Zork III and tied for the mantle of Infocom’s fourth game, Starcross is another genre-buster for 1982. While Marc Blank proved that text adventures could work for mysteries, Dave Liebling went after hard science fiction. I’ll be playing it because (I am told) it has elements that directly tie it into the Zork universe, albeit not part of the main series. We’ll have to wait and see.

Right off the bat, Infocom wanted to make Starcross unlike any game that had come before. Only a few months after introducing the “feelies” with Deadline and starting to distribute their own materials, Infocom took creative packaging to the next level by utilizing a distinctive “UFO” shape for the release. The “box”, if you can call it that, was a plastic flying saucer. I vaguely remember reading about this gimmick years ago; boxes literally rolled off the shelves. It’s a funny way to start what promises to be a serious game but let’s hope they didn’t pour more creativity into the packaging than the game itself.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Gateway - Final Rating

Written by Reiko

I'll just say right out that I enjoyed Gateway very much, but I think nostalgia played a pretty small part in that, mostly by making the game easier because I remembered some of the plot and puzzle solutions. Gateway was consistently strong across the categories, bringing a polished and engaging experience to the player throughout. If anything, it started out a bit slow and built up to a very strong finish with the layered VR scenarios at the end. Let's break down why I found it so enjoyable and also where the game could have been a little stronger.

Puzzles and Solvability

I believe the puzzles are fair and logical, although I could see where some optional points might be easy to miss if you aren't careful about being social and polite to everyone. The trickiest parts are probably in the VR sections, but those are also the most fair because they are completely self-contained: everything you need is within the simulation, so it's just a matter of working out the right way to use what's there to break the scene.

Rolf's opinion changes depending on how you solve the local puzzles.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Eternam - Whoops, Outta Budget! (Won!)

written by Aperama

The reward is a wonky closeup of our 'helper' – they really love to zoom in!

The pain is finally over! I no longer have to worry about having to load up Eternam. I swear my computer has been quietly weeping over running it up! The music has been extremely lacklustre when it has actually existed, the graphics are weird more than endearing.. there's just pretty consistently nothing to look forward to. The game's consistent lack of logic is enough to make me want to cry most of the time. But it's over! You guys don't all have to skim through my posts of hate-filled ranting any longer – it's over! The worst thing is that the game ends on not just a cliffhanger, but an abrupt one. Much like the last French game which I played for the blog, B.A.T., I ran into a game which promised far more than it was ever going to be capable of fulfilling, desperately struggled to fit in what it actually had and then ended with little more than a 'The End!' screen. There again, at least Eternam doesn't have a sequel...

The full view of Eternam. The map does not match the overland – 'Sholda' is black and desolate

The 'Dragoons' are good fun, at least

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Missed Classic: Snowball - Won! (With Final Rating)

Written by Ilmari

Kim Kimberley reporting 3: “I’ve found out why I have been awoken. The pilot who was supposed to take care of the last year of Snowball’s journey was killed by a mysterious person known just as Alpha. Now the ship is flying to a nearby sun, and it is up to me to turn its course. Fortunately, I have found space gear and I can move outside the freezer section...

Free floating

Outside the airlock was a docking bay, with a handgun that I quickly took in my possession. The massive doors of the docking bay were open, and a huge web connected the freezer unit to the inner surface of the enormous ball of ice. Traversing the web wasn’t particularly difficult, but I also found a much quicker way to get down.

When I had earlier tried to explore the outdoor locations - slowly dying of the lack of oxygen and in complete darkness - I had been told at one point that I was leaving the web and asked if I was sure. I tried to duplicate that experience by going to some edge of the web and moving to a direction without any web (Later I found out that I could have just jumped at any point off the web). Suddenly, I found myself floating.

I should be floating inside a giant ball of ice, so what
are these white dots supposed to be? Giant snowflakes?

Monday, 27 February 2017

Gateway - Won!

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #10: "I’m in hell. Literally. I suppose I deserve it. I wish I hadn’t broken the party VR, but I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to help the Heechee AI destroy the Assassin. Now I’m paying for my choices and I’m not even allowed to die."

As they say, "out of the frying pan into the fire." This time it's almost literal. I'd just destroyed the Assassin's distraction through VR contradiction. The destroyed party scene dissolves into a new VR scene, a conversation with a huge demon who threatens me with eternal torment instead of pleasure and then throws me into a flaming hydra lair.

How many ways can I find to die?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Eternam - Through the Stargate

written by Aperama

I'm definitely regretting extending my last play post at this point. See, my previous post was spent running around making useless conversation with dozens upon dozens of bad spoof characters to pop culture. It generally involved too much insanity to actually be swallowed in one sitting. Inversely, this time around was the new island of 'Paw' – or as I thought of it mentally, 'Egypt-land'. The parallels to Westworld would be far cleaner in this instance were the game just slightly better grounded in anything – reality would be nice, but I'd even settle for something as steady as pudding at this rate. There are a total of six NPCs within this island, counting the genie who can trick you into a bottle and the Japanese photographer (stereotypes, ha ha!) who will then save you from it if you make the mistake of taking his offer of 'all of the genie's power'. It's as though they ran out of ideas for characters to speak to, and just figured 'eh, we'll put all of the game's puzzles here instead'.

Welcome to the 'giant tomb'

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Snowball - Eurocracy on a Cruiser

written by Ilmari

Kim Kimberley reporting 2: “I’ve been awakened from my long slumber, so there must be something wrong with Snowball. It took me a while just to get out of the freezer section of the ship. Now I must find out what exactly is going on here.”

Massage parlor area

After exiting the airlock leading out from freezer units, I first encountered a long cylindrical tube, with another airlock at the southern end. Continuing north from this second airlock, led me inexplicably to another cylindrical tube, situated under the first tube - I could climb from the lower tube to the upper tuber, but for some reason I couldn’t climb down from upper to the lower tube.

I at first tried to to open southern airlock. I came into a docking bay, and I was promptly told I had no air to breath. I could still move for a while. First, I entered some dark area and then I found myself floating in space, and finally, I died.

It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere....

Monday, 20 February 2017

Missed Classic 37: Snowball (1983)

By Ilmari

Since we don’t want to exhaust Joe with his marathon, we’ve given him some time off. In the meantime, I’ll take the opportunity to continue the story of Level 9, a text adventure company founded by the Austin brothers and known affectionately as the British Infocom (yes, this is going to be a sideshow). As those familiar with my earlier reviews of Level 9 games might remember, I have been less than enthusiastic about their games. We’ll see if Snowball fares any better. At least it is a change from their earlier, Tolkien-themed works and foreshadows nicely Joe’s upcoming Starcross-posts.

So, is that a giant net for catching space fish?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Gateway - Virtual Reality

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #9: "Seriously, we’re not done yet? Now I’ve got to go activate the whole shield system because there’s a control center at the Vertex in the same star system as the Assassin’s watchtower. If the Heechee had just activated the thing in the first place, this wouldn’t have been necessary."

I'm almost ready to trigger the fourth shield generator, but I still need an actuator cell to fix the controls if I don't want to dig up the one buried by the trailhead.

Getting the actuator cell out of the wreckage is a rather delicate operation, involving multiple tools and quite a lot of technobabble. I'd poked around earlier and saw that the actuator panel looked relatively intact, but was secured with grommets that I couldn't remove. I examined everything again and this time saw that the maintenance crib could be opened, so I did that and found a flange defuser and a grommet wrench. Now I should be able to do this.

Technobabble for Heechee technology.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Eternam - Sunshine of the Spotted Mind

written by Aperama

Eternam is getting to the point where I repeatedly ask myself a simple question: 'why?' The problem is the direction of this query. At first, it was 'why would the developer do this'. This is actually a fairly common question as I look into games, particularly with a critical eye turned towards things given the relative age of the games we're playing here. Using the 'latest technology' at the time is often the explanation for a relative drop in quality (e.g. the FMV revolution to truly kick in some time soon on this blog). I'm past asking that question, as the answer to that is simply not one I have the capability to understand. I don't operate on that 'either crazy or genius' level and likely never will. The question I'm now asking is 'why am I even playing this?' Even with the impetus to complete the game for the blog, I'm struggling heavily with that question. The other bad games I've played here have at least had the saving grace of being short – this feels like it's gone on forever already! There are things that make you appreciate other, finer things. One might read Hamlet and find that they're encouraged to watch it as a live play, making their appreciation for the artistry of the performers that greater. Eternam on the other hand makes me long to read Twilight for its incredibly deep and emotionally strong female protagonist.

It is, after all, a game that has us watched by our robotic overlords

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Missed Classic: Zork III - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Hello, sailor! Last week, I started into Zork III, the final chapter of the original Zork trilogy, and explored much of this new region in the Great Underground Empire. I discovered an ancient aqueduct on an icy lake, a “scenic vista” that could teleport me into previous (and future!) Zork games, and battled a mysterious man in a land of shadow. The game has been fun so far, but more melancholy than previous outings. There are no inept wizards or sneaky thieves here, only monuments to a dead civilization. I have a bunch of puzzles to solve on my way to the Dungeon Master and I need to get cracking.

But where should I start? I don’t feel like I’ve made it through any part of this game completely and the structure makes telling a cohesive narrative of play challenging. Just like I did way back on Dungeon, I find myself bobbing and weaving back and forth between puzzles to discover which one I can crack first. Adding to the difficulty, the score in this game is worthless. There are only seven points in this game. Seven! Worse, these points seem to be awarded based on puzzles found rather than ones solved; I spent a chunk of today’s post with a full load of points but nowhere near victory. Let’s play!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Gateway - Digging Up Secrets

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #8: "Three down, one to go. How much worse could it get? This last one is habitable at least. And I’m not the first one to end up here, either, although from the look of his ship, the other guy might have met a messy end. I’d better keep my eyes open as I look for the shield generator."

Before I go to the last shield generator planet, I decide to follow up on the repairman's clue about someone doing something interesting at midnight on Level Babe. There's not much there, just an east-west corridor with blue Heechee metal at both ends. One end also has a large shipping crate that I can hide inside, so I hide and wait until the appropriate time.

A scientist named Gordon Perry appears and hits an artifact on the Heechee wall, making a pure tone. Sounds like another tuning fork! He puts the artifact into the blister and then does something I can't see from the crate that causes a portal in the wall to form. As he passes through, he conveniently drops a slip of paper. I run out and get it [5] and then hide again until he passes through again and disappears down the corridor. The paper contains a five-digit numerical code.

You can't tell in this picture that I'm hiding inside a crate.

Out of the crate and duplicating what Perry did.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Eternam - Parlez vous francais?

written by Aperama

I've probably spent more time ragging on France and its bizarre adventure game design choices than I'm probably allowed without becoming known as an enemy of the state. I mean, I live an awful distance from France anyhow, so I could probably continue with impunity, but that's not to say that I should continue to blithely fire away for no good reason. Eternam has provided some laughs. I can't deny it, there's been an occasional snort here and there. The game has so many flaws that they're just not worth the laughs, though. When I was (far too young to be playing) Leisure Suit Larry 3, I found the same issue that could easily have dogged my progress in this game. See, not only does this game have its bizarre first person map issues, but in the more traditional 'adventure game' pieces of the game, it's very easy to fail in finding exits from rooms.

On the main map, we're playing Space Invaders..

Where here, I have to ignore no less than three obvious exits which.. aren't

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Gateway - Blood and Guts

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #7: "No $(*# way. I go from a beautifully relaxing planet to THIS? Every single thing here is trying to eat me, even the plants! And they’re all disgusting! I hate this place. I’d better get all that money they’re promising."

I started out this session by working on the fourth shield generator world, but I got a bit stuck there too, so I decided to solve puzzles on the station first, which I probably should have done earlier.

The consequences of stealing from the museum.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Missed Classic 36: Zork III: The Dungeon Master - Introduction (1982)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last month, we completed the third game in our Zork marathon: Zork II. After exploring the prehistory of Infocom, we have finally reached the point where they are starting to fire on all cylinders. They even had a new office in beautiful Cambridge, Massachusetts! Zork II may not have been as solid a game as its predecessor, but it was very good and the company was banking on many sequels. As 1981 turned into 1982, they had three games in the pipeline under pre-production titles: Zork III, Zork: The Mystery, and Zorks in Space. These games would not only continue in the Zork tradition, but also prove that Infocom’s text adventures had legs far beyond their initial fantasy romps.

The mystery was released as Infocom’s third game, Deadline, preceding Zork III and Starcross (the space adventure) by several months. Despite the early title, Deadline does not have any connections to the Zork universe and so will not be covered directly in this marathon. Ilmari already wrote an excellent review of that game almost exactly a year ago, but I wanted to experience that game for myself before continuing on to Zork III. I have put together my own review of Deadline as a special bonus post which you can find here. Please check it out! Zork III and Starcross were released simultaneously several months later. We will cover Starcross as the next stop on the marathon thanks to a pointer that it may have a connection to the Zork universe after all.

As in the previous Zork games, this one is credited to both Marc Blank and Dave Liebling. Also as before, there is no mention of their mainframe collaborators in the credits. It is generally believed that this was Marc’s primary focus while Dave was working on Starcross. As Marc was also the lone developer on Deadline, this must have been a busy year! Beyond that, there’s not much history to tell. While Deadline had feelies, the original 1982 edition of Zork III did not have the extra manuals that many readers remember so well. We’ll cover all three of the expanded Zork manuals at some point down the line. Full disclosure: I booted up this game as a kid but am fairly sure I didn’t play more than a handful of turns. In any event, I can remember nothing about it now.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Eternam - Oh Deer...

written by Aperama

Alright. This is a game that I now have to try and approach a touch more seriously, given how poorly it apparently comes across when joked about. Admittedly, my jokes weren't exactly up to par and were largely just a gimmick to make this feel more readable, but this game. This game. I would ask you all to realise that I am being completely direct when I state that in this previous hour and a half playing, I was given impossible directions (follow a path by direction when no sense of direction is given), walked on water with no clue as to whether or not I was moving in the correct direction in doing so (as most water drowns you instantly), and was then promptly sentenced to death for stepping on a lawn. Again, no hyperbole. This is simply what happened.

Vive le freaking France

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Eternam - When You Can Count Your Money, You Ain't Got None!

written by Aperama

I'm not gonna lie – this game is a struggle. Staring at an empty DOSbox prompt with “DRIVE:\ETERNAM\>” is something I'm almost frightened to admit to. Eternam hasn't quite given me PTSD, but boy does it feel like it is capable of as much. The cardinal sin is that the game isn't so much weird as incomprehensible. I understand every word that is in front of me, but it just doesn't come up into coherent sentences. This section was almost something I'd call easy, but was made difficult by what I would imagine is partially an issue of translation issues and partially of desperate attempts for humour which are largely just inane.

As promised, a random skull to start the day

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

History of Adventure 4: Verb-select (Point and Click) Graphical Adventures (1985)

By the TAG Team

Notable Titles: Deja Vu, Maniac Mansion, Labyrinth, Monkey Island 1 & 2, Day of the Tentacle, Indiana Jones 3 & 4, Simon the Sorcerer 1 & 2

Notable Creators and Companies
: ICOM Simulations (Darin Adler and Tod Zipnick), Lucasarts (David Fox, Ron Gilbert, Hal Barwood), Adventuresoft (Simon and Mike Woodroffe)

In 1985, almost at the exact same time as King's Quest was reaching some amount of prominence, a company named ICOM Simulations came up with a very similar idea. Whilst they wanted to create adventure games, they did so in a way that was notionally going to make adventure gaming easier.

A typical adventure game of the time relied on parser, which not only depended on a certain amount of typing proficiency as it came to a lack of typos, but imagination – if a game wanted you to 'CRAFT PAPER AIRPLANE' and didn't let you use 'MAKE', you needed to realise that the people who were writing the game only had the word 'CRAFT' in mind, which was always going to be an issue. Deja Vu made the potential for a game where one's imagination was the only real limit. By including the use of a simple drag-and-click interface, one needed only minimal computer skills to play through an adventure game.

You still have plenty of choices – but none of them are impossible to guess

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Gateway - Sleepytime

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #6: "Wow, this planet is so relaxing. Almost like a vacation. I need to fix this dike, and there’s a huge beast in the forest, and I don’t see the shield generator anywhere, but I think I’ll just take a nap first..."

The third shield generator planet (the second one I’m doing) is called Dorman. The planet is terrestrial and temperate enough that I don't need to wear a spacesuit. I land by a beautiful pond with a path around it leading toward a nearby forest.

This place is a lot nicer than the other planets I’ve been on.

Looks like my ship did some damage to the area when it landed. Oops.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Missed Classic: Zork II - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last week, I explored most of Zork II and ended my session with suicide-by-dragon thanks to the Wizard of Frobozz. He had cast a “Fierce!” spell and my character happily walked into a dragon’s den. The rest hardly needs explanation. But in dying, I found the first clue of an overall plot: a shadowy, possibly demonic, figure that wants my help to restore his freedom. Is he imprisoned by the Wizard? Is it a coincidence that the two of the colored rooms in the afterlife match the magic spheres that we found? I’m excited to find out!

First things first, I focus on getting past the dragon. I approach him again and take stock. I can’t attack. How about bribery? I hand over a treasure and the dragon takes it to some hidden trove, but it doesn’t change anything. Do I have to give him something in specific? I try to talk to the dragon for clues but it seems that he is trying to brainwash me. I give up and leave, but something weird happens: he follows me. He turns back after one room but this must be part of the trick! I hand him another treasure and expect the same, but he doesn’t follow. Why not? Talking was the trick! When I chat him up, he follows for one turn. If I do it too much, does his brainwashing succeed? I can alternate talking and walking so he follows me even farther. What can I do with a fire-breathing dragon?

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Eternam - Missed It By That Much

written by Aperama

I've literally been staring at a blank page for the last three days having played Eternam. Maybe it's been a week. Or a month. I really can't tell any more. (Technically, I had to stop writing for a month and a half after starting this, but that sentence was already written and is still true – I only have a point of reference because the time is saved on my computer.) Basically, there's the 'art' side of my brain which understands what I've just taken in – it's a game that manages to use surrealism to a point that even Salvador Dali would be impressed. There's the 'comedy' side of my brain which sees the fun of what the creators of this game were out for – there's lots of fourth wall breaking and there's clearly no place that isn't worth going for the sake of a joke. But this game takes those two facts and then forgets what it really needs to be a good game – coherence. Super Mario Brothers explains itself without ever needing to have a lengthy manual or tutorial. You can't go left (the screen ends) but the screen to the right moves. You get killed by more or less anything, so you jump around things, and then eventually land on something by accident to learn that they die when you jump on them. This game lets you kill the first three characters you meet to no obvious negative reaction. I decided not to just because I don't want to get through and find that there's a need to keep them alive. I literally don't know if there is a function behind the option to kill things, and have been given no reason to suspect there is. Vive le France!

That's not to say that the characters don't deserve being murdered with laser beams.
I literally quit after this scene, the first person you talk to in the entire game.
I had to close it. I was worried that my computer would explode.