Monday, 12 April 2021

Space Quest V - Encounter At Gangularis

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back! Where we last left Space Quest V, I had just passed our Starcon exam and was granted my first ship: the SCS Eureka, a garbage scow. Still, everyone has to start somewhere and I’m sure that I will be working my way up the command ladder to be commanding a mighty starship in no time. Even if it’s small, we have a ship and a crew! 

Now, how should I begin? I know! We’ll have some jaunty theme music followed by one of those “Captain’s Log” things that provide exposition without forcing characters to tell each other things that they already know. Since this isn’t 1990s web design, you’ll have to click here for the soundtrack. The score is credited to Timothy Clarke and Christopher Stevens. We listened to the latter’s work in our previous Dynamix adventures including Willy Beamish, Rise of the Dragon, and Heart of China. It’s a fun score that riffs nicely both the earlier Space Quest games as well as Star Trek. I am completely unqualified to talk about music, so let’s jump straight into:

Encounter at Gangularis

Captain’s Log, Stardate: Tuesday afternoon, just after lunch. Having been granted my first command, I am eager to explore strange new worlds and collect trash where no one has gone before. Not everyone is up for such an important task, but I have the soul of a janitor. Litterbugs beware! My first task will be to get my ship out of spacedock and out into open space. After that, it’ll be the second star to the right and straight on until morning.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Missed Classic: The Palace of Deceit: The Secret of Castle Lockemoer – Half-WON! with REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE

Written by Will Moczarski
This, my friends, is only a half-won, a won-ish, a sort-of won post which must be a first for the blog. What does this mean, you ask, and how did this come about? Have a little faith and a little patience and I shell tell you all how I succeeded at playing through The Palace of Deceit: The Secret of Castle Lockemoer after a massive amount of parser-wrangling, cursing, keyboard-smashing and wailing – and yet I did not succeed. I will thus start my post with a request for (software) assistance, unusually, because maybe if not all is won at this point, maybe not all is lost either.

Request for (software) assistance

Basically I am looking for someone who can explain and (ideally) fix this error message:

Illegal function call in module PALOFDEC at address 01A2:1470

I assume that either the code is broken here OR this is as far as the shareware version takes us. However, I haven’t found any registered versions on the internet, so if the latter assumption turns out to be true, I will be unable to finish the game. Ironically, I have done what this situation would have required back in 1991, and tried to contact the author of the game, Cliff Bleszinski. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful as of yet.

If nobody is able to help me, I will post an as-if walkthrough of the remainder of the game because all of the text is right there in the open when you open the main executable file, and attach it to the PISSED rating. That would be somewhat unsatisfactory but I’d be out of other ideas, as it is.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Missed Classic: Bureaucracy - Devoured By Llamas (Deleted Scenes & Extras)

Written by Joe Pranevich

I didn’t like Bureaucracy. As we saw last time out, it scored the lowest of the Infocom games so far. I expect this disappointed some of you-- if Jimmy Maher ever reads this blog, that post may have been his last-- but it’s my honest assessment. Bureaucracy was developed over several years and rotated designers more frequently than some people change pants. This led to a disjointed product that didn’t quite live up to its premise or its pedigree. We have no idea which designers came up with each of the game’s elements, but thanks to the Infocom source code leak we have an amazing view into some of what was cut or retained, as well-- possibly for the first time-- to see the founding vision for the game. 

Unlike some of the other games I looked at, we can glean a veritable treasure trove of information from the code leak. Not only do we have several puzzle design documents and a circa-1985 game pitch, but also semi-complete alternate versions of three of the sections: “airport”, “jet”, and “maze”. The airplane portion alone went through five versions that we know of before the developers found a set of scenarios and they liked. Covering all of that may be tricky. My plan will be to first look at the original design document then iterate through each area in sequence, paying special attention to alternate versions and commented-out code to identify as many discarded sequences as I can.  

Will we discover that I like the cut content more than the real thing? Only one way to find out!

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Lost Secrets of the Rainforest - Final Rating

Written by Reiko

I am more ambivalent about Lost Secrets of the Rainforest than any other game I've written about on the blog here. Most of the games I asked to write about were ones that I knew something about before I started, and this one is no exception, since it is the sequel to the cheerful Ecoquest. You might think that making a sequel would be easier, since some ideas or characters or settings get carried over from the original game. Yet I find that a sequel nearly always struggles to live up to the bar set by its original. What carries over tends to constrain the sequel rather than letting it be its own thing.

I could expand that into a thesis with examples, but we're here to look at Lost Secrets, so I'll focus on why translating Ecoquest into a rainforest setting didn't result in a similarly charming experience as the original underwater game. I wanted to like it, and some things I did like, but others I didn't.

Puzzles and Solvability

Most of the puzzles were reasonably straightforward; like Ecoquest, the story is pitched around middle-school age, so nothing is deliberately tricky, and there are no dead ends as far as I know. However, I really struggled with several puzzles that felt arbitrary. There was nothing in the first game that was tightly timed, so the sequence in the camp where the goon would catch you if you were in the wrong place too long was rather jarring. I spent the most time on that sequence, having to restart over and over to test where I could go and when in order to get things done. It was tedious at best.
I saw this screen way too much.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

What's Your Story: Sabrina LaFey

Answers: Sabrina LaFey
Introduction and captions: Ilmari 

Our community of adventure game aficionados has received a new member. Let us all give a warm welcome to Sabrine LaFey!