Monday, 26 August 2013

Game 34: The Colonel's Bequest - Under the Influence

Laura Bow Journal Entry 5: "I really wish I never accepted Lillian's offer to come to this "family reunion". Everyone here seems determined to inflict bodily harm on one another, often resulting in death! I found Gloria's body in the gazebo. I wasn't even shocked, which says a lot about what I've already experienced in the last few hours. What the hell is going on here!? Henri is spying on everyone. Lillian is acting crazier by the minute. Fifi and Jeeves are having a secret relationship. Rudy and Clarence are at each other like they intend to kill one another any moment! And now I'm pretty sure Ethel is dead too, which she likely would have caused herself anyway through excessive alcohol intake! If I have to stay on this island for the rest of the night, I'm at least going to figure out who is behind all this killing!"

 Well no-one can say that the cigarettes killed her!

I’ve witnessed another Act of The Colonel’s Bequest. I say “witnessed”, because I’m afraid that’s all I’m really doing. My actual interaction within (and affect on) the storyline and events is so minimal, that all I’m really doing is trying to figure out what everyone else is up to around me. That’s not to say that I’m losing interest, which is probably what makes it all a bit frustrating. I’m very much focussed on figuring out who is behind all these murders, and am strangely still enjoying the process of finding who was where and when. So either I really suck at The Colonel’s Bequest, which is a distinct possibility, or the “puzzles” I’m supposed to solve are so imperceptible that I’m not even aware of them. I have stacks of items in my possession now, but I can’t think of any way to use any of them. As soon as I do, putting my genius plan into practice always seems to result in me dying a horrible death (the bell tower, the coat of armour etc.), and I really can’t imagine how all of a sudden there are going to be puzzles everywhere that require all this stuff, particularly as I’ve explored the entire environment in and out. All I can do is push on, and keep doing my best.

This is that spreadsheet I keep talking about. The highlighted bits are the trigger points as I experienced them.

Act III ended with Gloria disappearing from the billiards room. There were some pieces of a broken record and a pile of pink feathers on the ground near the Victrola, so I took a closer look. While I was walking towards it, Jeeves followed me into the room with some sort of cleaning device. Before I had any chance to investigate, the damn butler “vacuumed” up all the evidence! I restored, and this time rushed across the room to give myself some sort of opportunity to check it out. I picked up the broken record, and was given the following message: “As you bend down to retrieve the largest piece of the broken record, you notice some spots of mud on the rug.” I then looked at the mud and found that it was a partial footprint, but given no further details. Figuring I was supposed to do something with the footprint, I put some thought into what that might be. My first thought was that I was supposed to use my notepad and pencil somehow, but everything I tried (“draw footprint”, “trace footprint”, “use notepad and pencil on footprint” etc.)  failed. Nothing else in my inventory seemed useful in the situation, so eventually I just had to let Jeeves clean it up. The pink feathers were obviously from Gloria’s boa, and I wasn’t able to pick those up.

This piece of broken record is bound to be useful though right!!!???

So now I had a broken piece of a record! What could that possibly be used for? I decided my best course of action was to do what I’ve done in every other act. Try and find everyone and then watch what they do over the course of the next hour. The first place I entered was the library, where once again Jeeves entered the room and cleaned up the feathers that remained after Wilbur had been killed. I then entered the study, and was surprised when the progress clock appeared and moved on to 10:15. That didn’t take long! Lillian was in the room, and was going through one of Henri’s armoires. She hadn’t noticed that I was there, and spoke to herself: “What an interesting collection of weapons Uncle Henry had! I wonder... Oh, Laura!... you startled me!” Lillian then walked over and sat on one of the chairs. Was this another attempt at making me think Lillian was behind everything, after she’d been acting very strangely in the playhouse during Act III? I asked her lots of questions to see if I could find anything out. The only “success” I had was finding out that the cane I’d discovered in one of the hidden rooms did indeed belong to Henri, as I’d assumed. “I’m sure that’s Uncle Henri’s cane. Why are you carrying it around, Laura?” Telling Lillian about Wilbur resulted in her going to the chapel to see the body for herself, only to return and tell me that I was “just imagining things”.

...if he'll miss this DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle?

Once I’d run out of people and events to talk to Lillian about, I restored my game back to 10:00 so I could try to find out where everyone else was at that time. The next room I visited was the parlor, where I found Fifi madly cleaning. I threw all the questions I could at her too, but got nothing interesting out of her either. Even Polly couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know! When I gave her a cracker, she said “AWWKK! I’ll teach her! AWWKK! She can’t break up with me!” This was clearly spoken by Clarence, and since her was already an intentional main suspect, didn’t change anything. I made my way upstairs, and found Henri in his room, smoking a cigar in his wheelchair as usual. I showed him the cane and even tried to give it to him, but he only responded with “Put it back where you found it!” I was starting to see a pattern with Henri though, which is that he disappears around quarter to the hour, every hour. I was keen to see whether he would once again disappear at 10:45, but would have to wait to find that out. After I’d checked out every room in the house, I made my way outside and set off to see whether Celie was still in her shack.

I fear I'm going to run out of crackers before I get something really useful out of Polly

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been gradually revealing all the screens outside the house so as not to hijack one particular post with stacks of new locations. Thankfully, Act IV just happened to force me into almost all the screens I haven’t yet revealed, mostly thanks to what occurred on my way to Celie’s. As I made my way east of the well, I came to a screen with a gate leading into a hedge surrounded area. The clock appeared and ticked over to 10:15 again, and I witnessed Clarence walking north up the side of the hedge and off-screen. I was obviously meant to follow him, but before I describe that I’ll reveal what’s behind the gate. Beyond it was a small garden with a fountain in the middle. There were urns in two opposing corners and a statue of a nymph overseeing the scene. The urns were empty, and I couldn’t find anything to do with the fountain or the statue. That’s all there is to say about that, so let’s get back to following suspect number one. Clarence walked by Celie’s shack, and the maid was sitting in her rocking chair knitting on the porch. I paused to ask her questions (typing pauses the game so I didn’t have to worry about Clarence getting away from me), but like the others, Celie gave me nothing that seemed important.

 See that brown thing that looks like part of the tree? That's Clarence walking away from me.

I've always wondered if your green is different to mine. Apparently it is!

Oh, so you've got time to knit though! I see how it is Mrs Brown!

I followed Clarence east, entering a screen containing a bridge crossing a small stream. The bridge was broken away in the middle, meaning there was no way to cross it. Clarence then went south into a swamp-filled section. There were a couple of threatening looking alligators there, but otherwise there was nothing to look into further. Clarence continued in that direction until he reached the fence at the southern end of the estate, then turned west. I followed him to the driveway and then into the garden in front of the mansion (the one with the statue of Colonel Henri in it). There Clarence stopped, and faced off with Rudy, who was standing at the other end of the pathway. The clock appeared and ticked over to 10:30, then the two of them got down to business! Rudy: “Get out of my sight, JERK!!” Clarence: “NO! YOU get out of MY sight!!” Rudy: “WHY, YOU...!!” Rudy and Clarence starting laying into each other, and it wasn’t long before Rudy landed a brutal right that floored Clarence! Rudy: “Don’t mess with me, BUD!! Just stay out of my way!!” When Clarence had recovered, he stood back up and shouted “You ain’t heard the last of me, RUDY! I’ll get you for this!!”, then they both stormed off in opposite directions.

MacGyver pondered how he was going to fix the bridge with only a broken record, a monocle and a crowbar

Great, that's just what we need around here!

Is that all you've got?

If neither of these guys is the murderer, it seems likely that they will be before the night is out! The scene was entertaining alright, but it got me wondering what Rudy had been doing prior to the main event. I restored my game back to 10:00 and went looking for him, finding him just to the west of the study entrance. He too walked around from screen to screen before arriving at the scene of the fight, proving it was possible to end up at the 10:30 boxing match by following either of its combatants. So now I knew where three out of four main trigger points were for Act IV (discovering Lillian in the study, finding either Rudy or Clarence walking about, and watching the fight scene), but I hadn’t yet come across the last and most critical one. Who was going to die next? I hadn’t found Gloria’s body either, so it was time to go hunting. I walked from screen to screen until I reached a gazebo in the south-east part of the island. Normally there would be nothing to examine there, but this time I found Gloria’s body, lying spread-eagle on the ground. I searched her body, expecting to find some other item to add to my up until now completely useless inventory. Apart from finding that she’d been “viciously strangled with her feather boa”, I uncovered nothing of interest.

 Death by boa-constrictor!

Since there was only one guest left that I hadn’t accounted for in Act IV, I set out to find Ethel. I wondered if she was still stumbling about blind drunk the way she was in the third act, so made my way towards the bell tower where her faltering route had started previously. I didn't make it that far, finding her on the driveway in the middle of one her aimless, intoxicated excursions. The progress clock appeared, making me certain that poor old Ethel was the next target. I followed her, but she disappeared at the same point that she always seemed to. I figured I was going to find her body in Act V, tucked away in one of the outside locations, so decided it was time to go around and fill in all the gaps on my spreadsheet. I found a few interesting things too, but none more surprising than what I walked in on in the dining room at 10:45! I guess I’d considered it a possibility earlier in the game, but I still hadn’t expected to walk in on Jeeves and Fifi throwing their cleaning equipment aside so they could pash like teenagers! Jeeves even pinched Fifi’s bottom when she reached down to collect her feather duster, naughtily raising his eyebrows at the player in the process.

Come on Ethel, I have a nice cup of brandy waiting for you inside!

Oh Fifi! You can do much better than this Lurch lookalike!

Another interesting find occurred when I entered one of the hidden rooms. Just as I’d discovered the cane earlier, this time I found a cigar on the ground. It was pretty apparent now that Henri had been spying on people from the hidden rooms! The thing I needed to figure out though was whether this is all he was doing when he left his room at quarter to each hour, or whether he was involved in things more sinister. I should also mention that I found a bug during this “housekeeping” period of the act. Lillian had disappeared from the study around 10:45, making me wonder where she’d got to. I found her in our room, lounging on the bed, although the game didn’t seem to think that she was there. Trying to look at her or communicate with her both resulted in the game telling me “You must be confused. Lillian is not here.” I ended my session by playing through the act completely, as opposed to the piecemeal approach I’d been taking. I’m still keen to continue on and see what happens, but I’m beginning to wonder whether I’m simply approaching the game in a way that doesn’t really apply to it. Perhaps all my attempts to find uses for items I’ve found are futile, and they only serve as evidence? If that’s the case, I’m currently walking around an island where family members are being killed off one at a time, with me being the only non-family person there, all the while holding onto each of the victim’s items and what I assume are murder weapons. Good plan huh!

This little guy was tricky to see!

Au contraire, I believe it is you that is confused!

This is what I make of Act IV
  • Lillian spent most of the hour in the study checking out Henri's weapon collection, before heading up to her room for a rest.
  • Ethel continued on in her drunken stupor before apparently being killed at around 11:00pm.
  • Henri stayed in his room until 10:45, at which point he disappeared, probably into the hidden rooms to spy on people.
  • Fifi and Jeeves spent the entire hour cleaning up around the place, only pausing to kiss each other passionately in the dining room just before 11:00.
  • Clarence and Rudy walked around outside before confronting each other in front of the house. They got into a fight, before leaving the scene to unknown destinations.
  • Celie never left her chair on the porch of her shack, where she spent the hour knitting.

 Act V... Fight!

Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours 00 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written 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!


  1. I always preferred using a combination of the DL-44 and the heavy repeater to the DLT-19. But then again, at least it's not the E-11!

    1. I see I'm not the only star wars geek here. What is bugging me is that I got that the top one was a Star Wars refrence, but can't place it as a weapon in star wars. It has obviously been too long since I memorized the Star Wars Essential Guide To Weapons and Technology as a kid.

    2. Sometimes my inner nerd manages to escape its cage and make itself known before I can catch him again.

      But yeah, although I've scaled my SW geekism back over the last few years, I've played enough Dark Forces and Jedi Knight to be somewhat familiar with the best known weapons still (and I've read most of the EU novels as well).

      Do you know the connection between Star Wars and most of the fantastic LucasArts adventure games?

    3. None of those weapons were in Dark Forces, and I'm about 90% sure they weren't in Jedi Knight. The Blastech DL-44 is Han Solo's gun, though he has cut down the iron sights as it was catching on the holster and interfering with his fast draw. That I know of this isn't in any Star Wars games.

      Dammit, I got the E-11 wrong. That is the storm trooper standard weapon, and is thus in both Jedi Knight and Dark Forces. I got it mixed up with the E-Web Heavy Repeating Blaster for some reason.

      The DLT-19....That is the one I didn't know. I know it isn't in Dark Forces, was it in Jedi Knight?

      No, I don't. I know very little about LucasArts games that aren't Star Wars.

    4. The DL-44 was in both Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, the heavy blaster pistol.

      Yeah, the E-11 is the weapon the stormtroopers used, and the reason for most of their notoriously bad aim.

      The DLT-19 wasn't used in the games as far as I can remember, but it did turn up both in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. (although the movies didn't specifically mention the model I think).

      And the Imperial Heavy Repeater was in both Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy (had to look that one up).

      Turns out that Ron Gilbert (of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Loom etc fame) started working at LucasArts wanting to make Star Wars games. As it turned out, at the time he started there all the licenses for making Star Wars games had been sold to third parties, and so he wasn't allowed to make any. And in the vacuum that ensued, adventure game history was made.

      Let me see if I can scrounge up the article...hmmm.
      Oh, here it is:

    5. Why would a freaking Empire that spans the known galaxy outfit their army with shitty rifles and bulky armor that could not even stop a low-grade mining droid laser?

      It's like the Emperor was just hoping for them to die early and not need to maintain them since they're goddamn clones without any insurance. Oh... wait... okay... that explains everything.

    6. Good point, my memories of Jedi Knight have failed me; I lost interest in Star Wars games once you had to become a Jedi. Even Knights of the Old Republic, which is supposed to be amazing and is d20 based, kept bugging me because I want to make a guy with a blaster, but I know that I'm going to become a Jedi and should be putting feats into swords so I'm good with a lightsaber.

    7. Kenny: Because they worked out the cost of equipping them better and have decided they found the right point between 'fights better each' and 'clone/conscript another guy'.

    8. Well, even though you can't avoid becoming a Jedi in KotOR, you can just decide not to play like one. It is plenty possible to play the game as for instance a soldier, and avoid both using a lightsaber and Force powers.

      In the Jedi Knight series though, there are a number of places you have to use Force powers to proceed.

    9. I think the Emperor would have conquered the galaxy a lot earlier simply by doing this:

      1) Land an armada of Storm Troopers on the planet they want to take over.
      2) Have them march to a place where the troopers will be in plain sight of the general populace and the rulers of the planet.
      3) Have all the Troopers point their rifles at their own face.
      4) Order the 1st line of troopers to fire.
      5) Threaten the planet that the Empire will keep doing that until they run out of Troopers to die or surrender their planet to save the poor bastards.

  2. I just beat this game myself so it's all very fresh. I hope I am following the best practices for hints; I've not posted here before. If a regular poster wants to vet whether you should read them first, please do. :)

    This is a minor hint, more about play-style than a solution to a puzzle: Evtug-pyvpx ba bowrpgf gb ybbx ng gurz. Bar vzcbegnag vgrz va-tnzr vf qvssvphyg gb svaq hfvat grkg nybar.

    Hint for an optional side-quest, no specifics: Lbh unir rirelguvat lbh arrq gb fbyir gjb bs gur yvggyr chmmyrf lbh zragvbarq.

    Same hint, more specific: Qba'g tvir hc ba gur nezbe naq oryy.

    1. Welcome, and thank you for reading the posting rules before potentially spoiling the game for Trickster!

      Your first hint as a general gameplay tip and could be posted fine without rot13 as far as I can see. The last two hints would be perfect for Trickster to read if he gets stuck and needs help.

  3. Now I'm curious; there seems gb or zhygvcyr jnlf sbe punenpgre qvr. V qvqa'g svaq Tybevn va gur tnmrob, V sbhaq ure qbja gur jryy. Jung znxrf ure nccrne va bar ybpngvba naq abg gur bgure? Vf fur gur bayl bar jvgu zhygvcyr qrngu fprarf?

    1. Fbzr punenpgre unir gjb ybpngvbaf jurer gurve obql pna or sbhaq. Srryf vf rvgure va gur puncry be fgnoyr, Rgury va gur ebfr tneqra be pneevntr ubfr, Pynerapr rvgure va gur onguebbz be Srry'f ebbz, naq Tybevn va gur jryy be tnmrob.

      Vg'f hfhnyyl va gur cynpr lbh ivfvg svefg. Tybevn vf na rkprcgvba, ubjrire. Vg frrzf gb or ener gb trg gur gevttre gung chgf ure va gur jryy. Qbrf nalobql xabj jung gur pbaqvgvbaf ner?

    2. V qvqa'g ernyvfr crbcyr'f obqvrf pbhyq or sbhaq va qvssrerag nernf... V unq fcrag ntrf jbaqrevat jung gur checbfr bs gur jryy jnf (Tybevn'f obql jnf ng gur Tnmrob sbe zr).

  4. Well, ain't nobody barbequing so she definitely got time for that!

  5. Surely if Laura was MacGuyver, she would also have a pocket knife in her inventory

  6. Adventure game sale on Steam: Scratches 75% off the entire week.

    It's coming up as Accepted in 2006.

  7. Well, I was doing this for Chet, so I decided to do some math:

    The average game takes you 8.5 hours to finish. The median however is 9, so you've got a few really short games dragging the average down, but not by a crazy amount. The length of a 1989 average game is 11.7 hours, median 11 hours.

    Now the really fun part: Right now, before adding this game, a linear fit of the average time vs year, NOT counting 1984, gets a linear fit of y = 1.87x - 3708.1 if you use the year as the X axis, with a fit of R^2 = 0.9873. Now, I'm rigging it by droping 1984, but hey, if this is true, and damn, that is a good R^2, we can predict the length of adventure games: It says 1990 will have an average length of 13 hours, 1991: 15, and by 2000 Trickster will have to play each game for 32 hours! That will be a treat compared to modern games, which will be 56 hours each! :D

    1. All I can say is that I hope you're wrong!

    2. All I can say is that I think he's right!

    3. I think there are some reasons for being skeptical about Canageek’s conclusions:

      a) Games that Trickster has played already have clearly shorter playing time. As many of them have appeared at the first years (first three King’s Quests, first two Space Quests), and these first years contained less games, the rise of playing time from early years seems lot steeper than it should. (If we ignore Quests, in 1985 and 1986 the games have lasted about 5-6 hours, discounting Uninvited, which got 10 hours).

      b) Many of the longest played games have been more of adventure hybrids: Neuromancer 19,5, Codename Iceman 16,5, Hero’s Quest 12. (I think we could even add Captain Blood 9 hours, because even after that time, Trickster had not yet cracked the game). Clearly the non-adventure stuff slows down playing, but we should first estimate what percentage of the future games will be hybrids, before we could make any reliable predictions.

      c) I think you should also consider the development of the number of blog posts per game (here you have to discount the early games also, because on advice of some readers, Trickster added more detail in his posts). More blog posts means roughly more plot and more details to cover. For instance, both Emmanuelle and Indiana Jones were games of 10 hours, but IJ had clearly more blog posts, as is to be expected. I have a hunch that a number of blog posts per game has been increasing.

      Now, take as an example two games from the same series, Larry 2 and 3. Larry 3 has clearly more blog posts than 2, but Trickster spent considerably less time on it, suggesting that LSL 3 has more plot, but is still considerably easier. Could this be an explanation for the seeming increase of playing time in late 1980s? That is, that the plots are getting more complex and detailed? If that’s so, it might be that they are also becoming easier to solve – and considering that we are leaving parser age of adventure games, this might well be so. What this means for gaming time in the long run, difficult to say.

    4. I can't imagine an adventure game taking longer than 30 hours. Unless Trickster gets extremely stuck and doesn't take any hints.

    5. If the game is in real time, it's definitely gonna take that long. XD

      And some of the later games do get more archaic with their inventory puzzles to stretch their playing time, in the absence of parser technology.

      I still remember silently screaming "What the fu..." at that stupid (process of) thing(s) you had to do to get a key in The Longest Journey.

      Took me almost 6 game hours to complete that part, which is just the earlier segment of the game!

    6. Ilmari: Also there is the fact I dropped one year to make them fit into a straight line; you get a much smaller slope if you include 1984.

      I'd also guess that games are getting longer because computers are getting better. There is a point at which computer limitations won't restrict adventure games, and I don't think that is very far away. I'd guess that as soon as the CD-ROM comes out.

      Then, game makers will pick a time based on what they think consumers want, and stick with it. Currently most game designers apparently aim for 20 hours, as that is what fans claim they want. HOWEVER, recent data indicates that most people don't finish games this long. You know those 'HEY, you started the game' achievements everyone makes fun of on Steam and consoles? Microsoft and most other people ban you from collecting data on players, however, the number of people who have an achievement is listed publicly. Put one at the start of the game, the end , and so on, and you can see how many people beat the game and stop playing at various points. (I just heard this in a forum, but it makes so much sense I have a hard time believing it isn't true).

      Anyway, so while 20 hours was standard for a long time, apparently it is dropping as most people don't finish 20 hour games, so why not go for 10-15? I know I enjoy games I can finish in a couple of days more. The games I've actually beaten as of late (Bulletstorm, Space Marine, Mass Effect 1 and 2) aren't actually that long; ME1 is pretty long, but only because I explored every planet in the game, and finished every single side mission. I think I got every codex entry, or close to it.

      I mean, I've put more hours into Skyrim, Nethack, Civ IV, Master of Orion 2, possibly Dwarf Fortress each then all of those combined, but I never *finished* any of them, unless you count beating a stanard game of MOO2 or Civ as 'beating' it.

      Whereas, I've put lots of time into Assassin's Creed II and not finished it, as it was getting a bit boring (And I wanted to get as much Mass Effect done before moving to BC as I could, as I don't have a computer that can run it, and I'd lose my save files). Infamous I abandoned due to difficulty, but honestly, I was hoping it would end soon even before that.

      Anyway, Ars Technica had a couple of articles on this:

    7. Also Zenic: What about Limbo of the Lost?

    8. I'm not that familiar with adventure games, so take that statement with more tongue in cheek.

  8. Oh God... this game is turning out to be the longest you've played, Trix. Now I'm glad you never had to play "The Scoop" if you're employing the same methodology.

    1. Nah, Neuromancer with 19,5 hours is still hard to beat.

    2. Probably. Still glad it ain't The Scoop or Neuromancer would be relegated to being the 2nd longest game played.

  9. Funny enough, the Something Awful let's play of colonel's bequest has a funny alternate explanation of the plot related to 'that bug'. I'd recommend you read the LP after completing the game, it's fun and informative.

  10. Dark Fall 1 & 2 have been re-released on GOG. I assume they used to be there but were removed for some reason or another. I started Dark Fall 1 one day and remember a very good atmosphere, but struggling to achieve much. I look forward to having another go.