Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Game 44: Altered Destiny - It's Hard Being Green

P.J. Barrett Journal Entry 3: "Man, this is one strange planet! After spending time in those woods filled with weird bouncing creatures, I've now paid a lengthy visit to an underground cavern system. There I met Lantra, an over-sized praying mantis like creature, and the Master Towhee, a six-eyed guy with a pet piece of furniture. Lantra was obsessed with crystals, but wouldn't give any to me, and Towhee claimed to be the Master of Classification and Codification, which seemed to be another way of saying Librarian. I've learnt a bunch of interesting things, but don't feel much closer to finding Helmar and retrieving the Jewel of Light. Maybe there's something useful in that forest up ahead. Oh boy, I sure am starting to feel sleepy."

Well it's not like I can just go over and give him a big hug.

Damn it, why did the parser have to be so bad!!! I really want to like Altered Destiny. The environment and characters are really quite interesting, if a little on the strange side, and the solutions to the puzzles for the most part appear to require logic to solve. Time and time again though, I find myself fighting the parser, so much so that I begin to doubt my logic when I shouldn’t. There has been a lot of comparison between Altered Destiny and Les Manley, and with good reason given that the engine and the majority of people behind both games are the same, but Altered Destiny actually has the potential to be something much, much better than that other game that I refuse to name again. Putting this rant aside temporarily, let’s go back to the Bottom of Stairs, where JonQuah was signalling for P.J. to approach him across a sea of vicious toothy nightmares. I decided to ignore his request for now so as to get as much information out of him as possible. Perhaps I would learn something that might aid me in taking my next steps. I discovered the following info: JonQuah: "I am fairly powerless here. I spend most of my energy trying to balance the harm my brother does.” Jewel of Light: “Our time grows shorter yet. You still remain our only hope.” Helmar: “He is still on the island, hidden high within the castle there.” Castle: “It serves as a focus for the negative energy that the Jewel of Light and Helmar feed back.”

Gee, no pressure or anything!

Before I could even consider asking JonQuah more questions, something unexpected happened! P.J. turned completely green! I knew that the Hoppa that had sprinkled me with pollen had kicked off some sort of transformation into a tree creature, but I guess I hadn’t actually expected it to start happening! I typed “look at self”, and was given a view of my now leafy features. “It sort of looks like you, P.J. Barrett, to me. And I’ve just got to tell you how much I think green suits you. Tres vert.” Would I now be able to walk across the clamchops without being chomped up? After failing to get any further useful information out of JonQuah, I stepped out over the abyss. I was gobbled up immediately by the closest clamchop! I restored my game and had a think about how I might get across to JonQuah. The message I’d read on the stone just up the stairs seemed to be a hint: “Growth bridges the gap, seeding the path, crystallizing our differences.” Was I supposed to make a bridge? Was I supposed to grow my own bridge now that I was a tree creature? This seemed to make sense to me, so I began trying to make a bridge. No matter what I typed, the parser kept rejecting my requests either through not understanding me or just outright denying me. After a few minutes a message popped up saying: “Oops. I’ve been rooting for you, but it’s time you did a little rooting yourself. Too bad.” I wasn’t certain whether this message was directly related to the problem at hand, or whether it was just a result of me completing my tree transformation, but either way it was game over.

Well don't I just look treemendous.

You want me to do what?

I tried growing a root bridge for a bit longer, but eventually had to give up. There seemed to be no way out of the location I was in, since I’d dropped down through the Pool of Light. In the end I figured I either needed something from some other place in the game and was therefore dead ended, or I was failing to do what the parser wanted me to. Either way, I decided to reload back to the woods and try going elsewhere for a while. After restoring to the woods, I chose to hang around to see whether I would still turn green. I did, at which point I tried walking into one of the pools of water. Maybe I could grow something useful before going into the Caves of Death? As I tried to enter the water, I received the following message: “If you enter the water in this shape, you’ll permanently root where you stand!” Hmmmm...did this help in any way? If I had water with me in the caves, would I be able to pour some on me to grow roots? I didn’t have anything to carry water in anywhere, so there seemed no point putting any more thought into it. I restored way back to the crossroads and chose the path leading to the south. I was given the same bird’s eye viewpoint of the environment, but this time I could see P.J. taking a path to the southwest, leading towards what looked like a jagged cliff face.

Caption contest

On arrival I found it was more than a little jagged! There were shards of colourful rocks jagging away from an obvious central point, and there was also a diamond shaped plate on the ground in front of them. I took a closer look at the plate, and was given a view that showed it had four shapes cut into it. These shapes were a triangle, a diamond, and two circles of varying sizes, immediately bringing to mind the frags I had in my golden tube. I typed “point tube at plate”, fully expecting to be told something about the tube’s automechanism not being activated, only I wasn’t. P.J. pointed the device at the plate, and all four frags flew out of it into their respective slots!!! An entrance opened up in the cliff face behind me, which was really very exciting after my recent struggles. Figuring the frags probably needed to stay where they were for the entrance to remain open, I entered the cave, having absolutely no idea what waited for me on the inside. I was surprised to find there was another diamond plate located at the end of a tunnel, with pathways branching off to the southwest and the southeast. As I approached the plate, it was more than a little disconcerting that the tunnel literally seemed to come to life!!! Claws appeared at the base of the walls, and fiery eyes stared out from a face in the ceiling that simply wasn’t there moments before! I was happy to find that the plate had exactly the same shaped indents in it to the one I’d found outside, particularly as it gave me an excuse to get the hell out of there!

I'm genuinely excited to find out what's at the end of each of these paths.

Coincidence? I think not!

Looking at this now, I can kinda see a face. It would have warned me about what was waiting within.

Um...there's something horrifying behind me isn't there!

However, as I turned and walked towards the exit, the mouth of the face opened enough to emit a breath of fire that incinerated me on the spot! I blinked a few times, and then restored my game back to outside the cave. This time I tried pointing the tube at the frags after I’d used them to open up the cave entrance, and found I could recollect them without it closing back up. The face and claws were still there when I went back inside, but shooting the frags into the plate made the features morph back into nothingness. (15 points) Sighing in relief, I once again recollected the frags, wondering who might have installed these plates that just happen to accept the frags that Tentro had been recently making. I chose to travel down the south-eastern pathway, which led to a very striking scene. There was a huge glowing blue creature taking up most of the screen, and it seemed to be resting within a cluster of small stalagmites. “Before you is Lantra the Mother. Her legs and abdomen emit light which nourishes growing crystals, jewels in their infancy. Lantra’s a friendly, protective creature who oversees the growing of the crystals. Lantra is carrying a small pouch and a large pouch.” I was very happy to hear that this huge and potentially dangerous creature was benevolent, and set about talking to her. She responded with: “I am glad to see one so energetic and young in the Order. I nurture crystals, which is a time consuming task. But what can I help you with?” Now I knew where I was. I'd found the Order!



Pouches you say? That's interesting. Where are these pouches you speak of?

I began rattling off the standard list of questions, and once again expanded my knowledge of Daltere’s occupants and my quest. JonQuah: "Poor JonQuah is broken-hearted about his brother. That’s why he sent for you, mighty warrior. He no longer resides with us here, in the Order.” Jewel of Light: “Our Order tends the jewels and the crystals from which they grow. The Jewel of Light was a terrible mutation.” Crystals: “I tend them and grow them. They must be planted out of sunlight for them to germinate, and I grow them to fruition with the help of water and light.” Helmar: “That poor creature, Helmar. Led astray by the powerful crystal. It warped his young mind and now that he’s older, he warps its power. If only I had tended him more.” Small Pouch: “These seeds are delicate. Properly germinated, they will form a small round crystal.” Large Pouch: “When you want to germinate them, throw them to give them room to grow.” Lantra didn’t seem to have information on anything else I could think of, so I tried to pick up the pouches. “Which one do you mean, the small pouch or the large pouch?” I wanted both, but I tried taking the small one first: “You’re not close enough to the small pouch.” The same thing happened when I tried picking up the large pouch, yet I couldn’t see any visual representation of the pouches on the screen. I read through the room description again, but couldn’t figure out where they might be from that. I was going to have to just walk around and keep trying to get them.

Which one? Oh, um, how about the small one. By the way, where are these pouches?

Where're the goddamn pouches!!!???

After a few failed attempts, I began to wonder whether the pouches were actually part of Lantra herself. Maybe I couldn’t pick up the pouches and instead needed to focus on seeds or crystals? I typed “look at small pouch” to see whether I might get an image of it. I did, and it ruled out my latest way of thinking since it was definitely a real pouch that I should be able to pick up. The large pouch was too, so I spent quite a while standing on every part of the screen I could while typing “get small pouch” and then “get large pouch”. Nope, I still wasn’t close enough to get the damn things!!! Did I need to ask Lantra for the pouches? Nope, she responded with “I cannot. My crystals may need that at a later time”. I decided to ignore the pouches and go for the crystals directly, but that didn’t work either. I typed “look in large pouch”, and got the following ridiculous parser response: “Better not. All the seeds inside would grow.” WTF? The seeds would grow if I looked at them?! I was thoroughly frustrated now, quite sure that either I hadn’t found the exact pixel I was supposed to stand on, or that the parser was screwing with me once again. I decided to do some more exploring and come back to Lantra when I wasn’t feeling so cranky. The pathway continued to the southeast, so I took it, reappearing in a room that contained five doors if I included the one I’d just walked in through.

If P.J. can see the pouches, I should be able to...right?!

Honey, I'm home!

The room description suggested not all was well in the Order: “A stream of water trickles down the wall, seeking its own path like those who have left the Order in recent days. Unfamiliar eyes, like ghosts of those gone, haunt the darkness.” I walked up to one of the doors and looked at it: “All but one is locked to those who are not members of the Order.” Clearly the one door it spoke of was the one at the bottom of the stairs, which was wide open. I tried opening all of the other doors anyway, but they were locked as I expected they would be. I took the stairs and through the doorway stumbled onto another strange scene! I was now in a library of sorts, with scrolls filling multiple alcoves around a purple and pink room. A small three legged stool or table was walking (yes, walking!) across the room while the game’s most unusual character so far wandered slowly into sight. At first I thought the creature had no arms and was wearing armour, but then decided the arms were tucked into a kind of apron. I sought the room description in the hope I might be able to make sense of my surroundings: “You’re deep within a room before thousands of scrolls. This library is maintained by Towhee, the remaining Master of Classification and Codification, and his faithful, obedient sidekick Otto.” I wanted to confirm whether Otto was actually a piece of furniture, so typed “look at otto”: “Little Otto is a member of the three-legged Zen Puppy cult, known for their eagerness to fetch. Their understanding of the Universe enables them to perform their jobs without complaint.”

Just when you think things can't get any weirder.

I looked at Towhee to find out what he was all about: “Master Towhee is well-equipped for maintaining the scrolls in the Order’s library. His six eyes were the key to his success. As an ancient, the years have made his eyes helplessly myopic.” Oh great. A blind Master of Classification and Codification and his three-legged Zen Puppy! Sure, why not!? I typed “talk to Towhee”, preparing to go through my growing list of questions: “I like to talk. Talking is one of my favorite things to do. We, Little Otto and I, have run out of things to talk about.” Well he asked for it! JonQuah: “He’s disappeared. We have no idea where he is or what’s happened to him.” Jewel of Light: “It was stored here in the Order, in one of the rooms above me, but it is in Helmar’s possession now.” Frags: “An interesting form of storing communications. I prefer my simpler scrolls.” Scrolls: “There are many. Many here from which to choose.” Lantra: “If it weren’t for her, I’d be blinded in my work.” With my string of questions out of the way, I began going through my screenshots in search of my visit to Tentro’s workshop. One of the frags had definitely mentioned a scroll. Aha, it was the sphere frag that spoke the following words: “My story is long and arduous. The Longa were a hated tribe, known for their violence. Their lands bordered on the Yula’s land. The Longa might have survived if the prince hadn’t shot his arrow true. A scroll in the Order of the Jewel tells more of this.”

That could have something to do with the fact Little Otto is a side table.

I asked Towhee about “Longa”, and got the sort of answer that proved I was on the right track. “You know, Otto and I were chatting about them just the other day. Their leader, CinDee was a fierce warrior who led all the Longa tribes in their battle for survival against the huge insects, the Buggas.” The Buggas sure didn’t sound like a nice bunch! I asked Towhee about CinDee: “You know, if I were in a tight spot, I would want her and her lieutenant, TohMee, by my side in the fray. But those battle days for the Longa are over.” Hmmm, was this a hint of things to come? Could it be that I would need CinDee and TohMee to assist me in some battle down the track? I tried to get more information about TohMee, but Towhee suddenly claimed he didn’t know who that was. He also claimed ignorance on the subject of Yula, so I tried typing “ask for scroll” instead: “Yes, yes. I shall send Little Otto. Go now, Otto.” The little piece of furniture wandered across the room, where a wormy thing descended down a rope to drop a scroll into his tray. Master Towhee gave said scroll to me, claiming that it was the one “you should have”. (5 points) I read it immediately: “The scroll tells of the race of humans who lived in this region many many years ago. It focuses on one period of history, a time when the Yulas and the humans were having problems.”

Thanks! Don't mind if I do!

There were humans on Daltere? Well that's interesting!

The scroll continued: “One of the humans, a young prince who lived on Castle Island, fashioned an arrow head from a red jewel, one of the jewels used for entering the castle. This prince then shot a Yula on its way to the graveyard. Other Yulas heard and drove off the people. There’s more on the scroll, but it seems faded with age.” None of this meant anything to me, but I figured it would in some way later on. By this stage of the game I was still very intrigued, but starting to feel frustrated by the parser, and a little perturbed by the oddities that were creeping in. Still, there was quite a bit more of Daltere to explore, and since I had no further use of Towhee and Little Otto, walked back out of the library. All the doors were still locked in the next room, but I found out that walking to the left of screen brought me back to the original cave entrance screen. I’d explored the entirety of the Order that was available to me, and despite knowing full well that I hadn’t achieved everything I needed to with Lantra, decided to go somewhere else. I made my way back to the crossroads and took the southernmost pathway. It led to the “Edge of the Forest”, where everything seemed determine to put me to sleep. “You’re at the edge of a heavily wooded area. The serenity of the woods seems to lull you, relax you, make you feel secure and serene.” My head slumped towards my laptop, and I realised it really was time to go get some shuteye. I hope you’ll rejoin me in a few days.

Yes, I do feel a bit.....ooooaaahhhhhhh....a bit....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Session Time: 1 hour 00 minutes
Total Time: 3 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. This game is giving me a headache.

    1. Sounds just like my experience with it. Are you still stuck on some point?

    2. I think so, although I'm not sure I've exhausted all my options yet... I'm trying to keep a hierarchy of savegames so that I can hop between the different areas, trying to accomplish different things, hoping at some point the pieces will begin falling into place.

      As Trickster points out, the parser is so uniformly atrocious that it's hard to tell whether you're lacking an object or simply not hitting the right verbiage. The timed tree transformation doesn't help either...

    3. Did you manage to pyvzo gur jnyy Ncrenzn zragvbarq? I think I know what was causing that particular problem (it's more to do with game mechanics; see down below).

      Spoiler: Lbh jrer qbvat vg va gur jebat ebbz. Gurer'f pyvzonoyr "jroovat" nyfb va ebbzf lbh pna ernpu jvgubhg orvat fcevaxyrq ol Ubccn.

    4. Thank you, Ilmari. Yes, I eventually realized that (and duly facepalmed) but still I seem to be missing something...

  2. Caption contest: 'The Rusalka from QFG4 appears to have hopped a few games over.'

  3. Oh and totally OT: that was a nice fight the Socceroos put up against the Dutch today. Too bad it wasn't enough to save them, but here's to see them try again in four years!

    1. Yeah, I think everyone is just really proud of our effort so far. We've challenged two very strong teams. It's sad we have nothing to show for it though.

    2. My favourite part was the commentators' post game discussion when Craig Foster was talking about the quality of the Dutch players and made the insightful comment that "if we had their players today, we would have won the game."

  4. Caption contest: I can get to root* PERMANENTLY? What the hell am I waiting for?!

    *Disclaimer: Please do not ask any Kiwis or Ozzies or Google for the meaning of this word. Trix is a very dirty, dirty man.

    1. Hehehe...I figured it would be you, Draconius or Aperama that would make this comment.

    2. I just implied that P.J would be the one doing the rooting. It's all about subtlety, Kenny. (Like calling a redhead Bluey.)

    3. Right... so... let's try again.

      "Is THAT what these familiarly shaped stalagmites are for? HOLY CRAP!"

    4. and now I have a better understanding of the slang for root (v)...

    5. This puts the root beer ending of Monkey Island in a completely new light...

    6. "It's Hard Being Green"... oh I get it

  5. A caption for the contest:

    "You have to be rootless to survive an adventure game like Altered Destiny."

  6. Caption contest: "You too can own the shape shifting PJ that grows real roots, just add water... $9.95 while supplies last."


    Steam Summer Sale is here.

    Prepare yourselves. :-<

  8. Finally catching up on this while running powder x-ray experiments. I've got to say, the art in this game is quite nice, though odd, and I'm not overly fond of the colour pallet, but that might be VGA limitations. What was it with VGA games and blue and purple? I guess everything was pastel like back then, so that was how you showed darkness?

  9. It's not easy being green...having to spend each day the color of the leaves...when I think it would be nicer, being red or yellow or gold, or something much more colorful like that...