Saturday 19 September 2015

Spellcasting 201 - Vale Tickingclock

Written by Aperama

Ernie Eaglebeak's Journal #3: It's almost impossible to put into words what I am feeling just at the moment. The man who has been like an old stepfather who didn't realise that his wife was giving herself to me The man who has mentored me through the entire first year I spent at Spellcasting U has died. It's possible I am responsible. Well, partially. The rumor seems to say that 'Dean Tickingclock's clock ticked its last when he caught his wife enjoying herself with an elevephant'. I visited Babar and saw no evidence of it, but who's to say what really happened? Given that little premonition he gave to me when I was first given the key to the Sorcerer's Appliance, there's this little thought in the back of my head that maybe he's still around somewhere, or that it's a big conspiracy. I really don't know for sure. Either way, I decided I had to go on with my day and pretend that nothing happened. At least until I have my bearings. Classes have been cancelled until the end of the week, so everyone is celebrating even though such a great guy has kicked it. Hillary doesn't exactly seem upset about the whole thing, even though I (literally) ran across Yakbladder Quad just to check on her. I had a pretty easy deal with the whole pledge thing, so that was good. I just had to mix up a speed potion and hyperheat the Sacred Champagne Toast of the TKB Frat. Good thing I picked up the instrument yesterday! I'm sure that Cowpatty was convinced that he'd dealt me an impossible hand, but that was pretty easy. Speaking of Cowpatty, why are he and Hiddenmolar whispering in the pub about me? What have I done to any of these people? I saved the entire goddamned school just a year ago!”

Our task for the day seems to me to be noticeably
less troublesome than moving tons of animal mascot

And we finally get our first clue to an actual degree of tension outside of silly collegial pranks

I am admittedly feeling just a touch like I did during the first Spellcasting at this point. I was rather hoping that the strong start would give way to the real 'slice of life' feel that started off 101. I really enjoyed the classes the most – I'd love it if they were all just a little interactive, giving the opportunity to pass/fail – heck, I'd even settle for a 'magic test' at this point. Instead, the game again only scripts one of each of the classes listed (with PE again cut out), giving an excuse to skip the following week of class. I actually thought that 101 had a slightly more compelling plot point, giving the real feel of the University as having been 'taken down'. I'm fairly certain that the majority of places wouldn't really fall to pieces without a principal/dean, so it's a bit strange to simply declare every class over for the sake of his death (at least broadly). It makes sense for Ernie, though. I can imagine that for all that he is constantly pushed as a 'cool university-aged guy' that he took quite a liking to Otto Tickingclock, the eccentric man who put a great deal of faith in him both at the start of this game and throughout the previous one. Which brings up a different issue for me, which I know should be brushed aside due to this being more of a cheery comedy game. Wouldn't Ernie just tell the frat to go shove it in deference for Tickingclock, or is he really that uncaring? Also, the game has brought up nothing of Ernie's former love Lola Tigerbelly. I'd at least like to see a little something in the vein of the start of Leisure Suit Larry 3 with Kalalau dumping him in the opening screens. But then, I'm being picky here.

Though it looks like Ernie's reaction isn't the only one that is a touch less than troubled

So, news time! Unsurprisingly, it's largely dominated by the death of the dean, stating that his body will 'lie in state' in Donkeydung Hall throughout tomorrow, then have a funeral service on Friday. It also notes that there are four nominees to posthumously take his position – Hoppingturtle from Ethics, Brokenlinks from General Magic, Moldybreadcrust from Applied Spellcasting and Hiddenmolar from Alchemy. Sports mention that there are Pokkaball tryouts from 9 until noon (though you can neither take part or watch as best as I can tell with the text even suggesting in the paper that they might be cancelled due to Tickingclock's death) and Arts speak of a horticultural show at Sorcerer Stadium yesterday – yet another one of those little things that would not be difficult to miss in the slightest. I literally reloaded just to check – sure enough, there's a short magical/floral display on if you know it's there to be watched, giving that real feeling of full immersion that has otherwise been waning off to my mind. My next step was obvious – to the Sorcerer's Appliance. It now creates animals! It's a 'yes or no' choice now, with the Appliance now generating animals. I didn't really think too hard about this one – I simply looked through the notes taken by Ernie through his class. I could find only two animals mentioned at a glance – elevephants/elevephant essence (figure I've already had enough of those) and 'squirrel vomit' for a speed potion along with Spatula Moss. Sure as I was able to make Spatula Moss via the Appliance's first option, a squirrel came through a series of yes or no answers, e.g. 'does it have wings?' I thought hard about how one would go about making a squirrel lose its lunch.

It's always the case-role with this game, huh?

No other ingredients! Apparently, this leaves it tasting like very well
marinated red peppers with 'just a hint of orange marmalade'. Yeeeewwww.

Wandering around campus a little gives me a chance to do a few things. First, checking in on Sid dropping a laxative into cafeteria food and Gary attempting to mow the letters 'HDP' into the collegial lawn. The other quest I had in mind before the TKB bash due to start at 5:30 was to find out just who was meeting up with Chris Cowpatty in the pub. I've been repeatedly checking Professor Hiddenmolar's desk given the random key he dropped during his class – sure enough, he's Chris Cowpatty's co-conspirator. Exactly why the pair of them have it in for Ernie is somewhat unclear (though I'm holding onto the hunch that Hiddenmolar has something to do with Joey Rottenwood from 101). Either way, they're talking about the Sorcerer's Appliance in some way – the game being intentionally vague about what exactly the pair have in store for Ernie apart from the fact that it's definitely not going to be fun for him. Still, it gives something to 'look forward to'!

Uh-oh! They know about the Appliance! (Or that I have access to it, maybe?)

So, for the actual meat of the day – the TKB Pool Party. Loaded up with speed potion, spellbook and my Simpleberry Shrub, it wasn't too hard to sneak into the TKB pool party. They kick any interlopers out at 4:30 (and don't fall for the pollen in the Shrub), but there's a manhole nearby. I immediately realised that it was pretty easy to just FRIMP up the manhole and hide in there until the party itself starts. The problem was trying to convince people to hop into the pool! I figured it'd involve a spell – or perhaps the whiskey pellet that I'd picked up on day one, but that had no real effect. As the speed potion and Shrub weren't for sneaking in as I'd imagined, it made the puzzle a little more confusing than it had to be. I'd decided that the issue was possibly based around the parser, as I was intently attempting to talk to people, push people or what have you – with no particular people being 'options' when I slipped back into the mode that gives a listing of items etc in the room, with no obvious either magical solution or reasoning behind the speed potion, which I figured by this point had to be integral to making my way through the pool party given it was the only thing I could really find to make out of the new Attachment to the Appliance. Given that I was certain there had to be something else to convince people into the pool that would work with the speed potion, I returned to Ernie's room.

By this point, at least I know I need to be done by about 7:30

Staring at my options (AKA the gigantic pile of crud lying about the room), I realised that the only real thing I hadn't explored fully was the moodhorn. It was almost too easy to decide that the moodhorn was to be a red herring, save the fact that they devoted several pages worth of an extraneous guide that sat alongside the manual for it. The real problem I was having was working out how to have the moodhorn tunes actually take effect! See, as my last post entails, the moodhorn is not a simple instrument. It has multiple tempos (even though there's no way of extracting multiple tempos through in-game commands), it has multiple implements upon it and is generally all too complicated for my mind to take in. The songs that come with the guide are 'Happiness, Sadness, Boldness, Fear, Shyness, Lust, Love, Hate, Heat, Cold, Hunger and Weariness'. Given that the TKB pledges were already groping and drinking away, most of these seemed useless even if they worked directly as was listed – but it was only when I realised that 'heat' was in 'double time' that I knew what the speed potion was for. (This seems a very difficult way of getting people to play an instrument – but there again, perhaps it was just the Jimi Hendrix vibe that Mr. Meretzky was going for here.)

Not going to lie – this whole scene is full of mildly creepy images

And they're not helped with words like 'foxy babes', either

What a coincidence – a puzzle solved, another piece of the Sorcerer's Appliance!

So, after achieving the set task, the Cookie Cutter of Curdle miraculously appears out of nowhere and is there to be swiftly snatched up (this has a new word appear on the side of the Appliance – 'Genesis'.) Still, I feel that in spite of the fun that can be had in the middle of the day watching laxative and/or mower-fuelled fun, the game's content really didn't feel quite as full as it could on this game day. It's not really a negative comment on the game – it's just that everywhere else felt like it had a whole lot more content. Probably because they had to spend all of their image budget on EGA girl nipples poking out of 'flower bikinis' (even though to me they look like plain old bikinis)? I'm not sure. I'd definitely have felt happier with more things to whittle the day away. Given the time that the meeting between Cowpatty and Hiddenmolar, perhaps part of the day was supposed to be spent flying through the sewers in order to get to the TKB party on time? On the plus side, it's an awful lot easier to summarise an in-game like this one! So there's that! Still, with Genesis, ergo Eve from the back of the box, about to come my way, I can only assume that the game is due to turn sharply upwards!

I literally had to go into Nice mode to take this screenshot. Cowpatty's tirade was just as comical yet managed to make me feel even more uncomfortable than the bikini shots above

Session Time: 1 hour 30 mins
Total Time: 6 hours 30 mins

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. "I'd definitely have felt happier with more things to whittle the day away."

    This is not really important for the overall game plot, but I'll ROT13 it anyway. Lbh zvtug unir hfrq gur fvzhyngbe - vg unf qvssrerag fvzhyngvbaf qrcraqvat ba gur qnl.

    1. Given it's 'not important to plot', I translated - every time I've entered outside of the initial time it's been the sorcerer/banana/bathtub setup. Maybe just poor luck, or it's timing based? Either way.

    2. It's based on the day of the week. I am pretty sure there's timetable somewhere in the room.

    3. Y'know, every time I see Cowpatty's face and what HDP stands for, I seriously don't understand why Ernie would choose to pledge to this frat house instead of TKB. For one thing, in 101, HDP didn't exist and TKB frat brothers were really friendly towards Ernie.


Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of the reviewer requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game...unless they really obviously need the help...or they specifically request assistance.

If this is a game introduction post: This is your opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that the reviewer won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return.
It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All score votes and puzzle bets must be placed before the next gameplay post appears. The winner will be awarded 10 CAPs.