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.

Sunday 15 January 2017

Gateway - Shield Generators

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #5: "It’s not just about risking my life to find cool stuff anymore. Now I have a real mission. I have to go to four more places. If I fail, we might all be doomed. Why me?? Well, at least the first one was easy."

As with Part 1, we start in our quarters, and the message light is blinking. I don't have any other leads, so I put my card in and retrieve the message. An unknown sender instructs me to meet him discreetly in the tanning room of the Pedroza lounge, accessible from the bar. Intriguing. I suppose there might be some concern for one's safety with an instruction like that normally, but in a game like this, there's no reason not to go.

The stakes are raised...

Friday 13 January 2017

What's Your Story - Torch

Answers: Torch
Introduction and captions: TBD

Here's our chance to get to know Torch, who will soon (4 games from now) be blogging through KGB for us.

Now, over to Torch...

Torch is also very useful if you don't want to be eaten by a grue

I’ve been thinking of submitting this for a while, but I never got around to it. But I’m falling behind on my CAPs acquisition, so I guess now’s as good a time as any.

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Bargon Attack - Final Rating

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Now that we’ve completed the last screens of another example of french adventure gaming, it’s time to give it its Final Rating. I used to have fond memories of this game, probably because the first half is, all things considered, pretty cool. The fact that it’s loosely based in reality and have you play as a young parisian computer geek might have something to do with it. However, the second half has really taken its toll on my nerves and I was eagerly waiting for the end (as were the developers, I think, considering how this half feels rushed). Let’s see how all of this fares in our beloved PISSED Rating.

I probably should have taken this guy seriously...

Monday 9 January 2017

History of Adventure 3: Parser-based Graphical Adventures (1984)

By the TAG Team

Notable Titles: King’s Quest I-IV, Police Quest I-II, Space Quest I-III, Leisure Suit Larry I-III, Gold Rush, Conquests of Camelot, Hero’s Quest, Quest for Glory II, Colonel’s Bequest
Notable Creators and Companies: Sierra Entertainment (Roberta Williams, Jim Walls, Al Lowe, Lori and Corey Cole, Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy, Christy Marx)

Sierra Entertainment had a fantastic idea for the next logical step of adventure gaming. Some time earlier, Sierra already had an engine that was capable of rendering pictures to go along with a basic IF-styled game, with the at-the-time groundbreaking idea that they could create an on-screen image using purely vectors.

Great things come from humble beginnings

Saturday 7 January 2017

Gateway - Intelligence Tests

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #4: "This place is supposed to have a better chance to hold a jackpot. But man, what a dump. It's full of acid and ugly plants and even uglier aliens. There'd better be something really amazing here."

All the previous codes are labeled, with the new code on the right.

Thursday 5 January 2017

Missed Classic 35: Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz (1981) - Introduction

Written by Joe Pranevich

More familiar box art.

Last month, I conquered the first real game in our marathon, Zork I. It was a good game, but it could not hold a candle to the original Dungeon. It’s time to turn our attention to its sequel, the aptly named Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz. How will the designers, Dave Lebling and Marc Blank, fare when they have to create a new game using the parts of an old one? I look forward to finding out!

Before we get to the game, there’s a bit of history to follow up on. The first Zork hit the shelves for the TRS-80 in December 1980. This was Infocom’s first product, but were they a gaming company? Or a business software company that sold games to get off the ground? This question would eventually sink Infocom several years later, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Since they still had more Zork that was not yet adapted, Dave and Marc spent much of a year building a new game around the puzzles excised from the previous one and new challenges that they were devising. Personal Software distributed the previous game, but it was clear at this point that they were not focused on marketing games. To better control the product and the messaging, Infocom brought distribution in-house and managed their own mail orders. Although Zork II wouldn’t take advantage of it, this in-house distribution system would later allow them to build the creative “feelies” that they became known for. Perhaps more so than with Zork I, this game marks the moment when Infocom became a real company: they had an office, they had their first real employee, and they were managing the sales themselves. The foundation was built for them to expand.

Full disclosure, I also played this game as a kid although I do not think that I beat it. I vaguely remember that there’s a wizard that comes by and shoots spells at you and that we’ll have to steal his wand to solve some of the puzzles, but that’s just it. My memory may be jogged as I play. If you are just joining us, you’ll probably want to read my review of Dungeon before reading this as I may skim over the solutions to puzzles introduced in that game. Let’s play!

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Bargon Attack - Won!

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Bob journal #4 : “This is it, I’m in the eye of the storm now… I’ve gained access to the cult headquarters and I’m approaching the heart of the alien invasion. It’s time to put an end to this, with my faithful arm cannon. If only I could get past these stupid flower pots…”

So we’re now finally in what appears to be the cult headquarters. Around us we have a flower pot with weird looking flowers (that obviously kill you when you approach it), some kind of locked cabinet and cult members going back and forth on the first floor.

And one confused-looking guy under a hood

Sunday 1 January 2017

Missed Classic 34: Zork I: The Great Underground Empire (1980)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Box art that cannot be unseen.

A few weeks back, I conquered mainframe Zork (also known as Dungeon), one of the most influential text adventures of all time. It was a fantastic game but a true marathon: at more than thirty-six hours of play (not counting my look at the 616-point version afterwards), it is the longest game currently on the site. It had plenty to explore, well-designed puzzles, and a parser that is still best of breed. Written by students for a very specific MIT-flavored PDP-10 system, it wasn’t intended to be a commercial success. It was a fun coding project by a bunch of guys that really thought they were going to get real jobs after graduation.

That is where the story of Dungeon ends and the story of Infocom begins. In 1979, the original designers (Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling) formed a company together. It wasn’t a gaming company. It wasn’t intended to sell Zork to the masses. It was a way to keep the band together as they transitioned to “real” projects. That they changed adventure games forever happened entirely by accident.