Stuga: Puzzles   5 comments

Two puzzles are spoiled below.

Click on the image for a PDF version of the map.

Work has delayed me a bit in finishing Stuga, but also Stuga itself has been stalling me; I’ve been having a hard time working up the energy to play it in my spare moments. I’ve being trying to isolate why. One reason is the puzzles (more on that in a second) but also because Stuga turns out to be another “find the treasures and gather them in the right location” plot, but without any time limit via expiring lantern batteries or otherwise. This seems like it ought to make it easier for me to want to play, but oddly once I realized there was no time pressure it was causing the opposite. I think it’s perhaps because there’s appeal in these old games still (and uniquely for the era) as an optimization puzzle, and I was having fun in Zork (for example) plotting out the best route to take to grab the diamond, like I was a real adventurer plotting over a dusty map. Stuga makes me feel not like I’m a character in some world, but an avatar of an avatar; like LASH, controlling someone not myself who is themselves controlling a robot from a distance. This is all weird and irrational and imprecise but that’s the best way I can express how it feels.

The puzzles, also, to use the words of Jimmy Maher, are either extremely simple or blatantly unfair. In my last post the word SESAME was mentioned in a room, prompting David Welbourn to say his next command would be OPEN SESAME. Well, it’s almost as easy as that — it’s just SESAME, and you use it at a locked gate and that’s that.

On the other hand, there’s a dark room. If you type TAKE (not TAKE ALL or any other variation) you will pick up a hidden lamp, and then be told the lamp will disappear if you leave the room so you should “stay put”. So you type STAY and then wait (in real time, yes, you actually sit still for 30 seconds) and then you get scooped out of the room and get to keep the lamp.

The Muppet sequence in my last post has been the best puzzle so far, just because it turned out to be a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure interlude with binary choices where figuring out the correct route led to a treasure. It was so unique and weird it was oddly fun to work out.

Posted July 2, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “Stuga: Puzzles

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  1. “Sesame” is also the magic word that opens the hanger bay doors in Dog Star Adventure. Not that I propose any concrete linkage between these two things (it’s an obvious choice, after all).

    What is interesting is the extent to which these early games rely on magic words. Probably another result of their extremely limited parsers and primitive world-modeling.

    And anything with muppets in it automatically gets huge bonus points from me.

  2. First of all, it’s great to see someone playing Stuga!

    You say the Muppet sequence was your favourite in Stuga, and I can see why. Unfortunately, 99% of all the people who have played the game, have only played the commercial version “Stugan”. It’s a shame because the publisher, who asked the authors to port the game to MS-DOS, didn’t dare to have the Muppets in the game, for legal reasons, so this portion of the game was removed completely. Almost all of the other stuff was kept, and a few things were added. Also, some more ASCII art and PC speaker music was added. The publisher also had the “Stugan” version of the game translated to English, with the title “The Cottage”, but I haven’t been able to find a copy.

    I have played Stuga to a successful ending, but that did require quite a bit of source code reading. After that, I wrote the hints. I seriously doubt that anyone ever completed the game without any kind of hints or access to the source code. There are just so many far-fetched solutions to puzzles, and even randomness, so that doing the right thing will still only give you a 30% chance of success.

    • Incidentally: Is there some foreign language reason why typing just the verb TAKE might imply “take what happens to be nearby even if you can’t see it”?

      • No, typing just “TA” ( = TAKE) is just as awkward in Swedish as it is in English. When you type that, the game will usually ask you which object you want to take, even if there is only one available.

        There are many puzzles in IF games where you need to figure out how some other entity in the game works, in order to win over it., whether it be a thief, a carousel room or something else. Back in 1977, I think it may have seemed just as valid to let the parser be one of those entities. Actually, you having to overcome the parser was an intentional puzzle in some later games as well, like Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

      • Clarification: When you type “TA”/”TAKE”, Stuga will usually ask you what you want to take. It just works differently in this location. Other games in Swedish would typically require you to provide a noun after “TA”.

        Sweden didn’t have anything like Infocom or Level 9 to establish any kind of industry standard as to which words were recognized etc. I think Stugan may have been the only commercial IF game in Swedish, published by a “real” software publisher, There were a bunch of hobbyist games as well, and some of them tried to sell their games through cheap ads in magazines, but I doubt anyone made much money that way. Anyway, this means everyone pretty much made their own translation of the words used in the vocabulary of their favourite games in English, resulting in quite a bit of variation from game to game.

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