Acheton: On restarts   Leave a comment

I recently played the Tin Man Games conversion of Forest of Doom for computer.

The original Forest of Doom from 1983 was a gamebook in the standard style at the time, where a winning run takes many restarts. The first bit of the map has four choices:


If you choose wrong, you have lost, although you don’t find out until the very end of the book.

Maybe some emphasis would help: if you choose wrong on the first map choice, you lose at the very end of the book.



This got my thinking about restarts in general which are still a general style in both parser games (like Jon Ingold’s Make It Good) and modern gamebooks (like The Sinister Fairground from Cubus Games).

Acheton is a game that very much wants you to restart, on many levels:

* The near-comedic presence of death leads to short resets.

* The ningy, which I already wrote about, is nearly guaranteed to cause a total restart.

* Optimizing lamp life can require a restart deep in the game, 500 or so moves in, requiring the steps for finding treasures be carefully tracked.

* There’s occasionally a more moderate “explorer-restart”. A simple example would be when mapping a dungeon; it is understood that you map the dungeon thoroughly first, find a good route, and then restore to the point you started.

This is the sort of thing adventure gamers accept without thinking. Consider, though: it’s deeply weird. It’s almost like it is built in (to this and many other adventures) acceptance of the sort of time travel mechanic where a character makes a “fugue echo” of themselves to send out before resetting the timeline. This is true no matter what the genre.

In my most recent play session, I came across an ocean.


[Map by Marco Cavagna.]

Fortunately I remembered this section when I played through Acheton 5 years ago, so I knew that mapping the entirety of the sea is not exactly useful; the first time around, I inspected each and every square I could because this game was evil enough I knew it would have no shame about hiding a secret.

Posted December 30, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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