IFComp 2017: The Cube in the Cavern   8 comments

By Andrew Schultz. Finished on desktop using Gargoyle.

Andrew Schultz, as has been his tradition going since 2012, has entered a pure-puzzle parser game in the competition. To be clear, even though there is a bit of a setting, and even an established main character …

Why, you eschewed a lucrative career as a psychic for, just, well…knowledge. And when your dowsing instruments detected something odd in a cavern, you were curious indeed! A cube lay beyond a river, and you’re lucky you had your assistant to pull you back, because somehow, you felt pulled towards the center! Your assistant tied you down so you could explore briefly, and YOU WERE ABLE TO WALK UPSIDE-DOWN.

… it’s safe to say these details are essentially irrelevant. Unlike Andrew’s other entries going back to 2012, this isn’t a word-puzzle game. It isn’t even a math-puzzle game, really — more of a visual-spacial one. If you think that’s an odd choice for pure text, you’d be right.

You’re standing on a cube, where you can travel to any of the six sides, and gravity pulls you towards the center. Additionally, each side of the cube consists of a 3 by 3 region, with a beacon and 4 transponders on each side.

This boils down to basically two puzzles. I’m going to first discuss them in a non-spoiler sense, then switch to rot13 mode for some more specifics.

Generally, the main issue for me was: a.) visualizing the thing and b.) navigating the thing. I never could get the hang of cube navigation (see the “cube compass” above) and even near the end I just guessed the correct command and used UNDO if I guessed wrong.

Visualizing was also fairly critical, and it wasn’t until I drew a fully-labeled 3D cube on paper that I understood what was going on. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but prepared if you play this to spend the first half of your game just making a thorough map. (The materials come with one, but I found looking at it confusing and even if you use it you’ll need to add labels to many of the rooms.)

Some more spoiler-laden observations in ROT13:

Gur svefg chmmyr unf lbh zngpuvat genafcbaqre pbybef gb fvqrf. Guvf nfcrpg jnf snveyl fgenvtugsbjneq rkprcg gung fbzr bs gur genafcbaqref qba’g jbex. V arire jnf noyr gb svther bhg n cnggrea gb guvf, ohg V jnf noyr gb trg nyy gur pbybef naljnl. Guvf jnf qvfnccbvagvat va gung V gubhtug gur aba-jbexvat genafcbaqref jnf gur vagrerfgvat cneg gb gur chmmyr.

Gur frpbaq chmmyr unf lbh gvr n ebcr naq yvax vg guebhtu ghaaryf va gur pragre. Guvf cneg sryg cerggl hazbgvingrq, nygubhtu vg jnfa’g hafbyinoyr, naq V sbhaq univat gb qrny jvgu gur culfvpf bs gur ebcr vagrerfgvat. Ubjrire, gur tnzr-raqvat qvq srry zber yvxr zntvp guna gur erfhyg bs zl uneq jbex.

Posted October 23, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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8 responses to “IFComp 2017: The Cube in the Cavern

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  1. As far as I can tell about the first puzzle:

    Lbh pna bayl chg n pbybe va bar genafcbaqre ng n gvzr. Fb vs lbh yvtug bar hc erq, jura lbh gel gb yvtug nabgure erq lbh’yy trg n zrffntr gung ceriragf lbh. Gur fbyhgvba vf gb znxr gur genafcbaqre ng gur pbeare bs gur guerr cevznel pbybef juvgr, gur bar ng gur pbeare bs erq naq checyr naq benatr erq, gur bar ng gur pbeare bs oyhr naq terra naq checyr oyhr, rgp.

    However, I am unable to solve the second puzzle for reasons I cannot understand:

    V unir tbar guebhtu rirel ghaary jvgu gur ebcr gvrq naq zl fpber vf fvk bhg bs fvk, ohg jura V gvr gur ebcr gb vgfrys orsber gur ybfvat zrffntr vg fnlf “Lbh gvr gur ebcr gb vgfrys. Znlor lbh pbhyq’ir perngrq n srj bgure ghaaryf, ohg gur vzcbegnag guvat vf, lbh’ir napuberq gur jubyr phor, evtug?” Juvpu qbrfa’g frrz yvxr gur vffhr. Naq gur erfrg zrpunavfz vf pbzcyrgryl oebxra; jura V haqb nsgre gur raq naq glcr “erfrg” vg gnxrf zr gb jurer gur ebcr vf bevtvanyyl gvrq, ohg V qba’g trg gur punapr gb gvr vg ntnva. V’ir unq gb erfgneg gur tnzr sbhe gvzrf gb gel qvssrerag fbyhgvbaf gb gur ynfg chmmyr. Gur cnegvphyneyl naablvat guvat nobhg guvf vf vg jbhyq or cresrpgyl angheny gb nyybj lbh gb haqb guvf cneg whfg ol glcvat “HAGVR EBCR” be rira “TRG EBCR”!

    Fbzr fcbvyref fhttrfg gung V arrq gb gel gur ghaaryf va envaobj beqre… naq univat qbar fb, gung jnf gur zvffvat cvrpr, naq gurer’f rira n pyhr nobhg vg. Naq rknzvavat gur ghaaryf va gur pragre qbrf fnl jung pbybef gurl ner, juvpu vf gur arprffnel vasbezngvba gb vzcyrzrag guvf. Ohg gur zrffntr V tbg frrzf pbzcyrgryl zvfyrnqvat.

    • The first point is either incorrect or I ran into a bug: V qrsvavgryl unq fbzr vafgnaprf jvgu gjb bs gur fnzr pbybe ba bar fvqr.

      That’s unfortunate on part 2. The problem I was running into was: univat gur ebcr abg trg gvtug orpnhfr V jnf ergenpvat fgrcf va n ghaary – V jvfu vg jnf pyrnere gung lbh znxr n zvfgnxr va gung pnfr jvgu fbzr zrffntr nobhg gur ebcr qenttvat onpxjneqf be fbzr fhpu.

      • I guess I don’t know if I might have played a different version (I played it online this morning and there may be some updates).

        About the first point, I was probably overhasty in my generalization. V xabj gung zl fbyhgvba vf gur bar gung unf gjb genafcbaqref yvg ba rirel snpr, fb gung gurve pbybef oyraq gb zngpu gur pbybe bs gur ornpba (pbhagvat juvgr nf gur vqragvgl). Jvgu n yvggyr zber rkcrevzragngvba, V guvax gung vg zvtug or gung lbh pna’g gbhpu n genafcbaqre vs vg funerf na rqtr jvgu n yvg genafcbaqre, ertneqyrff bs pbybe.

      • V guvax vg’f rqtrf – zl fbyhgvba raqf hc univat rnpu phor yvg nybat gur qvntbany. V arire rira hfrq juvgr.

      • Uhu, V’z abg fher ubj gb qb vg jvgubhg juvgr.

  2. Did some testing. E. S. BLUE. TOUCH TRANSPONDER. N. N. RED. TOUCH TRANSPONDER. You get a strong electric pulse from the north. Doesn’t matter what color you try to set the other transponder at.

    Just it doesn’t like two lit on an edge of a face, at all?

  3. Pingback: IFComp 2017: Summary and Mini-Reviews | Renga in Blue

  4. I thought RESET would be a simple low-risk thing to add, and I got burned more than a bit. Sorry about that. It looks like you and Matt stumbled on the same bug, and I think Matt’s email led to a quick fix. It was a one-liner, but that is what you (read: I) get when starting a project that late and don’t give testers enough time. In this case I think I added RESET very late in response to tester’ concern. What could go wrong?

    https://bitbucket.org/andrewschultz/cube-cavern/commits/b59893768c57f44b14a75969aaace4c3375b88f7 gives the details, which you may find amusing. Note that usually a programmer forgets an “instead” in inform, but here, I put an extra one in–I’m not sure why.

    There was also a bug where, if you set the bottom of the cube, weird things could happen. You may’ve run into that, especially if you were using the very original comp version. I don’t know if you’re big on source control, but you’ll see the bug pretty quickly. https://bitbucket.org/andrewschultz/cube-cavern/commits/201f3af45b268ada0ed2458c7fbedfd816425566#chg-story.ni

    Anyway, thanks for the recommendation despite the bugs. It may not be much consolation for the player to know bugs are frustrating for me, too, not just for my own ego but because I don’t like doing that to other people.

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