Ghost Town: Miscommunications   3 comments

From The Book of Adventure Games by Kim Schuette.

I’ve had two major breaks from clearing up some misunderstandings related to the parser.

1. There’s a “Jail” that can’t initially be entered.

Sorry I can’t
Doors closed, windows barred!

I tried some commands like OPEN JAIL and UNLOCK JAIL only to get the response “I don’t understand your command.”

Later, essentially by accident, I tried OPEN DOOR.

with what?
Inside bolt is latched!

Even though entering the jail says “doors closed” I didn’t occur to me try referring to the door directly, since there’s another door leading to a barbershop in the very same location so OPEN DOOR is an ambiguous command.

In any case, I had found a magnetized horseshoe earlier (there’s a compass that points to it if you USE COMPASS while the horseshoe is nearby) so I thought it’d be worth a try following up the “with what?” question:

Tell me what to do ? with horseshoe
it worked!

I was then free to enter the jail:

I’m in a jail.

Obvious exits: NORTH.

I can also see: *GOLDEN DERRINGER* – Locked door

You might remember the gun from Pyramid of Doom being entirely useless. The derringer is not useless, but it is, of all things, a water gun.

shoots stream of water

2. There’s a scene in a stable where you get on a horse called ‘Ole Paint.

I’m on back of ‘Ole Paint

Obvious exits: Down.

I can also see: *SILVER SPURS*

RIDE is a valid verb, and takes a direction

Tell me what to do ? ride
Give me a direction too.

You can RIDE DOWN and then keep using RIDE to move around the town. I initially assumed I somehow had the horse with me, but no: the game is just taking the path of least resistance in checking if your commands make sense, and you aren’t riding anything at all. (Really, I should have spotted this, but I went on a “test ride” only once and didn’t think about it after.) If you instead do RIDE HORSE, essentially ignoring the syntax suggestion the game itself made, you get a different message:

Tell me what to do ? ride horse
may need to say a magic word here

After a bit more fiddling, I decided to wearing the spurs and SPUR HORSE.

He bucks, I’m thrown

I’m flat on my back in a manure pile

This turns out to be helpful because the kicking horse broke open an entrance to a hidden room, where I found a keg of nails. You might remember last time I needed a container for some gunpowder, and the keg indeed works. I haven’t been able to use it yet without blowing myself up.

Scott Adams promoting the game. From 80 Micro, July 1980.

Posted June 13, 2018 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “Ghost Town: Miscommunications

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  1. Having had quite a bit of experience with the internals of Scott Adams games, I can tell you what’s going on here: RIDE is a straight-up synonym for GO. In fact, looking at ScottKit’s disassembly of the Ghost Town game file, there are seven(!) such synonyms:


    So you will also be able to navigate around using MOUNT NORTH, CLIMB SOUTH, ENTER EAST, etc.

    And equally, instead of having to use RIDE HORSE, you’d get the same response if you used GO HORSE or (perhaps more worryingly) ENTER HORSE.

    (If you ever need a hint on a Scott Adams game, or any other game written in his format, scottkit -d gamefile is your friend.)

  2. Excellent progress.

  3. Pingback: Ghost Town: Finshing the Game, aka Witnessing An Increasingly Bad Series of Design Decisions | Renga in Blue

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