Goblins: Finished!   4 comments

Yes, I finished, for real. I honestly thought I was going to have to write a “I throw in the towel” post, but not this time. I’m a little late for the contest.

YOU CAN WIN A THIRTY DOLLAR CASH PRIZE BY PLAYING GOBLINS.

THE PRIZE WILL BE AWARDED TO THE PERSON WHO CAN WIN THE GAME USING THE LEAST NUMBER OF MOVES.

THE WINNING ENTRY MUST BE POSTMARKED BEFORE JULY 1, 1982. AFTER THAT DATE YOU CAN STILL WIN A THREE DOLLAR PRIZE.

The game had two pieces of suffering left for me.

First, there is a “book” where reading it just says

THE BOOK IS WRITTEN IN A LATIN DIALECT.

However, if you >READ COVER, you get the response below:

This is a magic word hint. IGPA manipulates an Egyptian scarab which you normally can’t pick up, but IGPA will teleport it to your current location.

Second: There’s a scene with an ogre that I used as the very first picture of my series. If you try to take the money next to the ogre he will fling you away.

You can go a little past this part and “poke your head up” to see the money from a maze that goes underneath this spot.

However, if you take the money here the ogre will just kill you. It turns out, even though you can’t see it, you can still >GET MONEY while in the room underneath.

The ogre will then give chase, but you can maneuver in the maze in such a way a passage collapses and the ogre gets buried under rocks. (This puzzle in itself wasn’t bad, it was just the action that set the sequence off that was unfair to find!)

These events had such a blatant disregard for the standard rules of the parser I had to stop playing for about a week after I got through them. I really shouldn’t be getting this upset at a 40-year old game. Somehow I got through Philosopher’s Quest and Quondam without feeling this rattled, but despite their cruelty, those games fell in the narrow range of fair play. Asking to get an item that is not present or read a book cover as a separate command from reading a book were more like interface missteps. After spending a long time on a puzzle, finding out you missed a solve due to “interface” is like getting part-way through a crossword puzzle and finding out that half of the words are random gibberish.

Positive interlude, since this post is otherwise negative: I liked this moment where you ride a tiny dragon.

Two more events of note: there’s a note where the pin attaching the note is a treasure. (Below is shown the game picture after “TAKE NOTE” – there is no text description of the pin.)

This seems clever in a subversion-of-expectations sense? I don’t know if it was quite implemented correctly – it still seems like the puzzle would be fairer in an all-text game (more on that in a second).

There was a spot where you could LOOK GROUND (unprompted, of course, argh!) and find a ring; RUB RING then turned you invisible and let you get away from the goblins following you around. Part of my issue was realizing I was getting followed around in the first place; again, as a text-only game I would have been less befuddled.

At the end of this animation you can see one of the goblins peek out. This isn’t consistent or regular, so it was very hard to understand I was being “followed” and not just that goblins were coming at random.

As mentioned back in my first post, Goblins was originally written in 1979 as an all-text game. We fortunately have a very good idea what it was like, because there’s a map of the 1979 version.

A larger version of this map is at the Gallery of Undiscovered Entities.

None of the “graphics only” locations are included here. A lot of the puzzles seem to be fairer (for example, the sign announcing royal visitor being welcome seems to be the exact same room you wave the boot); the pin and chased-by-goblins puzzles also seem easier. The fact everything is more compact with less “fluff” locations would (probably) lead to a more satisfying experience.

(Click on the image to get my full map of the 1981 version of Goblins.)

In any case, it’s good I have the old map, because I’ll be tackling Wizard and the Princess next; it allegedly ripped off (“a dozen similarities”) the 1979 version of Goblins. I’m just hoping if it did borrow some things, it borrowed more of the good parts (I suppose the atmosphere?) and less of the irritating parser abuse.

Posted January 25, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “Goblins: Finished!

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  1. man, you have a lot of patience… great work

  2. Seconding baltasar on the praise for your patience.

    Dreadfully disappointed that the book is a magic word puzzle for “IGPA.” If the solution had been that, after you read the cover, “EADRA OOKBA” gets you useful information from the inside of the book, it would’ve been legendary. (This reminds me that–spoilers for Ad Verbum!–I had to use a walkthrough to get the Pig Latin puzzle in that one.)

  3. I see from the competition dates that technically you’re still eligible to receive three dollars :)

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