World’s Edge (1980)   2 comments

After the last game’s frustrating trip with one of the worst parsers ever, I thought it prudent to return to an author that seems to have his act together on two-word parser control: Greg Hassett.

It really is a relief to have a variety of messages that are explicit about when the game doesn’t know what to do, ex:

>STAB GRASS

I DON’T SEE THAT AROUND ME

>EAT KNIFE

YECH! WOULDN’T DARE!

>KICK

I NEED A DIRECT OBJECT AS WELL.

>KICK STONE

HAR HAR HAR. FIGHTING SOMETHING THAT ISN’T ALIVE. LOOK, I’VE HAD A HARD DAY…

>WAVE SWORD

WHAT IS “SWORD”?

These types of messages are essential to a good flow. When the parser breaks down, text games need to explain what happened as transparently as possible.

You start the game outside with some hooting owls, and find a barn with a letter from NASA:

Yes, the big future world threat is … smog.

Also, to solve our eco-crisis, we are stealing (?) something (2.2 kg of APC-80) sacred to the natives of another planet. This reads as if a pair of authors, one politically left-leaning and one right-leaning, decided to get together to write a book but they just mixed their paragraphs in alternating order without editing.

Near the barn is a silo; once you break in, the silo turns out to be a rocket ship, and you can pull the lever to find yourself on an alien planet.

Upon arrival, you find a very minor swamp maze, the kind common to Greg Hassett which lacks the east-one-way-goes-south-the-other type connection, and just includes a few loops:

As an aside, one of these days I want to come up with a numerical metric that specifies how difficult an adventure-game maze is. Ratio of normal-connections to crazy-connections, maybe.

I haven’t got much farther than that. There’s a “holofame” where I can try out a “credit disc” …

… and a “space amoeba” guarding a “glowstone”.

I heard secondhand the amoeba was the hardest puzzle. I’m not sure if I should be solving a different puzzle first.

I have: a sickle (which I already used to cut some grass), a needle (used to pick a lock), a jetpack (not used yet, but I don’t have fuel), a pointy knife, and a piece of plastic (that blows me up when I try to drop it). I suspect if I can get to the other side of the vent (mentioned in the “tall chamber” room description) I could drop the explosives down there and destroy the amoeba safely, but that would likely require using the jetpak.

As is usual, feel free to speculate in the comments, and if you know the game already, use ROT13.

Posted August 2, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “World’s Edge (1980)

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  1. It seems an adventure of good quality for a teenager!
    Especially, the parser seems to be quite good for the time.
    I am confused the article mentions that he required a split screen, like Scott Addams… what is that?

    • Scrolling text on the bottom, fixed text (w/ room description) on top. That is, if you look at the bar on the screenshots, if the room doesn’t change the text keeps scrolling up on the bottom without the top changing.

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