Lugi: The Perils of Randomness   2 comments

At the start of the game it asks if you want a “short”, “medium”, or “long” time limit. For the vast majority of adventure games this would affect the number of turns. Lugi, instead, keeps track of real time.

That is, while events can’t happen in the middle of you typing a command, time is nontheless moving, and if you leave the game running and come back, on your next turn you will undoubtedly get:

Tromp…Tromp…Tromp…

“Aaaaaaaaahhhhh, we found us some dinner!” (chomp, slobber, crunch…)

Additionally, there is no saved game feature.

The statements above would no doubt send many (all?) traditional adventure game players running for the hills, but I decided to try rolling with it; this is meant to be sort of a text-adventure-action-hybrid and just because a genre hasn’t been tried much doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad.

Still, the elements above plus the randomness plus the game having traditional puzzles makes this very hard to play. There are some definite “sequences” programmed in. For example:

You’re in a grimy new-car showroom with a huge glass window, luridly painted on the outside, looking out onto a busy street. You see that you are nearly two miles from the Embassy.
There is one dust-coated car here, a model made eight years ago.

The car is always in this room, and attempting to use it states you need to start the car first. Elsewhere (not in a fixed place) there are keys stuck to the floor. A different room (again not in a fixed place) has a can of acetone. If you open and pour the acetone, you can get the keys free, although the first time I did so I died because the fumes from the acetone overwhelmed me. I didn’t always find both the acetone and thy keys in a given play session, so it took some repeats before I found the same situation again and was able to redo the steps, this time immediately leaving the room after freeing the keys rather than trying to take the keys. This works (a creature licks up the spilled acetone) so I was able to return to the room and get the now-free keys. Then, I had to find the car (again, not a guarantee); when I finally managed to do so and attempt START CAR, this happened:

GrrrRRRrrrRRRrrr–VARROOM! The car lurches sharply forward…

KA-BLLAAAMMMMM!!! Something in the trunk explodes like a bomb, killing you.

I assume I need to OPEN TRUNK or the like, and then possibly solve some other puzzle to disarm the bomb. To get hear to test any theories out I once again need to have a play session where I find the acetone, keys, and car, and of course there’s no guarantee I won’t die again trying to solve a puzzle (I can’t imagine disarming a bomb to be super-safe). It may even be after seeing what happens with the trunk I realize there’s a fourth object I need to solve the puzzle, but I haven’t found that fourth object in that particular playthrough, and have to restart before I can test the puzzle again.

In a classic roguelike game like Nethack (with the same randomness and lack-of-saves as Lugi), usually death is the result of a combination of bad decisions and/or luck; even something infamous like getting turned to stone by a cockatrice makes it fairly transparent what the wrong action was (like: oops, you tried to pick up the corpse but you weren’t wearing gloves). With puzzle-solving in adventure games this isn’t the case, and having all the randomness can make it exceedingly difficult to test theories or have any kind of continuity to the solving experience. Another example:

There’s a small, unhealthy-looking Lugiman here, a real runt, holding a cudgel! He screams at you in Lugonian: something about “filthy Earth vermin” and “stinking Earth germs …us allergic people can’t take it any more!” He raises his cudgel, holding his nose, and prepares to bash your skull in…

There text strongly suggest there’s some way to trigger the Lugiman’s germophobia to do away with him, but you only get one shot before he kills you. In a “normal” game (saved games, fixed geography, fixed item locations) this wouldn’t be a problem, but an idea like “let’s try throwing the half-eaten sandwich I found” might have a 20-minute delay between conception and being able to test it. It’s also possible to run away from this enemy, so there might be no solution at all (although you can get unlucky and have an item you do need start in the same room as this enemy).

I have managed to escape, once, but doing so killed everyone.

You are on a sunny balcony over a busy street.

The instructions state typing OUT here will escape. If you have a rope (another randomly found object) you can do this, but:

Unfortunately, you carried the Lugonian Plague out to the city and wiped out eighty percent of the population!

On a different playthrough (one where I never found the balcony room) I managed to get a can of Raid which caused itching on my arm, and a “fungus” to be visible in my inventory. My guess is I need to be rid of the fungus in order to escape “properly”.

Also (only on some playthroughs) I’ve had

A small scaly thing lunges out and attaches itself to your leg!

who might end up being useful somewhere, but it’s possible the thing must also be removed before escape.

Posted August 17, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “Lugi: The Perils of Randomness

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  1. FUNGAL BLOOM WOOOO

    (For those following along at home, this puzzle sounds very reminiscent of a key puzzle in the massively-multiauthored game Cragne Manor.)

  2. I regret putting the nitro in the car trunk. For most of the game’s history the nitro was loose in a random room, and that was much better. I’ll go back to that if I get it working again.
    — Paul

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