Dracula Avontuur: The Feeling of Being a Beginner   13 comments

I’ve been playing parser games for so long it’s often tough to for me to put myself in the head of a beginner who types things like >PICK UP THE RAPIER PLEASE and gets the response “You don’t see any such thing” even when the item is clearly in the room. (I just tested this on a real game — Kerkerkruip — and that’s what happened.)

Playing in a foreign language is a great way to recreate this feeling. I got the opening hints

SLUIT RAAM (“close window”)
KLIM GAT (“climb hole”)
LEES BRIEF (“read note”)
KIJK (“look”)
GA ZUID (“go south”)

and worked out a few more things like NEEM (“take”), but I’ve generally had enormous difficulty communicating anything at all.

For example, I found a traditional maze, the kind that needs dropping items to map:

For the life of me I could not drop an item. I tried every single word in a dictionary I could find, and then out of frustration

sneetje brood : laten vallen.
(Slice of bread: dropped.)

I still have no idea other than DROP in English how to drop stuff. You might think that LATEN VALLEN BROOD could do it but that really needs to be used as a two-word phrase (I think?), and this is a parser than only takes two words at maximum, including both the verb and noun. Relatedly, the order always has to be verb-subject, even though Dutch often prefers subject-verb; the phrase really should be BROOD LATEN VALLEN.

Here’s what I found at the end of the maze (I give both the Dutch room description and my best shot at a translation):

Je bent nu in een donker woud. Hoog in een zware eikenboom is een kleine hut gebouwd. De takken van de boom hangen laag genoeg om erin te kunnen klimmen. Er zijn vele voetstappen in de grond te zien.

You’re in a dark forest. There is a small cabin built high in an oak tree. The branches of the tree are low enough to climb. There are many footprints around on the ground.

Fortunately, I had the earlier hint to KLIM for climb and was able to KLIM BOOM (climb tree) to get in:

Je bent nu in een kleine hut bovenin een boom. Een van de planken, waaruit de vloer is opgebouwd, is afgebroken, zodat je daardoor naar beneden kunt. Je hebt van hier uit een prachtig uitzicht over het uitgestrekte bos. In de verte kan je het dorpje met de herberg zien. Een smal pad vanuit het dorp slingert het bos in. Ver links van het dorp kan je het kasteel van Lord Dracula zien. Door een vreemd schijnsel ziet het kasteel er spookachtig uit. Een smal pad loopt de heuvel op naar de ingang van het kasteel. Verder is de wand rondom het kasteel zo steil, dat het pad in feite de enige ingang vormt.
Er is een houten wig hier.
Er is een zwaar kapmes hier.

You’re in a little cabin in a tree. One of the floorboards is broken so you can get down. You have a beautiful view of the vast forest. In the distance, you can see the village with the inn. A narrow path from the village leads in the woods. Far to the left of the village you can see the castle of Lord Dracula. The castle has a strange light and looks spooky. A narrow path runs up the hill to the entrance to the castle. The wall around the castle is so steep that the path is the only way in.
There’s a wooden wedge here.
There’s a big machete here.

I could not get out of this room! Again, dictionary attempts failed me. I knew N (Noorden) W (Westen) O (Oosten) and Z (Zuiden) worked for directions, and I eventually found by luck that L is the one-letter abbreviation to “go down”. It is short for … I have no idea. I did also find that H means up, and I’m guessing that’s just shortening “omhoog” to the H since O is already taken.

I did get a little farther and explored Dracula’s Castle (with bedrooms helpfully marked SLAAPKAMER 1 and SLAAPKAMER 2) but I haven’t solved any puzzles yet; hopefully next time?

Posted August 30, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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13 responses to “Dracula Avontuur: The Feeling of Being a Beginner

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  1. NEEM (“take”)

    I’m used to seeing “nym” in medival cooking recipes (e.g. “nym eyroun and breke ther-to” = “take eggs and break them into…”), so I’m amused that this is the form used in modern Dutch.

    Re: drop, I assume you tried both LATEN and VALLEN individually?

    Re: L for go down, maybe it’s for LEGGEN? Although that seems more like it would mean “leave”, as in to leave (set, lay) an object on a table…

    • Tested LATEN BROOD, VALLEN BROOD, and GA LEGGEN to be sure — no luck.

    • Oho, interesting theory. (I mean, “inventory” is a weird standard command, and we’re used to it, so I could see somehow “high” and “low” being directions.)

      Neem is imperative of nemen (also first/second/third person present) so they are looking for that, but I still haven’t gotten any conjugation of drop to work.

      • Well, also “omlaag” is a word, so if H is abbreviating “omhaag” then L could be “omlaag.” I don’t know the difference between “ga omlaag,” which Google Translate turns back into “go down,” and “naar beneden gaan,” which is what Google Translate gives for “go down.”

  2. If the game understood DROP, does it understand other commands in English?

  3. For ‘drop’ you could try ‘leg’, I think that worked in Korenvliet. (The idiomatic commands would be “leg brood neer” or “laat brood vallen”. Since laat makes no sense as an abbreviation, leg is probably preferred.)

    H and L are abbreviations for (om)hoog and (om)laag.

    I never heard of this Dutch adventure! Where can I find it?

  4. The word order (“SLUIT RAAM”) is correct for the imperative mood.

    The note (“briefje”) you get at the start of the game lists some commands. You’ve probably worked these out already, but just in case:

    GA NOORD [N] — north
    GA ZUID [Z] — south
    GA OOST [O] — east
    GA WEST [W] — west
    GA OMHOOG [H] — up
    GA OMLAAG [L] — down
    GA ERUIT [E?] — out
    BETREED HUIS / GA HUIS — enter house
    INVENTARIS [I] — inventory
    KIJK [K] — look
    BEKIJK / ONDERZOEK — examine
    BEWAAR SPEL — save
    LAAD SPEL — restore

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