Labyrinth: Teleporting Via Gaze   6 comments

It took me quite a while to suss out how the teleporting system in Labyrinth works. Partly this is due to my prior experience with RPGs like Wizardry and The Bard’s Tale, where the general rule is that entering a square is what causes an effect to happen. (Labyrinth came out before either, so it doesn’t surprise me it’d do something different, but I still found the entire concept I outline below hard to wrap my head around.)

Here is an animation of passing through a corridor and turning around. Notice how the path back seems to have changed.

I originally created my map assuming square X would teleport me to square Y, but I kept running into inconsistencies trying to match everything up; I was getting errors like corridors overlapping with other corridors.

The way the game actually handles teleports is that if you stand in the relevant square and look in a particular direction, the teleport triggers. I puzzled this out by taking an item (salt, in my case) and repeatedly dropping and trying to pick it up as I walked through one of the mysterious corridors; eventually, I narrowed down the exact instant the teleport happened, which was when I turned, not when I stepped.

For example, if you go to the position marked “T1” and turn south…

you end up in the other position marked “T1”.

You often get your “compass” turned in the process, so you’re facing towards the “open direction” of the map you’re on when you land. In this example, if you start at the first T1 and teleport you stay facing south. However, if you try to teleport back again by turning east, you’ll land at the original T1 facing west. If that was confusing to read, double that confusion; that’s how confusing it is to play.

I can say with confidence now that “levels” is the wrong way of looking at the map — it’s really just a big strange loop. You can fall through a pit and walk your way back to where you started, so the “pits” serve more as a different method of teleportation rather than realistic geographic movement. This is in contrast to Deathmaze 5000 where one of the puzzles involved climbing up a pit to a previously inaccessible section (where the map layout itself gave a hint this was possible).

Speaking of contrast, in the department of geography-as-narrative, I found Deathmaze’s 5000 simple trudge-down-the-levels to be a little more dramatic than Labyrinth’s open world. The former game starts with a bottleneck puzzle, and while you can get down to level 4 by essentially skipping most things, there’s still a feeling of an organized “story”. I can mentally remember level 1 as That One With Lots of Items and an Invisible Guillotine, level 2 as having Attack Dogs and a Snake, level 3 as The Square on the Wall, and level 4 as Where you Finally Have to Meet the Monster. I don’t have a similar characterization for the sections of Labyrinth, other than the start being right next to the fog which hides the minotaur. It’s more of a blur and less of a story.

Admittedly, there is the utter cruelty of the one-way-travel effect to Deathmaze which makes it easy to leave an item behind, but this has the side effect of reducing possible options: for example, I knew I didn’t need to use any items below level 2 to handle the snake of that level, since there was no way to return to it.

With Labyrinth, every item is open to solving every puzzle, and I haven’t solved any yet. The open puzzles are

  • a cave bear who attacks
  • an ugly man who attacks
  • a cave gnome who attacks
  • a vending machine which attacks, er, I mean needs a coin

The items I have are

  • roller skates
  • a steel rod
  • a cream pie
  • salt
  • a lantern
  • a haunted jar, whatever that is
  • a book

The last item has the word PTOOII. If you SAY PTOOII you get teleported to an area with a sword, but with no way out. I suspect this is simply a trap (especially since the sword would be useful for all the puzzles listed up to and including the vending machine; clearly I should intimidate it into giving me a soda).

I don’t see any obvious connections (can you throw a cream pie at a bear? will the bear care?) so I’ll probably have to just start testing things at random.

Posted September 10, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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6 responses to “Labyrinth: Teleporting Via Gaze

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  1. These teleportation “traps” may have been influenced by the dungeon design advice in the original D&D rulebooks. Gygax was a big fan and wrote in Vol 3 of the original set (1974): “Intra-level teleportation areas, so that a player will be transported to a similar (or dissimilar) area on the same level, possibly activated by touching some item (such as a gem, door, or the like)”. There’s also an example in the sample dungeon map of a corridor with a “a one-way transporter”, with the goal of “sure-fire fits for map makers”. : )

    • It feels like they must have experienced some D&D along the line.

      There’s also a “magical darkness which normal light sources can’t penetrate” section, which is another Wizardry/Bard’s Tale/etc. standard — is that from any early D&D source in particular? (I used to play a lot of 1st edition AD&D and I still have the late 1970s books, but anything earlier I’ve never got a chance to see.)

  2. (can you throw a cream pie at a bear? will the bear care?)

    You can in King’s Quest 5. (Okay, okay, a custard pie and a yeti.)

  3. @Jason Dyer: Not in the dungeon design section, but the first OD&D supplement (Greyhawk), introduces a Darkness spell, which is then carried over to AD&D, which also adds “Continual Darkness” (as a 2nd level Cleric or 3rd level Illusionist spell), which creates a “globe of impenetrable darkness” that is permanent.

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