The Prisoner: Be Seeing You   Leave a comment

I escaped, although I left a lot of cryptic things behind. That seems to be the intent, really; The Prisoner feels meant to be an experience as much as a game.

Spoilers follow.

Once I got my score up from last time, I went back to the Theater and tried to make contact with the people whispering; I suspected perhaps my “notoriety” or whatnot was up and they would recognize me.

I CAN VOUCH FOR HIM
I’VE BEEN WATCHING HIM
SEEMS SUSPICIOUS TO ME
LET US TAKE A VOTE

THE MOTION IS CARRIED
WE ARE THE BROTHERHOOD

WE ARE DEDICATED TO OVERTHROW
OF THE ISLAND
ARE YOU WILLING TO JOIN US?

Why YES, I would.

GOOD. ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE YOUR LIFE, COMMIT MURDER
COMMIT ACTS OF SABOTAGE WHICH MIGHT
CAUSE THE DEATHS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE
CHEAT, FORGE, BLACKMAIL
DISTRIBUTE HABIT FORMING DRUGS
FOR THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM?

Also YES, and also a not-unexpected 1984 reference (see also the game cover above). “You are prepared to cheat, to forge, to blackmail, to corrupt the minds of children, to distribute habit-forming drugs, to encourage prostitution, to disseminate venereal diseases—to do anything which is likely to cause demoralization and weaken the power of the Party? If, for example, it would somehow serve our interests to throw sulphuric acid in a child’s face—are you prepared to do that?”

They then wanted to give me an assignment which I believe involved the Carnival; fortunately, I was able to pass and get a different assignment instead, to change the headline at the newspaper to DEUS EX MACHINA.

If you get paper and the General Store, and then answer PRINTING when the newspaper proprietor asks if you want anything else, he “takes you to the back” …

… whereupon there is another mysterious machine. After some experimenting, it looks like the numbers you can enter are just ASCII codes, so start with 68 for D, then type 69 for E, 85 for U, etc.

After finishing I was sent back to the “maze” location at the start and had to trudge my way through again. I went back to the theater and they congratulated me.

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SUCCESS
YOUR REWARD IS THIS CLUE FOR ESCAPE
THE ISLAND IS A MACHINE

Uh, thanks?

One of the things I’ve been trying is saying various catchphrases to the Caretaker and the Priest. (I never got anything useful out of the Priest.) THE ISLAND IS A MACHINE didn’t seem to do anything useful either, as the Caretaker (picking up on “ISLAND” I’m guessing) responded NO MAN IS AN ISLAND.

Well, maybe it’d help to be more specific?

THE ISLAND IS A COMPUTER

I found out after the fact (via Andrew Plotkin) that the instructions are the method of “cutting and pasting” on an Apple II, so you’re really just typing the [=] symbol if you follow the instructions.

This is followed by an animation which looks like a computer getting unplugged.

Ha ha. Ha ha ha. Nice try, game. I typed some nonsense.

This is not quite the end of the game but let me make a few asides before I get to that.

What Happened to The Prisoner 2?

I did mention in my first post I would try the “sequel”, but I rather quickly concluded it was much different than the original.

The opening maze has a first-person aspect, and there was a key in one part. Trying to visit the Caretaker, I was told YOU NEED A KEYHOLE.

In the Rec Center, the pit now has moving platforms.

The overarching idea and the 20 buildings of the Island are the same, but given the changes to the puzzles, I can’t really consider it the same game — I’m kicking it up to 1982 where it belongs.

Further Reading

If all this makes you want to try the game/experience, I would say go for it now; if you’d rather watch from a safe distance, then I highly recommend Jimmy Maher’s writeup from 8 years ago (!) which includes comments by both David Mullich and one of the founders of Edu-Ware. There’s an entire scene I missed involving “escaping” but having the whole thing be a ruse. I’m guessing it comes about from finishing the business with the loan and the slot machine but I never was able to get a cross.

I also don’t have anything to add to his analysis, or those of others who have tackled the same game. It’s not often gameplay and theme blend so perfectly. The downside of playing a game in a paranoid and confusing environment is that you are playing a game in a paranoid and confusing environment. Instructions are intentionally obtuse; controls are intentionally finicky. This is more a game for Art rather than Enjoyment but that’s ok, especially considering how little of this sort of thing was about in 1980.

You might incidentally wonder (as Andrew Owen does in the Maher thread) if this was the first game with meta-tricks. Dr. Livingston (1980) has a pretty good death fake-out; Acheton (1978) requires you die once at a prompt where most people would restore their saved game. There’s a very old game (1968) which has what might be a bug, or what might be considered meta — I’ll have to report back on it in some future post.

The Thing I Was Most Disappointed In Missing

I heard about this trick secondhand a long time ago, but I had to check the source code after finishing to find it.

In the “Free Association” test at the Hospital, if you type a word like FREEDOM or the like, you get this message:

Notice there is no THIS IS NOT A DECEPTION message here. On an Apple II the usual thing is to LIST 417 to figure out what went wrong, but in this case, it very much is a deception.

Yes, 417 was the resignation code.

The End?

So the endgame screenshot I produced above (“HAVE YOU NOT ALWAYS BEEN IN CONTROL”) is more or less the same one as Jimmy Maher’s. You end at what appears to be the “Apple prompt” where you can type directory commands and so forth. However, if you try to go ahead and type something, the game intercepts your input and instead types:

Posted September 24, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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