Alkemstone: Minor Theories and an Interactive Map   24 comments

I was planning on doing some save file hacking and finding out what was at the missing corner of the map.

Although I worked out the exact space on the disk that stores the location of the player (00011e01 if you’re curious), I think it’s possible the corner just doesn’t have a location at all. Immediately below the corner is FF 01, and immediately below that is FE 01. (This is in hexadecimal, so FF is the largest possible number; 255, one byte.) You would think based on the pattern the next value would be either 00 02 or 01 02, but modifying the save file to that number just puts the player somewhere random.

I should incidentally say “below” because my map is technically upside down; there’s an automap in the game (not a very helpful one) and I realized only about 3/4 in I was out of synch.

That is, the upper left corner on my map is the lower right corner on the screenshot.

It ends up not affecting anything unless there’s something literal about the map placement.

Speaking of map placement, Casey Muratori made an interactive version of the map. You can click on a square and have the corresponding clue come up.

I have no idea if these being adjacent is significant. I have been running the theory the middle clue refers to the DC Natural History Museum.
The thing I’ve previously noted as an “omega” symbol might just be a picture of a tree. It’s drawn imbalanced for an omega.

I wish I had more to update on; the only “solving” I did was realizing “DENVER/10” has a good chance of meaning “a tenth of a mile” (Denver being the Mile High City). I originally tried zip codes, phone codes, and all sorts of shenanigans before it struck me as likely a distance, but of course I have no confirmer to work with yet.

I might as well throw out the Zodiac angle-thing I’ve hinted at possibly being relevant.

There’s been a direct reference to Aquarius, and a symbol that looks like Sagittarius (although turned on its side).

My theory is an angle is indicated somehow by combining the two, but unfortunately, astrology charts are all over the place and there doesn’t seem to be a consistent “up/down/left/right” to the angle chart shown above. I can say potentially the “avoid winter” hints indicate we want Sagittarius
to be the primary symbol (Aquarius starts in February, Sagittarius starts in November) but again, this is flailing without some kind of confirmation.

So I mainly have nothing at all to report, but Casey’s map is so slick you really should give it a look. I’m still keeping an eye on this one and will do at least one last stab with a mad-conspiracy-theory style chart with lots of arrows.

Posted February 26, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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24 responses to “Alkemstone: Minor Theories and an Interactive Map

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  1. What’s the hex location of the space to the “right” of the missing corner?

    • F0 01

    • I would like to get some screenshots of all the clues that are full-screen, just because I think it might be handy to be able to “overlay” clues on top of each other to see if there is any kind of combination stuff at work. I can add that to the interactive map pretty easily. I wonder if it might be possible to rig up a bot to just randomly walk around the map taking screenshots?

      Also, regarding the “DENVER/10” clue, I did notice that the company that made the game is called “Level 10” and is from Denver, at least according to Mobygames:

      A Division of Dakin5 Corporation
      7475 Dakin Street
      Fourth Floor
      Colorado 80221

      – Casey

      PS. Sorry for how janky the interactive map is, I have been swamped with work. I will clean it up as soon as I get a chance and hopefully convince more people to start looking at the clues. Maybe we need a Reddit board for it :)

  2. Oh, if the triangle/arrow is next to the clue about the Natural History Museum, I would definitely suspect that it refers to one of those portico entrance thingies. Look at a picture of the outside–the triangle looks like the same angles as the architectural feature above the pillars. (walks away muttering about “Pepe Silvia”)

    • I think what would really clinch it is if we can spot the slightly-omega-shaped thing as well. (I’m not going to discount it is just a deformed-looking omega, but then I have no idea what the clue refers to.)

      It could just be a tree, and the whole construction is “standing from that exact point, look towards a particular tree” but I don’t know.

      There’s a carousel nearby (and one I believe was around in 1981) but it doesn’t have the right shape.

  3. 1. Coming back to ‘Wo Adler sich sammeln’
    This points to ‘carcasses’ i.e. graves or a memorial of sorts. But why a German hint? Perhaps we should look for a section dedicated to German soldiers/POWs? Just a random idea, I don’t know Washington.

    2. The omega/tree thing reminds me of an Engolfier style hot air balloon (just a bit) or a (nuclear) explosion mushroom cloud, this would make the war memorial connection stronger

    • Interesting theories!

      Maybe it’s not a general reference at all — it starts in the middle of a Bible verse, after all — maybe it’s just riffing off the specific bit of “where the eagles gather”. (Which, if we’re still assuming DC, could likely refer to somewhere specific having to do with the bald eagle.)

      The use of German then is pretty random but it might just be a bit of obfuscation (it’s equally mysterious why the “toe warmer” message is in Spanish),

  4. Just musing on Alkemstone again: “Follow your nose where Zachary goes. But not too far you’ll find a scar.” I believe Zachary Taylor died after walking along the Potomac river and contracting cholera morbus. The “follow your nose” section may apply to the fact that the Potomac was well known for its stench at the time, something that Abraham Lincoln commented upon. There are tree “scars” on Theodore Roosevelt Island in The Potomac River. The one in the picture from this link includes “April” as in “April is the cruellest month.”

    I suspect I’m barking up the wrong tree (sorry, couldn’t resist) but something else to add to the general stew.

  5. Actually I think it says “Taylor” rather than “Zachary” but the idea is still the same.

  6. Also re the number 97914 that was discovered earlier, this is the size of the state of Wyoming given in some quarters.

  7. Re Wyoming
    Capitol: Cheyenne
    Motto: Equal Rights
    Nickname: Equality State, Cowboy State
    Admitted To Union: July 10, 1890 – 44th State
    Size: 97,914 square miles, 9th largest State

  8. Notwithstanding the in-game map, doesn’t the placing of the (Sagittarius/)North arrow symbol indicate that you actually have the map the right way around?

    It looks to me as though it might be vaguely possible to overlay the maze onto a map of the US, with Denver/10 falling in Colorado and Maria/Tess/Job in California. Probably a massive coincidence. Would anything else coincide well enough to confirm (or dismiss) this observation?

    • The map direction being “flipped” is just based on the in-game map (which isn’t much of a map, it just shows where you are located in a big rectangle).

      Since this is a 3D world the arrow is actually placed laterally to everything, so it wouldn’t be a literal marking on the 2D version of the map.

      I have wondered if a US map could be slapped on somehow, but a few experiments in that direction didn’t yield any fruit. Feel free to muck about with it.

      • I may give it a go, although being English, I might be at a cultural disadvantage spotting likely correspondences. I see that interpreting 97914 as a ZIP code doesn’t work!

        Incidentally I probably should have explained my reasoning on the orientation. Assume the first puzzle to solve is that the 2D map is deliberately upside down. If I understand correctly, the floor markings are always shown the same way regardless of the direction you entered the room. So the only way to unambiguously indicate the orientation of the 3D world to the player would be to put e.g. something indicating north on a north wall. Which is what we appear to have – the standard map symbol for north (which as you face it points up, which can only reasonably be interpreted as ‘forward’).

      • Ah, interesting theory! Maybe, since we have a rectangle with a gap in the “northwest” then, we’re looking at a map of Washington state.

  9. Have you considered grouping the clues by their position (N, S, etc.) to find a relationship or solution?
    Regarding the clue on the wall beside the empty corner, it would seem to be “pass” (as in: “do not pass go. Do not collect $200).
    I worked over this maze back in 1983 but can’t seem to find my notes.
    Comment: Having the snake go by periodically says to me that you are traveling around the Snake River. . . . .

    • The adjacent position-stuff is definitely important (see the Paint Your Wagon clues) but I haven’t done any N/S/E/W sorting in particular.

      That’s a decent theory on the “don’t do” part — are there any other Monopoly references? Or perhaps is it indicating some strange way to get through the wall, just type the word PASS or something?

      • I have had a lot of individual interpretations but can never tie them together
        e.g., John F Kennedy = half dollar
        A billion stars show you the Milky Way
        three dashes, three dots, three dashes = oso (bear)
        97914 = zip code of city on Snake River
        holocene and pleistocene are two stages of the Current Period

        But the one that makes no sense is o u x y y nu (underlined Greek letter, nu or symbol for frequency) Oh you ex-wise knew?

  10. I guess progress has kind of fizzled out on this one. Not being US-based, I found this game super-impenetrable, but it looks like it’s not just me who was baffled! Oh, well. Shame though, because the whole thing was strangely fascinating…

  11. Like you, I think this hunt may have run dry. (I just stopped back in to check it out.)

    There is an item I noticed though. The string of letters [o u x y y v (or “nu”)] remind me of a riddle about the spoken alphabet as it related to a scarecrow in a farmers field. It was “Hay be seedy, he effigy, hate-shy jakey; a lemon, a pea, curiosity. You feed a bull you ex-wise he.” the “he” was the scarecrow. So the “u x y y nu” matches up except that the reference could be to something else (nu equals frequency or “freq” or freak, etc.

    There is, however, an annual Scarecrow Festival in Montana. . . Just saying.

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