Oo-Topos: A Jigsaw Without Edges   4 comments

Before I start, a demonstration of the aliens I mentioned in my last post:

A meter-high alien with a drawn laser blocks your way!
The alien giggles insanely and clumsily points a laser at you and fires!
The beam just misses and sears the wall over your shoulder!
You’re at a dead end.

SHOOT ALIEN

A smile leaps to its four lips as it dodges out of the way.
The alien giggles insanely and clumsily points a laser at you and fires!
The beam slices through you like ah ot knife through butter and you crumple to the ground. In 2 distinct pieces.

You’re going to have to learn to be more careful. Your death comes as quite a jolt to me though I may be able to do something for you. I did study advanced microbiology at the U. of Terra in ’32. Do you want me to help you? (Y/N)

This is randomized, just like the dwarves in Adventure. Sometimes you hit, sometimes you die.

The laser doesn’t work on some of the other aliens, who just ignore your shot and take the laser from you.

I’ve got some but not all of the map. It’s extremely open, with only a handful of obstacles I’ve found so far blocking progress.

Currently, a mess and very much a work in progress.

My annoyances with the game right now are logistical, and in a specialized and odd way that doesn’t show up in adventures much anymore.

There are many items, and some of them seem to be for fixing the ship (like a repair manual), some for solving puzzles (like a cage and a “two-headed snarl” that you can release to defeat one of the aliens), and some possibly just as “treasures” (like a golden ring and a library crystal).

For such a large map combined with a large number of items, the inventory limit is stringent: only six maximum. I kept having to leave items behind.

From Kim Shuette, The Book of Adventure Games.

To make matters worse — and this is the specialized logistical issue — I have no area that seems like a good place to drop them. I’ve seen my ship from afar but don’t know how to get to it. If I knew which location was “close”, I could drop the repair manual and any treasures nearby, but at my present game state, any location I pick is liable to be all the way across the map from its intended destination.

Additionally (as I mentioned last time) there’s an alien who randomly comes to steal your treasures, and I don’t know where they go.

The general emotional impression is akin to doing a jigsaw puzzle without edges; it’s doable, just less psychologically pleasing than it could be.

There are multiple routes across the map, which would normally be a positive thing, but it led to me mapping a maze in a garden which turned out to be entirely superfluous since the end of the maze was somewhere I’d already been, and there were no objects hidden inside.

field nullifier (for nullifying force fields, but it only seems to work on one)
cage and snarl (for defeating an alien)
bottle of elixer
gyro
water system
repair manual
atom transmuter
psi cube
bar of vegan silver
terran food
plasma sphere
energy converter
blue goggles
dart
4-D mirror (you can see your past, present, and future in it)
library crystal
light rod
flask of oily liquid
golden ring
betamax casette
rainbow cloth
oxygen recirculator
matter phase-shifter
gloves (need to pick up the phase-shifter)

Remember, the game has an inventory maximum of six at a time! I haven’t used most of the objects listed above, so I can only “discard” a few. Other than some edges of the map I haven’t filled in yet, I’m presently stuck on

a.) getting a “translator” from a room with a robot; the robot stops me before I can get it, and the robot does not care if I shoot it with a laser

b.) getting past a large alien called a “Tras”; once I enter the room, it keeps trying to jump on me, and hits at random (it is possible this isn’t a puzzle, and you’re just supposed to get lucky)

c.) getting by two force fields at doors (even though I have a force-field disabling device it doesn’t seem to work at them)

d.) getting by a force field at a gravcar (ditto). Reaching the gravcar also leads me to being attacked by an alien with a dart (on the object list) but I can’t throw it back nor does the laser work.

e.) a “cold” door adjacent to the Tras

I expect the game to get more fun once I’ve “contained” it; that is, I’ve got a good grasp of the geography, what the open puzzles are, and which direction I should be wrangling the many, many, items to. Getting to that feeling of comfort can be a slog in many adventures, but the issue is especially pronounced when there’s open geography and not a lot of direction.

Posted April 30, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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4 responses to “Oo-Topos: A Jigsaw Without Edges

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  1. My first reaction is “what kind of silver has meat or milk?” but I suppose it’s from the star Vega.

  2. Have you tried *not* picking up things? Just note where you originally find them? They might get left alone if you haven’t touched them yet…

    • Well, I sort of had to on the first pass? And then since I was trying to solve some puzzles (but still not sure an optimal central location) I had to guess, but I did end up wrong and had to truck a bunch of stuff over to a new location still.

      I am at least mostly “finished” with the overall map now.

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