Alien Adventure: A Sadistic Exercise in Not Giving Feedback   2 comments

Matt and Brian Decker poked at the source code of Chao’s Alien Adventure enough that I decided to make another try.

This was perhaps a mistake, or at least for me. For you reading this, it might be entertaining.

TRS-80 Model III, picture by Zalasem1, CC BY-SA 4.0.

AS A COPING MECHANISM FOR HOW BAD THIS GAME WAS I’M GOING TO WRITE RANDOM STUFF FOR CAPTIONS, OK?

The main thing I was missing was I needed to take the glasses (used to read the message in the opening) up to the second floor. Even trying to do so presented some difficulties.

When toting around the glasses, I tried to get the silver knife.

THE KNIFE GENTLY LEVITATES AND FLOATS OUT OF YOUR REACH.

IT COMES BACK TO REST ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM.

This apparently only happens when you’re carrying the glasses, for no clear reason at all. (The knife, incidentally, can be used to drive away the sepulavite instead of the gun, but you have to use the verb KILL instead of STAB even though both are recognized. STAB sometimes works but sometimes it randomly fails.)

ZUB ZUB ZUB ZUB

The glasses also can’t, again for no apparent reason, be carried up the escalator to the second floor. The game just says “No” if you try with no indication that the glasses are the problem. It also just says “No” if you don’t have the knife, or you haven’t visited some of the rooms (?) or if the phase of the moon is wrong and Mercury is out of alignment.

You have to THROW / GLASSES to get them up the escalator.

The glasses let you see the items at the FEED ME and DRINK ME spots upstairs.

The EAT ME spot had a hamburger. The glasses also let you spot a magic cape which (when carried) causes the aliens to be scared away, so you don’t need the gun or the knife anymore after that.

Last time I was stuck at getting overcome with thirst upon trying to get to a rescue ship. The beer was the right beverage (not the root beer, even though the game describes you drinking the root beer). However, DRINK / BEER just gets I can’t. Matt W. sleuthed out that you needed to open the beer first, but OPEN / BEER got an entirely different error message. I finally hit upon (after dying the first time and going through the whole sequence again) that you can only OPEN / CAN instead of BEER.

SOMETIMES I WORRY IF MY WRITING IS INTERESTING ENOUGH

After quenching the thirst you are overcoming by hunger, but fortunately, EAT / HAMBURGER went over correctly without any parser struggles. Then I knew (from previous source diving) that TURN ON / SHIP was the correct command, but I was told

How can I? I’m a computer, not a magician !

I KNOW EVERYTHING HURTS RIGHT NOW BUT IT’S GOING TO BE OK

A bit more poking in the source code revealed I needed to be holding the gold key; I guess it counts as a door key *and* as a key to opening the ship. It is unclear how this fits into the magician reference.

Key in hand, I gave it another try:

I can’t.

I FOUND THIS QUOTE ATTRIBUTED TO HELEN KELLER ABOUT SUFFERING BUT FOUND NO EVIDENCE SHE ACTUALLY SAID IT, WHY DON’T QUOTE BOOKS GIVE THEIR SOURCES?

I needed to also be carrying a generator. The generator is out on the open on the second floor, but sometimes when you try to pick it up it floats away like the knife earlier. I have no idea the conditions when it floats or doesn’t, but I was finally able to get the generator and come back and find that … the ship was broken.

Fortunately, there are three ships, so I tried each one until coming across the right one.

It’s hard to convey how completely bizarre and frustrating this was to play when the game kept throwing sensical and nonsensical obstacles without any notion of what was going on.

WE SHOULD REMEMBER THIS WAS JUST A TEENAGER AND IN THE DEEP EARLY YEARS OF ADVENTURE GAMES BUT I STILL GOT THE IMPRESSION THE GAME WAS INTENTIONALLY MAKING THINGS HARDER THAN THEY NEEDED TO BE JUST TO ANNOY THE PLAYER

LOOK I FOUND A DIFFERENT ACTUAL SOURCED HELEN KELLER QUOTE FROM A LETTER SHE WROTE TO CLAIRE HEINEMAN IN 1943, LET’S FINISH OFF WITH THAT

I am younger today than I was at twenty-five. Of course the furrows of suffering have been dug deeper, but so have those of understanding, sympathy, and inner happiness. Whatever age may do to my earthly shell, I shall never grow cynical or indifferent — and one cannot measure the reserve power locked up in that assurance.

Posted July 8, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “Alien Adventure: A Sadistic Exercise in Not Giving Feedback

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  1. You made it! It was totally worth it, wasn’t it? I appreciated the follow-on post at any rate. Apparently any time you pull out a really questionable amateur game I feel compelled to contribute.

    I believe that key items (generator, hamburger, beer) float away from you on the 2nd floor if you have either the magic cape or the light saber in your possession. But you can pick up the key items first, and then grab the cape or saber afterward with no problem… because of course you can. I found this out the hard way the first time I tried to finish the game last night. I wanted to feel like a bad-ass, so I grabbed both the cape and saber thinking I could just run back and grab the beer when I got thirsty. Alas, I ran out of turns and died while trying to drop the contraband items and pick up and open the beer. The ignominy!

    Did you play around with the TRS-80 at all? I believe it blows up and kills you if you don’t manage to read the note in that room first.

    • The beer floating away while you’re desperately thirsty sounds like some sort of commercial.

      I ran the computer but never made it blow up. The author really wanted to enforce doing things a certain order.

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