Circle World: Something of Value   9 comments

Huzzah, my Kzin problem is solved. I think.

A Kzin, from the graphic novel version of Ringworld illustrated by Sean Lam. Larry Niven also put in them in an episode of the Star Trek Animated Series, so they’re technically crossover into that universe, too.

Voltgloss found out that if you have the mysterious NIPWEED in your inventory, and you get raided by the Kzin, it takes the nipweed back to its lair and goes to sleep. By my stealth method of “peeking at the source code” I have determined this (probably) means the obstacle is no more.

Voltgloss also deciphered his way past my verb frustration with the LASER/FLASHLIGHT object. When you LOOK LASER (you can’t refer to the noun as a FLASHLIGHT) the message is


which is meant to suggest literal syntax. You can type


to turn on the flashlight part of the device, or


to fire the laser. This is really bizarre at a theoretical level — not only is the same object treated separately with two nouns, one which normally doesn’t work, but the format for the secondary mode is is NOUN-VERB instead of VERB-NOUN, and “ON” is only sort-of a verb (it gets used in this era as an abbreviation akin to “N” for north or “I” for inventory).

(By the way, this game doesn’t let you type N for north. You have to type GO NORTH in full, or since you only need the first two letters of each word, GO NO. I am trying hard to not linger so much on the parser this time like I’ve done with other Aardvark games, but jeepers, they’re making it hard.)

From the Museum for Computer Adventure Games. We’ll see the gizmo the protagonist is using in a moment.

The flashlight is enough to combine with the “THE LIGHT IN THE FOREST” clue to get to a PARACHUTE hidden in the dark forest. Once I had this parachute, I went back to the volcano where I slipped a fell last time (due to the rope not being long enough) and managed to make it safely down.

This is another bizarre move for the game, and I’m not talking about the ENERGIZE typo. The disc is right there in the room, even though the PLAQUE is the only object described with “you see”. You can GO DISC and EN DISC. (I already had the ID card from digging at a beach.)

This is another new area, with a RAMJET #3, a GOLD WIRE, some OIL, a locked door, and a chasm.

I haven’t made progress with any of them. The gold wire is interesting in that you can’t take it back with you on the disc. Trying to GO DISC with it in your inventory leads to:


In the usual cryptic form of the game, it doesn’t tell you what “that” is, but I only had the one new item; when I dropped it I was able to board and zip back. I wanted to transport the gold wire in particular because of one other puzzle I solved. Back at the altar I mentioned a book with a “hero” message.


If you try to PRAY at the altar the game asks what you want to pray for, so I went through some heroes and hit gold with HERCULES. (Any hero that starts “HE”, like, uh, “HERO” will work.) The game then said


and left it at that. Was that just a clue? Did an item appear somewhere? I have no idea. What is the status of the message even in a meta-sense; am I supposed to imagine some booming voice spoke it, or it was a whisper in my head, or am I literally listening to the computer narrator injecting themselves into the story? I thought, perhaps, the gold wire was “of value” and holding it while praying would be of use, but that’s clearly off the table.

Graham Nelson famously wrote that adventure games are a “crossword at war with a narrative” but with Circle World, it’s like the referee entered the fight and knocked both the crossword and narrative senseless with a chair.

ADD: Now that I’m back in the game, after the Machine World the disk is going to multiple locations but not the starting volcano. I could have swore it just warped back, but this game is disorienting. That means (while I can’t go back yet) there are some more locations to go to.

Posted October 22, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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9 responses to “Circle World: Something of Value

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  1. I’ve not gotten further than this yet myself, but will note that the two-letter abbreviation ambiguity also means the “SOMETHING OF VALUE” message could be a response to praying for “HELP” (which is what I tried, and got the same message).

    • Honestly sounds more likely – maybe the hero hint is for elsewhere then.

    • I finished but I don’t think I’ll get a writeup done until tomorrow. I have some general hints if you’re still trying this and want them:

      gur fvyireobk pbagebyf gjb fcrpvsvp guvatf jvgu gjb bs gur pbybe xabof (bar xabo vf whfg n genc)

      lbh qba’g vagrenpg jvgu gur enzwrg bowrpgf va nal jnl — obgu guvatf gung arrq gb or svkrq ner bcrengrq sebz gur pbageby ebbz

      gur “fbzrguvat bs inyhr” vf n uvag sbe gur bgure guvat lbh fubhyq cenl sbe bgure guna uryc

      gur “ureb’f anzr” guvat ersref gb fbzrguvat fcrpvsvp sbhaq ryfrjurer, naq vg qbrf trg hfrq ng gur nygne, ohg abg sbe cenlvat

  2. Can you somehow use the ramjet to cross the great chasm?

    …I was looking back at the original post to try to remember the goal, and how is the orbit decaying? I thought a Circle World was its orbit.

    • Can’t interact with the ramjet at all yet.

      Not sure on your other question — may just be the author didn’t think it through.

    • Basically, all the different parts of the Ringworld being joined together mean it can’t be stable in orbit the way an individual planet could. This got pointed out to Niven after the first book, and his solutions was enormous ramjets all along the rim that are constantly adjusting to keep it in place. (The failure of those ramjets leads to the plot of the second book.)

      • Huh, nifty. I haven’t read the second one, but based on a summary it looks like this was based more on that one than the first book (the central control room thing is in).

  3. Pingback: Circle World: Space and a Lot of Stars | Renga in Blue

  4. Ah, I folllowed your recommendation from “Nuclear Sub” and I sure did not expect to meet the Kzinti again


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