The Golden Voyage (1981)   8 comments

I want to clear up a misconception I’ve seen elsewhere about Golden Voyage, #12 in the Scott Adams series.

— backtrack that, I’m going to let Scott Adams himself do it. This is from an audio interview on the Atari 8-bit Podcast; you can listen to the relevant portion from the man himself or just read the transcript below.

Kevin Savetz: Based on your feedback that you get, what do you think is your most enduring adventure game?

Scott Adams: Probably Pirate Adventure, a lot of people remember that and connected with it. That, I get a lot of response from. Voodoo Castle, which I didn’t do as much of the writing as my wife back then, tried to write an adventure and I had to clean it up with her. It has more of a woman’s touch to it, and that seemed to resound with a number of people. Another one that was popular has an interesting story behind it. That’s Pyramid of Doom. That was adventure number eight. That’s set in the sands of Egypt, a lot of people remember that and the Purple Worm. They know a lot about it. The interesting thing is I didn’t write that one at all.

I got a submission in the mail from somebody saying, I wrote this adventure game, take a look at it. It runs on your engine. I’m going what, wait a minute I never released an engine, I never told anyone how my engine works, it’s totally proprietary you couldn’t have.

I took it and started playing it and sure enough, he did it on my engine. It was a decent game. I contacted him, his name is Alvin Files, he’s still around, he’s in Oklahoma now, retired. He’s a lawyer and he was just interested in it.

He took my machine language, disassembled it, figured out what it was doing, and figured out my language, which is awesome. He’s not the only one that did that. Another fellow did it which is, I think it’s number 12 in my series, Golden Voyage, by William Demas. He did the same exact thing. In both cases neither one knew each other and neither had contacted each other.

I worked with them and I thought this is so amazing if they’re able to do it, I want to get their stuff published. I’ll give them publishing rights, I’ll give them royalties, and I’ll edit it with them because they were still rough gems, and I’d learned a lot of things about how an adventure should flow and so forth. I worked with them from that point of view. It’s amazing what they did.

So Golden Voyage, like Pyramid of Doom, is not really “by” Scott Adams, although his name is on the credits.

Misspelled, even. I am not making this up.

Ravenworks in the comments has the theory this was just due to a bad read, as the difference between “o” and “g” in ASCII is one bit.

Demas was busy in 1981 with Timequest (which we’ve already seen) and Forbidden Planet (which will be coming up later in 1981).

The king lies near death in the royal palace – you have only three days to bring back the elixer needed to rejuvenate him. Journey through the lands of magic fountains, sacred temples, stormy seas, and gold, gold, GOLD! Can you find the elixer in time?

— From the back cover of the game, and yes, elixir is spelt wrong twice

I tossed this game in now while Ulysses and the Golden Fleece was fresh in my memory. Just like that game, you start in a small “town” area where you buy things, although the merchants in The Golden Voyage are a bit more bloodthirsty.

I haven’t seen a beatdown like this since Nethack. This amuses me rather than bothers me design-wise since it’s so easy to reset the situation. Ulysses and the Golden Fleece just says “YOU HAVE TO BUY IT” if you try for the five-finger discount.

Nearby is a palace, where you are given your quest and a giant bag of gold with a minimum of fuss.

This lets you go back and buy the sandals as well as a compass, telescope, and stone tablet (with a picture of a cave). But since this is a lot of gold, it also lets you buy an entire boat.

Just like Ulysses and the Golden Fleece, I had a hellacious time trying to launch the thing. That game I eventually hit upon GO OCEAN, which doesn’t work here.

The proper command is SAIL (direction), that is, SAIL NORTH or SAIL SOUTH or SAIL EAST or SAIL WEST. I was stuck for so long I thought maybe I was missing a crew or putting the sail somewhere in particular.

You incidentally can climb the mast to get to a crow’s nest, and go in the cabin to find a cot you can sleep in and have time pass.

Moving on, if you SAIL EAST twice and LOOK TELESCOPE while in the crow’s nest, you find land.

If you’re not wearing the sandals, the scorpions bite you and you eventually die.

However, there isn’t much more to see; you can go in the jungle (two rooms) and find a dark cave. The game had a slight delay before showing the usual “you can’t see” message, so I was able to assess there was a fountain inside with a strange liquid.

I’m stuck here although I’ve got a two ideas for experiment:

a.) Check sailing in different directions; it’s possible there’s only one island, but if this is anything like Ulysses there are more. I know TORCH is an accepted noun and given the jungle island seems to only have the cave (which I peeked into by less-than-official methods) I suspect I’m missing an area.

b.) Mess around with PRAY, which is an accepted verb. I tried putting the tablet in the fountain and praying after with no result, but maybe I need to use a different item?

For reference, here’s my verb list (verbs that work are marked in orange):

Posted November 23, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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8 responses to “The Golden Voyage (1981)

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  1. “Scgtt” Adams… okay then. I guess a typo because G is next to T…?

    If you’re not wearing the sandals, the scorpions bite you and you eventually die.

    I’m having trouble picturing sandals (as opposed to boots or even shoes) that might protect against a scorpion sting. Maybe it’s just meant to be slightly better than barefoot?

    • We’ve had so many typos, it is only appropriate that Scott’s name gets infected in the last of the canonical 12. I can only think there’s some font issue that made the “g” appear more “o”-like so it was possible to miss, but I did try Model I mode and it still looked very “g”, so I don’t know.

      Fell down a sandal rabbit hole for a bit, but the closest sandals I could find that would plausibly offer bite protection are huarache sandals. Apparently during the time Romans were big on sandals Persians were not, and their footwear tended not to leave their toes exposed.

  2. Spelunky also has nethack-style shopkeeper beatdowns (probably directly inspired by nethack). I’ve gotten blown away by shopkeepers due to fumbling around with their goods. I am not great with the controls in Spelunky.

    It’s refreshing to see a game where you have to solve a problem for the king, and he gives you a giant bag of gold with which to buy everything you need to help him out, as opposed to the common “You’re the only people who can save the world, have a wooden sword and paper helmet and start whacking rats to get pennies that you can use to buy better equipment at exorbitant prices.” One game I find particularly weird this way is Into the Breach–everything is corporate so it kind of makes sense that they wouldn’t sell you things for free, except that the currency is Reputation, and it’s less clear to me why you have to earn reputation to convince the corporate leaders to give you what you need to help them when you’re pretty clearly the only people at all capable of fighting off the world-destroying threat they face. On the other hand, my faith in people to do what needs to be done in the face of deadly threats has been a bit shaken by *gestures at everything*.

    • One rather nice touch in one of the Final Fantasy games (5, I think; when I played it, it was 2, but the numbering’s been realigned) is that one of the playable characters is a king, and if you approach a shopkeep with him on point, the shopkeeper will refuse to accept payment until the king insists for the sake of the shopkeep’s family (You still get a significant discount)

    • While I’ve defeated Spelunky (the original, not the HD remake) I never managed to survive stealing from a shopkeeper.

  3. In binary,

    g is 0110 0111,
    o is 0110 1111.

    A single bit flipped, at some point in that disk’s lifetime (or maybe on the way onto the machine that uploaded it onto the internet, possibly over a lossy audio cable…)

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