Escape from Traam (1981)   11 comments

Your small space cruiser is in trouble — and even though you survived the initial crash on a bizarre distant world, you may soon wish that you hadn’t! The alien environment of Traam is replete with incredible wonders and sights which no human eyes have ever beheld. You must escape this dangerous world, but be forewarned that if your decisions are not tempered with intelligence and caution, you may not see home again!

We’ve visited Jyym Pearson once already with The Curse of Crowley Manor (aka otherVenture #2), a heavily narrative-driven game without the slightest hint of treasure hunt. Since we’ve rammed through a few treasure hunts lately, I figured his “next” work (otherVenture #3) would be a good antidote.

From the Internet Archive.

I put “next” in quotes because the TRS-80 game gives a copyright of 1980, indicating this was probably written before otherVenture #2, and copyright Adventure International and now I have a headache, since this was clearly published *after* Crowley, which gave a date of 1981. This might normally indicate Pearson wrote the game on his own previous before it got published, but why does it list the Adventure International name to the title, then? I’m just going to jam this in 1981 at the moment and nurse my headache.

The game is a headache, too, at least at the start.

I played the Apple II version which includes graphics by Norm Sailer, just like Crowley. This is partly to be consistent, partly because it’s been a while since we’ve had a game with graphics, and mostly because Will Moczarski and Dale Dobson found that the TRS-80 version has a game-breaking bug. I don’t think either tested all 8 versions of the game file available, but I’m fine skipping that particular piece of suffering.

You start on a crash-landing ship, where you just need to wait a bit for a crash to happen. It is faintly possible there’s something hidden in the vehicle, but I don’t know how to summon it up.

You can LOOK to find things, either with or without an object in front, but no luck here; an alarm eventually sounds, but I haven’t found a lurking glove compartment or anything.

After the crash, I was able to LOOK to get some NYLON ROPE and I could PUSH SHIP to find a HAND LASER.

I’m got stuck a lengthily time on the very next room. There’s a cliff with a bush and presumably you can use the nylon rope to climb somehow, but no syntax I have tested out has been successful.

I went into Extreme Mode, coming up with a verb list via testing off my general list

DIG, CLIMB, READ, OPEN, EAT, THROW, KILL, UNLOCK, JUMP, PUSH, TURN, TALK, LISTEN, SMELL

and then did some lawnmowing. One thing I found is that the game is pretty sensitive in how you mention objects; you can’t just GET ROPE when you find the nylon rope, you have to GET NYLON ROPE. All these are rejected by the parser: climb bush, climb cliff, climb nylon rope, attach nylon rope, jump, lasso bush, tie nylon rope, wrap nylon rope, make lasso, throw nylon rope, make knot.

Finally I hit upon TIE NYLON ROPE TO BUSH. Guess-the-phrase, and especially realize-the-game-uses-indirect-objects, is the best.

Immediately after is an alien warrior reading a map, that I was able to TALK to.

An alien that talks in cryptograms? Sure, I guess.

I’m going to stop here for the moment — the guess-the-phrase trouble took about an hour and a half to get through, and if I go without a break I’m going to get grouchy about it. Feel free to solve the cryptogram if you like!

Posted March 14, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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11 responses to “Escape from Traam (1981)

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  1. I felt this way after my first initial exploratory phase with Scott Adams’ Ghost Town. You’ve got this!

  2. “bring me the gold and drop it here”?

  3. “I don’t think either tested all 8 versions of the game file available”

    I think I did. At the very least I played every version I could get my hands on. Good luck with this one, it’s by far Jyym’s weakest effort, in my humble opinion.

    • Ah, k, wasn’t sure on that (I was also only reading tentatively to avoid spoilers).

      • I may not have disclosed it clearly enough, either. After a strong opening, the game failed to capture my imagination with its lame jabs at politicians, blatantly racist elements, and even in its not-broken form the cave “puzzle” to me was quite frustrating. I really enjoyed Pearson’s games a lot – but not this one. Consequently, I may have neglected to write about the multitude of existing game files. I remember trying out several of them, though. Some just didn’t work altogether, iirc.

  4. Btw, you may or may not have learned this from playing Crowley Manor but if you’re stuck in a Jyym Pearson game it is always a good idea to qb guvatf gjvpr, rfcrpvnyyl YBBX be YVFGRA be rira GBHPU naq FZRYY.

  5. I just recently found out about this project, and it’s an awesome undertaking. I love the respect you have for older games – old treasure hunts in particular are capable of being very fun and they tend to get written off and treated harshly by the general IF populace.

    In addition to encouragement, I want to let you know that a game was recently recovered! Castlequest, dated to 1980, is compiled and playable. It just got added to IFDB: https://ifdb.org/viewgame?id=s749vewkgg4wectq

    • Thanks so much! It’s been fun seeing people stay with the treasure-hunting formula but try to tweak it (Hezarin and Zork II especially).

      Arthur O’Dwyer has been in correspondence with me; it’s going to be coming up on my list soon.

      • Exciting, looking forward to it. I’m interested in seeing you tackle the Questprobe games later on. The first game was fairly awful but the second was a huge improvement across the board; big map, much better puzzles, much better use of the main character… just everything. In the meantime, I’ll be binging to catch up and following every post. It’s so interesting to watch the development of a genre from beginning to end.

        Also, potentially stupid question – when you say every game, does that include only physical, commercial titles, or freeware/shareware as well? I’ll admit that maybe I’m just too lazy to imagine playing every text adventure. (I was actually going to do the same years ago for graphic adventures but chickened out.) (And I like text adventures more anyway, at least right now.) I’m just curious if any of my favorite Spectrum games will show up.

      • All of them.

        Plenty of the games I’ve already done have only been freeware (the Roger M. Wilcox games, for instance, or nearly all of the mainframe games).

  6. True, didn’t think about that. I wish you good luck then!

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