Gold: An Utterly Dark Place   Leave a comment

I finished Gold, thanks to Voltgloss discovering how to fix the BASIC source code. One line in particular

9310 LOAD

should be

9310 SCROLL

It’s possible to do this fix even on the online emulated version. Just quit the game (with X, then Q) and type the “9310 SCROLL” line and hit ENTER (or NEWLINE as the keyboard puts it). You don’t actually type the letters S C R O L L but rather the letter “B” which types the word all at once. Then, typing GOTO 1 (“G” gives a full GOTO) will restart the game with the fix.

This indicates that the command is being stored as a single byte so this is likely just a corruption from dumping the tape (like Scott Adams’s name being misspelled on the version of The Golden Voyage I had).

Leaving off from last time, I couldn’t get east of a particular cliff without the game crashing. Actually taking the route…

…led to a “treasure room” next to a locked door. This locked door turns out to be the same as the one I couldn’t open before (even with a ring of keys) but unlocking the door works from the other side, and landed me to the north of the bridge where the gold was stored. So this represented an alternate way of reaching the gold:

I assume there’s a better way of drawing this out so the crazy-connection up top isn’t necessary.

I’m unclear if this really had anything to do with reaching the end of the game, but since I knew I was no longer even potentially stymied by a bug, I went to work trying to figure out where the wraith stored the gold after hiding it “well”. Since the character is clearly based off the pirate of Adventure hiding treasure in a maze, I took the guess the same thing happened here, and went for the odd three-dead-end-room spot I mentioned last time:

Got it in one! However, the prior exits blocked off were still blocked, so I started wandering in case another random event came up. As part of my wandering I tried entering the laboratory, thinking something different might happen rather than getting kicked out; indeed, instead of a laboratory there was a room with the “rumbling bowels of the earth”. (Voltgloss theorizes this triggers the second time you get the gold, I haven’t tested enough to be sure.)

Heading on from there leads to a small maze which I didn’t even bother mapping but just wandered hoping to get lucky, and then a dark room:

I was thusly deposited at the entrance past the obstacles and able to escape!

I have no idea if this is the max score. If it is I reckon the contest-givers assumed 103 would be an unlikely guess for a final score, so only someone who won would find it.

I don’t have much else to comment on, other than it is quite curious how closely this game resembled Quest in structure: go in to find a treasure also purely by navigation, get the entrance blocked off (at least two different ways), get the treasure stolen (to be recovered in a dead end) and only find a true exit in a maze deeper in the map. I don’t think it’s genuine direct influence (although there were a few Commodore PETs in England at this time, there were not many); rather, both authors were riffing off of Adventure, and when boiled down to its fundamentals of navigation, the twin ideas of “require an alternate exit” and “have a pirate-like figure steal the treasure” become natural ways of adding a smidge of plot to the proceedings. After all, Adventure itself had a gold treasure that was too heavy to carry up stairs, and required an alternate exit to get it back to the starting house.

Posted June 11, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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