Madness and the Minotaur: Frustration   9 comments

I’m going to say this is my second-to-last post on Madness and the Minotaur. Next will come fire or glory. Which is more likely?

As this will be relevant later, here’s Nergal, Mesopotamian god of plagues, war, and death. Picture by Neta Dror, from the collection at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

95% chance fire. I still haven’t gotten the first spell yet, that is, the first thing the game needs you to do.

I did, at least, managed to put the jigsaw puzzle of the map mostly together. I realized, from last time, that I didn’t need to “teleport” to the maze level from the 8 by 3 block I mapped out if I shifted things over a bit, and had the “slide down a row” effect happen on the edges.

It didn’t quite make an 8 by 8 map like it was supposed to, but I took the guess I had part of the map wrong (due to randomness or just confusion) and indeed, once I fixed my small error, I came up with a complete 8 by 8. Behold.

In other words, I was mapping the fourth level all along, so the two parts connected! I was also able to make it to a “great forest” that connected directly to a pit:

I’m passing on discussing the other 8 by 3 chunks of the maze, which are all similar to the first one I mapped with a few random teleport exits; I’m not sure if it’s worth deciding the exact logic since the main thing required is to visit enough rooms to find all the items.

I already had the Great Forest mapped: it’s the place where the treasures go, and is directly over the starting room! So this is where you can loop from the fourth floor back to the first floor relatively reliably, assuming you can make it through all the squares without being stopped.

It’s that “assume” that is a giant conditional there. I lucked out on my traversal, but sometimes when testing out the maze I have my passage stopped by a room of “strong magic” and I’ve been completely stuck.

I was originally wondering what kind of system the game has for preventing impossible scenarios. Now I’m thinking that, more often than not, the game presents impossible scenarios. Let’s consider my current dilemma, which I know from Manual #2: finding a mushroom and food, and getting back to the first level to find a room “crackling with energy” which should have the first spell.

The food seems to always be on the first level, and the mushroom on the third. Here is one attempt at getting the mushroom:

The enchanted aura is technically helpful — it is supposed to heal you — but it also teleports.

I keep getting stymied for one reason or another; there are two “direct routes” passages from floor 1 to 3 (where you can go straight down twice) but often (on my random reroll of the map) they are both blocked, and any longer route usually has either magic or some monster (like a hydra) that prevents getting through.

The two I circled are mostly straight paths to the mushroom area. The one to the right is one-way, so it requires getting back up a different way.

I have managed to get both food and mushroom, but then found I couldn’t get back to the first level; for example, one time I took the route starting from the Large Empty Hall circled above (where I can’t go back the same way) and found myself completely blocked in.

I may still be missing some exits, but given this is all happening on the very first puzzle, what’s to stop the same issue with happening for any of the others? And what should I be doing after, anyway? Remember, puzzle solutions are randomly generated. I can ASK ORACLE on the spare chance the oracle appears…

I have no idea what the “Nergal” is. The only definition I’ve seen is the god shown on the top of this post. Is it a statue of Nergal, maybe? I can’t imagine we are toting around a literal god. It might just be a made-up name for an undescribed magic gizmo, of course.

…but that’s only one of multiple puzzles, and importantly, there doesn’t seem to be any logic to the connections. I took a bunch of new game starts and made a beeline for the gazing pool in the northwest, which indicates what is required to “solve” getting the spellbook.

skull and flute
mushroom, goblet, belrog
powerring and nergal
pendant and crom

It may be it is possible to deductively reduce some puzzles based on other puzzles, like Clue; it may be possible to leverage saved games to be near and oracle and somehow get different clues at each ASK ORACLE; it may be there is no good method to figuring things out at all. The main issue is I’m expecting an adventure game to have some sort of consistent inner physics, either real or magical, and this breaks that to such an extent I’m just not finding the experience that enjoyable.

But maybe things will improve if I can just solve one thing. (Technically … I did! There’s a shield on the wall on the first level that is “too high” to reach. One time I was able to take it anyway, and I realized after some elimination that it was from carrying the dagger. The dagger doesn’t always work for that, though. In one universe, you could imagine reaching up with the point of the dagger just high enough to reach the wall, but in another, you can’t do that for no apparent reason, nothing described by the game itself, anyway.)

Another failed attempt to escape with the mushroom.

Posted July 18, 2021 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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9 responses to “Madness and the Minotaur: Frustration

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  1. Minor nitpick: this post consistently misspells the name of the Mesopotamian god as “Negral”, though the game appears to use the correct spelling “Nergal”.

    Andrew McCarthy
  2. I think you have the patience of a saint.

  3. I read the disassembly you linked in the comments to your prior post. If you want them, I’ve ROT13’d below some comments on the “impossible situations” you’ve described. There are no puzzle solutions here; only targeted advice about a few of the underlying game mechanics giving you grief, so you have this specific information available without having to review the entire disassembly.

    I can’t progress because of “blocked” passages.
    – Rnegudhnxrf jvyy oybpx cnffntrf, ohg gurl pna nyfb HAoybpx gurz.
    – Fcrpvsvpnyyl, bayl n znkvzhz bs gjryir cnffntrf pna or oybpxrq ng nal gvzr.
    – Gur svefg sbhe rnegudhnxrf jvyy oybpx guerr cnffntrf rnpu, hagvy gung yvzvg bs gjryir vf ernpurq.
    – Nsgre gung, rnpu fhofrdhrag rnegudhnxr jvyy oybpx guerr arj cnffntrf, ohg nyfb haoybpx gur guerr cnffntrf gung jrer oybpxrq sbhe rnegudhnxrf ntb (v.r., gur cnffntrf gung unir orra oybpxrq gur ybatrfg).
    – Fb vs n ivgny cnffntr vf oybpxrq, naq lbh qba’g unir na vgrz be fcryy gung pna trg lbh guebhtu vzzrqvngryl, vg vf fgvyy cbffvoyr gb cebterff ol jnvgvat vg bhg (jvgu gur ynzc bss gb fnir bvy) hagvy fhofrdhrag rnegudhnxrf erzbir gur bofgehpgvba.

    I can’t progress because the “enchanted aura” teleported me away from a vital room.
    – Orpnhfr gur nhen nyfb urnyf lbh, vg vfa’g npgvir nyy gur gvzr.
    – Fcrpvsvpnyyl, bapr gur nhen unf nssrpgrq lbh bapr, vg gnxrf gra zvahgrf gb erpunetr.
    – Guvf nccyvrf gb obgu gur urnyvat NAQ gur gryrcbegvat rssrpgf.
    – Fb ergheavat gb gur “rapunagrq nhen” ebbz dhvpxyl fubhyq yrg lbh fgnl/trg guebhtu guvf gvzr.

    I can’t progress because a monster is blocking my way.
    – Lbh zrna gur ulqen fcrpvsvpnyyl, evtug?
    – Gur ulqen vf gur bayl zbafgre gung oybpxf cnffntr bhgevtug, naq gurer’f bayl bar bs gurz. Vf gurer nabgure ebhgr gb trg jurer lbh’er tbvat?
    – Vs/jura trggvat cnfg gur ulqen orpbzrf ivgny, gurer *vf* n zrnaf gb qb fb.
    – V jba’g trg vagb gur fbyhgvba gb cnff gur ulqen hayrff erdhrfgrq. Guvf cnegvphyne fbyhgvba vf abg enaqbzvmrq.

    I can’t progress because magic spells push me out of rooms I need to enter/pass through.
    – Gurer ner gjb glcrf bs guvf bofgnpyr: gur “n zntvp fcryy unf chfurq lbh onpx bhg” zrffntr, naq gur “irel cbjreshy zntvp sbepr fgevxrf lbh naq qevirf lbh onpx” zrffntr.
    – Lbh zragvbarq orsber gung crefvfgrapr hfhnyyl tbg lbh vagb gur “zntvp fcryy unf chfurq lbh onpx bhg” ebbzf. Guvf vf gehr sbe nyy bs gurz (ohg abg gur “irel cbjreshy zntvp sbepr” zber ba gung guerr yvarf qbja sebz urer).
    – Fcrpvsvpnyyl, gb sbepr guebhtu n “zntvp fcryy unf chfurq lbh onpx bhg” vffhr, lbh arrq gb cnff gjb enaqbz ebyyf: n purpx ntnvafg lbhe culfvpny pbaqvgvba (gur urnyguvre lbh ner, gur orggre) naq gura n svsgl-svsgl pbva syvc.
    – Abgr gung trggvat chfurq ol n zntvp fcryy qnzntrf lbh fyvtugyl. Gurer ner nyfb zrnaf gb trg ol gubfr jvgubhg arrqvat gb jva ng enaqbz ebyyf.
    – Nf sbe gur “irel cbjreshy zntvp sbepr”: crefvfgrapr jba’g uryc urer, ohg gurer’f nyfb bayl bar ebbz jvgu guvf cebcregl. Pna lbh gnxr nabgure ebhgr?
    – Vs/jura trggvat vagb gur “irel cbjreshy zntvp sbepr” ebbz orpbzrf ivgny, gurer *ner* zrnaf gb qb fb.
    – V jba’g trg vagb gur fbyhgvba(f) gb ragre gur “irel cbjreshy zntvp sbepr” hayrff erdhrfgrq. Gurfr cnegvphyne fbyhgvba(f) ner abg enaqbzvmrq.

    • Just so y’all know, I’ve made good progress, so I’m not going to walk away in pure ignominy. I have all the spells and am working on slaying monsters now. I mainly found two cheeses (which I will be writing about in my post)

      1: the earthquakes do happen over time but they are triggered by random generator, so they don’t _have_ to happen — if you save regularly you can restore and redo to skip an earthquake event; pretty much I found I was dead in the water no matter what without CROM with earthquakes, because it was too hard to make any progress at all

      2: you can extract all the clues from the oracle if you have a nearby save via doing an extra “useless” command, which rotates the random number generation and gives a new clue. I was doing restore-bonk into wall once-check oracle restore-bonk into wall twice-check oracle etc. and managed to get a list of (all?) the clues the oracle was willing to dispense.

    • The hydra clue ended up being the most helpful. The “referring to the thing not in the room” part was a major pain, though (and it doesn’t work until you fail trying to enter the hydra room once).

  4. Anyone know who created the Windows and Mac ports of MATM which are linked on IFDB?

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