Ferret: Acquisition   47 comments

(Prior posts about this game here. You’ll definitely need to have read the previous one to make sense of this one.)

A Data General Eclipse. A 16-bit version of this system (according to the authors) is what Ferret started on. The reason for the “phases” structure of the game is that there were memory limits, so upon entering a new phase the game could exchange new rooms for old ones in to save space.

One of the open mysteries of 70s/80s text adventures is why so many of them were enamored with mazes. It didn’t have to be the case; Infocom eked out only a few (although one did show up very late in the game Arthur). Magnetic Scrolls technically had one (in the game The Pawn) that was marked in-game as “totally irrelevant” and could be left via EXIT MAZE.

Ferret was still pretty close to the source: Adventure begat Zork which begat this game. So a bit of footing in that sense is understandable, although my last gameplay session was almost entirely dominated by mazes.

Maze the first was the jungle leading to the hut I mentioned last time. It is fortunately the type of maze that cannot be mapped in such a way to encourage you to not bother, but to just thrash around until finding the thing you need. Maze as narrative atmosphere rather than puzzle.

Maze the second happens with the odd lift that I got stuck on.

You are standing on an area of grass approximately 5 metres below ground level in the centre of a circular room. There are eight doors around the room.

I figured the way through was the “control unit” I was toting around but I couldn’t get any verbs to work. It didn’t occur to me to OPEN UNIT. (The unit is not described! The game essentially asking you to guess what it looks like.) This reveals three switches; turning (?) the blue switch makes it so now you can traverse through doors:

-> n
I think you’re lost! Shouldn’t you have gone north east?
The door opens as you approach…
You are in a corridor with a door at either end.
The door slides shut behind you.
-> ne
I think you’re lost! Shouldn’t you have gone south?
The door opens as you approach…
You are in a corridor which curves out of sight in both directions. There are two doors here opposite each other.
The door slides shut behind you.
-> s
OK, I’ll try but down here I don’t know which way that is.
You are in a corridor which curves out of sight in both directions. There are two doors here opposite each other.

I wandered more or less at random because the game forced me to; I’m not sure if there was some intent for finding a compass of some sort, but Voltgloss discovered that just typing WALK meant WALK FORWARD, so this could be used to direct the player a little more carefully. However, it does appear based on his investigation that there is no purpose to the maze, because it leads you to an area you can easily reach by just using the iron key found in the darkness.

“End of Tunnel” specifically seems to be the maze’s only destination. Maybe it is meant as an alternate solution for those who didn’t find the key? But figuring out the timing of the slot and working on the direction trick on the maze seem much harder than just finding a key.

There is then, shockingly, not a maze, but a very mild puzzle where you have to push two buttons to make sure that a cable-car you can ride does not fall but takes you to your destination.

-> board cable-car
As you enter the cable-car there is a nearby cracking sound as the rusty old brake system of the cable-car mechanism collapses under your weight. The cable-car begins to travel down its guide-wires gradually gathering speed. As you pass the lowest point on the guide-wires you have a brief but tremendous view of the river winding its way through the beautiful green valley.
As the cable-car begins the long ascent up the guide-wires it seems impossible that it will manage the climb, but luckily (for you anyway) the cable car makes it.

Following arrival immediately comes yet another maze.

Motor Room
You are in what appears to be the control room for a cable car. There is a
steel door in the east wall and a dark maintenance shaft leading downwards.
Exits: —- ——– -D
There is a decrepit cable-car here
-> open door
It appears to be jammed.
-> d
Thump! You hit the ground below quite hard, but you don’t appear to have done
too much damage.
Labyrinth of Twisty Tunnels
You are in a labyrinth of twisty tunnels.

This maze does need mapping, and despite it having nothing more irregular than exits that take you to a random room, the structure is different than normal. Connections between two “proper” rooms in the maze are strictly regular; that is, if one direction goes north, coming back the other way requires going south. If something goes awry in this it means you’ve triggered a teleportation and should restore your game back to where you were. So mapping is more like walking a minefield where you drop objects along the path as opposed to a full twisty-passages experience.

“PIN” is the starting location (and where I dropped an orange pin). Sunlight is the destination. Ever other exit seemed to be a random teleport.

We just left maze the third and now on… shocker, maze the fourth. I haven’t finished mapping it yet because I’m so, so, tired.

The room that gets entered from the labyrinth is marked in green.

It’s a forest with a similar schtick of exits that teleport randomly and where you need to find the “right trail” without teleport shenanigans. Deep in the forest is a shed.

You are in a forest. There is a delapidated shed to the south.
-> push shed
The shed wobbles for a short time emitting load creaks and groans. There is a load snapping noise as one of the main support timbers of the shed gives way. Suddenly the shed collapses creating a large cloud of dust. As the dust clears you can see that the shed has collapsed into a hollow in the ground as the remains of the shed lie level with the ground.

The shed is empty, but you can convert the shed to “lumber” (a very heavy object) by pushing it down. I’m not sure which way to go past the shed, but somehow entering the forest also tossed me into Phase 3 (Acquisition) so there’s at least progress.

Remains of Shed
You are standing amongst the remnants of an old wooden building.
There are some old smashed timbers here

The forest lets you reach the other side of the jammed steel door, but I’m not sure what the point of that is, unless the lumber needs to be walked back to the cable-car for some reason. I think I’m finally at a puzzle that doesn’t involve solving a maze, at least.

You are in a forest. There is a steel door set in a sheer rockface to the west.
-> n
You are in a forest. The ground rises sharply to the west, barring any passage.

Posted October 15, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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47 responses to “Ferret: Acquisition

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  1. Unfortunately, you’re so wrong… :(
    Gurer vf na nofbyhgr avtugzner bs n znmr n srj fgrcf nurnq.

    But I also have good news:
    V guvax gung tbvat hc gur ebcr nsgre gur cvg vf n erny “gnohyn enfn” genafvgvba.
    Tbvat qbja gur ghaary nsgre gur pnoyr pne vf n bar jnl gevc (hayrff fbzrbar svaqf n jnl gb obgu ernpu gur bgure fvqr bs gur fgrry qbbe qrgrezvavfgvpnyyl naq ubj gb bcra vg). Jr arrq gur gbepu naq gur pnaaba gb cebprrq, naq abguvat ryfr pna or pneevrq gbtrgure jvgu gurz, abg rira gur cva. Fvapr gurl pnaabg or gnxra hc gur ebcr, V’z thrffvat gung zrnaf jr pna cebprrq shyy fcrrq nurnq naq sbetrg nobhg nal cbffvoyr vgrzf yrsg oruvaq.

    • I was able to carry additional items together with [gur pnaaba naq gur gbepu. Va cnegvphyne, V jnf noyr gb pneel gur benatr cva jvgu gurz.]

      Now, [pyvzovat gur ebcr QBRF cerirag lbh sebz pneelvat arneyl nalguvat. Ohg gurer vf ng yrnfg bar guvat, gung V fhfcrpg vf vzcbegnag gb oevat nybat, juvpu lbh PNA pneel jura pyvzovat vg: gur benatr cva.]

      • Could I get a hint how it works?

        You are in a small featureless mud hut. Set in one corner of the hut is a
        table. It would appear that the table used to contain a number of drawers,
        however there is only one remaining.
        Exits: -S– ——– —
        There is an old iron key here
        There is a torn card here
        There is an everlasting torch here
        -> i
        You are carrying:
        a laser cannon
        an orange pin
        -> get torch
        You are carrying too much.

      • …That’s really weird. It just worked fine for me. Like, I had no trouble carrying the cannon, torch, and a couple of other small items. Didn’t do anything special to do so.

        Question: if you type DIAGNOSE, what message do you get back in response?

      • Also, just to check: do you inadvertently have extra stuff tucked in the orifice of the cannon? (Beyond the cylinder that makes it work)

      • Nothing extra in the orifice. DIAGNOSE says “You are feeling ok.”

      • Ah! figured it out. You have to eat the food in order to go from “ok” to “fine” and then you will be in a state to carry everything.

      • Yup, that’s where I was going. I’ve noticed that there are some actions that weaken your condition partially – like taking minor falls, or drinking impure water – and “diagnose” keeps track of that. “Feeling fine” is the best condition I’ve seen. I hadn’t realized that your condition influences your carrying capacity, but it makes sense. (You *can* straight-up die if your condition worsens too much via build-up of minor injuries.)

      • Ouch, I completely missed the DIAGNOSIS command and the whole condition thing. Ok… makes sense. Actually, [V sbhaq ng yrnfg bar cva bs nabgure pbybe.]

        Does anyone agree with me that [gur ghaary znmr vf nofbyhgryl gur jbefg guvat rire qrfvtarq ol znaxvaq?]

      • rmartins, do you have SHOW mode active?

      • Yes, why?

      • I just couldn’t tell [vs lbh jrer fgehttyvat guebhtu gur ghaary znmr jvgubhg FUBJ, juvpu V unir gb guvax jbhyq znxr vg *rira jbefr.*]

      • Yeah, I just managed, after almost three days of mapping. Halfway through I ditched the usual graphical map and turned it into a list of rooms+exits instead. It’s harder to find long paths but at least I didn’t go crazy… (I think; a crazy person wouldn’t know they became crazy, right?)

    • re: leaving stuff behind:

      Gur benatr cva cneg vf qrpvqrqyl jrveq. Vs vg jnf n yvggyr zber gubebhtuyl qrfpevorq V zvtug guvax vg jnf n cvrpr bs yber, ohg nf vf vg vf nyzbfg nf vs gur nhgube va guvf frpgvba unq fbzrguvat va zvaq ohg fgbccrq orsber svavfuvat.

      As I mention at the top, there’s a specific tech reason for the phases so it is doubtful you’d be able to loop back once going past a point of no return.

  2. At a swamp. Didn’t map everything in the maze, kind of hoping I don’t need to, the only extra thing I found was gur bgure unys bs gur gbea pneq. V fgvyy unir gur benatr cva.

  3. Ok, I have to admit, I laughed out loud with the [sreevingbe ynory. V fgnegrq ernqvat vg naq V gubhtug “V xabj rknpgyl ubj guvf jvyy raq”!] :)

    • phase 4 seems to be picking back up at least

      the setting was what got me interested in phase 1 past the frustrating parts, was worried the game was going to forget about the postapocalyptic setting thing

  4. So, BIG SPOILER here! The Tunnel Complex mapped. I heard that there were those who did not enjoy it. :)

    • I had so much fun mapping the Tunnel Complex that I haven’t had time to work on my other issues. Some ROT-13 discussion about them follows. Irrelevant for those that have not reached the Gallery yet and all in Phase 3 as far as I can tell, so should not be a problem for those that have made it further.
      V guvax gung V jnag gb hfr gur pengr ng gur Rapybfrq Nern. V pna trg hc ba vg, ohg gura V pna’g svther bhg jung gb qb, V pna’g rira trg qbja sebz vg ntnva, fb V unir gb dhvg gur tnzr. :Q
      V guvax gung V jnag gb ynhapu gur nrebcynar jvat bhg bs gur jvaqbj bcravat, ohg V pna’g trg vg tbvat. V nyfb unir gur fnzr naablvat vffhr urer, nsgre V unir obneqrq gur jvat V pna’g trg bss vg ntnva. Znlor vg’f whfg n ynathntr vffhr…
      Nyfb, gur Gbc bs Fgnvef qbbe frrzf zlfgvslvatyl ohttl gb zr: Vg vf bcra ohg V pna’g trg guebhtu vg, gur bayl guvat V nz noyr gb qb vf gb pybfr vg, ybpxvat vg va gur cebprff – ohg creuncf gung pna or hfrshy va fbzr jnl.

      • Vtaber obgu gung jvaqbj naq gur qbbe. V guvax gur qbbe jnf zrnag gb or “ha-bcranoyr” whfg yvxr gur bar gung jnf wnzzrq ohg gurl vzcyrzragrq gur cebcregl jebat.

        Abg fher jung lbh zrna ol “hc” va gur rapybfrq nern. Gurer vf fbzrguvat lbh pna chg qbja gung lbh pna trg ba, naq gura glcr HC gb tb gb n uvture ebbz, naq lbh’yy frr gurer jurer gur jvat tbrf.

      • Thanks for the hint, there was something I hadn’t thought of trying, just typing a direction. I needlessly complicated things. Now I’m trying to figure out the elusive specific wording for fixing up one thing with the other thing that it is missing…
        Interesting that just getting close to the annoying door gives us 30 (I think?) points, for no understandable (to me) reason.

      • Ah, I got that, on the 100th+ try. :)

      • The door is buggy, but it does open: [Lbh unir gb svefg pybfr vg, gura cerff gur nzore ohggba qbjafgnvef, gura lbh pna bcra vg ntnva. V guvax lbh pna nyfb whfg cerff gur nzore ohggba gura tb hc, pybfr vg, naq qverpgyl bcra vg.]

        How did you get the [jvat] out, back through the maze? :O

      • Aha, have you found any use for the door at all though? I was actually planning to try some more things with the [ohggbaf], have you found any use for the third one?
        The [jvat], I’m not sure what you mean by out – [ba gur tnyyrel ebbs]? See my spoilery map above, it is easy to bring things wherever you want through the maze.
        I noted that a couple of things are too big to bring through the stairs, but since I couldn’t even get through the door (until now) I didn’t see how that would affect anything, and I still could bring them through the maze to where I wanted them.

        Other things:
        I guess the [cvaf] will be useful, and that we perhaps will need two more, the [pfeq unyirf] seem rather clear about how they will be arranged. But I have not reached the presumed puzzle requiring this yet, anyone else?

      • My use for the door was just as a shortcut, to [gnxr gur pengr guebhtu gur znmr, tb hc gb gur ebbs, tb qbja onpx vagb gur tnyyrel, gura gnxr gur jvat guebhtu gur znmr. Guvf jnl V qvq abg unir gb ybbx sbe n cngu onpx sebz gur rapybfrq nern gb gur tnyyrel. Nyy V arrqrq jnf gur cngu sbejneq (hfrq gjvpr).] The fact that some things are too large to be taken up the stairs is what forces you to move through the maze, I guess.

        About the buttons, if you mean the one that [bcraf gur jvaqbj, gura V unir abg sbhaq nal hfr sbe vg. V thrff vg vf whfg fprarel?]

      • No it’s the green one I haven’t found out yet if it should do something meaningful. But I haven’t spent much energy on it. Now I am wasting my time like a linguistic Sisyphus trying to make the game understand what I want to do in a swamp, specifically with a large item that is strongly pointed out as useful. No success at all so far. :D

      • I find discussion of the [ohggbaf naq jbbqra qbbe] fascinating because I didn’t observe any bugginess with any of them. For me, [gur erq ohggba bcrarq gur jvaqbj, gur nzore ohggba haybpxrq gur fgrry qbbe, naq gur terra ohggba haybpxrq gur jbbqra qbbe.] I have to wonder what’s driving the different experiences we’re having.

        A tip for the swamp: [qba’g sbetrg nobhg GRFG].

      • Ah, it’s all boggy to me now! :) I must not forget [GRFG]…
        About the [jbbqra qbbe], if you go there straightaway, don’t you find it open (and closable!) but not passable and with no explanation? I now know that the [terra ohggba] nullifies the effect of that issue, but it is still mystifying.
        But I have found so many of these things now so I mostly let them pass and think that I will return to them eventually if there seems to be any point to it. The issues around WALK/TURN LEFT/RIGHT/… is the only thing that really annoys me, and I can’t be sure if there is something I don’t get about it or things are just accidentally “off”.

      • Is there any place where you need WALK/TURN LEFT/RIGHT specifically, other than that maze back in Phase 2? [Gb zl haqrefgnaqvat gur fjnzc vf pbzcyrgryl enaqbz naq V whfg xrcg qlvat enaqbzyl hagvy V tbg fbzrjurer.]

      • It’s phase 2 tunnels/lift area I would like it for so far. The fact that it doesn’t work as I would expect it to keeps me thinking that there is something I am missing about it.
        About phase 3/4: V unir fcrag irel yvggyr gvzr va gur fjnzc, sbhaq n jver naq qvrq. Sebz guvf irel yvzvgrq rkcrevrapr V jbhyq nterr jvgu lbh. Ohg jura V unir fbzr gvzr V jvyy or zber gubebhtu hayrff fbzrbar ryfr unf orngra zr gb vg.

  5. Any light hints for the [pngurqeny] area? [V unir gjb gvyrf (cvax naq ndhnznevar); gur iruvpyr fgbccrq jbexvat (V thrff V arrq vg gb tb qbja gur enzc); ab vqrn jung gb qb ba gur ebbs jvgu gur gnax; V pna’g zbir gur cynax rvgure.]

    • A light hint, and then a slightly heavier hint:

      1. Gur jver pna or cebqhpgviryl gvrq gb znal guvatf.
      2. Naq gurer vf n jnl gb trg vg hc gb gur ebbs.

      • Ok thanks! I haven’t checked the 2nd one but the first was good. Interestingly, as soon as I read it I went directly to the thing and made progress in the first attempt. I really need to be a bit more patient, I guess. The next step was also clear; I noticed earlier that [gelvat gb chyy gur irag (jvgu zl oner unaqf) erfhygrq va fbzr phfgbz cnefre zrffntr nobhg vg orvat gbb ternfl (gurfr ner nyzbfg nyjnlf tbbq vaqvpngvbaf bs guvatf gung fubhyq or znavchyngrq).]

      • Excellent. You’re now in the area I’m currently wrangling – I’ve made *some* progress but not enough to earn any more points – so I’m keenly interested to hear how things go in there!

      • I’m moving around and found quite a lot of interesting stuff, but also no extra points yet. I’ll get back to it tomorrow.

  6. A few notes (and lots of spoilers) of the least obvious things from the area [vafvqr gur pngurqeny]. If you haven’t figured out how to move through it yet, this is the blunt solution: [chfu gur jnyyf va gur AFRJ qverpgvbaf.]

    1. Nygubhtu vg vf zbfgyl n erthyne tevq, gurer ner fbzr ebbzf juvpu frrz gb “bireync” rnpu bgure: Nofgranapr/Rail, Cnffvba/Chevgl, naq Ncbpnylcfr/Cnfg Ubcr. Ncbpnylcfr orpbzrf Cnfg Ubcr nsgre lbh jnxr gur zbax, ohg gur bgure gjb V’z npghnyyl abg ernyyl fher ubj gb qrgrezvavfgvpnyyl ernpu bar be gur bgure. V unira’g sbhaq gur cnggrea lrg.

    2. Gur zbax fbzrgvzrf qebcf n zntnmvar pbire jvgu n avpr NFPVV qrfpevcgvba.

    3. Gur Chevgl naq Rail ebbzf unir *gbhpu* fperraf gung pna or npgvingrq (ohg abguvat vf fubjvat va gurz).

    4. Naq gura gurer’f gur evqqyr, bs pbhefr. V hfhnyyl ungr evqqyrf va grkg nqiragherf (rfcrpvnyyl fvapr V’z abg n angvir fcrnxre naq V zvff zbfg phygheny ersreraprf naq guvatf yvxr gung). Znlor oehgr sbepvat gur ybpx jbhyq or n orggre jnl gb fcraq gur gvzr, V qba’g xabj.

    5. V nffhzrq gur zvqqyr ahzore jnf 8 (npprffvoyr fcbgf sbe n xvat va gur zvqqyr bs n purff obneq) be 9 naq oehgr sbeprq n ovg ohg qvqa’g trg nalguvat. Cyhf, gurer frrzf gb or n ceboyrz (oht?) jurer gur abegu snpr zragvbaf 4 vtabenag fbaf naq gur fbhgu snpr zragvbaf 3. Vg xvaqn srryf yvxr vg jnf abg vagragvbany, ohg jub xabjf.

    I think we can (will) spend at least a dozen more comments discussing all the stuff that is in this area!

    • Nccneragyl gur punatr orgjrra Chevgl/Cnffvba naq Nofgranapr/Rail vf bayl va gur anzr; vs lbh qebc na vgrz, gur vgrz erznvaf nsgre gur punatr. Bar jrveq guvat vf gung gur gbhpu fperra fgnlf va gur jnyy jura lbh genafvg orgjrra Chevgl naq Rail (juvpu znxrf frafr, orpnhfr vg jnf va gur jrfg jnyy, juvpu lbh ebgngrq), ohg vg qvfnccrnef jura lbh tb onpx sebz Rail gb Cnffvba.

    • A few additional comments on some of these items (using the same numbering):

      2. Gur zntnmvar pbire vf eryrinag sbe n qvssrerag nern jvguva Cunfr 4. V svtherq bhg ubj gb npprff gung nern ohg pbhyqa’g qb nalguvat hfrshy gurer; fvapr gur pbire vf vafvqr gur Pngurqeny, V nz *thrffvat* gur vagraqrq frdhrapr vf sbe hf gb pbzcyrgr guvf Pngurqeny nern svefg orsber gnpxyvat gung bgure nern. V pbhyq or jebat gubhtu – guvf vf Sreerg nsgre nyy.

      4. V tbg gur ybpx gb ernpg ol whfg sbphfvat ba Cneg 1 bs gur Zhfvatf. Ohg V qba’g xabj jurgure gung ernpgvba vf fbzrguvat jr jnag, be vs jr arrq gb hfr gur ybpx *zhygvcyr* gvzrf va fhpprffvba, be vs jr’er fhccbfrq gb svaq n *qvssrerag* ybpx sbe Cneg 2 bs gur Zhfvatf, be jung.

      Extra point: gurer vf n jnl gb oernx bhg bs gur vavgvny 4k4 tevq fb gung gur npprffvoyr nern rkcnaqf fyvtugyl gb 5k5. Guvf vf pyrneyl vzcbegnag onfrq ba jung V sbhaq va gur nqqvgvbany ebbzf, ohg V’z fgvyy hapyrne ubj gb shegure cebprrq.

      • Hm. About the lock: I noticed that [vs lbh erfgber gur tnzr naq tb onpx gb gur ybpx, gur pbzovangvba erznvaf. Vg bayl erfrgf vs lbh dhvg. V unq n unys zvaq gung guvf jnf vzcbegnag, naq V nyfb gubhtug bs gur cbffvovyvgl gung zhygvcyr pbzovangvbaf va n frdhrapr jbhyq or gur guvat gb qb.]

  7. Just one side note, these guys are really awesome with death messages. They make a unique one for every single small variation of deadly things (such as [nggnpxvat gur zbax jvgu XVYY, XVPX, CHFU, CHYY, rgp. Rnpu erfhygf va n pbzcyrgryl qvssrerag qrngu.])

  8. Pingback: Ferret: Your Body Has Been Made Permanently Redundant | Renga in Blue

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