Ferret: Your Body Has Been Made Permanently Redundant   31 comments

(Previous posts about Ferret are here.)

She was assigned to the Eclipse Group, which was tiny then and had never had a secretary. The engineers “found” her a desk, as she put it. She opened the team’s lone filing cabinet and found nothing in it, except for a couple of rolls of toilet paper. No list of the group’s members existed. She went from one engineer to another, asking, “Do you have any idea who you work for?” It was the beginning of a long romance.

— From The Soul of a New Machine, about the making of the 32-bit Data General Eclipse

I trudged past the painful maze into another maze, but fortunately right after that the narrative picked up again. Phase 4 (Ascension) has felt a lot more like Phase 1, with a mysterious postapocalyptic feel and coherent geography, something that nearly had gone out the window with what is likely the most painful maze of the game.

Ouch. I believe I have a couple errors, so I’ll refer you to this map from K if you need some playing assistance.

Last time had I had left off on a wobbly shed where the slightest touch would tip it over. Being stuck and combing over everything for clues, and the moment where the shed fell apart.

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

The “hollow in the ground” seemed interesting, so I tried taking the laser cannon and vaporizing the ground, with no luck. But what if I just vaporized the shed before it fell?

-> point cannon at shed
-> shoot cannon
The shed explodes in a ball of fire, revealing a shallow pit.
-> e
You are in a shallow pit. There is a ramp leading downwards.
-> d
Level Area
You are on a small level area lit by everlasting glo-globes. There are ramps leading up and down.
Exits: —- ——– UD
-> d
Level Area
You are on a small level area lit by everlasting glo-globes. There is a ramp leading up.
Exits: —- ——– U-

A-ha! Since I was already in a vaporizing mode I fairly quickly found I could vaporize the east wall at the bottom of the ramp. The laser cannon then only had one more shot but it is no longer needed from this point. (There’s one more shot, suggesting perhaps some secret was missed, but this isn’t one of the evil sprawling epics from the Phoenix mainframe, so I think I’m done shooting at things.)

This reveals a shaft with a rope. The rope breaks if you carry too much, so the only item you can tote along is the orange pin. This “forced inventory cleansing” is genuinely rather nice, it keeps the player from second guessing if the remote unit from this phase was meant to be used somewhere in Phase 7.

Viewing Gallery
You are in a very large and airy room. The entire east wall of the room is comprised of a picture window. There is a narrow stairway leading up and a steel door to the north. There is a dark and fore-boding shaft leading vertically down from the room. Set in the south wall is a panel containing three buttons, one red, one amber and one green.
Exits: —- ——– UD
-> look in window
The viewing room is apparently built into the side of a cliff as there is a sheer drop below the window. Off in the distance you can discern beautiful green fields separated by hedges and trees. There is a strange bulbous protuberance overhanging the window.
-> d
There is a sickening thud as you smash into the rock floor at the bottom of the shaft.
Anyone fancy raw pancakes?
You’re a dodo.

The buttons open the window (which also leads you to falling doom), a door upstairs (which is originally described as “open” but you can’t go through) and the steel door. Let’s stick with the steel door:

Tunnel Complex
You are in a tunnel complex lit by everlasting glo-globes. There is a steel door to the south.
Exits: NS– ——– —

This is the terrible maze. It wouldn’t be quite so terrible except it keeps going and going and going. I’m going to do my best to mentally block it out now so I’ll just say

a.) you can pick up a white pin to match the orange one

b.) you can get an “aeroplane wing”

c.) you can get a “crate”

and the crate in particular can be used to climb up an “enclosed area”:

Enclosed area
You are on a small level area between two sheer rockfaces. However, part of the southern rockface is only slightly higher than a man. Apart from an exit to the west you are completely surrounded by rock.
Exits: —W ——– —
There is a large crate here
-> get on crate
On a crate
You are standing on the crate.

It took an inordinate amount of fussing to realize I could then just go UP again to arrive at:

Viewing Gallery Roof
You are on the roof of the viewing gallery. Around the edge of the flat roof is a raised parapet. Partly hanging over the eastern edge of the roof is the fuselage of a glider. There is a door to the west.

The aeroplane wing can be toted up the crate-route to fix the glider (PUT WING IN SLOT). There’s a second route up here (the slightly-buggy wooden door that starts out described “open” even though you can’t pass through without closing it first) but the game doesn’t let you pull the wing that way.

ASCII art from the game of the glider.

You can then EMBARK and fly away to land at phase 4, although at the very start I discovered an issue with the meta-features of the game.

As you board the glider it overbalances on the narrow parapet and plummets downwards. Luckily the glider encounters an up-draught and as the nose of the glider rises you feel the wind in your hair and start to experience the sheer joy of gliding. Unhappily the excitement is short-lived as the glider starts to rapidly lose height and career headlong towards the ground. Fortunately the glider lands on soft ground, but the jolt of the landing flings you clear of the craft to land with a bump on a dry patch of land. There is a muted gloop as the glider sinks into what is evidently a swamp, leaving a barely visible wing as the only evidence of its existence.
Dry Land
You are stranded on an area of dry land surrounded an all sides by swamp.
-> save glider
You hear a muted gloop as the wing sinks into the swamp.

I can see this now looking at the transcript, but it didn’t register at the time that saving the game caused a turn to pass. This is not at all true in modern games and even many older ones; all timers are frozen and you can’t kill yourself at a major confrontation just by saving your game. But here, but saving my game, I softlocked it. A turn passed and the wing fell into the swamp, so even though I tried to GET WING, it was already gone. I had to go back to a previous save game (fortunately not far back) and then get the wing immediately upon landing and then only after save my game.

The wing can then be tossed down and ridden like a vehicle, kind of like a makeshift boat, which lets you paddle up to dry land. (The only items you can really have at this point are the orange pin and the white pin. I assume more colors come later.)

A road (which has a “length of steel wire” you can swipe) leads up to a barrier blocking off a cathedral, with the sign above. Fortunately, there is an electric vehicle nearby, with a dial and label indicating how the controls work.

Too bad the bit explaining what to actual do is torn off! Fortunately, the TEST verb exists and lets you cram through enough words to quickly work out what the dials does:

a.) you can TURN it to a direction, representing a point on the compass

b.) and then SQUEEZE DIAL to move the vehicle forward

Just make sure the dial is pointed towards the road before you start moving!

As you motor into the swamp the vehicle slowly descends into the disgusting morass. The cab fills with mud and prepares you to become a future museum exhibit.
Who’s a silly sod, then?

(The deaths are great! I make sure even when some action is going to be an obvious death to do it anyway just to read the text.)

The vehicle allows you to get past that pesky sign into an area with a cathedral. It is a fairly complicated setup and I’m still not fully sure everything that’s going on.

For example, around the fringes of the cathedral, there’s a locked wooden door on the south side that is next to a sign with broken tiles.

The sign is described as having “five tiles” missing, and there’s a pink tile and an aquamarine tile not far away, but no verb has worked to apply one of the colored tiles to the sign. It is possible they aren’t meant to interact at all.

There’s a gap in the fence (similar to the one from Phase 1) but only that one which leads to a cliff, this one also leads to a cliff … but I mean, one that doesn’t go down as far, and you don’t die if you go that way, and you can also TIE WIRE to a stake nearby before you go and it will let you climb up.

-> tie wire to stake
The wire is tied to the stake.
-> e
As you scramble through the gap in the fence you lose your footing and slide incredibly ungracefully down the grassy slope. Luckily, the wire breaks your fall.
Foot of slope
You are standing at the foot of a grassy slope. At the top of the slope is a fence with a gap in it, through which trails a length of wire. The north and south sides of the path are fenced, beyond which are steep grass banks inclined downwards. On the northern side there is another fenced path some distance down the slope.
Exits: –E- ——– U-

I admit having trouble finding simply in that I originally envisioned the wire a little shorter, and I kept trying to use ATTACH and PUT and other verbs rather than TIE. Do people really “tie” wires? I suppose they do, but that’s never the word I’d associate with it.

This leads to a really lovely bit of world-building, a monastery that has a portion sheared off. There are a number of rooms where a portion is missing.

You are in, what apparently was once, a bedroom. However, the east side of the room has subsided into a deep ravine, leaving only a ledge for you to stand on. Beyond the ravine you can see the remains of the east side of the bedroom, also with a ledge.
Exits: –EW ——– -D
There is a clay brick here
-> s
You cannot go in that direction.
-> e
As you plummet headlong toward the rocky floor from such a great height you realise that nothing in the world could break such a fall. As you fly past the lower storey of the building you debate with yourself about the need to consult with a brain doctor. Your final conclusion is that it doesn’t matter anyway as you attempt to pile-drive the rocks at the base of the ravine.
Your body has been made permanently redundant.

In addition to the clay brick you can find a shabby mattress and a long plank which is too big to move. I really wanted to try making the jump with the mattress but it seems to be a little too shabby to allow for survival.

Here I was stalled for a bit but until I realized the main cathedral also had a drainpipe that could be climbed. Normally it breaks unless you drop everything, but it is possible to “tie wire to drainpipe” before you climb letting you take the wire with you.

The roof of the cathedral has a vent, which you can then enter by again using the wire:

-> tie wire to vent
The wire is tied to the vent.
-> pull wire
You nearly suffer a hernia in your attempts to pull on the wire, but at the last moment, and with a deafening tearing of metal, the vent is wrenched from its mountings. Due to the tremendous effort expended to rip out the vent the wire and vent act in melodious harmony to simulate a loaded slingshot causing the vent to be hurled off the roof, and to land with a thump down below.

Jumping in the cathedral leads to some very odd rooms, which fortunately don’t seem to exactly be a maze.

You most unceremoniously hurl yourself down the shaft, and after much bumping and boring, are deposited on a hard floor with a sickening thump.
Room of Abstenance
You are in a room lit by a suffuse glow.
-> push north wall
As you lean your weight against the wall it revolves on a central axis, taking you with it.
Room of Great Gloating
You are in a room lit by a suffuse glow.

There’s a “fat monk” amongst the rooms, but I think I’ve gone far enough — I’ll trudge my way further through phase 4 next time.

Forgot to mention this bit, so I’m tossing it here at the end. In the maze you can find the other half of the torn card from the hut. I have merged the two images here. I assume it refers to the colored pins (since I already have orange and white) leaving two more to eventually find.

Posted October 18, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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31 responses to “Ferret: Your Body Has Been Made Permanently Redundant

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  1. I’ve managed a bit of what might be “progress” within the cathedral, but nothing earning points yet, so I am keenly interested in how others’ adventures progress there.

    I also made a bit of progress in the monastery area, but what I’ve found there has convinced me that the intended order is to complete the cathedral first. For those curious and who make progress by the monastery as well, I offer some words of advice: [Lbh znl svaq n qnex nern pnyyrq “Gevnffvp Pnir” naq or grzcgrq gb oehgr sbepr znc vg. *Qba’g.* Lbh jvyy whfg fhssre arrqyrffyl yvxr V qvq. Gurer vf, fbzrjurer ryfr, n pyhr gb n orggre jnl.]

  2. Great going! Just a slight nitpick, I don’t think you have actually transitioned to phase 4 until you have made it through the swamp and stepped up on Dry Land (not Dry Ground).
    The Cathedral seems fun. Comforting to hear that someone else had the same issues with leaving the crate and what we presumed the wire was like.
    How many points have you accrued by now?

    • -> score
      Phase 4 (Ascension)
      Mode: Normal
      You have scored 285 (out of 1670) points in 1171 moves.
      Rooms visited: 172. Rank achieved: Professional.

      for all I know of I’ve missed some by skipping some room or another, but given the slight glitchiness in how it works (i.e. points for stopping in purely optional rooms) I’ve honestly stopped paying attention.

  3. Just dropping this here because I haven’t puzzled it out yet and someone who is just reading might get a chance to “play along”:

    Room of Indulgence
    You are in a room lit by a suffuse glow. There is a massive crystalline cube
    in the middle of the room.
    Exits: —- ——– —
    The massive crystal cube contains:
    a stone cube with
    a north face
    a south face
    an east face
    a west face

    -> examine north face

    Musings of a Monk (Part 1)

    It is said, knowledgeable one,
    That unto the first of all being
    Came four ignorant sons.

    It is said, all seeing one,
    That unto the second of all being
    Came two average daughters.

    It is said, omniscient one,
    That unto the third of all being
    Came three bright sons.

    Whose order now occupies the
    Seat of all knowledge?

    -> examine south face

    Musing of a Monk (Part 2)

    According to the eye of the Great,
    Three ignorant sons will begat only
    Ignorant sons, to the count of a man.

    According to the eye of the Great,
    Two average daughters will bring unto you
    Grandchildren of mixed intelligence,
    Their number being equal to that
    Accessible to the Ruler at the centre
    Of the empty board.

    According to the eye of the Great,
    Three bright sons, will each raise young
    To the sum of time, and will be the
    Key to the book of knowledge.

    -> examine east face

    A Message from the Highmost

    If you are truly the messiah of knowledge,
    and I believe everyone to be the chosen one
    at the appropriate time, you should, by now,
    have accumulated the knowledge to provide the
    key to the Inner Sanctum of the Highmost.

    Claim what is yours by rite, undo the lock,
    and ascend to the seat of knowledge at the
    right hand of the all-knowing one. Set the
    celestial lock and you will inherit all.

    -> examine west face

    Maxims of a Monk

    The book of knowledge has many pages,
    Enough pages to satisfy all your questions.

    By the number of the devil I beseech you,
    The young sons will be the order that
    takes the right to own the seat.

    I am a mere servant to the knowledge,
    I pin my destiny to the omniscient chest,
    My death will serve also,
    As a guide to those that follow.

  4. Not playing along but the “clay brick” reminds me of a similarly-described object in Zork. Are you going to blow up something with it? Or is this another instance of something meant to mess with people who played Zork?

  5. OK, this bit is funny

    -> get all
    Taken : a fat monk.
    Taken : a magazine cover.

    you can then wander around with the monk in your inventory

    Knowing Ferret I’m only 50-50 if this is unintentional. Eventually if the monk wants to he can still leave by pushing a wall.

    • Huh. Anything interesting happen if you bring him to [gur Ebbz bs Qrfprag, be vgf ybjre “sybbe?”]

      • Haven’t had enough luck getting the monk up there yet

        Have any luck with the riddles? Based on the other discussion it looks like y’all came to the same conclusion I did, that:

        svefg lbh fbyir gur svefg cneg “fgenvtug” jvgu whfg gur ahzoref tvira va cneg 1, sbhe gjb guerr

        ohg gura lbh unir gb tb onpx va evtug njnl naq ragre n frpbaq pbqr. V’ir gevrq 38K naq 98K jurer K vf rirel inyhr sebz 0 gb 9

        Gur “avar” thrff jnf fbzrubj gur bs guerr fbaf rnpu ortrggvat guerr fbaf tvivat n gbgny bs avar (3 gvzrf 3)

      • oh, I made it! the monk has no reaction and just ends up back in the “hell” room though.

      • You’re as far as I am with the riddles. I do wonder if [gur frpbaq pbqr tbrf fbzrjurer ryfr – na “Vaare Fnapghz” vafgrnq bs gur Bhgre Fnapghz jvgu gur ybpx gung ernpgf gb gur svefg evqqyr.]

        Have you found [n guveq cva] yet?

      • I have not found anything else other than the obvious items.

        V unir gur obyg naq gur fcyvag, naq V gvrq gur jver gb gur fcyvag, ohg gung qbrfa’g pnhfr nalguvat hfrshy gb unccra.

      • I *think* I found this to be a hint (going by memory): [Jung rknpgyl qvq gur tnzr fnl gb lbh va erfcbafr gb “gvr jver gb fcyvag?”]

      • well, that made an interesting thing. Dunno what to do with it but I’m not sure I’m really up to that!

        I found you can GIVE SCREEN TO MONK even though it is not being held and is attached to the wall

      • This is like back in phase 1 where you could do things like “drop orifice” (and still put something in it, and walk away from it with your cannon). Or the strange issues with “drop clothes”. My hunch is that it is more likely to be a design oversight. But it would be interesting if it could be exploited!

      • I think “get all” with the monk is just a bug, because if you try to get him directly you get into one of the many funny deadly confrontations with him. Giving the screen is probably the same. I don’t think anyone ever beta tested this game up to where we are now.

  6. Oh, I appreciate EXPERT mode! :D

    This is annoying though:
    -> save game
    You’ll have to find your saviour in the omniscient one.

    • I am now disappointed. I can’t make expert mode work like I think MODE says it should. If I QUIT the game and start it again I am in normal mode and no RESTORE that I do, even if the SAVE was made in expert mode, takes me back to expert mode.
      This sort of takes away the point of it, doesn’t it? If I die and restart Ferret I can’t use my expert mode adapted MAKE files but still have to trudge through the randomness every time? Sigh. Tell me that I am missing something.
      (I know that I can keep a save just before I reach expert mode and READFILE from there, but I want IT ALL.)

      • The following seems to work:

        – RESTORE your Phase 4 saved game in Expert mode
        – type RESTART (game starts at beginning in Normal mode)
        – immediately SAVE
        – again RESTORE your Phase 4 Expert mode save
        – and now RESTORE the beginning-of-the-game save you just made

        Should now be at the beginning of the game in Expert mode.

      • OK, maybe my problem is related to the cathedral then.
        What happens is that the same moment I reach expert mode (entering Room of Abstenance) I can’t save my game anymore (“You’ll have to find your saviour in the omniscient one.”).
        If I then do a restart I am still in expert mode, and I can save a game at the very beginning of the game.
        What I then thought I would be able to do was to after QUIT RESTORE my saved game and it would be in expert mode. But what happens is that after QUIT there is no saved game that puts me in expert mode when RESTOREd.
        I’ve worked around this with a READFILE that 1. RESTOREs the “just before the export mode and no-saves” save, 2. makes the single move to turn the game to expert mode, and 3. RESTARTs the game. And then it continues with my main READFILE thing. Phew, so happy to have it working. Yay for determinism from now on!
        By the way, have you mapped out the non-random jungle yet? It is horribly tedious because of the item-mulching. Any hints on how to do it in a smart way are very welcome.

      • I think I may have solved what I need of the expert mode jungle actually. :)

      • I was very puzzled by your post because I hit Expert mode *before* entering the Cathedral, and so didn’t have the “can’t save in there” problem to wrangle.

        But maybe the answer to that question is “Expert mode turns on when you reach a high enough *score*” and perhaps I have a higher score due to some of those apparently-optional point boosting locations. Maybe 300 points is the cutoff?

      • That sounds plausible. My expert mode turns on when I go from 310 to 315, and that is the moment I drop down the Cathedral vent.
        They really didn’t have any test players, it seems. :)

      • Related to this, I am curious about what points I might be missing before this point.

        Here are the points I have found in my “cathedral branch”:

        Cunfr 1 – Njnxravat
        Ernpu Erfhfpvgngvba Punzore (+5)
        Ernpu Purzvpny Fgber (+5)
        Ernpu Nezbhel (+5)
        Ernpu Qhfgl Ebbz (+10)
        Ernpu Pbageby Ebbz (+5)
        Ernpu Onypbal (+5)
        Ernpu [U-cnq], nsgre qbbe qrzbyvfurq (+30)
        Fheivir GA-qrivpr rkcybfvba (+20)
        Ernpu Ornpu [jvgu pnir] (+10)
        Ernpu Ornpu [furygrerq] (+50)
        Gbgny fb sne: 145

        Cunfr 2 – Trarfvf
        Ernpu Ebpx Thyyl (+5)
        Ernpu Pnirea Ragenapr (+10)
        Ernpu Bcra Nern (+10)
        Ernpu Uhg (+5)
        Ernpu Zbgbe Ebbz [jrfg fvqr] (+10)
        CHFU TERRA OHGGBA va Pvephyne Ebbz (+10)
        Geniry gb rnfg fvqr jvgu gur pnoyr pne (+20)
        Gbgny fb sne: 215

        Cunfr 3 – Npdhvfvgvba
        Ernpu Cvg (+10)
        Ernpu Ivrjvat Tnyyrel (+10)
        Ernpu Gbc bs Fgnvef (+30)
        Ernpu Ghaary Pbzcyrk vagvyy Rapybfrq Nern (+10)
        Ernpu Qel Ynaq (+30)
        Gbgny fb sne: 305

        Cunfr 4 – Nfprafvba
        Ernpu Pngurqeny Tebhaqf (+5)
        Ernpu Ebbz bs Nofgranapr (+5)
        Gbgny: 315

        Can you help me find what I might be missing?

      • You get 5 points for reaching the Lift in Phase 2 (which requires getting through that “compass directions fail” maze).

      • Thanks! I had missed that you get points for that, I will have to revisit it.
        Maybe, if I ever reach the end of this game and there are no revolutionary insights about it at later stages, I will try to make a finishing-with-lowest-possible-score attempt. :D

      • While on the topic of game mechanisms – has anyone so far got something except the standard “No hints Granddad.” response to the HINT command?

        There is a teasing sentence in the author’s comment on IFWiki:
        “There is even a Hint facility although it doesn’t always give clues.”

  7. Small thing, but you can actually take the torn card up the rope too. It doesn’t matter much because you can just take a screenshot or copy-paste it into a text file anyway.

    Now, SQUEEZE the dial was the weirdest thing. The only reason I can think of for someone to put this into their game is to stop people from progressing too fast. But then, if you add the TEST command, the solution becomes both trivial and meaningless… I don’t know. I guess a more elegant solution than TEST would be to actually use sensible verbs (maybe PRESS, PUSH, …?)

    • I wholly agree about squeeze.

    • Or leave just a *little* bit more text at the bottom of the Ferrivator instructions. Even just “and then s” with the rest torn off would give us a bit to go on: “what are all the possible verbs I can throw at this thing that begin with ‘s’?”

  8. @Jason, I just wanted to point out that you were *very* close to making progress here (outside the cathedral) but you gave up too early. Hint: Va gur zbanfgrel, cnl pybfr gb nggragvba gb gur qvssrerag qrngu zrffntrf lbh trg qrcraqvat ba jurer lbh snyy sebz.

  9. Interesting: while ASCII art is normally pathetic, the broken note in half and a few signs are convincing.

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