Ferret: Taste the Rainbow   29 comments

(Prior posts on Ferret here.)

As I sadly predicted, the riddles went along pretty fast and the puzzle right after caused progress to again come to a halt.

Data General Eclipse circa 1979, via science70.

So to not leave you in suspense from last time:

The inscription appears to be a mixture of ancient and modern English:

Round (3nm + 3f + 4c + 2y) m

I had previously sussed out “y” might be “yards” and “nm” might be “nautical miles” and that this was a simple length calculation (where you round the number to the closest integer at the end) but I was having trouble with “f” and “c”, which turned out to be “furlongs” and “chains” specifically.

This comes out to be 6242 meters, so the password is “6242”.

-> say 6242
There is a tremendous rumbling under the floor beneath you as some great and ancient force comes to life. The whole room begins to shake showering you in sand and dust. Just as the rumbling begins to subside, the whole of the east wall starts to descend gradually, and the rumbling continues afresh. The wall slowly slips down until it comes to rest with a jolt, its top now level with the surrounding floor. The sand and dust are blown out of the room by a slight draught. It is now quiet.
-> e
Blue Room
You are in a room where the walls, floor and ceiling have been carved from beautiful blue rock.
Exits: —W ——– —
There is a strange inscription on the east wall.
There is a platinum sphere here

The next riddle asks to convert

101010010010001000101 100000 100111010101011001101100001010001011010010
100000 10011111000110 100000 101010010010001000101 100000

from binary to text (“THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST”), followed by another riddle that asks you to convert

54 48 45 4E 41 4D 45 4F 46 54 48 45 47 41 4D 45

from hexadecimal to text (“FERRET”). The next riddle was a little less of a breeze:

This inscription appears to be a bit of a period piece and looks like this:

5  8 86
15   64

I did manage to realize “period piece” was referring to the periodic table, and the 5 and 86 are referring to Boron (Bo) and Radon (Rn) respectively and their positions on the table, and 7 probably meant Nitrogen (N). But the 15 and 64 don’t lead to anything sensible; the trick here is to not convert the last portion, so the whole text reads as “BORN N 1564”, which leads to the answer SHAKESPEARE.

There is a tremendous rumbling under the floor beneath you as some great and ancient force comes to life. The whole room begins to shake showering you in sand and dust. Just as the rumbling begins to subside, the whole of the east wall starts to descend gradually, and the rumbling continues afresh. The wall slowly slips down until it comes to rest with a jolt, its top now level with the surrounding floor. The sand and dust are blown out of the room by a slight draught. It is now quiet.
-> e
White Room
You are in a room where the walls, floor and ceiling have been carved from beautiful white rock.
Exits: —W ——– —
There is a brown pin here

At last, the final pin! To recap, I’d been finding colored pins since phase 2, and there was a suggestive card that indicated there would be four of them:

The pieces of this card are also spread out over two phases.

With items picked up along the way, my inventory was now:

  an orange pin
  a white pin
  a black pin
  a brown pin
  a length of steel wire
  a curved wooden splint
  a steel bolt
  a plastic sheet
  a titanium orb
  a ferrite ball
  a platinum sphere

Getting to the white room (which has no inscription and no new exits) required reaching a red room, orange room, grey room, tangerine room, blue room, indigo room, and violet room in order. The blue room has a “platinum sphere”, the indigo room has a “ferrite ball”, and the violet room has a “titanium orb”.

This is highly suggestive that the colored pins need to be dropped in the right rainbow rooms (and maybe the metal balls too?) which will cause something to unlock.

Trivial, right? The “gap” in the rainbow seems to be grey, so brown goes there. Maybe opposite of black is white? Where does white and orange go then? That’s only two pins to test, surely it won’t be too hard to test all the possibilities and finish this off and —

— well, no, that didn’t work. Nor did any other combination I tried. The “hint” feature (which previously never worked, and now magically gives hints once the riddles start) just says

Go down on it.

which I’ve only been able to parse as “go down in frequency on the visible spectrum”, that is, from red down to violet. I’m still quite close to just ramming every single possibility into a Python script and letting it do the work.

The big issue here, game-design wise, is similar to one with the desert. With the desert, you have to comb many, many, empty rooms, enough to make most players question if they’re taking the right approach, only to find an important location in a random direction. Here, despite my guesswork “feeling” right, it’s unclear if I’m even heading in the right direction. This is quite similar to my complaints about second-order puzzles, where two “reasonable” puzzle manipulations become much harder to work out when they are required in combination without intermediate feedback.

My next post is going to be another one-shot, but don’t worry, I’m stubbornly hanging on Ferret for now, even if the next portion of the game only falls via brute force.

Posted November 3, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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29 responses to “Ferret: Taste the Rainbow

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  1. I don’t know what to make of this – whether something to actually note and make use of it, just a bug, or a bug that serves as an indirect hint and/or look into how the game works – but if you “look at rock” in the riddle rooms, *sometimes* (not always!) you get a response as follows:

    -> look at rock
    It looks like a
    red orang grey tange.

    This in any of the Red, Orange, Grey, or Tangerine rooms. And in the other four rooms:

    -> look at rock
    It looks like a
    blue indig viole white.

    It seems that red, orang[e], grey, and tange[rine] are coded as synonyms to “rock” in all four of the first riddle rooms; and blue, indig[o], viole[t], and white are coded as synonyms to “rock” in the fifth through eighth riddle rooms. Again, no idea if this is relevant, but maybe we should be thinking about these as two sets of four rooms?

    (I also can’t help but notice that three of the rooms – grey, indigo, violet – match colors of three of the tiles that we found in Phase 4. Of course, the creators’ hint during that phase suggests the tiles are entirely red herrings, but then again…?)

  2. One theory I was testing is that the metal spheres go in the place you find them (but maybe in a different order?) while the first four colors have the pins. The white room then just gets left out (or maybe the plastic goes there?). No luck yet though.

  3. another hint from Ferret HQ, for those who desire it (I didn’t even ask, they decided to show mercy)

    [Cnl nggragvba gb gur zrgubq sbe znxvat cebterff sebz cerivbhf pbybheshy ebbzf.

    Ertneqvat gur uvag, pbapragengr ba gur vafgehpgvir ryrzrag “Tb qbja”.

    Gur ireo tb unf znal zrnavatf, r.t., jura ur tbrf “whzc”, lbh tb “ubj uvtu, Fve”.

    Lbh zvtug or ybbxvat sbe n fhvgnoyr pbzznaq (vg’f zragvbarq va gur qvnybthrf).]

    • I’m now in the next area. Whee!

      As you gaily trot, with the occasional skip and arms akimbo, out into the muddy bottom of the canal your elation subsides as does your bottom and the rest of your torso in the thick sucking mud of the canal floor.

      Euthanasia? No, just rampant stupidly.

    • oh criminy i just got it

      this somehow feels like a “wooden door” but jn reverse

  4. Phase 6 (Radiation)
    Mode: Expert
    You have scored 485 (out of 1670) points in 1738 moves.
    Rooms visited: 293. Rank achieved: Superstar.

    • I’ve reached a very interesting “control centre” but I think I want to wait for the crew to catch up! Let me know if something causes difficulty up to there someone needs a hint on (it’s not super difficult to figure out, but there was one finicky bit).

      • I’m caught up there now too. [V’z tbvat gb zvff gung hfrshy yratgu bs fgrry jver. Ng yrnfg vg jnf tengvslvat gb svaq jr qvq vaqrrq arrq gb oevat gur cvaf – be ng yrnfg gjb bs gurz fb sne – nybat guvf jubyr jnl.]

      • -> score
        Phase 7 (Inversion)
        Mode: Expert
        You have scored 615 (out of 1670) points in 2371 moves.
        Rooms visited: 375. Rank achieved: Universal Hitch-hiker.

      • nice!

        you’re welcome to drop some rot13 if you want to if there’s something you thought was gnarly, although I’m likely not checking it until tomorrow when I’ve had more time to whack at this

      • I honestly thought Phase 6 was comparatively straightforward (by Ferret standards) once I understood what was going on. Although the possibility exists that I missed something, of course. Happy to provide hints if needed, but quite possible they won’t be needed at all.

      • Thinking on it further, the below may help anyone struggling with the combinatorics of experimentation in Phase 6. The second hint is more explicit than the first.

        1. V bayl arrqrq gb hfr fbzr bs gur pbagebyf va gur Pbageby Prager. Gur barf V hfrq ner yvfgrq va gur arkg uvag.

        2. V bayl hfrq gur erq naq terra ohggbaf, gur oyhr naq lryybj fjvgpurf (bar bs juvpu vfa’g fgevpgyl arprffnel), naq gur benatr naq oyhr tnhtrf.

      • just to be clear:

        Lbh qvqa’g hfr gur yrire be gur benatr ohggba be gur yrire, rira gubhtu gurl ner gur xrl gb gheavat ba gur fperra ba gur unaq-uryq erprvire?

        I made it past the part I think you were hinting but haven’t been able to work out what to do after.

        (EDIT: I see what to do next. But I think you’d have a really hard time without doing what I mentioned in the ROT13.)

      • …Ah, no, no I did not. Well, now I’m keenly curious to see if I missed something that is helpful-but-not-necessary, or if this means I actually missed something necessary. [Sreerg unf gnhtug zr gb oehgr sbepr ynetr znmr nernf – rira vs gurl ner, nu, “vapbairavrag” gb rkcyber.]

      • Yeah, the puzzle is easier to figure out with that combination.

        On phase 7:

        unir lbh tbggra gur cubar gb jbex? V pna qvny gur ahzore sebz gur iruvpyr (naq gur uvag rira fnlf gb qb fb) ohg vg whfg fnlf “Qbar”, nz V zvffvat n ireo?

      • Yes.

        Nsgre lbh cvpx hc n cubar, naq gura qvny n ahzore, jung qb lbh abeznyyl qb arkg?


      • ah, I was actually missing “take handpiece” (couldn’t “take telephone”)

        otherwise you get things like

        -> listen
        It’s all quiet on the Western Front.
        -> listen to phone
        I can’t understand that.
        -> listen to handpiece
        I can’t understand that.
        -> listen to telephone
        I can’t see anything like that around here.
        -> listen to handpiece
        I can’t understand that.

        ‘course, high chance all that is just for fun, but you never know with this game. I guess it kind of clues the next bit since you have to [qvt guebhtu abgrf, be ng yrnfg ybbx guebhtu byq oybt cbfgf.]

      • update tonight sometime. In case anyone is up to the giant stack of questions (much longer than the sequence in the desert) and needs to look one up, I have the complete set here

        all numbers I turned into words and need to be turned back into digits

        fvkgl avar
        ohf qevire
        gjb uhaqerq avargl frira
        rvtug gubhfnaq gjb uhaqerq
        fvk cbvag fvk gjb fvk
        rvtugl sbhe

  5. What if the rooms indicate colour code of transistors?( The electrical components). Then the order of the pins could indicate a numerical value based on the order. Just trying to think outside the box.

  6. When I think of Phase IV I cannot help but think of the toothsome Lynne Frederick in Saul Bass’s film of the same name. Anyhow after being tied up with other things I have largely ploughed my own furrow and just made it to Phase 5. Whether I have all the objects I need is debatable however. This game is atypical of even seventies / early eighties mainframe style text adventures in some ways. Huge and very odd.

    • The very intentional use of red herrings is definitely odd. Usually red herrings have been either a side joke or part of the world building, but in this game there are “developed” red herrings which have extra clues which indicate further clues about what puzzle is supposed to solved, except there is no puzzle to solve.

      Theoretically speaking, at phase five you should have

      gur jver naq guerr cvaf

  7. Got past the White room after much staring at the devs hint. Gura V ena vagb na vffhr va gur Pbheglneq. Ebhgrq jngre sebz gur Erfreibve va gur AJ gb gur FR guebhtu gur Qvfgevohgvba Zngevk. V qenttrq gur pnabr naq cbyr guebhtu gur qbbe. Ohg jura V ghea gur inyir gur tnzr penfurf naq bayl jura jngre fubhyq or sybjvat.

    -> ghea inyir
    Gur xvgf unir orra purjvat gur jverf ntnva…

    Jebat cngu be unir V fbzrubj tbggra vagb n tnzr oernxvat oht?

    • Send a note to the authors? At the far SE corner I needed to also OPEN S in order to finish putting the water. You might also try using a different path with opening up the water? (As far as I could tell you don’t need to make it fancy.)

    • I switched to south and that did it. I kinda see the logic but east seems to more obvious. I guess the crash is hiding yet another horrible death, like the swimming pool. (which was fixed by 10.01 update). Ever onward.

      Phase 6 (Radiation)
      Mode: Expert
      You have scored 515 (out of 1670) points in 1126 moves.
      Rooms visited: 262. Rank achieved: Mega-galactic Genius.

      P.S. Try ‘xyzzy’ if you haven’t already.

  8. Pingback: Ferret: There Will Come Soft Rains | Renga in Blue

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