Ferret: Ozone and Burning   16 comments

Phase 8 complete, with the power of Science. (Prior posts on Ferret here.)

Early core memory, using donut-shaped magnets on a grid. [Source, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.]

The first thing I was stuck on turned out to be based on a general adventuring error; I made this list of items…

a photographic flashgun
a piece of fur
a beautiful ruby rod (which also flashes if you flash the flashgun)
a picnic box
a block of ice (which doesn’t melt if in the box, somehow)
a security casket with a plastic card locked inside
a perspex rod
a dirty reticule (with “a piece of linen” inside)

…but left something out, namely, a fridge that the block of ice was in.

Ice Cream Parlour
You are in a rundown ice cream parlour. The majority of the contents of the parlour have been removed, leaving a solitary refridgerator standing in the middle of the room. There is a doorway to the west.
Exits: —W ——– —

So, I spent some serious time trying to use items on each other, but didn’t bother to try mucking about with the fridge itself, which is embedded in the room description itself and is “large” so I assumed I couldn’t manipulate it other than opening it. However, it easily succumbs to a use of the TEST command (which if you remember, drops a megaton of verbs on the object it applies to all at once) which ferrets out the fact that PUSHing is useful.

-> push fridge
The fabric of the refrigerator squeals in complaint as it grinds slowly to one side on some unseen and ancient castors. After a short distance the castors give in to the decaying effects of time and disintegrate under the weight of the refrigerator. You appear to have revealed a narrow stairway leading down into a dark and rancid-smelling room.

This leads down to some “catacombs” which are mostly uninteresting other than containing an iron ring…

The iron ring is of small dimensions and not in the slightest bit dissimilar to the sort of iron ring found in the memory of early twentieth century computers.

…and having an exit which leads to the western area of the map. This means that, despite travel between the western portion and eastern portion of the map being one-way it becomes possible to go in a loop through the catacombs.

Bringing all the items to the gizmos on the west side yielded immediate results. There was a dome with a static electricity warning; I knew rubbing the perplex rod on the fur made static electricity; I put the two together.

-> rub rod with fur
There is a crackle of static electricity as you rub the fur up and down the Perspex rod (Freud would also be interested in your behaviour).
-> touch dome with rod
As the Perspex rod nears the glass surface of the dome a fat spark of static electricity is discharged. Suddenly the interior of the dome is filled with many-coloured streamers of electronic discharge (I think you’ve started something here – where will it lead?).

This activated the strange letter tiles that looked like a sliding puzzle, and in fact are. These tiles are at the Nursery…

w y h
t k a e
f u o r
p n i s

…which match a four by four block of rooms nearby.

You are in a rather strange room that appears to have rather thick walls. There is an opening in each of the ordinal walls, however the east exit is blocked by a wall that appears to run around the outside of the room. There is a large lever set in the middle of the floor.

To get it to work, your inventory needs to be empty (otherwise you can’t “ride” the tile on the air cushion as it tries to move positions).

-> pull lever
There is a whirring of fans followed by a slight lurch as the floor appears to lift slightly. The room wobbles briefly on its blanket of air, then subsides to its original position. The lever springs back to its original position.

When working properly:

There is a whirring of fans followed by a slight lurch as the floor appears to lift slightly. Incredibly the room starts to move on a blanket of air. After some not inconsiderable movement the whirring noise subsides followed by the floor of the room. The lever springs back to its original position.

This is, to those unfamiliar, a Fifteen Puzzle from the 19th century where the goal is to shift a set of mixed-up tiles from “1” to “15” into order. Some configurations are unsolvable.

The puzzle-maker Sam Loyd (who helped popularize the puzzle but didn’t invent it) famously made a contest where he swapped the positions of 14 and 15 and gave a cash prize for solving the puzzle. The money was safe: this was an unsolvable situation.

For this puzzle, the tiles need to slide into the positions WHY TAKE FOUR PINS. I initially thought this would do the trick where a letter gets repeated and they have to swap positions (otherwise the puzzle is unsolvable), but this particular puzzle mercifully has no repeat letters, so it was just a matter of solving the puzzle the standard way.

Starting at the first row, third column:

pull lever;w;w;pull lever;w;s;pull lever
s;e;pull lever;e;n;pull lever;n;w;pull lever
w;s;pull lever;s;s;pull lever;s;e;pull lever
e;s;pull lever;s;e;pull lever;e;n;pull lever
n;n;pull lever;n;w;pull lever;w;w;pull lever
w;s;pull lever;s;e;pull lever;e;n;pull lever
n;n;pull lever;n;e;pull lever;e;s;pull lever
s;s;pull lever;s;s;pull lever;s;w;pull lever
w;w;pull lever;w;n;pull lever;n;n;pull lever
n;n;pull lever;n;e;pull lever;e;e;pull lever

This yields:

You hear a distant bang, followed by a rumbling noise.

Heading back to the nursery, there is a new exit, but it is quickly blocked off by a locked door:

Security Corridor
You are in a narrow corridor with a door to the north.
Exits: —W ——– —

I also took a peek in at the tiles (that are placed behind a window so you can’t touch them) to see if anything changed, and the tiles had been replaced by a compass. There’s something useful you can do with the compass, but I’ll get back to this. For now, I needed to go back to that strange brass platform with the confusing description:

You are in a very small room. Fixed to the east wall is a cupboard. Directly opposite the cupboard is a cavity in the wall.
Exits: NS– ——– —
The cupboard contains:
a brass platform
-> examine platform
The small brass platform is square and fixed to the base of the cupboard with its rear edge parallel to the back of the cupboard. The platform has a shallow hemispherical groove running from its back to its front, parallel to the side of the platform.

(That should be half a cylinder, not half a sphere.)

The idea here is to drop the ruby rod into the groove; using the photography flash will shoot off a laser.

-> push button
The flashgun emits a blinding flash of light.
The ruby rod, residing in a partial waveguide, emits an intense flash of focused light. There is a mixed aroma of ozone and burning.

Then, you can stick an item in the “cavity in the wall” directly across from the laser. For most items it will fry them outright. In fact, it fries every single thing you can possibly put inside, except for the block of ice.

The ice melts slightly, the liberated water evaporating off into the atmosphere.

Some long contemplation and some time fiddling later, I realized you could put more than one item in the cavity, so having the steam going can help protect a second item. What the second item can be is the “security casket” with a card inside.

The flashgun emits a blinding flash of light.
The ruby rod, residing in a partial waveguide, emits an intense flash of focused light. There is a mixed aroma of ozone and burning.
The laser beam slices into the top of the casket liberating a small cloud of acrid smoke mingled with steam given off by the hissing ice. The smoke and steam disperse into the atmosphere.
The ice melts slightly, the liberated water evaporating off into the atmosphere.

If the symbols involve some cryptic message, I haven’t figured it out yet. Perhaps it will be important in a later phase.

The card then can be taken over back to the town side where there is a bank.

You are in a what appears to have been a bank. Set against the east wall is an automatic teller machine, which consists of a screen with a slot located alongside one edge of the screen. There is a doorway to the west.
Exits: —W ——– —

Putting the card into the slot gets an “Autoteller” message including the message “security access granted” and immediately upon asking “Please enter your Personal ID Number” the whole system gets fried. There is no way to enter an ID number. Instead, the security access is what’s useful here. This means the door back at the Nursery (that solving the tile puzzle gave access to) is now unlocked.

Oriental Room
You are in a small room shaped like an oriental temple. There is but one exit to the south.
Exits: -S– ——– —
There is a pinchbeck case here

The pinchbeck case (which cannot even be picked up) seems to be entirely a red herring. You need to go back to the compass at the Nursery. Let me also repeat the description of the iron ring:

The iron ring is of small dimensions and not in the slightest bit dissimilar to the sort of iron ring found in the memory of early twentieth century computers.

This required a bit of research: this is referring to the magnetic memory system of MIT Whirlwind and other computers of that time period (see a picture at the top of this post). The important part, of course, is that the iron ring is magnetic. The syntax here is non-obvious, and I only worked it out quickly because it showed up previously in the game:

-> wave ring over glass
The needle swings to and fro.

This turns out to change the secure area just slightly — there’s a corridor that used to turn east that now turns west. Taking the passage now leads to:

Siamese Room
You are in a small room shaped like a Siam temple. There is but one exit to the south.
Exits: -S– ——– —
There is a slender black cylinder here
-> get cylinder
-> examine cylinder
The slender black cylinder fits nicely into the palm of the hand. At one end of the cylinder is a rubber pad, the other end of the cylinder appears to be transparent.

Now, this is a useful item, and in fact is the only thing needed now to get to the end of the phase. However, the syntax is quite cryptic, and it took Voltgloss (who somehow has a knack for these things) to work out the sequence, done at “Waterloo Station” in the town which has a locked door:

You are standing on a length of pavement which runs parallel to a building on the east and a street on the west. There is an armoured door in the wall of the building. Above the doorway is a sign. The pavement is walled-off to the north.
Exits: -S-W ——SW —
-> n
You cannot be serious.
-> e
You cannot be serious.
-> point cylinder at door
-> press pad
There is a muted click from within the body of the door.
-> open door
-> e
You are in a small room which appears to be a station as there is a railway platform visible through an opening in the wall to the south. Any hint of automatic ticketing equipment has been removed to leave only dirty and stained walls. There is an armoured door to the west.
Exits: -S-W ——– —

There is a relatively easy-to-operate-train to the south (release handbrake; turn knob) which takes the player to a sanctuary.

This room is rather poorly lit but you can discern a large bench running along the north wall. The bench appears to have once had some sort of function except that all of the instrumentation has long been destroyed to leave only four pinholes in the centre of the panel. The pinholes are annotated from left to right as Left, LM, RM and Right.

Remember those orange, white, black, and brown pins, the ones I concluded might never get used again, and where there was a message (build up from two parts starting in phase 2) which I thought was useless? I was wrong.

Even though the game has held a short-story structure which even resets the player’s inventory at intervals, the pins have always been small enough to be carried. They get used here.

-> put white in right
-> put black in left
-> put orange in rm
-> put brown in lm
There is a dull clink from behind the bench followed by a short pause. A holographic message appears before you. It reads:

Greetings, Master of Knowledge

You have activated the Central Knowledge Broadcast Facility.
The final message from this device will be issued by Neural Transmitter.

The hologram disappears and the neural transmitter activates. You “hear” the
following message:

Arise Ignorants, for you have been summoned by the Master of Knowledge. Your labours will no longer be in vain, for you will have a common goal. The secrets of past technologies will now be unlocked and will allow you to utilise the mysterious powers discovered by your forefathers prior to the big heat. In addition, you may now have the key to all knowledge, the answer to all of life, which is :


(The Hitch Hikers’ Guide was nearly right).
Your quest will be to find the question.

That’s enough journey for now; things get wild in Phase 9. And supposedly after is the endgame, but it looks like it gets all the way to Phase 17 (!?) meaning the “endgame” of this might be very, very, long. We’ll discuss it more in depth next time.

Posted November 20, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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16 responses to “Ferret: Ozone and Burning

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  1. Finally caught up again after spending a week or so out of town.

    Just to get the comments going, I’ll post something I’m sure I’m not the only one to have found:

    Va cunfr 9, “Fgneg Trarengbe” va gur pragre bs gur bcra nern frrzf gb erfgneg gur tnzr ragveryl. V unir n srryvat guvf znl abg or nf fvzcyr nf vg ybbxf. V’z grzcgrq gb cynl guebhtu gur erfgnegrq tnzr n yvggyr naq frr vs nalguvat’f qvssrerag.

  2. I regret to inform you that Team Ferret has let me know the ability to jump phases is just a bug. (Would have made for an interesting design choice!)

    • I also received this information, but I think(/thought?) it only applies to the transition to Phase 17. It is the only one where we do something that seems out of order.

      • It seems there is a new version (10.10) available at https://www.jugglingsoot.com/download.htm .

        Even though the News page isn’t updated the .exe and heap files are timestamped just minutes ago in this one.

        There is a short section added to the NEWS;
        Revision 10.10
        Facility to specify Audit & Make Files on the command line added, e.g.,
        ferret /a=”auditfile” /m=”makefile”

      • Ah, ok. Really should have time to dig in later today (although I have mapped a fair amount of 9 already).

        I did the upgrade to 10.10 with no save file compatibility issues.

      • I don’t use saves much except for when doing special scripts, I just have a main FCF file (for READFILE) that takes me to my current point in the game. Now I just transitioned from version 10.00 to version 10.10 (I have not been using version 10.01), and the new version broke one thing for me. In Room of Insecurity I can no longer SVER OBYG NG RNFG JNYY (new response: “You’re getting weirder and weirder.”) but I just replaced it with GUEBJ UNZZRE NG RNFG JNYY and then everything works fine. If other things haven’t changed I could also use the OEVPX. I can’t really understand why this was changed – maybe to force the player to use something not available inside the Cathedral to progress at this point.

  3. I’m going to assume for now, based on the message from the creators, that everything we need for phase 9 can be found in the phase 9 area. In any case, there’s enough to explore here to keep me busy for a bit.

    Exploring the sewers beneath the pyramid (chfu sync to get into the pyramid), I found two ciphers, bar bs gurz uvqqra vafvqr gur pnxr va gur ehpxfnpx – ‘oernx pnxr’ gb svaq vg.

    The first of them seems fairly simple, though I’m a little dubious as to whether it has any application. My translation below in ROT13, the upper-case letters are the original message, the lower-case my additions:

    PbZEnQr FZbYrAFXv(?) + CEbPrrQ FGnAQnEQ QEbCbSS CbvAG + rAWbL PUbPbYnGr OrrE(?) + QvFEhCG PnCvGnYvFG CvTQbT(?) CbJrE
    FhCCYL + nAEnPUl(raevpu? haevpu?) GUr YrnQrEF Gbb SbE GUr CrbCYr + FGBC

    The second cipher (on the parchment) is another thing entirely.

    • Also found a lime ticket:

      “The lime-coloured ticket is very faded but appears to allow journeys from
      Richmond Station to any destination in the local Western Transit Loop. The
      duration of validity appears to be perpetual.”

      Wondering if it’s this that’s supposed to make the next x number of phases accessible. I don’t see anything with which one might actually use the ticket. Perhaps simply having it is enough?

      Also of note, I’ve been able to get the automaton to follow me, though this seems to have its limits. I can get him to the next station, but he won’t leave the train.

      Both of these tasks are linked:
      Gnxr gur trarengbe gb gur nhgbzngba naq ghea gur xabo. Nf ybat nf lbh’er pneelvat gur trarengbe, ur’yy sbyybj lbh, gubhtu ur jba’g tb vagb gur clenzvq nern. Bppnfvbanyyl, ur’yy fjvcr gur trarengbe naq zbir nobhg bs uvf bja ibyvgvba. Fb sne, guvf unfa’g ghearq hc nalguvat bs abgr.

      • The ticket might be useful in Phase 16 — there’s a closed barrier at the ticket office with a slot.

        (add: confirmed, alas, no, it is not. maybe it is just meant to be a hint the train has more destinations?)

      • rAWbL PUbPbYnGr OrrE!

        What was I thinking? Should obviously be:

        rAWbL PUbPbYnGr OnE

        Not that I know where one of those might be found. Probably totally inconsequential.

    • “Capitalist pigdog” is a “classic” slur, I don’t know if it was ever used in a straight way or if it was made up just to sound silly and mock the strawman saying such things. Google it. :)

      I would also rather think of a chocolate bar (or maybe bear) than chocolate beer! Comrade Smolenski/Smolensky seems valid.

      I am also unsure about NRCH. Note that two Ys has been left in the text, both at the end of words (NJY, SPPLY), while all other vowels are removed (except in STOP), which seems to be in favor of something else than anarchy. I have tried to find a synonym of teach that fit NRCH, for the sentence to read “… THe LeaDeRS To FeaR THe PeoPLe”. My second bet would be a synonym of topple, to make the sentence “… THe LeaDeRS To FRee THe PeoPLe”.

      But the material certainly leaves many possibilities – e.g. PieRCeD. Probably we will find out that we didn’t need to think about it. :)

  4. Pingback: Ferret: Chasm of a Thousand Cuts | Renga in Blue

  5. I haven’t had a chance to play much since the weekend, but I’ll drop in one observation/guess for Phases 9 and 10: [orpnhfr gur ahzoref va gur “Bcra Nern” ebbzf bs gubfr cunfrf arire tb nobir 26, V fhfcrpg gurl fubhyq or pbairegrq vagb yrggref naq gura gur shyyl znccrq “Bcra Nernf” fbyirq yvxr pelcgbtenzf.]

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