Ferret: Feeling Well Dead   23 comments

So painfully, painfully close.

(Prior posts on Ferret here.)

From Major Activities in the Atomic Energy Programs, January – December 1960.

We have since last time managed to wrangle through the crossword, which I’ll give the solution of first.

(As observed by a couple people, “Live back against the ten commandments” should probably be “Lived back”, so that reversing “lived” gets “devil”, otherwise “evil” would be the better answer.)

The missing clue, 7 across, is just SEVEN. It is unclear (like so many things) if this puzzle is meant to go anywhere; we’ve already had ample warning about BLAKE’S (or BLAKES) SEVEN being important, but maybe it is meant to just be a little extra. There is incidentally a signal nearby which relates; I mentioned there was an “audio guide” that activated upon wearing some headphones. At a random time while walking around there is a special message having nothing to do with the location you’re in:

There is a sharp click followed by a blast of white noise. Then silence. After a few seconds, initially faintly, then more strongly, you hear: “This is Civil Administration ship London. We are in transit from Earth to Cygnus Alpha, transporting prisoners to the penal colony. We have Federation clearance for direct flight, authority number K-Seven-Zero-One.”
The radio broadcast finishes and the original presentation starts afresh.

This is in direct references to Blakes 7; this is the prison ship that transports Blake in the opening episodes.

A moment from the first episode where they discuss lack of identification.

This all suggests “K701” will be used somewhere, but we haven’t reached it yet.

One of the other unsolved sections in Phase 16 was a “blast control” area.

Hooter must be sounded no more than minute(s) before blasting.
Wind plunger turn(s) to prime blaster rotor.
Depress plunger to initiate blast sequence.

Blasting is forbidden between the hours of and .
In event of problems call Central Mining Control Centre.
Operations out of normal parameters contact neighbourhood liaison on red.
Last safety check completed:

A nickel key (from the water maze in Phase 15) was required; after some fiddling I realized “winding the plunger” meant turning the aforementioned key, so getting the explosion to happen was a matter of guessing how many turns were required.

-> put nickel in keyhole
-> press toggle
A siren wails, echoing around the mine workings.
-> turn nickel;turn nickel;turn nickel
-> lift plunger
-> push down plunger
Done. After a fractional pause there is an enormous explosion in the bowels of the mine workings.

LIFT and PUSH DOWN would both be absurdly hard to find but I just used TEST PLUNGER twice causing the game to magically come across the right verbs for me.

My dilemma now was, having caused the explosion, what use it had. Nothing seemed to move or change. It took some hints from Voltgloss to move things around, and most specifically the observation that if you go down to the first branch the “boring” one which just leads to a dead and at a warehouse, you can briefly observe a railway track whilst heading to the dead end.

On a fenced lane running east west parallel to a railway track. The lane slopes down from west to east.

This track is extremely important: what it indicates is the track we’ve been riding the train on for a very long time now keeps going! Normally, if you try to drive the train past Phase 16, it just gets stuck:

You are in the cab of a locomotive which is currently resting very firmly against the buffers at the end of a siding.

I assumed that was that, but the game is being deceptive in the description here: if it were not for some blockage it could keep going farther north. In particular, by a nearby earthquake, like from a large explosion like you can cause at the blast area! However, this still seems unhelpful, since entering phase 16 is a one-way trip; however, if you think to RELEASE HANDBRAKE at the train before starting the explosion, the train will keep rolling along of its own volition.

End of Lane
On a fenced lane running north south. The southern end of the lane exhibits a ground shadow synonymous with the previous existence of an immense warehouse.
Exits: NS– ——– —
-> s
Shadow of a Warehouse
A large open area exhibiting the ground shadow of an immense warehouse. The remainder of the warehouse is to the south. To the north is a fenced lane. To the west is a set of railway tracks, to the east is the rear end of a train locomotive which appears to be sinking very slowly into the ground.
Exits: NS-W ——– —
There are some shards of timber here

I’ve gone on the record already as “preparation puzzles” being highly satisfying; this was no different, and I really do like the very subtle clue of the recurrence of railway tracks. I would be a little more pleased if the text upon trying to move the train too far was a little less deceptive.

Inside the warehouse, as our “reward” we can die again.

-> s
A large open area in the remains of an immense warehouse. There is another
large open area to the north.
Exits: N— ——– —
There is a thallium receptacle here
-> open receptacle
Opening the thallium receptacle reveals:
some radiant pellets
-> get pellets

Alternately, we can take the whole receptacle along. Either way, the messages come:

You are starting to feel unwell.

You are feeling well bad.

You are feeling well dead.
Phase 16 (Liberation)
Mode: Master
You have scored 1515 (out of 1670) points in 3940 moves.
Rooms visited: 887. Rank achieved: Supremo.

Oops! Radiation safety, everyone! Which I discovered (including another insight from Voltgloss) in carrying in a leather wallet and putting the pellets inside; closing the wallet keeps them from causing damage, so we can now safely stick them as fuel somewhere.

Assuming the headphones section is a one-way “quantum echo” (and it certainly feels that way) the only thing left to deal with in Phase 16 is the lift with the mysterious NAPIVS warning.

I inquired directly about this from the authors and received a mysterious hint:

Amaurotic Ambulatory
A short room.
Exits: N— ——– —
There is an identity card here

Some further prodding revealed that if there’s a room you’re trying to find, typing GOTO ROOM will give an error if the room doesn’t exist (that is, you’re in the wrong phase) while typing GOTO ROOM in the correct phase will have the game try to pathfind a route there:

-> goto Amaurotic Ambulatory
Plotting a course…
No way, jose.

Using this trick we realized the identity card we needed was back in Phase 12, with the cyborg, waterfall, and Mastermind game. Solving the Mastermind game had unlocked a room with a book that I managed to decipher as being a particular edition of George Orwell’s novel 1984.

Broom Cupboard
A very small room with an aluminium door set in the east wall.
Exits: –E- ——– —
There is a book here

Arriving at this room gives the player some points. It is possible the points are there simply because the information about the existence of the book is simply later, but it was suspicious: could there be something more here? Unfortunately, all my attempts at prying open a secret door or the like have been for naught. I went back to the various Mastermind rooms and tried prodding at combinations to see if there was any other result to be found — maybe after solving Mastermind once it would be a totally different combo? This didn’t seem to be the case though. The sequence always remained Violet-Yellow-Orange-Yellow.

Stones and Soot
In a derelict warehouse. Partitioned area. Lit through semi-transparent skylights. On one wall a set of disco lights, rainbow button and rotary switch.
No way west.
Exits: NSE- ——– —
-> turn switch
The room is suffused by a glow of Orange
-> push button
The lights are showing: White Unlit Unlit Unlit

(That’s: one color correct but in wrong position, all other colors incorrect.)

I then resorted to going back to the broom closet and trying a bunch of words and phrases from Orwell, like IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, but no dice. The game has been decently good about cuing when there is a voice signal (although we got tripped up in the pyramid on a series of riddle rooms where the last one had no clue) and I went through nearly every strongly-associated word/phrase so I think the trick must be something else.

There’s one more possibility, and that’s the fact that the warehouse includes, randomly in one spot, a flier.

MC Emsee and the Enormous Possie
A Rave to Remember
* DJ Spong
* Fardy Snapwit
* The New House Bandeleroos
* Aching Vomit and the Wretches
12th December, Late till Later
Warehouse on Conduit Road
Zonndo Promotions init
Max schtumm to avoid babylon

There’s both a voucher and a placard from back in Phase 9 which seem related:

Jenny Taylor’ Promotions
In association with the Rigid Digit Troupe
are delighted to announce a new collection
Juicy Lucy and the Suppurating Slits
with Hardlong Pipe and the Plumbers will play
The Come and Get It Adlib Concert
for one night only
Do not miss this once in a lifetime show
31st October 1985
An aural orgasm – The Voice of the Streets
Promoting Agents: Throbbing Vain Acts

A Jenny Talls’ Promotion
The Fashion Event of the year featuring:
Heady Grobuttucks
Noni Nonutts
Hugh Ampleforth
This voucher admits one only.
Non-transferable. Not for sale.
Validation Number: 55378008

How does this relate to the problem? Do we wave the voucher in a particular room to get in the secret disco club underneath the disco club? “Ampleforth” is incidentally a character in 1984, someone who rewrites poetry for the Ministry of Truth, but it is hard to turn that knowledge into a tangible action in the game.

‘These things happen,’ he began vaguely. ‘I have been able to recall one instance — a possible instance. It was an indiscretion, undoubtedly. We were producing a definitive edition of the poems of Kipling. I allowed the word “God” to remain at the end of a line. I could not help it!’ he added almost indignantly, raising his face to look at Winston. ‘It was impossible to change the line. The rhyme was “rod”. Do you realize that there are only twelve rhymes to “rod” in the entire language? For days I had racked my brains. There was no other rhyme.’

My last order of business here is to bestow a medal upon Mustelid for inquiring about bringing the remote generator and the orb together.

This marathon medal seems appropriate.

Some explanation: we’ve been still trying to make a projector, to back-solve the business with the plum ticket, with the clue that an “opaque orb” is important. There is an ultra-heavy remote generator from Phase 9 that an automaton follows around once you activate it. If you try to take the generator onto the train, and turn the knob to move the train, it appears maybe the generator is too heavy:

-> release handbrake
-> turn knob

The catch is the parser: it is getting caught by the fact that the remote generator also has a knob. The knob in the train is a “knurled knob” and you need to “turn knurled” in order to move the train rather than “turn knob” once the generator is onboard.

The upshot of all this is if you manage to bring the generator and orb together, turning the generator will cause the orb to glow! So we have a light source; now we just need to make a projector out of it. We can toss the orb in a “fruit bowl” which might serve as a lens, but otherwise the game is frustratingly unresponsive to any kind of command that involve combining objects (I might want to cover the bowl with linen and poke a hole, but neither is understood). Still, the projector seems tantalizingly close.

Will we get there, though? Only five days remain.

Posted January 26, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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23 responses to “Ferret: Feeling Well Dead

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  1. It seems very strange for a ruinous typo to creep into a cryptic crossword.

    Could we instead get the extra ‘D’ that we need from jumping from ten to deci-, shortened to d? Seems kind of non-standard, but dL = deciliter and dm = decimeter are at least common units. *Live back against ten* could sort of maybe go to live+d and from there to devil. Too much of a stretch, maybe?

    • Apparently, decalogue is also an alternative name for the ten commandments (10 is closer to deca, while deci is mostly 1/10, but deca is much less common for units and doesn’t get the single d abbreviation). I’m not clear on exactly which way is the correct way to conjure a ‘d’, but I think one of these paths is probably what’s intended.

      • Yeah, you’d have to use the whole clue then for both the definition and the cryptic part.

        Lived back against the ten commandments

        does make sense (kind of) for devil and if you include “ten commandments” as “d” then your logic works. Still feels fuzzy, but I’ll ask.

    • I haven’t poked the authors about this detail yet but I’ll include it.

      Typo on a cryptic clue is odd but this is deep, deep into a game that took 40 years to write and where we are essentially the first people to play all the way through.

    • Arguably, the clue “live” could just *mean* “lived.” If you are “live,” then by definition, you also have “lived” for a period of time up until the present (notwithstanding Ferret’s best efforts to the contrary).

    • Sleeping on this and overthinking it, I’m still not very happy torturing a ‘d’ out of the puzzle. Another way is reading ‘d’ as a near-homophone of the word ‘the’. I’m still very eager to produce a ‘d’ for the definition clue, because:

      Reading ‘live back’ as just telling us to reverse letters of ‘live’ goes into not-even-a-puzzle territory (and requires assuming a typo). If we manage to get ‘live back against d’ instead, the clue is telling us that ‘live’ (is placed with its) back (i.e. the ‘e’) against a ‘d’ (and facing away), giving us devil.

      It’s still a reverse-engineering solve, but it seems to fit together sort of nicely. I’m not actually familiar with cryptic crosswords – some sources seem to indicate that the definition and indication *must* be separate, other seem to say that combining them is even better when possible.

      • As someone who does a lot of cryptics:
        there are some clues, known as &lits, where the entire text serves as both definition and cryptic clues. I would say that they usually end with ? or ! but this discussion by a crossword setter suggests that that isn’t mandatory. (A ? can also indicate that a definition is a bit of a stretch, or a definition-by-example (for instance, in today’s Guardian crossword we have “lunch?” for MEAL and “man with large appetite?” for SATYR.)
        And “live back” for “evil” or whatever is very far from not-even-a-puzzle. In these clues we have “morf back” for “from” which is far more obvious, since “morf” sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s OK to have a word defined and then put it backwards (bad form to define a word and expect someone to anagram it) but having the text backward is OK.
        As for having a typo in a cryptic, this happens every few months in the Guardian puzzle which is professionally edited etc., I don’t think it’s too outrageous to think it’s happened here where the authors aren’t necessarily cryptic specialists.

        As for the whole thing, there’s that one with the English poet which is probably BLAKE even if we can’t figure out how we got there, so BLAKE/SEVEN seems thematic.

      • Ah, I see that we have a confirmation from the hivemind that it’s not a typo, but… I think it would be better if it were.

  2. Speaking of metric notation, it occurs to me that the makers of Blake’s 7 may have meant the registry number of Blake’s prison ship as an homage, since “K” is the abbreviation for the metric prefix “kilo-” or “thousand”. By that logic, “K701” means… “1701”. (“No bloody A. B, C. or D!”) :D

  3. That sounds unlikely to me. In metric notation you write it the other way round, ie 701K instead of K701. 701K (or 701k) would be 701,000 indeed, but I have never seen K (or k) being used as a prefix to indicate 1000. But then this is Ferret…

  4. so can we pass the time by describing the craziest things we’ve fruitlessly tried so far to unlock the elusive secret in Phase 12

    mine was “setting my computer’s calendar to December 12, the date in the flier, to see if the rave is only open on a certain day of the actual year” (a la the “Ferret knows what time it is” puzzle way back in phase 2)

    hopefully I don’t also have to set my computer to thinking it’s 1984 because the calendar can only go back to 1993

    I also tried saying “max schtumm” and “max schtumm to avoid babylon” in every Phase 12 location, along with lighting the orb in every Phase 12 location, bashing my face into every possible direction in every Phase 12 location, every combination of “TEST” using the book/voucher/flier/orb, all to no avail

    feels like we’re collectively in the starring role of No Exit – all we need as a coup de grace is a wooden door

    (this post brought to you by the “does the capitalization and punctuation adequately express the mood” department)

    • huh, the system time is an interesting thought, given the number of dates we’ve got (not just the book 1984, but the copyright on it of 1987, and the 1985 on the voucher)

      when I have time I’ll rotate through 83-88 with the dates of october 31 and december 12 to see if anything happens

      • I was being maybe 25% facetious earlier, but remembering that the flier *is* found in the location called “Timeshift Passage,” I am now keenly interested to hear how this turns out.

        The book stating a copyright date of 1987 but *actually* being the book “1984” (if the water damage is parsed through correctly as Jason did) is quite the devious clue if we’re indeed supposed to solve this by setting our computer to the correct date.

        Are there any other dates we might want to be considering as part of this?

      • no luck with any of these


        tried a late time (10 pm) but don’t really have a specific time directive

      • ugh. not 100% discarding the date change idea (I don’t really have a good set timespan, and I haven’t laboriously tried every hour in the dates in question) but it isn’t working.

  5. new message from the hivemind:

    Live back = evil.

    Ten = Decimal (D).

    Live back against the ten = devil.

    Against the ten commandments = devil.

    There is a reason why you get 10 points for visiting the Broom Cupboard (and it’s not finding the book).

  6. It seems I, with great help of Mustelid (medal again!), cracked the transparencies projector puzzle, but I am not sure, I am so disappointed in the result.
    Posted about it an a comment here: https://bluerenga.blog/2023/01/22/ferret-bristling-with-fame-loves-anchovies-participates/#comment-94324

    • The reward I got was a map of the Stonewalled Cavern maze in phase 13. It seems to add nothing to what we already know. There are two differences to the map I had already made, it could be errors I made when mapping or it could be errors in the map we get. I think the chance that differences are significant is very small. It should be checked to be certain of course, unless your maps all match the one the game gives us.

    • A map and a message. Although the message’s purpose is not immediately clear.

      [Ernq qbja rnpu pbyhza bs gur “Xrl” yrggref ba gur sne evtug. Gur zrffntr ernqf (fcryyvat reebef pyrneyl vagragvbany):

      N fgrvg bs vaynvgrazrag vf
      bsgra fbhtug ohg eneryl vf
      vg gur npuvrirq qrfgvarvfra]

    • OK, not so disappointed anymore. I was doing that in version 10.20. If you do the same thing in version 10.21 you get more information from the transparencies, and indeed a “key” text. :)

      • Could I get the exact command sequence?

      • Full direct spoilers in ROT13 below.

        Va cunfr 13 Fgnssebbz, jvgu gur zbovyr trarengbe ninvynoyr, qb guvf:
        chg chpr genafcnerapl va genafyhprag sehvg objy
        chg irezvyvba genafcnerapl va genafyhprag sehvg objy
        ghea oynpx xabo
        chg npelyvp beo va fvax
        chg genafyhprag sehvg objy va fvax
        rknzvar prvyvat

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