Ferret: One Room   33 comments

After all our efforts and travels, our final act of desperation might boil down to one room. (Prior posts on Ferret here.)

From a Data General Eclipse C/330 Computer System, via the Computer History Museum.

Before getting to the Jean-Paul Sartre simulator single puzzle of doom, I should mention we do have progress! But on the “backsolve” part of the game: how to make a projector.

Namely, Mustelid observed that the various “staffrooms” that have appeared in a few phases all have a tilted ceiling that resembles that type used with some projectors.

This room appears to have been used by the station staff during their rest periods. There are some basic facilities including a worktop with an opening for a sink and a broken tap. Under the opening for the sink is a cupboard. Above the worktop the ceiling is angled at 45 degrees as if the room is built under a sloping roof. There is a wooden door to the west.

Some playing around with the lit orb yielded far more results than we ever had before.

-> turn knob
The orb starts to emit a bright light.
-> put orb in sink
A rectangular area of the angled ceiling is brightly lit.

The fruit bowl I mentioned last time worked as a lens; if you put in one of the transparencies we’ve been toting around, symbols result:

-> put orb in sink
A rectangular area of the angled ceiling is brightly lit.
-> put bowl in sink
The rectangular area of the angled ceiling is diffusely lit. There appear to be
some symbols projected on to the ceiling.

You need to lay down both transparencies at the same time in order to get a full picture:

The map we already have, via brute force: it is the dark maze that had the leather wallet and the life vest.

It also, curiously enough, has one of the transparencies. The intended game flow (assuming you don’t sequence break like we did) is to use the bottom half of the map to obtain a second transparency, then do the combined transparencies to get the top half of the map.

The “key” (read top to bottom) is allegedly the clue we need to get at the plum ticket. We should likely say something like “state of enlightenment” at the Archive of Angst, but I wasn’t able to get it to work. I didn’t experiment that hard, though.

Archive of Angst
Cramped, poorly lit, smelly hovel. This room appears to have been partitioned from a previously larger room as, incongruously, there is a brass plate set off-centre in one wall. The plate features a grille under which is an engraved instruction. Sprayed across one wall is a graffito that reads: “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be”.
Exits: N— ——– —
-> read instruction
The engraving mandates: “State your destination”.

I didn’t experiment that hard because I’ve been focused on the puzzle of doom. Namely, trying to find the identity card in order to get into the last part of Phase 16. That is, where is this room?

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

The Authors, in their mercy, have dropped notice that the Broom Closet is in fact the important place for finding a secret, and the 20 points acquired are not just from finding the book inside. (The book, a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 with a mangled cover, may even be a red herring.) So efforts need to be focused there. But there just isn’t much to say:

In a derelict warehouse. Large open area. Lit through semi-transparent skylights. Main warehouse to the north. To the west an aluminium door.
Exits: NS– ——– —
-> open door
-> w
Broom Cupboard
A very small room with an aluminium door set in the east wall.
Exits: –E- ——– —
There is a book here
Score increment of 20 points.

Our vision of the future showed the secret room with an entrance from the north, so assuming this doesn’t lead to something more complex, there is some way to open the south wall here.

The way to unlock the visible door was to win a game of Mastermind. So possibility one is that there’s something additional to be done at the game. It consists of a giant, 20 by 4 block of rooms.

Broom closet marked in blue.

For each row, the westmost room has a “rainbow button” that will let us register a guess, and there are “rotary switches” that allow picking colors in any of the four rooms in a row:

Theodore’s Spike
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.
-> turn switch
The room is suffused by a glow of Red
-> turn switch
The room is suffused by a glow of Orange
-> turn switch
The room is suffused by a glow of Yellow
-> turn switch
The room is suffused by a glow of Green
-> turn switch
The room is suffused by a glow of Blue
-> turn switch
The room is suffused by a glow of Indigo
-> turn switch
The room is suffused by a glow of Violet

I found out, via prior experimentation, that the right sequence from west to east is Violet, Yellow, Orange, Yellow. This results, when the rainbow button is pushed, an “all black” light configuration (just like the black pegs of the real game). This sequence can be delivered in any of the rows. One possibility might have been that there is really a second combination the layout switches to after the first “all black” that needs to be solved for, but no: it’s still always Violet-Yellow-Orange-Yellow. I even tried setting every single one of the rows to all-black to no effect.

This doesn’t completely discard the possibility the Mastermind is relevant, but I can say I haven’t eked out any extra clues.

Another possibility might be that the wandering cyborg (the one we killed to get an orb to solve that projector puzzle I just mentioned) could come into play, maybe having her wander into the broom closet can have some effect? But the “chunky bracelet” which influenced the movements of the automaton in phase 9 (I think? … still unclear there) does not do anything with the cyborg, and if you just sit at the broom clause at WAIT FOR CYBORG the game just says “Looks like a no-show.” If you head to the room just south (Terminus) and do the same thing: “The cyborg has just slinked into the room.” It is clear the limit of the cyborg’s range cuts off right before the broom closet.

That leaves shenanigans in the broom closet itself, literal pounding on the wall in an empty room. I’ve tried saying various words important to the book 1984 (FREEDOM IS SLAVERY), poking and prodding at each of the wall directions (you can refer to SOUTH WALL, NORTH WALL, etc.), doing DANCE and SING, and probably most absurdly yet more promisingly, changing the system clock. And yes, I mean the date/time feature on the computer I am using to play the game.

To back up a bit, there was a puzzle I solved more or less by pure luck way back in Phase 2 where a particular device only worked at a particular time of day. I only realized this because when I first played through the section I was playing during the correct time span, but when I tested the same actions later they didn’t work. Here, the suspicion is we may or may not be setting a time, but the important thing is the system date.

The reason for this suspicion is the flier I mentioned last post out in the Mastermind puzzle is in a room called Timeshift Passage:

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

The 1984 book also contains a second date reference (a copyright of 1987, but based on the edition the ASCII seems to be based on that’s technically correct) and of the voucher and placard I also mentioned last time one makes a 1984 reference (kind of) and one makes a specific date reference:

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

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

So, I’ve changed my system clock to 31-OCT-1985, 12-DEC-1985, as well as 84, 86, and 87 permutations of the same. None seem to have any effect. I did not know what to set the timer to — none of the clues seem to be specific about that — so I tried 10 pm as a good “late till later” approximation. I also mucked about with 1 pm, in reference to the clocks ringing thirteen in the first sentence of 1984.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Of course, this sentence suggests April but… when? I’ve come up with all sorts of weird combinatorial possibilities but none of them seem justified past the obvious dates I’ve tried. I’m starting to think this is again the wrong path, especially because there are computers where changing the date that far back is not something accomplished with ease. (Also, did you know browsers will think your computer is hacked if you change your system date to the 1980s?)

And, just as a reminder, three days remain.

Posted January 28, 2023 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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33 responses to “Ferret: One Room

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  1. A strange thought, because of Y2K the way computer dates are computed has changed significantly. Would that have any effect on the date the game wants?

    • The game does have a DATE command so I have confirmed that it does read it as 1985 and not 2085. This also makes me a little more suspicious this might be relevant.

      As a counterpoint, the long spiel about entering either EXPERT or MASTER mode (I forget which) mentioned that the time part of the puzzle in Phase 2 is removed to make it easy to plow through with a transcript. This makes think they wouldn’t have a similar transcript-foiling moment later, but on the other other hand, the randomness has also allegedly been removed for identical reasons, but I’ve had a couple moments (like the cyborg) that clearly have RNG involved. So I’m not sure what to think.

      • I think the cyborg and the automaton are the only two points that I have not been able to script in a fully deterministic way.

      • One other moment (but scriptable) I’ve found is that in the lake landing while in the suit, occasionally going NW and then N will only sometimes get to the steel door; doing N again actually will if that doesn’t work. It seems to be random if the extra N is required, so I just put it in there anyway because it doesn’t hurt.

      • I’ve always been able to just move N twice after falling in the lake and immediately arriving at the door.

  2. Is it possible that the intended date is April 13, since a late night rave on the 12th would probably go past midnight?

    • I just tried LOOKing, moving SOUTH, PUSH SOUTH WALL, and OPEN SOUTH WALL inside the Broom Cupboard with my computer set to every possible date in April 1984, every possible date in October 1984, and every possible date in December 1984, and then ran out of patience to try more options.

  3. Now I’m getting worried that the reason we aren’t progressing here is because we are lacking a crucial source of information, or even item, from somewhere else. Like, is the end result of the whole Theater-to-Graveyard journey truly just a piece of paper that suggests the word “Blake?” Is that really all there is, or are we missing something *there* that’s needed to make sense of the Broom Cupboard?

    • I’m guessing given the very direct ROJ reference there it all applies once we get up into space (?).

      Not to say we haven’t missed info somewhere. I’ve been combing back over all the previous stuff, including discarded things, but haven’t found anything else I’d consider helpful with the broom closet.

  4. Just a random thought: as it is the Broom Cupboard, have you examined floor and ceiling? Especially, have you something to sweep the floor with? Might yield a switch or a trap door.

    • given the only anomaly between the foyer and broom closet I can see is one is big and the other isn’t (see my other comment), I do think floor/ceiling might come into it, but all my past attempts and attempts today so far have yielded nothing

      still seems like there has to be something given the hint about the book damage

      at one point suspected the room might be an elevator but no dice

      also tried the thing with taking a ton of items in the hope weight would trigger something

  5. today’s hivemind update:

    The Broom Cupboard. The answer is not related to the date and you don’t need to change the settings of your computer.

    There is something anomalous about the Foyer and Broom Cupboard.

    There is a very subtle clue in the first sentence/page of the book, but that wasn’t designed to be the way to solve the problem, it just happens to be there.

    • just for reference

      The book is very old and appears to have been damaged by immersion in water.

      I guess the question is _where did the water come from?_

      • I did try bringing water from the waterfall, as you can FILL BOWL WITH WATER (or other containers) at the room to the south of the waterfall, but the water vanishes as soon as you move away.

        That there is something anomalous about the Foyer also is a promising lead. Tinkering with that shortly.

      • update: typical Ferret bugginess, if you fill a container with water but then move to another location *that itself has water*, the water in your container vanishes

        but if you fill a container with water and then move to another location *that has no water*, your container will still keep water in it

        bottom line, you can fill a container with water at Damp Dreamland and then bring it to the Foyer/Broom Cupboard area, but I haven’t figured out what to use that for (if anything)

    • I wish I knew if “There is a very subtle clue in the first sentence/page of the book” is referring to Ferret’s *description* of the book, or the actual “first sentence/page” of 1984

      • same. trying to brainstorm what it means if it is 1984 itself. first sentence of the actual book would indicate the puzzle is still time-related, but how else can we mess with time things since it isn’t system settings?

      • or if “first page,” there is discussion in the second paragraph of Winston using the stairs to climb to his apartment because the electricity powering the lift was off during daylight hours, which suggests again maybe the generator could be used to turn on some power and/or get an elevator going, but I haven’t had any success there either

        also, and this was probably obvious to everyone more familiar with 1984 than I, the book cover of the water-damaged edition in question is presumably the same BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU poster described in the second paragraph of the book

      • The possibility that the broom closet an elevator is strengthened by the fact that, given that it’s on the south-western border of the warehouse with the partitioned area directly to the north and the Foyer directly to the east, it seems unlikely that another would be connected to it on the same floor.

  6. The activated waterfall is also in phase12 right? maybe the water can enter the Foyer somehow, by meddling with the translucent skylight? just guessing based on room descriptions. could even be that some manupilation is required before activating the waterfall.

    • One “anomalous” thing about the Foyer is that, unlike all of the other warehouse locations, you *cannot* interact with the skylight in the Foyer (you can in the other warehouse locations, albeit with a lot of “Although you can see it, you can’t get to it” responses). Nor can you interact with “area” in the Foyer (where you can in all of the other “partitioned area” warehouse locations).

      And the Broom Cupboard doesn’t have skylights at all. (Which I guess begs another question, where are the lights coming from in the Broom Cupboard, especially with the door shut?)

      The waterfall in phase 12 *is* the one that gets “worse” when you activate the lake machinery in phase 11. (Worse in the sense that entering it traps you completely, versus “just” being trapped in three locations.) However, because the lake machinery that activates the waterfall is in an earlier phase, there’s no way to do something in the phase 12 warehouse *and then go back* activate the lake machinery.

      • “(Which I guess begs another question, where are the lights coming from in the Broom Cupboard, especially with the door shut?”

        Wild guess: the door is made of transparent aluminium from Star Trek IV (substance that should be able to withstand the pressure of hundreds of tons of water and two humpback whales).

        Ilmari Jauhiainen
  7. Maybe immaterial, but I keep looking at the Key at the right-hand edge of the map. Why the vertical orientation? Why the misspelled words (steit, inlaitenment, destinaisen) in the message? Is there some clue to be found if you read across the 3-character rows or something, rather than down the 27-character column?

    • I was thinking along the same lines. Weirdness: misspellings, layout, heading (key).

      I originally thought that “key” could indicate a cipher, but I sort of brushed it aside. But with 27 columns (A-Z plus space?) then maybe, it would sort of explain the heading and the layout. Could it be some kind of one-time pad? Is there anything that needs to be deciphered?

      Did someone say misspellings were to throw of solves without the full set of transparencies? Otherwise, my best guess is that they are just meant to draw particular attention to these particular words (state of enlightenment, destination). The rest of the text has more of a filler-feel than subtly hidden information-feel.

      It might also be worth trying to substitute something for state of enlightenment, for instance nirvana.

  8. * destineisen

  9. hmmm

    -> look under door
    You cannot see under the door.

    maybe this *isn’t* a stock response?

  10. btw, somehow once the cyborg wandered into the foyer. Very random, though. After that I went south I tried WAIT FOR CYBORG and the game hardlocked on me, I had to control-C to quit out of the game.

    One thing I’ve been trying to work on is somehow (without changing system settings) making the area “think it is night”. Normally you might try blocking lights or something, but the skylight is out, and whatever is lighting the broom closet isn’t even referrable, so I’m not sure what to think.

  11. Pingback: Ferret: Big Brother is Watching You | Renga in Blue

  12. What does TESTing the door result in? Is it close-able from the inside?

    • You can close from the inside (as pointed out by the authors, it is unusual for the door to be accessible from both sides, which indicates the door is really sliding). The frustrating thing is that knowing this doesn’t really help with the puzzle! Check the next post for updates, though.

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