Archive for the ‘pyramid-of-doom’ Tag

Pyramid of Doom (1979)   4 comments

Let’s finish with Scott Adams for 1979!

Except, well, this isn’t Scott Adams, but rather the only game ever made by Alvin Files. Alvin had worked out how the Scott Adams Adventure system worked, and wrote a game on his own. He sent it to Mr. Adams, and after minor tweaks, it was released as Scott Adams Adventure #8.

This is one of those early-difficulty games: there are four desert rooms, a small hole I can enter, and I have no idea what to do to get the game started.

The style of starting with a tight area containing a difficult puzzle can work on occasion. Christminster is a text adventure from 1995 with a very devious timing puzzle in the first four rooms. Once solved the resolution is glorious. (On the other hand, it caused some people to quit playing.)

I wrote a level set called A Quiet Place for the game DROD where I made the first room high-pressure just as a way of throwing down the gauntlet — if someone couldn’t beat it, they were best off playing some easier levels first. Also, the tight pressure was a thematic device throughout (as the Youtube video I just linked explains, “everything wants me dead. Immediately.”)

To pick a less obscure (and only slightly less relevant) example, the first boss of Dark Souls is legendary for being extremely difficult. That is, extremely difficult for someone approaching the game as a standard RPG button masher; the repeated deaths are intended to train the player that yes, you might need to dodge and aim your attacks to win the game. By the end, the player has either quit or undergone a sadistic sort of tutorial which sets the tone for the rest of the game.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s really the case here that the puzzle is supposed to be classically “difficult”; the resolution may end up being just silly and frustrating. (The difficulty overall of the game is advertised as “Moderate.” Savage Island, which will come in 1980, starts with a small difficult section but is “Advanced” and clearly intended to challenge the player.)

I’ve got access to:

  • A canteen, and water
  • A shovel
  • A flashlight
  • A tiny key, which I found by digging in one of the desert rooms.
  • A stone; READ STONE tells me “Confusing. Part appears missing.”; taking the stone causes “the sound of machinery” and a “door with large keyhole” to appear.
  • In the same place as the stone I can DIG to make a hole, and then enter the hole to find a tiny locked door. The tiny key unlocks the tiny door (again causing “the sound of machinery”) and that’s the point I’m stuck. I can’t get any more machinery sounds and the door is too small to enter.
  • There’s also a “small nomad” that appears not long after starting the game who follows the player around, but I haven’t found any use for him yet. Other than TALK NOMAD (which ends up being fruitless) I can’t interact with him at all. I suppose maybe he’s small enough to fit in the door, but this isn’t an Infocom game where I can say >NOMAD, ENTER DOOR.
  • Oh, and finally, there’s a sign that states “He who defiles to tombs of Egypt shall surely perish!” Not likely useful, but when I’m this stuck I’m willing to try anything.

I’d be willing to take hints, but if you post one, ROT13 format only please. I’m going to keep at this for a while yet.

Posted June 20, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pyramid of Doom: The Nomad   Leave a comment

As predicted, my issue last time was not from a “difficult” puzzle as much as silly and frustrating situation. I ran into both a parser issue and a visualization issue simultaneously!

From the first area of the game, I could >GET LIQUID to fill my canteen, but >ENTER LIQUID and >GO LIQUID both result in “I don’t understand” messages. This led me to visualize the pool as something small (maybe the result of a spill). However, if you >ENTER POOL instead

I’m in a Pool of water
Obvious exit: EAST
Visible items: Large key

Clearly the intent was for the pool to be visualized like some sort of oasis.

Let me repeat for emphasis: The *exact same item* has to be referred to a LIQUID if we’re wanting to get water to drink, or a POOL if we’re wanting to jump in. I know the classical complaint with old parsers is guess-the-verb, but they can be bad in much different ways. (Related: my post on a part of Acheton that was guess-the-noun.)

In any case, once I got past that part, things opened up:

So far, everything I’ve seen is very traditional (including the objective of “gather all the treasures”), with the exception of the small nomad.

I’m in a sitting room
Obvious exit: NORTH
Visible items: Small Nomad, Ashes, Basket, Fireplace

The nomad discovers the player fairly early on in the game and follows them everywhere, silently watching but never doing any actions.

WHAT SHALL I DO? talk nomad
The nomad stuck out his tongue at me.
WHAT SHALL I DO? kick nomad
The nomad stuck out his tongue at me.

Now, it is possible to shoot the nomad…

Got him!! Nomad vanishes in a puff of yellow smoke.

…but the nomad shows up again shortly after, and continues following the player like nothing has happened.

Will the nomad help with an obstacle? Will they hinder the player at a specific time? Or perhaps both will happen? Does the nomad represent uncomfortable stereotyping or is the disappearance in a puff of smoke enough of fantasy-universe remove it doesn’t matter?

Posted June 27, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pyramid of Doom: The Possibility Space   9 comments


Going back to the moment of entering the pyramid, recall from last time I had trouble finding the “large key” leading to the main door due to a parser issue. Given someone who doesn’t have the issue and finds the large key right away, I believe the “intended” first method of entering the pyramid was this:

WHAT SHALL I DO? unlock door
Large stone falls on me!

To prevent this from happening, you have to dig and find a secondary small door; upon unlocking it, the large door can open safely.

I know traditionally the “diegetic plot” of an adventure is the one that goes through without deaths, but I’ve come to think this paints an incomplete picture. This particular death is amusing enough that it’s hard to imagine it won’t be “in the head” of the player, making the environment seem more dangerous. On the surface, the player is walking through a door. Underneath, the player is avoiding a death-trap. Without both branches simultaneously, part of the story is missing.


One of the puzzles I solved since I last checked in involved a room of mirrors, and was in several parts.

I’m in a long, narrow passageway
Obvious exit: SOUTH
Visible items: Small Nomad, Bricked up doorway, Rope

First, to get in requires busting through the bricked up doorway. There’s an iron glove nearby, and if you wear it, you can >PUNCH DOOR

OK Crash!!!

!!! That’s quite a glove, there.

Heading into the door:

Mirrors EVERYWHERE! Light blinds me, so I shut it OFF!

The room description is then just “It’s too dark; I can’t see.”

You can go in any direction (NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST, UP, or DOWN) although only one of them (EAST) leads to a new room. When entering the new room you have to remember to turn your flashlight back on.

I’m in a dressing room
Obvious exit: WEST
Visible items: Small Nomad, * GOLD SCARAB *

However, there’s yet another treasure, back in the mirror room!

I feel a coin on the floor

Regarding the sequence as a whole, it strikes me as one of those where parser is stronger than a hyperlink-interface, in all three parts: A.) The idea that you can straight-up punch a door is hilarious and not even that hard to work out, but having the option “punch door” pop up would be much less satisfying then coming up with the action unprompted. B.) The hidden room based on direction-in-darkness which requires manually lighting up the flashlight after testing a direction would feel lawnmower-y if the six possible directions were available to click; I originally figured the coin was the only treasure (where the exit SOUTH went back as I expected) and only discovered the dressing room after later experimentation. C.) I have no idea how feeling in the darkness would work in hypertext without some persistent FEEL verb that works in every room; having the verb pop up in the dark room only would ruin the surprise.


I have discovered 9 out of the 13 treasures. The places I am obviously stuck on are:

1.) A “giant oyster” who blocks my entrance through an archway.

WHAT SHALL I DO? go archway
Oyster won’t let me

I am unclear how this works. I guess the oyster is … wedged in somehow?

2.) A “purple worm” that I found in a room with a dead explorer:

WHAT SHALL I DO? open portal
Nomad: `RUN YOU FOOL!`
Doesn’t bother him.
Purple worm devours me.

Note the nomad’s warning, which is provided even before opening the portal. I theorized earlier the nomad might be helpful; I guess this (and stuck point #3) might be the reason the nomad has been around in the first place?

There’s a nearby pool of acid which I suspect might make a nice home for the purple worm, but I haven’t been able to get it to move around, so that might be a red herring.

3.) I’ll just let my transcript explain this one:

I’m in a throne room
Obvious exit: DOWN
Visible items: Small Nomad, Iron statue of Phraoah seated on throne, Chain hanging from ceiling, Chest, Wall Mural
WHAT SHALL I DO? read mural
Mural: Seek ye well the HEART of Iron.
WHAT SHALL I DO? pull chain
I hear a hollow laugh. . . The sound of machinery.
[In the room description, the statue changes to “standing statue”.]
WHAT SHALL I DO? pull chain
Nomad: `RUN YOU FOOL!`
I hear a hollow laugh. . . The sound of machinery.
[The description changes to “Iron statue, slowing advancing. . .”]
WHAT SHALL I DO? shoot statue
OK Missed…
Iron Statue tears me apart!

I’ve been puzzling over the “HEART” of Iron hint. I read over the Wikipedia article on iron in case this is some external reference, but I don’t think so.

ADD: Found this immediately after posting.

WHAT SHALL I DO? get heart
Pharoah’s heart is red like yours, yet evil has darkened it!

It still isn’t helping me out, though.


Before I sign out, I wanted to share the blurbs from the 1979 and 1982 releases of the game:

1979: From jewels to gold – 13 treasures are concealed in this ancient pyramid. Watch out for the nomad and beware the curse of the pharaoh!
1982: An Egyptian Treasure Hunt leads you into the dark recesses of a recently uncovered Pyramid. Will you recover all the treasures or more likely will you join its denizens for that long eternal sleep?….

Notice how the first one seems to set the nomad up as an enemy? The nomad is still the only one I can use the pistol on, who as I explained last time comes back after disappearing in a puff of smoke. I think it’s possible the pistol is either a giant red herring or used in a very unconventional way, which I can throw some respect for.

Posted July 9, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pyramid of Doom: Heart of the Phraoah   2 comments

Last time, I had found a “throne room” with an “Iron statue of Phraoah” that killed me. There was a mural with the hint “Seek ye well the HEART of Iron” and trying to >TAKE HEART gave the message “Pharoah’s heart is red like yours, yet evil has darkened it!”

I have now solved this puzzle. Voltgloss mentioned in the comments this is the “defining puzzle” of the game. Since I’m going to spoil it, you should turn away now if you plan on playing Pyramid of Doom in the future.

I was stalled, and did my common procrastination tactic of browsing for more images to use in blog posts. Surprisingly, my act of procrastination broke open the case!

This is from the second catalog (1980 I believe) for Adventure International products. Specifically note the phrase “So, if you can’t seem to get out of the bog or locate the pharoah’s heart”. I assumed (via the somewhat deceptive parser response to >GET HEART) that the heart was in the throne room, but upon reading this comment I tried >GET HEART in an entirely different room and got the same message. It must be a hard-coded “hint”; and to be fair, while it led me astray at first, I wouldn’t have solved the puzzle without it.

So: considering the whole map, is there anything “darkened”? I did find a lump of coal in a fireplace, and had even tried using it in the throne room to no avail, but the word “darkened” suggested to me it could be cleansed somehow.

If you recall the pool of liquid that gave me trouble at the start of the game, I took the coal in the water and typed >CLEAN COAL.

The result: a ruby. Ah!

Alas, holding the ruby, rubbing it, waving it, etc. seemed to not do anything to the pharaoh. I decided I needed to destroy it. I utilized a nearby pool of acid:

OK Ruby falls into pool of acid, burns up.

Checking back in the throne room:

I’m in a throne room
Obvious exit: DOWN
Visible items: Small Nomad, Chain hanging from ceiling, Chest, Wall Mural, Pile of Melted iron

Pulling the chain reveals a secret staircase, and after a little trouble, I was able to get up to 12 out of 13 treasures found. The only issue: is the 13th treasure the ruby that I melted in acid? I’m not getting that back.

I don’t know if that means I solved the puzzle in the wrong way, or if the ruby just “doesn’t count”. I’m still stuck on the other puzzles from my last post (the giant oyster and the purple worm) so unless both are red herrings, I’m missing something else important.

But, close! Hoping for a victory post next time.

Posted July 11, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Pyramid of Doom: Finished!   Leave a comment

I’ve stored 13 treasures. On a scale from 0 to 100 that rates a 100. Well done.

So for the 13th treasure, I checked in a few of Voltgloss’s hints he provided on my last post. I had a hunch I was stuck on something not worth banging my head over.

I was not wrong.

Ok, what is it with early adventure games and goofy giant oysters? There was the one in Crowther and Woods Adventure that could be pried open with a trident (and only a trident), the one in Adventure 500 you just had to drop near water, and the one that waged mortal combat in Spelunker.

With this game, early on you find some “dried camel jerky”. There are some nearby starving rats who will gratefully eat it, and subsequently not attack you. I assumed that was that.

However, oysters like dried camel jerky … too?

Oyster makes a slobbering noise
Visible items: Small Nomad, Pistol, Archway, Giant Oyster, * BLACK PEARL *

I can’t adequately express my state of mind about this puzzle so let me throw around some question marks: ? ???? ?? ?? ? ? ?? ? ? ???? ????

I mean (?), I guess a super-huge oyster (????) might eat something other than plankton (??), so this sort of (??????) makes sense (??).

No, no it doesn’t. But at least it was the last puzzle!

Progress update: I am shifting Warp, which I previously dated as 1979, up to 1980. I was always a bit tentative about it (I discuss the issue in my first post) because while the coding technically started in 1979 nobody outside the authors touched it until 1980. I also shelve HAUNT by John Laird (which has a copyright date span starting at 1979, but wasn’t really in a recognizable form until 1980) in that camp.

This leaves me with either 5 or 6 games to go to be entirely done with the 1970s:


a3 by Peter Langston


Library by Nat Howard
Tut by Peter Langston (this a binary arithmetic tutorial in the Wander system and may not be worth a post)


Enchanted Island by Greg Hassett
Adventure 550 by David Platt
Adventure 501 by David Long

I might loop back and snag a few “supplemental games” which aren’t exactly adventures (like a full post on Hunt the Wumpus, and an obscure related game from the same year called Caves) but probably not until I’ve already started 1980.

Posted July 12, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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