Archive for the ‘the-golden-voyage’ Tag

The Golden Voyage (1981)   8 comments

I want to clear up a misconception I’ve seen elsewhere about Golden Voyage, #12 in the Scott Adams series.

— backtrack that, I’m going to let Scott Adams himself do it. This is from an audio interview on the Atari 8-bit Podcast; you can listen to the relevant portion from the man himself or just read the transcript below.

Kevin Savetz: Based on your feedback that you get, what do you think is your most enduring adventure game?

Scott Adams: Probably Pirate Adventure, a lot of people remember that and connected with it. That, I get a lot of response from. Voodoo Castle, which I didn’t do as much of the writing as my wife back then, tried to write an adventure and I had to clean it up with her. It has more of a woman’s touch to it, and that seemed to resound with a number of people. Another one that was popular has an interesting story behind it. That’s Pyramid of Doom. That was adventure number eight. That’s set in the sands of Egypt, a lot of people remember that and the Purple Worm. They know a lot about it. The interesting thing is I didn’t write that one at all.

I got a submission in the mail from somebody saying, I wrote this adventure game, take a look at it. It runs on your engine. I’m going what, wait a minute I never released an engine, I never told anyone how my engine works, it’s totally proprietary you couldn’t have.

I took it and started playing it and sure enough, he did it on my engine. It was a decent game. I contacted him, his name is Alvin Files, he’s still around, he’s in Oklahoma now, retired. He’s a lawyer and he was just interested in it.

He took my machine language, disassembled it, figured out what it was doing, and figured out my language, which is awesome. He’s not the only one that did that. Another fellow did it which is, I think it’s number 12 in my series, Golden Voyage, by William Demas. He did the same exact thing. In both cases neither one knew each other and neither had contacted each other.

I worked with them and I thought this is so amazing if they’re able to do it, I want to get their stuff published. I’ll give them publishing rights, I’ll give them royalties, and I’ll edit it with them because they were still rough gems, and I’d learned a lot of things about how an adventure should flow and so forth. I worked with them from that point of view. It’s amazing what they did.

So Golden Voyage, like Pyramid of Doom, is not really “by” Scott Adams, although his name is on the credits.

Misspelled, even. I am not making this up.

Ravenworks in the comments has the theory this was just due to a bad read, as the difference between “o” and “g” in ASCII is one bit.

Demas was busy in 1981 with Timequest (which we’ve already seen) and Forbidden Planet (which will be coming up later in 1981).

The king lies near death in the royal palace – you have only three days to bring back the elixer needed to rejuvenate him. Journey through the lands of magic fountains, sacred temples, stormy seas, and gold, gold, GOLD! Can you find the elixer in time?

— From the back cover of the game, and yes, elixir is spelt wrong twice

I tossed this game in now while Ulysses and the Golden Fleece was fresh in my memory. Just like that game, you start in a small “town” area where you buy things, although the merchants in The Golden Voyage are a bit more bloodthirsty.

I haven’t seen a beatdown like this since Nethack. This amuses me rather than bothers me design-wise since it’s so easy to reset the situation. Ulysses and the Golden Fleece just says “YOU HAVE TO BUY IT” if you try for the five-finger discount.

Nearby is a palace, where you are given your quest and a giant bag of gold with a minimum of fuss.

This lets you go back and buy the sandals as well as a compass, telescope, and stone tablet (with a picture of a cave). But since this is a lot of gold, it also lets you buy an entire boat.

Just like Ulysses and the Golden Fleece, I had a hellacious time trying to launch the thing. That game I eventually hit upon GO OCEAN, which doesn’t work here.

The proper command is SAIL (direction), that is, SAIL NORTH or SAIL SOUTH or SAIL EAST or SAIL WEST. I was stuck for so long I thought maybe I was missing a crew or putting the sail somewhere in particular.

You incidentally can climb the mast to get to a crow’s nest, and go in the cabin to find a cot you can sleep in and have time pass.

Moving on, if you SAIL EAST twice and LOOK TELESCOPE while in the crow’s nest, you find land.

If you’re not wearing the sandals, the scorpions bite you and you eventually die.

However, there isn’t much more to see; you can go in the jungle (two rooms) and find a dark cave. The game had a slight delay before showing the usual “you can’t see” message, so I was able to assess there was a fountain inside with a strange liquid.

I’m stuck here although I’ve got a two ideas for experiment:

a.) Check sailing in different directions; it’s possible there’s only one island, but if this is anything like Ulysses there are more. I know TORCH is an accepted noun and given the jungle island seems to only have the cave (which I peeked into by less-than-official methods) I suspect I’m missing an area.

b.) Mess around with PRAY, which is an accepted verb. I tried putting the tablet in the fountain and praying after with no result, but maybe I need to use a different item?

For reference, here’s my verb list (verbs that work are marked in orange):

Posted November 23, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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The Golden Voyage: Islands and Secrets   3 comments

From Mobygames.

The cover above references a “fountain of youth”. This indicates that the fountain I ran across roughly 20 minutes into playing is the objective of the game! I don’t know if that means all we need is a container, but given the divine thunderbolt that killed me, I’m guessing there’s an extra procedure involved. In either case that makes for an interesting structural concept: showing the game’s objective early.

Speaking of interesting structures: as I theorized before, The Golden Voyage has more than one island. Once I realized the general pattern I found it satisfying to navigate.

This is the map the boat is on; you SAIL to the island you want, drop anchor, and explore. (As a side observation, while I understand the use of loops here to make the ocean feel wide and open, I feel it to be frustrating and unrealistic. Honestly, the only loops that were OK were in Adventure, simulating real cave exits that went nowhere; loops on most other text adventure maps have felt like crutches.)

Just like Timequest, the division of space makes for themed mini-areas. I already mentioned the jungle with the cave and the fountain:

To the west of the opening city I discovered a “small island” apparently without obstacles other than the ever-present scorpions. There’s a “skeleton” in the opening room that I thought might have been the animated kind, but no: it’s just an inert skeleton.

You can even pick it up and take it with you. Other than the skeleton, there’s a shovel, a box with “medicine”, and a sword.

The game made up for its lack of animated skeleton with an animated statue on a third island.

This led to a colorful combat scene:

It took me a long time to find the syntax get off the staircase. It’s WALK UP or WALK DOWN. GO STAIR says “please be more specific” and for the life of me I don’t understand why UP and DOWN don’t just work.

Past the statue was a temple with an altar, where PRAY opens a secret passage.

The inside was dark, but fortunately, on the jungle/cave island I had used my newly-found shovel to dig up a rope and a torch. Inside the temple passage was a large block (not sure what to do with that) and a curious stone which “appears to be broken” and “has strange markings”. You can find another stone just like it in the rubble of the defeated statue, but I haven’t been able to unite the stones in any way.

Other than that, I’m dealing with a locked ornate chest I can’t open … and that’s it. The list of obstacles suggests to me I’m missing a hidden puzzle somewhere, or maybe my island map is inaccurate and there’s another place to sail to.

Still, referring back to the structure, the gameplay is pleasing enough I’m enjoying myself so far and not about to reach for hints yet.

Posted November 24, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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The Golden Voyage: Finishing the Duodecalogy   8 comments

While he kept making games after 1981, the first twelve of the Scott Adams series were packed together as a set. I have now completed the last one.

An old eBay auction via Atari Age.

What remained was mainly “hidden puzzles” — finding secrets to unlock the last section, with a battle against a cyclops guarding the fountain of youth.

First, I had missed that in one spot of the jungle I could dig twice, not just once. Digging a second time yielded a small stone that matched the other two I found, and when dropping them all together, they formed a tablet.

The tablet I bought from the market had a picture of a cave; this one had a picture of a mountain and the word SUN. Taking it to the mountain (on the small island with the sword, medicine, and shovel) and saying the word SUN opened a secret fountain.

Dropping the cave tablet in the cave fountain and the mountain tablet in the mountain tablet caused the ground to shake, and a white globe to appear in the fountain.

Searching all the places I visited, I now found the stone block I was stumped by earlier had now been turned into rubble.

This was “arbitrary” but still satisfying, since it was a puzzle that essentially required putting together pieces from the entire map: the cave fountain was on one island, the mountain fountain was on another, and the effect was to open the secret hallway on the third island.

(Before going on, I should mention I did manage to open the locked chest too — there was just a room I had forgotten to dig in with the shovel that had a key. The chest had a golden mask which is going to be coming up in a moment. Also, I had found a chalice on the altar which I had previously prayed at, which I’ll also need shortly.)

Inside the passage I found a pit which required using my rope.

Games from this era have way too much friction. The several minutes it took me to figure out the sequence of commands above made me lose momentum right when the plot should have been speeding up.

Down below was the cyclops.

While the cyclops also shows up in Ulysses and the Golden Fleece, the solution here is rather different. Breaking the white globe lets out a blinding flash of light, and wearing the mask protects you from the same light, hence:

This led the path open to the fountain of youth…

…which I was able to take back all the way to the palace and the waiting king.

I’m hoping he was a nice king and I didn’t just give an extra 50 years to a tyrant.

I don’t do a lot of rankings, but for fun, here’s my rough rankings of the Scott Adams Twelve, from “worst” to best:

Adventure #9 – Ghost Town (1980)
Adventure #3 – Secret Mission (1979)
Adventure #1 – Adventureland (1978)
Adventure #2 – Pirate Adventure (1979)
Adventure #6 – Strange Odyssey (1979)
Adventure #12 – Golden Voyage (1981)
Adventure #11 – Savage Island Part 2 (1981)
Adventure #5 – The Count (1979)
Adventure #8 – Pyramid of Doom (1979)
Adventure #10 – Savage Island Part 1 (1980)
Adventure #7 – Mystery Fun House (1979)
Adventure #4 – Voodoo Castle (1979)

Now, I admit I’m allergic to applying points to things, and looking at the list, even Ghost Town had some worthy aspects. Also, it’s not like I find Pirate Adventure bad — I’d even say if you only play one Scott Adams game, try that one, as the difficulty is tilted low and it still makes a satisfying experience.

Or consider The Count, which does an amazing job unifying a plot with puzzles (in a way only equaled by the Savage Island games) but where I had a frustrating time at the actual gameplay level in terms of getting everything arranged correctly. I could easily see other players having a more positive experience.

Golden Voyage wasn’t bad, per se, and the structure, as I emphasized before, was interesting to figure out, but it never had any puzzles that struck above average (unlike the heart of Pyramid of Doom or the finale of Mystery Fun House) and most of my time was dealing with fiddly aspects, like the parser commands to navigate off a staircase, or forgetting to lower anchor at a port and having the boat float away, or making sure I’ve tried DIG in every single room more than once.

It’s not like Scott Adams is going away — we’ve got his Questprobe series coming as well as adventures #13 and #14, and looking far into the future he even has recent work — but I can still summarize and say: the set of games for the time period (1978-1981) is an impressive achievement compared with the other adventures available. It’s true most of the ideas were outpaced by later work from Infocom and others, but some of them (like the intricate timing of Savage Island) still reward study today.

Posted November 26, 2020 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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