Archive for the ‘warp’ Tag

Warp: I Think You’re Just Getting in Deeper   19 comments

You can assume, from this point, any post on Warp is potentially my last. Not only is the game trying to tear the player apart, the game is trying to tear itself apart.

ABORT :WARP.PUB.GAMES.%3.%4102
PROGRAM ERROR #1 :INTEGER OVERFLOW

PROGRAM TERMINATED IN AN ERROR STATE. (CIERR 976)

Before I really get started, a brief aside on the Mainframe Endgame. There is a type of endgame descended from Crowther/Woods adventure after a Treasure Hunt style plot where the player is brought into a special area separate from the main game and any puzzle-solving is intentionally very hard.

I should qualify “very hard” as “harder than normal hard, meant almost explicitly to be played collaboratively”. I think this is most blatant in Adventure 550, which in the original port required collecting information from at least 5 different playthroughs for the endgame.

Zork mainframe went extra-long in its endgame, but also mercifully filled it with puzzles that were technically solvable. Warp took Zork’s size and restored a general sense of unfairness. Warp even quite explicitly mentions this in an in-game newspaper which has various game version notes; this one is from April 20, 1982:

THE ENDGAME IS FINALLY COMPLETE!

And, hopefully, free of bugs. Send your complaints and tales of woe to the authors as you see fit. But be warned: clues in the endgame are next to non-existant, and the puzzles are designed to be at times misleading and extremely frustrating. Patience and perseverence are more necessities than virtues.

Philosophically, it’s kind of interesting to have this kind of collaboration-nearly-required puzzle; another use of the idea is the original arcade game Tower of Druaga, which had obscurely hard to find items and essentially an underground info-network amongst Japanese arcade players was needed to beat the game.

From Floor 1 of The Tower of Druaga. There are 60 floors.

For example, Floor 45 has two special items; the box for one item appears right at the start but if you open it the box is empty. You have to first kill enemies in a very specific order (“Lizard Man, High Power Knight, Mirror Knight, Black Knight, Blue Knight”), which then allows you to open a different box and get an Antidote, and only then can you open the first box and get a Hyper Sword (which is necessary for beating the game!)

Keep in mind, this is in an arcade game that required depositing coins to play. Hopefully, I’ve gotten across why an information network was a necessary feature.

These days, having to ask for a hint is considered a “game failure” (or at least player failure), so to speak, but is the “failure” a real thing, or just cultural inertia?

Various objects from the main game make a cameo appearance. This silver cross (originally a treasure) was suspiciously easy to get in the main game.

To continue from last time, I was falling in a pit, and I really felt like I could use a rope, but the rope was locked outside the endgame where it could not be brought in. This turned out to be not *exactly* correct. While it never was useful during the main game, it’s possible to >CUT ROPE and get two pieces, a longer and a shorter. While the regular rope vaporizes upon entering the endgame portal, the shorter one does not.

*sigh*

I suppose there might have been a slight bit of logic involving the *size* of the item that goes in the portal being limited, but there was no message conveying that. In the context of a mass-solving effort, I could see someone who had cut the rope on a whim test it out and convey this fact to their fellow players.

Compounding this difficulty is that, normally, the items you are carrying disappear anyway after answering the Oracle’s trivia quiz. There is this cryptic comment

He quickly searches about for unregistered items, and then, with another wave, disappears.

which is supposed to be a hint that >REGISTER is a verb.

>REGISTER SHORT ROPE
An authoritative voice echos: One [1] Short Rope … Check!

It’s baffling what sort of action is even happening here. You aren’t stating something aloud (that’s covered by the SAY verb). There’s no physical movement; you don’t even have to be holding an item to register it. The command only makes sense at a meta-level. (As an aside, you may remember I got a password to jump to the endgame. It would be impossible to win by starting the endgame with the password since you don’t get the needed short rope item when using it. This is egregious enough I think it’s just a programming oversight.)

Moving on! I was able to successfully tie the short rope to overhang the place I knew the pit would be, went through the stone idol / tile section I mentioned last time, and outran a giant boulder to find a maze, or perhaps “maze”.

>W
Globe Room.
Additional passageways have opened.

>w
Montazuma’s Revenge.
The room about you is one of many constructed hundreds of years ago by the Great Ancients of Praw. The walls are unmarked rock, with exits leading in all directions. There is also a large hole in the ceiling (out of reach), and another in the floor.

If you wander, you eventually find various old items from the main game lying around. In case it’s important, here’s the complete list.

Battery, Brick, Expensive Camera, Chalice, Silver Cross, Silver Flute, Golden Matador, Large Pearl, Shiny Quarter, Glass Sphere, Crystal Sphere, Devil’s Trident, Ivory Tusk, Egyptian Urn, Patgonian Vase, Banana, Green Stamp, Package, Black Opal, Wetsuit, Ruby Lense, Treasure Map, Computer Printout, Railroad Bond, Golden Bullion, Framastat, Bag, Fins, Glass Bottle, Painting, Digital Watch, Silver Coins, Leeverite, Absolutely Nothing

In addition to the items, the game gives a few messages meant to be either hints or discouragement: “This looks pretty vast.”, “I think you’re just getting in deeper …”, “You’re going to get yourself even more lost.”, “Come on, you haven’t a prayer of escape!”, “You’re being awfully persistant.”, “This doesn’t look solvable to me.” and finally “In fact … it isn’t. Give up and save us both some time!”

I’ve checked thoroughly enough to say the items shift around randomly as do the maze exits, so I’m 95% certain you aren’t supposed to or even able to “map” the maze. That leaves odd, obscure actions like registering every single item (which I’ve tried), praying, being ludicrously persistent (I went EAST so many times the game crashed, as shown on the top of this post) or just saying the right random catchphrase (like “GIVE UP”). I even tried quitting the game (taking giving up literal) with the hopes that a restart would magically continue the game in the next section, but no luck.

A quick reminder to those interested in the 25th Interactive Fiction Competition — the deadline for voting is tonight. I’m hoping to put reviews up this weekend but it may not be until next week.

Posted November 15, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Endgame (part 2)   29 comments

Continuing from last time, I had missed a very reasonable puzzle followed by a very unreasonable one.

I can see the following:
Short Cable attached to a Power Unit
Long Cable attached to a Control Unit
Power Unit, which contains:
a Framastat
a Rocker Switch
Control Unit, which contains:
a Round Depression
a Knurled Knob
a Lever

>look sphere

The glass sphere is made of pure neodium, an extremely fine industrial crystal found in abundance in Warpian territory. It is about four inches in diameter.

>look depression

The depression is about four inches in diameter and hemispherical in shape. It has been carefully machined into the control panel, just to the left of the knob and lever.

The sphere simply goes in the depression and the whole thing can activate when plugged in. Both the depression and sphere mention 4 inches specifically. I had simply forgotten I had left the glass sphere hanging out in the desert (it was a bit of a pain to get because it was easy to die of thirst — I had to fly the magic carpet in to have enough time to take it away).

However, activating the machine caused this to happen:

>push switch

Click.
>FFFFFT!<
An unexpected backsurge in voltage suddenly vaporizes the cables!

I assumed this meant I had some kind of setting wrong, and I valiantly tried to fiddle with the “knob” and “lever” of the control unit to get something to happen, but no verb seemed to have an effect.

They were apparently entirely red herrings; by complete random chance, usually turning on the switch causes the frying to happen, but sometimes it works:

Click.
There is a loud >SNAAAAP!< as the units come to life!
A large electric arc surges quickly down the two cables, striking the doorframe with a sizzling shower of sparks! An unstable image begins to form where once there was a wall. The snowy image slowly stabilizes to reveal a north wall portal into a rectangle of bleak whiteness.

This is even worse than many other instance where I’ve had to repeat an action hoping for random luck (like being told 13 times in a row a particular exit was sealed off before it worked) because the frying cables means the game is lost. The only reason I solved this was I was testing a save game where I didn’t remember the exact setup so I tested “pull switch” and lucked out into the portal opening.

As you cross the threshold, you feel momentarily disoriented.
Plain White Room.
You are in a plain, white room. It is of medium size, has four barren walls, four equally barren corners, a bland floor and a rather boring ceiling.

I can see the following:
Square Peg

The disorientation means any items you are carrying vanish (except the Round Peg, an item from the very first room of the game; however, that will vanish when entering the next room, and seems to be yet another red herring). Not only that, but the score resets to a new special “endgame” score, just like mainframe Zork.

Your endgame score after 2 commands (2 hours and 47 minutes of playing) would be 0 out of a possible 100.
If you get any points, I won’t bother you with insults anymore.

After some fiddling around with the pegs and no progress, I thought maybe this game was going the Adventure 550 route by requiring some magic words. I tested all of them I had seen so far.

>SAY “LHASA LHASA LAMA”

You hear a pin drop.
Spinning around, you see the Oracle. He speaks:

“Sorry I’m late. Tonight’s the Warpmaster’s bowling night. He wanted me to ask you a few questions, though, to see if you have reached true enlightenment, as have I. Heh heh. Now, uh, let’s see … I have some notes here …”

The Oracle figets around a bit, then continues:

“First question. Where was the dent in the Chevy made? You should respond by typing ANSWER “”.”

Again, just like mainframe Zork: the endgame there had a trivia quiz with the Dungeonmaster. I had a little trouble with the second question (“In what kind of tree does the koala bear make its home?”) simply because the tree is described as a Redwood Tree but somehow the room on top is a Eucalyptus View, so it’s a eucalyptus tree on top of a redwood tree, I guess?

After answering the last question:

“What is the airspeed of a coconut-laden … oops, wrong script. Snoitalutargnoc! Well done! You seem to have correctly answered everything! Before I leave, a hint of advice: To get here in the future, simply incant “fohmnqhmpc” and you will avoid the pitfalls of the mortal world!”

The Oracle waves his arms once, and a hole appears in the center of the floor. He quickly searches about for unregistered items, and then, with another wave, disappears.

The special incant command lets you just straight to the endgame from anywhere in the game, without a saved game file. This turns out to be a very bad idea (I’ll explain why shortly).

Jumping into the hole reveals yet another Zork tribute/ripoff:

This is the “Royal Puzzle” which also made its way into Zork III; if you move in the direction of a sandstone “block” you can push it around. This is essentially Sokoban rules where you can push a block but can’t pull it.

“H” is where you start and has a hole in the ceiling. The yellow “S” has a Card item (a credit card) under it. The orange “S” has a ladder attached to the east and the blue “S” has a ladder attached to the west. To get out you need to bring the blue “S” block all the way to the spot immediately to the east of the hole.

This results in a *very long* sequence of moves, and it was here that I discovered that saving is disabled in the endgame.

This is why the secret incantation word is a bad idea. It’s possible to mitigate the saving problem by creating macros (it’s been ages since I mentioned it, but this game lets you create macros). So I was able to enter a macro like

>DEFINE END6
=N.S.S.S.W.S.W.W.W.S.S.E.E.E.W.N.W.N.N.N.W.S.S.S.W.S.E.E.E.

and set things up to the point where I could type END1 through END10 to quickly zip all the way through the trivia section and the Sokoban. As long as I made these macros immediately before entering the endgame, I was able to save my game and keep the macros.

The section after the maze is quite deadly and I still don’t know how to get through it.

Globe Room.
You find yourself in a round, cup-shaped room. In the center of the room you see a man-sized hole in the floor, while to the east there is a cylindrical corridor leading slightly upward through the rock. On the floor, at roughly 45 degree intervals around the perimeter of the room, you note what appear to be small arrows chiseled into the rock, pointing outward from the center of the room.

I can see the following:
Square Peg

The Square Peg for some reason vanishes after the Oracle’s trivia quiz but returns again here. There’s some extra rooms leading through a Corridor of Vines which all have a Tiny Hook I have not been able to apply any verb to; at the end there’s a section with tiles:

Corridor of Vines.
The corridor walls here are built of expertly cut stones, fitted together. Many jungle vines have twisted and twined their way along the length of the corridor and found their way into the cracks and crevices of the walls. A small hook is recessed into the ceiling, perhaps once a hanger for a trellis. The corridor here splits into five openings that lead between pillars cut from stone. The center opening is circular and the same size as the corridor you are in, it leads east. The other passages are to the north, northeast, southeast, and south.

I can see the following:
Tiny Hook

>NE

Hall of Idols.
You are in an expansive room with an elaborately tiled floor. The north and south walls are lined with hundreds of small, stone indian idols, their eyes menacingly turned toward the center of the room. The tiles are very carefully placed in five east-west rows, with each row containing six tiles. The east end of the room opens through six large pillars into yet another chamber. The west end opens through similar pillars into a forboding corridor.

I can see the following:
Tiles
The tile below your feet reads II.

The text description is slightly clunky, but here’s a map.

Stepping on the wrong tile is absolutely deadly. There’s not really a great way to work out the pattern other than trial and error (and remember, no saving in the endgame!) Specifically, when going to the east only the even tiles are safe…

…and when going back west (after getting a scepter) only the prime number tiles are safe.

There’s a rolling ball that appears, Indiana Jones style, but since you can either move fast enough that it stays behind you or wait for it to pass I’m not worried about it; what I can’t figure out is that after making the trek mentioned above, there’s a newly-formed pit in the Corridor of Vines:

You move ahead and find that the floor has opened to reveal a gaping pit that devours the entire floor from wall to wall. As you fall you can’t help but wonder where the bottom is …

You sense yourself leaving your physical body —

If I still had the rope from the main game I might be able to set something up with the hook in that room, but the inventory from the main game really does seem to be closed off. I’ve tried various permutations of RUN and JUMP without luck. I’ve tried different tile-stepping routes in the hopes of avoiding a particular number or always stepping on all the numbers will work. I’ve tried all sorts of silly things with the scepter

The scepter is so strikingly awesome in its splender that it really defies description. Suffice it to say that it is key-shaped.

but I’m guessing it just doesn’t get used until later.

Oh, and I’m only at 20 out of 100 endgame points. This game is going for broke.

Posted November 12, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: The Endgame   29 comments

After an extremely long comment thread on one of my prior posts on Warp, I managed to get all the points (1216 out of 1216) and then properly stuck on the final puzzle.

I’m going to explain everything that I believe to be relevant so you can be stuck on the final puzzle, too.

Another piece of ASCII art from the game; not relevant to the final puzzle but here for spoiler space.

The way to the endgame essentially involved fussing about what is most likely a bug, and none of us playing the game (myself, Russell, and Roger) quite understand what triggers it, so I’m not going to put details here. The final result was getting a “power unit”

>look power unit

The power unit is a large, heavy metal box, roughly three feet on each side. Through a perforated metal back panel, you can glimpse large vacuum tubes and transformers inside. It has a small, square receptacle in the top, with a small, hexagonal metal stub rising slightly from the bottom of the receptacle. On the front there is a small access panel, and on the back, near the bottom, there is a large cable connector.

>look in power unit

The Power Unit contains the following:
Rocker Switch

>look at switch

It is a small rocker switch with two positions: ON and OFF.

and a “control unit”:

>look control unit

The control unit is a small, rectangular metal box, perhaps 12 inches wide and 6 inches high. Its face consists of a small hinged metal access panel. A cable connector is located on the back side of the unit. Otherwise, it is featureless.

>look in control unit

The Control Unit contains the following:
Round Depression
Knurled Knob
Lever

look at depression

The depression is about four inches in diameter and hemispherical in shape. It has been carefully machined into the control panel, just to the left of the knob and lever.

>look at knob

The knob is small and knurled for a better grip. It can be turned to several positions, clearly labeled 1 through 5.

>look at lever

The lever is short and stubby, more like a switch of some sort. It can be moved to three positions, clearly marked 0, 1/2, and 1.

Also relevant is a “printout”; you have to use up one of the treasures (a Shiny Quarter) to get it, so it’s not an item in my current save file, but the information seems important for the endgame.

This is all referring to a “Warp Room” which has been a longstanding mystery in the game.

Warp Room.
In this otherwise vacant room, you see before you a doorframe, roughly centered against a solid brick wall. Two large cables snake their way from the frame into the center of the room. The other walls of the room are completely blank, and the only apparent exit is the way you entered, back to the east.

I can see the following:
Short Cable attached to a Power Unit
Long Cable attached to a Control Unit
Power Unit
Control Unit

I do have a “framastat” and am able to attach it to the power unit as marked in Step Three of the instructions. What’s missing is Step Four (right before Step Five: Profit!)

Here’s my complete list of items:

I can see the following:
Airtank
Name Badge
Bag, which contains:
a Scalpel
Banana
Book
Glass Bottle, which contains:
a quantity of Water
Brick
Treasure Chest
Clam
Fins
Gloves
Gun
Hardhat
Knife
Short Ladder
Mask
Note
Notepad
Absolutely Nothing
Package
Round Peg
Pencil
Picture
Portrait
Poster
Digital Scale
Rusty Shovel
Skeleton
Toolbox
Wetsuit
Yellow Wrapper
Wrench

While I can technically get back a treasure from the display case, Russell already indicated the treasures don’t get used here.

I can “push switch” to get a “Click. Nothing Happens.” but I have not been able to operate either the lever or the knob in the control box. >PUSH on either gives me “Doesn’t seem to work” but I don’t know if that means I have a parser issue or I need to activate something else first. I don’t know what would go in the depression; the round peg doesn’t seem to help.

Feel free to suggest actions in the comments, up to and including for setting the game on fire for having such a tough final puzzle.

Posted November 7, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: The Deadliest Treasure Collection in the World   9 comments

I have, according to Russell Karlberg’s walkthrough, collected every single treasure in the game and placed them in the display case.

This might be my last post on Warp, so: extreme spoilers as usual.

Image from a Video Game in Warp. This game seems to be a red herring; you can find a shiny quarter and try it, but the machine is busted.

 

Curator’s Office.
This is a large office with a musty smell. The walls are lined with rows and rows of books. Numerous stacks of paper and partially restored objects are piled about the room. A large desk with a leather-backed chair stands in one corner of the room. The only exit is through the door to the east.

I can see the following:
Lead Box
Display Case

>LOOK IN CASE
The Display Case contains the following:
Platinum Apple
Astrolabe
Bronze Ball
Koala Bear
Railroad Bond
Golden Bullion
Expensive Camera
Carpet
Chalice
Nautical Chart
Silver Coins
Silver Cross
Jeweled Dagger
Crystal Decanter
Yellow Diamond
Ebony Diamond
Jade Egg
Green Emerald
Red Emerald
Blue Emerald
Silver Flute
Golden Globe
Leeverite
Ruby Lense
Holy Mackeral
Treasure Map
Golden Matador
Memoirs
Black Opal
Painting
Large Pearl
Shiny Quarter
Silver Ring
Scarab Ring
Mink Slippers
Crystal Sphere
Green Stamp
Tablet
Devil’s Trident
Ivory Tusk
Uranium
Egyptian Urn
Patagonian Vase
Deadly Warponium
Digital Watch
Silk Web

Mind you, this case has

a.) a chunk of Uranium, where if you are nearby long enough you’ll die
b.) deadly Warponium, where also if you are nearby long enough you’ll die

The upshot of a.) and b.) is if you admire the collection for longer, than, say, two turns, this will happen:

The constant, relentless bombardment of your body by ionizing radiation from the uranium results in your half-life expectancy reaching zero. Your hair is falling out in patches and you feel incredibly weak. Next time, I would take the proper precautions in handling radioactive materials …

If the Uranium and Warponium happen to be together anywhere *other* than the display case, the effect is even shinier:

A strange sizzling sound begins to eminate from the container as the U238 and Warponium come within fighting distance. Upon taking a closer look, you see an intense purple glow interspersed with lightning-like bolts of energy being exchanged. As you watch, the two elements melt, run together and reach critical mass. You are really quite fortunate, as not many people get to see the beginnings of a mushroom cloud from this close…

Here were how my outstanding issues from last time were resolved, in reverse order:

1.) The Pyramid maze I confess I didn’t resolve at all. That portable hole I mentioned does connect with almost everywhere, including the final burial chamber of the maze, so I kept experimenting until I got lucky and was able to scoop up the Egyptian Urn (25 points) and use my Magic Carpet to escape.

2.) Resolving the obelisk was anticlimactic; I did almost the same thing as in my last post’s transcript, except I was holding only the yellow diamond. By doing so, I ended up with both the yellow diamond and an ebony diamond. I don’t understand the logic to why this happened, or if there even is logic.

3.) The monitor lizard really almost wasn’t a puzzle. While you can’t take the Jade Egg while it is in the room with you, any form of teleportation (by, say, portable hole) will cause it to “lose your trail” so you can go back and pick up the egg.

You may notice a thread of not-terribly-satisfying solutions, and that unfortunately held for most every problem that remained. All this time in the ocean there’s been a Spanish Galleon moving about, and I finally found (via a hint of Russell Karlberg’s) that standing on the deck of the ship and typing

>SAY “FIRE ONE”

will fire a torpedo. This allowed me to sink the Galleon, and then dive and get some treasures that were inside.

>lower sail

The sail falls limp as you lower it.

>attach ladder to boat

Short Ladder attached to Boat.

>leave

Well, okay, if you really want to …
>>> SPLASH ! <<<

>d

Underwater.

You’re submerged beneath the waves. Sharks can be seen coldly
circling nearby.

I can see the following:
Sunken Galleon, which contains:
an Astrolabe
a Jeweled Dagger

I would have preferred at least an indication that the boat had some sort of voice-recognition control. There’s also lower decks to the main boat but I was never able to enter them legitimately; I just used the portable hole/carpet combination again to pick up the one treasure that was down there.

The very last puzzle I resolved was one of the very first puzzles I attempted back when I first started Warp. There’s a Koala Bear up a tree that counts as a treasure, but every time I tried to put it in the display case for points (as one typically does with any normal koala bear) it would wander out. I eventually found the solution was … reloading and attempting the same thing again 15 times before I got a lucky roll and was able to close the display case before the koala got out.

Despite the anticlimaxes, I did find getting the last treasures exciting insofar as I’ve been living with Warp a long time, so each of the last treasures led to a tangible sense of success.

I’m going to make some conclusions below, but note I’m probably not technically done with the game — there’s supposedly an “endgame” just like Adventure and mainframe Zork. I don’t know how to get it to trigger; I might just take a pass and let my hardy commentators go for it. My guess is it involves either this location

W.I.T. Laboratories.
You have entered sacred ground. In this very small, round, green windowless room, all of the conceptual puzzles of Warp were devised. There is one desolate computer terminal collecting dust in one corner, while numerous computer listings lie neatly stacked in another.

I can see the following:
Coke Machine
Transit Pass
Professor

and/or this location

Warp Room.
In this otherwise vacant room, you see before you a doorframe, roughly centered against a solid brick wall. Two large cables snake their way from the frame into the center of the room. The other walls of the room are completely blank, and the only apparent exit is the way you entered, back to the east.

I can see the following:
Short Cable
Long Cable

neither which I have found useful up to this point. (The professor will say random phrases like “I never swim with short cables.” or “I think a ship will easily bite in the dark of night.” if you TELL something to him.)

OBSERVATION NUMBER ONE: ON PLAYING A LARGE OPEN GAME

The first time I played Warp, the map was so large I got too exhausted to solve any puzzles before bowing out. The second time, there was still a lot to fill in, but as I got more familiar with the geography, the map “felt” smaller and smaller. I could rapidly type of a string of E.E.E.E.E.N.N. (etc) to go from location to location, so it was as if the world had compressed once I was familiar enough with it. This was even true for the large ocean sailing section, where I mentally tagged things by relative location as opposed to thinking of it square by square (“the fog bank is here, and if I go south here I’ll hit the sealion caves”).

The ocean wraps around (that is, if you keep going one direction you end up where you started), so there’s a little redundancy here.

 

I’m wondering if it would be possible to accelerate this process. An automap would help, surely, but that might not be everything; perhaps some equivalent to the friendly guides and arrows that appear in modern RPGs. Maybe the automap can work not just at the “room” level but the “region” level where it starts to indicate how to group sections (so it’s easier to think in terms of the “meta-map” of smaller pieces).

An approximate “meta-map” of the world of Warp. This is how it was stored in my head.

 

 

OBSERVATION NUMBER TWO: ON THE PARSER

The authors really tried hard to make an elaborate parser. Not only does it understands full sentences and multiple commands, it includes features I’ve seen rarely elsewhere (or never seen at all) like backtracking, macros, and conditional IF-THEN statements.

The parser is still terrible.

Really, it’s like they focused on the wrong things. Synonyms are essentially non-existent. Typos count as in-world commands so when doing a time-sensitive task you can die just by typing WARPINIUM rather than WARPONIUM. LOOK IN is considered a special command opposed to LOOK (something I didn’t learn until after about being 80% through the game). A number of actions which I wouldn’t think about in an Infocom game I tore my hair out on here, like trying to use a transit pass to get into a subway. (When there’s a bad parser and full sentences, “guess the verb” can turn into “guess the complete phrasing”.) The characters barely react to any conversation attempts.

Mind you, this isn’t Deathship-level pain here, but a good parser is about understanding most of what someone would reasonably type and giving helpful guidance leading the player to the right syntax when it doesn’t happen. Even a two word parser can do this! Multiple commands and so forth are nice, but they aren’t everything.

OBSERVATION NUMBER THREE: ON ONE UNFORTUNATE BIT

I don’t want to linger here too long, because it’s 0.00001% of the game, but there’s a “bathing ugly” part which grated me the wrong way. If you’re playing this game, just know you can attempt to >KISS UGLY (this scares them away) and then not have to think about that scene any more.

OBSERVATION NUMBER FOUR: ON THE ADULT CONTENT

Because this is a mainframe game that isn’t based on Adventure (see: Castle, Aldebaran III, Library, Haunt, Battlestar, Lugi), it is nearly obliged to have a scene like this:

Rocky Beach.
This is the eastern most point of the beach that you can get to; there’s a large fence to the east, too tall to see over, that features a sign reading

Au Natural Beach
Entrance by invitation only

>S
You swim ahead, oblivious of danger.
Ocean.
Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. (Unless you like salt water.) There’s land to the north.

>E
On a Reef.
You’re over an underwater reef. There’s land visible to the north.

Say, did you ever see “Jaws”?

>N
A jeering band of nudists prevents you from landing on the beach.

The puzzle is probably the best of the game. You can find in a Lighthouse, rather oddly, Absolutely Nothing. This is an item you can not only take but you can wear.

>WEAR NOTHING
Absolutely Nothing put on.

>S
You swim ahead, oblivious of danger.
Ocean.
Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. (Unless you like salt water.) There’s land to the north.

>E
On a Reef.
You’re over an underwater reef. There’s land visible to the north.

Say, did you ever see “Jaws”?

>N
NUDE BEACH!
This is one of two nude beaches in Warp. Congratulations for figuring out how to get in here (it’s usually reserved for invited guests only.)

I can see the following:
Painting

As I did earlier state, I’m possibly stopping here, although if I do wander into the Endgame later it may be worth a post. In the meantime I do want to get a few IFComp reviews up before the November 15 deadline; then I’ll start to take down the last 1980 games. My goal is to make it to 1981 by the end of the year.

Posted October 24, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: The Deep Places   117 comments

Last time, I came across a hole in the center of a maze.

>LOOK
The hole, being the absence of anything, is impossible to inspect.

The hole turns out to be incredibly useful; you can pick it up (!) and wear it (!!). You can put it down wherever you like; usually, it then connects to some random spot on the map, so you can use it to move items when you normally can’t.

For example, there’s a “Fog Bank” …

The fog is so dense you could cut it with a knife! There is nothing but whiteness in every direction!

… where you can take the text quite literally and >CUT FOG WITH KNIFE:

>cut fog with knife

The fog quickly thins out.
Flat Rock Shoal.
A light fog mists about as you find yourself at a small, flat-top rock rising a few feet above the water. The rock extends somewhere to the north, and although the fog is light, you cannot see very far in that direction. Water lies all about in other directions.

I can see the following:
Boat, which contains:
a Sail

Once you’ve done this, you can find a safe with a black pearl. The safe is unlocked (so easy to open) but if you take the pearl you are unable to move (undoubtedly some mystical security system the game fails to clarify). If you have the hole dropped in the safe location, you can just DROP PEARL IN HOLE and safely make your escape.

The hole is an appropriate item to start this post since my general theme has been “finding things beneath other things.”

Mayan Room.
A large disc, covered with ancient Mayan inscriptions, dominates this display. The disc is made of solid rock, and if I remember my ancient Mayan history, it’s probably some kind of calendar. There is a door to the west, and the museum continues to the north.

I can see the following:
Stone Disc, which contains:
a Green Emerald
a Red Emerald
a Blue Emerald
Curator’s Door

>LOOK EMERALDS
Green Emerald
The emerald is a rich, traditional shade of oceanic green, and is perhaps the size of a small golfball.
Red Emerald
This emerald is unusual in that it is a brilliant hue of ruby red. About the size of a walnut, it glistens in the light before your eyes.
Blue Emerald
A sky-blue emerald, extremely rare! Maybe 19 millimeters across, and undoubtedly worth a king’s ransom.

This place is in the museum; a long while black I blogged about a cryptogram which translated as THIS PASSAGE UNLOCKS ONLY TO HE WHO SOLVE THE SECRET OF THE STONES. I’d been hacking at this puzzle in frustration for a long time before Roger Durrant mentioned something about rubbing the emeralds. I had tried that, I thought to no avail:

>RUB BLUE EMERALD
The Blue Emerald does nothing.

While the Blue Emerald “does nothing”, one of the other emeralds changed.

>LOOK EMERALDS
Green Emerald
The emerald is a rich, traditional shade of oceanic green, and is perhaps the size of a small golfball.
It is glowing intensely.
Red Emerald
This emerald is unusual in that it is a brilliant hue of ruby red. About the size of a walnut, it glistens in the light before your eyes.
Blue Emerald
A sky-blue emerald, extremely rare! Maybe 19 millimeters across, and undoubtedly worth a king’s ransom.

Notice the “glowing intensely” now attached to the green emerald. There doesn’t seem to be any logic here — this is a straight-up maze were you transition from state to state of various emeralds glowing, with the goal of having all three emeralds be glowing. The full move list is

RUB BLUE EMERALD
RUB GREEN EMERALD
RUB RED EMERALD
RUB GREEN EMERALD
RUB GREEN EMERALD
RUB RED EMERALD
RUB RED EMERALD

You can then PRESS DISC to get

As you press, the disc slowly slides back into the wall, revealing a long, musty staircase descending down into the unknown.

The underground includes a “Batcave”, which is too weird to describe, so I’ll just quote it:

This cavern appears to be all that’s left of a long-lost television series. Bats hang from the ceiling all about you, and the floor is sticky with bat guano. Across one wall you can see the remains of what looks like a large computer, and near the other wall there is a large city map labelled “GOTHAM”.

I can see the following:
63 Chevy

>LOOK CHEVY
Oh, wow, man. Complete with dingle balls in the windshield!

>BOARD CHEVY
The doors have been welded shut and all the dingle balls hanging in the windows make it impossible for you to put more than your arm into the car.

>GET ALL FROM CAR
Framastat taken.

>LOOK FRAMASTAT
It’s a small metal cube with octagonal indentations on each face.

There’s also a section with a tiny maze where you can only go east and west:

Room with Two Exits.
You are in a small, featureless room with cold, grey stone walls
A crude rock slide leads up the way you came, but you cannot climb it. You have available two passages carved from the stone, one the east, and one to the west, both mirror images of each other.

(Note: Exit with WEST. WEST. EAST. WEST.)

This is followed by a “Monitor Lizard” guarding a Jade Egg.

Lizard Den.
You find yourself inside a small alcove that was probably once the home of a large reptile. Shedded skin and unfamiliar bones litter a small earthen hole worn a few inches into the ground. The only way out is back to the north.

I can see the following:
Jade Egg
Monitor Lizard
A huge lizard seems to be following you.
It is hissing threateningly!

The lizard seems to become a permanent follower after this encounter and comes with you all about the map, including if you go sailing in the ocean. It is possible to temporarily “lose the trail” (which gives you enough a window to go back and get the Jade Egg) but eventually, it seems like the lizard will always find you. I’m saving this to be one of my last treasures; even if the lizard does nothing but watch, it’s still a constant irritant, kind of like the beeping sounds in Zelda when you’re down to one heart. (Here’s an hour-long loop of the aforementioned beep.)

Getting out of this area was one of the niftier puzzles of the game, because I had to realize how the various bits of geography related. I had reached this room, which seemed to be the end of the line:

Cliff Ledge.
You are standing at the brink of a sheer rock wall, the ocean swelling and churning far below you. A large opening in the face of the cliff is to the east, and you can hear band music playing somewhere far above your head.

However, the band music was a clue to the location; this had to be below the northwest corner of the Warp map.

This led me to realize I could tie a piece of rope to the pine tree at Land’s End (see on the map above) which would let me climb to and from the Cliff Ledge area.

One of the enemies I’ve passed mentioning last time was a Mad Doctor. He attacks more or less like a Zork enemy.

>SHOOT DOCTOR

>BANG!<

You deal a swift attack! The doctor trips …

You feel a tightening in your throat and gasp for air as the doctor whips his stethoscope around your neck!

Unlike a classic Adventure or Zork enemy which disappears in fog, this one leaves a corpse.

You issue a final blow, and the doctor slumps dead to the floor!

This is a clue the corpse is useful. You can go to a nearby graveyard and bury it.

If you do so you get a Devil’s Trident (a treasure) which you can then use to access an “Underworld”.

This is still part of the overall Warp map. You end up in “river zone” between the town and the desert.

Within this region, there’s not much other than a Shrubbery, a Monty Python joke …

The shrubbery is just a small inconspicuous bush. If you had another one, you could brace it alongside the first shrubbery, but a little bit lower to get a two level effect with a path running down the middle …

… a ride down the river with a bathtub …

Boiling Headwaters. (in tub)
The rushing waters of the Great Rift River boil and churn about you. Steam fills the air as it rises from the waters below to from a dense fog overhead.

… and a very strange bit with an Obelisk. I really don’t know what to do here.

Lost Civilization of the Implementors.
Around you stretches the expansive remains of some now lost civilization. Rectangular obelisks of varying height and size march in all directions in a pattern that appears to be circular in nature and centered about one large obelisk in particular. Shadows cast by the sun create a landscape dominated by light and dark contrasts, permeated with the sound of flowing water echoing and reverberating throughout the area.

I can see the following:
Ebony Obelisk

>i

You are carrying the following:
Carpet
Yellow Diamond
Crystal Sphere

(Side note: The “Carpet” is a flying carpet that seems to be the only way to leave this area.)

>enter obelisk

… you begin to hear a low hum …

>look

Lost Civilization of the Implementors.
Around you stretches the expansive remains of some now lost civilization. Rectangular obelisks of varying height and size march in all directions in a pattern that appears to be circular in nature and centered about one large obelisk in particular. Shadows cast by the sun create a landscape dominated by light and dark contrasts, permeated with the sound of flowing water echoing and reverberating throughout the area.

I can see the following:
White Obelisk

>enter obelisk

You feel a short heatwave.
The humming has stopped.

>i

You are carrying the following:
Ebony Cube

Finally, there is a pyramid in the southeast corner of the desert.

It’s possible to land inside randomly via hole teleport, or if you stick a hole right on top you’ll be able to get inside that way.

Antechamber.
You find yourself in the antechamber of the Great Pyramid of Warp. The room about you is fairly barren, with huge sandstone walls and only one apparently continuing passage to the north. Ancient heiroglyphics decorate the walls in a lost language of signs and symbols, but are now largely obscured and unreadable due to many years of senseless vandalism by scores of would-be grave robbers.

I can see the following:
Stone Button
Stone Pedestal

>n

Inside the Pyramid.
You are somewhere inside the Great Pyramid. A door is to the north.

I can see the following:
Stone Button
Stone Pedestal

It’s a gimmick maze that’s very hard to describe, but I’ll do my best. The map has an “Antechamber” at the center and “spokes” leading out.

The only direction you can go at any point is “north” if you keep going north eventually you’ll rotate back to the start of whatever section you’re in (assuming you have access, this means you keep returning to the antechamber).

“North” on this map is the starting rotation (at least the one I saw). If you push the antechamber button, you’ll rotate clockwise one step. So for example, if you push the antechamber button twice, you are in the Antechamber-chamber-chamber portion of the map with three linked rooms. If you push it five times (so you are “facing the southwest” on the map above, even though you’re going north) then heading north from the antechamber just loops back to the antechamber with no extra rooms.

If you push a button in one of the regular chambers (as opposed to the center room) things start to go really crazy. I haven’t been able to even begin to scratch the surface of the puzzle, but it seems like there are rotating walls that get moved around, but I haven’t found any configuration that works consistently.

For example, on the map above, if you go to the chamber “south” or “southeast” of the opening room and push the button, the map changes to the one below:

I’ve tried a couple methods of mapping and all of them have given me a headache.

While I think I’ve hit most of the thresholds of the game, I’m starting to reach my exhaustion point. I may have to do the unprecedented step (for the All the Adventures project) of taking a second breather from Warp before I finish it, unless I have some kind of major breakthrough soon.

Posted October 21, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Swimming and Sailing   25 comments

With IFComp, I’ve managed to plow through about 10 Twine games and 0 text adventures. Warp occupies enough headspace that I have trouble fitting anything similar in, but other interactive fiction seems to occupy a different brain category. (I will probably do reviews, but as a “compilation” where I will compare a bunch of games at once.)

A “majestic Spanish Galleon” which patrols the seas. If you’re swimming, it doesn’t bother you; if you’re sailing, it fires cannons. Warp has the largest amount of ASCII art I’ve seen in an adventure game. Both mainframe Zork and Stuga included a handful, but I’ve seen something like 30 pictures in Warp so far.

 

I’ve opened up quite a bit of map and found many more treasures, although I haven’t done a run yet where I’ve gathered them all at once. Part of this has to do with a nasty discovery Roger Durrant made.

I had (without too much difficulty or fanfare) discovered that in the Bank of Warp, the vault opens at a particular time (hinted at by a note in the Director’s office). I was then able to sneak in and grab some gold bullion, delivering it to the display case in the Warp Museum and netting a total of 35 points. Roger subsequently tested out the same solution and found he couldn’t do it; essentially, if you miss the time window near the start for entering the vault, you have broken the game.

I am hence somewhat paranoid about other potential softlocks, and since Warp is fairly open, I’ve got various save games running in parallel as I thwack at the various mysteries and puzzles. Most notably, there’s a lamp with a battery having limited time, just like Adventure/Zork/Acheton, and I’m worried once all the uses are taken into account the time limit is tight. I still remember in the last part of Acheton having to walk through darkness to the endgame (saving repeatedly and restoring when I fell into a pit by chance); with Warp I have no such way out, because if your lamp gives out in darkness you die right away.

My major lamp use went into mapping a maze.

I first thought this was going to be a “well-behaved” maze where directions go back and forth in the direction you expect, and indeed the first portion of my expedition went that way. The map was laid out in “micro-floors” with up-and-down stairs connecting a little randomly, but each floor being normal. There was a treasure which took a little effort to find, I mopped up most of the available directions, and that was that.

However, in one of the last exits I checked (in a pair of rooms marked “Kilroy Was Here” and “Kilroy Was Here Too”) the micro-floor idea continued, but there were now many more “punishment” one-way exits. By that I mean if you went the “wrong way” you were sent far off course, essentially guaranteeing there was no way to find a good route at random. Structurally, this seems intended as a fake-out — trying to coax players into giving up at finding the first treasure and assuming the maze has nothing else to yield.

Secretarial Pool.
This is a large room with a high ceiling, glass walls, and a large, deep, swimming pool in the center. There is a sign next to the diving board that reads

WARP BUILDING SECRETARIES ONLY!
(Executives Forbidden)
Please Wash Toes Before Entering
the Pool.

There are two ways out, to the east and back to the north.

I can see the following:
Fins
Swimming Pool
Secretary
Postage Stamp

Incidentally, JUMP IN POOL is death.

You gracefully execute a perfect swan dive into mid air. In your great haste, however, you failed to notice that the Warp Building Maintanence crew has drained the pool to keep it from leaking into the Operating room below. But they are efficient, and will undoubtedly scrape up your remains before refilling the pool …

In an adjacent room there’s a hole that you can pick up, and move to other places (!). I haven’t worked out the full mechanics of how this works. I was too busy otherwise trying to map out the ocean.

Haunt’s 7 by 7 by 7 cube of water was technically larger, but this still trumps anything I’ve previously played in terms of elaborateness. You can swim out alone (although if you are out more than 3 turns, you get attacked by sharks). There is the occasional stable position which resets the “shark counter” — like a fog bank — so I was able to use those to do produce quite a bit of the map.

Some locations are just too far from shore and you need a boat. There is a boat sitting out in the open and I’m fairly sure using it wasn’t really intended as a puzzle, yet it’s very easy to miss how to launch it. You can go DOWN and find another room.

You find yourself in the main cabin of the boat. The walls here are dark paneled, and there is a well-used bunk along the port side. A small wooden cabinet is built into the wall at the bow end of the bunk. At the aft end of the starboard wall is a large closet, and the remainder of the room sports nothing of interest other than a few shelves. A few short steps at the aft end of the cabin lead back up to the main deck, while next to them another short stairway leads down, apparently to a lower deck.

I can see the following:
Bunk
Wooden Cabinet
Closet

There’s a sail in the closet; take it upstairs and RAISE SAIL and the boat will become mobile.

While reefs are no threat while swimming, they smash up the boat if you hit them while sailing. I find the dual-meaning to the locations intriguing. (There actually seems to be triple-meaning because diving underwater seems to be possible, although I haven’t tested it yet — hopefully next time.)

I will be traveling so the next post might be delayed a little. If you need some reading material in the meantime, there is a spreadsheet that is collecting the current reviews for IFComp.

Posted October 6, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Warp: Everything So Far   15 comments

So, IFComp 2019 is about to hit, and I do intend to play and even possibly write about some of the games, but I also wanted to keep my momentum going on 1980. What better contrast to a bunch of small games than a very, very, very large one?

From >READ POSTER in an early room in Warp.

I will try to keep my Warp posts to a more-or-less weekly pace, and put my IFComp posts in between.

You may want to read my old entries, but the summary is: Warp was an attempt one-up Zork developed all the way from 1980 to 1985, and made gigantic in the process. The sole objective is to gather all the treasures and get all the points (1216 of them). Even though I have my old map, just looking at it scares me.

Even given the amount of work I put in, I barely made any progress. This is one of those wide-open puzzle games where there are far too many things to work on at once and I’m not sure where to start.

I often have this sort of “game paralysis” with strategy games — I’m on move 3 and there’s lots of choices already, and I’m worried that the wrong direction will screw my game up at move 40 (because sometimes, it has) so I end up just losing interest. If I can overcome this kind of start and get immersed, the game can get going. I’ve never come up with a good coping mechanism for strategy games (I’ve only got through the start of every Six Ages game I’ve played and it’s been on my phone since release day).

With adventure games, sometimes it helps for me to list everything out. Both for my benefit (given my last “real” Warp post was over 3 years ago) and so y’all fine people see what’s going on, I broke the giant map into five regions.

THE WARP BUILDING AND NEARBY ENVIRONS

Central Plaza.
You are standing in what appears to be the central plaza of a small seacoast resort. There is a large fountain in the center of this square, and the plaza extends quite a distance to both the north and south. You can see the ocean in the distance to the west, and to the east there is a large building on which there is a sign that reads “WARP BUILDING”.

The game starts right outside the “WARP BUILDING”. Nearby the building is a place with a video game (I have no coins for it) and a police station. The police officer wanders the area and will arrest you if you are carrying a weapon.

It is unclear what the building is used for. After getting by a security guard (with a nametag out in the PARK area) there’s an abandoned kitchen and dining room, an two elevators with three buttons each (one which is “out of order” and kills you if you use it), and a “mad doctor”.

Operating Room.
This is a very clean, sterile-looking room with white walls and chromed stainless-steel fixtures. There is a large operating table in the center of the room, and various pieces of machinery surrounding it. There are exits to the north and west.

I can see the following:
Bag
Mad Doctor
Suddenly the doctor produces a huge syringe, and quickly flings it at you.
You feel a painful sting as it sticks in your leg!

The mad doctor runs rather like a Zork battle with random messages; I haven’t experimented with fighting back yet.

Other items: Round peg, Digital watch, Digital scale, Banana.

The banana is considered a weapon, and the policeman will arrest you if you have it.

THE PARK

You’re standing in the northeast corner of Warp Park. The grass in green, the sky is blue, and you can go almost any direction. There is one particularly large tree growing nearby.

There’s a silver flute here which counts as a treasure (and makes a high pitched “dog whistle” sound), a nametag (used in the Warp building), a sign which warns you not to dig on the grass, a crank and well, a random fig tree and pine tree, and a “bathing ugly”.

There’s also a koala bear high in a redwood which also counts as a treasure, although it eats through your inventory if you’re carrying it around. Also, if you try to put it in the display case for treasures (see the next area), it wanders off, so I’m guessing I need some sort of sedative-laced food.

THE MUSEUM

Just east of the park is the museum, which has a wandering curator and a display case for storing the treasures of Warp.

Curator’s Office
This is a large office with a musty smell. The walls are lined with rows and rows of books. Numerous stacks of paper and partially restored objects are piled about the room. A large desk with a leather-backed chair stands in one corner of the room. The only exit is through the door to the east.

I can see the following:
Display Case

The display case has a lamp (which the curator doesn’t mind if you take). The curator does mind if you abscond with anything else; there’s a Mayan Room with an odd disk (with a cryptogram I’ve written about before), a gemstone room with “Leeverite”, a Sarcophagus Room with a casket, a dinosaur room with a Warpasaur.

THE LIGHTHOUSE

To the west of the park, if you dive through the ocean and swim, you can find an island and a lighthouse.

You’re standing in a gently sloping meadow, surrounded on three sides by steep rising cliffs. To the east, there is a small sheltered cove, its waters placidly lapping near your feet. A rickety boat dock extends somewhat out into the water. You can go most any direction.

There’s a cave entrance but it is dark inside and I haven’t been able to get the lamp from the display case over because the ocean washes away any items I try to carry.

Other items: hardhat, rusty shovel, ruby lense. (Spelled that way in the game.)

THE DESERT AND THE MALL

To the east of the Warpian building is an area with a mall, an alley, and a desert.

You’re at the northeast corner of the Cobblestone Square, where before you looms a magnificent statue of Miles A. Weigh, one of the most famous of the Warpian explorers. The cobblestones stop, but the square appears to continue to the north.

The alley has a mugger who is Warp’s equivalent of the thief from Zork, and is keen on stealing all your treasures.

The mall has a bank and a subway station, which I haven’t quite worked out how to use even though I have a “transit pass”. I assume I can reach another new large section once I get in.

Heading east from here there is a “desert” with a sign warning of falling rocks, and if you keep going east you die via a rock randomly falling out of the sky on your head.

Immediately after making this list, I went over to the “hardhat” (which required swimming over the ocean in the far southwest of the map), wore it, was able to get through the ocean without dropping it (since I was wearing it) and used it to scoot through the desert safely and make it to a region beyond, which looks like it might also be big. This game just keeps going and going.

I have marked the location of the hardhat and the place where it solved a puzzle, just to give an idea of what kind of back-and-forth is required in this game.

Posted September 30, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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