Archive for the ‘Zork’ Tag

Zork: Endgame   27 comments

Your score in the end game is 100 [total of 100 points], in 52 moves.
This score gives you the rank of Dungeon Master.

Spoilers ahoy.

Notable things about the endgame:

The scoring trick. I never did quite make it to 616 out of 616 points, but I’m not worried in that a.) knowing how things went down throughout my game, it might’ve just been a bug and b.) The score resets anyway to a separate “endgame score” out of 100 points.

INCANT. Upon entering the endgame the player is instructed to INCANT “word of their choice” and the game responds with a passkey to use to warp to the endgame (so I did INCANT “STUFF” and it told me to keep “INCANT ZEAAA”). This can be done without a save game (saving no longer works in the endgame, anyway).

Object choice. It’s somewhat unclear what is needed if anything in the endgame. It turns out the sword is necessary but it’s very hard to realize such other than it seems the iconic thing to be carrying around. Fortunately, warping to the endgame with INCANT also drops the lamp and sword in the player’s inventory, so I took that as a hint.

Life without objects. The sword gets used fairly early and the rest of the puzzles use no objects at all. Given how much Zork relies on objects, the style is rather different, almost like Myst

> go in
Inside Mirror
You are inside a rectangular box of wood whose structure is rather complicated. Four sides and the roof are filled in, and the floor is open.
As you face the side opposite the entrance, two short sides of carved and polished wood are to your left and right. The left panel is mahogany, the right pine. The wall you face is red on its left half and black on its right. On the entrance side, the wall is white opposite the red part of the wall it faces, and yellow opposite the black section. The painted walls are at least twice the length of the unpainted ones. The ceiling is painted blue.
In the floor is a stone channel about six inches wide and a foot deep. The channel is oriented in a north-south direction. In the exact center of the room the channel widens into a circular depression perhaps two feet wide. Incised in the stone around this area is a compass rose.
Running from one short wall to the other at about waist height is a wooden bar, carefully carved and drilled. This bar is pierced in two places. The first hole is in the center of the bar (and thus the center of the room). The second is at the left end of the room (as you face opposite the entrance). Through each hole runs a wooden pole.
The pole at the left end of the bar is short, extending about a foot above the bar, and ends in a hand grip. The pole has been dropped into a hole carved in the stone floor.
The long pole at the center of the bar extends from the ceiling through the bar to the circular area in the stone channel. This bottom end of the pole has a T-bar a bit less than two feet long attached to it, and on the T-bar is carved an arrow. The arrow and T-bar are pointing west.

…except Myst is really awkward and difficult described as text. At a basic level this puzzle isn’t too difficult (the mirror is a vehicle you have to control) but just reading the words is brain-jumbling.

Master of the Dungeon. I was warned about this one: you get to a door, knock, and the Master of the Dungeon comes and asks a trivia quiz about Zork.

It’s clear some of the questions are meant to test alternate solutions or methods of transport:

‘What can be done to the mirror that is useful?’

(Touching the mirror warps to the other mirror.)

Others are more, mm, trivial:

‘What is the absolute minimum specified value of the Zorkmid treasures, in zorkmids?’

And one of them’s just evil:

‘In which room is ‘Hello, Sailor!’ useful?’

(If you know your Zork mythology, you can answer this even if you haven’t played the game. I’ll answer in the comments.)

The Final Puzzle. After the quiz the Dungeon Master starts to follow you, and there’s a room with another Myst-like setup:

There is an object here which looks like a sundial. On it are an indicator arrow and (in the center) a large button. On the face of the dial are numbers ‘one’ through ‘eight’. The indicator points to the number ‘four’.

The trick here is that you can direct the Master of the Dungeon just like a robot from earlier in the game, with TELL MASTER ‘DO ACTION’ as the syntax. This is one of those odd cases where pre-Infocom syntax was my nemesis; I admit it never occurred to me (even though the Master says he is yours to command) that I could even give him directions. This seemed to be because the syntax felt like a special-case thing for earlier in the game and it wasn’t incorporated as part of my puzzle-solving reflexes.

The ending scene. After puzzling out the business with the dial comes the end:

> go out
Treasury of Zork
This is a room of large size, richly appointed and decorated in a style that bespeaks exquisite taste. To judge from its contents, it is the ultimate storehouse of the treasures of Zork.

The treasures are described in intricate detail (I’ll post all of it in the comments), and this could’ve been the end of it, akin to being carried off by cheering elves in Adventure. However, there’s one final paragraph:

As you gleefully examine your new-found riches, the Dungeon Master himself materializes beside you, and says, “Now that you have solved all the mysteries of the Dungeon, it is time for you to assume your rightly-earned place in the scheme of things. Long have I waited for one capable of releasing me from my burden!” He taps you lightly on the head with his staff, mumbling a few well-chosen spells, and you feel yourself changing, growing older and more stooped. For a moment there are two identical mages staring at each other among the treasure, then you watch as your counterpart dissolves into a mist and disappears, a sardonic grin on his face.

The last sentence is remarkable. That was the ending?

I was stuck by it as a lens of sorts: here is a new art form, one raw and unrefined, with the potential to be serious and profound.

For me it was the most gratifying moment of playing Zork.

I’m not entirely done with Zork. I’m planning a “backtracking post” at some point to discuss Hunt the Wumpus and related games. Zork has two parts that definitely show Wumpus influence and I’ll discuss them with the same post.

In the meantime I’m moving on to 1978 and Bill Wolpert’s Mystery Mansion, a game with almost ridiculous ambition for its time.

Posted April 29, 2011 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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