Thursday, 22 February 2018

Missed Classic 53: Cutthroats - Introduction (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich



In 1984, Infocom had a fantastic idea: let’s make two nautical-themed adventures in a row! More to the point, Infocom was working hard to keep each of their key developers working on a game to release this year: Steve Meretzky on Sorcerer and Hitchhiker’s Guide, Stu Galley on Seastalker, Mike Berlyn on Cutthroats, and Dave Lebling on Suspect. (Marc Blank even produced one: the Tutorial Game that I looked at in my last bonus post.) The nautical comparison isn’t quite fair: while Mr. Galley had produced a rolicking sci-fi adventure in a submarine, Mr. Berlyn was aiming for a modern-day tale of treasure hunting and piracy on the high seas. Still, it seems odd to have two superficially similar games in a row.

For this game, Mike Berlyn picked up an accomplice: Jerry Wolper. Mr. Wolper was an Infocom programmer who would work on the technical aspects of the production while Mr. Berlyn worked on the story. Berlyn had already proven himself more than capable of handling the technical side, but this freed him up to be more of a creative presence than before and was well-aligned with other creator/programmer pairings the company was experimenting with. Seastalker had been built the same way, and Hitchhiker’s Guide will follow the same model in just a few months. Will this change help Berlyn to write the best possible game? Possibly, although it could also suffer from having a less experienced programmer at the helm. I guess I’ll have to play to find out.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - Jones in the Fast Lane

Written by TBD.

Indiana Jones Journal Entry #3: Sophia suggested we look for Atlantis together but I felt she'd just cramp my style. I'm using my own wits to find out if the place is real or the myth I've always thought.

Now that I've reached Atlantis on the TEAM path, it's time to backtrack and try to get here by WITS alone. So let's say goodbye to Sophia and use our wits in the fine city of Monte Carlo.

Thanks. Try not to get captured by Nazis while I'm gone.


Sunday, 18 February 2018

L.A. Law: The Computer Game – Case #2: The Blown Whistler

by Alex



Well, the people have spoken! The Adventure Gamer reading public actually liked the detailed, blow-by-blow account I gave of L.A. Law: The Computer Game’s first case. Here I thought it was too boring and dry, but the legal profession is all about upholding the process and the rules the people agree to! Who am I to argue? So instead of consolidating multiple cases together, I’ll go through one case per post. And since the boring basic stuff has already been taken care of, this should go a bit quicker than the last one.

First things first: in the comments to post one, Joe Pranevich wondered if the choice of character has any effect on gameplay:

“Do we know how the character selection impacts the game? Are there certain witnesses that one character is able to get more out of than another? Is one of the characters a superhero who can defeat difficult judges using the power of hypnotic suggestion?”

That would be fantastic, but I haven’t yet checked out other playable characters. Perhaps I will after I finish the game as Victor Sifuentes, but not until then, because this game is . . . hoo boy, we’ll get to that.

Continuing in the vein of Case #1, we’ll focus on L.A. Law’s two main aspects: Trial Prep and The Trial. In the meantime, there are two factors I want to keep in mind as a through-line for these posts:
  1. Does L.A. Law: The Computer Game work as a game?
  2. How well does L.A. Law: The Computer Game simulate actually being a lawyer?
Strap yourself in for some hardcore lawyering, because we’re about to find out!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Missed Classic 52: Infocom’s Tutorial Game (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich



You might say that a guy who is trying to play every Infocom game in release order, plus read all of the tie-in books, is a bit of a completionist. If you then added that he was trying to do all this in a mad rush because he wants to be done before it’s time to review Return to Zork when we get to 1993, it’s probably best that I don’t know your opinion. If you asked my wife, she’s tell you that I like to do things in the correct order. I always try to read books in the order they were published, regardless of what the author says. I’ll probably never let my son watch the Star Wars prequels before the original films. The shared experience is important to me and my playing these games in order, I have a hope of understanding how the original players felt when these games came out, even if the average Infocom-purchaser wouldn’t have bought all of the games.

That leads me to this surprise. I had thought that Cutthroats was the next released game, and I’ve started playing it already, but while I was wrapping up the research I learned that I had been mistaken: there was one tiny Infocom release between Seastalker and Cutthroats. Around the summer of 1984, Infocom released two special advertising packages. The first of these, the so-called “Zork I demo” was a disk sent to computer stores. The intention, at least according to text in the demo itself, was that a customer in these fine establishments could sit at a computer terminal and play a few minutes of an Infocom game, become inspired, and leave with a handful. But while Zork I is a lot of fun, it wasn’t quite the perfect game to get players hooked. It didn’t hold players’ hands at all or even explain how you play interactive fiction. To remedy this, Infocom developed the Tutorial Game, a miniature adventure that would introduce the key concepts in a fun and lighthearted way.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – My Big Fat Greek Dreading

Written by TBD

Indiana Jones Journal Entry #4: I'd previously used my ship rib to expose a mural of Atlantis' Greater Colony. This time I used my rib to dig for hidden Atlantean treasure and expose two secret doors. I love my trusty ship rib. Oh, and Sophia helped too.

Sophia Hapgood Journal Entry #2: Using our archaeology skills we found an Atlantean moonstone and entered the Greater Colony, which also seemed to be the basis for the story of the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. I made Indy admit that Nur-Ab-Sal was a mighty king and single-handedly found the map room. Oh, and Indy helped too.

When we last met our heroes Indy and Sophia, we had gotten ourselves an Atlantean Sunstone that, together with a Moonstone, would give us entry into Atlantis' Greater Colony, and we found evidence that the greater colony might be in Crete.


CRETE

Apparently Crete's airport is a jetty

Monday, 12 February 2018

What's Your Story - Alex Romanov

Answers: Alex Romanov
Introduction and captions: Ilmari

It has been a pleasure reading the comments of Alex Romanov, who appears to have encyclopedic information on some of the games we've been playing. Just look at what he wrote about Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes or the effort he is now putting on analysing Fate of Atlantis! We finally get a chance to meet the man behind the comments in person.


I'd really like to find out if he's any relation to the Russian imperial family

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Missed Classic: Seastalker - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich



Welcome to the Aquadome! Last week, I started into Seastalker and discovered that my father’s company's underwater base is under attack by a sea monster. I was able to finish work on my experimental sub, deal with two acts of sabotage, and navigate a busy and obstacle-filled harbor to finally arrive at the Aquadome. This game is fun so far, half adventure and half mystery, as we have to both save the base and uncover the saboteur. I have a theory who that is, but we’ll see what happens as we arrive at the base itself.

This week starts with a happy reunion as I dock my sub at the base’s docking tank, and emerge into a reception area. The whole station crew is gathered to meet us! Is one of them the saboteur?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

L.A. Law: The Computer Game – Case #1: The Wrathful Race

by Alex


In the comments to my first L.A. Law post, reader Lugh expressed his or her feelings about this game’s technical qualities:

“20. It's a Capstone game, so I'll be shocked if it even works.”

Well, the game worked, after a fashion, in that it loaded and I could choose my character—in this case, Victor Sifuentes as portrayed by Jimmy Smits—and get started at my first day at the prestigious firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak!

As chosen by YOU, The Adventure Game readers!

Problem was, every time I tried to call someone on the damn phone, the game would freeze as I waited for the person on the other line to pick up. And since most of this game involves making phone calls, you can see how this could be a problem.

Imagine this . . . forever!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - By Balloon to the Sahara

Written by TBD

Indiana Jones Journal Entry #3 : I had to convince a Frenchman in Monte Carlo that I'm a ghost, and had to get a discount from a beggar in Algiers in order to take a balloon trip over the Sahara desert. It's been a strange day, but I have one of the stones I need and I know where to go next.

Sophia Hapgood Journal Entry #1: Indy reluctantly agreed that I'll be needed in the quest to find Atlantis. I got us a Sunstone with no help from Dr. Jones. I had knives thrown at me and fell down a hole with Indy exploring a digsite instead of using his whip to rescue me. I'm starting to understand why women leave him after a single adventure.

When we last met our heroes Indy and Sophia, we were given the option to continue with our WITS, FISTS or TEAM. On reading some comments on the last post I've decided to play each path in turn up until the point they converge. And to start off, I'll be playing the TEAM path. 

So let's get to it. Sophia has suggested meeting with her contacts in Monte Carlo and Algiers so let's first go to Monte Carlo.


MONTE CARLO

Now, I'm not sure how big Monte Carlo is, but I'm confident Sophia's reasoning to come to this exact street and hotel contains a flaw.

OK, fair enough. This must clearly be the only place in Monte Carlo with bright lights...

... or not...

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Missed Classic 51: Seastalker - Introduction (1984)

Written by Joe Pranevich



Now, where was I? Oh yes, before I was distracted by the amazing Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes (plus a Christmas side trip), I had just completed Sorcerer, the first Infocom game of 1984. That game remains one of my favorites so far and has moved Steve Meretzky into my short list of awesome game designers. Three months later, Infocom followed it up with Seastalker, our first “junior” adventure. One of the key trends with Infocom as they entered into 1984 was a desire to connect traditional fiction writers with their new “interactive fiction” medium. We have already seen two games by Mike Berlyn, a science fiction author, in 1983, but this year will go even farther: three of their five games will be written by an established non-interactive author.

In order to ensure that their first adventure for a younger audience was successful, Infocom sought out Jim Lawrence, a 30-year veteran of middle-grade fiction, and paired him with Stu Galley. Mr. Galley had already proven that he could take another’s ideas and make them blossom when he wrote The Witness, this would be his chance to do so with an author that didn’t understand the medium. You probably have never heard of Mr. Lawrence, but in just the few weeks that I have been researching him, I have become a tremendous fan.