Monday, November 8, 2010

Beyond Zork: Lost in Quendor

This was painful.

There is effectively no way to win Beyond Zork with the same character you started with. You simply have to accept that 90% of your playing time will involve messing around and figuring out puzzles so that your final character--the one that wins the game--will be able to use the accumulated wisdom. Ultimately, you do something that "breaks" the game. I did it yesterday when I levitated the baby hippo out of the quicksand before I lured his mother to the statue to help me get the jewel. I did it again today when I used up the Scroll of Gating before accomplishing everything I needed to accomplish on the "Ethereal Plain of Atrii." I did it another time today when I wasted my three pterodactyl rides.

Solving the pterodactyl puzzle involved putting it to sleep with the hurdy-gurdy, taking the arrow out of its wing, healing the wing with a special weed (that took me a damned long time; I knew they existed because of the manual, but it's mentioned very obscurely in the place that you find it), putting a saddle on its back, and taking its whistle. You can blow the whistle to summon it three times. Since there are several places you have to fly to and from to visit, you can't waste a trip goofing around, which is what I did.

The problem is, you keep thinking that this time you've figured out all the puzzles, and this character will be the one that goes the distance. Then you realize you've bungled the next puzzle and have to start over again.

Still, starting over beats getting stuck on the puzzles, which is where I remain. The most insidious puzzles are the ones you don't even know exist; you only see pieces of them. For instance, with reader Jason Dyer's help, I figured out how to save the minx from the hunters by erasing its tracks, so now I have a pet minx. I named him after one of my readers.

Now, I know from the manual that minxes find truffles, and sure enough, if I bring the minx to an oak tree and hang around, he ultimately digs one up. But it goes bad within a few moves and dissolves. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with it. There is a road blocked by Christmas Tree Monsters, who are afraid of caterpillars, but damned if I can find any caterpillars. There's a castle that I can see from a couple of angles but I can't find any way to reach it. (The pterodactyl is an obvious solution, but he won't fly against the wind, and the wind always seems to be blowing against me when I try to reach the area that the castle would be in.)

My inventory is chock full of stuff that's probably the solution to one puzzle or another, but I don't know what: a horseshoe, an hourglass, a dispel staff, a shovel, and something called a "vague outline."

The CRPG Addict does not consider himself a man of great willpower--he is, after all, playing CRPGs instead of working on his dissertation--so knowing that the answers to all of these questions are a quick Google search away is driving him a bit crazy. But he shall not succumb.

Nonetheless, I can't keep relying on readers for hints, and I don't want to drag this one out. To solve some of these puzzles, I may have to resort to brute tactics in which I revisit every location and try every object. Thus, I'm going to take the unusual step of playing an interlocutory game while I continue to puzzle through Beyond Zork. My next posting will be on Braminar (tonight; this short posting doesn't constitute a day's work) but I'll devote a little time each day to Beyond Zork--maybe posting updates, maybe not. What I can promise you is there will be a "won!" posting for Beyond Zork eventually.


  1. Regarding the castle, Lbh'er evtug gung gur cgrebqnpgly vf hfrq gb trg gb gur pnfgyr.

    Regarding the truffle, Gurer'f fbzrguvat lbh pna qb gb gur gehssyr gb cerfreir vg.

  2. The idea of an item called "a vague outline"... an outline of what?

    I guess that's what makes Beyond Zork worthy of your time, it has a real strange charm to it.

    I can appreciate this game driving you crazy though!

    Never heard of Braminar, but I'll wait to see your first post on it rather than search the internet. Sometimes it's better to wait and see.

    Oh, and thanks for the reply on the previous thread!

  3. Thanks, Jason. That was just the kind of vagueness I was looking for. The encryption was a nice added touch. I just figured out the truffle while writing about it tonight. Still have no idea what to do with it, but at least I know how to preserve it!

  4. Commenting two years late and, assuredly, a Zorkmid short - but here goes.

    I'm reading from earliest posting to last (as I commented earlier, and as I know many are also doing) and it's very interesting to simultaneously chronicle the advances in CRPG development (as you do) while noticing your blog's development of standards and practices.

    This post is particularly interesting in that it exemplifies the development of your audience as growing part of the writing. Not only have you gradually gathered a great group of early commentators, but at this point you're also comfortable interacting with them for clues and advice, tailoring post content to address them and their comments, and even naming characters after them. Two years removed, I can see your enthusiasm and comfort with this format forming.

    Additionally, it's fun to see you come to terms with your original (rigid) set of guidelines and modifying them for better fun and function.

    As a backtracking reader, I look forward to a slightly less linear blog as branch off into side games and more thoughtful "General Posts" (i.e. the New Orleans is a great city one from earlier).

    Lastly, Jason's encryption hint system is fricking awesome. I've been a fairly hardcore computing nerd since most of your other readers and had never seen that particular trick. A nice little trick I'm glad to discover.

    All said, I think I might start reading and commenting on current posts as well; it's probably mildly frustrating to you to have to address untimely comments when you undoubtedly have new material equally worth of analysis.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. I actually really like it when I get comments on old postings. I usually take that time to re-read the posting myself and note how I did things differently back then. This one is definitely after my blog matured a bit. ROT13 is such a common thing in my comments these days, that I had forgotten there was an "origin point" back here, so thanks for reminding me!


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