Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Revisiting: The Seven Spirits of Ra (1987)

The Seven Spirits of Ra
United States
Macrocom (developer); Sir-Tech (publisher)
Released in 1987 for DOS
Date Started: 23 January 2011
Date Finished: 5 May 2021
Total Hours: 9
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard (3.5/5)
Final Rating: 19
Ranking at Time of Posting:112/412 (27%)
This is a game that I've long wanted to convert to a "win" even though it isn't really an RPG. I could have rejected it on all three of my grounds, but I didn't, back when I played it in 2011. Thus having already numbered and listed it, I figure I should tie it off with a victory.
Ra was made by the same team that created the highly-original ICON: The Quest for the Ring (1984). In that game, you played and interacted with characters from the Nibelungenlied. Ra similarly mines classical mythology, in this case the Osiris myth from ancient Egypt. As before, Dr. Randall Bohrer of the Georgia Institute of Technology served as the subject matter expert while collaborating with his former students, Neal White III and Bryan Rossman, on the programming.
Starting out.
The manual tells a long backstory about Osiris, the first pharaoh, and his brothers and sisters among the Egyptian pantheon. Someone more versed in Egyptian mythology would have to confirm, but I think the story that the authors tell in the manual is a bit different than any of the traditional versions. It sometimes conflates them and sometimes seems to go off in its own direction. (This is in no way a criticism, just an observation). The basic story is that Osiris was a wise and successful ruler, but his brother, Set, managed to gaslight the populace into thinking otherwise. Eventually, Osiris's own guards set a trap for him and allowed Set to murder him.
The opening moments of the game show this assassination happening on a boat.
Set butchered the body of the king and scattered the pieces, each of which was devoured by a different animal. Meanwhile, the spirit of Osiris, deprived of a proper burial, wanders the Duad, the after-realm, looking for a way to return to the land of the living. The goal of the game is to find the spirits of the five animals that ate Osiris, slay them, and gain their own powers. 
The backstory and quest naturally call the title into question. The manual says that Osiris had 10 spirits within him; three of them went to enjoy immortality with Ra while seven went to the Duad. These seven make up the seven "lives" that you have in the game. So why does the title have them as the seven spirits of Ra? Ra doesn't really play a part in the game.
In any event, during the game, you must slay a particular rat, vulture, snake, bat, and crocodile, each distinguished from its brethren because its graphic flashes as you approach. When you kill the animal, you gain the ability to transform into it. Such transformations are key to the game's limited puzzles: there are swamps you can only cross as a crocodile or snake; small areas you can only navigate as a rat or snake; and areas to which you have to fly as a bat or vulture. I assume the redundancies among the transformations are there to keep the game from being too linear.
You must become a vulture to reach the entrance to one pyramid.

Turning into a bat is the only way to see in a cave near the end.
There are eight areas to explore: the Desert of the Three Pyramids; the pyramids of Manu, Hetsahpet, and Osa; the Pits of Abot; the City of Tombs; the Caverns of Isis; and the Stronghold of Set. Each is swarming with continually-respawning enemies. There are a few fixed treasures, puzzles, and encounters in each area.
Like ICON, the game uses CGA graphics, but is able to get more colors and a higher resolution than should have been possible through a set of innovative tweaks that, as a non-programmer, I don't really understand. The controls are excellent--all keyboard, one key per action, with intuitive mapping like "T" to transform and "W" to change weapons. 
Osiris starts with one weapon, just a hand attack that does virtually no damage, so one of the first goals is to find a sword, which in the basic games is in the southeast corner of the outdoor area. You have to cross the Nile to get to it, avoiding crocodiles. Things aren't easy even after you have the sword. Combat with the sword requires that the sword itself--which always juts out to the right of the character icon--be in contact with the enemy. This means that there's no attacking from under, above, or right of the enemy. Meanwhile, to sap your own hit points, the enemy needs only to touch you. Most of your hit points are lost just trying to get into position.
Trying to kill some mummies before they kill me. The snake who ate a piece of my body is in the room in the upper-right.
The sword isn't even effective against ghosts, so until you find one of the other two weapons--a Wand of Fire and a Wand of Lighting--you just have to do your best to avoid them. I lost four of seven lives during this early stage of the game, and that's even with frequently reloading. Hit points regenerate slowly if you stand still, but it's hard to find an area where that's safe. There are rare mushrooms that also heal you.
My character sheet near the end. I only have the bat to kill.
Things are a bit easier once you have the wands, but not always. The wands allow you to attack in any direction, which is nice, but if you attack with a wand too close to the enemy, you'll take some of the reflected damage. If you miss with the Wand of Lightning, you have to wait for it to bounce around and dissipate before you can attack again; there are some maps in which it takes literal minutes for the bolt to travel across the map and bounce back, leaving you without a weapon in the meantime.
I assume the difficulty was intentional, because otherwise the game is relatively small. If you didn't die so much, you could win in an hour. And that's in a "basic" game. There's also an "advanced" option in which only mushrooms heal you and some of the items are randomized, so you can't use previous knowledge to find things.
I traverse a small passage as a rat. One of the wands and three treasures await on the other side.
The best parts of the game are the use of lore. As you enter each area, you get a title card with a little blank verse describing what you'll find there. Most of the puzzles are based on this lore. For instance, in the Pits of Abot, you meet the crocodile god, who bars you from reaching the god Thoth. He wants to know why you seek Thoth. To answer correctly, you have to remember the title card for the Pyramid of Manu, which ends, "Look instead for the gates to wisdom." I didn't get it. I Googled what Thoth was the god of and tried MAGIC and WRITING before getting it correct with WISDOM.
HOPE is later the answer to a riddle.
When you reach Thoth, he offers this: "Salvation lies in the sight of truth. Although you see, you are in darkness. The Spirit of Truth seeks light." This provides answers to two of the final questions in the Caves of Isis: "Where are you?" (DARKNESS) and "What do you seek?" (LIGHT). A stela in the City of Tombs provides the answers to the other two.
I nearly typed "infinity."
To get to the endgame, I think you have to kill all five animals, but I think three are only technically necessary to navigate to all the areas. I'm not sure what happens if you try to finish the game without having killed one of them. You also have to make an offering of treasures at the Altar of Ra. I have no idea how many treasures are needed here; I just dropped all of mine.
As an atheist, I never understand how religious people are so accepting of being in a state of constant surveillance.
After that, you pass through the four questions in the Caverns of Isis, where you can also visit an island to reclaim your lost "lives" from earlier in the game. At some point during this journey, you transform into Horus, Osiris's son who was also Osiris reborn.
So Isis is simultaneously my mother, my wife, and my sister.
A few transformations are necessary to reach Set at the center of his stronghold. The final battle is a bit disappointing. He's immune to wands, so you just end up waving your sword at him until he dies, which costs you a few lives along the way. I read an interview with the authors in which they said they originally planned to introduce a lot more strategy to the final battle, with Set changing forms repeatedly and Osiris having to transform into his own animal forms to keep up. It's too bad they weren't able to use this. Set does change forms during the battle, but all you do is stab at him.
Approaching Set amid his allies.
The victory screen shows Horus/Osiris being ferried back to the land of the living as text scrolls across the bottom of the screen: "Hail, Osiris, conqueror of Set and his Dominion of Darkness. Like Ra, you emerge victorious over the power of night. Journey with Ra as an immortal aboard his boat of the Sun."
You then get your final score, which is a combination of the enemies you killed and the treasure you found, minus what you sacrificed to Ra. I think something may be bugged with the score, though, as mine kept going into negative values during the game. I could never identify exactly what was causing it to do that.
844 doesn't sound bad, but I think I was up to over 3,000 at one point.
After the victory screen, you get . . . I don't know what to call it. A story? A religious text? It's ten screens of text tiled The Koru Kosmu, or The Eye of the Universe, "a fragment of the Discourse of Thoth to a priest of Amon-Ra." No Googling turns up anything of that name, subtitle, or text, so I assume the authors must have written it as a kind of bonus. The story is told from the perspective of a young priest who falls asleep while studying ancient texts and receives a vision from Thoth. Thoth shows him that there are two worlds: the temporary, malleable physical world, and the eternal, unchanging spiritual world. Truth, he says, is to be found by looking beyond the material and into the spiritual. Thoth then uses these two worlds as the metaphors for the text and subtext of stories, including the one we've just learned about Osiris. "To understand it literally is to become entangled in the veil of appearances." He explains in great detail about the symbology of Osiris's tale and the lessons we should take from it. I've retyped the entire thing after the end of this entry because I don't think it ought to be lost, but I'm also not sure what to make of it. Is it a bonus for winning? Is it an attempt by the authors to ensure that the lessons of the game are not lost on the casual player? Either way, it's one of the more interesting endgames of the 1980s.
Back in 2011, I gave it a 19 on the GIMLET. Looking at the scores now, I want to make some adjustments to the individual categories. It doesn't deserve the 2 I gave it for character creation and development since there's none of either. But I would raise "encounters" from a 2 to a 3 and "economy" from 0 to 1 to compensate, and thus leave the final score the same.
The number of fans for which "exhaustively researched for authenticity" would be a selling point must have been small in 1987.
Alan Roberts reviewed the game in the August 1988 Computer Gaming World. He called it an "arcade/adventure," which seems apt. He didn't think much of the mechanics, but he praised the game for its source material, plot, and manual. He characterized the post-winning screens as "a short optional philosophy lecture."
Though marketed by Sir-Tech, The Seven Spirits of Ra sold poorly. DOS was still a limited market at the time, and the developers limited themselves further by writing the program for specific hardware. Macrocom thus folded after two highly original games that remain hard to classify. While neither is really an RPG, I'm glad I played them both to the end.
The Koru Kosmu, or the Eye of the Universe
A Fragment of the Discourse of Thoth to a Priest of Amon-Ra
Once, while I was studying the ancient texts, sleep came over me and restrained my bodily senses. And as I slept I thought that there appeared to me a being of boundless magnitude, who called me by name and said to me, "What do you wish to hear and see, to learn and know by thought?"
The game's odd coda begins.
"Who are you?" I said.

"I am Thoth, the Master of those who would know."
"I would learn," I said, "of the mysteries of the temple and of that which is."
He answered, "I know what you wish, for I am with you everywhere. Keep in mind what you would know, and I will teach you."

And forthwith all things changed before me and were opened out in an instant. All about was a pure light, impossible to look at steadily. But around the light there came into being a shadowy place, downward tending, and in it where a multitude of shapes, coming and going, as the waves on a great sea.

And Thoth spoke to me and said, "Do you understand the meaning of what you see?"

"Tell me its meaning," I said, "and I shall know."

"The Light is all-pervading Mind, and the place of shadows is the Kosmos that comes from the Mind. Understand that the world is two-fold, the seen and the unseen, the sensible and the spiritual. The outer world is changeable and material; the inner is eternal and spiritual. The outer or surface realm of appearance is like a dark mirror that reflects the intangible light of the inner realm. The ignorant man puts his faith in appearances but the wise man sees with the inner eye of the mind and knows the invisible within the visible. For all things which the eye can see are unsubstantial and distorted reflections; but the things which the eye cannot see are the realities, and above all Truth and Goodness. As the eye cannot see the Eternal Mind, so it cannot see Good or Truth. For Eternity and Goodness and Truth are parts of the One Reality. All who would know should look inward with the eyes of the heart. 
"Seek a guide to lead you to the Door of the House of Knowledge. Pass beyond the veils of the senses, for the true light cannot be seen with bodily eyes, but with the eye of the heart and mind alone." And when Thoth had finished speaking, I said, "Lord Thoth, guide me, that I might see truly."
"Look now with your mind upon the play of the shadows," he said, "and fix your thought on what you see."
And as I gazed upon the wavering forms there came into my mind the wondrous story of Osiris and his struggle with Set. But soon there fell over all a veil, and on the veil were the forms of all manner of demons and monsters. And when I was amazed, Thoth spoke again.

"Know, then, that the mysteries of Osiris are a true reflection and are meant to be a guide to those who seek wisdom, but a snare to the unaware. Its mysteries are cloaked in the veils of passions, to entangle those who live only in their senses and know only their corporeal selves. The initiated know that the Great Myth of sufferings and struggle of Osiris with his adversary Set is a Sacred Drama, exhibiting the Initiate's path to wisdom. It is a story of symbols, of reflections of what is. So know that to understand it literally is to become entangled in the veil of appearances.

"The other world of the Duad is a hieroglyph of the material world. For the initiate, Osiris's descent into the Duad after death is a token of the existence of a realm of being that transcend the boundaries of the physical world and its truths. And Osiris's life beyond signifies that there is a realm of existence that is not corporeal."

"Yet," I said, when Thoth had paused, "how may it be that the horrors of Osiris's death or the violence of Horus's revenge teaches the wise?"

To which Thoth replied, "Your question shows that, though an initiated priest of this temple, you still need guidance. Do you not see that the legend of Osiris's defeat at the hands of Set, his death, and the consumption of his body by the creatures of the field and air are signs? Remember that. Set is the brother of Osiris, that is, his other-self. In the realm of the corporeal, visible world, Osiris is doomed to defeat. He is overcome by envy and ambition; he is consumed by animal appetites. The tale of Osiris's destruction is the tale of the dissipation and dispersal of the mind under the onslaught of the corporeal and physical.

"The descent into the real of the Duad shows the inner descent into itself of the lost spirit. Only by such a journey can the soul recover its lost and hidden elements from the dark and lethal depths before it learns to ascend into the light.

"You who would understand the mysteries of Death and Rebirth, know that Osiris does not achieve victory through his own power. He is guided on the way by what is written; the questions he is asked make him understand. He can no more grow in the ways of understanding by himself than a plant can grow without the sun.

"Be mindful, then, of the guides you have been given."

"Lord Thoth," I asked, "much remains unclear to me. Tell me more of what Osiris's becoming a master of forms signifies."

"You now see that appearances may have many meanings, and it is true that the powers of transformation that Osiris gains represents more than overcoming the passions of the flesh. Know that the path Osiris takes is not one of renouncing the passions, but rather learning their powers and controlling them. By doing so, Osiris becomes a lord of creation, one whose soul is like a polished mirror in which the microcosmic form of the divine nature is reflected. 
The story either ends abruptly, or this fragment does.
"Know that the changes of this world, the endless succession of births and deaths, is in its way a reflection of the imperceptible and eternal. The outer cosmos has been made in the image of the spiritual world and reproduces eternity in a copy. For though the kosmos moves and changes, it is ever the same, for all that perishes comes again in the cycle of reoccurrences, for through time, all is brought back that has perished, so that for the whole there is no beginning or end. That which manifests itself and disappears by turns in the several parts of nature, does so in such fashion that again and again in the checkered course of time it shows itself anew in those same parts in which it disappeared before. This is but one of the truths that the great myth of Osiris teaches."

"But surely, then," I said, and I awoke.


  1. Well this was a surprise! Do you have any plans to flip any more "N" to "Y" in the win column? Looking at your spreadsheet Swords of Glass, Star Saga, and Scavengers of the Mutant World all look like they may be reasonably quick, and a few others look tedious but doable. There is also *cough* Wizardry 4!

    1. I didn't even have any plans to play Ra until I did it. Every once in a while, I just let randomness take me. I'm not going to commit to anything.

    2. Is Wizardry IV still considered the hardest CRPG ever created?

    3. Depends what you mean by hardest.

      Do you mean: “which RPG are you least likely to finish, if you played it full time for a year with no external assistance”?

      There have been a couple games with obnoxious requirements for progressing the plot, either because a riddle answer relied on outside knowledge, or because the next stage of the quest was insufficiently described.

      But if we’re ignoring that sort of difficulty, the ‘hardest’ CRPG is probably one of the roguelikes, some of which would require an awful lot of trial and error, only practically achieved via crowdsourcing.

    4. I agree with Tristan Gall.
      Wizardry 4 is in many ways more like an Adventure game than a CRPG, and is not that difficult if you get help with the most obnoxious riddles.

      I don't play rogue-likes myself, but from among regular CRPGs I think I'd nominate Aleshar: World of Ice. Every hit from an enemy has a decent chance of being a critical hit, spell casting can result in heart failure, and there's no saving in the dungeons.

    5. I didn't find W4 so much challenging as annoying. I was sick of how long it took to make maps. If, when I was playing it, I had it upon the practice of alternating games, I probably would have finished it.

  2. I'm also happy to provide some more pointed suggestions for Citadel: Adventure of the Crystal Keep, if you ever want to go back to that one. I held back originally from giving what might be spoilers and/or degenerate tactics, but if it makes or breaks the win there are ways to do it, because I did manage it back in the day. I keep thinking I should just try another a playthrough myself, but it's been years and I still can't find the time.

    1. I appreciate it, but I probably won't. I've really only "gone back" to those games that only take a few hours.

  3. "So Isis is simultaneously my mother, my wife, and my sister." Sounds pretty standard for a pharaoh!

    I was wondering why you don't have to hunt down an oxyrhynchus fish, but then I remembered that was the animal that ate the one part of Osiris that wasn't recovered.

  4. That's probably the "composite monitor" trick for CGA, which lets a programmer halve the resolution in order to display 16 colors instead of 4. Doesn't work on all monitors though.

    This article offers a lengthy explanation,

    1. Considering the colors show up no problem in the screenshots without obvious artifacting, I'd be more inclined to think it's using the text mode trick, which from my understanding messes with how CGA handles it's text mode to let you have a full 16 colors regardless of what monitor you use, but with a much lower resolution.

    2. The images are clearly not text mode; the resolution is much too high for that.

      CGA Composite mode shouldn't show artifacts if it's well-emulated.

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    5. From the mobygames trivia "This game was the spiritual successor to ICON: Quest for the Ring. It was made by the same people and used their unique graphics technique. In order to get a true 16 color graphics mode with a CGA card, they used the 40-column text mode, programmed the registers to reduce the character cell height from 8 pixels to 2 pixels, set the desired foreground and background colors for each character cell, and then picked the best character pattern stored in the CGA's character generator. Using this method they kept a true 320x200 resolution. Unlike ICON, this game does use regular 4-color CGA graphics at some points."
      So what it looks hi res is actually something like ascii trickery, but instead of a symbol or a letter, a section of a character.

    6. I feel like CGA composite without artifacts would be inherently badly emulated, seeing as how the artifacting was how it got that much color in the first place. Either way, it's academic considering it sounds like that definately wasn't the method used.

    7. Yeah, I thought the graphics looked rather character-ish. Reminded me of the VIC-20 more than anything else.

      Cool hack, though. IBM really cut corners on its color graphics card. And charged a mint for it.

    8. VileR describes and demonstrates the Macrocom graphics trick employed here (which he calls "ANSI from Hell") pretty aptly at

      In a nutshell, each row of pixels is the top pixel row of a line of text characters, each of which can have any combination of 16 foreground and 8 background colours. Not a formidable hirez graphics trick that would avail anyone for long, but a way to squeeze surprising performance out of the CGA graphics card, for sure!

  5. 10 years and 370 games later, and _this_ game was still bugging you?

    Did you take a look at the cluebook you mentioned back in the comments for the first time you played the game?

    1. I've said this before, but only in passing, and I've never made it an "official" part of my process: Every couple of weeks, I open a spreadsheet containing all games that I haven't played, that I rejected, or that I abandoned. The list includes console titles. I sort in a random order and consider the top result for a random entry between regular entries. This game was at the top of the random sort recently. I reviewed my original coverage, decided it probably wouldn't take that long to finish it, and gave it a go.

    2. Oh, for gods' sake. THAT's why I have a physical copy of Quest for Clues II on my shelf. I was wondering where that came from.

    3. Hah, I thought that’s -why- you’d gone back to it, so you could incorporate that info!

  6. I have some (partial and perhaps confusing) information regarding the mysterious Kore Kosmu:

    There is a religious writing titled Kore Kosmu stemming from hellenistic Egypt called Kore Kosmu, part of the Hermetica, whose title is translated sometimes as the Eye (or Eye-Pupil) of the World and at other times the Virgin of the World. It is not the text in the game, however. However, there is another part of the Hermetica, Poimandres, whose beginning has clearly inspired at least the beginning of the text in the game. There are several online translations of both texts, e.g.
    So the text in the game seems to have been very loosely based on various Hermetic writings, esoteric reigious texts from hellenistic Egypt.

    1. This is fantastic. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. I guess I was being too literal in the spelling when I tried to Google it, although I'm not sure it would have made a huge difference.

    2. The Sacred Text Archive is a good source for that sort of thing:

    3. The contribution from commenters is one of the things I love so very much about this blog! Thanks Mika!

  7. >>Combat with the sword requires that the sword itself--which always juts out to the right of the character icon--be in contact with the enemy.

    Reminds me of Atari's VCS game "Adventure".

    I like the graphics. Sounds a fun game and looks like it uses the Egyptian setting well.

    1. The hard mode where object locations are randomized reminded me of Adventure too.

    2. Ditto here... loved Adventure back in the 2600 days.

  8. So Isis is simultaneously my mother, my wife, and my sister.

    "Forget it, Jake. It's Sinaitown."

  9. Just wanted to drop in and help resolve the Kosmu mystery, I agree with Mika's comment above, I think the 'Kore Kosmu' is pretty clearly modeled on gnostic / hermetic texts (which isn't unreasonable since Hermes Trismegistus is a syncretism of Hermes and Thoth).
    Compare the beginning where Thoth says "I know what you wish, for I am with you everywhere. Keep in mind what you would know, and I will teach you.", with part of the opening of Poemandres the Shepherd of Men, a core hermetic text:

    And I do say: Who art thou?
    He saith: I am Poemandres, Mind of all-masterhood; I know what thou desirest, and I am with thee everywhere.

    I think it's modeled on the Stobaean excerpts, one of which is sometimes called Korē Kosmou, or, Daughter of the Cosmos.

    It's a pretty deep cut reference! Another hermetic text called the Emerald Tablet is referenced by games far more often (it's the source of the famous 'as above so below' line), and even that's somewhat obscure. So I'm guessing the text in the game here comes from Dr Randall Bohrer, glancing at his work on google scholar, he seems to have been well versed in classical and medieval gnostic / hermetic texts. Pretty neat to see it in a game, especially one from '87!

    1. I appreciate both you and Mika's contributions. This is an entire area I knew nothing about.

  10. "The outer or surface realm of appearance is like a dark mirror that reflects the intangible light of the inner realm. The ignorant man puts his faith in appearances but the wise man sees with the inner eye of the mind and knows the invisible within the visible."

    Sounds a lot like the shadows on the cave wall argument for philosopher-kings...

  11. This one stymied me as a kid. When you get to Daemonsgate sometime soonish that'll be the two games I regret never beating

  12. Sir Tech and Wizardry, the heroes of my youth.
    Good thing I did never learn about this one, it would have kind of spoiled the Sir Tech myth for me.
    The myth being 'Sir Tech games are fun'.

    1. Well, first of all, I thought it was fun. I just didn't think it was much of an RPG. Second, you have to distinguish between developer and publisher here. Sir-Tech DEVELOPED games are generally pretty solid.

  13. Thanks for keep writing this blog.

  14. "This is an entire area I knew nothing about."
    Here are my two cents about the concepts and comments:

    Please forgive my misinterpretation and ignorance as an outsider but as far as I understand, basically, gnostics are spiritual peaple that reject the blind faith and insist on experiencing the divine first hand by meditation like practises (mystisism). Once they attained that experience (gnosis) they may claim that they do not "believe" the god exist, that they "know" the god exist.

    This game and the last text reminds me of the secret initiation rites of the mystery traditions. One recent (19th century) example is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn that tried to revive the old mystisism that has been considered lost in the masonic rites. But that order became so mainstream and fake today it may be considered as a joke if you look at all those self proclaimed master magicians, though its resourses can still be studied by sincere people for self enlightment.

    There is even a Steam game if you want to experience the initiation rite that has been kept so secret till recently:
    Steam page says it requires a VR set but it does not. It is controlled like any FPS game. You can be an observer or any member in the ceremony.

    "As an atheist, I never understand how religious people are so accepting of being in a state of constant surveillance"
    Superego (as Freud called) or authority/father figure archetype (as Jung called) may be considered as an ever watchful eye that can easily be projected upon a culturally appropriate deity by our subconsious. So being an atheist does not guarantee oneself to be absolved from that feeling of being wathed/jugded :) That feeling is easier to be overcome psychologically rather than theologically.

    Thanks for reading the wall of text :)

  15. >> I never understand how religious people are so accepting of being in a state of constant surveillance.

    My personal opinion, as a former atheist:

    People with conscience (both believers and atheists) are already in a state of constant self-surveillance: it is their own conscience.

    People without conscience (out of selfishness or lack of self-control) are given this "external" surveillance from religion, hoping they will behave.

    I did meet people who have no self-control of their own, but they fear the wrath of God. Since these people exist, the world is spared some bad news.

    Anyway, I think the One God of jews, christians and muslims is less "all-seeing" than "all-knowing", meaning he is 100% wise and capable of 100% accurate predictions.

    1. That argument goes against free will and excepts deterministic behavior all the time

    2. Filozof, maybe you are right, I am no theologist, but consider the following example:

      Chester is offered a choice of replaying either "The Bard's Tale 1" or "Baldur's Gate". He is absolutely free to choose, but at the same time it is easy to predict his choice. Chester could still surprise humans, but a "supernatural computational power" would always predict with 100% accuracy.

      Can this be an example of free will and determinism at the same time ?

    3. Sorry, I got carried away. The subject was: God's "surveillance" & one's conscience "self-surveillance".

  16. I think the acceptance of being observed all the time is really like Santa Clause. You get watched, everyone else gets watched, and every person receives what they deserve. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism... even Buddhism postulates that this universal moral retribution, though not done by a conscious entity, is a force of nature not unlike gravity is. I can think of nothing more normal for humans than to desire that their own good deeds get rewarded and others' bad deeds get punished - even babies and children know what is fair and unfair, studies showing that they can recognize injustice even when it does not directly affect them. Even if, as Karl Marx famously stated, they have to imagine that it will happen after we're all dead. I'm not judging religious people because this is how the world SHOULD be, and I don't blame them for indulging in a bit of fantasizing of it being true - giving a heart to a heartless world. I'm sure you can criticize this as "maladaptive" to reality, but unhealthy coping mechanisms ARE developed as responses to unhealthy situations, and even in first-world countries, we have rendered people so insecure that they need a source of security, even a make-believe one. (This is why Marx's quote, while often seen as a scathing criticism of religion, is more a criticism of the conditions that led to it, especially when the unabridged quote has him calling religion the "heart and soul" of the world.)


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1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.