Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Great Scott Project - Adventure #12

Well, here we are.  The Great Scott Project (as originally conceived) is wrapping up, with the last of the Big Twelve, pre-Questprobe Scott Adams Adventures.

We have played through eleven games, and now we're up to Adventure #12: Golden Voyage.  We turn one last time to the aging pages of the Adventure International catalog:

The King lies near death in the royal palace – you have only three days to bring back the elixir needed to rejuvenate him. Journey through the lands of magic fountains, sacred temples, stormy seas, and gold, gold, GOLD! Can you find the elixir in time?

This one was co-written with William Demas, who authored several adventures for other publishers, as well as an early action game for Adventure International.  This provides for a neat bit of trivia, as we find something we haven't seen in a while -- an in-game advertisement, and this time it's not even for another Adventure:
Get your copy of "FROG" from Adventure International today!
This refers to an early TRS-80 Model I game, written at least partially in BASIC by Mr. Demas and published by Adventure International under a slightly different title.  Peppy's FROG cover art is cute, but Mr. Demas gets quite a bit of personality out of the Model I's limited graphics capabilities in the actual game as well:

I played it a little bit for documentation's sake -- it's a very simple game, meant for ages 5 and up, but the graphics and especially the animation are pretty impressive for its time.  I don't know that many people took the ad's advice to heart, as it no longer appeared in the 1983 catalog.
Back to Golden Voyage.  It's a traditional text Adventure, using the Scott Adams interpreter.  And it's fairly difficult, though not as punishing as the Savage Island games; most of the time when I needed a hint I was on the right track but hadn't guessed the right command, or believed I had already tried the correct action unsuccessfully.  Demas' style is a little bit different from Scott Adams' solo efforts, and the game's plot feels very much like a Sinbad or Arabian Nights story, with nods to the Ray Harryhausen movies of old.

Go, play this one.  It's the last of the canon (at least as defined for our purposes here.)  And you won't be sorry.  The magnetic bits I have so painstakingly arranged to form this blog post will still be here when you get back.

Have fun!

*********** BACK ALREADY?  SPOILSPORT! **********

One interesting stylistic difference between Demas and Adams, which may also have been a memory saver -- dialogue is presented in script form, e.g.:
KING: I have been given only 3 days to live. You must seek for a way to restore my vitality. The gold is yours. Go now!

Now we have some funds and can keep ourselves from being killed by the town's remarkably bloodthirsty merchants, who slit throats first and ask questions later. When buying supplies, we have to be careful to BUY, then TAKE each item.  Fortunately the merchants are honest and don't conveniently forget we have just purchased each item a turn or two ago.

It soon becames apparent that the player character can't swim.  This is going to be a rough voyage!

Sleeping before it starts getting dark is a bad idea, but staying up late isn't a good idea either -- the torch grows dim fairly quickly.  The game's three-day time limit is not tight -- once familiar with the map and puzzles, it's possible to finish the game before the end of the second day.

Navigation is straightforward -- WEIGH ANCHOR, and SAIL WEST, for example.  Climbing into the crow's nest and looking through the telescope establishes which ocean "rooms" have landmarks, making it possible to map the ocean out in fairly short order.  There are several places to visit, and none of them are hidden -- just be sure to sail in all directions and figure out whether you've actually gone anywhere after each move.  And don't forget to DROP ANCHOR before taking shore leave!  I lost more ships that way.

Proper footwear is essential -- the omnipresent scorpions are only too eager to strike.  I kept myself protected and never tried to take the medicine I found in an old box -- it did the King no good, and I was too late to help another poor soul, so I assume it's there to fix any scorpion bites.

Harryhausen-esque puzzles of note:  A Stone Goddess killed me with her sword many times, and a Cyclops stepped on me.

I couldn't figure out how to get down from the staircase.  Trying to let the statue knock me off the stairs didn't work.  Neither did CLIMB DOWN, D, U, CLIMB STAIRS, or JUMP DOWN.  I finally turned to the hints and learned I could WALK DOWN (and later realized I'd never tried to WALK UP!). 

While trying to solve the Stone Goddess puzzle, I learned to my amusement that she would follow me anywhere, and I could survive quite a while as long as I had the sword to defend myself.  I took her to my cot on the ship (hey now!), and right into the King's palace, where the guards promptly ignored her vicious attacks on the King's only hope.  Methinks there is more political intrigue in the palace than the game lets on.

I kept thinking I had found the right fountain, but when I finally found it I could tell the others were just window dressing.

More verb guessing:  MATCH STONE? FIT STONE? COMBINE STONE? COMBINE STONES?  A hint finally informed me that I actually needed 3 pieces of stone.  And then I discovered that when they're dropped in same place, they magically unite.  No verbiage necessary.

I didn't know what to do with the tablets and the fountains, and I wasn't really getting what the hint book was telling me either.  I thought I had to drop both tablets in one fountain, anticipating some sort of Alka-Seltzer reference.  Eventually I got back on track.


A technical aside I hadn't noticed before -- (I'm wearing it) counts as an item, apparently, when it comes to whether the player can carry any more.  Taking the gold mask off freed up a slot in ScottFree, at any rate.

One old-school puzzle -- the only way to figure out how to blind the cyclops is to blind one's self accidentally, and restore game afterwards.  Venturing down dead-end alleys is often productive in these games. 

This also applies to the liquid retrieved from the fountains -- the poison is fatal to the player as well as the King, although the elixir doesn't have the same salutary effects on the player as the King.  Maybe the player character is young already -- all I know is that I found myself envying the monarch a bit at the end:

Wow.  That's it!  That's the end of #12.  The Great Scott Project is complete.  I can't say I did it completely on my own -- Scott Adams' classic hints, and a couple of walkthroughs for the tougher moments, deserve a huge amount of credit.  But I have experienced the whole series, and I hope others will be inspired to do the same.

That said, I don't really think I'm ready to quit here.  While I probably won't do another straight-through series of posts -- the pace was a challenge to keep up once I'd set it! -- I think there are some interesting things I can write about as an extension of this series.  The Internet has lots of factoids and listings of vintage games, but I haven't seen much detailed commentary on individual titles.

One idea I have, now that I've tracked down my old copy, is to go through the 1981 Adventure International catalog, see how many of the vintage games I can track down, and relive the early, early days of computer gaming.  Before Electronic Arts and Activision.  When a programmer with a little spare time could create an entire game on his or her own, and put it out there for the world to enjoy.

Another project would be to tackle the Brian Howarth games, written using the same interpreter, but with an altogether different, U.K. style.  And there are still the Marvel and Buckaroo Banzai games to take a gander at.  And the Maces & Magic series, and the Other-Ventures, and R. Lafore's Interactive Fiction -- all published by Adventure International, all relatively obscure today.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome.  Thanks to everyone who's been reading, and a HUGE thanks to Mr. Scott Adams, for his permission and his frequent commentary right here on the blog.  It's been a great pleasure catching up with the games, and their creator, over these past few weeks.

SCORE: 12 out of 12.
The Great Scott Project is over.


  1. Its been fun following along! Many thanks for taking the time to do it! I believe when William Demas wrote this he was around 14 years old! I have no idea whatever happened to him, but he was talented!

    If you are ever interested, there 2 more of the series past #12 and a remake of #14 about 8 years ago.

    And of course questprobe :)

  2. Many thanks to yourself for allowing me to do this, for reading and commenting, and for sharing some fascinating stories about your work and your company's history.

    I will likely take on the remaining games, and related titles, in due course -- nostalgia being what it is, I always personally thought of the series as having had 12 games in it, so that seemed like a logical stopping point for this round.

    But the rest are still out there, beckoning, and I have enjoyed playing them and writing about them. Maybe I'll tackle one classic adventure every week or so instead of one a day.