Monday, August 31, 2009

The Great Scott Project - Adventure #10

The Great Scott Project was sailing along rather smoothly.

Note use of the past tense.

My heretofore-adequate Adventuring skills have been knocked down the stairs, dragged out the window and hung out for the vultures to pick at by the near-insurmountable challenges of Adventure #10: Savage Island (Part 1).

The catalog copy gave me fair warning, I suppose:
WARNING - FOR EXPERIENCED ADVENTURERS ONLY!!!! A small island in a remote ocean holds an awesome secret. Will you be the first to uncover it?

NOTE: This is the first of a larger multi-part adventure; it will be necessary to purchase additional packages to complete the entire Adventure.
Thanks to Mr. Adams' generosity, it is no longer necessary to purchase additional software packages to complete the entire adventure.  But it may be necessary to purchase additional packages of Ace bandages, smelling salts and Jolt cola to get through this one.

I did get through it, mind you.  And I figured out quite a bit about the game before I gave in and looked at the first hint.  And I did struggle mightily to figure more of it out myself before I looked up the second one.  And the third one.  And additional hints.  And a walkthrough.

I even managed to accomplish a few productive steps before the going got rough, and I doggedly retried a risky, difficult section for quite a while.  Then... sigh... I cheated.  There.  I said it.  I admit it.  I firmly believe that no jury of my peers would ever convict me.

Suffice it to say that Savage Island is a tough place to survive.  Very tough.

The player starts on an island beach with limited resources.  That's about all I can say without spoiling anything.  Still, I'm not going to strongly suggest you play this one yourself before reading past the spoiler bar.  Don't get me wrong, it is well worth playing.  But if you choose to take it on, I advise you to SAVE GAME frequently.  And make careful notes so you can retrace your steps efficiently once you start to figure things out.  This game demands near-perfect execution, and even if you're doing everything right, it will gladly roll the dice and kill you off without thinking twice about it.


Tales I Lived to Tell (Part 1, at least):

There are many, many ways to die in this game.  The deadliest ones are random in nature, with no protection or means of avoiding exposure to the risk -- until the related puzzles are solved, the player can die any time the bear is near or the hurricane winds are blowing.  The player can also die from shark attacks in the ocean, drowning, animal attacks while sleeping, falls, excess raft wear, and... dinosaur attacks?

While almost every object in the game has a purpose, there isn't always an object tailor-made for the situation at hand.  It's perfectly acceptable to dig with one's hands instead of a shovel.

I suffered achey bones for much of the early part of the game, but the condition didn't seem to be fatal or any kind of an obstacle -- I think it's just a warning of the coming hurricane, like grandpa's meteorological trick knee.

It's quite easy to lose a certain object, and/or one's life, in the volcanic lake.  One of the most vexing challenges is how to get out of the volcano with any of the items found in the area.  Especially the palm log, which has to be brought in to get everything ELSE out of the area.

I spent quite a bit of time mapping out the maze beyond the dark opening in the bear's cave, working in the pitch black by dropping items, moving, then seeing which item I could pick up in the room I was now in.  I hoped to find my way to a room with light, and I actually found my way to the end of the maze too early in the game.  There, I died by tripping and falling when I tried to take what later turns out to be a shortcut to the endgame area after the lights are on.  If my mapping had been successful, I would have short-circuited a good portion of the game.  Good design catch, Scott!

I thought it odd that the rum can be poured into the basin in the cave, while the water just soaks into the ground.  Until I realized (too late) that the rum has to be left behind, then recovered after the bottle satisfies a more immediately pressing need.

The bear puzzle is a challenge, and I ultimately resorted to the hint book to solve it.  At first I experimented with the rum and the bones, trying to find some way to drug him.  PET BEAR proved fatal.  Eventually I realized that the sickly bear was licking and attacking my sweaty self, and pawing at the ground and whining when I emptied a bottle of seawater in front of him, because of a salt deficiency.  But I couldn't figure out where to get him some salt without serious hints, and even then it took some patience to get the water to dry out in the appropriate location.

The hint book gave me a huge shove in the right direction with one question: "HAVE NOT FOUND THE KNIFE?"  From the first clue (SWIM) I was able to find it and eventually get it to a useful location.

My first attempts to survive Hurricane Alexis (named after the first Mrs. Adams) involved the jungle vines, trying to anchor myself to the large stone head or the palm tree.  Not the right approach.  Again the hint book came to my rescue.

Despite the many possible deaths afforded the player, the game is generally non-violent - KILL BEAR yields an ad for another Adventure International product line:

If you like to kill monsters play "MACES & MAGIC"!

I managed to spoil a bit of my own fun by running out of light and reading the "Need some light?" hint too early.  I had found the small plastic block, so BLOCK ACTIVATED WILL HELP was meaningful, but of course the real solution wasn't as simple as ACTIVATE BLOCK.  However, I read the final hint, CARRY THE BLOCK THROUGH THE FORCE FIELD, way too early, giving away some later developments.

RIDE RAFT? Nope.  USE RAFT?  That's not it either.  PADDLE!

My confession:  Even the hint book and a walkthrough I found online were not quite enough to get me through this one.  During the hurricane, it's impossible to save, but a fairly lengthy sequence of steps has to be undertaken to survive it.  I replayed from the start of the storm for more than an hour, trying to get to the volcano, get back out with the empty bottle, fill it with saltwater, and finish the bear puzzle.  But I kept getting randomly killed by the hurricane, or getting oh-so-close only to be killed by the bear upon entry or re-entry to his cave.  I finally discovered a very handy cheat -- the ScottFree interpreter's menu option can save the game even when the game itself won't allow SAVE GAME!  I can't even conceive of solving this section in the old days, when it took minutes to save and load the game using tape on my old TRS-80.

It's hard to get everything done that needs doing before dark -- making the most of the time before the storm and during the storm is important, and avoiding wasted moves after the storm even more so.

Another hint book rescue -- I don't think I ever would have figured out how to USE COCONUT to get the hinged stalactite to move.  I'm still not sure I understand what I did there.  But the hint got me moving again.

There are a number of surreal elements in the game that point to interesting events in Part 2 -- the large stone head and an alien painting resemble the player character.  There are alien exhibits featuring a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Neanderthal.  And theres a pirate who, in a nod to #2, accepts rum in exchange for information, just before his bandanna falls off, revealing antennae.

When at last we have reached the end of Adventure #10, we get no closure to speak of -- our only reward is the password for accessing Part 2:

We just barely have time to prepare ourselves for the challenging sequel, Adventure #11: Savage Island (Part 2).  Gulp.


  1. All I will mention is when ending the game #10 you can receive one of two possible passwords, depending on what you did in the game.

    Do you want to know more? Or should I leave it at that?


  2. I did indeed discover that - while playing #11! Diabolical, Mr. Adams. Diabolical, I say! :)

  3. Which version where you playing of this? Someone mentioned they are having problems on one of the conversions.

  4. I played the ADV10.DAT version downloaded from your website, via ScottFree. I did play part of the way through using the TRS-80 Model I version, but ScottFree allowed me to save at any point (even when the game itself was refusing to do so during the hurricane) so I ended up using that version.

  5. When I was 12 years old I ended up playing Savage Island Part 1 on a TRS-80. I found Ghost Town fiendishly difficult, but this is the one that really broke me, I remember clearly .. in fact it took over eight months to complete (without a hint book).

    It was difficult enough (at least two months) getting to the stalactite cave for all the reasons in this article, but becuase I had mishandled the coconut earlier on, I could not progress any further, and I did not think to restart the game WITHOUT doing the embladed deed. I eventually restarted the whole game, luckily, I left the coconut be this time and stumbled on the solution by accident. I literally SCREAMED when this happened, my mother and father were petrified.

    I shall always remember Savage Island being one of the first serious intellectual challenges of my life, and I still have a very clear image of the island in my mind 28 years later. But Scott .. you really are a fiend for putting me through all that - but also a friend - it made me intellectually stronger, I say that with utter clarity.

    I also have to say that this is the game that made me a programmer. After finishing this, programming problems were child's play (as, unfortunately, were most other text adventures until I encountered the mighty Infocom experience).

    Thanks Scott - it sounds really corny I know, but to me, you WERE a teacher.

    And thanks for the Retro-Review experience, StillGaming - I love it!!!

  6. Alex,

    Thanks very much for the comment. I had a very similar experience -- Scott's games showed me that there was, not a middle ground between art and science, but a synthesis that computers were just then beginning to facilitate. I too was inspired to become a programmer by the classic Scott Adams adventures, and that's why I celebrate them and their descendants here.

  7. I am so humbled when I hear of how my games effected those who played them. It was never my intent to do that, I just wanted to share my passion with others and wanted them to have fun!

    Fiend and Friend. LOL I like the synergy there!

    BTW I would be remiss if I did not mention there is one more adventure I discovered and how important that it is. I refer to my friend Jesus and what he has taught me and what I see in the milleniums to come.

    Its truly the ultimate.

    I really hope to see all of you there.

    Happy Adventuring!

  8. Thanks Scott and StillGaming, that's lovely.

    And it's certainly an honour to communicate with the master himself Scott! When's this religious adventure I read about on your site going to emerge from your imagination and onto a computer then? I would like to experience what you see in the milleniums to come! Sounds like you want to develop another new textual genre, that of "interactive textual faith". But be careful not to step on anyone's religious inflexibilities with your razor-sharp wit!

    I will get round to remaking my interpretation of Savage Island in Inform 7 at some point, and I am determined that one will be able to talk with the stone head about all manner of philosophical subjects, from Plato to Theology to Logical Empiricism. And no, you won't be able to cut the damn coconut with the knife, and yes, you will be able to make a raft out of a giant TRS80 model III powered by a cassette motor. And of course you shall get drunk with the neanderthal to relax after all that hard work.

    Thanks again, and lets keep Informed eh?


    PS StillGaming .. take a look at the TRS80 adventure game "San Franscisco 1906" .. now thats a game I haven't thought about for ages. It was every bit as good as Scott's games I think.

  9. I'm very glad this little blog has allowed another connection to be made. I very much appreciate Scott's reading and commenting here.

    Earthquake San Francisco 1906 is definitely on my list to play at some point -- there are still plenty of adventures I haven't tackled; even tackling one a week, I have a long way to go before I exhaust the rich vein of microcomputer adventure games inspired by Scott's pioneering work.