By Hugh Walker on April 26th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.
After once again having stripped another missive of seven thousand ill-placed ellipses, John’s dad’s latest diary in the dungeons of Grimrock is here. And now, after a freedom of information request has made private emails available, you can learn John’s pain.
Confession, they say, is good for the soul… (Apparently, I have used up my quota of ellipses. I ask you, is this really fair? I appeal to the readership of RPS to overrule the tyrannical distastes of the ‘Management’.)
All was groping along lovely until I descended to Level 4 – the other Level 4, that is, the one without the Green Blobs. I went into this room – SLAM (went the door) and these two red mushrooms appeared. Not very bright mushrooms, as it turned out. Not brighter than me, at least. After certain amount of dodging, weaving and chucking rocks n’ stuff we had the place to ourselves and were in possession of a nice, shiny key.
Ambling along led to a sequence of events that resulted in the following email conversation:
HW to JW: “Food is going to be a possibly fatal problem very soon.”
An exasperated, (very probably) eye-rolling response responded (not reiterated here for the sake of non-spoilerisms), then resulting in:
HW to JW: “I looked “to the left” …no idea what you mean….. and the “secret” remains just that to me. To the left there is only a hole. I reach the gate and run out of closed pits by which time the ones where I entered are opening again. This just isn’t fun any more.
It will never achieve Dungeon Master status… it leaves a similar feeling to the old Gilsoft “Quill-” or “PAW-” home-spawned text adventures of being overwhelmed by their own clevernesses… I can imagine the programmers sniggering, “They’ll never think of that in a million years”… and the response of the game buying public was that they won’t because they can’t be bothered. It is such a shame. It had such potential at the start. Programmers so often lose sight of the need for some local reward, how ever little, to keep the player trying to follow the BIG ONE.
This constant stream of tedious obstacles and not knowing what the heck is going on is wearing. Well, you say there is a logic to that one particular puzzle. It isn’t obvious to me and there is no time to think – any hesitation and down we go. Either have a long plod back or reload. The latter option destroys any hope of suspension of disbelief – add it to the list of “might have beens” and move on (or back to the arms of Lydia).
Ah well, perhaps I will think of something tomorrow and will re-enthuse but right now it has ground my eager anticipation into the dust. I have to prepare the end of year treasurer’s report for a charity. I have a feeling it might be more fun than the last hour or so.”
You will gather that it wasn’t going so well. There are more emails, but I think you get the idea. With the patience of a saint, the Junior Branch calmed my fears, assuaged my frustrations and guided me through, although not without:
JW to HW: “I am asking you to pleeeease stop saying you’re quitting every time you get to a difficult puzzle. The game isn’t a disappointment – you’re just failing to solve puzzles. I managed, and therefore so can you! You are panicking rather than allowing yourself to be stuck. Just forget about writing anything about it and relax and enjoy a game that’s basically tailor made for you!
Bear in mind that you emailed me saying you had nowhere to go when you’d not even properly looked around to find an entire corridor!”
So you see, confession may be good for the soul but it does nothing whatsoever for the reputation! Currently, my gang of lusty adventurers (no doubt quite wrongly apprehended against their human rights) are languishing on Level 6 thinking, “What the “&£$%!!” are we supposed to do with this?” But I was wrong. IT IS FUN!
[P.S. I’d just like to add one more email that has been sent during all this. It was sent today. It reads,
“I am seriously going to set up a system that means every time you press fullstop more than once in a row, you get a hefty electric shock.”