A Dad In A Dungeon: Part Three

Yup, sticking with the snail he's so afraid of.

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.”



  1. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    So it turns into more of a grind?
    My meagre patience means Hack & Slash is as RPGy I can get :S
    Interesting reads though!

    • Caiman says:

      Actually Level 4 is where it starts to get really interesting, if you ask me. There are a few smart puzzles in there, nothing that should be too insurmountable though. Elder Walker sounds like he needs to relax and enjoy the challenge a little more. Certainly no grinding though. My dad is also having fun with it. He set it on Easy as he’s not so nimble-fingered anymore, currently on level 5…

      • DrScuttles says:

        Just got down to level 4 last night (well, I’ve been to level 5 if you count the pits I keep dropping down). Glad there’s more skellingtons than spiders in the bit where I am. Didn’t like those bloody spiders. And the mushrooms can piss off too; ever since university I’ve been averse to mushroom-based antagonists.
        Either way, it’s a very enjoyable game so far.

    • Xyzk says:

      Actually, I’ve beaten the game till 8th lvl I think? getting all secrets and solving all puzzles i could see (I also hated that timing bit), but I must agree with the review. Not because of the grind, mind you, quite opposite. To me at least, the game becomes logic-puzzles solver around 5-6th floor rather than a dungeon-monster-killing game, quite often timed. Puzzles in an indie game? Is there a rule every indie game has to become a puzzle game at some point?

      Also, to anyone who wants to play- if you get mage into your party- invest into magic of which scrolls you find. I thought it would be cool to go air magic and spellcraft at the beginning, bad idea…

      • Fumarole says:

        Air is a fine choice as no enemies in the game have shock resistance.

        • Bobby Oxygen says:

          Not even the wyverns? Not that you’ll encounter many of them anyway.

      • Phantoon says:

        Actually, you don’t need the scroll to cast the spell.

        Ice gives bonus willpower, so I’d pick that. Or Fire. Or a mix.

    • bfandreas says:

      It’s a lot more puzzles than grind. There are a couple of insidious trap puzzles but the harder ones are mostly optional. Yes to puzzles. No to grind. In fact you need to jump through a lot of hoops if you want to grind.
      I’m currently on my 3rd playthrough. My first was the usual fighter/fighter/mage/thief makeup on normal. After I knew what to expect I finished it with four rogues(dagger/unarmed tanks, one missile rogue and one back row stabber). For that one I used a walkthrough since I was only at 4/7 treasures. And in this walkthrough I read THAT THERE IS A LOVING TOORUM MODE!!!!!
      You get to play Toorum in a party of one. He basically is a god amongst men. So what I did was grab that amulet that gives extra exp and grinded to level 12 in that room with the respawning skeletons in level 3. THAT was a grind.

      Unfortunately there are not enough grindspots like that. Next I’m investigating if I can get those fire dudes or crabs to constantly respawn in the Test of Fire. Toorum needs to be a level billion and if I need to grind another 12 hours.

  2. sonofsanta says:

    The ellipsis is to writing as the fade-out is to pop songs. If you can’t think of any other way to end your sentence/song, rethink your sentence/song.

    • JackShandy says:

      Sonofsanta, I…

    • wcq says:

      Tell that to Japanese video game writers.
      They seem to think that ellipses are the backbone of good dialogue.

      • bill says:

        That probably comes from japanese, where not ending your sentences is a pretty good way of speaking.

        It’s confusing as hell for learners though… (desu kedo….)

    • LionsPhil says:

      What’s the truck-driver’s-gear-change/transpose-up of writing, then? Is it the dangling “make-you-think”-but-actually-pretty-stupid question? Who can say?

    • Josh W says:

      Or if you can, make a song that never ends, looping the final section forever.

  3. Faldrath says:

    John Walker… ellipsis tyrant… you can take our tiny sequences of dots, but you can never take away our freedom…

  4. frightlever says:

  5. Berzee says:

    “the great central idea of the Browning correspondence that the most enlightening passages in a letter consist of dots”
    ~ “Robert Browning”, by G.K. Chesterton

    • Berzee says:

      “But if it could be possible that you should mean to say you would show me. . . . Can it be? or am I reading this ‘Attic contraction’ quite the wrong way. You see I am afraid of the difference between flattering myself and being flattered . . . the fatal difference. And now will you understand that I should be too overjoyed to have revelations from the Portfolio . . . however incarnated with blots and pen scratches . . . to be able to ask impudently of them now? Is that plain?” Most probably she thought it was.

  6. lowprices says:

    Is it sad that I was looking forward to more from the Elder Walker? Because I was, and still am.

    • John Walker says:

      Of course it’s not! He’s great!

      • Phantoon says:


  7. AchronTimeless says:

    On the topic of ellipses use…

    As you might’ve guessed, I’m a fan. In fact, I demand more of them from all authors on this site!

  8. Nallen says:

    I think I might have figured out the puzzle I’m stuck on while painting a wall yesterday. I’m guessing there is more extended deliberation to come.(..)

  9. LTK says:

    I can always tell when I’m IM’ing with my own dad because of the excessive use of ellipses. And exclamation marks. Really gets on my nerves.

  10. phenom_x8 says:

    I remember my dad when I read this article. He passed away 2 years ago. No, he wasn’t play something like what your dad played, John. He quite enjoying playing something more casual like billiard (it was called Side pocket I supposed) in my first console I have (a chinese NES clone called SPICA)
    He always support me by buying me my favorite game cartridges when he took me out of a town for a walk. He (and also my late Mom) always support my gaming habit by saying that its actually help to improve my English and also my logical thinking when many of parents at that time (around mid 90’s) always think that gaming will only make us a stupid lazy kids ( I kind of proved that its all wrong by get the 1st rank in school for seven years in a row till I was at Junior High ) And yes, I’m crying while write this comment due to remember him.

    • Medicine says:


      I’ve created this account, after years of idly browsing the internet heaven of RPS, just to send you manly hugs. My dad got me into videogames, too, and always backed me up with my hobby when everybody else thought it was turning my brain into soup. I’m currently learning to speak Danish by playing The Sims 3, and yes, games really can be incredible learning tools.

      All the best, dude.

      • jalf says:

        I’m currently learning to speak Danish by playing The Sims 3


    • John Walker says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      wish my mum and dad accepted my gaming habits when i was young.
      i think they are the cause of my gamers guilt i have now :S

    • Metronome49 says:

      Yeah, it reminds me of my Dad too. My dad passed away about a year and a half ago, and he was a big gamer (relative to what you might expect from a baby boomer). One of my fondest memories was when I was a kid playing multiplayer Doom with him on his office’s LAN connection and talking via intercom. At the time, that blew my mind. I had never played multiplayer with two people on different screens in the same game world.

      He really liked The Sims (funny because it’s our last name) and the Age of Empires series.

      He was really funny and quick witted. He was awesome.

  11. Auspex says:

    It’s all the exclamation points that have been bothering me! It’s like reading the Sun! Fortunately it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying these articles!

  12. President Weasel says:

    Fight for your right… to punctuate.

  13. MrThingy says:

    Your Dad’s doing better than me…. :c

  14. brulleks says:

    I’m currently undertaking a Masters in Creative Writing. If I use an ellipse I get at least 40 lashes with the classroom whip. I don’t see why your Father should receive any less, given that his work is being published to a guaranteed audience.

    Either that or you could take away his game and make him play LSL:MCL instead.

  15. bill says:

    I rather like elipseseses for writing online…. they convey some of the nuance of spoken English that can.. at times… get lost when reading.

    So, to help out John’s Dad from his tyranny, I’d like to suggest he uses the “…” character code from now on… that way he’ll avoid the shocks and still get his point(s) across.

  16. Juan Carlo says:

    Now I want a feature where one of the RPS staff’s mom plays “Legend of Grimrock.”

    That would be interesting.

    • Auspex says:

      Yeah, Kieron always made John’s mum sound like a very nice lady.

  17. Bobby Oxygen says:

    Dungeon Dad needs a theme song.
    He’s got a point about the puzzles, quite a few of them feel a bit unfair. I’m on level 9 right now, but only after several peeks at a walkthrough.

    • MeestaNob says:

      I needed a video walkthrough to understand the teleporter puzzle on (I think) level 5, where walking into one makes the adjoining ones turn off. After having seen it in action I was depressed at just how damn /not hard/ it was, but without the video walkthrough I was entirely incapable of solving it, the first person view made it too difficult for me to figure out what was happening.

  18. MeestaNob says:

    I must admit, I’m up to level 6 and so far I feel there’s been too many puzzles. I’d prefer just a little more combat to balance things out, more of a chance to build my character, rather than being baffled by yet another teleporter puzzle whilst endlessly worrying about how much time I’m taking figuring it out (and how desperately hungry my party will be by the time I do).

    And I never even saw the level 4 with the blob creatures… is there an easy way back up to check it out? Clearly I will have missed numerous secret areas having not been there at all. Damn.

    • Bobby Oxygen says:

      After clearing level 6, you can go back up again. There’s a room on level 6 with two respawning snails (the respawn trigger is in the hallway next to the room). You can grind this area for snail slices.

    • Severian says:

      If it’s any consolation, I took my sweet time with lots of puzzles, and often backtracked to make sure I didn’t miss anything (which, of course, I’m sure I still did) and still had PLENTY of food throughout the game. Maybe it’s my obsessive nature, but I was always worried about starving and never came close. When I finished the game, each of my characters was carrying at least one full sack/box of food stuffs.

  19. rockman29 says:

    Thanks for the article, Team Walker :-)

  20. Reefpirate says:

    John’s dad’s raging at video games is both charming and… eloquent!

  21. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    This diary is incredibly cute!

  22. Hugh Walker says:

    That puzzle on level 5 required old skills; I took the squared paper from the shelf and mapped it – with a pencil. “2A = 3B etc.” The on screen map helps enormously. In the old days we depended on dropping some extraneous bit of kit and seeing where it was relative to where we ended up. The one on level 4 took me longer, in fact.
    Currently, my lot are on level 9 having skipped the whole of Halls of Fire on 6 and I haven’t a clue where, what or how?
    I went for the crossbow but only have 4 quarrels. Maybe I should reload and go for the book instead?

    • Bobby Oxygen says:

      Only pick the book if you have a fire mage, in which case YES! Pick the book!

      • Bobby Oxygen says:

        Oh, and you can find a crossbow on an earlier floor. Can’t remember which one.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      The fire book is not that great. The user permanently gets +3 to fire magic, if I recall correctly. Unless you are levelling fire magic with your mage, this gets you only the ability to cast the most basic fire spell.

      The only thing that is wrong with getting the crossbow is that it’s not the only crossbow in the game.

  23. sinister agent says:

    Mr. John Walker’s Dad! John did a swear and he pushed Alec very hard and he didn’t eat his broccoli.

  24. Neurotic says:

    If that’s the place on level 4 that I think it is, then I should say that I also got tooth-grindingly frustrated there too.

  25. PurpleXVI says:

    Legend of Grimrock is genuinely going to be my favourite game of 2012, I think(at least unless Wasteland 2 comes out in time), I think there’s a total of ONE puzzle I had to rely on help for, and beyond that, the only ones that are truly devilish or absurdly hidden are the ones leading to Secret Fun Stuff.

    It’s a very fair game, all in all. Nowhere near as cruel as the old tile-based games could be.