Playing Sorcerer (1984)

Sorcerer is the sequel to Enchanter, and uses essentially the same mechanics: the only addition is potions, which function effectively the same as one-shot (non-transcribable) spells. This time your goal is to find and exorcise your mentor Belboz, who has been possessed by the demon Jeearr.

But does it surpass its predecessor?

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Finishing Enchanter (1983)

I finished Enchanter a few days ago, but forgot to blog it. It turned out that all the remaining puzzles were tied up in a single string of dependencies, such that when I’d solved the first problem, all the others became pretty obvious. That’s satisfying — but the way into solving that first problem was not satisfying — it derived from the only spoiler for the game that I’d read. (For those who know the game, it was a comment about the reason why frotzing yourself is not a good idea.)

Following the spoiler that this pointed to led to a scroll which led me to solution of one, then another, then another of the remaining problems, and soon I was done.

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Playing Enchanter (1983)

After the genuinely climactic conclusion to Zork 3, the Infocom people wisely decided to shelve plans for a Zork 4 which could only have undermined that ending. Instead, they began a new trilogy of adventure games — or interactive fiction, as they were now being called — set in the same universe as the Zork games, but taking a different approach. The first of these was Enchanter (1983), to be followed by Sorcerer (1984) and Spellbreaker (1985).

I’ve played this once before, many years ago, and now I am trying again. Happily, I remember almost literally nothing about the game, so I am getting to solve the problems as though from fresh.

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Revisiting Flood Control Dam #3

As a long-time lover of Zork, I’ve been familiar with Flood Control Dam #3 since about 1984, when after years of desire I was finally able to play it on my new Commodore 64. The original Zork was of course a text-only adventure game, but the graphical Return to Zork (1993) included this rather underwhelming image:

But how accurate is it? Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 23

The Enemy — Desmond Bagley

Bagley wrote about a dozen novels, all thrillers, and most of them excellent. They were written in the 70s and 80s, so they have dated in some respects — not least where then-cutting-edge technology is involved, but if you can overlook that they remain gripping and enjoyable.

The Enemy, alongside Running Blind and The Freedom Trap, is among the best of his books. (On the other hand, his last two novels, published posthumously, are the worst, and best avoided except for completion’s sake.)
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Apple: breaking things for no reason

My wife is one of the billions who have no interest in computers per se, but want to use them to do things — just as I have no interest in cars but want to use them to drive places. She’s just spent a solid 20 solid minutes trying to figure out how to export a video file from iDVD on her Mac, so she can upload it to YouTube. No dice.

So I stepped in, a professional programmer, wise in the ways of computers. I was ready to click a couple of menu items, File -> Export -> MP4, and save the day in 30 seconds. Twenty more minutes later, here I am.

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Consider a spherical, frictionless car of mass 1 …

A car of mass m drives at speed v towards a concrete wall. Its kinetic energy is ½ mv2, and all of that energy is dissipated when it hits the wall.

Now consider an identical car driving at speed 2v towards the same wall. Its kinetic energy is ½ m(2v)2 = ½ m4v2 = 2 mv— four times as much as the original car, since kinetic energy goes with the square of the velocity. I hope that up to this point, all this is uncontroversial.

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