Infocom

Jason Scott of archive.org has just uploaded Infocom's source code, and keeps adding a bunch of other game source. I've made an easy script to get all the text adventures; if you want Quake or whatever, go grab that yourself.

#!/bin/zsh
for repo in abyss amfv arthur ballyhoo beyondzork borderzone bureaucracy checkpoint colossalcaveadventure cutthroats deadline enchanter hitchhikersguide hollywoodhijinx infidel infocom-sampler journey leathergoddesses leathergoddesses-gold lurkinghorror minizork-1982 minizork-1987 minizork2-1988 moonmist nordandbert planetfall plunderedhearts restaurant seastalker sherlock shogun softporn sorcerer spellbreaker starcross stationfall suspect suspended trinity txtelite wishbringer witness zork zork-german zork1 zork2 zork3 zorkzero zork-fortran zork-mdl zork-1; do
echo $repo
git clone https://github.com/historicalsource/$repo.git
done

The ZIL (Z-Machine Implementation Language) code is not too weird a LISP variant, and I expect there to be good compilers or translators to modern Scheme pretty soon; if necessary I'll write one. Many of the others are written in, preposterously, FORTRAN or C, easily two of the worst possible languages to do text-manipulation and abstract data structures in.

Zarf's post mentions a working ZIL compiler, ZILF.

You may also like Infocom: The Documentary and The Infocom Cabinet

As a large database of high-quality, production game source, this is a treasure trove for anyone who makes games. Read these and figure out how to do what they did.

I'm also amused by the icon, The Source came and went from the online services world just as I was getting into BBSing. I had as I recall a free couple months so I didn't have to pay the signup fee, but it was stupidly expensive per hour (Source was maybe $10/hour? Delphi was $20 for 20 hours per month, and not much more for overtime), and then shut down soon after.

Lost Treasure

In 1979, I learned to program in BASIC on a TRS-80 Model I. Sometime in the next year, I read one of my first programming books:

I played Monster Chase and Lost Treasure, modified them extensively, and combined them, so the cave on the island had a monster chase to reach the exit. I recall having problems getting Starship Alpha and Devil's Dungeon to work, but they joined my software library eventually.

One of my earliest and happiest programming memories was sitting at the dining room table, reading Monster Chase, and writing out a smarter movement system and obstacles in a notebook; at the time the only computers were at school, so I wrote code on paper and typed them in later.

So when I found the book again on archive.org last night, I was very excited, and had to reimplement it. I actually typed this into Pythonista on my phone with the PDF open on an iPad, only moved it to the computer to do some final cleanup and upload it.

The book suggests some modifications, and I did some minor ones: Lowered the movement error to 10%, and risk of shark attack to 10%, rising by 1.5x rather than a flat +50% each time; being anywhere near the island edge killed you too often in the original. I also don't move you out of the water automatically, that should cost a turn.

I realized in converting it that I hate, hate, hate Row,Column coordinates instead of Cartesian X,Y; tons of mainframe-era computing resources used Row,Column, and you can still see it in some APIs like Curses. Note that the original program is 74 lines, mine's 214; BASIC is a terrible language, but it's terse.

I could adapt this into another doorgame for my Mystic Dungeon BBS, but I'm not sure what the multiplayer aspect would be, and it has limited replayability without doing some randomization.

Mapping AnotherEden

I'm finally nearing the end of the 1st season main story; I have a boss in the Dimensional Vortex to fight (which I think I should level for), and what appears to be another chapter after that, probably a final dungeon & boss. My party's exhausted, beat down from so many magic-only enemies. Is it too much to want some simple foes Lokido can punch to death?

I played through Lokido's story quests, and… uh, I'm very surprised at a Japanese game handling this subject even remotely well. Lokido's rapidly become my favorite PC for story and smashing heads.

But in the mean time, there's an event! Update, head to Unigan's west gate, and start the quest, and you'll soon get Dierdre as a loaner char; once you finish a short quest she'll be a permanent PC. She's currently a ★★☆☆, but as you complete quest objectives she'll unlock 3-4. And there's a new dungeon with a material giving rewards for how much you collect; I think if you collect the quest, it won't be time-limited, but that's not clear, so I'm going to grind it to completion as fast as I can.

One thing that's been on my mind is the need to map. Early on, every dungeon is linear, super obvious, and generally has 2-4 areas before the boss. Later, there's backtracking, side areas with high-level horrors, switches and chemical triggers… So I'm back to mapping like it's 1984! Well, sort of. Graph paper's unnecessary for this, so I just make line graphs in my notebook, stairs (!, v, ^) are numbered by floor they go to, * is a sparkly, $ is a treasure chest, < is a horror, ? is an area I haven't done yet (spoilers for the Dimensional Vortex):

And I'm starting to make a levelling guide for my own use, just a list of areas with level of monsters & horrors. Then when I have another fresh summon, I can just drag them through slightly-harder areas with a healer to keep them alive, and be up to full level in minimal time.

Pulled a couple more times, got some perfectly nice ★★★★ chars and many junkers, but nothing I really needed, except an upgrade to Ciel. Been grinding Another Dungeon whenever I have time, and got tomes for a bunch of classes I don't have, and 1 book for Rakshasa, so I could have a ★★★★ frog samurai if I wanted… I'll hold off on that. I want to upgrade Riica and Amy (and once I finish the main story, Feinne) first; Aldo and Cyrus do nothing that a non-party char can't do better. There's just a stupid number of these ★★★ junk chars, I wish they were good for something; if they had story quests, or anything. I can level them for chrono stones, that's about it.

I'm still enamored of this game's scenery & music, and good hard crunchy turn-based combat. I can nuke most bosses long before they even hurt me, because I level, gear up, and prepare for their weaknesses and attacks. Filling in the last few items in the store can be a pain, though: Grind an area, get 3/5 of the mats I need for one thing. Go back tomorrow.

Buncha spoilery screenshots:

Mystic Dungeon BBS

As previously mentioned, I'm interested in BBS's.
So I set mine up! After 30 years, The Dungeon is back as The Mystic Dungeon BBS!

mystic-dungeon-2019-02-23

Connect with: telnet mysticdungeon.club 1666
(soon I'll have a proper domain, and SSL cert so you can ssh host 2666)

Set your terminal for black background, 80x25, and UTF-8, I dunno what it'll do to DOS CP, but everything's Unicode now.

If your Mac doesn't ship with a telnet anymore, you can grab the previous OS's one from a backup, or port install inetutils and then use gtelnet.

Of course visit the Doors to try the Mystic Dungeon doorgame!

Dungeon-2019-02-23-23.56.20
Dungeon-2019-02-23-23.56.45

I wrote the start of this last weekend in a Ballmer Peak, and have been adding to it since. Now it has a town and a dungeon with 8 levels, 24 kinds of monsters, combat, an innkeeper for resting, a merchant for buying equipment, and banker for saving money between deaths.

Coming up are potions and other useful items, traps, chests (which are often trapped), and magic.

Right now, only Fighters make any sense to play, though different races have some advantages (Dwarf especially for long-range darkvision in the dungeon, since I don't sell light sources yet!). The character shown is a bit cheaty on cash and XP; it'll take a long, long time to reach that level legit.

AnotherEden Patch Update

We finally get an update notice, this is apparently not the one that'll remove Miyu, but if you want to get her, you should get in soon. And this will be the banner you'll want to do as many 10-pulls as you can on, because it's full of healers:

AnotherEden-update 20190212

I'm actually pretty good on healers now, but I'll pull once anyway in hopes of upgrading Pom.

They say "bug fixes", but this has been one of the most bug-free launches of anything I've seen; even for other games that had a year or two in JP before global launch, those are usually buggy as shit. There's a few weird clipping issues with the paper-doll design, but that's "works as intended".

Finally got out of the beach (I only need 3 more shells for another sword, but I'll get by; maybe do one walk up and back a day) and onto the Riftbreaker, and levelling up my RP-team (Aldo, Cyrus, Amy, Riica) in Another Dungeon on the side; I have 8 class books, only 1 of which is a character I have (and I don't need to level them yet).

On a Beach in AnotherEden

And I'll be here a while, killing crabs, bananas (third joke monster, after Plum Goblins and the spongmonkey-looking dudes at the Ogre sword fight), and blue "dragons" (barely even wyverns). The Last Island gear is 20 points better than anything else I've unlocked, it drops a ton of gold, and my gear situation was critical; the 4 pieces I've got so far are a game-changer, but I need 12! I'll probably just get 8 and I can move on, back row can suck it. The entire beach is a single short corridor with no turns, so I'm running back and forth forever. Oh kill me now.

Also, you wash up here with Aldo alone; so keep him sorta levelled up if you don't want to die a lot. I got off the beach with <100 HP and no MP, and had previously eaten my food.

When I escape this beach, I can spend more time in the industrial and spacey areas I just finished for story, and do more hard dungeons, and then back to the main story. So there's nice cool darkness at the end of this too-bright grind tunnel I'm in now.

The best part about AnotherEden as a mobage is it isn't Stamina-limited. The worst part is the battery life basically restricts you to 2 hours of game and then it's back on a charger, so you may as well have had Stamina.

There's several sidequests now where I've greatly disagreed with the linear plot, I desperately miss Elder Scrolls Online's branching quests with consequences. Just have to sit back and let the idiots fuck things up, then collect mats, then finish the quest. "How could I have known this would fuck things up?!" Creepy farmer man is creepy and I'd kill him and use his body as fertilizer in a tabletop RPG. I've commented before that morality enforced by a scoring mechanism is not ethical: This is exactly that case in point, I have to help this guy because the system says I'm rewarded for doing so and there's no choices, even though ethically it's utterly wrong.

You get better hard/very hard dungeon rewards from high light or dark ratings. But there's no way to draw plot characters from the Dream, so you can't increase their light/dark ratings the usual way. Instead, JP site says grinding these dungeons with a plot char in party sometimes adds (slight spoilers):

  • Aldo: Miglance Castle
  • Riica: Xeno Domain
  • Amy: Industrial Ruins
  • Cyrus: Man-Eating Marsh
  • Feinne: Beast Kings Castle
  • Helena: Riftbreaker

I did a fourth 10-pull, and completely filled my C-team with ★★★★ Lingli and Denny, both excellent hitters, and a ★★★☆ Ciel which is disappointing since there's a ★★★★ and will be upgraded to ★★★★★ this year, if global follows JP release order; that's too much book grinding to upgrade. And a couple dumb ★★★ robots, which are kinda cool; I'd like to build an all-robot party, even if everyone but Riica sucks. I have another 1000 Chronos but I'm saving them now for special event banners.

Yes More AnotherEden

The scenery in this game is lovely, as is the soundtrack. Another photo gallery at the end of the post.

Did another 10 pull, got Akane and Mighty who are top-ranked, and Soira got upgraded to ★★★★, but they have a lot of levelling to do to catch up. Currently I have a heavy party for fighting bosses, and a trash/RP party for clearing lower-level zones. Plus a creepy evil priest "Prai" who will never be in a party.

Money and equipment is still a problem, but at least with buying one of each item for the achievements, and never being able to sell anything, I always have hand-me-downs for the lowbies. Slooowly upgrading everyone's stuff as I go; I really need to find a good gold-grinding area. Maybe I'm missing something?

Getting the books to upgrade ★★★☆ to ★★★★ is proving difficult. After a few hard mode dungeons, I'm about 10% of the way to ONE character. I guess if I don't do anything else with my life I can get that done in a week or two. In reality it'll be a few months.

Some kinda secret things:

Make sure to visit the theatre in Elzion (NE from the weapon shop) with Aldo and Riica (apparently Amy has another story there, but she's currently… uh… not available). Medieval savage and robot girlfriend out on a date, nice.

There's a guy standing around on Route 99 in the rain (which happens rarely when you enter), who'll sell you an item for 1,500 git; it's a Level 10 Leaf Bangle, which normally costs 2,300 git and a bunch of mats, so it is a good deal. If you don't have the cash, he'll reappear next rain. I dunno yet if he'll reappear with more stuff later.

There's a rumor (I don't recall which NPC; he's not in the water city's bar where I'd expect) about a red corpse. Turns out, in the Man-Eating Marsh, on the 6th map, there's a red skull at the far right. Tap it for a secret room.

There's a clue in a bookshelf in Miglance Castle to a secret area, but I haven't found it yet; I'm still grinding thru that area, so hopefully tomorrow.

Another Eden Protips

Just some random notes, and some screenshots at the bottom here.

You should be playing this, right now. It's one of the best JRPGs I've played in ages. It's not quite on par with Final Fantasy VII, or Dragon Quest 8, or Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, or even Chrono Trigger, but it's pretty close, which is just incredible from a mobage.

Characters in the back row of your party restore HP & MP every round of combat, so once someone's tapped out, switch them back, and pretty soon you can switch them forward, fully healed and ready to go. Once you have Robot Girl Riica and another healer, one of them can stay in the back all the time, while the other heals. You'll never have to run back to town!

But even then, you may run out, the volcano dungeon especially just took forever and ground me down. Hit Food on the main menu, and you can fully heal once. You'll get another food for free the next time you visit an inn.

Death isn't the handicap it used to be in the olden days. When a party member is KO'd, a cat comes on screen and pulls them off (!), and they revive after the fight. If you're TPK'd, you restart at the start of the area. Which I don't love, but there's no save points, it's just perpetual autosave. Certainly it fits the mobage experience better.

There are hidden passages in many areas. When you find a dead end, try to walk through it. Of course, sometimes this backfires and you fight a giant monster… I'm going to have to scour all the early areas again when I get up to level 30, assuming I can get back to them.

There's a flower-buying sidequest which is the worst thing in the game, after trying everything the horrible old woman tells you, and getting them wrong because I fell asleep mid-speech: mouseover for spoiler here.

Unsolved: My main party's Level 18-21, but the only high-level gear I have is a few Level 21 items I picked up in chests. The weapon shops are now at Level 16 gear, which I can't make because I don't have the mats from the next zone; most of the gear I can make and have equipped is Level 10 or 13. This is not optimal. I have at least 7 characters I need to equip with weapons and armor, and soon "Badges" (we don' need no steenkin' badges!). I hate falling behind.

There's a lot of Chronos Stones (premium currency) from Record events, but you can also get 10 free every day by hitting + and tapping the free offer link. No videos or any other scams, just a hidden freebie. This is a shockingly fair, non-ripoff gachapon game. Which means I do need to buy something to support them, but I dunno if they're going to make their money back on it.

I got to 1000 Chronos Stones, did a 10-unit pull, and got a really great ★★★★★ half-beastman pugilist, Lokido; a ★★★☆ (so she can star up, but starts weak) knight/tank, Soira; a spare ★★★★☆ druid healer, Mariel, who I haven't levelled yet, even tho technically she's better than my main healer; and 4 of 7 ★★★ "sisters" who all suck, and 3 of ? ★★★ knights who all suck. The character mix in this game is weird, and there's not much backstory yet; though they all have individual quests after I finish many chapters of the game, so maybe there's more there.

Another Eden

Finally available and patched, let's see.

It's very cute. The characters aren't quite chibi, but not realistic either. They move a little silly, like puppets waving their limbs around. Each area is a side-scroller, you can only move west or east, but there's a lot of things to tap on and they interact or give you loot, and then swipe up or down to move north or south. There's a minimap and a world map, but not really a middle ground where I can scroll around a big path map.

Opening is very, very cliché. You wake up late for your first day at work as town guard. Mysterious backstory of you and your sister abandoned in the woods. Peasant village has a bunch of wells you can climb down into and there's loot or events. Some running around to teach fighting Goblins (sigh) and gathering sparkly things in the woods. Then obviously monsters attack your beloved peasant village and kidnap your sister, because of course women only exist to be put in refrigerators. You get a literal sword from a stone that makes you a "hero". SIGH.

I got a couple free character pulls (pre-order bonus of Miyu, ★★★★ sword girl who is stats-wise literally the main char gender-swapped, and Bivette, ★★★★ mage with regen and fireball, so that's nice), and spent some "free gems" for a third (Urania, a ★★★ pugilist furry) so I have a full party, but they don't back me up in the story event.

Characters have a lot of skill-ups on an Ability Board, the first board is linear, but the second and later ones give you multiple paths/tech trees. After half an hour I still have no equipment, though, lots of materials but the shop won't make me anything.

Combat's a standard turn-based thing, though so far only attacks and Switch (to change out party), no defense, items, or other actions. I've certainly seen better, but it's functional. There's giant monsters in the woods that are FAR out-level, they just one-shot me, so I guess I get back to those much later. They remind me a bit of the dungeon bosses in Etrian Odyssey, being marked on the map even when you can't see them.

Finally I beat the mini-boss in the main quest and reach the actual title sequence, and get to the time-travelling part.

I didn't level-grind enough in the woods, because now I'm a little under-level for fighting robots in the future, but that'll fix itself soon enough.

What I'm Playing: Langrisser, Another Eden

Langrisser's a long-running series of tactical RPGs, later succeeded by Growlanser. The mobile game is very similar to the PSP Growlanser remake, or to Fire Emblem Heroes. Move around a map and fight battles with usually 2-5 heroes chosen from 10 classes with rock-paper-scissors interactions (Infantry -> Lance -> Cavalry loop, Holy -> Demon, Archery -> Flyers, Sailors, Mages, and Assassins are neutral). This has the usual mobage stuff of arenas, "Magic Rift" areas to grind because there's not enough content, gachapon to get more heroes and equipment. There's less blatant "waifu" T&A exploitation material in Langrisser than FEH or many others, there's a few but it's a more serious game.

The combat UI is excellent, maybe one of the easiest to control and see movement and combat ranges. Every character has a band of soldiers with them, which act as a sort of HP buffer, extra damage before you take damage and die; you can swap out what kind of soldiers to change your combat interactions! The scenarios are modestly hard sometimes, not Final Fantasy Tactics hard, but decent tactical puzzles, and many of them have bonus "Feats" like killing optional targets, finding a chest, and so on. Far better than FEH, which bored me to death, it never got interesting.

The main screen is the world map with a bunch of buttons around the edges, better than a blank button-filled home screen like most mobage, but it still has some annoyances. 3 or 4 places you have to tap every time you log in or do anything to collect all the little rewards.

Levelling up characters is absurdly complicated but I kinda like that. You increase "star" rating by collecting soul fragments in gachapon and quest events, but the overall rating of N, R, SR, SSR doesn't change, except for three of the main-story characters; you don't really want to use anything below SR. You also add experience levels, mostly by spending EXP potions, they only gain a little bit from combat. You also upgrade classes, first getting more abilities, then progressing to a more advanced class along a 3-5 stage tree. Equipment starts out scarce and at level 1, and also has to be increased by absorbing "hammers" and other equipment, and eventually by adding enchantments. After 3 days on and off, I have the main-story characters at R, and three SR characters (Imelda, mage, T&A BDSM waifu; Lance, flyer, stern badass; Silver Wolf, assassin, masked mystery man) almost fully equipped, levelled up, and I'm doing fine in the arenas. I have a lot of junk R characters who I wish I could recycle their souls for EXP or something; the only one I've used at all is a pirate captain.

I'm not sure how long I'll keep at it, but there's a lot of depth in the game so far; but I say that a lot just before I quit playing these mobage.

AnotherEden

The more important game got pre-released today, and goes live tomorrow:

I have very high expectations of this. Masato Kato, best known for Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Chrono Cross, and Final Fantasy XI, has been working on this. So, I know there'll be time travel, branching stories, characters making heroic sacrifices, and a ton of crunchy turn-based combat and level-up strategies for the characters. Apparently it's only going to be solo, no events, arenas, or other mobage stuff, but does use gachapon for adding non-main-party characters. A huge contiguous world, no loading screens or warping.

The quotes from the staff in the interviews are interesting:

"This game was created with love by myself and the other staff who were raised on JRPGs. I want everyone to feel the same emotion and surprise I've experienced."
—Takahito Exa, art director

"This is a game which expands on the possibilities of the JRPG genre. It feels nostalgiac, yet modern. I think it's a game not only old-school Japanese game fans will enjoy, but also something younger people can get into as well."
—Shinwoo Choi, character designer

"If I was stuck on a deserted island and could only bring three things with me, I would bring a smartphone, charger, and Another Eden. If I have those, I don't need anything else in my life. I want everyone else to feel that way about Another Eden, too."
—Conomi Akahori, animator