Sigil Unleashed on Unready World

Couple months late (delayed by the pre-order goodies), but it seems scenic; I toured E5M1 and E5M2 on easy mode for babies, but now I need to restart at a real difficulty.

Like Romero's E1M4, it's way too dark. Just groping thru black spaces. It wouldn't make the levels worse to have a little better visibility.

I love the shoot-the-eyeball mechanic for switches. The standard Doom switches where you shove your face in a wall and then a bunch of walls open up is still kind of annoying.

I play Doom maybe once a year, and even after 26 years it takes me only a couple seconds to get my groove back, start weaving and shooting like a pro again. Gonna make a few runs at it this weekend, see if I can get thru.

The Thing with the Crank

"… project called, coincidentally, PLAYDATE. Got our fancy-pants federally registered trademark and everything. …
When our dumb thing launches, I feel there's a very real possibility people will start confusing your thing with our thing, and that will be really annoying for your thing. So ideally, I think it'd be best if your Playdate either tweaked its name … or otherwise came up with a totally different and unique name."
—Cabel Sasser in 2018 email, shown in twitter thread

I've been on the receiving end of name-thieving before, and it's always like that. "We have this trademark (LAWSUIT). We'd love to find a way to work together (LAWSUIT) and you could change your name (LAWSUIT), we wouldn't consider changing ours for a hot second (LAWSUIT)." I've had at least 3 names squatted by jackasses with lawyers. One contrary case: My very old doorgame and early CRPG experiment Delver conflicted with the name of some game company's internal engine, made 5-10 years later; no lawyers were contacted at least on my end, but I don't make new products called Delver, either.

Panic had a year to notice this and other prior uses, and change their name. Of course, they also had 4 years not to ship a black & white screen and a crank which doesn't even power it like the first OLPC laptop.

Maybe MadCatz will make a light & magnifier for it.

(this isn't the all-Panic-Playdate news network, but the weekend's been slow)

It Has a Crank All Right

It's being fellated by the usual MacMacs:

"This is fucking amazing."

But, it's… a small, ugly, awkward, yellow toy with a pointless crank, and a black & white non-backlit screen at about twice the resolution of the original GameBoy of 30 years ago. It has 12 unknown games, and may never have any more. For this, they want $149.

Is this a late April Fool's?

Meanwhile, you can get a MyArcade handheld console for $17 with 308 NES/SNES-type games; I can turn it on, pick a game at random, and have fun for 10 minutes, forever. You can get a RasPi setup for $60 which'll be a better home game console, or an M5Stack with gameboy face for $55; sadly the PocketCHIP which came with PICO-8 preinstalled is out of business, but it was $60 or less, too. Any of these are technically better, have more games, and are more programmable (I haven't pulled the MyArcade apart yet, but it presumably has an SD card inside…)

From now on, when someone announces a stupid product, I'm just gonna add "And it has a crank on the side!"

Eldritch World

I wrote a text adventure:

It's like 15% complete, you can reach the first of four "recursions"/other worlds but then you're stuck. And today it only has a Mac console binary (you can run it from source on other platforms, with a little effort), I'll get on the cross-platform compiling and Terminal wrappers tomorrow, but this is a playable thing under a deadline!

The Infocom Implementor's Creed


I create fictional worlds. I create experiences.

I am exploring a new medium for telling stories.

My readers should become immersed in the story and forget where they are. They should forget about the keyboard and the screen, forget everything but the experience. My goal is to make the computer invisible.

I want as many people as possible to share these experiences. I want a broad range of fictional worlds, and a broad range of “reading levels.” I can categorize our past works and discover where the range needs filling in. I should also seek to expand the categories to reach every popular taste.

In each of my works, I share a vision with the reader. Only I know exactly what the vision is, so only I can make the final decisions about content and style. But I must seriously consider comments and suggestions from any source, in the hope that they will make the sharing better.

I know what an artist means by saying, “I hope I can finish this work before I ruin it.” Each work-in-progress reaches a point of diminishing returns, where any change is as likely to make it worse as to make it better. My goal is to nurture each work to that point. And to make my best estimate of when it will reach that point.

I can’t create quality work by myself. I rely on other implementors to help me both with technical wizardry and with overcoming the limitations of the medium. I rely on testers to tell me both how to communicate my vision better and where the rough edges of the work need polishing. I rely on marketeers and salespeople to help me share my vision with more readers. I rely on others to handle administrative details so I can concentrate on the vision.

None of my goals is easy. But all are worth hard work. Let no one doubt my dedication to my art.

—Stu Galley, Infocom

From a Moonmist retrospective.

Also, I loved his Seastalker — I was marginally older than the target audience, and sailed thru it fast, but it combined so many things I like, Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, underwater laboratories (SeaLab 2020 pre-Adult Swim, Man from Atlantis, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV show, etc.), and tactical roguelike combat with the submarine. For years the sticker was permanently attached to my dresser mirror.


Jason Scott of 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. [updated 2019-04-19 for a few gold versions]

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 \
hitchhikersguide-gold \
zork1-gold \
planetfall-gold \
wishbringer-gold \
; do
echo $repo
git clone$repo.git

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 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!


Connect with: telnet 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!


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).