Sorcerer Parser Frustration

Collin

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I recently started replaying Infocom's Sorcerer, a game I have probably
not played since the '80s. I quickly ran into the most frustrating
"issue" with the parser. At the very beginning as part of the copy
protection you must unlock a journal. I remembered this vaguely and
thought I knew what I was doing, but for the life of me I could not get
that silly journal opened. It turns out the only input the game will
accept is for the player character to be holding both the journal and
the key and to type "open journal". The standard IF convention of
"unlock <direct object> with <indirect object>" does not work! This
took me an embarrassingly long time to stumble on the correct input.
This is almost worthy of the bug list IMHO.

- Collin

Note the following interchange :

>get journal
Taken.

>open journal
You can't unlock it with your hand.

>rezrov journal
The journal seems to bear a spell protecting it against the simple
rezrov spell.

>get the key
Taken.

>unlock the journal with the key
No spell would help with that!

>unlock the journal
(with the small key)
You must have had a silliness spell cast upon you.

>rezrov the journal
The journal seems to bear a spell protecting it against the simple
rezrov spell.

>open the journal with the key
You must tell me how to do that to a journal.

>open the lock with the key
I can't use the word "lock" here.

>open the journal
(with the key)
The journal springs open.

>
 

graeme

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>I recently started replaying Infocom's Sorcerer, a game I have probably
>not played since the '80s. I quickly ran into the most frustrating
>"issue" with the parser. At the very beginning as part of the copy
>protection you must unlock a journal. I remembered this vaguely and
>thought I knew what I was doing, but for the life of me I could not get
>that silly journal opened. It turns out the only input the game will
>accept is for the player character to be holding both the journal and
>the key and to type "open journal". The standard IF convention of
>"unlock <direct object> with <indirect object>" does not work! This
>took me an embarrassingly long time to stumble on the correct input.
>This is almost worthy of the bug list IMHO.


I haven't updated the Bugs List in a long time (though I keep meaning
to). This isn't really a bug as such, just frustrating gameplay.
Nobody's ever made a list of those because Infocom doesn't have too
many of them. But yes, I remember what you're talking about, and it is
a pain.

For me the most frustrating thing about Sorcerer when I first played it
was that I left Guild HQ without sending off for the potion, played the
game almost to the endgame before I realized I needed it, and had to
start the whole thing over from the beginning. Yuck. Still a good
game overall, though.
 

Collin

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On 2005-09-12 12:18:07 -0700, "Graeme" <graemecree@aol.com> said:
> I haven't updated the Bugs List in a long time (though I keep meaning
> to). This isn't really a bug as such, just frustrating gameplay.
> Nobody's ever made a list of those because Infocom doesn't have too
> many of them. But yes, I remember what you're talking about, and it is
> a pain.

I agree it's more frustrating/bad game play than a bug. I'm not
actually lobbying for this to be added to the list. The fact that the
game will do something implicitly "open journal (with key)", but not
when directed to explicitly "open journal with key" comes close to a
bug but it doesn't fit the spirit of other bugs on the list, which are
generally in the category of the game accepts the response, yet does
something unexpected.

> For me the most frustrating thing about Sorcerer when I first played it
> was that I left Guild HQ without sending off for the potion, played the
> game almost to the endgame before I realized I needed it, and had to
> start the whole thing over from the beginning. Yuck. Still a good
> game overall, though.

When i first played I had the same thing happen. I even sent away for
the potion, but I had waited too long. Figuring I would find another
opportunity somewhere I carried that order form through the whole game
only to discover I had made the game unwinnable. Infocom had a nasty
habit of doing this sort of thing. Hitchhiker's has a similarly
infamous incident. Luckily, like great trauma I remember these
particularly evil puzzles vividly even though its been a decade or two
since I played some of these titles. Needless to say ordering the
potion was one of the first things I did after waking up in Sorcerer.

Cheers,
Collin
 
G

Guest

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In article <2005091212470775249%cpieper@pacbellnet>,
Collin <cpieper@pacbell.net> wrote:
> When i first played I had the same thing happen. I even sent away for
> the potion, but I had waited too long. Figuring I would find another
> opportunity somewhere I carried that order form through the whole game
> only to discover I had made the game unwinnable. Infocom had a nasty
> habit of doing this sort of thing. Hitchhiker's has a similarly
> infamous incident. Luckily, like great trauma I remember these
> particularly evil puzzles vividly even though its been a decade or two
> since I played some of these titles. Needless to say ordering the
> potion was one of the first things I did after waking up in Sorcerer.

(Spoiler for Hitchhiker's. Although if you haven't played it by now, do
you *really* care?)

Hitchhiker's does have the infamous dog-and-cheese-sandwich puzzle.
However, it's unjustly infamous: You can give the dog the sandwich as
Ford Prefect later on in the game if you fail to do so as Arthur at the
start.

- Damien
 
G

Guest

Guest
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Actually, that particular problem with unlocking the journal with the key
is mentioned both in Graham Nelson's "The Craft of Adventure" essay, and
the fourth edition of the Inform Designer's Manual. The latter has a
re-write of the original articles, but in some respects, I think the
original was better. Anyway, he apparently found this pretty annoying
since he mentioned it in both places. For whatever reason, I never had
problems with it.
 

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