I realized the moment I fell into the fissure that the Book would not be destroyed as I had planned. It continued falling into that starry expanse, of which I had only a fleeting glimpse. I have tried to speculate where it might have landed, but I must admit that such conjecture is futile. Still, questions about whose hands might one day hold my Myst book are unsettling to me. I know my apprehensions might never be allayed, and so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written. -- Atrus

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Guides for your entertainment

Hi folks!  You've probably already played and finished Obduction.  In any case, if you or someone you know have/has not, then I made some fun little guides for the Villein number puzzle and the two-parter Gauntlet.  Maray's adorable triplets.  (Apparently I have nothing better to do with my time, such as, say, proposal writing O.O)

I posted the Villein one already, but thought I may as well list them both together.  Go forth and conquer!

Gauntlet guide: CLICK

Villein numbers: CLICK

As I have said elsewhere, if you find any mistakes or places that require improvement, please let me know.  I couldn't re-test my Gauntlet guide because after downloading patch #2 from Steam, my game, horror of horrors, keeps crashing.

Ha!  A line from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom just popped into my head!  You receive an automatic imaginary cookie if you guess which one.

The Gauntlet one completely reevaluates the puzzle, and has vastly improved upon my "understanding" and infographics of the puzzle in my earlier posts.  There are other things in the game that I need to reevaluate now that I've gone through it once.  It's always exciting to learn new stuff each time you play Cyan games!

It was a lot of fun to make these little beauties.  I hope they are equally enjoyed.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Don't Mind the Dust

This post contains spoilers for Obduction.  If you do not wish to be spoiled, move along, please.
Also, if you are looking for unbelievably quality images, don’t.  Because you won’t find them here.  My modest laptop dates to spring 2013, so I am running Obduction only on medium quality graphics.

So I noticed one thing about the game menu: I believe it changes according to which world you left off in, or the last the tree you wandered through.  That’s pretty cool.  When I first played the game and saw the game menu I was confused because it didn’t seem to go with the purple of the Obduction logo, or with the seed.  It definitely makes sense now!

Anyway, let’s see where I left off.  Ah right, I was confused in Maray.  When I returned to the game, the Mofang device was still disabled and making noise and the Villein (who I later learned was Trar) was still dying.  Seriously, this is so awful.  But there was nothing left here for me to do.  I must check on C.W.—maybe he has something to tell me.

I went back to Hunrath, and as I was entering C.W.’s compound I saw that somehow that cable on the battery was connected to some other cable that had not been there before.  Was it a glitch before?  I was in epic mode at the time, so I toggled back to medium.  The cable was still there in medium.  I switched back to epic. This was confusing.  Did someone go up there?  Did Cecil?  If so, why wasn’t he doing all this stuff himself?  Well, there wouldn’t be a game now would there?

I went up to check out the battery to see if maybe it looked different up close.  It was the same: somehow this was plugged into a hitherto nonexistent cable.  I walked all around the battery, scratching my head, looking to see if there was something new there.  I was just about to exit the battery area when I saw over by the where the mine cart train was, the mine cart train wasn’t

“Oh my God, what?” I yelled in my little apartment.

What happened here?  Where did they go?  They just disappeared!  Did C.W. move them?  How?  What the hell was going on?  I began to feel a little scared, not wanting to die in the game when I felt I was so close to the end.  A good end, that is.  And one other thing, how did the person manage to move the carts on that short track perpendicular to the main track?  One would have to pick them up and move them.  Unfortunately, one last car remained: that one blocking the door that would let me get to that last membrane I’d been dying to get to from the start.

I walked the train tracks that led to the water tower to see if the little cars were somewhere around there.  While over there I noticed the little fan bits over the tree, and thought they look a lot like the fan bits over the swap pods.  Was this tree a giant swap pod?

I went to the tower to see if anything had changed.  Maybe the TVs were on.  I don’t know.  But when I got there it was to see nothing had changed.  I thought maybe there would be something different in the other worlds.  It had been a while since my last visit to Kaptar.  I wondered about that scale and thought perhaps that could have something new.

I returned to Kaptar and went to the “war room” where the Mofang’s half body was.  There were loads of Arai barnacles everywhere.  Were those there before?  If not, then why now? 

Before I could really get going with my question asking, one of my cats, Bagheera, who’d been wanting attention a lot lately, decided to walk across my keyboard.  I’m not sure what he touched, but suddenly I was somehow falling through a bunch of membranes and then landed at the control hub.  I didn’t know the extent to which he destroyed my progress, but happily enough I had made a copy of the game.  

Bagheera: cute on the outside, evil on the inside
You know, at first I was a little put off by the copy game feature, but now I think maybe it’s even better than manual save!  However, I can see how someone could use this feature to cheat on the numbers puzzle in Maray.

I encountered a couple what may be bugs in Hunrath.  Occasionally, the subtitles of C.W.’s last speech would appear at the bottom of my screen in various places in Hunrath.  Also, that metal door behind the mine carts had something weird going on with it.  Sometimes, the touch cursor would appear, sometimes not.  And when it did, only a couple times did it make a noise like a locked door.  What’s that about?

At this point I was stumped.  Nothing new in Kaptar, nothing new in Maray.  There must be something new in Hunrath because I was 100% sure it was in Hunrath that I would find the seed pod that would send me to Soria.  I needed to check that hint guide, as much as I wanted not to.  Paging through it I could tell I’ve done everything in the other two worlds.  But finally, (managing to ignore the details about Soria reasonably well) I saw that what I needed was to get to that place on the opposite side of the river where I had smashed the rocks.  Hooray!  I can’t believe I forgot all about that.  And to get there I could use that door I opened during the gauntlet puzzle to access that side of the river.  And I needed to swing the damn swing bridge.

The first time I attempted this dummy me swung the bridge in the opposite direction.  Doy!  Once I figured out the proper sequence of activities I was on my way.  I swung the bridge to make the platform parallel to the river on the left side.  Then, I took the tree path and returned to Maray.  Once in Maray I followed that path to the right just before crossing the bridge to get to those pod houses.  I took the elevator down and went to Pod Group 5.  I swapped to Hunrath and went on my merry way through that door and onto the formerly elusive river path.  On and on I went, passing by a lovely painting, until I came to the opening that had been C.W.’s war room.  I looked at his war activities handout, and then faced the pod device to go to Soria.

At this point I wasn’t sure I wanted to.  What would I find there?  Dead Mofangs?  Live ones?  More explosive devices?  Suddenly that gruesome scene in Kaptar made more sense.  The explosive device had been set up in Kaptar, but the Arai had been able to use the scale to make one of these trigger swaps that sent the explosive device back to Soria.  The halved Mofang had been running to send it back when it exploded.  And likely destroyed much of Soria.  How sad that this had to be.

I then remembered the poignant phrases from one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss, in his moving book Oh, the Places You’ll Go!: “Do you dare to stay out?  Do you dare to go in?”

I opened the pod and swapped to Soria.

The place was desolate, nothing at all like what I saw in the membrane wall in Hunrath.  There were faint flashes of red light in the rocks(?) of their environment, but otherwise it looked like melted glass.  Those blue spheres were absent.  The sun seemed hostile instead of pleasant.  Is this what that device does?

I saw the tree in the distance.  This was a linear process of “get to the tree” I think because Cyan didn’t make that extra bonus donation on Kickstarter.  They’d have like to develop this world, and how amazing would that have been?  I didn’t go straight to the tree though.  There was a difficult to notice path that led onward past the tree to an overlook.

What I saw was astonishing.  It was a section of Hunrath I hadn’t seen before.  It was modernized with paved roads and electric towers.  (By the way, the ones in Abydos are not very safe to be around for extended periods of time.  When you pass under them you can hear a loud humming and it feels heavy.  Yikes!

What this means is that we are looking at Hunrath as it exists today, only the part of it that was scooped out was replaced with a Mofang scoop.  We had been witnessing different moments in time.  This was the membrane wall you find in Soria, just as Kaptar and Maray are connected.  Could I somehow switch them back?  Is that what this project been about?

I turned back and went to the tree, saddened to see that it was half dead.  I wonder if I could reawaken it when I activated it.  I raised the water below and went back up to see if it had changed anything, but no.  I descended into the depths of the tree again.  It was time to return to Hunrath.

By the way, I think I found another bug.  Halfway through the tree, when you pass a certain door it suddenly turns you in the opposite direction and you find yourself—annoyingly—back outside.

I went to the tower to see if all the lights had been turned on.  Soria’s was sparking, maybe because the tree was dying?  It’s a good thing I caught it in time.  Its dial was set at 100.  Whatever that meant.  I pushed the plunger, but nothing happened.  I’d need to turn on the Bleeder.

I went back down to check on C.W.  Surely he would be happy with me now.  He indeed was and he went through his list of things to get done and told me I had to get the Bleeder on because it was draining all the power.  I went up to the workstation and sure enough that last train cart was removed.  But how could he move that thing himself?  But what mattered now was the passage to the final membrane was open!  Hooray!  I unlocked and opened that wonderful door, took the stairs up toward the waterfall lever, and passed through the membrane.

I came out almost immediately upon the Bleeder.  It was a formidable machine!  I expected all manner of horrifying things that I’d have to press.  At last I found its control panel, opened it, and found just one switch.  Are you serious?  I flipped the switch back up and returned to the tower, knowing I’d have to push that plunger and everything would come together and the world would be happy again.  I pushed the plunger, the Bleeder exploded, and it fell.

Cecil’s voice came over the loudspeaker before he appeared on the television.  As everything was exploding, the Arai suddenly descended upon Hunrath.  Ew!  And Cecil indicated they wouldn’t let them unplug his battery.  He’s really obsessed with that battery.

Caroline appeared on the other TV, saying that everyone got out but not everyone was able to swap.  A giant dust cloud sprang up beyond the town and C.W. and Caroline began to freak out, asking if it was earth, and then I realized this was bad.  Just as the wall of a dust storm was about to envelop me, the game cut to credits.


Was that supposed to happen?  Was that the correct ending?  I was confused.  I wasn’t sure.  How could I not be sure?  I mean I did everything right!  All things came together!  What did I miss?  I don’t understand!

I sat there stunned, at a complete loss as I waited to see my name in the credits (hahaha!  I felt so conceited at that moment.).

By the way, it looks as though I had Fraps turned off or something because it didn’t save my screenshots of the sandstorm ending…

Because I didn’t know if that was really the ending I went to the internet to make sure.  Aaaaaand no.  There are three endings.  And I chose the bad one, damn it!  I’d like for just once to have the nous to choose the right ending in these games!

Apparently that battery C.W. is obsessed with…yeah, that’s supposed to be unplugged.  And you have to unplug it just before you head to the Bleeder so that he doesn’t plug it in for you.  Very clever, Cyan!  The clue was literally in my face the entire game.  Battery battery battery battery battery.  Gah!

Luckily I had a copy of my Soria spot.  I loaded that game and set up the battery and Bleeder situation and then got the happy ending. 

After Cecil’s Saavedro moment, Hunrath was returned to Earth while the Soria scoop was returned to Soria.  Caroline informed us that everyone was safe (does that include Trar?  Can’t we at least have seen him bandaged up and convalescing at a hospital somewhere?).

As the green of Earth slowly appeared and Caroline and Cecil were grinning happily, the game faded to credits.

That was spectacular.  Thanks so much, Cyan!  I’m feeling emotional now that it’s all over, and I wait rapturously for another installment, not to mention all my goodies I’ll be getting!  Woohoo!

Closing Remarks

I must ask…  What was the point of the documents about the Arai barnacles and the scrap of paper with numbers on it?  And that massive control panel with all the dials and knobs?

Over all, in retrospect, Riven definitely remains the most difficult.  Ahnonay and Minkata are up there, too.  Parts of Revelation for sure (spider chair anyone?).  Kadish Tolesa a bit, too.  Amateria has two puzzles that had me stuck.  Other parts of the games that had me stumped seemed so easy in hindsight.

Where does this game fall?  Originally I had thought it ranked up there with Riven, but that was when I was in the middle of Maray, having just worked out the Gauntlet puzzle and was working on the numbers puzzle.  Twice in Kaptar I was clueless.  One because it never occurred to me to swap the beamer, and the other because I didn’t notice there were two parts to that pinion apparatus at the power hub.  And of course that saga with the tree.  Of course in this last gameplay I was stumped and then got the bad ending hahaha!  But from this point I would say the game is actually a little bit easier than Riven, but definitely not easy.

My final words: I loved this game!  I am satisfied with the three years it took for Cyan to pump it out.  I am satisfied with having pledged at the $250 mark.  I look forward to their next project.  And I look forward to playing again in order to write a proper notebook for this game.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Tale of Two Trees

This post contains spoilers for Obduction.  If you do not wish to be spoiled, move along, please.
Also, if you are looking for unbelievably quality images, don’t.  Because you won’t find them here.  My modest laptop dates to spring 2013, so I am running Obduction only on medium quality graphics.

When I returned to Kaptar, I had it in my mind that I must turn off the power.  Isn’t that the way it goes?  Turn on the power to get things moving only so when it comes time to turn off the power everything will be in its place.  It took me maybe 30 minutes to remember where everything was, how it all worked together, and decide what it was I needed to do.  I spent a lot of time moving things around.  I was thinking I had to do this, that, and the other—only to realize this, that, and the other had to stay the same as I had them before.  So I put this back to that, that back to there, and then the other…whatever you do with that I did it.

In the process of all this, I found something neat with that swinging bridge at the beginning point of Kaptar: when it moves it makes the same noise you hear with the rotating room of the gateway puzzle in Riven!

Finally, I came up with the solution.  The vehicle machine at the temple needed to be switched off while the vehicle was parked there.  This would allow me to step through the gear to the other side.  It couldn’t be simpler (in theory).  I discovered that all I had to do was to make the most direct path to that tree that I could.  This led me into the temple to that triangular doorway, which then would connect me to that little swap room that is powered by the rotating sphere in Hunrath.  I would need that to then align me with the entrance to the Arai nest.

You know, in Maray I was so surprised that Cyan had not left an escape path out of the 222 puzzle, but then, duh, I figured out that being stuck there was part of the puzzle.  I still feel very bad about leaving Orbar/Aprar/Trar behind to die an awful death with no one to talk to.  If the game ends and he has no satisfying ending I am going to be miserable.

After swapping back and forth and rotating stuff, I was able to walk down into the Arai nest with those gross enormous freak bugs and onward to the path that led to the gear that had hitherto blocked my way.  The gear had been stopped and I was free to walk through!  How easy!  Why hadn’t I thought of it before?

I went down into the depths of the tree where everything was blue instead of gold.  There were no cables leading out to the portals except for the Hunrath one, the Heart.  After I activated the tree, the portal to Hunrath was open.  And now for an inundation of screenshots because they are so stunning:

I returned to Hunrath, of course, in order to return to Maray, but also to check the tower roof mechanisms.  The Kaptar light was on.  I didn’t want to return to Maray because it’s scary there, but I made myself return.

Once back in Maray, I saved my game.  Who knows what will happen next there?!  I went back to that place of impending danger with the object I wasn’t allowed to touch.  When I got there I decided to check on my poor dying friend and on the way, I caught a glimpse of that Mofang hologram device I’d nearly ignored before (despite having taken a screenshot of it!).  With grim satisfaction I saw I was right.  The Mofang had been using an image of the mayor to mimic him and to trick me.  Wow!—well…

The floating Mofang object was blocking a seed pod that presumably swapped to Soria.  I knew I had to destroy it. 

Up the hill was a machine with a joystick.  Nearby was another Villein creature, but this one was 100% dead. 

Aww, that’s so sad.  I turned back to the joystick and used the laser to smash the dangerous device.  What would it have done if I’d touched it?  

On a whim of morbidity, I decided to shoot the Mofang/mayor body with the blue laser.  When I did so, the entire hologram image disappeared and it was only the Mofang’s body that was left there.

I went to the disabled device to observe the damage and saw that I had crumbled the Soria seed pod also.  Was it a decoy, or did I make a mistake?  Uh-oh.  I moved past it and came to another bridge control panel, but a number had already been inserted.  I haphazardly entered numbers until I had the desired effect and crossed the bridge.  I was in the realm of the tree.

The water here was green.  I activated the tree and it opened the portals to both Kaptar and Hunrath.  Alas, there was no portal to Soria, since apparently I destroyed chance of that. However, I had read that their devices are only temporarily disabled…

Finally, as all paths apparently lead to Hunrath, so too did mine.  I went up to the tower roof again to check the progress of power.  Indeed the Maray light was lit.  So now what about Soria?  Maybe C.W. had a clue.  I visited him again, but he yelled at me again.

I thought returning to Maray would be a good idea.  When I got back, I heard the object making a terrible noise.  Did it make that noise before?  Was it trying to regenerate?  I just didn’t have a clue.  I knew then that it was time to set the game aside for now.