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About the Story
This one-puzzle game was Dave Baggett's response to a discussion (flame war?) in rec.arts.int-fiction and specifically to Russ Bryan's claim that there could be no puzzles which are logical yet unsolvable. [blurb from The (Other) TADS Games List version 1.2]
Written as an example of how not to write games. Specifically, the thesis it seeks to prove is that it is possible for a puzzle to have a completely logical solution, and yet be nearly impossible to solve except by randomly guessing commands. This was the centerpiece of a heated debate on rec.arts.int-fiction. Not meant to be played and enjoyed.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
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Number of Reviews: 3
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This game makes a point about interactive fiction design. It makes it well and quickly (one you have figured out the solution, probably by reading the source or the walkthrough). So, although this game is not enjoyable as such, it does the one thing that it attempts to do quite well.
What is the point that it makes? According to Karl Muckenhoupt, the point is that "it is possible for a puzzle to have a completely logical solution, and yet be nearly impossible to solve except by randomly guessing commands". Without disagreeing with that, I would say that the point of +=3 is that "conventions of play are there for a reason". Either way, it's a good point, and +=3 is a name that you might want to drop in a discussion now and then.
"+=3's" thesis is that a puzzle's difficulty is not directly related to how logical the solution to the puzzle is, but rather by the context that the puzzle appears in. Most seasoned IF players will find this game's one puzzle infuriating because it cleverly defies IF's conventions, yet the puzzle's solution is not only logical, but, literally, a cliche.
The puzzle is not, in fact, logical.
(Spoiler - click to show)The description if you type "examine me" is "You're the adventurer in Zork who was too polite to open someone else's mailbox."
This is a logical pointer to outside knowledge. But the adventurer in Zork is quite carefully *very* undescribed. For all we know, the adventurer in Zork is wearing a hat, a dress, and boots. This makes it impossible to come up with the official solution of removing your shirt. "Remove sari" doesn't work. "Remove hat" doesn't work. "Remove dress" doesn't work.
(And "x clothes" says "There's nothing unusual about your clothes", so dress and boots it should be.)
In fact, the solution is not only completely illogical, but was clearly written by men who've never worn a dress. It's asking for author mind-reading and/or cultural assumptions, which isn't logical. At all.
The pity is that I could probably make a game which actually made the intended point better. Even implementing "remove clothes" might have arguably made it logical.
In fact, I think Colossal Cave's final "puzzle", where you have to figure out that the vaguely-described rod is dynamite and come up with the verb "blast" which has never been used or mentioned in the entire game, makes the same point, and better, if unintentionally. Within the Colossal Cave world model, the rod being dynamite is perhaps more logical than anything else; it is hinted at, and there is every indication you should figure out what the rod is good for, but you haven't used it in the rest of the game. And if you have somehow typed "blast" because you were swearing mildly, you have a hint. But otherwise, it's "read the source and find the list of verbs". Logical but unsolveable without luck, hints, or reading the source.
Unlike this game. Moral: even if you're devising something perverse to make a point, technical competence and thoroughness of execution matters.
If you enjoyed +=3...
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This is version 2 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 7 December 2008 at 8:28am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item