by Carl de Marcken and David Baggett


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
An attempt at a point, February 18, 2022
by cgasquid (west of house)

+=3 was intended to make the point that a puzzle can have a perfectly logical solution and still be virtually unsolvable.

it does not make this point, as the puzzle does not have a logical solution.

for those not in the know, the goal of the game is to pay a troll by handing it three items. this is the first puzzle and the only puzzle, and you encounter it immediately. however, there aren't three items in your inventory, nor are there any other items to be picked up. so, what to do?

the solution presented is to (Spoiler - click to show)think of objects that have been implemented but that are never mentioned in any descriptions at all, that are omitted from your inventory even though you possess them, and that can't be found by examining yourself -- specifically, clothes.

unfortunately, as too often happens when an author is trying to lecture the audience, it just doesn't hold up.

first, regarding the response to EXAMINE ME. (Spoiler - click to show)you're described as the adventurer from Zork. there was an object that said adventurer possessed that wasn't implemented -- the compass, mentioned only in the Alice-in-Wonderland area in Zork II. but it couldn't referred to. this conveys the information that you're a fantasy adventurer -- yet the words BOOTS and ARMOR aren't implemented. thus, even if someone does think of trying to obtain items by undressing, the first words they're likely to try won't work, and they'll give up on the idea!

second, regarding the game's tiny nature. (Spoiler - click to show)you're said to have just conquered a dungeon, but the game won't let you retreat to gather more items. in the games of this era there was always detritus left over -- the adventurer from Zork would at least have a lamp and sword. there's no logical reason to block this area off; the game is just refusing to allow you to go there because it isn't the intended solution.

and lastly, regarding the shallow implementation. (Spoiler - click to show)a handful of different words for specific articles of clothing -- modern ones -- are available. given the esoteric nature of the solution, again, someone isn't necessarily likely to keep trying clothing nouns unless they happen to hit on one first try. trying to remove my dress or shoes and being told the game doesn't understand would cause me to discard this way of thinking. this game needed a LARGE vocabulary of garments -- and given how little game there is otherwise, there was absolutely time to implement it.

overall, the reason that this puzzle is "logical but impossible" is because the author's rigged things up that way. all this proves is that IF authors are able to write puzzles where the only way most people can proceed is to read the author's mind or guess the right word, and buddy, that ain't news.

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Fails at its stated goal due to poor execution, March 24, 2021

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.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Pointed, February 2, 2011

"+=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.

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
A game to mention, not to enjoy, May 29, 2008
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

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.

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