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The Secret History of the Lost Pig (And Place under Ground), July 25, 2010
Let me come to the point: I didnít like this gnome, and Iím not sure youíre supposed to, either. What appears to be a creature of gruff benevolence and bemused patience is in fact a war-mongering technologist of death and destruction. I donít think itís too much to suggest that the gnome is in fact an imprisoned demon assuming another form, and you, the naive orc (with neutral tendencies?), innocently go around and undo the wards that bind him. Was it fate that brought the pig to this fell hole? Or abyssal evil?
So thatís the secret history (anecdota) of Lost Pig, which I see that few have detected. And thatís fine. Itís a lovely game otherwise. I really had hoped that I was going to be able to add it to the ďsolved without hintsĒ pile, but I went ahead and cheated to find out how get the seventh point. This was weak of me, and I regret it even now. The Gadarene swine that has led you into temptation even talks with the gnome on occasion, which really gives the game away if you have any doubt about the aforementioned theory. But other than this ominous note, the pig is amusingly implemented. It took most of the time I spent playing to work out the exact mechanics of how to catch him, mostly because I was wondering about the possible use of a certain object, which, outside of any anagogic properties,* seems merely to have been put there for amusement.
And thereís no shortage of amusement. Lost Pig is possibly the most deeply implemented game Iíve ever played, especially in terms of witty responses to gratuitous actions. Though I havenít read the livejournal where the author first introduced the character, I can imagine how fun it would be. The language, however, is worth thinking about a bit. Tolkienís orcs have their own language, after all: ďOrc-speech sounded at all times full of hate and angerĒ (Two Towers). I believe this is the convention in AD&D, as well. While full of hate and anger, thereís no indication that orcish is essentially a type of pidgin language, though that would be the case if Grunk was not speaking his native language in the story (or thinking it, either).
On an implementation note, I only noticed after playing that a ďGO TO [person]Ē command was implemented, which I assume would work for the pig. One irritation was the difficulty I sometimes had in finding the pig, which would have been alleviated by knowing that command. (I suppose Grunkís keen sense of smell could lead him to the pig without difficulty.) Iíve been trying to think about the best games to ask my wife, who's never played any IF as far as I know, to try. Lost Pig was one of my first choices, along with several of the well-known puzzleless games. For all its charm, however, I doubt that someone unfamiliar with the conventions of the games from the the underground caverns of yesteryear is going to piece together such bits as the (Spoiler - click to show)color magnets, for example. And there are well-written hints as well. So weíll see how it goes.
*Think of a certain M. R. James story.