Let's Play: Jigsaw

It’s the start of a new year! A time of celebration, of reminiscing about times past and looking forward to times ahead—and worrying, just a little, about impending apocalyptic disaster. This is where Graham Nelson’s classic Jigsaw begins, looking forward to the distant future of December 1999 and what might be coming in the next millennium.

For those who aren’t familiar, Graham Nelson has a very real claim to the title of “father of modern interactive fiction”. His first game Curses and the first version of Inform re-ignited interest in the Infocom style, and he followed it up with The Craft of Adventure, a book on IF theory and practice that’s still cited today. Inform 10, the distant descendant of the assembler custom-built for Curses, is now many people’s introduction to writing IF.

Jigsaw, his second (I think?) game, received great critical acclaim. But it was also released in 1995, and is very much a product of its era. It’s not quite as player-hostile as Curses, but it’s still a very cruel game, where failing to LOOK UNDER an arbitrary object during a time-critical sequence dooms you to failure much later at the very end of the game.

And it’s a game I’ve never actually completed before—I tried a couple times and gave up in frustration. But with the start of the new year, the mildly apocalyptic vibes of the recent past, and Mike Russo’s excellent let’s play of another difficult-to-complete game, I’m going to make another stab at it.

So come join me as we launch into Jigsaw (1995), and see what the distant future of the 21st century might bring! With any luck, all our minds together can triumph where I have never succeeded alone!

18 Likes

Oh, this is great! I actually looked up this game recently; I’m working on a big game cobbled together from 10 smaller ones and was looking for role models, and I remembered this game. I was looking up to see if David Welbourn did one of his amazing walkthroughs, but it wasn’t there. I’ve thought of revisiting it, but honestly reading along with a let’s play sounds like the best way to experience it. Definitely interested!

3 Likes

Oh this is awesome – I am so here for this! I have always wanted to play Jigsaw, but have only gotten so far as booting it up, reading the opening screen, and getting intimidated and quitting so I’m very much looking forward to you suffering struggling through on my behalf!

EDIT:

Fourth, I think? Balances came between Curses and Jigsaw, though it might be considered more Inform demo than full game (I haven’t played it, or if I have it’s been a couple decades); I also remembered there’s a piece of juvenilia that IFDB informs me is called Galaxy’s Edge.

3 Likes

An Eliot quote is always a good place to start. We begin at a New Year’s party in Century Park, celebrating the end of the old millennium and the start of the new.

New Year’s Eve, 1999, a quarter to midnight and where else to be but Century Park! Fireworks cascade across the sky, your stomach rumbles uneasily, music and lasers howl across the parkland… Not exactly your ideal party (especially as that rather attractive stranger in black has slipped back into the crowds) - but cheer up, you won’t live to see the next.

JIGSAW
An Interactive History
Copyright (c) 1995 by Graham Nelson
Release 3 / Serial number 951129 / Inform v1600 Library 6/1
Standard interpreter 1.1

Century Park
At one side of the great Park, on a gravel path which runs west to northeast beside poplar trees. Crowds of celebrants are enjoying themselves to the north, having abandoned the canvas marquee east.

Wait, what’s that about “won’t live to see the next”?

Eh, it’s probably nothing. More importantly, what happened to that “rather attractive stranger in black”?

> x me
As good-looking as ever.

Nowadays this is a default response built into Inform, and has become a bit of a cliché: it means a new author hasn’t bothered to change it, passing up an opportunity to add flavor to the protagonist. But back in 1995, that cliché wasn’t yet established—this may have been only the second game (after Curses) to use it.

Maybe the characterization comes from elsewhere.

> i
You are carrying:
a white party ticket

> read ticket

Century Park Invites You To…
The Party of the Century!

Wear White and Bring a Sense of Hope for the Future!

There is a huge cheer from the distant centre of the crowd.

I don’t actually know where Century Park is, and Google hasn’t been much help. But since the crowd has a “centre”, we’re presumably somewhere in (or at least come from) the United Kingdom—I’ve been vaguely imagining Central Park in New York City.

Also, it seems that stranger wearing black is explicitly going against the dress code. They certainly do stand out!

We’ve got a few ways to explore, so let’s try…

> e

Beer Tent
Hours ago, this was a popular beer tent; long since, the drink ran out and the party moved on, leaving just canvas walls and bare benches.

Sticking out of an unpleasant baked potato is a sparkler, still fizzing away.

The canvas flutters slightly and you can just make out that figure in black rushing away back to the park. It must be that tantalising stranger again - who else would be wearing black at this party?

Ooh, sparkler!

> x sparkler
It is trademarked “Eterno” and waggishly claims it will see the century out.

Oh, and the cute stranger. Let’s pursue them, but first…

> take sparkler
Taken.

This party has just gotten 1000% better.

> w

Century Park

Somebody (and you have a pretty good idea who) seems to have dropped, of all things, a jigsaw piece here.

You feel a few spots of rain.

Jigsaw piece? Huh.

> x piece
A large jigsaw piece, six inches on a side and square. It’s a dull grey-white, perhaps depicting the flank of a large horse.

It is currently this way up:

image

The jigsaw piece is drawn by switching to a monospaced font and printing a series of spaces, flipping reverse-video mode on and off. This makes sense back in the era before Unicode box-drawing characters, but is also a pain in the ass to copy and paste, so I’m going to stick to screenshots. We’ll be gathering a lot more of these before the night is out!

We get one point for taking it, and keep exploring, even as the noise is giving us an increasingly annoying migraine. Trying to go north is fruitless:

But, that way lies the party. The crowd, the miasma of celebration for something you never wanted to celebrate in the first place. You know you’ll succumb in the end, but for now you can’t bear the idea.

Ugh. Yeah. East is that tent, west and northeast is a path that might lead to more crowds, and we really do not want to deal with that on top of the headache. So let’s ignore everything in the room description and try…southeast!

Behind Beer Tent
There are many places better not visited tonight, and chief among them is this one, despite a certain fin de siecle decadence. It’s a crevice behind the beer tent, between dense trees and the rear wall of the Park. The most politely describable use to which it has been put is as a dump for old plastic crates of beer bottles.

Mingled amongst the beer crates is a wooden packing box, broached at the top.

Discarded beside the old box is an empty rucksack.

[Your score has just gone up by one point.]

As far as I know there’s no hinting whatsoever that this is a direction you can go. We’re just being contrary and looking for some peace and quiet until the migraine goes away.

Well, some quiet, anyway. We already found the piece.

The crate has “A.4” stamped on the side, and contains “a tagged key and a curious device”, which you have to search it to find—examining isn’t enough. Like I said, old-school game. The tag on the key is in “some east European language”, which I’m guessing means Hungarian or Polish, since those are written in the Latin alphabet; Russian, Ukrainian, etc would all be written in Cyrillic.

The device, on the other hand…

A highly curious device, like a wood-mounted gimballed compass, with dials and swinging arrows, inscribed “tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis”. The main feature is a white button. The easiest arrow to read points to 99.

A nice little dactyllic hexameter: “the times change, and we change with them”. (Or more precisely, “we are changed”.) Fun fact: this line is often attributed to Ovid, but it actually comes from the 16th century, when Huberinus wrote it to pair with an actual line from Ovid (tempora labuntur, tacitisque senescimus annis, “the times slip away, and we grow older through the silent years”).

The things you learn while you’re hiding from parties!

This would be a nice quiet place to sit and rest, but the smell is nauseating, and that’s really not helping the migraine. Sigh. Let’s grab everything, including the rucksack from Curses, and go try someplace else.

9 Likes

I remember being really mad about this. I think I started using a walkthrough right away at this point :joy:

6 Likes

Back in Century Park. North is the crowd, east is the beer tent, southeast is the dumping ground, and we can’t go northwest, southwest, up, or down (though each one has a custom message, which is neat).

That leaves northeast and west. Let’s try northeast first.

Churchyard
A few remains of fences and a crumbling wall are all that divides the overgrown edge of the Park from this long-neglected churchyard, serene and dappled with blacks and greens. Ivy and brambles curl their slow arms around the stones, and the door of the Victorian red-brick chapel (to the east) has gone altogether.

A night-jar flutters from perch to perch along an old iron fence.

Aw, cute!

And more importantly, this place seems nice and dark and quiet. Plus it has a good aesthetic. Our headache abates a little, and our desire to explore new places can finally outweigh our desire for peace and quiet. (I don’t know about you all, but I would definitely spend the entire party poking around in a place like this.)

What’s in that chapel?

Victorian Chapel
An odour compounded of desiccated, pressed flowers, incense and wax makes you feel somehow rested in this modest and now deconsecrated chapel. The old brass fittings and altar have been stripped, and the vestry to the east is heaped with debris.

In pride of place is a shocking modern-art statue of a man, and it is a kind of collage. He has an air-raid warden’s helmet, a sickle in one hand, a soldering iron in the other: an old-fashioned cavalry officer’s tunic and a pair of miner’s trousers, then Indian sandals.

See, we’re feeling rested now! The made-up motivations I’m ascribing to our protagonist aren’t entirely out of place!

> x statue
Written around the base, in large Roman letters, is: “Grad Kaldecki, 1917-95: Inventor, Sculptor, Philanthropist”, and his motto: “felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas”.

Nelson really does love his Latin quotes. This one’s Vergil: “Happy is he who can understand the causes of things.” Or, if you prefer a more poetic translation, a bit of googling gave me “happy the man, who, studying nature’s laws, through known effects can trace the secret cause”. I don’t recognize the name “Kaldecki”, though I’ve asked my Hungarian-knowing sister and my Polish-knowing friend if it fits either of those languages. This might be our Eastern European.

EDIT: The friend says “Grad Kaldecki” does sound Polish, and “Grad” is a not-too-obscure given name.

Let’s keep exploring!

Vestry
The vestry once held surplices. Today, it holds a surplus. Debris, broken furniture, blown-in leaves, panes of dusty glass and mildewed cloth, all unwanted.

There’s even an old Victorian piano stool, but no sign of a piano.

Booooo. That’s a bad pun even for me.

Maybe we can…look under this stool?

> look under stool
There’s a charcoal pencil underneath the stool.

Aha! And maybe…what if we…look inside it?

> look in stool
In the piano stool is Emily’s sketch book.

Just idle curiosity. We definitely won’t get locked out of the game at the very end if we fail to find and pick up these two unclued items.

An old child’s sketch book, pages of cartridge paper sewn up in cloth binding. On the front, in faded copper-plate handwriting, is written “Emily’s Animals Book”.

Emily has yet to sketch anything in it, though.

Or if we fail to realize that this is a book for sketching animals in. Definitely not.

There is a sudden roar from the crowd. Five minutes to midnight!

We’re almost feeling energized enough to go back and face the crowds. And maybe find someone to kiss at midnight. You never know. This party might be looking up after all.

Just gonna do one more thing first, to make sure the headache is gone.

> sketch night-jar
You sketch in a picture of the night-jar, with a curious sense of deja-vu, and the feeling that drawing such pictures is somehow a worthwhile aim.

It’s definitely a worthwhile aim—it helps us center ourselves and prepare to deal with crowds and cheering and the smell of beer and vomit everywhere! (And might allow us to win the game, too.)

We can head back southwest, and—

This party is giving you a headache.

Dammit. Okay. Let’s hide from society a little bit longer. Wonder what’s over to the west?

Kaldecki’s Monument
A corner of the Park, beside copses of trees and some fencing. Standing about here is the outdoor equivalent to always being in the kitchen at parties.

The pyramidal Monument, built by the (very eccentric) Hungarian who laid out the park, dominates this corner. It isn’t very pleasing to the eye. Although the party’s organisers planned to bounce flashy lasers off the tip, somehow they don’t seem to have got round to it.

Ah, so he’s Hungarian, not Polish. That settles that matter. Just nicely polishes it off.

*ducks flying objects*

This also indicates that Century Park isn’t a real place, and isn’t just a failure of my Googling ability. As far as I can tell Grad Kaldecki is entirely fictional.

Well, if we’re not going to go kiss that stranger at midnight, we might as well do something fun.

> climb monument

Atop the Monument
The anticipated good-view-of-the-party is spoiled somewhat by the perilous nature of the footing - on a sharp triangular wedge of metal. “exegi monumentum aere perennius,” says an inscription. Let’s hope so.

Poking out of the top of the monument is a rickety lightning-conductor.

Nelson—er, Kaldecki—really likes his Latin quotes. This one’s a pun: it’s the start of the final work of the poet Horace, and means “I have built a monument/legacy more lasting than bronze”, referring to his poems. Except here, Kaldecki’s writing it on an actual monument, which is made of steel, which is more lasting than bronze. I’m sure it’s very funny once it’s explained like this.

(Well, it was supposed to be his final work, but then a decade later he went back and published some more poetry, about getting old and no longer being attractive to the handsome young men he wants to woo, and also how amazing and wonderful Augustus Caesar is. In my opinion they’re not as good.)

Anyway! What’s this lightning rod thing all about?

> x conductor
Made of very thin fuse wire, the kind which would practically melt on a hot day, which seems highly inappropriate for a lightning conductor.

A fuse, you say.

> i
You are carrying:

a sparkler (providing light)

>:]

> light fuse
(with the sparkler)
The fuse wire in the lightning rod begins to burn down. It shrivels away with a disappointing fizzing sound, and then the whole monument is rocked slightly by a bang from within. A little smoke rises from the base.

[Your score has just gone up by one point.]

Now this is a party.

The explosion seems to have opened a “charred and saw-toothed doorway” in the side of the monument, and once again our curiosity gets the better of us.

Corridor in the Monument
A short metal corridor running along the inside of one wall of the pyramid, and sloping slightly inward. The scene out through the south entrance is perfectly, even alarmingly still. The far end turns and opens inside to the east.

Mounted on the inner wall is a glass display case.

As soon as we go in, the status line changes from “Time: 11:59 PM” to “6/0/44”, whatever that means. June 0th, 1944?

> score
You have so far scored 6 out of a possible 100, in 44 turns, giving you the rank of Partygoer.

Oh. Or that. Let’s go back out and see what’s—

> s
Some kind of invisible wall blocks the doorway. Through it you can see absolute stillness, smoke hanging rigid as if photographed.

…concerning.

The display case is sealed with “an elaborate, carved metal lock”, so be on the lookout for elaborate, carved metal keys.

Inside the Monument
A sloping crevice of metal, sunken into the ground some way to make a larger-than-expected room. Short flights of steps lead up to west and southeast. The air is frigid.

At the centre is a heavy old table, as grimy as the rest of this cavity, a thick layer of dust shadowing its beautiful marquetry.

On a kind of steel mantelpiece sits a late Victorian ormolu clock, with a curious single hand on the sixty-minute dial, pointed upwards in the zero position.

“Ormolu” comes from French or moulu “ground-up gold”, and refers to a way of coating an object with gold: you mix gold with mercury (to make what Hadean Lands players would call a “gold amalgam”), coat your bronze object with it, and heat it in a kiln so the mercury evaporates and leaves the gold behind. This lets you gild very fine details without much effort, but also means everyone near the kiln is breathing mercury vapor, so it got banned in the mid-1800s.

> x clock
The ormolu clock sits on the mantelpiece, but might well be portable. On the base of the ormolu clock is engraved “Labuntur et imputantur” together with the maker’s mark (William Snelson the Clockmaker). Via clockwork you can set the position of the single hand, and around the back is a small latch with two positions: to judge from the engraved icons, alarm on and alarm off. Presently, the latch is on.

The clock stands at 0.

“They fall away, but they are accounted for”, where “they” is presumably hours (or time in general). This one’s the title of a poem (in English) by Ciaran Carson.

Let’s look under that table to satisfy our idle curiosity, while we’re at it.

With all jigsaw puzzles, no matter how careful you are a piece always ends up on the floor. With a judicious kick you manage to push this one clear of the table.

Good thing we didn’t miss this!

> se

Disc Room
This is a tiny tetrahedral annexe of a room, whose only clear feature is a broad black disc embedded in the floor.

> x disc
The disc is jet black and about six feet in diameter. Around the circumference is inscribed “rari nantes in gurgite vasto”.

“Rare swimmers in the vast whirlpool”. Or, more idiomatically, “some rare survivors in the vast sea”. Vergil again.

Let’s check out the table; that will be a good conclusion to this post.

> x table
A heavy old table, high and wide over a doubtless dusty floor, with fine inlaid marquetry decoration. On one side is a brass plaque, declaring it to be “by Mr Gm. Nelson, begun at the Holywell Stables, MCMXCIII; completed at the Waynflete and Summertown, MCMVC”.

Started 1993, completed 1995. That tracks. I’m guessing these are places where the author was staying while working on this game.

This dust is making the migraine worse again, though. Let’s get rid of it.

> clean table
The table comes up a shine. On top of it seems to be a some kind of frame, or board, which perhaps bears further examination.

[Your score has just gone up by one point.]

> x frame
A four-by-four square grid of mahogany, with gold leaf inscriptions denoting the squares “a1” to “d4”, and giving the Latin tag “nec deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus inciderit”.

[Note: to put a jigsaw piece onto the frame, try “put piece at c3”, for instance: if it won’t fit, try turning it first. To get one back again, try “take c3”. To look at a played piece, try “examine c3”. Pieces are displayed in a chequerboard-style for contrast on your computer’s screen, and their colour has no game significance. Try “style 1” for b/w, “style 2” for a spartan look and “style 3” for colour (on some machines only).]

“That a god should not intervene, unless a knot happens that’s worthy of such a savior.” Google tells me this one is Horace again, basically a warning not to solve all your narrative problems with a deus ex machina.

And that seems like a good place to stop and rest a little bit. Time is paused in the world outside, after all. We can take a nap and get rid of this migraine without missing the ball drop.

We’ve reached the end of the prologue, and tomorrow (or whenever I resume this), we’ll get into the meat of the game itself!

Full transcript and save file, as is tradition:

01.txt (18.6 KB)
01.sav (960 Bytes)

7 Likes

As a small tangent, here’s what happens if you wait until midnight instead of doing any of that:

> z
Time passes.

The clocks, amplified by an unbelievable mass of electronics, begin to chime the hour…

Lasers suddenly strobe magnificently over your head.

> z
Time passes.

Bong! Bong! Bong!

> z
Time passes.

The chimes reach midnight! You rush to join the happy throng, your petty investigations forgotten as the new century begins.

*** You have succumbed to the party ***

In that game you scored 0 out of a possible 100, in 46 turns, giving you the rank of wet blanket.

So that’s the bad ending. Clearly whoever we ended up kissing at midnight is less interesting than this mysterious stranger in black. Now we understand our real objective.

5 Likes

Awesome job so far, I’m really enjoying this! I have to say, given the preponderance of Latin so far we’re lucky to have you as a guide.

I assume that just means we won’t be around to see the next change of millennium, no?

Wait, beyond the sparkler is there some other reason the baked potato is unpleasant? …wait, I just booted up the game to take a look myself:

> x potato
That’s not something you need to refer to in the course of this game.

Expectations for what set dressing would be implemented were very different thirty years ago!

Oof, we’re starting off as we intend to go on, huh. This kind of thing always makes me picture those CRPGs like Eye of the Beholder where you need to walk into every single wall to make sure none of them are illusions – you’d wind up with a heck of a bruised nose!

My Czechoslovakian ancestors are politely ahem-ing in protest. Plus depending on your definition of “Eastern Europe”, there could be a whole passel of Balkan languages as candidates too.

Huh, I assumed Century Park was newly-built to provide a place to celebrate the close of the 20th Century – sort of like a World’s Fair type situation – but if the edge is already overgrown maybe that’s not the case and it was pre-existing?

This raises a host of questions, but the one I can’t get out of my head is who are we, exactly, that we can identify an old-fashioned cavalry tunic and miner’s trousers at a glance?

Yeah, I was going to say, that sounds quite Polish to me, or at least something Slavic – the Hungarian language is quite distinct, both orthographically and sound-wise, since I think it’s related to Finnish and a bunch of north-Asian languages rather than any of the tongues that are spoken in Hungary’s neighborhood.

I think this is a US/UK language difference – I would never imagine a “stool” would be something you could open, but I guess the object here is what we’d call a “piano bench”?

Oof, I’m hoping there’s some clueing later that makes this seem like a reasonable thing to do.

Well, there are a lot of historical connections between the two countries – I mostly just know the 19th century history, but they were often allies in each others’ respective nationalist struggles against imperial overseers, and various refugees flooded from one to the other depending on who was doing well on that front and who was getting the boot-on-the-throat treatment at any particular point in time. So Kaledecki could be a Hungarian descended from an ethnically Polish emigre population, I suppose?

Also I just noticed that the statue said he only died in 1995 – so the park was at least designed a few years ago; wonder if he knew he was building this place as a death-monument?

Super relatable though, I mean who among us.

You know, I think I’m beginning to understand why we don’t like parties (if nothing else, I’m pretty sure our friends have stopped inviting us to them if idly blowing stuff up is a part of our regular repertoire).

We’re clearly going to need to enter this at some point, but let me state for the record that this seems super ominous.

Yay! Are you planning on doing a map, or are the areas sufficiently small that that wouldn’t be interesting?

4 Likes

Oh, it could be that. I took it as a Trinity-esque “the world is going to end if you don’t get involved in the plot”, given how much this game is a love letter to Trinity. But not seeing the next turn of the century/millennium makes more sense.

Remember, the early Z-machine was very limited on objects, but very efficient about text and routines. So custom messages for every blocked direction in Century Park (takes up ROM) is significantly cheaper than scenery (takes up RAM).

This was also before Inform incorporated a bunch of extra innovations to make objects cheaper, like storing the printed name as a pointer to a compressed string in ROM rather than as a block of raw text in RAM.

True! There are plenty of other languages in the area that use the Latin alphabet; I just wouldn’t expect them to be as recognizable as the sz’s of Polish and Hungarian.

Hopefully a scholar of history, given what’s about to happen!

Yep, the Uralic family, also containing Estonian and Saami and a bunch of more obscure ones.

In fairness, giving it its own paragraph suggests you should examine it, and examining it says you should open it. LOOK UNDER, on the other hand, is entirely unclued.

Not that I’m aware of, except the title of the notebook. At the very end of the game there’s a puzzle that requires you to have a bunch of animal sketches—long after the opportunity to make them has passed. So missing the notebook or the pencil in this first sequence, when you only have 45 moves before midnight, locks you out right at the end.

Aha, now that I did not know (my history knowledge is significantly more ancient). That makes sense to me, though!

Ooh, I should. I’ll go back and make a Trizbort map for this first area—the later ones will definitely need it!

4 Likes

Here’s our first area, Century Park. I’m marking the locations of animals and puzzle pieces, since those are our main objectives in the game.

Also, I’m not sure if it’s important that the Disc Room is under the Beer Tent, but it does make it slightly less convenient to draw the map on a plane!

5 Likes

Oh, wait. The party also exists (even if it’s not a room we can go to). Let’s try this again.

4 Likes

Now, from here on out, I’m going to be doing it without a walkthrough as much as possible, relying on the hive mind to solve the hardest puzzles instead. However, there’s no indication within the game of how many animals are in each region—and I believe, as in Trinity and Curses, you can never go back to a place once you’ve seen it.

So I’m putting a little spoiler here. I checked a walkthrough and this is how many animals can be found in each region.

A1: One animal
A2: –
A3: One animal
A4: One animal
B1: –
B2: Two animals
B3: –
B4: Two animals
C1: –
C2: One animal
C3: –
C4: –
D1: Five animals
D2: One animal
D3: One animal
D4: One animal

For a total of 16. As long as we’ve sketched the right number of animals, we can be pretty confident a region is finished, and we can move on to the next one without locking ourselves out of victory. (There’s a hint device in the game that tells you if the other objectives are complete before leaving an area; it just doesn’t get animals.)

4 Likes

Enjoying this let’s play so far, really interested to see where it goes! Seems like it’d be a good habit to start looking in and under everything.

3 Likes

Fun initiative! I played Jigsaw this summer so I’m following this with interest and is not concerned with eventual spoilers.

2 Likes

All right! We’ve cleared away enough of the dust that we can take a little nap and make our headache go away. Now we’re awake again and ready to figure out…all of this.

Inside the Monument
A sloping crevice of metal, sunken into the ground some way to make a larger-than-expected room. Short flights of steps lead up to west and southeast. The air is frigid.

At the centre is a heavy old table whose top is a beautiful mahogany jigsaw-board, with room for sixteen pieces arranged in a square.

On a kind of steel mantelpiece sits a late Victorian ormolu clock, with a curious single hand on the sixty-minute dial, pointed upwards in the zero position.

Let’s start with the clock.

>x clock
The ormolu clock sits on the mantelpiece, but might well be portable. On the base of the ormolu clock is engraved “Labuntur et imputantur” together with the maker’s mark (William Snelson the Clockmaker). Via clockwork you can set the position of the single hand, and around the back is a small latch with two positions: to judge from the engraved icons, alarm on and alarm off. Presently, the latch is on.

The clock stands at 0.

One hand, zero instead of sixty, and an alarm? This sounds like a timer to me. You know, the sort that rings after a certain amount of time.

Maybe…

>get clock
(putting the tagged key into the canvas rucksack to make room)
Taken.

>set clock to 2
The clock starts, silently and slowly.

So far so good.

>z
Time passes.

>z
Time passes.

>z
Time passes.

>z
Time passes.

>z
Time passes.

>z
Time passes.

…or not?

>x clock
On the base of the ormolu clock is engraved “Labuntur et imputantur” together with the maker’s mark (William Snelson the Clockmaker). Via clockwork you can set the position of the single hand, and around the back is a small latch with two positions: to judge from the engraved icons, alarm on and alarm off. Presently, the latch is on.

The clock stands at 0.

Well that wasn’t very useful. The alarm didn’t go off!

Maybe we have to turn it on?

>turn on alarm
The latch on the clock is now on.

But no, nothing changes. Same as before. Maybe there’s something else we have to do to make the alarm work.

Let’s look at that table instead.

[Note: to put a jigsaw piece onto the frame, try “put piece at c3”, for instance: if it won’t fit, try turning it first. To get one back again, try “take c3”. To look at a played piece, try “examine c3”. Pieces are displayed in a chequerboard-style for contrast on your computer’s screen, and their colour has no game significance. Try “style 1” for b/w, “style 2” for a spartan look and “style 3” for colour (on some machines only).]

Got it.

>x piece
Which do you mean, the centre piece or the corner piece?

As mentioned before, the pieces are drawn by toggling reverse-video mode on and off, so they don’t show up in the transcript and can’t be copied and pasted. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

We did see “A.4” stamped on the crate with the weird device, so…

>put corner at a4
It fits in nicely at a4.

> x grid

Hm. Let’s try some of these other styles. This is a really fancy visual effect for its era, but the cyan-on-white is hard for me to see.

          1            2            3            4
   +----------------------------------------------------+
   |                                       oooooo oooooo|
 a |                                       oooooooooooo |
   |                                       ooooooooooooo|
   |                                                    |
 b |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
 c |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
 d |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
   +----------------------------------------------------+

Oh, there we go! That’s much better. And, as a bonus, I can copy-paste from the transcript instead of taking screenshots. (This is style 2, aka “spartan”, which doesn’t rely on reverse-video at all; style 1 uses os on the grid but spaces to draw the individual pieces.)

Except that’s definitely the wrong orientation for the piece. Maybe if we…

>take a4
Taken.

>turn corner
You turn the piece clockwise, to:

         OOOOOOO
         OOOOOOO
         OOOOOO  
         OOOOOOO
         OOO OOO

>turn corner
You turn the piece clockwise, to:

         OOOOOOO
         OOOOOOO
          OOOOOO 
         OOOOOOO
         OOO OOO

That looks better.

>put corner at a4
It fits at a4, and suddenly lights up with a picture: parklands strobed by laser light.

[Your score has just gone up by one point.]

Aha!

          1            2            3            4
   +----------------------------------------------------+
   |                                       ooooooooooooo|
 a |                                           Park    o|
   |                                       oooooo oooooo|
   |                                                    |
 b |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
 c |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
 d |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
   +----------------------------------------------------+

[To see a list of pictures revealed so far, try “list”.]

Huh, new command?

>list
a4 parklands strobed by laser light (solved)

Okay, this makes sense. So A4 is the Century Park millennium celebration, and we’ve solved it. What about that other piece?

>x centre
A large jigsaw piece, six inches on a side and square. On one edge, somebody has pencilled “Southwest?”. It’s a dull grey-white, perhaps depicting the middle of a prison van.

It is currently this way up:

            O
         OOOOOOO
         OOOOOOO
          OOOOOOO
         OOOOOOO
         OOO OOO

Well, it’s a four-by-four grid, and this is a center centre piece rather than an edge or corner, so “southwest” has gotta be…C2, right?

>put centre at c2
It fits in nicely at c2.

Oh, wait a sec.

>take c2
Taken.

>turn centre
You turn the piece clockwise, to:

         OOO OOO
         OOOOOOO
          OOOOOOO
         OOOOOOO
         OOOOOOO
            O

>put centre at c2
It fits at c2, and suddenly lights up with a picture: a horse-drawn state carriage.

[Your score has just gone up by one point.]

Aha! And >LIST confirms that this new place is not solved.

          1            2            3            4
   +----------------------------------------------------+
   |                                       ooooooooooooo|
 a |                                           Park    o|
   |                                       oooooo oooooo|
   |                                                    |
 b |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
   |             oooooo oooooo                          |
 c |               Carriage  oo                         |
   |             ooooooooooooo                          |
   |                   o                                |
 d |                                                    |
   |                                                    |
   +----------------------------------------------------+

This nice, methodical jigsaw-solving has eradicated the last traces of the headache, but it’s hard to do any more solving without more pieces.

So, what should we do next? Any more ideas to mess around with the clock, or with the jigsaw puzzle, or with that big disc?

02.sav (976 Bytes)
02.txt (13.3 KB)

3 Likes

Years ago, I spent many weeks on Jigsaw. I think I’d placed about half of the puzzle pieces when I seemed to be completely stuck. I finally gave in and checked the walkthrough and was shocked to learn about the beer tent and the church. Locations I’d failed to discover before I got dragged by the crowd to the monument.

I also don’t remember any depiction of the puzzle or the pieces. (Maybe there was, but I don’t remember it at all.) Usually there was a clue as to where each piece belonged, but I had to keep rotating them until they fit. I remember having an epiphany when I learned the word anticlockwise—I’d only known counterclockwise, a synonym the story didn’t recognize.

After checking the walkthrough, I concluded I’d reached an unwinnable state after all those weeks. I switched to Curses, which seemed even crueler. I think I gave up on that after a couple hours.

Anyway, I’m enjoying watching how the story is supposed to unfold. Thanks for doing this!

3 Likes

I’m unsure if you want hints, but

mess around more with the pieces on the board

and the clock

2 Likes

Given the epigram – and knowing the central gimmick of the game (time travel) – I wonder whether we might want to just hang onto it and check again if and when our circumstances change.

That is a very specific association to draw for a random gray square (so too is “the side of a battleship”, for that matter). My questions about this PC continue to mount.

Well, when Nitocris was feeling a bit stumped, LICKing and EATing everything in sight was often a helpful – or at least diverting – thing to try. Other than that, that disc sure does seem interesting, and I wonder whether anything we’ve done with the table has changed it. Perhaps we could try PUTTING something on it, or into it (like the clock)? We could also try TOUCHing or or STANDing on it or ENTERing it (SWIMming into it is probably taking the motto too literally).

Oh, and was there anything in that glass display case? I know you mentioned it was locked, but since it’s glass presumably we can look inside it.

Among the many things I love about The Faeries of Haelstowne is that in the climactic potion-making puzzle, you can STIR WIDDERSHINS (I think boring old counter- and anti-clockwise work too).

3 Likes

(No worries! I know the next couple steps, I just plan to leave most of the puzzle-solving to the readers of the thread—especially for the ones I already know. I got a bit farther on my own before giving up.)

2 Likes

All good thoughts! Unfortunately LICK isn’t a recognized verb and EAT requires taking the object first, so it’s not especially useful around here.

Trying to stand on the disc does get a response, though:

> enter disc
In an annexe this size, you are always standing on the disc.

For the same reason, you can’t put anything on the disc, but dropping objects in the room does nothing special.

Searching the case:

> search case
The display case, which is sealed with an elaborate, carved metal lock, contains a papier-mache model of parkland.

1 Like