I was just on a wikipedia crawl and I ran across a reference to Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic, which appears to be a graphic adventure game done in collaboration with Terry Jones. I had never heard of it before. This seems extraordinary.
Has anyone played this? I gather it was some sort of legendary failure – guess it’d have to be, for me not to have heard of it – but what’s it like?
It was pretty well-publicized, even though it flopped, so you have no excuse.
My review: eblong.com/zarf/gamerev/stitanic.html
Well, my excuse is that I wasn’t paying attention in 1998.
Anyway, yes, I see why it hasn’t lived in memory.
Well, it’s an old-school puzzlefest with a thin veneer of plot and a heavy layer of the exquisite Douglas Adams humour. I don’t find it very playable - HHGG might have been OK for some unfairness and misleading players with some parser trickety, but somehow, put that in a graphical adventure and it just becomes frustrating.
Plus, it features a conversation system that pretends to parse a lot more than it does (text-based), and man, does that backfire a lot.
I remember buying it. The story concept and design were amazing, but it was horribly implemented. I seem to remember slide-show original Myst-like navigation.
I never got past the bit with the parrot, and the game is back in its box at my parents’ house.
I played it for hours and hours without progression about a decade ago and gave up on it. I liked the environment and the main conceit, but guessing what would be a sensible thing to ask the robots was impossible.
Amazing, isn’t it? If everyone on this thread is saying the same things, pretty much, we have to ask again (“again” because Zarf first asked it in his review): who the heck playtested this thing? Because everyone who chimes in is prasing and damning exactly the same things.
EDIT - Oh hey, Terry Jones wrote a book of the game…
…and here is the book available online: starshiptitanic.com/novel/
With all the words in alphabetical order for your convenience!
I laughed out loud when I saw this, I really did.
My favourite excerpt from the alphabetised novel:
[spoiler]clearly clearly clearly clearly clearly clearly clearly clearly cleavage cleavage.
cleavage cleavage cleavages cleavages cleavages cleavages cleavages’ cleavages. “clever!” clever click. “clicked!”[/spoiler]
Made of awesome.
I got the novel as a gift… it’s not particularly good. I later got the game anyway, hoping that it’d be better than what the reviews said. Like most people, I’ve only played the beginning.
Ooh, I never knew about the online text. That’s great.
this was loads of fun
it was like reading Descartes about Douglas Adams
the way you describe them, yeah, they seem unfair but there is his zanny trademark logic behind it…
I was at a Border’s in Chicago for the intro by Adams and Jones. I read the book. I played the entire game.
I don’t remember the book at all.
What I recall of the game is that it was beautiful and painful. The art was very pretty, but the game interaction was clearly a last-minute pasted on keyword search mechanism. A lot of guess the verb.
For all the build-up of creating a new and better language parser, it was very disappointing.
I seem to recall one or two innovative puzzle designs, but not enough to mention here.