What Infocom games are without dead ends?

I’m also interested in other older text adventure games to put on this list without these. The idea of having to read guides to avoid these turn me off. It’s what’s kept me towards the newer interactive fiction scene.

Were any of the Infocom games built without dead ends? I don’t think so. Maybe “Nord and Bert”.

That’s a separate question from having to look at hints, though. If you get into a dead end, you have to start over or restore an earlier saved game. You look at hints if you can’t figure out what to do next.

(The associated question is whether you know you’re in a dead end. This is the sort of subtlety which I was addressing when I came up with the cruelty rating scale, so many years ago. But when it comes to Infocom games, the convention is clear: you have to think about all the stuff you’re carrying, all the stuff you’ve encountered, and all the stuff you’ve used up, lost, or left behind. Any of that might be the solution to the next puzzle.)

What happens when you save at a dead end? This is what happened in a lot of old school point and click adventure. I remember it happening with Space Quest when I was a child. I still beat it, but man was that piece of glass a pain in the ass.

Oh, there are plenty of opportunities for dead ends in pretty much all Infocom games, I should think - but I can’t think of a single one that wasn’t clued before, during or soon after the fact. As a rule of thumb, it’s best not to immediately eat edible objects, needlessly light light sources, and give things away willy-nilly. Also, if something negative happens to you that seems to have resulted from a chance encounter with another character or a set of circumstances (if the Wizard of Frobozz casts a spell on you, or if in your wanderings someone spies something you’re carrying and gets suspicious), a safe bet would be to restore and try to avoid that encounter.

Wishbringer is probably the most clued in this regard, you might like to try it.

And what happens when you save at a dead end is the same as when you save anywhere.

I only asked that because he suggested I restore if I reach one. I’ll eventually get over my fear of dead ends because I have a large interest in The Lurking Horror.

You could always use multiple saves at different “safe spots” in the game to ensure you probably won’t have to start completely over again. I’ve always done that.

… and while it’s awesome fun to try the Tee Remover on everything in sight, it’s best not to apply any of that to a saved game :slight_smile:

Then you have a saved game that you can’t win from. We suggest you save frequently, and keep all your save files.

Same here. Having +40 saved games for a medium-length oldschool game is pretty much par for the course for me.

Is there a version manager that works with IF save files?

On the contrary, I would rate many if not most Infocom games as downright Cruel. Perhaps the most infamous example is Enchanter, where an innocuous command can render the game unwinnable on the first turn.

Ok, ok, I was exaggerating a bit - I CAN think of a cruel trick to play on the player in Zork II.

But I admit I don’t know what that innocuous command in Enchanter would be.


Heh, exactly the same cruel trick of Zork II, actually. :slight_smile: I’d forgotten about that. I stand corrected, some Infocom games can have some unclued dead ends.

Still, that command is pretty much the player being a smart Alec (not that I didn’t try it myself - I certainly did, at one point - but I knew I was trying to be a smart Alec myself) so I’ve got less pity for him.

Another example of an unclued dead end, actually, would be in Cutthroats, where you have to be at a certain time at a certain place… but without any motivation at all. And failing to be there will make you lose the game later, with no indication of why.

But I maintain that, GENERALLY, most dead ends eventually become clued.

In our MIT playthrough of Lurking Horror a couple of years ago, we drank all the soda too early and didn’t have enough sleep-delay left to finish the game. Is that a clued dead end?

It is, in the sense that the game tells you you’re getting sleepy, and it was common knowledge back then that IF games always have resource-timer puzzles (light, hunger, thirst, sleep) that you have to manage like an OCD tax auditor. And it doesn’t surprise you with an out-of-the-blue death – you see it coming.

But realistically, every player will run out of soda in their early games, and have to replay and optimize a large chunk of the story. Ditto for light in Zork, food in Planetfall, etc. So in that sense, it is a dead end that you could not avoid.

Then there’s the large class of dead-end solutions, where you accomplish something but do it the wrong way. You may realize this immediately or not, but you’re still going to have to start over. Enchanter has several of these, primarily around the dispel-magic scroll. Smashing the jeweled egg in Zork 1, making any number of interesting-but-wrong wishes in Zork 2, time-freeze in Spellbreaker, etc, etc. These are a mainstay of Infocom’s more sophisticated puzzle design, and there is rarely a clue that you have made a mistake; you have to assemble your knowledge of the entire game situation (what resources solve which puzzles).

Then I maintain that the Infocom games were a cruel bunch that nevertheless I find fun to play today. :slight_smile:

hear! hear! :smiley:

This is what kept me off Infocom games. Maybe I should play them with a map and Inivisclues at hand.

The map? Not sure. The Invisiclues? Definitely.

Though it can severely spoil the game. You’re just checking the IC to see if the game has been made unwinnable; to see if THIS is a resource worth keeping or whether by consuming it you will actually advance the game; and once you turn to the IC you keep coming back…

You know what Tale, every once in a while I will grab a FAQ or something for one of these old Infocom games or whatever and just make it through using that so I can experience the story. I’ll give each puzzle a couple minutes and then consult the list. The idea being, it’s been 25 years and I haven’t finished it on my own - at least this way I get to see what the game had going on.

It was through this process that I finally finished Tass Times in Tonetown (man, is that a short game) and realized that about every five moves in The Pawn, I would never have figured it out if I worked on it for 25 years straight.