I realized the moment I fell into the fissure that the Book would not be destroyed as I had planned. It continued falling into that starry expanse, of which I had only a fleeting glimpse. I have tried to speculate where it might have landed, but I must admit that such conjecture is futile. Still, questions about whose hands might one day hold my Myst book are unsettling to me. I know my apprehensions might never be allayed, and so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written. -- Atrus

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mysterium 2015?

Registration for Mysterium 2015 has been open for a little while now.  The Early Bird choice.

It's going to be in Boston.  Which means a quick jump on Amtrak for me.

But the question is: to go or not to go?

I'd be going all by my little self and for the first time.  And I don't know anybody.  And I am super nervous about that.

The t-shirts look cool.  And I'd finally be in Boston to have clam chowder and visit the Museum of Fine Arts, both of which are on my to-do list.

But again there's that whole "I'm going to be alone" business.  Also, what happens at these things?  I hope to god there are no group activities because that's really something I don't want to participate in.  Sitting around a dinner table is fine.  A cafe is more my style, though.  I will deal with a bar if I absolutely must, but my voice is very small and people never can hear what I'm saying.  I guess as long as I've got a manhattan in hand...or a double whiskey neat...  Someone going to the museum with me would be pretty cool.  Or sitting and listening to others present stuff is just fine and dandy.

My first ever convention was a one-day library convention and I about died of both boredom and awkwardness.  My first Egyptology convention experience was really weird, but I think that goes without saying

I'm just feeling a bit of a panic about being around a group of people I don't know haha!!!  Introversion to the max, you see.

But is there someone who can hold my hand through the process maybe?  Baladria is sceered!

Update: I just realized the convention is in a place called Burlington, NW of Boston, which means negative on the MFA, and also a great deal of traveling via public transit because this little lady doesn't have a car.  Grrrrrr.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fun in Jalak and Brain Overload in Minkata

iota completed the marker missions a couple weeks ago, and now we are back to exploring new stuff.  First, I hooked her up with Phil's Relto and explained how once upon a time all of that was essential in advancing in the game.  She has her new calendar spark and also the DRC vest.

We wandered into the Pod Ages so she can get a Relto Page and get set up to catch the portals and I went in search of that fabulous Portal Clock website.  To my horror, the website is no longer displaying time!  What happened?!  I will need to ask around.  Once again, I had the privilege of finding new stuff when tailing someone else's exploration.  For example, somehow I never before noticed Payiferen at night!  Pretty glad I did this time around because it's beautiful.  Tetsonot provided a fun, trippy photo op also.
Payiferen at night!
Psychedelic, maaaan!
With the Pod Ages temporarily out of the way, I took her to the library so that she can get to Jalak and Minkata.  I suggested we visit Jalak first since there's nothing essential to do there except collect a calendar spark.  This was when someone in the city alerted us to the fact that there will be 3 St. Patrick's Day parades in cavern and iota remembered she had a leprechaun hat in her wardrobe.  She returned to the city saying, "Look who's sexy now!"  Indeed hahaha!  She's good craic.
iota gets into the festive St. Patrick's Day spirit.
Onwards and upwards to Jalak.  I explained that I've never done a thing in Jalak except get the calendar spark, so I have never played a game with anyone, nor do I know how or what the objective is.  But we managed to have loads of fun anyway, fiddling about with the controls.  I had the most fun dropping glowing shapes onto iota's head, particularly the giant rectangle.  It got pretty ridiculous.
Baladria dropping glowing three-dimensional shapes in Jalak

iota and Baladria trapped among glowing spheres and cubes in Jalak
I think I'll finally give the Jalak rule book a once-over to see what the heck it's all about.  The Egyptologist in me can't help but find similarities between Jalak and Egyptian hieroglyphs.  For instance, the one with the X inside a circle looks almost identical to the town sign in Egyptian hieroglyphs.  I am sure some Myst fan has done some work on these glyphs and I'm going to look into it.

When we tired of pummeling each other with balls, we went to Minkata.  The good Myst fan in me would have shut the hell up and let her try to figure out everything until she asked for a hint.  The bad Myst fan of me instead gave her a rundown of what one is supposed to do in this Age.
iota first arrives in Minkata (with a glitch -- look at her feet)
You've all seen my post on Revisiting Minkata, so you know how impossible I find this Age.  To me, it's not the fun-difficult of Kadish's Ages, which everyone has the potential to solve.  Minkata requires specialized skills that not every fan has.  I'm sure there are many fans who would say Minkata is easy and you need only apply basic math.  But no.  This is not entirely true.  The most basic tools for solving the Age are one's eyes.  Observation is the ticket here.  Three suns, three shadows, compass rose, footprints.  But then you get to the Minkata journal.

First of all, as was a problem in our gameplay some time last year when going through Teledahn, how does someone who has not played Riven understand D'ni numbers?  I still haven't found out where the clue is in the game.  At least with Teledahn, the numbers go only as high as 7.  But in Minkata, we are looking at 4-digit numbers.  And then, once you learn how the system works you have to do all the math for all the compass roses in the Minkata book, and then apply them to two of the flags in Minkata because the third one is in the boonies somewhere.

After you figure out the numbers and possibly put it together that the numbers represent distance, the biggest problem with Minkata is understanding how D'ni measurements translate into earth measurements.  Since our avatars are not real people and we can't lay down a yardstick, the next thing to do is figure out how earth measurements can translate into game measurements in terms of time.  Guys, this is a convoluted process.

And as much as I hate to say it, this is why the game did not survive a mass audience.  This game was made for fans of the franchise in much the same way the Lord of the Rings / Hobbit extendeds are created for fans, and in the same way Penguins of Madagascar was created for fans.  It's required to know things going in.

With Minkata, it is also clear that it was meant to get people together to explore and solve collectively.  A group of brains can figure it out together.  But there would always be the superior brain that would be doing all the math.  I am not this brain, and so either way I'd be relying on someone else.  This is also how the door runs work.  I honestly haven't any interest in choreographing this, but I have the temporary interest in completing the Age under the directions of other people.  Chalk this up to introversion and lack of friends in cavern, I guess. That aside, however, it must be acknowledged that this is not an Age for the common man, which I believe myself to be.  And this is what I conveyed to iota.

I cheated a little in order to show her what a kiva looks like and walked her through the process so that she would have an idea of what she is supposed to be looking for.  I walked to Kiva 1 while she stayed at the link point so I could show her from a distance what she'd need to look for.  Now that she knows where that kiva is, she can try her hand at using the Minkata notebook by mapping her way to Kiva 1.  If that works, she can continue that process for the rest.

It's the math and applying it that's the problem, but the rest is self explanatory: what do do in nighttime Minkata, how to use observational tools to get where you need to be.

I've said it before and I will say it again.  I have the highest respect and admiration for the people who are able to solve Minkata by themselves (and there are plenty of these folk who exist), because this Age is not straightforward and it is extremely difficult.  I tip my St. Patrick's Day hat to you.

And on that note, Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Enjoy your corned beef and cabbage and potatoes.  Enjoy your Guiness and Jameson! (I can't because it is Lent.  Damn!  But it is a Saint's feast day, so this is cause for breaking from Lent for a night)  Enjoy your shamrock shakes!  And should the day be your last, may you be heaven long before the devil knows you're dead.  SlaĆ­nte!
iota wishes you a Happy St. Patrick's Day from Minkata

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Missions Complete

It's been a while since I have managed to post and it's also hangin' with iota in cavern has been a little sparse because of me: time, sick, etc.  Anyway!  I am pleased to announce that iota has completed all marker missions and has calibrated her KI!  I have to say it is difficult tailing someone when you can't see the markers also.  I could have redone the missions myself, but no way in hell!

iota leaping to catch a marker from the classroom rooftop
Here is a bit of a complaint.  Yesterday, when she was making her last rounds, we encountered a pair who called her rude because she didn't respond when they said she had a nice shirt.  People.  It is not always clear to someone if you are talking to them.  It is not always the case that they see your message because they might be talking to someone else.  OR they might be occupied away from their computer at the time.  Maybe eating a sandwich, or visiting the bathroom, or in another window on their computer.  Lastly, one should not make judgments in a GAME where we are strangers communicating via text.  Sometimes between friends tone in text-based messages can be misconstrued.  So do not call someone rude in a game just because they didn't say thanks when you say their avatar has a nice shirt.  If someone doesn't respond to you, shrug it off and go elsewhere.  Don't be vain and take everything personally.  99% of the time it has nothing to do with you.

I think iota found it a bit anti-climatic when nothing exciting happened after her KI was calibrated.  I told her once upon a time there was a purpose, but this is no longer so.  At least if I remember correctly.  There are a few things that are no longer functioning in this version of the game compared to the single-player version -- such as that door in the Watcher's Pub, but I don't think people miss that very much.

So now iota has three more Ages to complete a a few others to visit, plus the garden Ages.  I have one Age to complete.  We will have to collect a posse for a door run, but my unsociability prevents me from wanting to do this.

To end on a high note, if you are hitherto unawares, the Obduction logo can be found in your wardrobe to apply to a shirt.  Just scroll through the logos until you find it.  It will appear on the front and back of the shirt.  Also there's a new midriff top for the ladies.  I'm not sure if there are any other new clothes.  I'm a little befuddled by the midriff, but if that's your thing then you can take advantage.
New Obduction shirt!