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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Running the Gauntlet

This post contains spoilers for Obduction.  If you do not wish to be spoiled, move along, please.
Also, if you are looking for unbelievably quality images, don’t.  Because you won’t find them here.  My modest laptop dates to spring 2013, so I am running Obduction only on medium quality graphics.

The Gauntlet is aptly named.  Perusing what people are saying about Obduction, this puzzle is the ultimate head-scratcher (though as ever I remain fixated on that control panel—you know the one).  Heh, as I write this, I need to amend the previous statement: the ultimate head-scratcher is yet to come.  It was to my utmost surprise that I was able to solve this puzzle.  It took three days, but I succeeded!  I was completely astonished.  It made me realize that my earlier freak-out over the times I sought help in Kaptar could have been avoided and I could have figured all of it out myself if I had just taken my time.  This is the problem…you want to find out what’s beyond the puzzle and you end up overextending your brain's abilities.  The Gauntlet may have taken me several, several hours to work out, but that was an awesome three (non-consecutive) days!  I’ve even made infographics to show how I accomplished the task.  (You will notice I do nod include the pod puzzle in the Gauntlet.)

I believe I was divinely inspired.  Or maybe it was simply that I caught onto the workings of Maray and its swap pods, and the fact that they are “cumulative.”  The biggest clue to that fact is found in the relationship between Pod 6 and Pod Group 5.  I’ve updated my working map of Maray to show my number system for the pods.  A lot of my puzzle solving for this came from asking “What if I…”  Clearly, that had worked well for me!

I had begun toying with the Gauntlet last time, after I solved through Pod 6.  But constantly swapping there and back again and back again and back again and rotating and fiddling with all manner of things, I knew it was too complicated a puzzle to work on for the last post.  And all that swapping was proving too-Ahnonay for me at the same time.  I knew this big daddy needed its own time and its own post.

So what did I find when I arrived at the Gauntlet?  I first came to an elevator, and a narrow corridor went on beyond it with very high walls.  The floor and walls were marked with that same blue-white plasma.  The path came to a dead end and I returned the way I came. 

I rode the elevator up and my suspicions were confirmed: this was a maze of sorts.  I had come to the roof and could look over where that narrow corridor was, only there were several narrow corridors.  They were arranged within one giant circle inside of which were four smaller circles.  A pole with two buttons on top rotated the large circle clockwise or counterclockwise.

Knowing this was soon going to get messy I drew a sketch of the layout and numbered the circles.  I left this area and took the elevator down two levels and came upon a behemoth of a seed generator, which I named Megapod 7.

I swapped into a neat place in Hunrath, full of stairs leading every which way.  The Megapod 7 swapped with me, so now it had a counterpart in Hunrath.  I examined the area, walking up each staircase, and pausing to admire the details of my shadow.  My lady shadow has earrings or loose hair strands, an updo, and long eyelashes.  She also appears to be wearing a hoodie.

I climbed the stairs and got a nice look at the pod device.  It wasn’t just the swap pod, but the entire small circle that was in position #1.  So this mini Megapod 7 somehow controlled the small circles of the Maray Gauntlet.  My head hurt immediately.

I decided to look around some more to see what new areas I would be able to access.  At the top of the tallest stairs there was a two button switch which rotated the pod device.  This meant that somehow this rotation would be reflected in the #1 circle of the Gauntlet.

On the other paths leading away from this area, I was able to unlock and open the door that granted access to the Hunrath version of Pod Group 5 and Pod 6.  In the opposite direction I was able to open that mysterious door by the river and that damn bridge (remember that one?).  This is always very exciting.  It recalls my excitement at those moments when playing Riven in 1998 I was able to “Insert disk 5.”  Those were glorious moments indeed.  You can’t buy memories like that.

Now, unfortunately my notes on the Gauntlet the first day I explored it end here.  So I cannot say exactly how I figured it out.  At any rate, somehow I came to the realization that if I swap back to Hunrath from Maray using a pod from Pod Group 5, the shape of the small circles in the Gauntlet will change.  Let me be more clear: you can modify a small circle of the Gauntlet first by rotating the large circle in order to bring into position whichever of the small circles you wish to modify—the small circle must be aligned with the elevator entrance.  That sounds very confusing, but I am writing how I remember the development of my understanding of this puzzle.  My infographic below will make things clearer for you.

To put it simply if I can, if you want to modify the shape of, say, circle #3, you must rotate the large circle twice to bring it in alignment with the control center/elevator entrance.  Then, you may swap to Hunrath via Pod Group 5 and you will see that the shape of the circle has changed.  Also, you may rotate this small circle in Hunrath, and when you swap back (via the megapod in the rotating device) you will see that you have successfully rotated the circle.  If you want to rotate it again, but do not wish to change the shape, then swap to Hunrath using Megapod 7 in the control center in Maray.  Does it make more sense now?  Maybe only a little?

Yes, do not feel badly about that.  These principles were mushed like melted crayons in my mind which is why I had decided to put the game away for several days before starting into it again.

How to Solve the Gauntlet Maze in Only Two Easy Days

There may be several different ways to solve this, and I may still have some principles of the puzzle incorrect, but this is how I did it.

I had gotten new port glasses to prepare for a nine-course private autumn-themed soirée I am hosting to celebrate Halloween.  Up till now I had only one, because I’m the only person I know who drinks port and no one ever comes to visit me to try some.  I decided to test drive my new glasses so I got a so-so fine tawny and decided to indulge while playing Obduction.  It could be the relaxing effects that put my mind in the right place to solve this puzzle.  Isn’t that how it is for the hard ones Cyan makes?  The less you think about it the more it makes sense.  How paradoxical! 

When I came back to Obduction last Friday I was concerned that I wouldn’t get very far with it.  I thought the best thing to do was to experiment with all bits and bobs of the puzzle just to see how everything related to one another.  To make it easier for you to understand, please open my infographics in another tab or window and follow along that way.

Infographic #1
On Day 1 of my two-day adventure.  There are three shapes that the circles may take.  I was able to change Circle 1 to Shape C the last time I messed around with the puzzle, but I was not able to make this shape with any other circle.  Thus I was convinced that only Circle 1 could take Shape C, and also Shape A.  And Circles 2-4 could only takes Shapes A and B.

At this point I still didn’t know that the shaft that rotated the large circle on the roof actually consisted of two buttons that rotated the circle either clockwise or counterclockwise.  I wouldn’t make that discovery until the end of solving the puzzle.  But it doesn’t matter which direction you rotate the circle; it’s only a matter of convenience.

Each cardinal point of the Gauntlet has a bridge leading off to somewhere important: control center (S), tram port (W), tram door opener (N), and membrane wall (E).  Believe it or not, I also didn’t realize until day 2 that Circle 4 does not have an exit path.  There is only one useful shape (Shape B) for Circle 4, rotated appropriately (twice counterclockwise should do it I think), and there is no need to alter it beyond this.  It serves as an excellent marker to see in what positions the other three circles are arranged.

I really wish I could enumerate the steps more specifically, like “rotate this circle this many times, and that circle this many times” for every circle, but alas I really didn’t have the presence of mind to work this out.  That’s a story for a second journey through Obduction.  But I still have a long way to go playing my first time!

My first solve was getting to the N exit, the tram door opener.  With Circle 4 in place, it’s a great deal easier to see what you have to do to link Circle 1 to Circle 3.  Both Circle 1 and Circle 3 need to be in Shape A, rotated appropriately.  Now, you have a path from Circle 1 to Circle 3!  Congratulations!  There’s actually a second way to solve this path.  See infographic #2 below.

Infographic #2

This exit led to two places.  The first and foremost, brought me to a Villein console which, when reset to number 0, opened the tram door above.  The second place led to a dead end, as far as I could tell; this path passed under the bridge on the E side of the Gauntlet.

Now that I had made progress, I thought getting to the other two places would be a sinch.  I was determined to get to the W side, to the tram port, and I decided to ignore the E exit, which is why I hadn’t at this point seen that Circle 4 had no exit.  I changed the shape of Circle 1 to Shape C so that it would align with the corridor that linked to Circle 2.  The unfortunate fact was that Circle 2 had no exit with the two shapes I was allowed to work with: only Shape A and Shape B.  I wanted a Shape C for Circle 2!,  But at this point, I still believed Circle 1 was the only circle allowed to take Shape C.  No matter how many times I swapped to and from Hunrath, Shape C just would not appear in Circle 2.  I tried to think of ways I could get Circle 3 to match with Circle 2, but this was impossible.  I was confused about Shape C and decided to check the hint guide to see if I really was able to make Shape C on any of the other circles.  I mean, it would make life a lot easier if I could.  The hint I found was this:

“It all comes down to this. Ride the elevator to the top and behold your final challenge in the Gauntlet - what’s come to be affectionally known as Puzzlelisimo. There is one path in and multiple paths out. You’ll need to get to all of the exits in order to proceed.”

Oh gee.  Thanks, guys.  But I will do it!  Oh yes, I will.  Me and my friend from Portugal will solve this together.  But not today.  Indeed, I decided to set the game aside again and save it for another day.  I spent a while inventing infographics which I would update and finalize after I solved this puzzle.

Day 2 was a success of successes.  I continued to try to find ways through the W exit while having Circle 1 in Shape C.  I finally gave up the idea of a direct channel to Circle 2 via Circle 1.  When I finally realized Circle 4 had no exit, I knew that it was there as a means to an end.  I was a little annoyed to discover that now I had only three exits, because that obviously complicates things even more.  But the more I learned about the rules of this building the easier it became to learn my way through.

While Circle 1 was in Shape A, I rotated the building so that Circle 2 was in position S, and then I swapped to Hunrath via Pod Group 5 and uncovered a greater truth.  Circle 2 was now in Shape C.  Apparently, only one circle at any one time can take Shape C.  Was there a limit of shapes on the others?  Indeed yes.  Through experimentation, I learned Shape A and Shape B can each be used only twice at any one time.  It was a revelation that both made things easier and more difficult to understand in terms of solving this monster.  I now had the complete principles of the puzzle (as I know them).  Let me reiterate, there may be more than one way to solve this, and maybe a way more correct than my way.  But this is what I’ve got.

For the Principles of the Puzzle, refer to infographic #1 above.

I must tell you that this took a couple hours for me to figure out, even though I was able to squish all of that into one paragraph.  Seriously, how can someone finish this game so quickly?  Anyway, I was still mind-boggled as to how to get to the E and W exits.  I decided to have a bit of fun and see if I could make one huge corridor.  Apparently I had nothing better to do with my time…  I came up with the below creation:

I laughed at my cleverness.   Circle 4 is in Shape B on the W.  Circle 1 is in Shape A on the N.  Circle 2 is in Shape B on the E.  Circle 3 is in Shape A on the S, and this was my entrance as well as exit.  I took a delightful stroll through my little maze and then returned to the roof to look at it more seriously. 

And then I found it.  Do you see it?  Look closely.  It’s the solution to the rest of the puzzle

My jaw dropped to the floor, truly astonished by this serendipitous turn of events.  All I had to do was change one shape, and rotate another.  Keep the large circle in its current position, and I could access the E side.  Rotate the large circle clockwise and I would have access to the W side.  Which small circles should I change?  Which new shape shall I give one?  And which small circle should I rotate?

If you are thinking 1.) Circle 2, Shape C; and 2.) Circle 3, rotate once clockwise you are absolutely correct.

Infographic #3

Infographic #4
I did this and I finally had access to the E exit.  I took the elevator down and strolled through the maze until I came out onto the bridge that led to the membrane.  I will be honest with you: I had been able to follow where the membranes linked with each other in Hunrath and Kaptar, but the ones in Maray escape me.  I’m not certain if where I’ve labeled them on the map are correct, but whatever.  I passed through the membrane...

And entered a jungly area that sank into darkness followed by another membrane...

Which brought me to another Villein device that opened a second tram door.  Excellent! 

I returned to the Gauntlet to get to the W exit.  I rode the elevator up and rotated the large circle once clockwise, and then took my final steps through the maze. 

I came upon the large building I’d been wanting to visit for a long time now: the tram port.  First, I knew there was a bridge that needed building.  I went down the path leading to the bridge.  When I entered the correct amount of random numbers, the bridge linked the Gauntlet area to all the pod buildings.

Then, I returned to the tram port.  I went to the lower area where I saw there would be another message from the mayor.

Again, his English was a bit off.  Earlier I’d thought maybe he was being manipulated by the Mofang.  Could he be manipulated by the Villein, and that’s why Villein numbers appear at the bottom of the hologram image?  They are using the frequencies of their communication control panels to mimic the mayor’s speech?  But their frequencies are low whereas ours are high to them.  It’s the Mofang who mimic us and have poor grammar.  I just don’t trust any of this.

Inside the tram port was a large open space, lovely views of the pod buildings and maze, but alas no tram.  Um.  What?  Okay…  So now I am stuck again.  I don’t remember seeing any little tram device elsewhere, I can’t seem to find any lever in this port.  Likely the tram is hanging out in that weird giant building I have yet to see, which doesn’t help me much from this end.  Perhaps it has blended in somewhere and I simply overlooked it?  I don’t remember seeing anywhere else, and looking at all the paths shown on the map, I can’t think of anywhere I have missed that I’ve had access to already.  Great.  Welp…another day, then.

The journey in Maray continues in the next post…


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