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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shrieks and Leaks

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.

Last post ended with me being completely confused as to where the lever or button to call the tram car was located.  Remember for the life of me I couldn’t find it?  Well, it was just another matter of oversaturation of gameplay, especially following a difficult puzzle, and my mind needed a rest before continuing.  As soon as I returned, knowing there simply must be a lever or button somewhere because it wouldn’t make sense otherwise, I found the thing in the most obvious of places: next to the video screen where that last message from our good mayor was.

The “tram” arrived and I climbed the ramp to get inside.  The way it opened reminded me of those alien body armor machines from District 9.  Excellent movie if you haven’t seen it!  I jumped in and it encapsulated me before zooming off on the overhead track through all the doors I opened successfully. 

I arrived at the large building near where the Maray map indicated “sign-in area.”  When I exited the vehicle, it sealed itself and zoomed away, stranding me there at the large scary building.  I searched high and low for a call button, but finally came to the understanding that I was not meant to go backwards.  I would soon learn that the hardest puzzle in existence was the purpose of my being stranded for the express purpose of not going backwards.  Not going anywhere was pretty much the design of this puzzle.  Going backwards would be cheating.

I explored the machine, found a Villein console situated above what seemed like an endless pit of pods of some sort.  It seemed very Matrix-like, all hairless people resting in their goop, plugged into the matrix.  I didn’t press buttons just yet, but continued exploring.  I left the building area and continued down a grassy path at the end of which was a small pavilion. 

On four sides of this pavilion were Villein video screens; at the opposite end was a sealed door.  On the right was a notebook.  Off to the left was what, from my vantage point, looked like a pile of vines (by the way, I just had my eyes checked, so I’m still working with 3 year old lenses).  I passed in front of the video screens, but it wasn’t until I walked near the screen on the left of the entrance way that a message appeared.  222.  This number continued to flash on the screen with little Villein number patterns at the bottom.  Something tells me I will be inserting this into a console, probably the one above the Matrix pods. 

Then I turned around and shrieked.  For real.  In my apartment.  I shrieked.  Why?  Because what I thought was a pile of vines was a freaking monster pinned under rocks, still alive but dying in agony.  What a horrifying-looking creature!  This was a Villein!  Egad!  After my initial fright I stepped closer to look at the poor guy, moaning in agony, looking at me with sad eyes, a creature reigned to its terrible fate.  Beside him was a laser gun, just out of reach.  It probably fell from his hand when this pile of stone crushed his legs.  Blood poured from the gash in his leg, and his four arms hung limply.  I looked around at my surroundings and found several gun holes in the buildings, and two spots on the ground were still smoking.  How recent was this fight?

Beyond my suffering friend was an as yet inaccessible landscape with a Soria scoop and flashy red devices.  I could only just make out what I guessed was a pod to Soria, but I wasn’t sure.  All I needed to do was open that door.  It probably had to do with that 222.  I decided I would go check out that Villein console to see what it was about. 

It wasn’t until only just now while writing this that I realized the 222 may not have been a pre-recorded message, but that the dying Villein creature was actually saying 222 while I was standing there.  They could make their technology function just with their voices.  This must be why the 222 didn’t appear until I was near the guy.  Funny how this comes to me after the fact.

I returned to the device to play around with it, typing in numbers from my Villein worksheet, namely those which Josef had marked on his worksheet.  The device turned out to be part of some large-scale elevator and it brought me down among the levels in the midst of all these pod things.  One number I punched in removed a pod from its place and opened it.  I went to have a peek inside and there I found a person!  I think it may have been Rand, but I would have to confirm that.  The ones I continue to find repulsive are the Villein…but they seem like such good guys!

I could not help but recall what the mayor recording had said: that the Villein was storing everyone to eat them.  This immediately became 100% unconvincing when I discovered the majority of the creatures in the pods were Villein creatures (which still have not yet ceased to be creepy-looking for me).  No, this was the chambering Farley had spoken of.  And the mayor had been one of the first to get the hell out of Hunrath to save himself.  So how was it that he was making all these recordings?  No, I am sticking with my theory that the Mofang are using some kind of technology to appear to be the mayor.  It’s that bad English that gives it away.  I am convinced of this.

Looking at my worksheet I discovered that, alas, 222 was not there.  Nor was 3, but I had 3 figured out from those door panels.  Between 0 and 13 I had the patterns for 1-5, 8-9, and 13.  Well, there’s a start.  But there was no 222.  Perfect.  This whole time I hadn’t used the Villein number system, and I was of a mind that I wouldn’t need it after all.  Maybe it was just like that mind-boggling control panel in Kaptar.  As ever, I was proved terribly wrong.  Here is where I would need to apply all that icky math necessary to solve this base-4 number system.  Not with actual Arabic numbers, mind you, but with patterns!  Right away I knew this would be a problem.  I did try my utmost to figure it out, but look…  My last math class was Calculus II in college and I took that course 12 years ago.  I’m lucky if I can add now.  Briana’s mind is too small for these things.  The only cosine I know these days is co-signing on an expensive New York apartment.

I shall entertain you with a quick overview of my exertions.  I was confident at first that I would figure it out.  I’ve worked with other weird number systems before.  The D’ni number system was fresh in my mind: base 25.  I got that one.  Some years ago I had taught myself the ancient Mayan number system: base 20 with numbers consisting of horizontal lines and dots.  And then there is the ancient Egyptian number system which, though apparently base 10, is written in hieroglyphs.  Ancient Mesopotamia had a base 60 system!  For your entertainment I’ve provided a couple here below:

Surely I could figure out this one.  Base 4?  Four is such a little number!  I could kick 4’s ass, definitely.

<insert eye roll here>

Studying the patterns I figured out through 19 by myself.  I rejoiced!  I had this!  Except for the fact that I didn’t have this, and when I discovered that my ego deflated all over again.  Grumblesticks!

And then I remembered I had forgotten all about that notebook in the pavilion.  Perhaps it held the miracle pattern I would need!  I nipped back into the pavilion and opened the notebook.  Unfortunately, the bottom was cut off, like all the other notebooks I’d looked at in this game.  I hope that gets fixed, unless it’s only because my machine is an old dog.  The notebook contained a list of names, their species, pod number, floor number, and position number.  This was the master list of chambered individuals.  Some names had the word “remainer” next to it.  Cecil was there, and three Villein.  The dying guy was either Trar, Orbar, or Aprar.  Another name I recognized, Chavar, was a Mofang.  Interesting!  Farley was there, and then there it was, the mayor’s number.  222. 

The Villein was telling me that Josef was chambered in that pod and I would need to dredge him up.  At this point I was scared and didn’t want to continue this puzzle, not knowing how many other interactions I would be having with live creatures.  Do I really want to see the mayor?  Will he come out of cryo to lead me to my doom?  What?  Now that I knew the purpose of 222, I returned to that console from hell to pretend I could work it out for myself.

I checked online to see whether someone had written an excellent step-by-step explanation for this system.  I found something which initially made sense to me until I ended up entering the wrong number on the panel.  I was annoyed when I went up to look inside and had that same gag reflex when I saw it was a Villein.  I’m sure they are very nice, but they still look hideous.

Then came the inevitable need to cheat: I had to see if someone had posted the whole solution.  Happily someone did, one of those admirable geniuses that are capable of solving things like spider chairs.  The workings of this whole number/pattern system remain at present confusing to me and after this game I shall continue to try to work it out until I understand it 100% for when I replay this game and write it in a clean journal.

UPDATE: I have since (after finishing the game) been able to figure out the maths involved here.  As it turns out, once you understand it you can see how easy it is.  I created a guide here: click!

Now, in the middle of all this number frustration a disaster arose in my apartment.  I heard dripping in my bathroom and when I checked it out I saw the ceiling was leaking.  I put a bucket under the leak and called to have the super come and turn off the water in the apartment above me.  I thought about going up there myself to see if they had dropped something and it leaked through.  It ended up taking an hour and a half for the super to come address the problem.  Meanwhile, the leak spread.  Soon enough, have my bathroom ceiling was inundated.  But it got worse.  The leak of rusty water began to spread into my entrance way, trickling toward my breaker box.  Believe it or not, it got even worse.  A HOLE opened in the ceiling of my living room and it became a monsoon in my apartment.  I was bailing water like I was in a sinking ship.  I had to hurry to save my books and bookcase from yet another hole that opened on the other side of my living room.  I dumped all my books on the other side of the room, unscrewed the anchor for the bookcase and dragged that away from the wall.  During all this, I emptied buckets and mixing bowls and pots three times, and I was drenched, before finally the super had gotten to the building and shut the water off in the apartment above mine.  Let me tell you, I always hear heavy footsteps walking across the floor above me, as well as things rolling around.  To my horror I learned no one even lived there.  And the super showed me a picture of the bathroom where the leak began.  The tub was filled with black water.  Anyway, I am still waiting for someone to come repair all three ceilings, namely the meter-long chunk of ceiling that is hanging by threads of glossy paint that had been glooped on in very bad fashion.  I would be surprised if it wasn’t laden with lead.

Villein number systems were both a welcome and frustrating distraction to this.  I didn’t feel too guilty about cheating here.  In this instance I know for a fact I would never have been able to figure it out myself.  You know what would be a bitch and rock at the same time?  If the number changed each time you played, forcing you to get a grasp on the number system as well as force you to play the game thoroughly each time.  I guess that would be a problem, though, considering how the mayor’s entry in the sign-in area is 222.

Anywho, I had that much coveted number pattern.  I inserted it and came face to face with a chambered mayor Josef.  There was no way this guy could have made those recordings.  I must certainly be right about my theory.  I went back up to return to the pavilion.  Interestingly, the Villein fellow raised his hand and beckoned me.  I went over, but nothing happened beyond this.  Why couldn’t we help him?  Take the rocks off and hold his hand, and give him a friend to hang out with until death finally takes him.  Can’t he die better than this?  How sickening that I have to leave him there.  Cyan, what’s with this cruelty?

The formerly sealed door was open and I walked through.  I could see that darn Maray tree and I was just kicking myself over not reaching Kaptar’s tree.  Usually, Cyan provides a way to go back.  Why not this time?  Surely they knew to make allowances for dumdums like me who don’t get everything done in one place before going somewhere else?

Beyond the door I passed by what looked like at a glance another shard of Mofang weapon, but I didn’t really pay much attention to it because when I looked ahead I saw that object that we were warned about in Hunrath.  I’d forgotten all about that until now.  At this time I “saved” my game. 

I approached, but kept my distance, making sure not to touch it.  It opened and the usual red sparklies flew around it.  Behind it was a seed generator, obviously leading to Soria.  It made me think of that scale in Kaptar.  Would I somehow come to use that thing after all?  As to this object, should I destroy it?  Should I stay away per the instructions in Hunrath.  I was still suspicious of everyone. 

There were a couple other paths, one led ahead, but another led into a darker area, lit with Villein lights.  I decided to check out that one, and then, oh holy of holies!  It brought me to that first bridge I had encountered when I first got here!  The one which Farley’s recording told me to cross!  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!  The Villein console was there, and I built the bridge. 

I crossed, so excited to get back to Kaptar to finish the journey there.  I found the swap pod and swapped back to Hunrath.  It felt good, and safe, to be back in Hunrath.  Ought it to have?  Who knows at this point, but after the shock of the poor dying Villein creature and people locked in little boxes and stored like items in a warehouse, the quietude of the familiar place was a comfort.

The journey in Kaptar continues in the next post…


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