Saturday, October 17, 2009

[IF Competition] zork, buried chaos

Writing up a recipe in English is very difficult for me. What on earth do you call the water in which something has been cooked? Is "brown rice" what I would call "zilvervliesrijst"? Anyway, here is an attempt at pumpkin, rice and black-eyed beans (and I leave the amounts up to you, because it doesn't much matter whether its more "beany" or more "pumpkiny" or whatever):
Ingredients: pumpkin, rice, black-eyed beans, onions, fresh red or green peppers, vegetable oil, whatever spices strike your fancy. If the black-eyed beans are raw, first cook them until they're soft. Keep the cooking water(?). Put oil in a big pot, add onions, and fry them. Add, rice, diced pumpkin, sliced peppers, beans and as much of the cooking water of the beans as you believe the rice will absorb during cooking. (If it's not enough, add extra water.) Add optional spices. Cook until the pumpkin and the rice are soft. Good with green salad.
There are those who have a certain nostalgia for Infocom games. I am not one of them. And I especially dislike Zork. I consider it an unplayable game. Of course it was historically important, but it has now become completely unenjoyable.

So when a game called zork, buried chaos is entered into the competition, I am willed with dread. However, rather than list all the things about this obviously Zork-inspired game that I dislike, I'll post some side-by-side parts of a Zork-transcript and a zork, buried chaos-transcript.

Unimplemented scenery

Zork:
West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
> examine field
I don’t know the word ‘field’.
zork, buried chaos:

small room
You are in a tiny room in a building. North lies a big room and a hole is in the
ground. Crates are everywhere.
> x crates
You can’t see any such thing.
Score: 1 - 1.


Useful abbreviations



Zork:

> x sword
I don’t know the word ‘x’.
zork, buried chaos:

> x sword
You see nothing special about the sword.
Score: 1 - 2.

Undescribed objects


Another reviewer wrote that in Zork, the elvish sword at least had a description. Nope. It doesn't.


Zork:

> examine sword
I see nothing special about the sword.
zork, buried chaos:

> x sword
You see nothing special about the sword.
Score: 2 - 3.

Spelling errors


Zork:

Kitchen
On the table is an elongated brown sack, smelling of hot peppers.
A bottle is sitting on the table.
zork, buried chaos:

big room
You are in a huge room. Souoth is a smaller room and hallways lead east and west.
Score: 3 - 3.

Allowing undo


Zork:

> undo
I don’t know the word ‘undo’.
zork, buried chaos:
> undo
maze
[Previous turn undone.]
Score: 3 - 4.

Strange environmental messages

zork, buried chaos:
> z
Time passes.

The platform is collapsing!

> z
Time passes.

The platform is collapsing!

> z
Time passes.

The platform is collapsing!

> sing
Your singing is abominable.

The platform is collapsing!

> jump
You jump on the spot, fruitlessly.

The platform is collapsing!
Score: 4 - 4.

I conclude that zork, buried chaos is not noticably worse than the game it tries to emulate. That certainly doesn't make it good, but I assume the author has more or less achieved what he wanted. Although why anyone would want to achieve this is beyond me. Perhaps the author simply didn't play anything made since Zork and assumed (incorrectly) that this was still the state of the art?

4 comments:

  1. I'm in a very poor position to evaluate whether brown rice is the same thing that you call zilvervliesrijst, because I don't know what zilvervliesrijst is. Such are the sorrows of the language barrier, even when the person on one side of the barrier is unusually competent with the other language. (The unusually competent one is you.) It's the melancholy Calvin Trillin felt when he realized that, no matter how much French he learned, he would probably never know the word for "ball bearing." The wikipedia entry for brown rice has a picture, if that helps.

    I do feel pretty sure, however, that what you call black-eyed beans are more commonly called (in the US, perhaps not in the UK) black-eyed peas. The Black-Eyed Peas are a pop group, much despised for having committed one of the worst songs ever to hit the airwaves, which out of mercy I will not link. However, I quite like the first single from their most recent album. This may be as controversial as saying I like mazes (which I do, in nethack, but not in Zork, whose maze I am finding rather frustrating).

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  2. Of course I should have consulted my dictionary immediately. According to it, "zilvervliesrijst" is "unpolished rice". But brown rice, according to Wikipedia, is unmilled rice, and the entry for "white rice" seems to suggest that polishing is a further step. If this is correct, then "zilvervliesrijst" lies somewhere between brown and white rice. But my dictionary has not necessarily been written by rice experts.

    Dictionarist.com thinks the right translation is "brown rice". But, you know, it's not really brown; at least not as brown as the rice on that picture in the Wikipedia article.

    Any people here who know a lot about rice?

    According to Wikipedia, "black-eyed beans" and "black-eyes peas" are synonyms, so there at least I'm certain we are talking about the same thing. :)

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  3. "Cooking water" is an acceptable term for that stuff, although a more typical term would be "cooking liquid." It's purely idiomatic, but "cooking water" usually means the water before you add the food (as in, "salt the cooking water before adding the pasta") and "cooking liquid" usually means the water or liquid afterward (as in "reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid"). "Cooking liquid," sensibly enough, can also be used to refer to broth or wine or some mixture that's been used to cook something.

    On the real topic: Zork, at least, has the excuse of being a breakthrough game; its implementors made the most complex parser known to IF up to that point, so I forgive them their ridiculous world-building and lackluster implementation. In a modern game, though...

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  4. Okay, that recipe sounds sort of amazing. Yum.
    There's a lot of different rices, and I suspect it doesn't matter too much what one uses, as long as it's a longer-grain (not sticky or glutinous). I'm going to try it with basmati, since I'm out of brown.

    ReplyDelete