SCORE command in Ultima III

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Tristan Miller

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Apr 20, 2020, 3:51:03 AM4/20/20
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Greetings, all!

I was grepping through my Ultima III disks and noticed the string
"SCORE". It turns out that this is one of the verbs accepted by the
<O>ther command in the game. If you use it, it prompts for a direction,
but no matter what I try to use the command on, the game tells me I
can't do that there.

Does anyone know what this command is for and what it operates on? I
don't remember it being divulged anywhere in the game so I am guessing
it is some abandoned feature that was left undocumented. But perhaps
some functionality is still there.

Regards,
Tristan

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Tristan Miller
Free Software developer, ferret herder, logologist
https://logological.org/
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Tristan Miller

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May 8, 2020, 8:03:42 AM5/8/20
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Dear all,

On 20/04/2020 09.50, Tristan Miller wrote:
> I was grepping through my Ultima III disks and noticed the string
> "SCORE". It turns out that this is one of the verbs accepted by the
> <O>ther command in the game. If you use it, it prompts for a direction,
> but no matter what I try to use the command on, the game tells me I
> can't do that there.
>
> Does anyone know what this command is for and what it operates on? I
> don't remember it being divulged anywhere in the game so I am guessing
> it is some abandoned feature that was left undocumented. But perhaps
> some functionality is still there.


I got in touch with Per Olofsson, who has a great understanding of the
game internals. It turns out that the "SCORE" string is not present in
the C64 version of the game; the only reason that using it as an <O>ther
command prompts for a direction is due to a peculiarity of the parser:
it checks only the command's length and last letter against a predefined
table of commands (DIG, SEARCH, PRAY, etc.). In this case typing SCORE
actually matches BRIBE.

The "SCORE" string is present in the MS-DOS version of the game, listed
next to all the other <O>ther commands, though it does not appear to be
an active command. (And the game's parser works differently than the
C64 version, so invoking it won't even match BRIBE.) Per pointed me to
a disassembly of the game, and it doesn't look like there is any code
associated with the SCORE command.

Oh well -- too bad I didn't stumble across some undocumented and
long-forgotten functionality of the game.

Spalls Hurgenson

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May 8, 2020, 8:57:21 AM5/8/20
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On Fri, 8 May 2020 14:03:40 +0200, Tristan Miller
<psych...@nothingisreal.com> wrote:
>On 20/04/2020 09.50, Tristan Miller wrote:

>> I was grepping through my Ultima III disks and noticed the string
>> "SCORE". It turns out that this is one of the verbs accepted by the
>> <O>ther command in the game. If you use it, it prompts for a direction,
>> but no matter what I try to use the command on, the game tells me I
>> can't do that there.

>> Does anyone know what this command is for and what it operates on? I
>> don't remember it being divulged anywhere in the game so I am guessing
>> it is some abandoned feature that was left undocumented. But perhaps
>> some functionality is still there.
>
>I got in touch with Per Olofsson, who has a great understanding of the
>game internals. It turns out that the "SCORE" string is not present in
>the C64 version of the game; the only reason that using it as an <O>ther
>command prompts for a direction is due to a peculiarity of the parser:
>it checks only the command's length and last letter against a predefined
>table of commands (DIG, SEARCH, PRAY, etc.). In this case typing SCORE
>actually matches BRIBE.

Neat!

Its fun that weird bits of trivia like this are still being gleaned
out of 40-year old games.

>Oh well -- too bad I didn't stumble across some undocumented and
>long-forgotten functionality of the game.

Well, you sort of did - the "check word length and last letter" (which
seems a really odd way to do it; why not FIRST letter?) is a type of
functionality. One you can now manipulate to your heart's content.
Don't like that you need to resort to bribery? You have options now!

Guard: You may not pass.
Player: ABUSE (to south)
Guard: youmaypasspleasestop.


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