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Carl Muckenhoupt

May 20, 2001, 1:10:20 AM5/20/01
I've been playing "The Mulldoon Legacy" for the past several weeks. I've
gotten just over half the points, and it's clear that it'll be a while
before I've finished. From the beginning, it reminded me somewhat of
Curses: the rambling edifice with its mysterious history, the jaunts into
the legendary past (although the past is, so far, a much smaller part of
the game in Mulldoon). But I'm thinking now that there's more to it than
that. I've been reading the Inform Designer's Manual (4th Edition),
chapter 50: "The Design of Puzzles", and the more I read, the more
Mulldoon seems to be designed on Nelsonian principles. Nearly every
subsection of that chapter gives advice that corresponds to an easily
identifiable section of Mulldoon. A river should flow through multiple
rooms? Check. Divisible liquids in a container that holds five units?
Bingo. A puzzle based on transporting a light source? Yup. Machinery
that responds appropriately to partial solutions? Got it. Spice things
up with plants and animals that play a significant role? Visit the
Rainforest exhibit. NPC's that advance through a series of stages that
affect how they reply to you? Check out the counter on this automaton.
Puzzles keyed to time of day that don't lock you out of the solution?
Hoo boy, wait til you see how he managed that one. And the maze, the
maze! It's possibly the most mitigated maze I've ever seen. It's
mappable on a grid *and* it has a means of identifying the right
direction from any point.

Of course, Nelson is largely commenting on what has become common
practice, so perhaps this is not all that surprising. Any sufficiently
large game will inevitably contain much of what he comments on, and
Mulldoon is nothing if not sufficiently large.

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