Invocation ritual inspiration?

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Michael Meyer

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Aug 2, 2021, 4:25:47 PM8/2/21
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I was reading recently about Ultima IV, which I've never played myself,
and was struck by the similarities to NetHack in the lead-up to the
game's climax: your character in that game must acquire a bell, book,
and candle from various locations in the game world, bring them to a
particular spot, and apply the items in a specific order. Doing this
successfully triggers an earthquake and causes the ground to split open,
revealing a staircase leading down to the final dungeon of the game.
There are even similar messages triggered as each item is used (e.g.
"the bell rings on and on!" -- cf. NetHack's "the bell issues an
unsettling shrill sound...").

Here's a video of the sequence in Ultima IV:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0AaT8j4s7A

Maybe this is common knowledge, but I had never heard of a particular
inspiration for the invocation ritual beyond the general "bell, book,
and candle" reference -- anyone know if the Ultima IV endgame helped
inspire the invocation ritual?

- Michael

Chris Bowers

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Aug 2, 2021, 11:03:44 PM8/2/21
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Janis Papanagnou

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Aug 3, 2021, 12:59:09 AM8/3/21
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On 02.08.2021 22:25, Michael Meyer wrote:
> I was reading recently about Ultima IV, which I've never played myself,
> and was struck by the similarities to NetHack in the lead-up to the
> game's climax: your character in that game must acquire a bell, book,
> and candle from various locations in the game world, bring them to a
> particular spot, and apply the items in a specific order. Doing this
> successfully triggers an earthquake and causes the ground to split open,
> revealing a staircase leading down to the final dungeon of the game.
> There are even similar messages triggered as each item is used (e.g.
> "the bell rings on and on!" -- cf. NetHack's "the bell issues an
> unsettling shrill sound...").
> [...]
> Maybe this is common knowledge, but I had never heard of a particular
> inspiration for the invocation ritual beyond the general "bell, book,
> and candle" reference -- anyone know if the Ultima IV endgame helped
> inspire the invocation ritual?

Chris gave a [non-gaming] reference for the rite, but I wouldn't
be astonished if another game was the paragon; there are a couple
references to other games in Nethack.

I see that Ultima IV is from 1985, and assuming the rite that you
describe was already there. I recall the version of Nethack that
I played around end of 1980's beginning of 1990's didn't have the
invocation rite.

Janis

Chris Bowers

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Aug 3, 2021, 1:45:50 AM8/3/21
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Right, so Janis is correct: ultima isn't the source of the thing, it's the other way around. Nethack is the source for Ultima. Nethack predates ultima.

It's likely a feature in a previous version of nethack, hack, or rogue. If we had an expert on those games (or on previous versions of nethack) we could see the year and date implemented.

Janis Papanagnou

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Aug 3, 2021, 1:55:03 AM8/3/21
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On 03.08.2021 07:45, Chris Bowers wrote:
>>
>> I see that Ultima IV is from 1985, and assuming the rite that you
>> describe was already there. I recall the version of Nethack that I
>> played around end of 1980's beginning of 1990's didn't have the
>> invocation rite.
>
> Right, so Janis is correct: ultima isn't the source of the thing,
> it's the other way around. Nethack is the source for Ultima. Nethack
> predates ultima.

Sorry, you misread me. The version I initially played was NH 3.0 and
it was around 1990, and it did not yet have the rite implemented. As
I understand it Ultima IV was released 1985.

What I said was that it is not unlikely that Nethack adopted the rite
from Ultima, as it adopted other things from other games as well (e.g.
the Wumpus in one of the quests).

> It's likely a feature in a previous version of nethack, hack, or
> rogue.

I cannot tell.

> If we had an expert on those games (or on previous versions of
> nethack) we could see the year and date implemented.

I don't think the rite was part of rogue or hack; Nethack was based
one Hack, and Hack based on Rogue.

Janis

Michael Meyer

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Aug 3, 2021, 9:26:21 AM8/3/21
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Chris Bowers <magicby...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Right, so Janis is correct: ultima isn't the source of the thing, it's
> the other way around. Nethack is the source for Ultima. Nethack
> predates ultima.

Ultima IV is from 1985; as far as I can tell the invocation ritual was
first introduced in NetHack 3.1.0 in 1993. NetHack itself was first
released in 1987, though the first version of Hack predates Ultima IV by
a little less than a year.

It's not an accusation of plagiarism or anything. I just think the
similarities are intriguing and I'm interested in whether it's been
discussed before as a possible inspiration.

- Michael

Janis Papanagnou

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Aug 3, 2021, 10:26:37 AM8/3/21
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On 03.08.2021 15:26, Michael Meyer wrote:
>
> It's not an accusation of plagiarism or anything. I just think the
> similarities are intriguing and I'm interested in whether it's been
> discussed before as a possible inspiration.

I don't recall any mention of its origin in any discussion here. The
definite answer may give someone of the Devteam who remembers and is
still around here in RGRN; as far as I see Pat Rankin is the only one
from these times who still posts here occasionally.

(As said, my guess would be that Nethack just adopted it. Nethack is
full of references, books, films, series, games. I suppose no one
thinks of plagiarism here, rather consider it a sort of reverence.)

Janis

Michael Meyer

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Aug 3, 2021, 12:15:03 PM8/3/21
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Janis Papanagnou <janis_pa...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> I don't recall any mention of its origin in any discussion here. The
> definite answer may give someone of the Devteam who remembers and is
> still around here in RGRN; as far as I see Pat Rankin is the only one
> from these times who still posts here occasionally.

Thanks for the responses, Janis. Since Ultima IV was a much more recent
release at the time the invocation ritual was added, I'd thought it
might be one of those historical notes that was common knowledge among
people who were playing NetHack at the time but has since faded into
obscurity with more recent players.

I think Zork had a similar sequence involving a bell, book, and candle
used to gain access to a lower region of the map, too. I didn't know
about either of those until very recently -- I've been reading about
some older CRPGs recently and it's been fun to recognize elements
similar to NetHack as they crop up in some earlier games.

- Michael

B. R. 'BeAr' Ederson

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Aug 3, 2021, 12:48:15 PM8/3/21
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On 3 Aug 2021 16:14:59 GMT, Michael Meyer wrote:

> I've been reading about some older CRPGs recently and it's been fun to
> recognize elements similar to NetHack as they crop up in some earlier
> games.

You don't happen to prepare for the "Ready Player One" Easter egg hunt,
do you? It's a bit early. Last time I checked, the OASIS wasn't online,
yet... ;-)

BeAr
--
===========================================================================
= What do you mean with: "Perfection is always an illusion"? =
===============================================================--(Oops!)===

Pat Rankin

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Aug 3, 2021, 2:04:26 PM8/3/21
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If you want details about why the bell+book+candle feature was
added to nethack, you'll have to hold a seance and ask Izchak.
[Actually, it is probably mentioned in ancient email but I don't
have handy access to that. Now that I think about it, I'm not
sure whether adding it was his idea or whether he was just the
one who described the overall sequencing of game play to
acquire the items and perform the ritual. Early on, Medusa
was going to be guarding one of the items....]

I became involved with nethack when 3.0 patchlevel 6 was the
current version, so sometime between November, 1989 and
February, 1990 according to the comments in patchlevel.h. It
was closer to the second date because patchlevel 7 was being
readied for release. (The comment for patchlevel 7 doesn't
mention me but the one for patchlevel 8 does. In those days I
was part of the VMS port's support team, not general devteam.)

The code and data that was eventually released as 3.1.0 already
existed at that time, but I didn't look at it until 3.0 patchlevel 9
came out. (Patchlevel 10 was the last 3.0 release.) That's well
before the 1993 date mentioned in this thread, but also long after
the date specified for Ultima IV (which I've never seen, BTW).
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