The Most Difficult Games

Discuss text adventures here! The classics like those from Infocom, Magnetic Scrolls, Adventure International and Level 9 and the ones we're making today.

Moderators: Ice Cream Jonsey, AArdvark

User avatar
bryanb
Posts: 616
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 2:56 pm

The Most Difficult Games

Post by bryanb »

Difficulty in text games is a relative thing. I know many people found Zork II and Deadline more difficult than The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I definitely didn't. A puzzle that one reasonably intelligent person finds easy isn't necessarily going to be easy for another. We all have the ability to be obtuse and not see solutions that are right under our noses. And parsers can be unreasonable and downright hostile. I can't count how many times I've "solved" a puzzle mentally but failed to type in the right words and as a result thought I was doing something wrong and went back to square one. That said, I'd like to think that there are some games we can universally consider hard because they are designed not to be solved. Games that are intended to be exercises in frustration...games that mock and belittle all who play...games that are misanthropic paeans to some human-hating deity. This is the thread for those games.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stands out in my mind because it was a game I really, really wanted to solve but utterly failed to do so for years. I played the game before reading the books so it was my introduction to Douglas Adams' fantastic writing. I'm not sure there's ever been a funnier IF game written. It was also a space game and I love space games. I ended up breaking down and using a walkthrough to solve it
which I hate to do. Whenever I've gone back to try to play it again I get stuck again.

Curses by Graham Nelson was another tough one. It has a really entertaining beginning, but after a while you start to realize that this game -- and Graham himself -- really doesn't want you to succeed. Graham ended up admitting he was disappointed that so many people were ultimately able to win the game. It was one the few new text games I played in the 90s pre-comp era and that's probably the main reason I put enough time in it to actually solve it. I do recommend it to the patient.

I trust Roody's opinion enough to add Enemies by Andy Phillips to the list. It's the kind of game that starts kicking your ass practically from the moment you start it up. I never got very far into the game, but what I saw looked great.

What's on your list of most difficult games? Also, on a related note, has there ever been a published text adventure written that no player other than the author has ever been able to solve? If so, we should totally work together to beat it.

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 7870
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Flack »

The hardest one I remember playing was Rambo: First Blood Part II, by Mindscape. The game begins with Rambo parachuting into the jungle. Your first move is pretty obvious (remove parachute) but if you don't also hide the parachute in a nearby log, soldiers will find and kill you almost immediately. Also, helicopters pass by randomly overhead and each time you hear one you have to type "hide", otherwise they will see and shoot you. The problem is, not all locations have a place to hide, which means you're gonna die and the only solution is to restore from a previous save point and try to be in a place that has somewhere to hide when the helicopter comes. The first goal is to make it to the enemy camp, and I challenge anyone to make it that far without looking up a walk-thru.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
Ice Cream Jonsey
Posts: 25265
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 2:44 pm
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

This is the best idea for a thread I have seen in a long time. Tomorrow I will have something proper to say about it.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

Roody_Yogurt
Posts: 2080
Joined: Mon Apr 29, 2002 6:23 pm
Location: Milwaukee

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Roody_Yogurt »

Flack wrote: Wed Apr 08, 2020 6:29 am The hardest one I remember playing was Rambo: First Blood Part II, by Mindscape.
A lot of what you describe existed in a bunch of the Mindscape/Angelsoft games. I covered one of them, an Indiana Jones game, on my old transcripts blog. Random events, terrible parsers, and more made those games a frustrating experience. Just the same, probably solely based on the licensing, I always wanted to like them. One of my only goals of learning python was to port a BASIC script for text-dumping Angelsoft games (I never got around to it) with the possible but illegal goal of rewriting and fixing them so they weren't so horrible.

Really, there are so many terribly difficult games out there that I don't even know where to begin (several of the others I covered in my short-lived blog also probably fit the bill).

User avatar
Jizaboz
Posts: 3213
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:00 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Jizaboz »

Roody_Yogurt wrote: Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:53 pm
Flack wrote: Wed Apr 08, 2020 6:29 am The hardest one I remember playing was Rambo: First Blood Part II, by Mindscape.
A lot of what you describe existed in a bunch of the Mindscape/Angelsoft games. I covered one of them, an Indiana Jones game, on my old transcripts blog. Random events, terrible parsers, and more made those games a frustrating experience. Just the same, probably solely based on the licensing, I always wanted to like them. One of my only goals of learning python was to port a BASIC script for text-dumping Angelsoft games (I never got around to it) with the possible but illegal goal of rewriting and fixing them so they weren't so horrible.

Really, there are so many terribly difficult games out there that I don't even know where to begin (several of the others I covered in my short-lived blog also probably fit the bill).
I didn't know about the Indiana Jones game! Yeah that's always how it is. "Masters of the Universe in Terraquake" comes to mind as well. I love anything He-Man, but man what a frustrating game.

I totally agree with Deadline too. Never beat it or Suspect.

Wonderland is one for me. I got stuck for ages on a puzzle regarding getting a key from the other side of a locked door. Never figured it out! Would really like to finish that one one day.

User avatar
pinback
Posts: 15874
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 3:00 pm
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by pinback »

I get the sense that any extremely difficult IF game is due to bad design/implementation. Unless there is one where only the author has ever finished it, in which case it's just the author being a dick, and then jacking off said dick.
In the yard, not too far from the car.

User avatar
odyssia76
Posts: 155
Joined: Mon May 03, 2021 6:07 pm

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by odyssia76 »

I think it is really hard to adjust the difficulty of any game. You can never know how clever the player is. What one person finds easy another will find tough. Its hard to come up with good puzzles in the first place let alone judge how difficult they are. Like you guys said one person will find a game easy and another find it hard. If you make the puzzles too easy it will be boring but if you make them too hard then the game will be frustrating and annoying to most people.
128 char limit on sigs? Srsly? SO lame.

User avatar
Ice Cream Jonsey
Posts: 25265
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 2:44 pm
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

odyssia76 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 12:27 pm I think it is really hard to adjust the difficulty of any game. You can never know how clever the player is. What one person finds easy another will find tough. Its hard to come up with good puzzles in the first place let alone judge how difficult they are. Like you guys said one person will find a game easy and another find it hard. If you make the puzzles too easy it will be boring but if you make them too hard then the game will be frustrating and annoying to most people.
Welcome to the BBS!!
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

User avatar
odyssia76
Posts: 155
Joined: Mon May 03, 2021 6:07 pm

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by odyssia76 »

Thank you! Nice to meet you all. I would have introduced myself but I did not see a topic for that. I like this BBS because I like talking about games and other silly stuff and you guys seem to do that and it looks like a friendly place so far. I like BBSes and forums more than huge social media sites like FB. Sop now I am just randomly browsing around through the various sections seeing what is here. Sorry if I have been reanimating dead ancient threads.
128 char limit on sigs? Srsly? SO lame.

User avatar
odyssia76
Posts: 155
Joined: Mon May 03, 2021 6:07 pm

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by odyssia76 »

I would like to be able to edit my posts is that possible? I realized I forgot to quote you and now I can't change it. Thanks.
128 char limit on sigs? Srsly? SO lame.

User avatar
bryanb
Posts: 616
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 2:56 pm

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by bryanb »

Welcome aboard Odyssia! One unique aspect of Jolt Country BBS culture is that necroing old threads is strongly encouraged. The conversation never dies around here. Feel especially free to revive any threads in the text adventure base that you want because we need the activity. Keep up the great work!

Editing is one of the weirder aspects of Jolt Country BBS culture. Sometimes and in some places it's allowed while elsewhere it isn't. Maybe Robb (Ice Cream Jonsey) can explain it better. Suffice it to say that we generally like first takes around here and in the past some users have abused the edit function to mass delete their posts.

User avatar
AArdvark
Posts: 11259
Joined: Tue May 14, 2002 6:12 pm
Location: Rochester, NY

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by AArdvark »

The non editing thing is part of the fun!

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 7870
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Flack »

Some forums allow editing, some don't. Some forums allow embedding YouTube videos, some don't. As Leo Balmudo once said, "the rules are, there ain't no rules."

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
Ice Cream Jonsey
Posts: 25265
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 2:44 pm
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

When we switched to phpBB3 the permissions got all messed up but I did think that new users had the ability to edit messages for the first 24 hours. I am deeply saddened that this is not the case.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

User avatar
Tdarcos
Posts: 7655
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Tdarcos »

odyssia76 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 1:42 pm Thank you! Nice to meet you all.
Nice to meet you too, Odyssia78.
odyssia76 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 1:42 pmI would have introduced myself but I did not see a topic for that.
The forum "The Troll Room" is appropriate for anything you're not sure goes somewhere else.
odyssia76 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 1:42 pm I like this BBS because I like talking about games and other silly stuff and you guys seem to do that and it looks like a friendly place so far.
Typical Social Media sites have millions of followers and if you post something on Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter, anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands could see it (and potentially reply to it, most of whom you will have no idea whom they are. This place has less than 20 regularly active users and less than 15 who participate on a daily or weekly basis. That makes this place much more intimate and much more personal.
odyssia76 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 1:42 pm Sorry if I have been reanimating dead ancient threads.
Some of those threads probably deserve a visit from a necromancer, we can be reminded of interesting conversations we have had.
odyssia76 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 1:43 pm I would like to be able to edit my posts is that possible? I realized I forgot to quote you and now I can't change it. Thanks.
There are a few forums here like "The Don Rogers Show" where you can't edit a post once submitted. I am going to save this post and the next sentence will indicate if this base is also locked or if it's just that you're too new here and Ice Cream Jonsey has not given you editing privileges yet.

If this sentence is not removed, it means posts in this forum normally can't be edited once saved.
"Perhaps she'll understand, if you tell it to her, plain."
- Don McLean, Castles in the Air

User avatar
Tdarcos
Posts: 7655
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Contact:

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by Tdarcos »

Tdarcos wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 10:03 am
odyssia76 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 1:42 pm Thank you! Nice to meet you all.
Nice to meet you too, Odyssia78.
Please excuse my error. I have vision problems and misread your handle. So let me try again.

Nice to meet you too, Odyssia76.
"Perhaps she'll understand, if you tell it to her, plain."
- Don McLean, Castles in the Air

User avatar
odyssia76
Posts: 155
Joined: Mon May 03, 2021 6:07 pm

Re: The Most Difficult Games

Post by odyssia76 »

Tdarcos wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 10:07 am
Please excuse my error. I have vision problems and misread your handle. So let me try again.
Nice to meet you too, Odyssia76.
[/quote]

Well gee now you have given me a reason to be mean to you LOL! :smile:
128 char limit on sigs? Srsly? SO lame.

Post Reply