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Rating: 4.1/5 (80 votes)
Comments (105) | Views (14,348)

failsafe.jpgJohnBFail-Safe is a work of interactive fiction created by Jon Ingold. It could be one of the strangest text-based games you've ever seen (in a simple, subdued kind of way), as Ingold removes all meta-commands from the parser, forbidding you do to things like saving your progress, consulting a help manual, or checking your inventory. But there's a good reason for this. Fail-Safe immerses you so deeply in the world that even the conventions of playing a game would snap you out of it. And when you start playing, you'll see why that's a crucial part of the experience.

Fail-Safe is one of those games where discussing the plot, puzzles or content would ruin everything. Even the smallest mentioning of an event, setting, character or sentence kind of spoils the fun. Well, you would still get some enjoyment from figuring the game out and seeing an ending, but the immersion factor would be lost, and that's where Fail-Safe really shines. I will say this, however: as the game begins, you are responding to a distress call. Now, start reading, think about the game world, and don't look away from your screen until you've saved the day.

Analysis: When I first played Fail-Safe my eyes widened with excitement. It took little more than three paragraphs to grab my attention, rivet my fingers to the keyboard, and keep me thinking about the in-game events until the bitter (and not-bitter) end. Big game developers spend enormous amounts of time and money developing concepts that can reel players in like squiggling little fishies. And here Jon Ingold does it with a few lines of text and a whole lot of intrigue. That's exactly what I like in a game.

The pressure is always on high in Fail-Safe, but not so strong that I didn't feel I had time to "explore" my "surroundings". (Yeah, you'll understand those quotation marks once you play the game.) Almost all of the text in the game is spoken dialogue, keeping descriptions organic and interesting without that bitter flavor of exposition. This also serves as an additional tool of immersion, preventing you from dropping back into "look and see" mode as a player. The parser even stays in-character, spouting story-appropriate text in response to your failed commands.

Fail-Safe is a short game, perfect for any casually-minded player, but there are multiple endings to uncover, and I'm sure you'll want to see more than one. If you're new to the interactive fiction genre you might struggle a bit with this game, so you might want to level-up your IF skills before jumping in. Llama Adventure is a good place to cut your teeth. And when you're ready to lose yourself in a great story experience, Fail-Safe will be waiting for you.

Play Fail-Safe

Cheers to Brian for sending this one in!

The links above point to JIG's internally developed Flash-based Z-Machine interpreter (thanks asterick!), with the story files hosted here by kind permission of the game's author, Jon Ingold. That means you can play Fail-Safe in your browser rather than having to download and run the game in a standalone interpreter. If you would rather download the game, grab the file at the Interactive Fiction database followed by an interpreter for your OS: Gargoyle for Windows, Zoom for Macintosh and Unix.


benjabby May 28, 2009 4:13 PM

Ok I'm stuck after the second bit, and really need help, but I want to do it for myself...
its a very good game/interactive story I'm so tempted to ask for help, but I dont want it!


What does it mean when it says

Initiate Search for Salient Inf?


This is what I've got so far.

You connect the wires at the console (Blue with green), and then you go to the computer, diagnose the side engine problem, and then open hatch, look around, move the debris, and there's a tunnel.

Hope that helps someone.

cactus1 May 28, 2009 5:01 PM

You can get a component to insert into the socket in the panel in the room with the lasers in it from the chute in the room under the central hub.

Bloatedsack May 28, 2009 5:07 PM

I love all the IF lately!

bookworm May 28, 2009 5:08 PM

Yeah, I kinda want to figure it out for myself, but I'm stuck trying to

fix the laser.

wlangford May 28, 2009 5:18 PM

I think I finished it.

Something called me human and told me it was in control and was so close to attacking. And then the space-junk gun blows it up.

Overall, really fun.


The only *grr* part of it was my failure to implement the Galaxy Quest Motto:

Never Give Up. Never Surrender!

And specifically,

Although the Bulkhead is a supposedly impenetrable massive steel door holding back the vast cold vacuum of space, tell your chap to open the door, and then insist again for him to open the door. He'll be able to open the door the second time. Pretty much the same with clearing the debris. Be persistent.

other than that, though, the immersion was even better than other IF titles like "Beyond Zork".

aktoaster May 28, 2009 5:27 PM

Argh! Dead. Definitely going to need help with this one.


Is there a troubleshooting page for the JIG reader? It's not loading for me. (Firefox 3.10.0 for OSX, Flash 10) Any comments?

[Edit: I have the exact same configuration as you and it loads just fine. Must be due to a Firefox extension you have installed. -Jay]


3 minutes. That's how long I lasted trying to guess what it wanted me to type in to make it actually do anything.

Massive FAIL. If you are going to make it try to understand you without commands, then actually making it know words would be helpful. As it is, I can't make him actually do anything or go anywhere, and so the whole thing is an exercise in futility.

-1000 stars or mushrooms or whatever the rating system is.

[Edit: If you're new to interactive fiction, you should try an IF primer first. Here is a good one: http://brasslantern.org/beginners/ Most IF games are composed similarly. Don't blame the author. -Jay]

aktoaster May 28, 2009 5:37 PM

This would be a lot better if I could scroll up and reread what I have already done. Anyone able to get around this somehow?

[Edit: Download a standalone IF interpreter and the game file, and play locally on your computer. The standalone interpreters have some nice features. We provide some links to these interpreters at the end of every IF review. -Jay]


Ah, thanks for finally reviewing this! I think I've suggested it a couple times (but only officially once).
I'm not sure why I like this game so much, but I really do. I guess the big reason is for the interesting way it plays with the whole Player, PC, Narrator/Parser divide.
I don't think this game is as well regarded in the IF community as some of his others (in particular All Roads won the IF Comp in '01) but I find it more accessible.


Oh and Gk:
your second spoiler is one of the several clues to the truth of the entire situation.


(Yesss! I love how fast JIG gets on the technical issues!)

It did turn out to be an extension: an old "long titles" add-on that I had not uninstalled. Go figure.


Glad it's now working for you, elemeno. :)

Acepyropilot May 28, 2009 5:57 PM

Will there is still more just keep pressing enter. The ending is spine tingling! I love it!

bookworm May 28, 2009 5:59 PM

I'm confused....was that it?

The space-junk gun blew up the ship, and the person called me 'human' and cursed at me and stuff. So the person was actually an alien or something?



I aided some alien break into the moon base and start destroying the moon. Called me human, and wished me a good death


All right got a good end and a bad end.

It was a trick, put in the code to fire and he reveals himself as the enemy and your base is destroyed. Put in the code to target enemy ships and you start destroying the enemy fleet, he reveals himself, starts cursing you and eventually gets destroyed by his fleet.

Probably some more endings as well...


Jay, I'm not new to Interactive Fiction. I played, and beat, the Zork line when I was less than 10 years old. I played these sorts of games on my C64. Heck, I even beat Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy without a hint guide!

This game still stymied me. None of the normal commands work. There's no hints as to what to type when. Even the obvious keywords given in the text produce a "what?" response ("tunnel" is not a keyword? really?)..

No, this is not a user-fail, this is a game-fail, and a rather epic one at that.


Hmm, "examine" worked just fine for me, and that's a normal command.


Any hints for this?

I can't figure out how to tell him the code! "use code xxxx" and "the code is xxxx" and "press xxxx" don't seem to do it.


Well, that was an enjoyable 10 minutes. At least I wasn't eaten by a Grue. :-)

Fun, but I wished it lasted longer.

Anonymous May 28, 2009 6:57 PM

Otto sure is a jerk... Keep up the great work Jay!!!!!!!

[Edit: I don't think Otto was being a jerk, more that he was frustrated that this game was different than others he has played in the past. More tolerance, please. :) -Jay]


Anyone... hear me? Hello...? *bzzzt* Lost... can't find... code, the keypad... laser... enemies charging... trouble, SOMEONE HEL-



Marc -

Try "type code XXXX". Have you fixed the laser yet?


LOL Donut! :D


Otto: where did you try to examine a tunnel? It's been a while since I've played, but I think I know the game pretty well and I don't recall any tunnels (the person you're directing is in a spaceship, after all).

I just played through it quickly again, and I do confess, there were a couple spots I fumbled for the right word, but nothing like the trouble you had.

One problem you might be having is that the game won't except commands like just "up" and "down." But rather you have to say "go up" and "go down." (strangely, "in" and "out" still work).

Just remember to type commands as though you were giving directions to someone else.


The game will give you the correct commands. With respect to the "tunnel" problem:

It's the debris in front of the tunnel that's the issue, which is why the tunnel can't be operated on directly. You have to squeeze past debris (a clue to which the character tells you: "...maybe I can squeeze past...")

Brightjess May 28, 2009 7:38 PM

I'm not new to these games but I found it confusing at times. I did enjoy it though.

The last time I played through I got tired of running in circles so I just typed "die" and apparently he did immediately. I thought that was pretty clever. I didn't really get any other endings except the one where the ship gets blown up by the guns. Might try it again later for other endings.

sjdhalkjfgs May 28, 2009 8:17 PM

How am I supposed to fix the laser? I examined it and

found out that a component (power supply) is missing, but I've looked everywhere and can't find anything like it.

The guy's died twice now, I'm stuck D:


About the laser:

Did you fix the power to the console in the very beginning?


I am too impatient for IF but when

the junk gun was lining up to fire and I instructed my chap to wave at them I thought he was going to have a fit...
and when he pointed out he was about to die I replied "good" - he didn't half curse


sjdhalkjfgs May 28, 2009 8:27 PM

Yes, I did...

I crossed the wires and got the power back up for the computer, then reset it... I've already tried examining the computer for a power source and tried crossing the same wires in the panel of the laser... nothing's worked.


About the laser:

Did you go down the ladder to find the component?

bookworm May 28, 2009 8:55 PM

There's a component

down the ladder, then 'look inside chute' and you'll get it.

Bloatedsack May 28, 2009 8:58 PM

My favorite frustration relief

Type 'die'

Anonymous May 28, 2009 9:18 PM

Sorry Jay I DID NOT mean in any way to offend you or Otto or the people of JIG. I should not have said that he was a jerk because I really didn't mean it. I am deeply sorry, and I feel like I have wasted my whole 2 years of visiting this site, although nothing will stop me (I'm just too lazy to get a username) Jay and Otto, please forgive me! (bows head in shame) Thanks for providing my 2nd favortie site Jay! (My 1st is google :D) I will ABSOLUTELY be much more tolerant in the future. Cheers Jay is Games!

[Edit: No worries. Thanks so much. ^_^ -Jay]


Straining for immersion at the expense of having a help file is a recipe for frustration, which breaks immersion faster than anything I know.

All it meant was that when I got stuck, I left the window and clicked through the comments on here. Isn't that less immersive than having a hints file?

Still, the writing is good.


I told him to type in the code several times, but each time he just asked for the code. Eventually he died. Funny, he cursed at me. And I was only trying to help.

sjdhalkjfgs May 28, 2009 9:53 PM

AGH! Thanks for the help with the component, guys.

I knew that chute was important, I thought I tried looking in it, but I guess I did just about everything else besides that.


Was there a point to

entering the store room? I didn't find anything useful in there.


I have to side with Otto on this one...

Sure, the game was fun. The immersion factor was brilliant at the beginning.

Then came a series of small struggles with the parser. The parser only responds to a small number of syntax possibilities. In particular I had problems with

Using the ladder: you can't "use" it - or just go "down", you have to "go down"

Finding the component: you can "look up chute" and "examine chute" but you WON'T find the component unless you type "look in chute" - does this make sense? It's all the more frustrating because I KNEW there would be something to find in that area, I just couldn't manipulate the parser to find it. Resorted to reading the comments here for this bit.

Fixing the laser: you can't "use component with panel" or "fix panel" or anything like that. I had to "put component in panel".

When I realised that progress through the game largely depended on finding the correct form of command to use, I started to think of it externally as a text parser, and the illusion of immersion was shattered.


Am I the only one who guessed the ending as I was playing?


There are many clues to the ending throughout. Actually one of the really big ones is force-fed to you almost immediately. The "person" on the other end of the transmission identifies McThwaite as the engineer, but his file says he's the Chef. Examining McThwaite produces a rather...interesting response as well. It's pretty clear that the person you are talking to is not who you think.

I can't believe nobody quite grasped how to tell the guy what code to use. Whatever you type is transmitted directly to him, everything you type is what you are saying to him. You don't have to say "type code 0000", just say "0000", he knows what to do!


I'm finding the "tunnel problem" problematic.

When I try to "squeeze past debris", it responds, "There's not.. enough room for me.. don't think I can get past."

Now, if the tunnel is the size of the chute I tried to flush our mysterious survivor down, that's understandable.



Try moving some debris first.


Thanks Jay! So clever! Now how do I get out of my room? I haven't eaten in days! I keep trying to go door. ^_^

zbeeblebrox May 28, 2009 10:49 PM

Hey, you guys are on quite the IF kick lately!
Just started the game, and needed to pop back over to say that this is brilliant

This is quite possibly the only 2nd person game in existence!


I have to agree with John.

I often get stuck with IF, needing to resort to a walkthrough to get unstuck. However, I was able to finish this one entirely on my own.

(I did die once, though, before I solved it correctly.)


Very clever!

Grasa Total May 29, 2009 1:22 AM

Somebody needed to tell the author that an ellipsis has three dots in it, not two.

And that 'guess the verb' puzzles aren't fun.

And that certain plot twists have been done to death already.


Grasa Total - the author created the game almost 10 years ago, so I think we can cut him some slack with respect to certain plot twists. ;)


Loving the IF on the site lately, but I have to agree with some that the parser could be a LITTLE more intelligent.

I couldn't figure out what to type in order to use the component I'd found to fix the laser. Thankfully Tom's post helped me to sort it out. But seriously I tried about a thousand variations of the phrase it actually wanted. There's gotta be something wrong with that. I respect that some people figured out the correct commands quickly, but just because you did doesn't mean there isn't any problem at all.

In any case, once I had that figured out I really enjoyed the game a lot. I really love how this stuff blends narrative with gameplay.


Grasa Total:
About the plot twist. I'm sure something like it has been done in static fiction or film, but has it been done in other works of IF? it may have, but if so, I'm unaware of these works. Granted, while I probably pay more attention to the contemporary IF community than a lot of people on JiG, I'm certainly no Emily Short (or... ya know, whoever else you can name that's really involved), so maybe there are other games that do similar things. Fail-Safe was definitely the first work of IF I encountered that played with the Player/Character/Parser divide like this, and I'm pretty I haven't seen anything very similar since. I will readily admit that a game like this would probably get frustrating if it was much longer, but for its length (maybe 30 minutes if you've never played?) I think it's an excellent and interesting examination of the relationship, and does a nice job of shaking up the typical expectations.

but i'm totally biased. i probably like this game a lot more than i really should.

Misophor May 29, 2009 4:31 AM

For signs of the ending a big one is

if you examine the bodies on the main hub, and manage to open the storeroom. Regardless of it hinting at the ending, it was a hilarious sound effect.


I'm afraid I'm with those that got stuck with the parser. I knew there was something in the chute but couldn't come up with the correct command to get it out. I gave up and I'm unlikely to go back even though I've now found the correct phrase in the comments above.

Splurgy May 29, 2009 6:41 AM

Apparently if you tell him to die,

he does.
That's what he gets for being so contrary!

qoalabear May 29, 2009 6:45 AM

The store room seems to exist purely for additional exposition.

Was McThwaine supposed to be rank:

"chef" or "chief"? A lowly Culinary Specialist being the only one left trying to fiddle with the bridge controls is a desperate state indeed.

My theory:

-The black "component" is necessary to use the laser
-In the store room, there is a dead man by the chute, with his arms sort of on it
-from the store room(L2), the chute seems to be used to flush things to outer space, leads down a long ways
-on L3, the chute leads down from above, and is trapped by the bulkhead in the hallway, beyond which is now open to space.
-the laser control panel was forcibly ripped open and messed with

The mysterious crewman was performing protocols to render the ship useless to enemies in the event of boarding. (example: multiple sci-fi settings have protocols to purge the "nav-database" to conceal the homeworld if the ship is captured) In this case, it involved taking a critical weapon component out (forcibly from the panel) and flushing it to the vacuum of space. Unfortunately, the chute was smashed when the bulkhead failsafes closed, leaving the piece for easy recovery. A transmission, picked up, unfortunately, by a different receiving station follows. (I decided McThwaite was in fact, a chef, and that the guy in the store room was named Jenkins. Frag me)

This is PO3 CS Alistair McThwaite aboard the pod "Serpentine". We are under attack by G'hilga forces just outside of the moon shield. Heavy damage from frag weaponry, dear God, most of the crew is dead. *thump* *clang*I think they're boarding us. The few of us left are trying to enact Protocol A73. Jenkins is downstairs disabling the main laser. We don't have any weapons left, I think he's going to flush the power control unit out to space. I'm busy trying to wipe the backup memory banks. I cleared the main memory, but the ship's power systems were damaged and I'm just trying wires at this point.
Oh Lord, what was that explosion. It came from below! I hope Jenkins made it... I can hear them crawling around below. Ah! One of them is getting through the bridge hatch! I can't get it shut! If anyone can hear this, this is the pod "Serpentine." We're overrun by G'hlig boarders! Repea*fraagg*
~A futile effort human. Your feeble stumbling cannot stop my mission. *fragboom* Gujt! What was he transmitt-*static*

Anonymous May 29, 2009 8:42 AM

Most of the game is guessing what words the author was thinking of (once you know them, they are obvious... but not always obvious before.) I can see a guessing game like that being fun, but it's not the game that's advertised. For example, I guessed "squeeze past debris", and that was satisfying to guess... but I would rather be solving puzzles in the game-world, not puzzles in the parser.

There's other odd things: one time I played through, and after typing in the code, and saying yes to access classified information, the codes didn't come up. Why?

Was it because I typed "y" instead of "Y"? Was it because I hadn't examined the guy and chute in the store room yet? Was it because I said the initial 4 digit code, like "xxxx" instead of saying "type in xxxx"?

I don't know, and that's a problem when the parser isn't clear: you just don't know when it's a parser puzzle, and when it's game-world puzzle.

I ended up looking up the answers here, and typing them in. So my role is rather like the avatar in the game: the site tells me what to do. I type it in, to tell him what to do. I act without agency, and without volition, my actions chosen by others, for a purpose chosen by others.

The only difference between me and him is that

it turns out he has his own agenda, and made his own choices. He had volition all along.

I can see aficionados of the genre appreciating an interface into the game that makes sense within the game world itself. But it's a bit like playing two handed guitar - it's cool and clever within the constraints, but not necessarily the best music.

Of course, the truth is that I did choose to play the game, I did choose to want to finish, I did choose to look up the correct words and type them in. I guess I have to be careful of games that make me feel stupid, and engage me that way. It's like an addiction.

PS: (1) when this site loads, the anon entry form displays for 10-15 seconds while the rest of the site loads (slowly). That's enough time to start typing. Then, it suddenly disappears when the site had loaded (I'd guess some javascript hides it - but the script only runs once the page is loaded).

(2) if you leave out your name, you get a message "Your comment submission failed for the following reasons: Invalid text" This message appears directly below the captcha, so it looks like it refers to that - but the captcha is correct, so looks like the site doesn't recognize captchas correctly.

Anonymous May 29, 2009 8:45 AM

I just timed the loading - it was 58 seconds that time.

Anonymous May 29, 2009 8:58 AM

And I just experimented with the captcha - it worked straight off that time (maybe because I waited the full 58 seconds for it to load? or maybe because I didn't preview it?)

OK, just now I tried it this way: I previewed it, and then attempted to submit: it didn't work this time. It says:

Your comment submission failed for the following reasons: Text entered was wrong. Try again.

I note that the captcha displayed is the same as for my previous comment - maybe it is now expecting a different captcha for my second comment, but it has failed to show the new one to me? (I would expect there to be different captchas for different comments).

It won't submit this comment now. What I'll do is cut the text, refresh the page (wait the 58 seconds), paste it in, enter the new captcha - and see if that works.

It's frustrating. I'd send an email about it, but I feel so offended by the site being so difficult to use, that I would rather send it anonymously. Note: if you don't want bugreports about the site in these comments, please feel free to not approve them (and to remove the PS in my previous comment if you like).

PS: it was only 54 seconds that time. Also: I'm running firefox 2, on linux, with ASDL2+ broadband (very fast: max is 2.2 MB per sec).

zoethedotted May 29, 2009 9:09 AM

Hmmm, nice idea, but I'm not enjoying the inflexible command structuring. I can't find the right wire twisting command. I'm probably just being stupid though :p


If you get stuck remember to *read carefully* the descriptions and look for anything that stands out. For example. the description of the chute says

that part of it has been squeezed by the bulkhead and one end of the chute has split along the seam. Chutes are hollow, so logic would follow (tenuously and whimpering to itself) that the keys to open this linguistic door would be LOOK. IN. CHUTE. However, I did try to LOOK IN SEAM and got bupkiss

Admittedly the parser does seem limited BUT, you're communicating with another person (trying to stay spoiler-free as long as I can) through
a half busted radio,
he's under an incredible amount of stress
he's shell shocked and most likely wounded
and English may not even be his native language,
but he is willing to cross wires without gloves on your say-so.
Restricting the parser could even be argued to be a story element, or even artistic license.
Is it effective? When I finished it, I yelled at the computer screen, spilled my coke, scattered the cats and got a thorough *shuush* from my wife.
So, the Box says "YES".


The parser's a little annoying, but not nearly as bad as some. Somehow I feel as if

examining something should entail looking inside it; I got completely stuck on the panel part because no matter what I tried, it gave me the same description about the "workings being inside," even if I was trying to look at them.

Great feeling of tension, just like a good book. c:


This game had me at hello.


To JIGuest,
I'm sorry you're having such a hard time leaving comments. I've been lurking this excellent site for three years now, and only posted, like, 3 times. It can get frustrating when you actually have a thought or two you actually *want* to post, and can't.
I've been stoppered by the CAPCHA before, and found what you did: you can copy your message and reload the page to get a fresh set of numbers. Usually, to Jay's credit, the message you wrote most like will still be available.
Another option is to rightclick the CAPCHA image. The new set of numbers should be the updated code. (the CAPCHA code, I'll wager, expires after a certain amount of time)
and if you can, try not to let CAPCHA interfere with your enjoyment of this site. Trying desperately to avoid appearing sycophantic, this site is rock solid, updates several times a day, and it's always been worth my time to come here. Jay's always not just maintaining the site, but improving it, and his team follow suit.


Thanks, GK. :)

As for the captcha problem, I am aware of it. It is caused by an expired cookie that should be corrected by signing out, then back in again.

If the sign-in cookie is expired, some browsers continue to use it anyways causing the issue. When the comment is submitted, the comment script sees the expired cookie and looks for a captcha instead. Since it finds none, it concludes the text entered (for the captcha - none) must be incorrect.

drakono May 29, 2009 12:40 PM

Can someone tell me how to access the store room? I can't find a way past the bulkhead.



Tell him to open the store room door. He'll find a way if he thinks he really needs to.


Well, here's the thing... If the parser is so unintuitive that you have to use "squeeze past debris" instead of "enter tunnel" when he says "there's a tunnel behind this debris I just moved", then I'm sorry, but the game is just not immersive at all.

Even if you consider that the guy on the other end of the radio is an idiot, the fact that he can't go into a tunnel when he just told me that he sees a freakin' tunnel pretty much destroys any chance that I think he should be rescued in the first place.

The last thing I transmitted to the guy is "You're an idiot and I hope you die gasping for air in the darkest depths of space you stupid little git." :)

No, it's just far too frustrating to me to play these sorts of silly guessing games. They're fin for some, I suppose, but I'd rather play one that actually has a decent vocabulary.

ottoman May 29, 2009 2:07 PM

Interactive Fiction isn't for everyone. I've played a whole bunch of it now, and often I have to resort to walkthroughs. However since I am familiar with the conventions of IF games (ie. "look inside" or "search" rather than just "look") I found it to be pretty easy. I replayed it like three times now. I did find it a tad annoying that you couldn't save or undo at all, but it's a pretty short game when you've gone through it once. Plus I liked that YOU are not the one exploring, you are directing someone else to explore their environment!

An observation:

If you immediately "search body," you will find that McThwaite has a knife, but his fingers are too tightly wrapped around it to get it.

At first you'd think he's been dead awhile. But when you get the hatch open, the alien says he tripped on "something" and cut himself. If you search McThwaite now he has nothing on him.

Perhaps McThwaite was actually NOT dead, and waited for an opportunity to use the last of his strength to attack the alien.

Also there are at least three different endings (aside from running out of time) based on

three different laser commands.

Someone May 29, 2009 4:04 PM

I have an issue with the web based interpreter.

When I refresh the page after it already loaded and I played it. it doesn't load and gets stuck at 100% loaded (progress bar full). I have to clear my cache for it to load completely so I can play again.


The immersion and the problem with the parser seems to be easily solvable by not thinking like a player. Since you technically aren't the main character in this game (which can be a problem for some), the standard text adventure commands won't be as helpful. (perhaps using full grammar such as "go through the hatch" or similar will help with your ideas of what to do)

To be more exact:

You're talking this guy through what makeshift repairs he can do, so say things as if you're talking to someone instead of deciding what to do. For a while, I thought that saying things like "go ladder" or "press button" would hint that the player is a computer program, giving him instructions and that I would inevitably turn out to be evil. Then I realized I was possibly too immersed for my own sake.

My only problem in this game was wandering around until I blew it without reading any mention of

this chute.

How exactly do I get him to tell me about it?


Gar -

When he goes down the ladder, have him look. He will give a vivid description of the damage, including loose piping and wiring. Have him "look at piping" or "look at wiring" and he will tell you about the chute. From there it's easy.


Hm, there's either a problem in the game or I'm just not fast enough, this problem being one of timers in a text game:

I get the warning before I head into the laser room. Then I hook everything up without looking at anything (since I did that last time) then tell him the codes while I wait for them. When I tell him the first sub-code, I find I have to tell him another, but by then it's too late. Do I have to give him multiple codes at once, or is there a way to get the numbers all at once? Getting shut down so close to the end is annoying.

Someone May 29, 2009 6:13 PM

Previous message:

I have an issue with the web based interpreter.

When I refresh the page after it already loaded and I played it. it doesn't load and gets stuck at 100% loaded (progress bar full). I have to clear my cache for it to load completely so I can play again.

Forgot to mention I'm using:
Windows XP sp3
Internet Explorer 7 (aka internet exploder 7)
Flash player
Avast antivirus


Thank you, Grinny P. Thanks to that relevance, I can remove "stumble around on the comments until you find the right serendipitous pointer" from that walkthrough.

Also, an allusion to that important area can be found in the store room, if you can open it.

Just tell him to open it; he should figure out the rest. Inside, look in the recess, but you'll have to move the body first.


Gar -

I am unsure why you would need to use more than one sub-code.

You give him the 8748 code to activate the laser, then pick a code that either gives him control of the laser (you die) or automatically fires at enemy ships (he dies).

As to how I figured out the end:

Aside from the fact that he called McThwaite an engineer when he was a chef, he kept saying "red blood" everywhere, which was a warning sign to me. Humans would just say "there's blood everywhere", not "there's red blood everywhere." That indicates to me someone who is not very familiar with red blood. :-)

Grasa Total May 30, 2009 12:17 AM

Jay-- I totally missed that it was 10 years old. *redfaced* Since all my examples below are more recent than that, I take back that criticism.

Fnord3125-- I was speaking broadly with regard to the twist, i.e.

someone who has pretended to need your help is using you

, which I think is very common in video games, though I'm now drawing a blank on specific examples other than recent blockbuster



The specific idea for how to give an in-story justification for the whole framework of an IF parser is clever, but even that has been done before. The last time I played all the IF Comp games (2006, I think), there were several in which

the parser was at odds with the player somehow



There are more that the few endings mentioned... But the results are quite similar...so far.

Dtnt at Dstrct: 7426 is quite funny. You can also change the ammo type, not sure what it does when you combine it with firing, but it does let you set it. I screenshoted the code list, as it doesn't change. Interestingly enough, the first time I set it to fire on enemy ships, he says he upgraded the laser... I'd check other combinations, but it's getting rather late right now.

Nepheliad May 30, 2009 1:25 AM

So, out of boredom, I decided to mess around a bit, and typed in nothing but yes. Most of his responses where just "Okay," and "All right", mixed in with the crucial dialogue, then suddenly, the laser began firing as though targeting the enemy. It did the same when I typed in nothing but no, haha.

Really great game, and pretty immersive. It's my first foray into interactive fiction, and while I didn't find it easy, it wasn't frustrating, either.

Anonymous May 30, 2009 7:51 AM

Thanks Gk & Jay. Yeah, I sometimes let frustration interfere with enjoyment, when things don't work properly. But note: the reason I went to a lot of trouble to report it, as clearly as possible and experimenting to try to diagnose the problem, was because I think many other people don't post to this forum, because of the difficulty. Those people are missing out; and this website is missing out on them. If it can't be fixed, that's fair enough - but I've done my part.

I'll try right-clicking the image - sounds like a good tip to force a refresh of that one thing instead of the whole page.

But my main concern is not me, but for other potential users of the site - and that I just dislike broken things (I signed up for an account, which solves my personal frustration - thought that percess itself was also very frustrating).

As for the captcha problem, I am aware of it. It is caused by an expired cookie that should be corrected by signing out, then back in again.

I wasn't signed in: the problem I was reporting was when posting anonymously.

PS: Here's how to reproduce the bug (which I just confirmed with this post):

  1. post anonymously

  2. hit preview

This triggers a new captcha, but the old one is still displayed (right-clicking on the captcha image, and selecting view image reveals the new image.) I think this is confusing for a new user who wants to be part of the site.


I hadn't played one of these in ages, so at the suggestion of the author I tried Llama first then this one...

Are there any of these that have nice, normal, congratulations-you-solved-all-the-puzzles endings?

Just curious.


I had the alien (I guess it is) fire the laser, which was firing at our moon base by the way and he thanked me and wished me a happy death. Than a thing popped up on the screen saying execution something, did I win?

Volatile May 30, 2009 6:05 PM

So, in the G'hiliga (or whatever they're called) description, it says

'superior firepower'

Does this mean THEY have it, or us? Not sure if this merits spoilers.



Usually, room escape games tend to have generic "Congratulations on winning" end scenes, since solving the puzzles were reward enough.

Generally, any video game, even the text based ones, that revolves around giving or following orders and has at least one character you don't know about will have a disappointing or insulting ending. Considering what happens here, just don't expect the game to end with medals being awarded.


I understand why a lot of people are getting frustrated with this game, but it really is a gem. An advanced, you'd-better-be-pretty-comfortable-with-various-modes-of-IF gem, but a gem nonetheless.

I might be giving the author too much credit, but I thought the "guess the verb" nature of the interpreter was...

... a perfect implementation of the actual frustration you would feel if you had to calm a panicked person over the phone/radio and help them land-the-plane/perform-an-emergency-tracheotomy/GET-OUT-OF-THE-@$%#!-HOUSE,

Can I call dibs on those ideas for a second-person IF?

How about an OnStar based game?
>remove seatbelt
"I... I can't remove the seatbelt. My right hand is hurt."
>examine airbag
"What??? It's an airbag! Big white bag hanging where the horn used to be."
>examine speedometer
"You're an idiot. Get me your supervisor."


or even...

... fix the lasers and save [well...] the ship.


Short, sweet, very rich... and the atmosphere! This game did more in two lines of static than most INFOCOM games used to do in a page.

Again, brilliant.

sjdhalkjfgs May 31, 2009 1:50 AM

I still don't understand how I'm supposed to get the thing to tell me the lasercodes.

I typed 8748, the guy tells me the laser panel says "type code match." It then says

Bleep - Code accessed: LASERCODES FOR TYPE 8-7-4-8:
>: Display Document (Y/N)?

and I always type y for yes, but it never tells me any other codes. I've tried it like 4 times now with always the same result.

sjdhalkjfgs May 31, 2009 1:54 AM

Power of posting, I guess. For anyone having the same problem as me, I just tried typing "Display Document" and it showed up.


Kyle -

Well, you helped the aliens destroy the base and wipe out humans (including you), so I don't think you won.

Anonymous May 31, 2009 8:27 PM

I didn't mind the fairly restricted nature of the parser at all. I thought it fit well with the nature of the story. In fact, as someone who works in tech support and frequently gives instructions to people who either don't speak English as a first language or don't fully understand the technology I'm guiding them through, I found it oddly realistic.

Faethyr June 1, 2009 11:11 AM

For those having trouble with getting certain data to show up in the game: the data accessed by the computer takes a couple of turns to fully load and display itself, in the same way the searches for salient info at the beginning took a couple of turns to complete. Patience is the key.

Not that the game really encourages patience at that stage...

DuctTapeBandit June 1, 2009 5:24 PM

Type "die"
Its fun :)


The twist is somewhat given away at the very beginning; the guy you're helping calls McThwaite an engineer but the records show him as a chef.


is there something else that must be done before...

>>move body
"..moved a little, didn't reveal anything.."
>>look in chute
"I can't see anything.. goes a long way down though."


There's a moderately sized hint at the plot twist early on in the game.

He mentions, after you go down the hatch, seeing bodies and lots of "red blood". Hmm.


*finds this game while poking around in JIG archives . . . starts it up and:*

aaaaaaugh how many different ways can I type

'twist green and blue wires'


I normally like IF, especially the ones where you're giving commands to another person, but I think I'll have to give this one a miss today. Maybe I'll come back when I'm feeling a little smarter :P



The verb you're looking for is "connect


I told the guy to die and it seems he took it literally 'cause the dialogue went something like this:

Me: "Die"

Guy: "Do what? ... help please ... oh God, oh God... Hel"

- click -


so i have the component, im in the laser room, and ive run around looking in and at everything that i can think of in all of the other rooms, but i cannot figure out how to progress from here

joojoolum February 9, 2013 4:15 AM

i only way figured there was something amiss when on my second time round, i got the guy to the lasers but only just ran out of time. his last words to me specifically were "damn you Human!!!" to which i was like "wait, whaaaaaaaaa?!"


It's like an Abbott and Costello routine or something.

...stand on.. all the bulkheads around have closed, they’re charred.. there’s piping, wiring hissing from every crevice.. it’s like it’s just been .. melted.. “

>> Examine walls.
“I guess they’re holding up... strain..”

>> Examine mess.
“I don’t see - no I ....what you mean at all.”

>> Examine level.
“I don’t think that’s going to be of any help..”

>> Examine walkway.
“The track, the track around the hub with the ladder.. it’s all twisted up, mangled.. bent sharply over, folded, yes... “

>> Examine ladder.
“..you can’t even stand on the bottom rung... caught in a pinch; I think.. there’s a hand there.. just.. ..”

“I think McThwaite was connecting up the back-up memory.. or something, I don’t know.. he may have finished the job..”

>> Examine hand.
“The what? ...see anything... that here.”

>> Examine V.
“The what? I can’t see anything.. Anything like that..”

>> Examine bulkheads.
“Sealed down.. area’s of the ship open to space, or on fire.. might be some people trapped.. don’t know..”

“They were too damn good for us... better firepower, defences, everything.. .. -”

Bleep – accessing records: “Species: G’hilga. First Contact: 2413. War declared 2423...”

- Initiate Search for Salient Inf (Y/N)? N
“- .. didn’t stand a chance.. I guess we were outside the moon security field.. would have polished us off if we hadn’t have broken through in time I suppose..”

>> Find component
“Sorry? Do.. what? I’m afraid I can’t hear.. ...much static..”

>> Examine chute.
“Chute, running from the level above I think.. the other end is trapped in one of the bulkheads; it’s squeezed the chute.. burst it open at the base, along a seam..”

>> Search chute.
“..something..yes, there’s something here. A component, it’s little blackened, but it’s some sort of component. Quite ... I’ve picked it up.. I’ve got it..”

>> Climb ladder.
“I’m climbing back up.. hard, the Grav’s a little looser here..”

“... is the central hub of the ship. Let’s see; there’s the hatch leading back up the bridge and a couple of other doors around the ring.. a lot sealed off; bulkheads down.. .. couple of bodies floating
slightly, red blood.. passages, blocked up leading off into .. marked ‘store room’ on the door, pretty solid.. and a ladder down, and some debris opposite .. squeeze past, I don’t know, I could try
to squeeze past it, I think there’s...”

>> Squeeze past debris.
“There’s not.. enough room for me.. don’t think I can get past.”

>> Squeeze past the debris anyway.
“The what? I.. I don’t see anything like that here.”

>> Make room.
“Do what, sorry..? You’re ...ing up, there’s interference...”

>> Make room for you to squeeze past the debris.
“What..? The radio’s bad .. breaking up, Moon’s ...thing..”

>> Get the debris out of the way.
“I only.. caught.. wanted me to.. get the debris.”


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