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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 5:52 pm 
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Location: Portland, OR, USA
I just learned that Doctor Who has a principle of time-travel physics called the Blinovitch Limitation Effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blinovitch_Limitation_Effect). I am guessing this was a deliberate nod by Zarf, but since it has not been mentioned by name in the new series, I didn't catch it.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:57 am 
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Auto-solve mode cheats a bit, doesn't it?

As an example, I was just double-checking the requirements for the "lodestone of purity" ritual while answering a hints question. Following a reset in a pretty-far-along game, I can do this:

Code:
>create lodestone of purity
You make your way to the Main Store.
You take the length of silver chain from the shelves.
You make your way to the Pyrics Store.
You take the silver coin from the rack.
You enchant the lodestone of purity.

(You are now in the Pyrics Store.)

>i
You are carrying:
    a lodestone of purity
    a thick key
    a steel bolt

>l
Pyrics Store
This is a tangle of storage racks, mostly empty. The Pyrics Lab is to the west.

On one rack you notice a jar of camphrost lumps.

A lead rod lies on another rack.

A stack of firebrick in back serves as a crude ritual bound, complete with gestalt shelf.

You can also see a silver coin here.


So, definitely nothing used but the silver chain and silver coin. But the text of the ritual is perfectly clear that you have to apply and then remove a contaminating aroma. So it seems like I should have had to retrieve an impet of something or other to help with that. (Since I'm supposed to remove the contaminating aroma, the hot-brick smell in the Pyrics Store doesn't qualify as a shortcut. But I wonder why that smell doesn't make it impossible to perform this ritual in the Pyrics Store. There are certainly other aroma-dependent rituals that don't work there. I don't think I performed this ritual in the Pyrics Store to begin with, either.)

I'd be interested to hear zarf's take on whether that's a bug or intentional.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2014 3:22 am 
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You're right, it's cheating. You could imagine that the impet retrieval actions are happening, but aren't important enough to mention in the output. But internally it just ignores them.

I suppose you could construct an edge case where it's genuinely inconsistent, by throwing all the impets down the chasm or something. I don't expect I'll bother fixing that.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:41 am 
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So I go to the ending and noticed one thing I don't think I've seen mentioned. If you type Go to man it pops up a list of Ctesc, Powes, and Sgt Brooks.

Attempting to think about or go to brooks fails though. I'm guessing it's just for the ending maybe?

Also, not sure if it was mentioned that this was a thing, but if you type think (person, i.e. hart) it will give you a blurb about them, their location if you know it, and the readout of their shadow and it's locations.

Also, Also, with regard to the birdhouse defensive structure, it seems to ONLY respond to ensigns, which would imply your psychic signature is known to be ensign...y. So I think you're some sort of amalgm or subsumption of forsyth and possibly an alien (given the swapping descriptions when you look at the characters in the lategame), but that's just me.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:36 pm 
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Just finished the game, and had a few thoughts about the story and end that I haven't read here yet.

1. Who you end up as in the end (Powes, Capt Hart, Anteres, Ensign Ctsec) seems to depend on which dragon you choose to subsume the others. I chose Syndesis and ended up as Ctsec, with dialogue indicating that "your" first thoughts were of the captain and where she might be. And that "despite what you might have shared together" she would be concerned with the ship.

2. I believe the reason that you wake up empty-minded, knowing no formulas or rituals is that this knowledge has been transduced into the sparks in the ship. This seems to make sense no matter who you end up as in the end because the game notes that Ctsec has been accessing advanced knowledge that a normal ensign wouldn't know. You can assume that the higher officers would have undergone advanced alchemical training.

3. I interpreted the fractures as disruptions in time and space. This explains why some of the fractures appear to be distant lands before the ship is fixed. It also explains why time is either halted or moving very, very slowly in places. If you notice, the other people on the ship do move to new places after each dragon is subsumed in turn. Thus, you might infer that time/space is somewhat stabilizing as you repair the ship, allowing the normal flow of time to proceed in a fashion. It isn't fixed completely, but the emergency dragon ritual warned us that it wouldn't be. Likely, the other people on the ship perceive you as immobile, as you perceive them.

4. The end, to me, represents a "12 Monkeys"-style time paradox where things (the ship) must be fixed in the future to repair the past (or vice versa)in a never-ending loop. Thus even after you have fixed the ship, if you didn't place the ballast, you must repeat the repair with uncertainty as to your success. But if you place the ballast in the future, and repair the ship, you get the the ending in the past that you are hopeful that help will come. When you reset due to the Void, you are passing through time to the past. When you finally restore the ship and ballast, the paradox is resolved.

5. The scraps of info you get about alchemy and dragons suggests that while people are using this technology, they largely don't understand it. This leads me to think that alchemy and dragons in particular are of alien origin and repurposed for human use. This seems to be supported by the interaction of the alien glyphs with the dragons on the ship. Certainly, the wrecked ship and your ship are not of the same culture. So why are the two technologies able to interact?

6. Aither poisoning is an important clue you get towards the end as to why and how you crashed. Passing through the aither poison fields in space affects humans and likely the ship/dragons in unpredictable ways (like the reference to the ghost ship). Similar to how the ship is disabled but not dead, the people on the crashed ship are disabled in time/space but not dead.

Ok, apologies for the wall of text! :)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:20 am 
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Finished the game yesterday; it took me about 20 hours. I was able to get about 80% through without hints. (For some reason, I just couldn't connect the coral to the fungicide.) It was a really great diversion. I haven't been that obsessed with a game since Dark Souls. And thinking about it, the two games are somewhat similar in how they function as games. Both have a pretty interesting lore that must be gleaned from the setting and from bits of information discovered while playing through the game. Both really have no narrative component, by which I mean that your actions are to solve a particular problem in the game world, not to advance a story. Both have intensely honed, utterly consistent, and highly enjoyable game mechanics. And both present a fascinating setting that both demands and rewards exploration. Certainly there are differences: Dark Souls has twitch-based play, encourages multiple play-throughs, and an innovative multiplayer component while Hadean Lands has deep puzzles and an incredible layers-of-abstraction conceit. But I think at their core, they sort of scratch the same gameplay itch.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:04 am 
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I just beat this yesterday. It was amazing. Then I came here to read through this thread, and I'm not surprised to see that nobody could really reach conclusions about the story.

Regarding what happened to the Retort, did anyone else think it had to do with a botched Great Marriage? That was my first assumption when I discovered the ornate paper locked in the captain's cabinet. It's not like the other rituals -- someone has obviously cobbled it together -- and I assumed it was the captain because she had it locked away. But perhaps she confiscated it from someone else.

This ritual also always goes wrong, doesn't it? Even when it goes right? The first time you perform it in the Nave to make the homunculus, you die. The only reason it's a "success" is because you "awaken" again and can subsequently use the homunculus. And when you perform it in the Chancel at the end, you also die. "Blood, incense, ruin, screams," I believe? It seems to be forcing you back into the moment when the ship was crashing, and again, you have to essentially die to cross that temporal barrier. Maybe it's not death exactly, but whatever Forsyth is, his weird nature is the only thing that seems to let him perform the marriage "safely."

So what if a normal human had tried to perform it originally, and the result was even more catastrophic because the ship was going through an alien aither field? Adding to the catastrophe would be how all the ingredients were probably contaminated by Powes, who wanted to cause a disaster, but presumably not on this scale. The first botched marriage would've triggered the recursive "echo" loop, and the marriages conducted from deeper levels within that loop are trying to reboot everything to the surface.

When I tried conducting the Great Marriage at the end with the dragon, I did it incorrectly at first. I thought I needed to call the dragon during the marriage, so I recited the symmetric sequence. It didn't work, of course, but I got this interesting response:

Quote:
You begin reciting the values of the symmetric sequence. However, when you reach the end, it doesn’t sound the same as the beginning.

Antisymmetric gets you the same thing:

Quote:
You begin reciting the values of the antisymmetric sequence. However, when you reach the end, it doesn’t feel like the opposite of the beginning.

This seems to show that time/space is turned inside-out during the Great Marriage ritual, even if it hasn't been completed! Merely starting the ritual is already enough to mess things up.

I also figured that the simple sealing at the end/beginning was responsible for containing the disaster. Trapping it inside a metaphysical bound, like all the rituals are sealed within bounds in the game. Once the seal is active and the ingredients are contained, that's when the alchemy can begin. Likewise, the simple sealing contains the Retort, allowing Forsyth to move around through its various echoes and perform alchemy on "localized" space/time. So even though the simple sealing is no great technique, it saved the ship. In fact, it's probably because it's so basic that it was able to trump the more disorderly alchemic chaos swirling around.

Another thing that I haven't seen anyone mention in this thread (although I might've overlooked it) is the chasm! This was the absolute strangest place in the game to me. From the information you gather, it's supposed to be there, just like any other room. According to the text in the Deep Lab, the Retort has "underground zones," and "every marcher started with a single room, somewhere on Earth, to which all its other halls and chambers were added."

When I began the game, I was imagining a spaceship sailing around the cosmos. Your standard flying spaceship. But when I got to the chasm and the Deep Lab, I had to totally reevaluate. These rooms seem to indicate that the Retort doesn't move at all, that it's always anchored to some "underground zone" back on Earth, which is built into its architecture. Instead it's outer space that moves around the Retort! The dragons, which I had envisioned at first as complex life-support systems and engines for the ship, are responsible for actually remolding reality around the ship to transport it to new places. This is demonstrated further when the dysfunctional Syndesis causes rooms to vanish -- rooms which then reappear once you repair Syndesis. It was delightfully disorienting for me to realize that every room in the Retort is probably disconnected by hundreds (thousands? (millions? (billions?))) of miles, and only the dragons are holding everything together.

On a more mundane level, I only got stuck at a few puzzles. Using one burning wood to ignite another at a lower heat would've never occurred to me, since I think of lighters as having very weak flames. (I've lit my fair share of incense and dried sage with a lighter without having it immediately blaze into ashes like those swamp reeds!) And I also didn't think to make a fungicide to kill the coral.

I never tried altering rituals without a very good reason (increase/decrease), because the possible combinations were mind-boggling. This served me well -- until the Confusing Cracks, where I tried to reverse the lodestone of centrality. What a waste! I can't imagine going through every permutation of every ritual only to be met by as many failures as I had with that lodestone. If there is a secret ritual in the game somewhere, it'll take a brave soul to find it!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:09 am 
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A thing I really appreciated: A retort can be either a response or rejoinder, or a piece of laboratory glassware. I like to think the Admiralty has a sense of humour about naming their ships, and that they're all vaguely menacing puns.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:29 am 
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I agree. It's such a great name for the ship. I also took it as a kind of encapsulated message about the game, that however much effort the characters might put into uncovering alchemy's secrets, and however much players might put into unraveling the story's mystery, these will remain "unanswerable."


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:48 pm 
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Location: Portland, OR, USA
CMG, I think you've hit on something with your idea about the Great Marriage gone wrong and how the simple sealing saves the ship. Rarely has a piece of IF made me think about it so long after all the puzzles were solved.


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