My playthrough

Feeling like this game could be murder... literally? Well, come on in here for some extra detective work (and clues/hints/etc!) for the Laura Bow games (The Colonel's Bequest and The Dagger of Amon Ra).

Re: My playthrough

Postby adeyke » Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:05 am

I don't consider the points system of other Sierra games to provide meaningful replay value, either, as I've explained in an earlier post. I think it's a bit weird to have a such a system in an adventure game, to be honest.

As for the fingerprints, I think you're supposed to look them up in the manual, the same way you did for the copy protection. Needing to refer to stuff outside the game is annoying, though, and there's no reason why Laura would have access to that information.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby Tawmis » Thu Dec 14, 2017 12:07 pm

adeyke wrote:I don't consider the points system of other Sierra games to provide meaningful replay value, either, as I've explained in an earlier post. I think it's a bit weird to have a such a system in an adventure game, to be honest.


The one thing I do like about a point system is - it does let you know you missed something. So, for example, if I finish a game with a score of 248 out of a possible 250... I probably won't care. But if I beat a game with a score of 230 out of 250 ... that's a lot of points missed somewhere, and I missed either a BUNCH of tiny things - or there was something that could have been done totally differently that got me more points (in one shot, or several things). So that adds a bit to the mystery of "What did I miss?"
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Re: My playthrough

Postby adeyke » Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:09 pm

A low score does tell you missed a lot of optional point-giving actions, but it doesn't give any idea of what kind. It could be because you missed a significant chunk of content, like what happens if you dress up to enter the castle in KQ6. It could be because you consistently used a "bad" solution to puzzles, as can happen a lot in KQ1. Or it could just be that you failed to look at something or pick up a useless item. That is, you might have missed out on a whole screen or more, or a puzzle solution, or you might just have missed out on a text message or two. That makes it hard to judge if you want to go replay or not.

Plus, there are a lot of things that don't give any points. A lot of Sierra games have rather amusing messages when looking at things, as well as easter eggs, but those don't give any points. So a perfect score also isn't an indication that you've seen everything there is to see.

And if you do decide to replay to get more points, it really is a needle-in-a-haystack situation. If all you have to go by is "there is some action or set of actions that are not necessary for beating the game and that give 20 points", it could literally be anything, anywhere. And while Sierra games have a lot of situations where you can no longer win the game, they have even more situations that just stop you from getting a perfect score. So you can never tell if those missing points are still even possible.

The modern achievement system addresses some of this by hinting at what should be done. This can cause its own problems, though, if those hints end up spoiling the plot.

One idea would be to let a player who's won the game go back to previous sections to get what they missed. A lot of non-adventure games already do something like this, letting players replay individual levels in a campaign. It would tell you which section you failed to get the perfect score on and let you jump directly to it. Unlike the current "restore game" functionality, you'd keep your score and be able to increase it by finding those missing actions. Of course, this would only work if the game can be split into short, self-contained sections like this. If choices the player makes at the start of the game affect what happens at the end, it wouldn't work.

I should also, in fairness, say that there are two aspects of the point system that I do like:

Getting that "points gained" sound when solving a puzzle is really satisfying. It's a nice way of knowing that you're on the right track. The numerical score isn't important for this, though.

Also, having a score can be a good indication of where you are in the game. If you have 250/500 points, you're probably about halfway done. This only works really reliably if the points are given at a constant rate, though, and optional actions make this less reliable (maybe with 250/500, you're two-thirds done with the game but have just missed a lot of things).
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Re: My playthrough

Postby notbobsmith » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:48 pm

For me it has always been a slightly OCD approach that I have towards games. It would bug me when the points wouldn't add up properly. In PQ1 (AGI) the best score is 249 out of 245 (without exploiting the Cotton Cove bug). PQ3 is always 10 points short of the maximum. And PQ4 doesn't have a max score! That's just maddening. How do I know if I've found everything? I take the same approach to modern RPGs. Every side quest has to be completed, and it drives me crazy when a quest isn't cleared because of a bug.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby adeyke » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:19 pm

That's certainly annoying. If you're trying to get the max score by yourself, you'd never succeed. And if you're using a walkthrough or point list, getting a "perfect" score isn't as satisfying if it's not actually 100%.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby Tawmis » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:11 am

notbobsmith wrote:I take the same approach to modern RPGs. Every side quest has to be completed, and it drives me crazy when a quest isn't cleared because of a bug.


In this, my friend, we are exactly the same. :lol:
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Re: My playthrough

Postby notbobsmith » Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:03 am

adeyke wrote:As for the fingerprints, I think you're supposed to look them up in the manual, the same way you did for the copy protection. Needing to refer to stuff outside the game is annoying, though, and there's no reason why Laura would have access to that information.


The fingerprints were too small to compare to the copy protection prints. Unless they were meant to be compared to each other (e.g print on the record versus print on a glass) and that was another thing that I missed.

And using the fingerprints as copy protection was kind of annoying. I know that it fits the theme, but it's tricky trying to compare one amorphous blob to another.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby Tawmis » Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:46 pm

notbobsmith wrote:And using the fingerprints as copy protection was kind of annoying. I know that it fits the theme, but it's tricky trying to compare one amorphous blob to another.


I thought it was more creative then "Page 30, 3rd Paragraph, 9th sentence, 4th word."

That, to me, is far more annoying.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby adeyke » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:00 pm

Both are inexcusable. Pirates can remove the copy protection check or distribute the answers alongside the game, while legitimate owners are permanently inconvenienced. At least with games like SQ4 or KQ6, the check only happened once per the playthrough (and then not at the very start). With LB1 (and KQ4), the check happens at the start of each individual gaming session. Given how often this thread has caused me to start the game to check something out, that's a whole lot of inconveniencing.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby Tawmis » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:34 am

adeyke wrote:Both are inexcusable. Pirates can remove the copy protection check or distribute the answers alongside the game, while legitimate owners are permanently inconvenienced. At least with games like SQ4 or KQ6, the check only happened once per the playthrough (and then not at the very start). With LB1 (and KQ4), the check happens at the start of each individual gaming session. Given how often this thread has caused me to start the game to check something out, that's a whole lot of inconveniencing.


Sure. A pirate can bypass anything, really. So ... what? Don't do it? Doing it in the middle of the game is far more annoying to me. I'd rather knock out whatever copyright protection there is at the start - compared to getting into the game, going through some stuff - then BLAM - "Hey! I see you've gotten pretty far - how about verifying you own a copy of the game?" Now, rather than knowing it's at the START of the game I have to verify ownership - it's just going to pop up at me, sometime during game play and yank me out of the game? If it's at the beginning, I can knock out the copyright verification, package the game back in the box, and put it on the shelf and just enjoy the game.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby adeyke » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:23 am

As a player, I want every aspect of the game to enhance its experience. That is, the art, sound, music, text, mechanics, etc. should all be chosen because they'll make the game better. The developer/publisher might have other priorities (i.e. trying to get money), but that doesn't mean that I have to accept their priorities as my own. It's not my responsibility to care about the profitability of some company. And if, in trying to get more money, they do something that's detrimental to the experience of the game, I'm going to oppose that. The copy protection definitely fits that description; there isn't anyone who would say "I like the game, but I'd like it even more if I had to look up something in the manual before being able to play."

It's also not something they can remove when it's no longer relevant. These days, the manuals are all available online (a Google image search for "colonel's bequest fingerprints" gives the copy protection answers as first result), and often easier to distribute than the games themselves, so manual-based copy protection is obsolete. And we're now at the far tail end of profitability for those games. Losing sales to piracy when something is the hot new thing may be a big deal, but now, 20-30 years later, whether someone buys the games for a few bucks on Steam or GOG or pirates it doesn't make any meaningful difference. And yet, despite all this, the useless, intrusive copy protection is still there, a permanent scar on the games.

As for whether the SQ4-style copy protection or LB1-style copy protection is more intrusive, that all depends on how many game sessions you split the playthrough into. If you do play through the whole game in one sessions (or if you leave the copy and game running even when you take breaks from it), then the LB1 system does require only a single check at the start may be less inconvenient. However, if you split the playthrough into many sessions, or if you're just starting the game to look at a single scene or to test something, having to do the copy protection every time gets really annoying. To be clear, I'm not saying the SQ4 system is good or even acceptable, just that I find the LB1 system worse.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby Tawmis » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:39 pm

adeyke wrote:As a player, I want every aspect of the game to enhance its experience. That is, the art, sound, music, text, mechanics, etc. should all be chosen because they'll make the game better. The developer/publisher might have other priorities (i.e. trying to get money), but that doesn't mean that I have to accept their priorities as my own. It's not my responsibility to care about the profitability of some company. And if, in trying to get more money, they do something that's detrimental to the experience of the game, I'm going to oppose that. The copy protection definitely fits that description; there isn't anyone who would say "I like the game, but I'd like it even more if I had to look up something in the manual before being able to play."


Naw, but at the same time, even back then - I understood the need for copy protecting games (because - shhhh! - those games that were not copyrighted - my friend and I, were shamelessly copying with a program called CopyIIPC {how do I even remember that?!})... So, even back then - I got why I was having to look up finger prints. And they were smart - putting them on the red on red thing, so you needed the magnifying glass (or clear read plastic) to see it - making photocopying them pretty difficult back then! And back then, they also did the thing - where they intentionally "knocked" out a sector of the disk (someone else can probably explain it better), so that even when it didn't have a manual - the game required the original disks to be inserted - and not even CopyIIPC, in all of it's might and power - was able to bypass it back then!

adeyke wrote:It's also not something they can remove when it's no longer relevant. These days, the manuals are all available online (a Google image search for "colonel's bequest fingerprints" gives the copy protection answers as first result), and often easier to distribute than the games themselves, so manual-based copy protection is obsolete. And we're now at the far tail end of profitability for those games. Losing sales to piracy when something is the hot new thing may be a big deal, but now, 20-30 years later, whether someone buys the games for a few bucks on Steam or GOG or pirates it doesn't make any meaningful difference. And yet, despite all this, the useless, intrusive copy protection is still there, a permanent scar on the games.


Well, I can't name any games that DO manual copy protection anymore? And there was certainly no way, that Sierra, 20 years ago, could foresee what the internet would become - and that manuals could be so easily found to bypass copy protection. And I'd have to double check - but I believe GOG removes those old Copy Protections? Like I don't think (or recall?) that LB asks for finger prints? Maybe it does?

adeyke wrote:As for whether the SQ4-style copy protection or LB1-style copy protection is more intrusive, that all depends on how many game sessions you split the playthrough into. If you do play through the whole game in one sessions (or if you leave the copy and game running even when you take breaks from it), then the LB1 system does require only a single check at the start may be less inconvenient. However, if you split the playthrough into many sessions, or if you're just starting the game to look at a single scene or to test something, having to do the copy protection every time gets really annoying. To be clear, I'm not saying the SQ4 system is good or even acceptable, just that I find the LB1 system worse.


I get it. I mean, we all have differences of opinion - as to what works best because we all having different gaming styles. Usually if I am playing a Sierra game - I am preparing to sit and hunker down for the long haul, even if it's a game I've replayed a bunch of times, usually because I know, most Sierra games are time consuming; even if you've got the majority of the game memorized. I have played LSL1EGA about a thousand times; but I'd say it still takes me at least an hour to get all the way through the game; and that, I think, is one of Sierra's shortest games (or it feels like it).
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Re: My playthrough

Postby adeyke » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:41 pm

I can understand why those games have copy protection. However, I'm just completely opposed to any copy protection or DRM scheme that hurts legitimate owners.

I don't know of any even vaguely recent game with a manual-based copy protection. I think that died out around the time of CD-ROMs. Many Sierra games that have both a floppy and a CD-ROM version have the copy protection only on the former. However, when they rereleased floppy games in CD-ROM collections, they didn't remove the copy protection. At best, they had a simplified "cheat sheet" in the manual (e.g. for KQ4, you just had to look up the answer in a table instead of actually counting words).

I don't know whether the GOG release still has the copy protection or not. I don't own the game there, so I can't check. I know GOG lists fingerprint sheets as one of the included goodies. If they did remove the copy protection, that would certainly be a reason to get and play that particular version.
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Re: My playthrough

Postby Tawmis » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:53 pm

adeyke wrote:I can understand why those games have copy protection. However, I'm just completely opposed to any copy protection or DRM scheme that hurts legitimate owners.


Oh, I understand and agree. I am definitely not saying, "I want games to have copy protection!" I am just saying, I understood why they did it back then.

The problem boiled down to, back then, that people pirating games, made it some gaming companies had to find ways to at least inconvenience those that would illegally copy/play these games; and as a result, end users who bought the games legitimately suffered the consequence. I guess, back then, I understood - and it didn't bother me, because I was, as I said, one of those people who copied several games - like California Games (I played that thing all the time :lol: )... so it'd make me a hypocrite, even back then to say, "Why do I have to look up So-N-So's fingerprint? It's such a pain! I legitimately bought this game!" When next to me was a stack of recently copied games. :lol: I was part of that problem.

adeyke wrote:I don't know of any even vaguely recent game with a manual-based copy protection. I think that died out around the time of CD-ROMs. Many Sierra games that have both a floppy and a CD-ROM version have the copy protection only on the former. However, when they rereleased floppy games in CD-ROM collections, they didn't remove the copy protection. At best, they had a simplified "cheat sheet" in the manual (e.g. for KQ4, you just had to look up the answer in a table instead of actually counting words).


I think when they re-released the Sierra games (at least KQ, PQ, LSL, and such) - they removed the copy protection also? I can't speak for other games, like LucasArts, because Sierra games are the only ones I really re-purchase ever.

adeyke wrote:I don't know whether the GOG release still has the copy protection or not. I don't own the game there, so I can't check. I know GOG lists fingerprint sheets as one of the included goodies. If they did remove the copy protection, that would certainly be a reason to get and play that particular version.


I can probably check tonight, if I remember. :lol:
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Re: My playthrough

Postby notbobsmith » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:37 am

I understand the need for copy protection. My only issue was the implementation. The fingerprints can be tough to compare. PQ2 uses a similar idea with the mugshots in the manual which is much easier.

On a related note, Starflight came with this great security decoder wheel as copy protection. The GOG version disabled the copy protection in their release. When I got my Kryoflux board, I was happy to make copies of my original floppies so I could play that version instead. It's a rare instance of actually being nostalgic for copy protection. :)
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