My Black Cauldron playthrough

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by Datadog » Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:13 am

notbobsmith wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:10 pm
And of course minutes after I post do I finally figure out how to climb the mountain! I swear I was here a bunch of times and couldn't figure out what to do and then it sort of just happens!
That's where I got stuck too. Where you walk plays a big factor in puzzle solving.

One moment that stuck out to me was a recurring moment in the swamp where Taran kept hitting his head on a low-hanging branch. It was an odd reminder that I was playing an Al Lowe game, and Al was probably laughing his head off in the 80's when he implemented that.
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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by notbobsmith » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:44 pm

Datadog wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:13 am
notbobsmith wrote:
Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:10 pm
And of course minutes after I post do I finally figure out how to climb the mountain! I swear I was here a bunch of times and couldn't figure out what to do and then it sort of just happens!
That's where I got stuck too. Where you walk plays a big factor in puzzle solving.
Just finished last night. Overall I thought it was pretty good. My score was at first 197 out of 230 but I brought it up to 212 when I revisited the ending and saved Gurgi. It’s funny, the places where I kept getting hung up on were the “hidden path” locations. With the mountain one, I did actually did look several times to find a path. I stumbled upon it this last time almost by chance.

The game itself does offer a fair bit of replayability with a few different ways for the plot to advance depending on your actions. I thought it was kind of odd that the game didn’t award points for every little thing you did like pretty much every other Sierra title, but that actually means that your score reflects how well you did rather than how successful you were with point hunting. I didn’t get the impression that there are many ways to “break” the game. I think losing the waterskin was probably one of the few. As mentioned before, the control scheme with the function keys taking the place of typed commands took some getting used to. Once I did, it did make interacting with the game almost point-and-click-like. I imagine this would be beneficial to younger players. That said, you do have to walk to objects and hit F8 (“look”) if you wanted to see if there was something more there versus just typing “look tree”. And in other games, the responses you get added a little flavor to the game which was somewhat lacking here. It’s been a while since I’ve played the King’s Quest AGI games, but I have the impression that the artwork for Black Cauldron was bland in comparison. And the aforementioned mountain area just looked kind of messy.

I can’t really compare it to the movie since I haven’t seen it in a very long time. The other characters don’t appear too much in it, but that is likely due to technical limitations. I did have a question about the ending though: I thought that the cauldron gets destroyed when a living person enters it, but the witches want it back at the end and are willing to trade for it. Why wasn’t it destroyed? I remember in the movie that Gurgi dies destroying it, but I don’t remember how he comes back to life.


Other thoughts:
- There’s one screen where you can hop around on stones in a lake. It serves no purpose that I can determine, except perhaps for practice in the bog. When you reach the highest rock (which generated a message), you can then hop to shore and then hop around the shore. You can’t do this until after landing on the highest rock. Strange.
- Still a little puzzled about the magic word being some jumble of letters.
Datadog wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:13 am
One moment that stuck out to me was a recurring moment in the swamp where Taran kept hitting his head on a low-hanging branch. It was an odd reminder that I was playing an Al Lowe game, and Al was probably laughing his head off in the 80's when he implemented that.
- Whenever something like the branch thing happens in a Sierra game, my first instinct is to think that it’s a clue for something. :)

So that about wraps things up. I’ll give it another playthrough with a walkthrough to see what I missed.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by BBP » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:20 am

Nice!

In the film, Taran trades the cauldrom to Gurgi. Gurgi's then lifeless but starts looking for munchings and crunchings inTaran's shirt, and then they walk off into the sunset inon of the pig's visions.
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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by Tawmis » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:53 am

notbobsmith wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:44 pm
- There’s one screen where you can hop around on stones in a lake. It serves no purpose that I can determine, except perhaps for practice in the bog. When you reach the highest rock (which generated a message), you can then hop to shore and then hop around the shore. You can’t do this until after landing on the highest rock. Strange.
- Still a little puzzled about the magic word being some jumble of letters.
I don't remember either of those; but it's been eons since I played to the end.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by adeyke » Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:22 am

If you lose your water flask to the current, it'll just be swept away to the screen south of starting screen, where you can pick it up. So that's not a dead end.

I think the lake can serve as an alternative entrance to the cave, but I'm not quite sure how. Opening the game in AGI Studio, I can see some messages related to it, but I can't immediately understand what triggers it. AGI Studio would really benefit from an option to search all logic resources for some string, since right now, figuring out where a given flag is set is a very tedious process.

I have mixed feelings about the graphics. I do think that the castle vista screen looks amazing, and most of the others are quite okay. However, I also think most of the interior castle screens just look bad. They have weird colors and the wall/floor "texture" consisting of just random rectangles everywhere doesn't really work for me.

As for the cauldron, in the book, a living person entering definitely shatters it. From what I gather, however, in the movie and the game, it instead just releases the magic and renders it inert.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by Datadog » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:30 am

notbobsmith wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:44 pm
- There’s one screen where you can hop around on stones in a lake. It serves no purpose that I can determine, except perhaps for practice in the bog. When you reach the highest rock (which generated a message), you can then hop to shore and then hop around the shore.
In my playthrough, I followed the movie path where my pig gets captured and I had to rescue her from the castle first. Going this way, I don't meet the fairy in the hut and I don't get the magic word. So the alternate way into the fairy kingdom becomes a magic portal you discover when jumping on those rocks.
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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by adeyke » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:55 pm

Thanks for that info. I knew it had to be something to do with Hen Wen entering first, but I wasn't sure how to get that, since I never played through the part of rescuing her.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by notbobsmith » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:35 pm

adeyke wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:22 am
If you lose your water flask to the current, it'll just be swept away to the screen south of starting screen, where you can pick it up. So that's not a dead end.
That's pretty cool that they give you a chance to continue. Then the game is pretty well designed from that standpoint.
adeyke wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:22 am
As for the cauldron, in the book, a living person entering definitely shatters it. From what I gather, however, in the movie and the game, it instead just releases the magic and renders it inert.
I just looked up a clip of the movie and it looks like it plays out more or less the same to the game (although from the walkthrough, the game also gives a totally different option). But why would the witches be willing to trade something of great value for a powerless cauldron?
Datadog wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:30 am
notbobsmith wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:44 pm
- There’s one screen where you can hop around on stones in a lake. It serves no purpose that I can determine, except perhaps for practice in the bog. When you reach the highest rock (which generated a message), you can then hop to shore and then hop around the shore.
In my playthrough, I followed the movie path where my pig gets captured and I had to rescue her from the castle first. Going this way, I don't meet the fairy in the hut and I don't get the magic word. So the alternate way into the fairy kingdom becomes a magic portal you discover when jumping on those rocks.
Thanks. Good to know. It felt like that there should be something more to it. I actually have to give the game a lot of credit. Multiple paths is pretty atypical for Sierra titles. The only one that comes to mind right now is KQ6. But here it is in what is probably Sierra's least known game.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by Tawmis » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:23 am

notbobsmith wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:35 pm
Thanks. Good to know. It felt like that there should be something more to it. I actually have to give the game a lot of credit. Multiple paths is pretty atypical for Sierra titles. The only one that comes to mind right now is KQ6. But here it is in what is probably Sierra's least known game.
I wonder if that was a ... request (demand?) from the folks of Disney to create as many chances to complete the game and not dead end, as to not annoy their potential purchasers.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by adeyke » Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:43 am

I don't think it's useful to think of Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch as people with comprehensible goals and motivations. They're more along the lines of goddesses, with no personal stakes in the world of mortals but a willingness to make deals with those who seek them out.

I do agree that the multiple paths and the lack of dead ends are good design (though this is somewhat wasted if, given Sierra's general design philosophy, the player doesn't trust the game and just restores the game after a setback). I can't really praise the design of the game overall, however.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by Collector » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:55 am

Tawmis wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:23 am
I wonder if that was a ... request (demand?) from the folks of Disney to create as many chances to complete the game and not dead end, as to not annoy their potential purchasers.
Might be more of a matter of Sierra recognizing the target audience. How many dead end were there in A Troll's Tale?
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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by notbobsmith » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:56 pm

Tawmis wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:53 am
notbobsmith wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:44 pm
- There’s one screen where you can hop around on stones in a lake. It serves no purpose that I can determine, except perhaps for practice in the bog. When you reach the highest rock (which generated a message), you can then hop to shore and then hop around the shore. You can’t do this until after landing on the highest rock. Strange.
- Still a little puzzled about the magic word being some jumble of letters.
I don't remember either of those; but it's been eons since I played to the end.
The magic word is "bmmpxf". It just seems odd to have it look like some randomly generated collection of letters. But it's not randomly generated because it is an inventory item with a picture attached. And there's no need to make it random since you can only use the word from your inventory. There's no opportunity for you to "cheat" and use the word before you learn it.

When you are captured in the castle and lose all of your inventory items, you get to keep the magic word. It is not a physical object, after all. I just find it amusing that the programmers thought of that.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by notbobsmith » Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:01 pm

adeyke wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:43 am
I don't think it's useful to think of Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch as people with comprehensible goals and motivations. They're more along the lines of goddesses, with no personal stakes in the world of mortals but a willingness to make deals with those who seek them out.
I seem to recall from the novels that they, like you said, have no personal stake in the world. They were willing to trade the black cauldron to whomever could pay the price, good or evil. A powerful magical artifact like the cauldron required another powerful magical artifact in trade. Which is why I don't understand why they would be willing to pay a high price to get back what ought to be a now useless cauldron.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by adeyke » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:03 pm

I agree that bmmpxf is a strange choice of word. On the other hand, I can't think of any potential word that wouldn't seem strange, unless it's instead one of the standard magic words (e.g. abracadabra, alakazam, open sesame, hocus pocus), which would instead seem out of place in a fictional world that doesn't share our pop culture. What word could they have chosen that would instead have made you think "yes, this is what I expect of a magic word."?

That final scene makes sense in the context of the BC movie, in that it lets the movie have more of a happy ending. In-universe, I do agree that it seems odd. I guess my reasoning is that thinking in terms of their motivations at all doesn't work. They don't actually intend to do anything with the things they're given in trade, and they don't actually care about what's done with the things they trade away. Maybe, because they don't actually want an undead army, an inert cauldron has just as much value to them as the magic one. They seem to already have a collection of cauldrons in their cottage.

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Re: My Black Cauldron playthrough

Post by notbobsmith » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:38 pm

adeyke wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:03 pm
That final scene makes sense in the context of the BC movie, in that it lets the movie have more of a happy ending. In-universe, I do agree that it seems odd. I guess my reasoning is that thinking in terms of their motivations at all doesn't work. They don't actually intend to do anything with the things they're given in trade, and they don't actually care about what's done with the things they trade away. Maybe, because they don't actually want an undead army, an inert cauldron has just as much value to them as the magic one. They seem to already have a collection of cauldrons in their cottage.
Thnking about it some more, I guess one way to interpret their actions was that they wanted to see what Taran would do. They offered him some treasures which he rejects in exchange for Gurgi's life. A selfless act. Maybe they were just curious. That would at least make sense for the movie and one of the game endings.

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