Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bottom Line, for now

Another day off, spent in replaying the rest of Uru. Got out guidebook, went back to Teledahn, beginning with control panel at top of trolley to lower water, etc; went thru rest of age -- prison cave, using gun to shoot counter-weights, etc, and found book which takes you to prison cell in Gahreesen. Finished both those ages...

Then did kadish, the purple puzzle age, until game service itself shut down for couple hours -- then did a 40meg 'update' before relaunching. Had trouble leaping gap near ziggurat to other side, where formerly was a relto page -- now nothing. (This has been discussed in forum as 'missing page'.) completed age, then did eder gira/kemo, remarkably easy, even kicking the buckets. the leaps at end of gahreesen went ok too -- either they've made the game slightly easier, or i'm just getting better at it, or perhaps different computer/keyboard makes responses more accurate. (Even found it easy to climb and jump on ledge in eder kemo to get relto book there, and to jump down and across lava river in eder gira without once falling in or panic linking to Relto.)

What's new? noticed in forum mention of a relto books for a bridge (!) in cleft area near zandi's trailer... and realized that, part-way through, there was no way to get back to cleft. (the new game starts on relto, with one pillar in place holding the book to the cleft. after visiting there, you return to relto and find the four pillars to the ages, and the cleft book gone.) eventually after finishing all four ages, you automatically return to cleft, visit yeesha again, get the rain and see the bahro climb into the volcano. and then you find a firepit near zandi's trailer (that wasn't there before), with a relto page... it creates a bridge from the relto island to a couple of the pillars. on the second pillar is a compass rose kind of diagram, and a small object (a lamp? candleholder?) containg a glowing sparkle...

Other discovery was in Kadish, in the pillar puzzle (the huge pillars with counterweights you must raise in the right sequence to climb up through the ceiling), there's a 'sparkly' floating at the top of the third pillar. you have to perform a separate setting of the pillars to climb up and let the sparkly surround you--and it does something to your relto book. that *may* be the same glowing sparkle across the bridge in relto, except that one forum post said that when you find the sparkle, if you don't already have the bridge (which i didn't, because i hadn't finished the four ages yet), it would have no effect. so should i revisit kadish now and encounter the sparkle again? [update later -- no]

Apparently was one earlier sparkle that's not there now. speculation is there'll be one new one a month, that the compass rose is some kind of calendar or clock.

Also new: completing each of the four ages puts a segment of floating rock hovering and slowly circling above the donut-shaped rock on relto. (according to forum, completing the 2 new eder ages with friends results in 2 more objects there)

Maybe new? i don't recall a separate, empty vault at the end of kadish -- thought there was a stonecloth to somewhere, but not that. could re-read closely the original uru guidebook to see. now, in the empty vault is a relto page for butterflies -- didn't remember that either. (maybe i should relaunch uru on other computer and see?)

Another minor discovery: linking to relto while surrounded by fireflies (in eder) brings fireflies to relto. apparently this was always possible.

Bottom line for now: the live release has several incidental new features scattered throughout the original ages, and two rather small new ages apparently designed to teach players how to play together, and that's about it. no substantial new ages, nor suggestion of some overall 'story' about where the game is going... but there are still a lot of empty slots in the relto bookcase!

Also interesting: haven't appreciated, perhaps, the implication in uru guidebook that uru was the vision of where the myst games would go following riven... that myst iii, iv, and v are in some sense all sidebars, or repeats of the original myst pattern (of independent ages around a hub age).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Remembering the Solutions

Decided it's not 'cheating' to look up how to solve a puzzle i've already solved myself at least once -- so got uru book i bought a while back and found sequence to activate power in gahreesen. from there, went up elevator, and jumped across to other building on first try. (no problem running uru on laptop -- though the myst v 'trailer' did not run well on it, a couple years ago; the sound kept dropping out.) found stonecloth -- it links to yet another city balcony, which had a power marker. (so those collecting all the power markers really do have to replay substantial portions of the game to get them.)

There's actually nothing else to 'do' in Gahreesen, until accessing the prison cell via the link at the end of Teledahn.

In mentally reviewing, the two areas of most difficulty in all of Uru, in terms of manual dexterity, are the jumps in Gahreesen, especially at the end down onto the rock pillar, and kicking the wooden buckets around in Eder to make a bridge you can carry the fireflies across. And in the expansion pack, having to swim to the small island in Adonay, which perhaps isn't always necessary. Aside from those, replaying the entire game with a puzzle guide at hand shouldn't actually take very long -- two or three hours?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Back to Gahreesen

2/26 Afternoon:

Saw forum posts that said in *some* Bevin neighborhoods there is a book linking to Eder Devin, rather than Eder Tsogal; also, that each area results in obtaining a 'donut' object that appears in your Relto above the tire-shaped stone. But, tried a couple Bevins, and didn't find anything different.

Went to beginning of Gahreesen and played through game, partly to see if anything was new, partly to find Bahro stone to access additional power markers. Got through passage into power room, did some trial and error but didn't remember which sequence activates the power.

City: returned to library, doors open automatically on approach, just fine. was saturday's problem a lag issue because of so many other players there? one power marker inside, nothing else.

Eder: went to Eder from shared bevin, but no one else there.

Stonecloths [i.e. Bahro stones]: some lead to the various dead end areas (balconies, etc) where power markers can be found. started compiling a list. went to own teledahn book, played opening of game (turning on power tower, riding cable car to top, entering doug sharper's office).

... Don't remember, how is rooftop in city accessed? (There were 2 pm's there)
Where were other stonecloths? One in 2nd Gahreesen building conference room? One in initial Kadish area. One at end of Teledahn, in the shadows. was there one at end of gahreesen, in prison cell? There must have been one in Eder, where was it? (On ledge near firefly area?) May be confusing these with locations of Relto cloths.

Leading to open question: does Uru Live require player to step through all of original four worlds, if only to access stonecloths to find all the power markers?

As far as i can tell, only options currently in game are to 1) wander around and collect power markers, even though this won't result in anything because they're not all yet available; 2) gang up with 'friends' to do spiral cloth puzzles in two new Eder areas... even though i've seen no hint doing these results in anything past that, or new.

Despite which, glancing at forum topics (without reading posts, to avoid crude spoilers) suggests numerous topics unrelated to either of these.

Might be useful (and would hardly be cheating) to read walkthroughs of earlier uru game, just to refresh where things were and what outcome of various tasks was....

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Four in One Minute

Eder tsogal: able to tag four of the spiral cloths in the time (1 minute) before the timer runs out. confirmed that the cloth at the top of the stairs is #2, because when pressing cloths in correct order, bolts around the circumference of the portal light up.

City: wandered around, discovered more power markers. discovered a ledge around the library i'd not previously seen -- was it there in original game? -- though it didn't lead anywhere. noticed library door does open intermittently, but couldn't get through, though a couple others did. found initial set of 15 markers, returned to great zero room and discharged them. this adds nexus link to the outer calibration room -- where you find one more marker, but otherwise doors that don't open.

Online forum indicates only 25 of total 30 power markers are yet available. as i recall, collecting all markers gains access to calibration room, and eventually turning on power in cavern. how would this work in shared game environment?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wandering Around

Day off today, though spent only couple hours in Uru. Nothing new in Eder--no one there. Spent time wandering around the city, looking for the power markers. Discoveries: the gallery from Kadish is now accessible from the outside area where the balcony is partly destroyed. And both the museum and library buildings are *not* accessible, as they were earlier.

Found 12 of 15 needed power markers. (They seem to be in the same locations as before, but not all of them.) Lag time significant, since city is a shared area. Once got stuck in the gallery, simply couldn't open door, had to Relto out and return.

Went briefly to Kadish and to Teledahn, the latter via a stonecloth in the former, where you find the dock page for Relto on an exterior boardwalk that's cut off in each direction. (What would it be if you went to Teledahn directly?)

Chatter in city indicates people arrange 'Eder runs', getting a group of explorers together to synchronize touching the spiral cloths and opening the portal.

Glancing at forum topics, saw one post that claimed he did Eder with only 2 people, himself and daughter. No one talking about whether they could do it alone.

Also no indication that, aside from the two smallish Eder areas with spiral cloth puzzles, there's much other new content, yet. Did see a topic (did not read) claiming to list all the new features in the existing areas, but this seemed to mean things like doors that do or don't open, not major new areas.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chief Charm Conflict

Went back to Eder whatever. Located all seven spiral cloths. Touching the portal triggers a *different* sequence of partial shapes each time. Reasonable to number them 1 thru 7, smallest to complete. But which cloths correspond with which number, or pattern?

Glanced at hint guide online... which suggests right away having a 'friend' help. Better hint: when the Portal hasn't been triggered, touching a cloth displays its corresponding signal on the portal door. Trouble is, only a couple cloths have direct lines of sight to the portal. A couple others are near enough you can touch the cloth and run to glimpse the portal before it fades out... but at least two cloths aren't close enough at all. You can be reasonably sure of five at most.

Hint guide confirms basic hypothesis: you have to touch all seven cloths in the current sequence, before the portal activation runs out. But first you need to *see* the current sequence; after that, there's slightly over a minute before the portal deactivates. Can you run back and forth an touch all 7 cloths in a minute? Barely. Tried a couple times, didn't do it--but I may not be guessing correctly about the two unknown cloths.

Unfortunately, this puzzle confirms suspicion that the online game *does* require interaction between players, which for me conflicts with one of Myst/Uru's chief charms -- that you're in the role of an isolated explorer, alone, and can figure everything out yourself. It's as if you couldn't read a book without finding someone else to read the dialogue outloud.

Couple options... keep trying to do it alone, it might be barely possible. Or, go to the common Edo age and wait around for someone else to work the puzzle, and jump through the portal with them (as people were doing the other day).

Note also that, judging from hint guide, the adjacent Edo age has a virtually identical 7-cloth puzzle. But after that, the original Edo ages have perhaps different content (something about arriving at night).

Technical note -- got a couple crash errors, one a stack overflow.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Open Questions

later 19Feb07:

Went back Relto and used the book to the Cleft, decided to work through it to see if anything was different. Apparently not; you release the windmill; you touch the seven journey-cloths (one of which only appears when Yeesha gives her speech); you open the portal and descend into the 'tree'. Now on the pedestal instead of finding the book to Relto (as in the original Uru), you find one of those extra pages for your Relto book that enables a new feature--this one being, the full set of four pillars. You automatically go back to Relto, and now the four pillars are there as in the original Uru (and a book about them is present on the right-side shelf in the cabin).

Today at lunch went to own Bevin and then used book to the new Eder (Edo? hmm) -- now there all alone. Can it be played alone or together, depending on which book you use to access the age--from which Bevin? That would make sense; open question.

In the new Eder, initially touching a cloth turns it on, touching it again turns it off. There are seven clothes, in no particular arrangement.

Touching the spiral symbol on the portal door causes it to turn slowly, and glow in portions and sequence. There are apparently seven portions, from a single dot in the center, to the entire symbol. After running through a sequence several times, it shuts itself off and turns back to its starting position.

After this has been done, touching one of the cloths turns it on, but then it slowly fades off.

Touching the spiral symbol again triggers a *different* sequence of partial illuminations. Re-touching it part-way through cycles it back, so it keeps going. (verify this)

Hypothesis for this puzzle is: you need to touch the portal symbol, read off the *sequence* of partial illuminations, and while it's running, touch the cloths in the same sequence--but you'd have to guess which cloths correspond to which portion. Number them 1 thru 7? You may have to renew the portal symbol part way thru, if you can't run around to activate all the cloths in the time allotted. This would make it like the power room puzzle in Gahreesen, and a little like the pressure plate puzzle in Teledahn.

But--does anything happen if you simply activate all the cloths to begin with, when you first arrive, before touching the portal? Could try next time.

Also today, used link to Great Zero briefly. Activating the device there turns on 15 'power marker' indicators on your Ki, requiring you to run around the find corresponding power markers. Why should it be necessary to do this?

Open questions:
> can the new ages be played alone or together?
> is it in any way necessary to play the four original ages in order to progress through the new ones?
> why is a link provided to the Great Zero? (seems to lead to merely replaying part of the original game)
> is there any overall 'story' to the new ages -- the way the original Uru involved freeing the Bahro, returning light to the cavern, etc --? (may well be there isn't -- since the whole idea of uru live is that it's open-ended and indefinitely expandable.)
> what's the difference between an 'age player' and a 'neighbor'? why is 'nano' my neighbor?
> is it possible to play any part of the game without being online and logged into gamespot? [after all, it seems to be installed locally]
> will any of the new ages *require* interaction with other players? or can they be figured out alone?

In the Beginning

With the release of Uru Live, I started keeping a journal of sorts of my progress each day as I explored yet another Myst game. Thumbnail background: I've never played video or computer games of any kind, excepting PC solitaire time-sinks like FreeCell and Tetris, until a friend game me Myst back in the '90s, about a year after it first came out. Since then I've played each successive Myst game obsessively as each has been released...

I'm writing on 7 March 07 but will try backdating entries as I originally wrote them, until I catch up. Let's see now...

Mon 19Feb07--

On Thursday, 15feb07, happened to browse one of my 'favorite' links and saw that Uru Live was available from Gamespot, for a monthly or annual subscription fee. As it turned out, the game was only just released that day or so. Signed up for annual subscription, then began download--huge 770mb file that took all evening to d/l, then a while longer to 'unpack' -- though that part hung, had to restart on Friday.

Friday evening, my partner home late, started game a bit...

The game now opens with you on Relto, just one pillar in the open area, and two books on the left shelf inside the hut. The pillar has a book to the New Mexico cleft area (where the original Uru began); the books inside link to your personal Bevin neighborhood, and to the Nexus (the personal cave-like room with the spinning book dispenser and control panel that responds to your 'Ki').

Going to the neighborhood, all looks the same, except that in the classroom, there's a note about getting help via restoration engineer helpers in the such-and-such neighborhood, and attending an introductory session held from 5-10pm CST. In the central room (the linking room, apparently it's called) there are four pedestals with books--the center, Nexus, and on the other three, to Gahreesen, to the chamber in the 'Great Zero' power control area, and to a new world that looks like Eder Kemo, the gardenlike area hemmed in by rocky ridges.

Going to Gahreesen is as before: you find the KI machine and stick your wrist in, and the device appears on your left wrist. The rest of the structure seems to be blocked off at this point. (check later--true?)

Going now to one of the other Bevins, via the Nexus, you are now present with all the other 'explorers' logged on at the same time. Here, lag time was noticeable -- controls didn't respond. Hovering over another avatar reveals their identity. Displaying the KI offers a list of who's present (but what's difference between an 'age player' and a 'neighbor'?), and a running chat is displayed at the time. Using the KI controls you can type into the chat.

Returned later in the day to attend the intro session -- which turned out to be in *another* Bevin, which wasn't clear at first -- and which was pointless. For rank beginners, with no specific information.

The game is apparently designed to be accessible to complete newcomers -- you don't have to have played the original Uru.

Aside from lag time -- which occurs only when in a common area with other players -- the most obnoxious thing about Uru Live is that every time you log on, you sit through several screens of 'updates', which can take 5-20 minutes before you're actually inside the game and ready to go.

Went into the new age briefly; again, lots of other players. There are a set of journey cloths, with a spiral design rather than a hand design, and a stone portal set into the rocky wall; apparently activating the cloths in some sequence opens the portal.

Interesting point -- when someone opened the portal, lots of other players ran across the area to jump through the doorway too. Does this mean that you can tag along with other players and not have to solve the puzzles yourself? (open question)