Praising "The Mulldoon Legacy"

(EDIT: This post doesn’t contain spoilers. However, the rest of the discussion might, although they are very low-key and we’re all trying very hard not to spoil it anyway. But just in case I’m moving this to the “Spoilers” section of the board)

You know when you love something so much you just have to inflict it on the general populace? Well stand back, 'cause I’m gonna let fly!

Seriously, I’m enjoying this game so much it’s hard to know what to start with. It’s like what Curses should have been, it has so many similarities. A family secret, a large geography, various extra scenes in the forms of flashbacks or just inhabiting other PCs from a different time. Lots and lots of puzzles. Except that, unlike Curses, it takes pains to be amazingly fair! It’s not easy, but it’s not frustrating either.

I can’t stress that enough. I’l left wishing someone would re-do Curses! in this style. Make sure you can’t leave an area you can’t return to unless you’ve done everything; or make it revisitable. Make it impossible to put the game in an unwinnable state. Those are the things that seriously put me off Curses! and make playing it something to be dreaded.

I thought ML would be something to be dreaded, from its reputation. It isn’t! It’s the most pleasurable puzzle-fest I’ve played yet, because it plays so fair with you!

Not only that, but the writing is very friendly. Lots of humourous replies award various little commands, all of them just right enough to actually make me chuckle or laugh out loud - short, dry, wry comments, little bursts of eboulliance in thos otherwise sprawling and complex game. I just loved, for instance, the difference in how the geese were described before and after they attacked you.

I’m only a fifth of the game in - have been playing for the past couple of days and am about 54 points of about 256 through. And it’s been a smooth experience, amazingly. This hardly ever happens with me; usually when I’m stuck, I’m well and truly stuck, and I have to work hard at it, with indifferent success. In ML? The game has proven to me time and time again that it plays fair; its parser is very sophisticated for what it is (in a game like this an average parser would have been fine, but noooo - Ingold made sure to make it go above and beyond, so that any meaningful input you want to try can be rewarded. In my experience anyway!); and it has a very light-hearted feel about it to boot.

And the puzzles, oh God I’m having so much FUN with the puzzles! Seriously, I’ve spent the better part of my gaming session trying to fuel up the generator in the wrong way. When eventually I did manage it I was possibly far too pleased with myself for it to be healthy. Then there’s the sliding doors puzzle, which I solved in my head while making some toast in the kitchen; I was idly thinking about the problem while getting out the butter and then I laughed aloud - I actually did! - because the perfect solution to the problem had just occurred to me. And I thought, well, maybe it won’t work, but it would be great if it did! And sure enough, it did.

It’s these little moments that make IF great, you know?

It’s so interesting that Jon Ingold, who would later be so unenthusiastic about the parser, would make this perfect example of good parser-IF old-school-ish (but fair in a new-school way!) sprawling puzzlefest. And it’s proper IF puzzles, too. The reason I never could get into Not Just An Ordinary Ballerina! was because it was more of a collection of non-IF puzzles from what I could see, and I had a really rough experience with it. First puzzle I solved, the surveillance monitors, was the sort of puzzle I positively abhor. Then when I realised I couldn’t get the lights on even after the hints specifically explained to me what the answer was and how to arrive there - it involved a sort of math I never knew about and, to this day, have never seen outside of the game!, and even when the game explained it to me I still didn’t get it - I gave up. Two puzzles in and I’m uncomfortable and frustrated, how likely is it that I’m going to enjoy the rest of the game?

ML is what I consider to be “proper” IF puzzles. That’s a loaded statement, because there really isn’t a “proper” IF puzzle, but I consider world-manipulation puzzles to be what IF puzzling is mostly all about, and that’s what ML delivers. There’s a healthy dose of surrealism - and you know it’s healthy when it remains logic enough for you to take it in its stride and you can still function rationally to solve the puzzles.

It’s full of lieel niceties - the photocopier, for instance, was clearly painstakingly coded. It must have been a nightmare, and I7 would be choking hard on all the disambiguation today, but Ingold - in I6 - made it a supremely smooth experience.

Ingold is defeinitely an amazing author. You can’t even pinpoint his style. Let’s look at some of his games:

All Roads;
A Colder Light;
Make It Good;

And now we have Inklestudious. The man defies cathegorisation, he experiments wildly. ML seems to have been his attempt at Curses! (Make It Good was probably his attempt at Deadline / Varicella). Ingold seems to be one of those people that set out to do something, and when it’s done, bar some further releases and bug-fixing, feels no need to do it again; why would he, one can imagine him thinking, approach the Curses! subgenre when he’s already done Mulldoon?

Seriously, this game is fantastic. I’m frankly amazed it doesn’t get talked about as often as Anchorhead or Curses. This game is, in every way, a classic - something to learn from at every turn.

And again - I’m only a fifth of the way in!


I see you’ve read what I wrote in that thread in that nazi forum.

Anyway, I enjoy Ingold as an IF author very much - Fail-Safe, All Roads, The Colder Light… all rate very high with me. I’m still to finish any of his larger works (or any large IF for that matter), but you can just feel something extraordinary in there.

Still, I had a very different experience going through Curses and Muldoon. The first one may be cruel sometimes, but it always hints whenever you’re going doomed, it always hints at something to be done. It’s there, in descriptions of places, things or actions. And all the puzzles sound remarkably organic to the situations as you find more about your heritage. In Muldoon it seems about machinery and button-pushing. I’m still in the very beginning. I actually stepped away from it to play Curses, yes, reminded for by Victor in that thread that it might be a good time to play these oldies. I’m stuck looking at a wax statue with a match under it’s foot and I can’t pull it or whatever. It’s not fair, it’s just wax, how hard would it be to pull it? Well, wax melts, but for that I need the match. Well, I also have my lamp but it doesn’t work and there’s the laser thing in a nearby room but it doesn’t let me fire the pine branch… so I’m kinda stuck and decided to leave until later… I’ve never been this stuck in either Jigsaw or Curses…

no, please, no hints…

Fine, I won’t give you any - except to say that you are absolutely on the right track in that the match is probably the next most important thing you have to consider now. :slight_smile: You mention other things that are also absolutely on the right track. You’re closer than you think.

BTW, I hope you’ve played Curses.z5, because the first z3 release, while perhaps a landmark in 93, is truly very unpolished (and cruel with no undo at dead ends).

I just played this one recently myself. It’s certainly a lot less cruel than Curses (which I loved, despite its cruelty), and through about 2/3 of the game, I was really enjoying it. But at a certain point, I found myself exhausted. There were too many rooms, too many items, too many setpiece puzzles. I could no longer keep the game cached in my own memory, as it were. Having to consider how I might use one of the dozens of items I was carrying (some of which I first encountered weeks ago) on one of the eight puzzles I might be working on at a given time – it grew to be too much. When I encountered a particularly complicated setpiece, having already solved dozens of puzzles over the course of five or six weeks of play, I just lost the will to continue and used the walkthrough the rest of the way. I think I could have stayed stronger if it were compartmentalized more like Jigsaw.

I’m definitely curious as to how I’ll cope with that. I’m used to humongous games, and sometimes they get the better of me and sometimes they don’t. I’m a hearty supporter of the MIA Andy Phillips, an author known for gargantuan games, and whose puzzle design got steadily better. I’ve recently tackled Moments Out of Time and got completely dwarfed by it.

So I’m curious as to how I’ll hold up in ML. I’m expecting that the depth of implementation and the quality of the writing will keep me hooked - but it’s possible I’ll falter just like you. I’ll just have to see!

Namekusejin: I defintely played the latest release, I always do. I understand curses.z3 is a very different beast!

I also have to say the iPod is definitely a wonderful platform to play IF in. I can very easily switch between iFrotz and Grafio, which I use to make maps - and in this game that’s a necessity! As I also note on the map objects and points of interest it is now a great overview of what puzzles are still left to solve.

Plus, if I ever have to take down some notes and find that the iFrotz note-taking system is insufficient - or if I just have to take down too many notes - I can just take a screenshot of the screen and refer to it in my Photo album at any time.

Finally, iFrotz’s autocomplete is a real blessing.

damn you guys. I stopped Curses and am returning to Muldoon :grin: . curse you

good to play along, huh?

To be honest, the thing about Curses is that I am moved to inaction. Whenever I actually achieve something I never know if I unknowingly locked myself out of victory. Playing Curses is trying to tapdance over crystal. And that just isn’t fun for me. I got too afraid to move, lest I should do myself a mischief.

that is a valid concern, I admit. having save files before major events is a need. I’m stuck at some point, will return to it later.

BTW, in Muldoon I couldn’t get that damn match. So I go back and finally understood how to go up the tree. I’m now a bit past the bookshelves…

Yeah, that’s another thing I like in Mulldoon. There’s so many puzzles at any one time, if you’re stuck at one you can take a stroll around the museum and see if any of the other puzzles catch your eye.

well, I’m hoping somewhere else I can get whatever I need to get that match free because I have done everything I can so far - literally trying every option at hand, like hitting it with a brick, lighting it and whatever. BTW, this is what I don’t like about pure puzzlefeasts: why should I go great lenghts like that just to get a damn match?! Just tell me: are the puzzles truly local? All you need to solve puzzles are contained nearby? Just so you know, I do have the clock glass in my inventory and that beam doesn’t go where I want (the wax man)

Curses is a bit like that too, but Jigsaw is amazing in that respect: you don’t feel like you’re collecting every darn object that comes up to you just because they’re lying arout (although you’re always on the lookout for the jigsaw pieces), but instead you’re trying to fix whatever Black may have done “wrong” in a given situation. Perhaps the fact of it being episodic helps in that respect…

Actually, the thing about Curses I really can’t get past is exactly that - I’m doing all of this just for a map of Paris? Of course I’m not, but it’s always on the back of my mind - isn’t it more sensible to go back to the starting room and type >DOWN?

Regarding the match, you seem to be on the right track, but I’m not sure you’re thinking along the right lines.

I don’t believe the puzzles are truly local, no - in order to deal with the match, for instance, I definitely used items from other places in the museum.

haha, true about the map. Then again, as stated up front: it has become a matter of pride not to give up. Plus, the PC clearly is having more fun doing this (and remembering past events of his large family) than if he was doing all the packing and such…

a-ha, so I knew I had to have something else. Good thing about Muldoon though is that, yes, it doesn’t seem to lock you away beyond of all hope of getting some items. but really, I tried everything, pulling, hitting, swinging (that thing too)… hmm, I think I missed tickling the wax statue with the branch… :flushed:

Actually you seem to have everything you need. :wink: Maybe readjust your expectations on what goal you have to achieve.

I tell a lie, there is something else that you could be focusing on. If the match is really getting to you, let it go for the moment. Since you just discovered how to use the tree, you should have plenty to play around with. Just so you know. :slight_smile:

yeah, I’m doing just that. I’ve immersed myself these days into IF, specially historic, and that means other things too like Adventureland and Adventure. holy crap, can you believe I finally got past the snake in Adventure! :open_mouth:

but I feel cheated: I typed help and there, pristine and uncalled for, there was a hint about some other thing you needed. I couldn’t kill the snake, but I was sure that if I was able to somehow catch that bird I could feed it to the snake or something - it turns out it wasn’t quite that. it was so simple to catch the bird and yet not quite hinted at anywhere in the game itself…

BTW, I’m always find new things to do in Curses. Aunt Jemima may be sulking, but there’s a real lot to do there… she also doesn’t like cats… that house feels so alive…

and I think appropriate to bring up Curses because there’s so much that Muldoon seem to have followed close. For instance, one of the very first things you can do in either game is to look inside something nearby… there’s also a “mystical” being that supposedly gives hints, but not quite…

Cute, that’s how I feel about ML. :slight_smile: Every time I dip in I get a little bit further, I gain a little bit of new ground.

I’m playing (and replaying my steps) both and finding many lovely parallels.

BTW, can’t believe how much time I lost on that dumb quest for the match. “Suddenly, a fire seizes your mind” Now I’m going somewhere!

I was asked for silver and I thought it meant money, so there I went in a new useless quest. It snapped on me suddenly that perhaps something already in my hands could possibly bear that quality :relieved:

also, tried many useless variations of passwords. that back note doesn’t help at all :smirk: