Posted 17 November 2001 to rec.games.int-fiction
This game was the subject of much discussion on ifmud, and after many, many hours of debate, several mudders (notably Admiral Jota, Iain Merrick and Matthew Murray, amongst others), formed what they came to believe was an understanding of the way the game world worked. Sadly, despite emailing the author, we received no reply to confirm or deny these theories. These, however, were our conclusions. The following spoils the game completely.
To begin with, we looked at the fact that the game appears on what seems to be an infinite grid. However, moving north or south twice in a row brought us to an identical room, as did moving east or west twice. As a result, we settled on describing the game world as having four rooms, in a two-by-two grid that wrapped at the edges to the opposite edge of the map. (But not for long... )
So, four rooms in a square. With cats and boxes and revivers and cameras. In fact, there are apparently three black cats, two white cats, two revivers, two boxes (with mechanisms inside), two cameras and one 'camera base'. Picking up any of these objects in one room and moving to another rooms prevents you from seeing that same object in another room (The camera base works slightly differently. When in your possession, you cannot see cameras, and vice versa).
Note the use of 'apparently'. Following some experimentation, we decided the gameworld could in fact more usefully be imagined as a single room. Passing through an exit merely changed the player's state. One of each object existed in this room, but depending on what state the player was in, only certain objects would be visible (or even tangible) at a time. And likewise, depending on the states of various objects, they would not always be able to interact with one another: hence, the white cat passing through the side of the box.
For convenience, we named the two states after colors, red and green. An object (or the player) could have a color normally ('red' or 'green', abbreviated R or G), could have something like the inverse of a color ('anti-red' or 'anti-green', abbreviated r or g), or might not have that color at all. Also, an object could have something from each: a little from the red side, a little from the green side. This made a total of nine possible states, if you count the condition of not having any color at all.
An object must share some color (red, anti-red, green or anti-green) with another object in order to interact with it. The player is assumed to be RG at the beginning of the game; travelling north or south will toggle her red state (red to anti-red or vice versa), and travelling east or west will toggle her green state. Likewise, it will change the states of anything currently in her inventory. So, at the start, the player can interact with any object that has red or green states. The player cannot see or touch anything lacking both R and G (that is, anything that's rg: anti-red and anti-green, r-: just anti-red, or -g: just anti-green).
The black cat is initially colored RG, like the player, which is why it's visible at the beginning of the game. There appear to be three black cats, because the player can see the cat while in three of her possible states (RG because they both share R and G, Rg because they both share R, and rG because they both share G). On the other hand, if the player toggles both of her colors, she becomes rg, and can no longer see or touch the RG black cat. Naturally, the player can carry the black cat to a different notional 'room'; this causes the cat's states to toggle appropriately along with the player's.
The box with the device in it is similar. It's initially colored r-, meaning it's anti-red, and it has no green of any flavor, anti or otherwise. Because the box cannot be moved, it stays r- throughout the game. As a result, it's initially invisible to the RG player, but becomes visible when the player is rG or rg (two of the player's states, and therefore it appears to be in two of the 'rooms'). Similarly, the black cat can only be placed in or on the box when the cat is rG or rg, as a result of the player moving it around.
The white cat is -G to begin with. Revivers are -g. Neither one has any red, and therefore the white cat cannot interact with the box.
Matters tend to get even more confused when one considers the camera. The top half of it (with the lens, the flash, and the button) is originally R-, but the bottom half (with the slot for pictures to come out of -- also called a 'camera base') is Rg. This means that the entire camera is visible whenever the player is RG or Rg, but if the player becomes rg, the top disappears while the camera base remains visible. Any photographs that come out of the camera will be colored the same way as the base at the time when they were taken, but will only contain images of things that were visible to the camera top. This means no photos of white cats, ever. White cats have no red, and camera tops have no green.
Now, having worked all of that out, what use does it serve? Well, it means that different objects interact in strange ways. So, let's play with cats and boxes.
The white cat can never interact with the box. No matter how much toggling of states you perform, the box will never have either green or anti-green; the cat will never have red or anti-red. On the other hand, the reviver is -g, and so the cat and the reviver can interact with each other whenever they're both visible (or both invisible, but then there's no way to put the cat in there).
The black cat can interact with the box. Sit a black cat upon a box. Play with toggling the states of the player whilst the cat is on the box. If the player is in the right state (Rg or RG, depending on which phase the cat is in), the black cat appears to be floating, as the box on which it's sitting is not tangible to the player.
And, well, that's about as much as we could wrangle out of the game. We got intrigued enough to disassemble the game file to see if we were missing anything amazing. There were a few things we missed. There were references to photographs taken without the PC in scope, photos inside closed boxes, and photos taken by cats. Despite much experimentation, we couldn't manage to get any of these. Which is a shame, as I'd like to see a cat operate a camera.
To be honest, it seemed as if there should have been so much more in this game. Some of the responses were just ridiculous (dead cats apparently walking), and, with no achievable aim, this game wasn't really a game, more of a toy. As such, it didn't really belong in the competition, but it still provided a few people with several hours of distraction.
Perhaps now the author could step forward to agree or disagree with our conclusions. Most of all, I'd like to hear the author give some explanation for this game, because there was a really good idea in here, and it could have worked well in the context of a game puzzle within a game.
This article copyright © 2001, Storme Winfield