Partway through “Make It Good”

What follows is totally spoilery commentary on a partial playing of Jon Ingold’s “Make It Good”, with some speculations based on the game state I’m currently in. So I strongly recommend not looking unless you’ve played the game (it’s enough fun not to want spoiling) or have at least put in a few hours’ playtime (in which case you may be more or less where I am).

La la la la la etc…

All right, so I’ve played through to a losing ending several times now, and I’m starting to have some theories about what I’m supposed to be doing, but it’s nebulous and challenging and I’m not sure I’m finding my way right. This is one of those games that I’d really like to be playing simultaneously with a bunch of friends so as to trade hints and theories.

Important-seeming things I’ve found so far:

– letter opener
– footprint
– incriminating photograph
– handwritten note
– pink paper
– dresser message
– medicine tube
– cheque stubs
– trashy novel
– five keys (my car key, silver key, dirty yale key, flimsy key, closet key)

Things whose significance (if any) I still do not understand:

– Matheston (more or less entirely — I can’t get him to talk terribly much to me, though he mutters about chess easily enough)
– the metal box in the maid’s room, which I can’t get open
– the paintings in the maid’s room — they would appear to be by her father, but is there any additional meaning beyond that?
– the black box in the closet, which I also cannot get open

So far, it’s looking like:

I found, took, or commissioned some incriminating pics of Jack with Emilia, and I’ve been blackmailing him for a number of payments at a rate of $12000 per. (He’s also paying Emilia’s dad $600/month.) He sent me a message asking me to meet him, threatening to come clean himself if I didn’t hand over the photos and negatives and go on from there. I apparently did meet him, earlier this same day, and to all appearances I gave the photo back. (I haven’t found negatives, if any.)

Then… what? Did I kill him? It’s looking pretty bad. My prints are on the letter opener (even if I handle it with gloves from the beginning). My-sized footprints are under the window — though I suppose I could’ve made a get-away without killing him first. (The letter opener is more of a problem.)

Then Angela heard a noise, came into the room, screamed, found the photograph. Emilia entered shortly thereafter and was sent to phone the police. I arrived on the scene again. Angela showed me to the murder room, then immediately went to her own room where she concealed the incriminating photograph in the pink suitcase. (But did she pack the clothes at the same time? I don’t think so. It looks to me as though she was already planning to leave town, and the photograph is just a side point.)

Anthony, meanwhile, has been over at Jenny’s, having an elaborately-excused affair under the pretense of going “swimming”. The fake pills in the medicine tube sound like a really long way to go to support this idea, though.

Anyway, at this point my sense is that I should shift my attention from detecting to, well, framing someone else. Anthony seems like a good candidate, since a jealous rage at discovering the photograph might explain his action. Irritatingly, almost as soon as he arrives he tells Joe that he saw me outside. The only way to forestall this is to attempt to arrest *him*, first. But I’m not really ready to do that. Joe buys Anthony’s motive and his possible use of the letter opener, but even though Anthony and I have similar shoe sizes, he does not consider the footprint under the window good evidence — apparently it too plainly belongs to me.

So from here I am not sure where to go.

I think I’m on the right track as regards the overall point of the game; talking to Matheston provokes cryptic comments about his chessgame and forcing a sacrifice, while looking up the passages in the trashy novel hint at forcing a draw — this sounds like either actually getting someone else arrested or at the very least neutralizing the person who could conceivably get ME arrested. And it seems very likely that I am meant to do something with Anthony’s shoes, since the game allows me to steal them after he takes them off, and swap them for mine.

That seems like a lot of to-do to go to if the shoes are not important. But I can’t seem to work out the timing so as to wear Anthony’s shoes, then go through the window and make footprints, then summon Joe to look at them.

Also, the game had some interesting non-default thing to say when I tried hiding the whiskey bottle in Jack’s briefcase, but I’m not sure how that helps either.

Also also, calling Jenny back after Anthony has come over (so I can ask about the times of his arrival) proves to be impossible: she has left the house.

Also^3, and something that gives me pause: if I’m supposed to be framing and manipulating and so on, why doesn’t the game allow me to destroy evidence (e.g. by tearing up the handwritten note or cleaning the letter opener and putting it away)?

Finally, I still don’t understand why in fact I would have killed Jack, given I was returning the blackmail stuff. Unless our negotiation went wrong?

All very weird.

87 thoughts on “Partway through “Make It Good”

  1. I’ve reached a very similar point, with similar thoughts about what to do next (a frame-up!). I haven’t found the letter opener, though, or gotten the trashy novel to let me read it. Interestingly, your fingerprints are *also* on the breadknife (get Emilia to make you a sandwich), and she has expectations that you will do something with it… However, the game hints that you need to remove it from the kitchen while she’s not looking. I think this could be done while she is cleaning upstairs, but I haven’t figured out how to trigger that event to happen when I want it to. I’m also not sure exactly how someone could be framed with the knife, though one thing that occurs to me is that Jack’s blood could be planted on it upstairs. The blood type results could also prove useful in this connection…

    I think that just about everyone in the house knows you were there earlier (except *possibly* Angela). Matheston (who also knows about Mason and my connection to him) seems a bit conspiratorial, and so does Emilia (talk to her a bit once the breadknife is out in the open).

    So, it’s at least possible that everyone in the house (except Anthony?) is playing along with you, hoping that you’ll arrange things satisfactorily. Whether this is because you were very drunk when you killed Jack and didn’t realize that they’d all seen you, or because there was a more general conspiracy, I don’t know… In any case, you’d probably have to get Emilia angry enough at Anthony to make her go along with framing him, but it seems like there’s enough deception in that relationship for that to work out.

    As for Anthony returning home, I haven’t tried this but plan to–could you send Joe out to do some analysis when Anthony first arrives, thus preventing Anthony from being alone with him and saying his piece?

    Despite the difficulty and the feeling of being a bit at sea, I’m really enjoying Make It Good. Replaying it is enjoyable thanks to subtleties like realizing that many aspects of the text can be read in two ways once you realize that you’re very likely the killer (an able use of the PC’s/genre detective’s gruff terseness to conceal-without-hiding). There’s a kind of low-key surrealism in this that sometimes opens a bit wider: the hint system at one point queued me to OPEN my coat and show Angela what was inside. But the game won’t in fact allow you to open the coat, hinting that what’s inside the coat is somehow key to your identity (and presumably the mystery)…

    • Re. the letter opener:

      Less explicit hint, ROT13: lbh znl jnag gb tb bire gur pevzr fprar zber gubebhtuyl.

      More explicit: gel frnepuvat gur lhppn cynag va gur zheqre ebbz.

      Re. the trashy novel:

      Moderately explicit hint: gur ahzoref ba gur onpx pbire ner cntr ahzoref

      Despite the difficulty and the feeling of being a bit at sea, I’m really enjoying Make It Good.

      Oh, I am too! It really captures the feeling that something deep and secret is happening, which I really enjoyed about Infocom’s mysteries but that many subsequent mystery-genre games haven’t quite managed to produce for me. (I loved Act of Murder, but it was too short really to have quite the same building up of suspense.) And I ran into the mysterious business with opening my coat as well.

      • Thanks for the hints; I hadn’t thought to do those very simple things… I’m now very close to framing Anthony, but foundering too. Joe wants evidence that goes beyond the circumstantial. I even have found some of Anthony’s blood in a suspicious place, but Joe seems to have forgotten all about that. Anyway, I’m going to try one more thing with Anthony’s shoes…

  2. I feel the same way about wanting to play simultaneously with others. I guess this comment thread is the next best thing…

    I am also in a fairly similar place. Between some points I’ve reached on replay and what you say here, I am becoming convinced that it should be possible to frame various of the other characters. (How this would work even theoretically for Matheston, though, I have no idea.) On my current play through I believe I am getting close to framing the maid, with the breadknife as the murder weapon, and it seems like the only pieces left have to do with getting my timing right. On the other hand, I haven’t caused Anthony to show up at all this time around (it seems his arrival is only triggered if you call Jenny’s number), so maybe I’m heading down a dead end.

    The two boxes you mention – the black one from the closet, and the chest in the maid’s room – are similarly frustrating me. I did just recently discover a coin in the maid’s sofa, but can’t find anything to do with it, and have no leads on

    A few other things:

    * I was able to clean and replace the letter opener. I just had to send Joe on an analyze mission right away (for the dirty yale key), so I could get the letter opener to the bathroom sink and then to Jack’s desk without being observed.

    * The ARREST command is more useful than I thought it was at first. If you tell Joe to arrest someone, he’ll run through his understanding of the current evidence and explain where the remaining holes are. (At least, that’s how it is working with my partial maid-framing solution.) There doesn’t seem to be any penalty or later plot effect from doing this.

    * Getting the maid to leave the kitchen was not easy. I kept trying different ways of telling her about the wilted rubber tree, but it seemed I was running into a parsing/conversation-system bug and her responses didn’t make sense. I was finally able to get her to leave by spilling whiskey upstairs and telling her about it. I’d prefer to cause some other need for cleaning, but haven’t found anything that works yet.

    • Aha, interesting. I’ve also found ARREST useful in finding why my framing of Anthony wasn’t working yet, but I just haven’t figured out how to resolve the issue of getting his footprints into the garden.

      I did find it a little strange that if I try to take the water jug, I stupidly drop and crack it right away. And is there any significance to the cracked plate? Is the pantry basically the trash repository for anything the maid finds and thinks needs to be discarded?

      Hmmm.

      • Well, I managed to frame Anthony, at least to Joe’s satisfaction. But that wasn’t enough to win. It seems you need to get a confession too… I think I might know where to turn for that, but only another go-through or three will tell.

        I managed to pick up the jug without dropping it my last run-through. I wonder if it’s situationally wired to explode?

      • I wonder if it’s situationally wired to explode?

        No idea — I picked it up fairly early on, trying to get a way to bring some water to the murder room in order to wash either the dresser or the opener (or both). But that didn’t work out. Maybe it becomes useful later in some other way.

        I’ll have another crack at framing Anthony this evening and see where I get — if I have no luck you’ll have to give me a hint about how you did the footprint.

    • I’d prefer to cause some other need for cleaning, but haven’t found anything that works yet.

      It occurred to me to try breaking the cracked plate more completely, but apparently I am too weak to break it, and merely dropping it does nothing. Which… is either a hole in the implementation or a sign that Emilia is lying about how it got cracked in the first place. (But why?)

  3. Here’s the hint should you need it (rot13):

    Gur zhq unf qevrq; gung’f jul lbh pna’g vavgvnyyl znxr n cevag jvgu Nagubal’f fubrf.

    • This seems that vs lbh qb guvf snfg rabhtu fb Nagubal ergheaf nebhaq 3-3:30 CZ, gur tebhaq vf fgvyy jrg rabhtu gung lbh qba’g unir gb erjrg vg.

      But I did manage to get, I think, to the same outcome you did, at least.

  4. I feel obligated to leave the following hint regarding the novel (a follow-up to Emily’s and Erik’s hints above) (rot13):

    Vs lbh’er fher gur ahzoref ner cntr ahzoref, gel “frnepu arjfcncre” jura Wbr yrnirf gur arjfcncre va gur yvivat ebbz.

    I don’t *know* that this is correct, but it’s created doubt for me.

    • I dialed the numbers in the novel as phone numbers immediately after finding them. The response wasn’t encouraging, but it does make more sense after following your hint:

      Jurgure be abg lbh’ir frra gur nq va gur arjfcncre, gur snpg gung gur cevingr qrgrpgvir’f cubar evatf jvgubhg nafjre vf fnvq gb or “hafhecevfvat,” vzcylvat (gb zr, ng yrnfg) gung gur CP cynprq gur nq gb svaq oynpxznvy pnaqvqngrf.

      • Gung znxrf fbzr frafr, rkprcg… vs Natryn unq rire unq bppnfvba gb cubar bhe ahzore, jbhyqa’g jr xabj gung? Be vf guvf lrg nabgure guvat gur CP xabjf naq jr qba’g? Vs jr ner va pnubbgf jvgu Natryn, gura gb jung raq? Qvq fur jnag hf gb xvyy Wnpx? GUR CYBG GUVPXRAF. NTNVA.

      • V’z fgvyy n yvggyr pbashfrq, ohg Natryn’f ernpgvbaf va bar bs gur ybfvat fpranevbf fhttrfg gung fur gehyl qbrfa’g xabj gur CP–ng yrnfg, fur qbrfa’g xabj uvf snpr. Bs pbhefr, gur nccrny bs gur nq jnf gb crbcyr jub qvqa’g jnag gb or xabja. Zl orfg fubg ng n erpbafgehpgvba: Gur CP frrzf gb unir qbhoyr-pebffrq uvf pyvrag (Natryn) naq gbyq ure ur sbhaq ab rivqrapr bs na nssnve, zrnajuvyr oynpxznvyvat Wnpx jvgu gur cubgbf. Naq vg jbexrq hagvy Wnpx znqr uvf cynl.

        Jurer V srry yvxr gur cybg pbhyq ernyyl guvpxra vf jvgu Zngurfgba. Ubj qbrf ur xabj Znfba, naq ubj qbrf ur xabj gung gur CP xabjf Znfba, naq whfg jung qbrf ur xabj nobhg gur CP? Qrfcvgr gurfr guernqf, abar bs gur fghss V’ir qbar gb trg gbjneq n fbyhgvba ernyyl vaibyirf uvz ng nyy…

  5. My 2 cents…

    This game is pretty intense. A lot off depth. There’s a feeling of reconstructing a drunk’s memories that works really well.

    I thought I had the maid nailed, I had her footprints, her prints on the “murder weapon”, and motive (photo and note), but upon attempted arrest, she told joe she saw me take the breadknife and that caught me up.

    I was able to get the knife without her seeing, but it only had my prints on it and not hers (even though I was wearing gloves). It’s a simple timing mechanic.

    I don’t even know if it’s important to have the breadknife or the letter opener as the murder weapon.

    And I’m frustrated with the two locked boxes as well. And I’m not sure what the numbers on the novel mean. Angela claims they’re page numbers, but I don’t believe her.

    Major evidence:
    Bloody “Murder weapon”
    Footprints
    Photo
    Jack’s Note

    Minor evidence:
    Inconsistency of Angela’s report
    Fake painkillers
    blood on sink
    flecks of window paint

    “Bad” evidence
    Check stubs

    Have you:
    sbhaq gur fgvpx/zrg gur png
    ybbxrq ng gur pebffjbeq
    ernq gur abiry’f gnoyr bs pbagragf

    • I did svaq gur fgvpx naq gur png, but there didn’t seem to be a lot to do out in that direction, so I came back.

      I hadn’t tried rknzvavat gur pebffjbeq before your suggestion, and now I have I am feeling extra-baffled by why that is even in the game.

  6. That whole section is just to make the escape route believable I believe. And the things I rot13’d are just flavor I think. Like not opening the coat.

    The phone could be unsurprisingly answered because the PI isn’t there to answer it.

    I suspect we need a confession. There’s one way to get an innocent person to confess, cva gur zheqre ba fbzrbar gurl ybir. But I can’t get that all set up either.

    • Re: There’s one way to get an innocent person to confess, cva gur zheqre ba fbzrbar gurl ybir.

      The game strongly hints at this if lbh gel gb gryy gur znvq nobhg Wraal–be ng yrnfg vg uvagf ng guvf vs lbh ner ratntrq va senzvat Nagubal ng gur gvzr; gur erfcbafr zvtug or fvghngvbanyyl qrgrezvarq.

      • Okay, so I’ve managed to frame Anthony, but not to get a confession — even though I was hoping Emilia would confess on his behalf at that point because I had fyvccrq gur cubgbtencu vagb Nagubal’f pybguvat, gura fcvyyrq juvfxrl va gur znvq’f orqebbz, gura gbyq ure nobhg vg — fb gung Rzvyvn sbhaq gur cubgbtencu nzbat uvf guvatf naq gubhtug gung ur xarj gung fur unq orra purngvat.

        I hoped that would convince her that Anthony *had* done the murder, and get her to confess to save him. But no dice. She still claims to be sure he didn’t, and I’m not sure how to shake that certainty. Maybe instead I need to frame *her* while making her think Anthony did it, so when Joe arrests her she’ll confess rather than defending herself?

      • The implementation of Emilia leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to telling her about what Anthony has “done” (i.e., how you’re framing him). However, there is one thing that I managed to get through to her about–perhaps this plus your ingenious way of getting her to find the photo might be what’s needed:

        You can tell her about the pills being fake. When I’ve told her, she’s sure that I’m lying, but maybe if she’s also already seen the photo, the response will be different?

      • Alas, I tried telling her about the pills — I even tried dramatically eating them all in front of her to prove they were harmless. None of this seemed to make a spot of difference.

      • Frustrating. I think your other direction sounds promising (i.e. frame Emilia but make her think Anthony is guilty–though that still leaves the problem of not getting her to believe in his guilt), and here’s another idea for a complete change of tactic: frame Angela in the hopes of getting William to confess? William admits rather easily that she was leaving Jack to be with him; maybe he’s enough in love to confess on her behalf?

      • Hm, intriguing. I tried wearing Angela’s shoes to make footprints in the garden — rather implausibly it let me put them on, but I couldn’t get Joe very interested in the possibility of arresting her. But I admit I haven’t worked on it very hard. I think I’ll pursue the framing Emilia angle first, though I haven’t really been working on that so far — so there’s a lot I’ll need to figure out.

      • Also, now I’ve re-explored a few things — wasn’t Matheston over and visiting with Angela just at the time when Jack was killed? It seems like it would be hard to get him to think she did it…

      • Very true! Also, since he too saw the PC at the house before the murder, he’s quite capable of backing Angela up by describing some damning evidence against the PC. Definitely seems like framing Emilia is the best option.

  7. Okay, I think I’ve gotten most of the way to framing Emilia and convincing her about Anthony. The things I think I need to do now are:

    I need to make her think Anthony took up drinking again, presumably by spilling the whiskey in their room *without* her having previously seen me with the bottle;

    I need to get the breadknife away from the kitchen before she ever sees it, so that she has a chance to believe that it really was the murder weapon (even as she knows she is not the murderer). It’s possible to find it in the kitchen drawers if one has a good look through while she’s out of the room, but so far I haven’t worked the timing quite right.

    • I think the trick will be getting the knife out of the kitchen before she comes back down–you can’t conceal it on your person. Her visit upstairs is triggered by your entering one of the back rooms (study, her room, bathroom). I *think* but am not sure that you can buy yourself a few extra turns by getting her to drop the jug on the uncarpeted hallway outside the master bedroom–the jug will break, meaning she has to clean up the pieces. She might have to go back downstairs for the dustpan (I can’t remember), so maybe it would be useful to leave it in the hallway before going into one of the back rooms?

      • I managed all that — did the footprints; left whiskey stain for her to find but did not let her see me with the bottle; got her to find the photograph and caught her with it; retrieved the knife and left it for Joe to find. But NOW Joe doesn’t think we have enough evidence to pressure her with because her fingerprints aren’t on the knife, because she didn’t use it to make my sandwich.

        This seems like a total catch-22. If she sees it while it’s clean, of course she tells Joe that. If she doesn’t, her prints never get on it, and Joe doesn’t think our case is strong enough even to press her about.

        Out of ideas for the time being. Shaking fist angrily at the screen.

      • Oh, and about getting out with the knife — I’ve had pretty good luck trggvat gur xavsr, gura pyvzovat gur ebfrf hc gb gur zheqre ebbz naq fyvccvat gur xavsr vagb gur pbecfr gb oybbql vg, gura tvivat vg gb Wbr jura ur pbzrf onpx sebz jungrire qvfgenpgvba lbh frag uvz ba. Gung jnl lbh qba’g zrrg Rzvyvn va gur unyyjnl.

      • I’ve had the same catch 22 problem as Emily.

        I use the briefcase extensively throughout the game to smuggles the whiskey bottle, bloody knives, incriminating photo, etc.

        My knife method has been:
        Vairfgvtngr gur obql, zrrg wbr, trg gur oevrspnfr. Tb gb gur xvgpura, nfx gur znvq nobhg Wnpx. Rvgure bcra gur oneery be abg (qrcraqvat ba cevagf). tb gb gur znvq’f ebbz. Gur znvq vf va gur unyy abj. Tb gb gur xvgpura, gnxr gur xavsr, chg vg va gur oevrspnfr. Ibvyn.

        I’m getting close to being stuck.

      • ARRRGHG GHGH.

        Okay, I thought I had a brilliant solution:

        trg gur xavsr, trg vg oybbql, gura ernyyl dhvpxyl erghea vg gb gur xvgpura qenjre va gung fgngr. Gura, yngre, nfx Rzvyvn sbe n fnaqjvpu, pnhfvat ure gb svaq naq erzbir vg sebz gur qenjre.

        However, despite very careful execution of this plan — and I have to work hard to keep Joe out of the picture until Emilia plays all of her part — when I have the knife analyzed it still has only my prints and not hers! And that despite the fact that V jnf jrnevat tybirf gur jubyr gvzr juvyr fur jnf gur bar gb gnxr vg bhg bs gur qenjre.

        I don’t know, I’m beginning to suspect some bugginess in the behavior here. If this all doesn’t work, I don’t know what will. Very frustrated. Anyone else have more luck?

  8. I’ve seen other weird behavior close to that situation: Unir lbh tbggra gur xavsr oybbql naq gura nfxrq Rzvyvn gb znxr n fnaqjvpu juvyr pneelvat vg? vg nccrnef fur qvfpbiref gur xavsr va gur qenjre rira gubhtu lbh’er ubyqvat vg.

    There’s a couple other minor bugs I’ve come across. “i” when not wearing shoes, and numerical error I can’t remember, but came across a couple time.

    • I hadn’t run into that specific bug, but I did notice that nsgre fur svaqf gur oybbql xavsr va gur qenjre, fur fgvyy npgf fhecevfrq rirel gvzr fur frrf vg vs V pneel vg be chg vg naljurer.

  9. Hm, other work has kept me away from the game since yesterday afternoon, but all this makes me think twice about going back…

    Even so, I have some more armchair detective thoughts:

    I wonder if the knife is a kind of red herring, at least for framing Emilia: given that she’s the maid, her fingerprints would be expected on the knife in any case–?

    There are two ways in which the fingerprinting issues seem to violate the game’s internal logical models:

    (1) People without gloves should leave fingerprints, otherwise the PC’s gloves become misleading.

    (2) The lack of fingerprints on the weapon should also not be that big an issue in light of the other evidence you’ve managed to manufacture against Emilia. When you arrest Anthony using the letter opener as the weapon, Joe says he’d be surprised to find any prints at all on it–smart murderers don’t leave prints. So, the fact that the game seems to demand prints on the knife (when, as above, the prints of the maid on the breadknife would not be surprising in any case) is odd. (Especially when Emilia’s fingers don’t leave prints…)

    Has anybody tried framing her with the letter opener?

    Here’s the worst bug I’ve seen: You can’t use “Matheston” to speak to Matheston. E.g.:

    >ask Matheston about Jack
    — You referred to something that can’t be interacted with at present.

    (“William” and “the vicar” both work.)

    I wish I’d been keeping transcripts–it would have been nice to be able to send them on to the author…

    • Oho, so that’s why Matheston won’t talk to me unless I show him things!

      Framing Emilia with the letter-opener doesn’t work — I get roughly the same result as if I try to frame her with the bread knife when it doesn’t have her prints, namely:

      Lbh xrrc lbhe ibvpr qbja fb gung ab-bar bireurnef. “Fb lbh erpxba, guebhtu gur jvaqbj? Gura fyvc va gur onpx qbbe?” Ur fuehtf. “Gung jbexf, V fhccbfr. Zheqre jrncba jr’er thrffvat vf gur yrggre bcrare, V fhccbfr? Fgnoorq vg vagb gur lhppn cbg orsber ehaavat?” Wbr sebjaf. “Ohg guvf vf nyy onfrq ba sbbgcevagf va gur tneqra, naq gur znvq cebonoyl qbrf gur tneqravat. Vg’f abg rabhtu sbe n pnfr.”

      • Well, that response from the game does make good sense, and nullifies my number 2 above. The bugginess with fingerprints and evidence manipulation, though, make me wonder if the game is even winnable in this version…

      • Yeah.

        Something else I’m not even sure whether we’re supposed to be considering, but the game doesn’t make much of it if so: it seems unlikely to me that you could stab someone repeatedly in the back, and mutilate his face (why??), without getting some blood on yourself. Emilia having to appear two seconds later in the kitchen, immaculate, seems like a possible drawback — far as I am from wanting to give the game more reasons to reject my scenario…

      • Well, someone *did* wash up, presumably after the crime: Gurer vf oybbq va gur onguebbz fvax gung zngpurf Nagubal’f oybbq glcr naq ab bar ryfr’f, gubhtu vg zvtug nyfb pbaprvinoyl or gur CP’f. Fvapr nyy gur rivqrapr cbvagf gb gur CP nf gur zheqrere, guvf frrzf gb vzcyl gung ur jnf serr gb jnaqre serryl hcfgnvef naq qbja (fvapr Rzvyvn jvyy gryy lbh znggre-bs-snpgyl gung fur fnj lbh jvgu gur oernqxavsr ynfg). Guvf jnf nabgure guvat gung srq vagb zl jbaqrevat nobhg rneyvre zhfvatf nobhg gur cbffvovyvgl bs n 2-5 crefba pbafcvenpl…

        On the other hand, this particular evidence doesn’t seem to figure into Joe’s ratiocinations at all–he doesn’t even mention it when you arrest Anthony.

      • Well, someone *did* wash up, presumably after the crime:

        Hm, I had assumed that Nagubal phg uvzfrys funivat — abgr gur oybbq ba gur enmbef.

      • Ah, that makes sense. V sbhaq gur enmbef (jvgu gurve “abguvat gb frr urer” qrfpevcgvba) va na rneyvre cynlguebhtu, orsber svaqvat gur oybbq va gur fvax, naq qvqa’g yvax gur gjb gbtrgure. Still, it’s useful to send in the sample for analysis, because it comes back with a report on all the suspects’ blood types.

        Reminds me about the pin on the back of the badge yet? I tried to poke myself with it to see what my own blood type was, but couldn’t find a workable syntax.

  10. I tried framing E. with the opener. I took the letter opener, washed it, dropped it in the kitchen, went back and took it after Emilia had tidied it up, dipped it in jack and planted it in the plant. Weird response when analysed… “On this; no good, Inspector, the blade’s been washed clean. However, the blood is the deceased alright.”

    I went ahead and built the case anyway. When I tried to arrest her, it indicated that the breadknife was the murder weapon. Little buggy. Same result as before, Emilia denies using it and I warned. I haven’t played it through after this though, maybe that’s worth trying.

    • Hm, that’s a much cleverer approach to framing Emilia with the letter-opener than I tried for — pity it still doesn’t work.

      I’m really at a loss now as to how we get Emilia’s prints onto something bloodstained — since the game doesn’t seem to be recognizing perfectly legitimate avenues…

      • Arg. The more I try different things, the more convinced I am that the expected way to do this is – and hence the only way the rest of the mechanics will behave sensibly – is to trg ure gb znxr n fnaqjvpu, *gura* teno gur xavsr naq fgno gur pbecfr jvgu vg juvyr fur naq Wbr ner obgu bpphcvrq ryfrjurer. That still leaves me uncertain how to get the final accusal to work out, though…

      • I tried doing that, yeah — but then she told Joe she’d seen it clean earlier, and he got suspicious and warned me off. So… weird, yeah.

      • (This is meant to go with the subthread below – not sure why there’s not reply button there.)
        Ok – I really think I’m getting closer now. I still think that method of getting Emilia’s fingerprints on the breadknife is the right one. It’s true that, the first time I tried, she did say she’s seen it clean. However…

        I think the key is getting her into the right emotional state, as per the author’s general hints. Ol fubjvat ure gur cubgb naq gura gur oynpxznvy abgr orsber nfxvat ntnva nobhg Nagubal, V tbg na nafjre gung fhttrfgf n fuvsg gbjneq orvat jvyyvat gb gnxr gur enc sbe uvz. Fur fgvyy gubhtug V jnf ylvat nobhg gur snxr cnva cvyyf gubhtu. I think I need to convince her Anthony has taken up drinking again first, but don’t know how. Spilling the whiskey and then leading her to it doesn’t seem to have that effect for me. How did you do it?

      • I think I need to convince her Anthony has taken up drinking again first, but don’t know how.

        I’m not sure I’ve truly succeeded in this, I guess — I spilled the whiskey and took her to the stain (without letting her see me with the bottle) and I hoped that would help, but I haven’t done that in any runthrough that otherwise successfully framed her, so I haven’t had a chance to see what she said about Anthony then.

        Maybe if I pour the whiskey on the shirts? Trying this.

      • Pouring it on the shirts does seem to work. That led me to the most upset (and seemingly almost willing to confess to save Anthony) response yet from Emilia. But I still couldn’t get the final outcome to work right. Maybe there needs to be more evidence implicating Anthony? The one thing I didn’t combine with everything else this time was the finding of his blood in the sink.

        Bleh. Clearly I’m hooked at this point, but at this point I just want to get to a “successful” ending and am putting up with what might be an off-putting frustration level in another work. I feel like the characters’ behavior is such that I don’t know what is meant to be part of the overall puzzle and what might be a bug or authorial oversight.

      • Did you manage to get Emilia to go into her room with the whiskey-shirts without actually telling her about the whiskey? I couldn’t figure out how to do that, and think it might help.

        Otherwise: I did finally get her to believe me about the pills. Guvf gvzr V gbyq ure nobhg gur cvyyf, gura ngr guerr va sebag bs ure vaqvivqhnyyl (vafgrnq bs nyy bs gurz ng bapr, juvpu vf jung V gevrq gb qb orsber).

        But even with that done, and her saying she is willing to do anything to make it all right, she doesn’t play along with being arrested.

        I wonder now whether I need to induce this level of distress in her, then go back to the framing-Anthony plan? The last time I framed him successfully, she was totally convinced of his innocence, which may be why she didn’t throw herself on the sword.

        For various circumstantial reasons (e.g. gur jnl gur tnzr qrfpevorf lbhe juvgrbhg nsgre pnyyvat Wraal) I initially had the sense that involving him was a necessary step to the winning playthrough of the game.

      • Hmm – no, I just told her about the whiskey, but that seemed to be enough. Whether she believed me or not about the pills is actually unclear – first I got a repeat of the line about not believing me (on “tell maid about medicine”), but then (on “ask maid about Anthony”) I got the larger, new chunk of text seeming to indicate she was maybe prepared to believe it.

        I was thinking about that whiteout scene as well, and was just experimenting with different ways to try to accuse/arrest Emilia after “summoning” Anthony. I think you may be right about the right combination here. I haven’t played around much with framing him, but I can see certain aspects pretty clearly. How does one link him to a murder weapon, though?

      • How does one link him to a murder weapon, though?

        For Anthony, Joe is prepared to believe that the letter opener might have been his and that he just happened not to get any prints on it because he was gloved (or something). So that’s not a problem. The real trick is trggvat ubyq bs Nagubal’f fubrf gb znxr snxr cevagf jvgu juvyr xrrcvat Wbr bhg bs gur jnl sbe ybat rabhtu.

        Re frustration, I’m in the same mood you are, I think — I would have thought this game was really brilliant if I’d won it, say, last night or so, but now I feel like I’ve juiced all the enjoyment out of trying variations and am just suffering, as most of each playthrough is the same as the last. And it doesn’t help that there are clearly some bugs in the way evidence is interpreted.

  11. How does the chess game parse out…Two black rooks, a white queen, bishop, pawn, and knight. Presumably we’re black, cops being rooks. Angela’s the queen, Will the bishop, Anthony the (white) knight, Emilia the pawn. Sacrifice the pawn. But it’s white move!

    • Yeah, that’s more or less how I would read it too. Of course, what I’m currently trying to do is get Emilia to sacrifice herself, so maybe the analogy isn’t fitting very well.

    • The other thing that occurred to me was that maybe the chess game business was hinting at a conspiracy scenario where actually all four of them were in on the killing. Why, I’m not sure — I mean, I can see Angela and William having a motive to want him out of the way. I can maybe see Emilia being tired of being semi-blackmailed into sex (though of course if she kills him her funds dry up, so that might be a dead end). But why would Anthony participate? I don’t really see any clear provability here.

      And I’m still bothered by the two locked boxes, neither of which anyone has been able to open, as far as I can tell.

  12. Okay, I am stuck again, having tried once more to frame Anthony while Emilia is upset. She still doesn’t confess. I can’t see anything major that I’m forgetting to take advantage of; here’s the walkthrough in case anyone can see a better way to go here:

    Svaq gur obql naq gur zheqre jrncba

    a
    a
    fubj onqtr
    lrf
    ab
    h
    a
    k pbecfr
    frnepu pbecfr
    bcra jvaqbj
    k jvaqbj
    m
    lrf
    frnepu cynag
    trg fgnxr
    nanylfr fgnxr

    Pbyyrpg fbzr rivqrapr jr qba’g jnag sbhaq
    (Tb gb gur fghql)
    bcra qenjre
    frnepu cncref

    Naq ergevrir fbzr ntnvafg Nagubal
    (tb gb znvq’f ebbz)
    frnepu pybguvat

    (tb gb onguebbz)
    frnepu pnovarg
    k fvax
    trg ghor
    k vg

    Nfx fbzr dhrfgvbaf nobhg gur zheqre

    (tb gb xvgpura)
    nfx znvq nobhg znvq
    nfx nobhg onol
    nfx nobhg wnpx
    nfx nobhg jvaqbj
    nfx nobhg natryn
    nfx nobhg nagubal

    Trg fbzr zber rivqrapr ntnvafg Nagubal

    (tb gb onguebbz vs Wbr vf abj onpx)
    nanylfr oybbq

    Svaq fbzr rivqrapr nobhg Natryn

    (tb gb thrfg ebbz)
    chfu punve
    fgnaq ba punve
    ybbx ba jneqebor
    trg qbja
    bcra senzr jvgu bcrare
    bcra fhvgpnfr jvgu syvzfl xrl
    bcra fhvgpnfr
    frnepu pybgurf
    trg vapevzvangvat
    k vg

    Senzr Nagubal jvgu Rzvyvn
    (tb gb znvq’f ebbz)
    chg vapevzvangvat va pybguvat

    (tb bhgfvqr)
    trg va pne
    trg juvfxrl

    (tb onpx gb znvq’f ebbz, orvat pnershy gb zrrg ab bar jvgu gur obggyr)
    bcra juvfxrl
    cbhe juvfxrl ba pybguvat

    (tb gb fghql)
    chg obggyr va oevrspnfr
    pybfr oevrspnfr

    Lrg shegure Nagubal rivqrapr, er oybbq glcr naq gur cvyyf

    (jnvg sbe Wbr’f erghea)
    k oybbq grfg
    nanylfr ghor

    (tb gb xvgpura)
    gryy znvq nobhg juvfxrl

    Rfgnoyvfu gung gur jvaqbj jnf bcra

    (tb gb yvivat ebbz)
    nfx natryn nobhg zheqre
    lrf
    nfx natryn nobhg jvaqbj

    Pehfu Rzvyvn’f erznvavat snvgu va Nagubal

    (tb gb znvq’f orqebbz, gura jnvg hagvy Rzvyvn svaqf gur cubgb)
    nfx rzvyvn nobhg cubgbtencu

    (tb bhgfvqr)
    trg va pne
    bcra pbzcnegzrag
    bcra pbzcnegzrag jvgu bcrare
    trg abgr

    (tb gb xvgpura)
    fubj abgr gb znvq
    gryy znvq nobhg cvyyf
    rng cvyy
    t
    t
    nfx rzvyvn nobhg nagubal

    Fhzzba Nagubal

    (tb gb gur fghql)
    k cvax
    qvny #### (jungrire jnf ba gur cncre)
    gryy nobhg zr
    gryy nobhg zheqre
    t

    Senzr Nagubal jvgu Sbbgfgrcf

    (jnvg hagvy Nagubal nfxf sbe lbhe VQ)
    nanylmr vapevzvangvat cubgbtencu
    bcra qrfx
    trg xrl
    a
    bcra phcobneq
    trg nagubal’f fubrf

    (tb gb fghql)
    fvg
    gnxr bss fubrf
    jrne nagubal’f
    trg hc

    (tb gb zheqre ebbz)
    tb guebhtu jvaqbj
    jnyx ba sybjreorq
    pyvzo ebfrf

    (tb gb fghql)
    fvg
    gnxr bss nagubal’f fubrf
    jrne zl fubrf
    trg hc

    (tb gb cnffntr)
    chg nagubal’f fubrf ba enpx

    (tb gb yvivat ebbz)
    neerfg nagubal
    gryy wbr nobhg jvaqbj
    wbr, lrf

    (tb gb yvivat ebbz)
    (jnvg sbe Wbr gb erghea)
    neerfg nagubal
    wbr, lrf

    • In a perfect note of surrealism, after I do all that, I wind up in my car, and apparently unable to end the game in any way — since I’m out of whiskey and not allowed to drive away. If I do try to drive, V eha bire gung qbt gung’f va gur fgerrg — ohg V’z abg nyybjrq gb trg bhg naq qb nalguvat nobhg vg. Vs V gel gb qevir n frpbaq gvzr, V eha bire uvz ntnva… naq ntnva… mbzovr qbt!

      Game. Needs. More. TESTING.

      • I think I’ve reached that same point through a different route. You can’t get out of the car, but you can jnyx jrfg hagvy lbh ernpu gur raq bs gur fgerrg, naq gur tnzr. Naq mbzovr qbt jvyy xrrc ba onexvat va gur onpxtebhaq vs lbh’ir eha uvz bire.

    • Quick note that might make the frame-up with the shoes faster–it’s not necessary for you to wear someone else’s shoes to accomplish this. This cuts out a bunch of moves.

      Just saw the author’s reply to Emily’s plea on rgif–I hadn’t realized we were already up to release 4. I’ve been winging along on v1… Rrrg.

  13. Grumble, grumble. Perhaps we could convince Jon Ingold to look at this commend thread and chime in with a hint or two??

    In the meantime, I decided that I was frustrated enough with this all that it was okay to try a bit of cheating…

    So I ran a Z-code disassembler on the game file. It would take some painful effort to figure anything out about how any of the abstract structures in the game work, but of course you can see all of the static text in one form or another. I THINK what I found makes clear the following:

    (1) Jr *ner* nvzvat sbe gur pbeerpg bhgpbzr: trg Wbr gb or jvyyvat gb neerfg Nagubal, ohg jvgu Rzvyvn va n fgngr gb vagreehcg gung jvgu n snyfr pbasrffvba.

    (2) Wbr jvyy abg oryvrir Rzvyvn’f pbasrffvba vs Nagubal’f sbbgcevagf ner va gur sybjreorq. V guvax guvf zrnaf jung vf arrqrq vf gb cerfrag Wbr jvgu fbzr Nagubal-cbvagvat rivqrapr (znlor whfg gur fcvyyrq juvfxrl naq gur cvyyf) ohg nyfb Rzvyvn’f sbbgcevagf va gur sybjreorq.

    (3) Vs jr rire qb svther vg bhg, gurer vf na raqtnzr puncgre njnvgvat juvpu erirnyf gur npghny riragf cevbe gb gur zheqre.

    None of that really helps with why Emilia won’t confess in the current scenario, though…

    • Ugh, (2) makes no sense at all — V pna’g trg Wbr gb neerfg Nagubal jvgubhg gur sbbgcevag rivqrapr va gur svefg cynpr. We need some additional, less circumstantial evidence to make that one fly, naq V qba’g frr ubj jr pbhyq trg Nagubal’f svatrecevagf bagb rvgure gur yrggre bcrare be gur oernqxavsr.

      • Hrm. Well, I could be mis-extrapolating. Either way, this certainly seems like a nice object lesson in testing. The game lists several testers, but I wonder if the situation ended up like some writing/editing groups I’ve experienced. If all of the readers are part of too long a span of the work’s evolution, it all begins to make sense in the way the author sees it, and no one can predict other possible objections/confusions/etc.

        I personally like the kind of game that tends to come with with a “difficulty level = cruel” style warning, but the player’s corresponding expectation is that each repeated failure will function in an incremental way into some sort of feedback loop. That’s what feels a bit broken here.

      • Except clearly he did think of lots of other approaches and possibilities, because this game has a startling number of wrong paths implemented in depth. This is something I really appreciate, except that, as you say, the learning cycle seems broken here.

  14. First thing: I want to say that my testers did an incredible job. I won’t have a word said against them! That there are more bugs remaining is unsurprising but they’re all my fault for putting them there… and I apologise, I wish I could have found them all, but as Emily points out there are a lot of paths…

    You’re all very close, and if I’d been paying a closer attention to this thread I might have stepped in before the rot set in (though there’s a lot of ROT above; much appreciated.)

    You’ve hit a couple of bugs: vg fubhyqa’g unir orra cbffvoyr gb chg lbhe bja cevagf ba gur oernqxavsr jura qvttvat vg hc sebz gur qenjref. Rzvyvn jvyy arire cvpx hc n oybbq-fgnvarq oernqxavsr. V’ir rnfrq hc gur ohfvarff bs trggvat Rzvyvn’f cevagf ba gur oernqxavsr va gur yngrfg ohvyq ohg gur thl jvgu gur yrggre bcrare unq gur evtug vqrn (naq gurer jnf n oht nanylfvat gung, ohg abg va gur jnl vg cnaarq bhg).

    And worst of all, Rzvyvn jnf snvyvat gb erzrzore vs fur fnj juvfxrl va Nagubal’f ebbz!

    In terms of strategy there are two elements missing, I think. Firstly, and I think some of you have managed this, lbh arrq gb znxr fher Rzvyvn xabjf gung fbzrbar ryfr xarj nobhg gur cubgb (gurer ner inevbhf jnlf).

    Secondly, Rzvyvn vfa’g tbvat gb pbasrff va n pbyq, gnpgvpny znaare. Fur’f n tenaq ebznagvp. Fur arrqf n qrabhzrag…

    You should be able to get through it from here (cross fingers…) though I’d strongly recommend grabbing the latest build (at the same link, Release 4).

  15. Thanks for weighing in, Jon (and I didn’t mean to say anything against your testers as such — more a wincing recognition that a project on this scale and complexity needs a whole LOT of testing…). Off to download r4 and see whether I can get any further with it…

  16. I WON I WON I WON. Well, you know, within the confines of what that means relative to this game.

    So:

    Overall strategy: Lrf, senzr Rzvyvn, ohg znxr ure guvax Nagubal qvq vg.

    What seem to be the required elements:

    1. Ure cevagf ba gur jrncba: Trg gur yrggre bcrare naq jnfu vg orsber Wbr pna frr vg. Yngre, qebc vg va gur xvgpura fb fur’yy gbhpu vg. Nsgre gung, er-qvc vg va gur jbhaq.

    2. Ure sbbgcevagf va gur tneqra: fgrny ure fubrf naq znxr gur cevagf. Rnfl rabhtu.

    3. Zber pbzcyrgr fgbel sbe Wbr: znxr n ehoovat bs gur zrffntr ba gur qerffre, naq znxr fher lbh fubj uvz gur ehoovat nf jryy nf gur vapevzvangvat cubgbtencu. (Nyfb erzrzore gb znxr gur ehoovat orsber lbh arrq gur juvfxrl sbe bgure guvatf.) Wbr jvyy or zber fngvfsvrq vs ur unf n jubyr oynpxznvy fgbel va zvaq.

    4. Gb pbaivapr Rzvyvn: cbhe gur juvfxrl ba gur pybguvat naq chg gur cubgbtencu nzbat vg, gura trg ure gb tb hcfgnvef naq svaq fnzr. Gryy ure nobhg gur snxr cvyyf naq rng ng yrnfg guerr bs gurz gb qrzbafgengr gurve snxrarff. Nyfb fubj ure gur unaqjevggra abgr. Va eryrnfr 4, ure ernpgvbaf gb nyy guvf ner n ovg zber pbafvfgrag (gunaxf Wba!).

    5. Pnyy Nagubal. (V qba’g xabj jurgure guvf ernyyl znggref, ohg V gubhtug uvf cerfrapr zvtug znxr sbe zber cerffher/rkpvgrzrag… naq naljnl vg jbexrq.)

    6. Neerfg Rzvyvn. Fur fubhyq abj pbasrff.

    • Cool – thanks for the outline, it helped save me time and make sure I wasn’t missing anything after I started over with Release 4.

      What satisfaction to reach the ending after so much struggle! The flashback did leave me with a couple questions, though:

      (1) Why aren’t Angela’s fingerprints on the letter opener? Or am I fundamentally misreading something here?

      (2) For that matter, why *are* mine? (If you ask Joe to analyze it before cleaning it, he says it only has Jack’s and the PC’s prints.) I had to pick it up to pry open the window, but I was wearing gloves throughout the flashback just as in the main game.

      Ok – time to find something else to occupy my mental space now…

      • Re 1: Abg fher. Znlor fur jnf jrnevat tybirf? ohg vs fb, jul? (V nyfb jbaqrerq jul fur qvqa’g jvaq hc jvgu zber oybbq ba urefrys.)

        Re 2: I would guess that’s just a bug, though I can’t be sure.

      • Gloves is down to a confuzed status-line: the PC doesn’t have any by the end. R5!

      • Thanks for the guide (and for telling me about the game in the 1st place, too). I got the ‘winning ending’.

        J ixpr gryumsmu izrab bem xinl rq Iycmxi’p qjycmsfsjybp ry bem rfmyms. Iyu gemsm urmp Iyberyd perg af jy bem myuciom? Erg mvinbxd uju em gjbympp bem FN?

        J gjpe gm nraxu eikm crym iqbms Iycmxi rs Iyberyd. Mojxji cmbp pnsmgmu oijyxd zmniapm pem’p bem gmilmpb/yjnmpb? rq bemo ixx. Jb’p piu, zab J campp jb qjbp gjbe geib gm lyrg rq bem FN.

      • Yeah, I agree — in my after-playing post I commented a bit on the complicity issue, and this is what I meant:

        V nf gur cynlre ernyyl qvqa’g jnag gb frr Rzvyvn chavfurq shegure onfvpnyyl sbe univat orra gur ivpgvz bs pvephzfgnaprf, naq vg frrzrq rfcrpvnyyl ubeevoyr gb znxr ure gnxr gur snyy sbe fbzrbar jub va snpg jnfa’g rira snvgushy gb ure — ohg gung jnf jurer gur tnzr frrzrq gb or yrnqvat zr naq vg qbrf svg gur Yvsr Vfa’g Erzbgryl Snve synibe bs n tbbq abve fgbel. Nobhg Natryn’f svatrecevagf naq/be Nagubal’f ivrj bs hf va gur raqtnzr, V ernyyl qba’g xabj.

    • I’ve done everthing that should be required to bring the game to a successful completion, several times, but every time Emelia claims that I know the letter opener was washed clean after the murder. Does it matter whether I wash the opener in the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink? Does it matter where I leave the opener? Does it matter when?

  17. Pingback: Make It Good, After « Emily Short’s Interactive Fiction

  18. Hi! I would like to know what I should do in order to get the ‘dresser message’. I hfrq gur juvfxrl gb pyrna gur fhofgnapr ba gur znexf ohg pna’g ernq nalguvat hfrshy.

      • Thank you, Emily. I found the message and continued my strategy for arresting Emilia but…that NPC is clearly bugged.
        I’m playing version 5 now and she doesn’t remember the whiskey on gur znyr pybgurf or the truth behind Anthony. Emilia answers me she trusts Anthony and does not believe him anymore in the SAME dialog turn.

        And the murderer’s weapon continues to change from the letter opener to the *covered by blood* breadknife (that I never saw or touched) whenever I arrest her.

        There are still serious bugs, maybe.

      • Possibly — in that case I would recommend sending a report (and, if possible, a transcript) of the bugs you encountered to Jon, so that he can address them in the future.

        I did make a walkthrough for someone who had trouble even following the strategy for winning. I’m a little reluctant to publish it, especially so soon after the game’s release, because so much of the satisfaction of this game would be drained away by following one; but if you find yourself so stuck by the bugs that you can’t find a way through, I’d be happy to send you a copy.

      • Thank you Emily, I would really appreciate it in order to see if I’m doing something wrong. I played a new match following the hints posted here but the maid continues to behave ‘with no memory’.

      • Thanks for mentioning these bugs. R7 fixes them, along with shoring up a few other details. It should be considerably more stable.

        But, it’d be really great if you could email me at the address in the help menu if you find any more problems, as often they are not hard to put right!

      • Surely Mr Ingold, I will prepare a small bug report as soon as I can.

        Many thanks Miss Short, I replied to your email, control the spam folder too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s