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February 09, 2006

Escape to Obion IV: Closer to Zero

Episode 4: Closer to Zero (latest revision: 2006/2/10)

Week 4, Game 4.

Many found #3 too hard, and while we could edit that game, it makes more sense to move forward - though I may add more clues to #3 at a later date for future players.

In this one the standalone puzzles are straightforward, but you still will need to take some notes in order to get to the end.

We also advance the story more through found pages from a diary of one of the main villain's primary henchmen.

I had become fascinated with Turing's cracking of the Nazi's Enigma machine, and tried to replicate one for this game. It came off rather well, and it will be a pity if we can't use it again in a future episode.

We had thought that not using English (or any language) would make the game more accessible to international players, but we chose to do so anyway in this game just because that option opened up so many more possibilities for leaving clues and hints in the game.

edit: people were managing to get to the end through trial and error on the last puzzle, but now they have to figure out the rest of the game before they'll know what to do.

Posted by mslaybau at February 9, 2006 06:03 PM


You are quick - heading for a Guiness record? I enjoyed all of your games so far (#3 was in fact too hard). I just played episode 4 and liked it very much. But suddenly I was a little confused, because it said "mission accomplished" and I only solved 3 puzzles. I still don't know if this is on purpose or not...

Keep on producing next episodes, I wish you the best!

Posted by: Mystery at February 10, 2006 12:55 PM

Nice part.... of this game. I even used Google. I wanted to find some information about *Enigma machine* ;-)... Anyway i have some questions. Is it really end of the game? 3 puzzles ?... What for another puzzles??, just for interest?.

Best wishes,
Victoria and Mickail

Интересная часть игры. Даже воспользовалась Гуглом, чтобы найти информацию по *Enigma machine*. Только пару вопросов. Это действительно конец игры?.. Всего 3 пазла?. Зачем тогда остальные? Просто для интереса?
C наилучшими пожеланиями,
Виктория и Михаил


Posted by: Victoria and Mikhail at February 10, 2006 01:55 PM

Hi again!
That's a great strategy: prepare a complex game but make it first easy. If players are complaining that it's too easy, just "turn a switch" and make it much harder.
In that case I will return to my reading about the Enigma Machine which I just started to examine when I got out by chance.
And still: Great work! Just give me some time (2 hours? 2 days? 2 weeks?) to solve episode 4 and then I will be ready for # 5!

Posted by: Mystery at February 11, 2006 12:09 AM

has anyone figured out the lightbulb task yet? i didn't realise it was there until i'd been playing the game for hours! bit slow tonight....

Posted by: prideravyn at February 11, 2006 03:26 PM

are you sure there is no bug in the new version ?
the big problem for me is with June7, i try to put the word but it doesn't work

Posted by: rusa at February 11, 2006 03:55 PM

Rusa, you probably have the right word, but you need to run it through the Enigma machine. The other puzzles tell you what the dial settings are.

Posted by: Matt at February 11, 2006 05:32 PM

Finally-finally-finally I got out! You made a big step from version 1 to version 2! I was working on it for 8 hours or so. Especially the tasks on the Enigma Machine were tricky to solve!
Sometimes there were too many different hints (or things that I considered as hints and made hypothesis about it) and I needed time (and several trials) to find out what was a real hint and what had no importance. From my point of view the difficulty level is this time (with the new version) almost too hard. People need much frustration tolerance to keep on working on it. But if you solve it, you can be proud of yourself!

Posted by: Mystery at February 12, 2006 06:38 PM

cool game

Posted by: bowlowno at February 18, 2006 06:45 PM

This might be a bug. When you do the light bulb puzzle it may appear that you have done it correctly as all the blue and red lines match up with the solution but the puzzle doesn't register as being completed as some of the X pieces need to be rotated 180 degrees.

Posted by: anonymous at March 24, 2006 11:00 PM

Hi, coming late to this game. The light bulb underwater puzzle, as bowlowno says above, doesn't 'tell' you when you've got it right. There is no satisfying clang and something lighting up.

I am really stuck on what to do at the moment.

Have the year from the light bulb puzzle and the three numbers from the two jigsaws used together, plus the three days of course. Been into the left hand shack and seen the weekday compass picture, and done the enigma dials jigsaw puzzle.

In the right hand shack there are three red places but one is not accessible - is this the enigma machine itself?? How can I access this one?
I can't make the calendar give me any words at all for any date, let alone the dates from the other puzzles. The three cog puzzle on the left in there seems to need words from the calendar. What am I missing?

Do hope you are still around and can help, as am really enjoying this.

Posted by: Ollie at August 17, 2006 06:55 PM

Hi again, forget my previous message. Had completely overlooked a side-track which led eventually to the enigma machine and the note etc. Have now finished the game. The only point I would still like to make is that there is nothing to tell us when we have got the underwater connect-the-red-and-blue-lightbulbs puzzle correct. A noise would be nice.

Thanks a lot for another great game.

Posted by: Ollie at August 17, 2006 08:57 PM

cool site

Posted by: Steven Cole at September 5, 2006 01:29 AM

Cool game, I'd got through all 3 previous episodes with few or no spoilers, but with this one the bugginess in Flash really got to me. For ages I couldn't work out how the **** I was meant to get the Enigma machine to work, despite having the code (though I wasn't sure what order) for the dials.

After asking my GF to try it on *her* computer, it turned out that sure enough, on hers the lights on the top of the machine light up when you type things, even if you've got the code or the dials wrong. They don't for me. (I hate Flash. Usually it's text that doesn't show up in games, but Obion's been working ok except in that "Flags" puzzle in Ep.2, and I could work around that)

Anyway, don't suppose this might get "fixed" somehow to be more functional on Flash 7 (or Linux versions of Flash, or whichever part is the problem)? Please? :) Or do you have any ideas for fixes (other than using a different computer)?

Posted by: Tom at October 25, 2006 12:45 AM

Thanks for your note. Yours is the first comment I've seen about elements not showing up. The code is clean, so I'm not sure how I could fix it. I was hoping to make a little money from ads or donations for the games in order to justify the time it takes to make them, but that didn't happen, so it's unlikely I'll revisit them any time soon.

So you're using Linux? I've heard complaints about Flash on Linux but nothing specific. Despite any claims about the universality of 'virtual machines' such as Flash, there are differences across OSs and browsers, but unfortunately it's very time-consuming to test everything on every combination of OS, browser, and Flash plug-in version. I use Windows and the latest versions of Firefox and the Flash plugin, so that platform should be fine.

Sorry you had problems. I know how frustrating it is to be in the middle of something, only to have to cut it short because of problems like these.


Posted by: Matt at October 25, 2006 01:36 AM

Hi again! Sorry to hear you haven't managed to get much money for the game, I think you deserve to do well from it. And I empathise with not having the time to work on the things, there just aren't enough hours in the day, are there?
Ditto with the cross-platform issues- after some time working on one of my own games, I made a windows port of it; but as I had no Windows machine to test it on myself, it was only after I'd released it that I found the timing functions I'd used were just NOPs in Windows.

Anyhow. Couple days ago I checked and though there was still no Flash 8 for Linux, I found there was another Flash 7 plugin that's 2 years newer than the one I've got, so I upgraded in case that made a difference, and.... nope. Oh well. But then I noticed soon after, news that a beta version of Flash 9 for Linux had been released! Hadn't been listed with the regular downloads. I got the standalone-player version they mentioned (I don't want beta plugins crashing my browser), and it works really well with Obion episode 4, including the Enigma machine part! :) Linky in case anyone else wants it: http://blogs.adobe.com/penguin.swf/2006/10/beta_is_live.html

Incidentally, I wasn't entirely sure after I also finished episode 5: Was that always supposed to be the *last* episode, or had another one been planned (even if you're not likely to make it now)?

Posted by: Tom at October 29, 2006 08:01 AM

Hi Tom, that's good news about the new plugin; thanks for the link.

I had planned an Obion 6 to wrap up the story (though #5 ends with some resolution) and have the sketches done and the puzzles figured out, but I had to take a hiatus to work on other things and never got around to it.

I had also been planning to create a new series that tells another part of the story from the perspective of a different character, one of the minions on the 'bad' side. Doing the Obion games taught me a lot about how to design interfaces, puzzles, and interactions in general, and I wanted to try out a new look and feel. It's in the pipeline, but no work is being done now.

Incidentally, can you tell me, out of the 5 games, which parts were te most fun/satisfying, and which parts were the most frustrating/disappointing? I've gotten comments from people that the games were too hard, and almost as many saying they were too easy. I have the sense that #3 was simply too complicated, and that #s 2 and 5 had a better balance of complexity and fun, but it's hard to say. I recently tried to play the games myself, with fresh eyes, and found them much harder than I remembered.


Posted by: Matt at November 5, 2006 12:51 PM

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