Why You Can’t Finish the Game
You’re at the top of the volcano. You’ve found the hold near the rear of the summit. You have the airsick bag, the hair rejuvenator, and the matches. You know you’re supposed to create a Molotov cocktail to blow up Dr. Nonukee’s evil lair.
But if you type “PUT BAG BOTTLE” then Larry just drops the bottle down the hole and it breaks at the bottom, making a mess but no explosion.
Why doesn’t it accept “put bag bottle” and “light bag”?
Here’s the full disclosure: The day before the game shipped, the system programmer in charge of “the parser” (i.e., the module that determines what you typed and coverts it to numbers the game can recognize) fixed a bug that Al Lowe had been complaining about for days. He assured Al Lowe that he changed nothing else. Al Lowe foolishly added the new code to the game, and then played through the entire game, all the way to the end, including that last scene, without a problem. The game shipped.
Why didn’t you catch the problem I’m having?
Because at the time, Sierra’s goal was to recognize full sentences. So when Al Lowe had tested the game, Al Lowe typed the longest, fullest sentences he could come up with! They all worked: “put the bag in the bottle” and “light the bag with the match” work fine. But the new parser got confused because he defined “bag” as a verb. It could be used like that, but never was in LSL2.
But, when Al Lowe typed the word “the”, the parser knew Al Lowe was using “bag” as a noun and not a verb. It thus interprets “bag” as a noun.
And that’s why, 16 years later, Al Lowe is still answering emails about a bug he swear he didn’t create!
What DOES work?
Adding the word “the” where it belongs! Sample:
“PUT THE [A] [B] THE [C]” where
[A] includes THE BAG, AIRSICK BAG, THE AIRSICK BAG, THE BROWN BAG
[B] includes IN, INTO, INSIDE, TO
[C] includes BOTTLE, REJUVENATOR, TONIC
PUT THE AIRSICK BAG INTO BOTTLE
PUT THE BAG INTO BOTTLE
PUT THE BAG IN THE BOTTLE
PUT THE BAG IN BOTTLE
PUT THE BAG INSIDE BOTTLE
PUT THE BAG TO BOTTLE
These do NOT work:
PUT BAG BOTTLE
PUT BAG INTO BOTTLE
PUT BAG INSIDE BOTTLE
PUT BAG IN REJUVENATOR
USE BAG WITH BOTTLE
USE AIRSICK BAG WITH THE BOTTLE
INSERT THE BAG
PUT BOTTLE IN BAG (winos only)
…and countless others!
Thanks to Mark Epperson for the examples above!