Sunday, July 1, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - Professor Lee Dambroke, I Presume

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Note: In my mind, Lee Dambroke is a man, so I'll refer to him with the proper pronouns for that assumption. The game never indicates gender for the main characters.

As a dean on the university planet of Harvard, Lee Dambroke holds a position of some respect. Unfortunately, his subject of choice is Xenobiology, not necessarily a bad field; however, given the current climate among the Nine Worlds with the boundary and all, study of alien life has been restricted to unintelligent bugs on Frontier (the last planet colonized among the Nine Worlds). Feeling progress in his field has come to halt, the good professor concludes he must strike out on his own and discover new alien life.

In a fit of excitement, Professor Dambroke submitted a proposal to explore the galaxy for alien life. In it he described the possibility of learning alien abilities and techniques. Postulating a human technique like calculating a mathematical expression in one's head--while natural to us--could seem like magic to aliens. Imagine then what kind of abilities aliens may possess that appear magical to humans, but are completely natural to them. He even goes as far as suggesting humans could learn to hone such abilities.
As a kid, I thought this was a picture of his ship, and I didn't want to travel around with such creepy things.
(Source: Character Manual via CRPG Addict)
Not expecting much, Lee goes about his day thinking he'll have to put the whole notion behind him. A response was received yesterday; a meeting is set for this afternoon. The previous night included a restless dream with much foreshadowing. He awakens with the image of a dragon, and a voice calling, "Do you have the message?"

Dean Myers of the Planning Committee arranged the meeting, and has made provisions for departure. Interested in the idea of bringing back and demonstrating alien abilities beyond human comprehension, she--and an unnamed group of people--commissioned a ship with some cargo supplies. The terms are thus, learn three demonstrable alien "magical" abilities, return to Harvard, and prove something or other. Really the main draw is to show we can learn magic from aliens.

Professor Lee Dambroke sets off beyond the boundary in his newly christened ship, The Black Abyss.

Thus the game begins, although the training wheels haven't come off quite yet. The first 5 turns are predetermined for each character. Attempting to deviate from the path results in screen telling you what your next move should be.

The first 5 turns are an introduction to the most common actions: Landing on a planet, trading commodities in the market, taking off, navigating trisectors, and gathering information. The tutorial ends after Lee receives some new star maps from a mysterious stranger. This tall thin man suggest the maps are none other than the lost maps of Vanessa Chang. At first not believing him, then thinking him crazy, and finally accepting of the possibility, Lee loads the disks in his computer's navigation system.

Now Imagine if you will, struggling to learn a new game as it was back 1988-89. You have in front of you 13 books that hold various passages (noting the last is number 888), 6 character booklets, a player guide for each of 6 possible players, a general rule book, and a star map of modest size. (Also included is a mysteriously sealed "Document Two -- DO NOT OPEN" as I found it as a kid.)
(Source: Museum of Computer Adventure Game History)
The game is instructing you how to play, and directs you through 2 of the currently 7 possible planets. You reach the last turn of the tutorial expecting to finally get a hold of the game. When suddenly, the computer instructs you to open "Document Two" and proceed with the rest of the turn. This happens after receiving the long lost star maps.
^ This becomes... This v
(Source: Museum of Computer Adventure Game History)


  1. Ok, that must have been a really cool experience. Nicely written.

    1. It was definitely exciting seeing the game world open up like that. I enjoy being surprised by games, and this was one of the first times a game did that.

      The whole game is really well written, and intrigue ramps up once the second half of the game starts (after the initial character's quest is completed). I'm expecting a cliff hanger moment at the end of the second game, which I know isn't resolved; I don't have much hope for a third game coming out over 20 years later.