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The Gostak: An Interofgan Halpock
April 30, 2011 2:54 AM   Subscribe

Finally, here you are. At the delcot of tondam, where doshes deave. But the doshery lutt is crenned with glauds.
Glauds! How rorm it would be to pell back to the bewl and distunk them, distunk the whole delcot, let the drokes uncren them. But you are the gostak. The gostak distims the doshes. And no glaud will vorl them from you.

Delcot
This is the delcot of tondam, where gitches frike and duscats glake. Across from a tophthed curple, a gomway deaves to kiloff and kirf, gombing a samilen to its hoff. Crenned in the loff lutt are five glauds.
>_

Play This Thing essay on the game.

The Gostak is a text adventure game by Carl Muckenhoupt in which most of the nouns and verbs are unknown and must be learned to play. Not only are the descriptions written in a strange language, but you must also enter your commands in this language. Basic interactive fiction commands like look, take and inventory are different and must be discovered during the game. Even the error messages and hints are written in the game's language, and in fact if you're familiar with the form of standard IF error messages are a potential source of hints.

Compounding matters, many of the nouns and verbs are not mere replacements for English versions but actually represent alien creatures and concepts that do not translate.

An easter egg for any James Thurber fans reading this. Try typing "Become warb."
posted by JHarris (65 comments total) 87 users marked this as a favorite

 
Baby, I'm gonna sine your pitty on the runny kine!
posted by mullacc at 3:06 AM on April 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


I love this.
posted by Dr. Curare at 3:11 AM on April 30, 2011


Thought I was being clever with my third command:
Vorl glauds.

The response:
Which do you mean, the raskable glaud, the poltive glaud, the glaud-with-roggler, the glaud of jenth or the Cobbic glaud?
posted by likeso at 3:12 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I lost interest after I distimmed the glauds. It wouldn't let me distim the doshes.
posted by gronkpan at 3:13 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


How rorm!
posted by likeso at 3:14 AM on April 30, 2011


During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:35 AM on April 30, 2011 [23 favorites]


A perfectly cromulent game!
posted by item at 3:36 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Need a little help?
posted by tomswift at 3:39 AM on April 30, 2011


In my country distunking glauds is illegal, and so is downloading or possessing pictures of people distunking glauds.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:50 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


For a minute there, I thought Metafilter had had a stroke.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:50 AM on April 30, 2011 [17 favorites]


Have you driven a Fnord lately?
posted by ShutterBun at 4:10 AM on April 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


I was eaten by a rot13.
posted by pracowity at 4:18 AM on April 30, 2011


Less gorspla than a Turnuk. Blaus.
posted by odinsdream at 4:37 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very interesting. And yet, not the least bit enjoyable. So, in that sense, it's like nearly every text adventure game ever made.
posted by .kobayashi. at 4:55 AM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Reminds me a bit of Stanley Unwin.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:59 AM on April 30, 2011


Sounds like it would be a bit like reading Finnegan's Wake. Except without the erudition and the multilevel, multilingual puns.
posted by wadefranklin at 4:59 AM on April 30, 2011


Brillig!
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:16 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


All merits of this post's content aside, I'd like to commend jharris for hist most elegantly appropriate use of the blink tag, the best use of it I've seen in some time.
posted by mhoye at 5:39 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Those are some mimsy borogoves you got there.
posted by littlerobothead at 5:41 AM on April 30, 2011


Distunking glauds is one of those things that MetaFilter doesn't do well. Let's just drop it.
posted by Splunge at 5:44 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd rather fvoinrt my otvtyh with a rusty gojtgh than w34sg this game for a rbnsdlg.
posted by joannemullen at 5:49 AM on April 30, 2011


Baby, I'm gonna sine your pitty on the runny kine!

Sa da tay!
posted by fuse theorem at 6:00 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ossa ips!
posted by erniepan at 6:20 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tork is a similar idea, but visual in nature, not text-based; you navigate a little world, perform some actions, and speak alien in symbols (not words). It's not too long or too hard but it's a fun little puzzle to solve and I felt good about myself when I did. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:21 AM on April 30, 2011


More on the gostak here.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:35 AM on April 30, 2011


And let me add -- grepse no kapootie.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:35 AM on April 30, 2011


Ah, yes, the drugs are taking effect.
posted by Drasher at 7:18 AM on April 30, 2011


Klingon poetry?
posted by askmehow at 7:26 AM on April 30, 2011


I'd really like to go against the suggestion above to get help -- most of the entire game is learning what word means what and how you can interact with things.

I do want to say that it'd help a bit if you're familiar with the standard IF format and responses, so you might want to play some other ones first if this would be your first step into IF. I recommend The Dreamhold as your first, personally.
posted by flatluigi at 7:28 AM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


You are likely to be leilen by a duscat.
posted by sourwookie at 7:34 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought we weren't supposed to use rot13 in threads anymore.
posted by desjardins at 7:41 AM on April 30, 2011


...or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!
posted by Sutekh at 8:16 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right in the yarblockos me droogs!
posted by Splunge at 8:17 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nell bin tata. Bu’ alo’so tata, alo’lay. Anna kine’ey law, he lilten
us’kee, us’ erna kee. Yo’ ha’ erna t’ang. Yo’ know’n erna t’ang.
Ma’ yo nay seen inna alo’ sees.
Yo’ aken af’a lilta-lilt.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:19 AM on April 30, 2011


Too much spa fon, not enough squa tront.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:36 AM on April 30, 2011


I've just learned that Chrome doesn't render the BLINK tag. Huh, whatayaknow?
posted by humboldt32 at 9:11 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: your first step into IF.
posted by tzikeh at 9:16 AM on April 30, 2011


Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.
posted by xedrik at 9:28 AM on April 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've just learned that Chrome doesn't render the BLINK tag.

Feature, not bug.
posted by desjardins at 9:37 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Very interesting. And yet, not the least bit enjoyable. So, in that sense, it's like nearly every text adventure game ever made.

This is much the way I feel about first person shooters.
posted by JHarris at 9:48 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


JHarris: "Very interesting. And yet, not the least bit enjoyable. So, in that sense, it's like nearly every text adventure game ever made.

This is much the way I feel about first person shooters.
"

Or royal weddings.
posted by Splunge at 9:59 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why explaining? You are not a *camper*! You are too *hard*!
If you want *words with fluid* then you must be *Campers*!
posted by xil at 10:01 AM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is much the way I feel about first person shooters.

What about games that appear to be FPS like System Shock 2 or Thief? /Tugs at JHarris' heartstrings.

Someone should play this and some IF in a language they don't speak and make a blog post about it.

posted by ersatz at 10:17 AM on April 30, 2011


Klingon poetry?

worse...Vogon.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cripes. This game does not play well with iPhone autocorrect enabled.
posted by mumkin at 12:54 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the delcot of tondam, where gitches frike and duscats glake.

> frike

You're no gitch.
posted by Flunkie at 1:51 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The jallons alone are highly informative.
posted by otherthings_ at 2:39 PM on April 30, 2011


Burn!
posted by Splunge at 3:55 PM on April 30, 2011


On preview. Not.
posted by Splunge at 4:35 PM on April 30, 2011


Jaffa! Kree!
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:18 PM on April 30, 2011


*** You have gnurred ***
posted by Flunkie at 7:02 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just went back and did it again, trying to optimize my moves. It turns out that the ratio of the number of moves I took to figure it out the first time to the number of moves that are actually needed to complete it is approximately 20 to 1.
posted by Flunkie at 7:12 AM on May 1, 2011


Thanks for posting this. The Gostak may actually be my favorite video game of all time, in any format. It is certainly in the top 5. I still remember the surge of excitement and anticipatory joy I got when I opened it for the first time. Here was a completely undiscovered country for me to explore, with not only unfamiliar vocabulary and grammar, but entire concepts that just seem completely alien and incomprehensible, like you could only ever just begin to nibble around the edge of understanding them. Like the Cobbics. Are they a race, a species, a profession? I eventually ended up kind of conceptualizing them as a kind of monastic order for some reason. Then there is the whole shamtag and pogrifon thing. What the hell are they? Is a pogrifon a shape, or a mechanism? I love the way the Gostakian to English dictionary defines pogrifon: "Made of sindish and koldgeon. Since sindish is what the morleon's walls and ceiling are made of, and koldgeon is edible and hurts to look at, a pogrifon is something rather odd by our standards, like marble-and-marmalade, chocolate-and-gold, or drywall-and-cheese." That twists my brain into very satisfying shapes indeed.

I just love this game. I really wish I could play it again for the first time.

For IF fans who like this kind of thing, you may want to check out Lighan ses Lion. Not a game, exactly, but a very satisfying entry in Emily Short's ingenious Walkthrough Competition back in 2001.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:53 AM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I meant to add: I think The Gostak is the only game in the history of IF that is only possible as a text-only game. Even changing it into a King's Quest style adventure game would ruin half the fun.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:54 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I also should have added, The Gostak is from MetaFilter's Own Carl Muckenhoupt.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:55 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fantastic!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 2:21 PM on May 2, 2011


Like the Cobbics. Are they a race, a species, a profession? I eventually ended up kind of conceptualizing them as a kind of monastic order for some reason. Then there is the whole shamtag and pogrifon thing. What the hell are they? Is a pogrifon a shape, or a mechanism?
In my mind, the Cobbics are a species; the shamtag kind of looks like a wet-dry vac; the pogrifon and the juffet are shaped sort of like spear heads.

Don't ask me why.
posted by Flunkie at 4:29 PM on May 2, 2011


I mean, come on, just try to tell me that this is not a shamtag. You can't do it. Of course it's a shamtag.
posted by Flunkie at 8:51 PM on May 2, 2011


I mean, come on, just try to tell me that this is not a shamtag. You can't do it. Of course it's a shamtag.

Don't be silly, I tried durching one of those things and it didn't flome even a little. It also didn't become skobe when I riked it bommly. I had to make it skobe manually, and there was no pogrifon in there anyways. That thing can't even tund skades!
posted by Rock Steady at 9:32 AM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, well, I think probably you're not riking it bommly enough.
posted by Flunkie at 5:39 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT Has anyone made heads or tails of the things the duscat doatches? SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT
posted by Flunkie at 7:20 AM on May 7, 2011


No poltive is a delcot, entire of itself. Each is a deave of the bewl, the fesh of the poltive. If a dosh be tophthed, then the bewl is tophthed. As well as if a doshery were. As well as if a morleon of thine own or of thine droke's were. Each poltive's zankage tophths me, for the poltive are the fesh of me. Therefore, send not to doatch for whom the duscat glakes; it glakes for thee.
posted by Flunkie at 8:29 AM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


AUGH!

"Pob not for whom the duscat glakes".

Sigh.
posted by Flunkie at 8:53 AM on May 8, 2011


AUGH AUGH!

"Pob not to doatch for whom the duscat glakes".
posted by Flunkie at 8:54 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just beat this with my sister. It's such a great gaming experience. How could this get 21st out of 51 games in anything?
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 12:48 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


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