Monday, March 18, 2024


Here are a few of the emails I received about Thursday's post on the earliest accrual of skills after death in games/books/films.

First, games. From Dan S, and I still remember the greatness of Ultima Underworld:
I was a programmer and designer for the (first ever) first-person 3-D RPG Ultima Underworld (1992). In the game is a "silver sapling" that acts as a resurrection point when you die (although there is an experience point penalty). You can take a seed from the sapling and plant it anywhere you like to create a new resurrection point.

I remember thinking it was a cool mechanic (it was another developer's idea, I think) but I don't remember how novel we thought it was. I'm sure other RPGs had some sort of non-perma-death that this was just a bit of an evolution from. It was meant mostly as a checkpointing convenience and the purpose wasn't really for it to be exploited in a strategic way, although by the time we released the game we knew that it could be, since one of our playtesters found ways to abuse it during speedruns (e.g., throwing it into an inaccessible area and then committing suicide). Anyway, I don't think it really meets the criterion of "fundamental part of the game design" but maybe it's interesting history.

The Infocom game Enchanter (1983), which some of us had played, has a "survive unnatural death" spell that you need to use appropriately to win, if that counts. I doubt it was an explicit inspiration but it was in our backgrounds.

From Andrew S., and this is a book reference?
There was a 1986 book by a fellow named Ken Grimwood called "Replay."  Rather than a day cycle, the protagonist (middle aged) "dies" from a heart attack and wakes up as a college student and gets to relive his life from that point multiple times.  There are some twists to it, and he meets a woman who is going through the same thing.  Not a bad book actually.  I suspect it's out of print now, but it looks like ABEBooks has several copies of various editions for fairly cheap.

From Daniel W., and it's a book reference from way back:
Your “A Question” post triggered a memory from deep in my past. This isn’t a video game, but predates Groundhog Day by over thirty years: Rogue Moon

This section of the plot summary of Rogue Moon is particularly interesting: 
Barker is the first to retain his sanity after dying in the artifact, but even he is deeply affected, exclaiming, " didn't care! I was nothing to it!" He returns again and again, advancing a little farther each time.

Thanks to all who responded!

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