The Let's Play Archive

The Dig

by GuavaMoment

Part 14

Update 14 - The Wall of Text

Video of the alien speaking, and FAQ at the bottom.

In this update we're going to talk to the alien, explore one screen, and talk to the alien. To get all the text together and have things flow nicely, we're actually going to explore that one screen first, which was back in the map spire.

So what do we do here? Show Maggie the stone tablet we got waaaay back in the museum of course! Why here? Who knows! Adventure game logic!

: Does it say anything that might help us?
: Boston, it exactly describes that strange field of almost-light.
: What does it say?
: It's a set of instructions! Now it makes perfect sense!

It is and it does?

Why do they always make these instructions so compicated? Part c? It's not labelled, how am I supposed to know what part c is? I think I'm missing a piece! I think this is part c, but it doesn't have a hole there. Do I have to drill it myself?

: If we didn't know better, we'd think that island had been there for a million years.

We'll be back here later. Let's finally go talk to that alien.

: Die?
: As long as I don't accidentally offend him, we'll be OK.
: Aklash pahk.
: He says, 'Open your mouth,' which is their way of saying 'Speak.'
: You do the talking, Maggie, so you can understand each other.
: Speak.

: Who are you, honored one?
: The bringer of misfortune.

: Please, tell me who you are.
: I am the doer who undoes, the creator who uncreates. And yet I would gladly be the destroyer who undestroys, the dangerous one who protects.

: Speak plainly. Tell us who you are.
: Once I was hailed as the greatest mind my people ever produced. I tried to bring them power and happiness. I gave them power to leave this world, to leave their bodies, to enter an existence as pure mind, eternally perfect. But I could not give them the power to return and reclaim their abandoned bodies, their decaying world. They are lost and cannot return!

: Have you a name?
: I had a name, when I was alive. Now that I am again and again dead, what need have I for names? My body is so ancient that the crystals scarcely have power over me. I rise for a few minutes, and then I fall again. Soon I will cease to rise at all. Only then will my grief end. I want no name or memory to live after me.

: Did you invent the life crystals? To raise the dead is the greatest achievement we've seen.
: What raises the dead can debase the living.

: Are there side effects to the crystals?
: What the crystals create is not a life, but a slave.

: So when the life crystals restore you, you aren't really alive?
: They restore the cells and the organs, but take away all that made the life worth living.

: Then why did you make them?
: Our society became obsessed with living eternally. I underestimated the breadth and danger of that obsession. The crystals are the second worst mistake I made.

: The metal plates we've found. What are they?
: They are authority and power. Each shape has a meaning. And when they are fitted together, they have a new meaning.

: If we put the control plates in the triangle, what will happen?
: You will open the door to beauty without boundaries, and to trouble without end.

: The light bridges are magnificent. We never dreamed that people could walk on light.
: Ah yes. We were happily surprised at how convenient those lightstands turned out to be. If we had known, we would not have bothered to build the trams.

: If you were surprised that the lights could be used as bridges, what did you create them for?
: When all the bridges are complete, the eye will see.

: When you say, 'The eye will see,' you aren't talking about OUR eyes, are you?
: An eye that can see the three dimensions of time as well as the three dimensions of space -- it will show you beauty beyond belief, but once you have seen Spacetime Six, will you ever see Spacetime Four again? The eye may be open, but the mind hasn't the strength to see.

: The language of the library was a great achievement. Is was so clear and surprisingly easy to learn.
: The greater the idea, the simpler and clearer the language needed to express it.

: (about the stone tablet) Why is this inscription in another kind of writing?
: I did not write it. I would not have written it.

: I can read it, but the meaning isn't clear. It speaks of something hidden.
: It was the first achievement on the road to my greatest error, the one that condemned my people.

: The map helped us find you. Did you create it?
: It was created by those who now wish only to find themselves.

: The creatures who live here now -- did you people know of them, or did they come later?
: Millions of years have passed since then. What once were pets of companions have followed their own evolutionary paths. They have become as beautiful or as terrible, as clever or as stupid as it was in them to be.

: The monster who captured me -- are there any more of them?
: That one did not evolve. It was made. And there are as many of them as are needed.

: There's water everywhere in these islands -- waterfalls, pools, and the sea all around.
: We love the water. But now my people live in an eternal desert, neither drinking nor thirsting. If only they could thirst again, and then drink! If only they could dive into the sea and hear the roaring of the waterfall!

: Why was your tomb so carefully hidden?
: So only the most persistent, the most clever, and therefore the most dangerous of visitors would find me.

: Why was your body preserved so carefully?

: Since all the evil in this place was my fault, I chose to be its guardian forever.

: If what you did was bad, why do the museum displays give you so much honor?
: There was a time when my creations were thought to be good. I believed it myself, or I would never have created them.

: How long will you remain here?
: Until the last of my mistakes is rectified, or until the life crystals lose their power out of miserable death.

: We want to go home.
: That is the wish of all living creatures. It is a vain wish, for there is no true home. All intelligence wanders and has no rest.

: The probe you sent brought us here. We want to go back to our home planet.
: Another one of our terrible mistakes. We sent out those probes when we thought we had found the glorious secrets of the universe. We could not call them back. Thus I remain here to warn all those who come in answer to an invitation we wish we had not sent.

: Warning us won't do any good unless we can get back home to Earth to tell other humans.
: There are two ways to protect your planet. One is if you return and warn them to stay away. The other is if you never return at all. Which warning do you think will be more effective?

: Tell us how to get back to Earth! I beg you!
: If my people could return from Spacetime Six where they have gone, they would rebuild this starport. They would make you a crystal ship which would take you back to your planet. But they will never find their way back home.

: What are the ghosts we saw? Are they alive?
: My people all traveled to the realm of Spacetime Six, where three dimensions of time join to the three dimensions of space. It is indescribably beautiful -- but they can build nothing there, they can create nothing, they just exist, on and on, with empty lives and hearts that long for this hard and stony world.

: The ghosts are your people, then?
: Their connection to this world is so slight. They can disturb the energy in the air. They can make themselves visible for a few moments. But they can't build anything here. They will live forever -- but it is not LIFE.

: Is it impossible for your people to come back?
: It takes enormous strength of will to leave that place and come back to this one. They have all tried. They have all failed. And now they have been away too long. They have lost the physical memory of how to live here in Spacetime Four.

: Why did the ghosts lead us to you?
: Some of them foolishly hope that if I help you open the gateway again, YOU might have the strength to lead them home, to let them remake their bodies here. But I am sure that all that would happen is you, too, would be lost in Spacetime Six.

: Thank you for helping us.
: I will only have helped you when you give up your foolish plan.

: We're not giving up.
: My only consolation is that true death comes closer with each dying.

: He speaks very slowly and clearly. But I'm also pretty damn good.

Boston and Maggie now go make that island appear, and return to ask the alien about it.

: It left this reality, but only a little way. It can come back, because it never fully left.

: The island moves in and out of our reality?
: It loses substance with every passage. We thought we could take our world with us into Spacetime Six. It could not be done.

: When something leaves our reality, where does it go?
: To a place where time is infinite in all directions. But because it does not move along a single line, it can never be predicted, or controlled. Those who go there from here cannot change anything. They are nothing but observers, forever.

: Thank you for helping us.
: Help yourselves by giving up. Never look into the impossible eye. You don't have the strength to return from that place.

This alien culture had a desire to live forever, in one form or another, so this alien invented the life crystals. They had side effects causing...shall we say, "mental instability". So he found a way for his species to "ascend" and enter Spacetime Six, where they are trapped. If we could somehow save them, they'd find a way to send us home.

What's Spacetime Six? How are they trapped there?
The game doesn't explain this. The book barely explains this. You have to read some pretty nerdy books to understand, so I'll give a bunch of analogies.

Everyone's familiar with Spacetime Four - our world, three dimensions of space and one of time. Spacetime Six has an extra two dimesions of time. Travelling in those two dimensions is like travelling sideways in time. What does that mean? I'm sure most of us are aware of many sci-fi shows where there are stories involving alternate universes. These alternate universes run under the same physical laws as ours, the difference is that at certain points, possibilites that happened in our universe were different in the alternate. For every possible outcome of something, suppose there are alternate universes for every possible outcome. To travel from our universe to any one of those other timelines, would be akin to travelling sideways in time; travelling in Spacetime Six.

There's a really cool flash video that explains this, and then keeps going to the 10th dimension:

So how are they trapped?

The problem in this game is that the sideways motion through time is uncontrollable. They can exist in one universe only a few seconds before they drift to a new universe. They can't do anything because if they try to accomplish something, they're forced to move into a different universe where they didn't accomplish said thing. They're forced to become an observer to everything. The best they can do is manipulate energy fields for a few seconds; this is what the "ghosts" are - and they're directing our team in a way to help them out of this.

It's like in Sliders if they had to slide out every couple of seconds. Or it's like the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Parallels" where Worf kept jumping to different universes whenever something happened. This was an awesome episode mainly because of one scene:

: You don't know what it's like in our universe. The Federation is gone -- the Borg are everywhere! We're one of the last ships left! Please, you've got to help us!
" I'm sorry. There's no choice. If this works, everything will return to --

What's this "Eye" they're talking about?

The crystal form at the center of the lightbridges. It's the entrance to Spacetime Six, and it only needs one more lightbridge connecting to it to be finished.


Next time - Update 15: