In The Spotlight is a Z-machine interactive fiction game written with Inform 6 and is © 1998 by John Byrd. It was an entry in IF Comp 1998 where it took 21st place.
In this tiny one-room puzzler, you are someone whose vision fades while at the computer. The remaining light condenses into a spotlight high above you. All you can see are two dangling strings, a pair of heavy scissors, a wad of cotton, and a matchbook.
This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 5 of the game.
In The Spotlight
> x me. x skin. i. (Carrying nothing.)
> x light. x black string. x white string.
> x scissors. read name. x wad.
> x matchbook. read ad. read fine print.
> open matchbook. x matches. x scrawl. ("Swingers welcome")
A little experimentation:
> pray. (God says you need to tie the strings together and to solve this puzzle yourself.)
> take black string. pull it.
> take white string. (Can't reach it while holding the black one.)
> climb black string. (It's too thin.)
> drop all.
Here's how to hold both strings:
> take black. take scissors.
> tie black to scissors. swing black. (It swings in a wide arc, because of the weight of the scissors.)
> take white. take black.
> take scissors. (This unties it from the black string.)
This is the main goal:
> tie black to white. (Something falls.)
> look. (There's a paper airplane.)
To win, take then read the airplane:
> take airplane. (+1)
> x airplane.
*** You have won ***
This is the response to CREDITS:
In The Spotlight is copyright 1998 by John W. Byrd. Permission to reproduce this work of interactive fiction is granted only under the following conditions: (a) distributed copies are not substantially different from those archived by the author, (b) this and other copyright messages are always retained in full, and (c) no profit is involved. Okay, so maybe this game is not worth stealing, but I DEFINITELY don't want it to show up in one of these God-awful shareware CD-ROMs. If you did acquire this game from some such collection, please let me know where you got it from and how much you paid for it.
This game is largely based on the inspired work of Graham Nelson and his Inform compiler, as well as Andrew Clover's pluralobj library. Special thanks also go out to David Dyte for making IF '98 possible.
I wrote the rest of the code, but I did not design the puzzle. I first read about the puzzle described in this game in the magazine Science, sometime in the early 1980's. I would be happy to credit the original author of this thought puzzle if the author contacts me at
When I was maybe thirteen, I implemented this game in Integer BASIC on the Apple II. Unfortunately, I managed to reformat my only copy of the diskette that contained the game, and as you recall backup copies were not invented until 1991. I was incredibly proud of my parser, which was, no doubt, a thick spaghetti of goto's and substring searches. It's hard to say exactly why I chose to reimplement it now. Maybe I did it to get in touch with the boy I was, staying up late just as I did sixteen years ago, enjoying the same geeky little thrills as my subroutines and objects have begun living for themselves. Maybe I did it out of nostalgia for the genre; nowadays, the videogames I work on have upwards of a million 3-D polygons with lots of esoteric blending and mixing effects, and they still don't approach the resolution of my mind.
Anyway, if, by some miracle, one of my old hacker friends happens to have a copy of my original game gathering dust in an attic, I would be the most thankful person on earth to receive a copy of my old lame code.
Note: You have an inventory limit of four items. However, the limit isn't checked when you remove the cover or a match from the matchbook.
The final SCORE message, when the game ends, is:
In that game you scored your-score out of a possible 1, in some turns, earning you the rank of your-rank.
The only point is awarded as follows:
The known ranks are:
This walkthrough is provided free of charge since the work it's based on has less than fifteen locations. Please consider it a thank you for your support!
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