Key & Compass presents:
Motel California
by Douglas Schwartz

Motel California is a Z-machine work of interactive fiction written with Inform 7 and is © 2011 Pegamoose Games. It was written by Douglas Schwartz. The game was also promoted as Puzzle Challenge 2011 on the Pegamoose Games website.

You play as a guest of the Motel California. You've enjoyed your stay, but leaving the motel is going to be difficult since you're missing your car key, room key, and the claim ticket for your luggage. Maybe the other guests can help you find them?

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1 of the work.


Kitchen Room 105(tourist) Gazebo Room 106(bear) Room 104(artist) SunDeck Room 107(theorist) Room 103(old lady) Courtyard Room 108(puppets) Room 102(rocker) Atrium Room 109(frog lady) Room 101(monk) Lobby Room 110(safe) GiftShoppe Foyer ParkingLot


Room 110

You begin the game in your room, carrying nothing.

> x bed. x safe. (Need a key.)

> x peppermint. (You don't need it.)

> n.

Yes, you can walk into adjacent motel rooms without first needing to enter a hallway. This may be unrealistic, but I prefer to think that the author just wanted to make navigation much easier. (And anyway, this game is somewhat surreal, so forget about realism, okay?)

Also, I should warn you right now that you're likely going to feel a peculiar mixture of pity and aggrevation with these eccentric guests. You'll feel pity because all of them seem to be trapped and abandoned here for years, but that pity starts to fade when you realize they're all collectively keeping you from leaving too with their bizarre puzzles.

Room 109

> x lady. x cradle.

> ask lady about cat's cradle. take cradle.

> ask lady about tourist. (The tourist gave her the string.)

> x bottle. ask lady about bottle. (She wants 3 missing frogs first.)

> ask lady about frogs.

We don't need the cereal box or its toy; just look at the toy for its clue.

> x cereal. open it. x toy. ("5REGNIFYTOE")

> n.

Room 108

> x Munch. ("BEGRCLEOCOD") x hat.

> x Trudy. (They're living puppets.)

> x red paint. x hammer. x paint brush. x saw. x theater.

> take red paint. take hammer. take brush. (You don't need the saw.)

> ask trudy about artist.

Awkwardly, you can't just "ask Munch about hat"; call it a "party hat".

> ask munch about party hat. dance. (He gives you his hat.)

> n.

Room 107

> x theorist.

> x envelope. ("8AOGYRMIEHO")

> x bookmark. ("1DGGLASSESY")

> x yarn. x chewing gum. x wrapper.

> take chewing gum.

> take yarn. (The theorist wants string before he'll let you take the yarn.)

> give cradle to theorist. (That's not enough string.)

> n.

Room 106

> x bear. x cage. ("DMLFLMNORYL")

> ask bear about circus.

> ask bear about artist. (The bear's comment about wanting the fruit is misleading; you will not be giving any fruit to him.)

> ask bear about tourist. (Sells string.)

> ask bear about puppets.

> ask bear about frog lady. (Has something to do with one of the keys.)

> ask bear about conspiracy theorist.

> w.


> x board. take it. use hammer. (The game doesn't understand "pry".)

> x compartment. x Kermit. take Kermit.

> look. take nails. (You can leave the board here.)

> n.


As it'll turn out, you can only really ask the chef about food items which he will then give to you, if he can.

> x chef. x pantry. open pantry. (The chef stops you.)

> s. w.

Room 105

> x tourist. x Jeremiah. take Jeremiah. (He wants a hat in exchange.)

> give hat to tourist. (You get Jeremiah.)

> ask tourist about string. (He will trade.)

> give cradle to tourist. x spool.

> ask tourist about frog lady. (Has a sample of string.)

> ask tourist about bear. (Has a key.)

> ask tourist about conspiracy theorist. (He likes string.)

> ask tourist about artist.

> x guide book. ("3YCULOLLAMA")

> x postcard. ("FRSILOFYOMH")

> s.

You may be wondering about now why I'm not asking about keys, since both the bear has said that the frog lady has something to do with a key, and now the tourist says the bear has a key. It's because "ask someone about key" doesn't work. But we'll come back to this.

Room 104

> x artist. x painting. ("7UCNROOGSLM")

> x purple paint.

> x matchbook. ("JDYAALEXMON")

> x bowl. x grapes.

> ask artist about grapes. (He wants fruit that matches his paint color.)

> ask artist about fruit. (He might like a plum too. Tough. There's no plum in the game.)

> give red paint to artist. (He declines; he has nothing red to paint.)

> ask artist about bear.

> ask artist about puppets.

> ask artist about conspiracy theorist.

> ask artist about frog lady.

> ask artist about bowl. (Was a bowl of alphabet soup; he'd like more soup.)

> ask artist about artist.

> e.

Sun Deck

> x pool. x car key. (It's for your van.) take key. (Hippo stops you.)

> x hippo. (Looks hungry.)

> give chewing gum to hippo. ("Grum!" But you still have it.)

> s.


> x tree. (By the way, you can't climb it.)

> x sundial. dial sundial. (That's just weird.)

> w.

Room 103

> x hook. x lady. x table. x streamers.

> x doily. (circular "IMDOEBOL4KL")

> x cake. x fondant. ("IFSRMOOGLHA")

Examining the fondant triggers Michigan appearing on the cake.

> look. x Michigan. take Michigan.

> x music box.

> ask lady about birthday. ask lady about husband.

> ask lady about music box. (Helps her sleep.)

> take box. (Not unless she has some knitting.)

> ask lady about yarn. (Theorist has it.)

> ask lady about old lady. (Eep.)

> ask lady about frog lady.

> ask lady about puppets.

> ask lady about conspiracy theorist.

> ask lady about bear.

> ask lady about tourist.

> ask lady about artist. (He has her knitting needles.)

> ask lady about hippo.

Every guest has something to say about the hippo's diet. Record what they say so we can solve the hippo puzzle later.

> s.

Room 102

> x rocker. x tattoo. ("CKGOUIGANGO")

> x tshirt. ("GKSELEYIGII")

> x television. x glass. x case. ("9 - R DOLPHINAN")

> x cookie. open it. x paper. ("ECAYODIUORP")

> x graffiti. ("2FROFYIEERA")

> ask rocker about rocker. ask rocker about band.

> ask rocker about Phil. ask rocker about frog lady.

> ask rocker about puppets. ask rocker about conspiracy theorist.

> ask rocker about bear. ask rocker about tourist.

> ask rocker about artist. (Rocker owes him. Perhaps some wine from the monk?)

> ask rocker about monk. (He talks in his sleep.)

> ask rocker about hippo.

> e.


> x flowers. take flowers.

> x fountain. x doc hopper. take doc.

> s.


If you ask the manager about any of the guests, he merely tells you which room they're in.

> x desk. x manager.

> ask manager about hippo. (Avoid him while he's awake.)

> ask manager about suitcase. (He needs your claim ticket.)

> ask manager about checking out. (He needs the key to your room.)

> w.

Room 101

> x monk. x parchment. ("0IEKMCRKVFD")

> x bible. ("AIDFYKROUAR")

> ask monk about wine. (He needs grapes and a bottle for that.)

> ask monk about monk.

> ask monk about frog lady. ask monk about puppets.

> ask monk about conspiracy theorist.

> ask monk about bear. (Promised the bear not to reveal the password.)

> ask monk about password. (He won't knowingly tell you.)

> ask monk about tourist. ask monk about artist.

> ask monk about old lady. ask monk about rocker.

> ask monk about hippo.

> e. s.


> take newspaper. x it.

> w.

Gift Shoppe

We don't know what we want from here yet.

> x display. x girl.

> e. s.

Parking Lot

> x van. open van. (locked)

Well, we've seen all the rooms. Let's try to solve some of this stuff.

> n. n.


Sorry, but there's a couple leaps in logic to make here.

First, I don't think it would occur to the average player to ask anyone about the "gift shoppe", except the girl in the shoppe itself, and she's almost useless for conversation. But this bottleneck is the only way to know that "snow globe" is a useful topic.

Second, you need to ask people about "room key". As I'm sure you've noticed, there's no room door in the game, so why should there be a key for it? And considering "key" isn't a valid topic, why would you expect "room key" to work?

So, visit all the guests yet again, this time asking about other guests you didn't know about the first time around, the hippo, the snow globe, and the room key.

> ask manager about gift shoppe. (It has snow globes, if you know password.)

> ask manager about snow globes.

> ask manager about room key. ("GOLDFISH")

> n. e.

Room 109

The Frog Lady must have Kermit, Michigan, and Jeremiah before she'll let you take the empty bottle. Doc Hopper isn't required, but give Doc to her as well for the extra points.

> give kermit to lady. (+10)

> give doc to lady. (+10)

> give michigan to lady. (+10)

> give jeremiah to lady. (+10)

> take bottle.

> ask lady about bear. ask lady about tourist. ask lady about artist.

> ask lady about monk.

> ask lady about hippo.

> ask lady about snow globe. ("9B7")

> ask lady about room key. ("YOYO")

> n.

Room 108

Sometimes you'll want to talk to Munch, sometimes Trudy, and sometimes it doesn't matter which.

> give nails to Munch. (+5)

> ask munch about hippo.

> ask trudy about hippo.

> ask trudy about frog lady. ask trudy about conspiracy theorist.

> ask trudy about bear. ask trudy about tourist.

> ask trudy about artist. ask trudy about old lady.

> ask trudy about rocker. ask trudy about monk.

> ask munch about snow globe. ("8E5")

> ask munch about room key. ("CLOCK")

> n.

Room 107

> give spool to theorist. (He gives you the yarn.)

> ask theorist about puppets.

> ask theorist about bear.

> ask theorist about tourist.

> ask theorist about artist.

> ask theorist about old lady.

> ask theorist about rocker.

> ask theorist about monk.

> ask theorist about hippo.

> ask theorist about snow globe. ("7B1")

> ask theorist about room key. ("MAILBOX")

> n.

Room 106

> give newspaper to bear. (+5)

> ask bear about bear. ask bear about old lady.

> ask bear about rocker. ask bear about monk. (He also knows the password.)

> ask bear about hippo.

> ask bear about snow globe. ("6D9")

> ask bear about room key. ("FINGER")

> w. n.


Nothing in the game specifically names an apple as the red fruit you want, but it's the only one that works. The chef doesn't seem to know about cherries or raspberries, and asking for a strawberry gives you pink strawberry ice cream instead.

> ask chef about apple. (You get one.)

> ask chef about alphabet soup. (You get one.)

> x apple.

> x soup. ("HVEEABTHSEN")

> ask chef about snow globe. x snowcone. eat snowcone.

> ask chef about room key. x leftovers. eat leftovers.

> s. w.

Room 105

> ask tourist about old lady. ask tourist about rocker.

> ask tourist about monk.

> ask tourist about hippo.

> ask tourist about snow globe. ("5E1")

> ask tourist about room key. ("LLAMA")

> s.

Room 104

> give apple to artist. (+5; you get the grapes, and also give the red paint.)

> give brush to artist. (+5)

> give soup to artist. (+5)

> ask artist about old lady. (He should give back the needles to her.)

> ask artist about monk.

> ask artist about hippo.

> ask artist about snow globe. ("4H5")

> ask artist about room key. ("DOLPHIN")

> s.

Room 103

> give yarn to lady. (She declines; she needs her needles as well.)

> give flowers to lady. (+5)

> ask lady about rocker. ask lady about monk.

> ask lady about snow globe. ("3F1")

> ask lady about room key. ("GLASSES")

> s.

Room 102

> ask rocker about snow globe. ("2I4")

> ask rocker about room key. ("DRUM")

> s.

Room 101

Assuming you have both the bottle and grapes:

> give bottle to monk. (+5; you receive a bottle of wine in return.)

> x wine. ("6OOAOUYIHGX")

> ask monk about snow globe. ("1J9")

> ask monk about room key. ("CANDLE")

> e. n. n. n. n. n.


Time to solve the hippo puzzle:

> ask chef about grapefruit. x grapefruit.

> ask chef about banana pudding. x pudding.

> ask chef about pretzels. x pretzels.

> s. s.

Sun Deck

Give these three food items in this exact order:

> give grapefruit to hippo.

> give pudding to hippo.

> give pretzels to hippo. (He sleeps, but not for long, so grab the key right away.)

> take car key.

And let's give the wine to the artist (as suggested by the rocker) and see what that gets us:

> w.

Room 104

> give wine to artist. (+5; get knitting needles.)

> x needles.

> s.

Room 103

Assuming you have both the yarn and the knitting needles:

> give yarn to lady. (+5; get the music box.)

> s. s.

Room 101

> use music box. (Bear's password is FLAPJACKS. Which is not the password that the gift shoppe girl wants to hear.)

> e. n. n. n. n. e.

Room 106

> ask bear about flapjacks. (He wants flapjacks.)

> w. n.


> ask chef about flapjacks. x flapjacks.

> s. e.

Room 106

> give flapjacks to bear. x brass key.

> s. s. s. s.

Room 110

> unlock safe with brass key. open safe.

> take ticket. x it.

If you haven't done so already, pause to assemble all those weird letter strings into a wordsquare puzzle and use the words you got by asking about the room key as your list of words to search for. The remaining letters in the square tell you to give a lemon to the frog lady.

> w. n. n. n. n. n.


> ask chef about lemon. x lemon.

> s. s. s. s. e.

Room 109

> give lemon to lady. (+5: "In the shining sun, dial your room number.")

> w. n.


This only works if the frog lady told you about the dial clue:

> dial sundial. (+5; you have your room key.)

> x room key.

> s. s.


> give room key to manager. (+25; you get the bill.)

> x bill.

> give ticket to manager. (+25; you get your luggage.)

> x luggage.

> s. w.

Gift Shoppe

> ask girl about snow globe. x flyer. (In my opinion, this flyer ought to have been here all along.)

To figure out the gift shoppe's password, use those codes you got by asking everyone about the snow globe as coordinates in the wordsearch square. The selected letters spell out NOSTALGIC.

> ask girl about nostalgic. (You get a snow globe.)

> x globe.

> e. s.

Parking Lot

> unlock van with car key. open van. enter van.

> use car key. (+50)

*** Congratulations! You successfully left the Motel California! ***

The game also says "(Optional) Now, go to the Pegamoose Games "Check Answer" page and submit the following password: InspiredByEagles" but I don't think that page is still available.




Fortunately, there's no inventory limit in this game, because look at all the food, frogs, keys, readables, and other stuff you can pick up:


Most food comes from the chef in the Kitchen; the exceptions are the fondant, fortune cookie, grapes, and peppermint.




Other stuff


Hippo Puzzle

The clues, abbreviated, are:

This is simple enough. There's three colours, three flavours, and nine possible foods.

The monk told us the first course is pink, and the tourist told us the second course is yellow. Therefore the third course is brown.

The tourist told us the third course is salty, and the monk told us the first course is NOT sweet. Therefore the second course is the sweet one, and the first course must be sour.


Return to the Kitchen and get those items!

Wordsquare Puzzle

Note that the letter clues either begin with a digit or a letter. Sort them into two lists:

  • 0IEKMCRKVFD (parchment)
  • 1DGGLASSESY (bookmark)
  • 2FROFYIEERA (graffiti)
  • 3YCULOLLAMA (guide book)
  • 4KLIMDOEBOL (doily)
  • 5REGNIFYTOE (toy surprise)
  • 6OOAOUYIHGX (bottle of wine)
  • 7UCNROOGSLM (painting)
  • 8AOGYRMIEHO (envelope)
  • 9RDOLPHINAN (cd case)
  • AIDFYKROUAR (bible)
  • CKGOUIGANGO (tattoo)
  • DMLFLMNORYL (cage liner)
  • ECAYODIUORP (slip of paper)
  • FRSILOFYOMH (postcard)
  • GKSELEYIGII (tshirt)
  • HVEEABTHSEN (alphabet soup)
  • IFSRMOOGLHA (fondant)
  • JDYAALEXMON (matchbook)

I started the doily's clue at "4", so it's now "4KLIMDOEBOL" and compressed the CD case clue to "9RDOLPHINAN". Note how, if you ignore the first digit or letter of each clue, the two lists describe the same wordsearch square, with numbered clues going one direction, and the lettered clues going the other. Like so:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A I D F Y K R O U A R B E G R C L E O C O D C K G O U I G A N G O D M L F L M N O R Y L E C A Y O D I U O R P F R S I L O F Y O M H G K S E L E Y I G I I H V E E A B T H S E N I F S R M O O G L H A J D Y A A L E X M O N

You got the word list by asking everyone about "room key": CANDLE, CLOCK, DOLPHIN, DRUM, FINGER, GLASSES, GOLDFISH, LLAMA, MAILBOX, YOYO. Find those words in the word search. The remaining letters, read across, spell out "IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR YOUR ROOM KEY GIVE THE FROG LADY A LEMON".

Return to Room 110; you can get a lemon from the Kitchen.

Gift Shoppe Puzzle

Ask everyone about snow globe: 1J9 (from monk), 2I4 (from rocker), 3F1 (from old lady), 4H5 (from artist), 5E1 (from tourist), 6D9 (from bear), 7B1 (from theorist), 8E5 (from puppets), and 9B7 (from frog lady).

Use the first digit to sort these clues, and the letter and final digit as coordinates in the wordsearch grid:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A I D F Y K R O U A R B E R C L E O O D C K G O U I G A N G O D M L F L M N O R Y E C Y O D U O R P F R I L O F Y O M H G K S E L E Y I G I I H V E E A B H S E N I F S R M O G L H A J D Y A A L E X M O N O S T A L G I C

This spells out NOSTALGIC. Return to the gift shoppe and ask the girl about nostalgic.


You have so far scored this-much out of a possible 200, in several turns.

Speed Walkthrough

Assuming you don't care about solving puzzles or the score and just want to zoom to the ending as soon as possible, you can skip an astonishing amount of the game by just getting all the required food from the chef and then all the keys:

Room 110

> w. n. n. n. n. n.


> ask chef about flapjacks.

> ask chef about grapefruit.

> ask chef about pudding.

> ask chef about pretzels.

> ask chef about lemon.

> s. e.

Room 106

> give flapjacks to bear. (+5; brass key)

> w. s.

Sun Deck

> give grapefruit to hippo.

> give pudding to hippo.

> give pretzels to hippo.

> take car key.

> s. s. e.

Room 109

> give lemon to lady. w. n.


> dial sundial (+5; room key)

> s. s. e.

Room 110

> unlock safe with brass key.

> open safe. take ticket. w.


> give room key to manager. (+25; bill)

> give ticket to manager. (+25; luggage)

> s. s.

Parking Lot

> unlock van with car key. open van.

> enter van. use car key. (+50)

*** Congratulations! You successfully left the Motel California! ***

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