Walk-through for the Reels game from Tyler Zahnke
Reels is the Web-based text adventure game of 2013 by Tyler Zahnke. It combines Choose Your Own Adventure-style gaming with knowledge of history, pop culture and puzzle solving. According to beta testing, this game works best on Microsoft Internet Explorer, but may work on Firefox or Chrome if JavaScript (a.k.a. script) is allowed to run in the browser. When the game is being played online, the Play Online button instantly launches the game. However, if you got the game out of a zip file, the file you must load into your browser (there are fifteen to choose from) is called "start here" (or, technically, "start here.htm"). If you load any file but "start here" in the Reels package, you will start in the middle of the game. So you must start with "start here."
Choose Your Own Adventure Features
The first part of the game is in a CYOA style closely resembling the earlier Tyler Zahnke game Magicassette. You are in the building where the fictional city of Plexville's records are kept. Plexville is named after the word "googolplex." A googolplex is equal to 10^(10^100), or a number that makes a trillion look tiny. Plexville has a lot of things going on that are kept track of in the records, so sometimes it seems like Plexville has a (googol)plex of things going on, hence the name. At the beginning of the game, you mostly just check out the stuff there is to offer in the building as a record keeper: a bookshelf, a file cabinet, and a box marked "Record Reels." When you open the box, you see it is empty, except for a letter in an envelope from a member of a gang called the Plexville Eagles. This is a reference to the band The Eagles, but it is also a play on words. Plexville Eagle reminds some people of plex (as in googolplex), and "eagle" rhymes with "geegol." On the Jonathan Bowers site Infinity Scrapers, geegol is defined as 10^^^^100, or 10{4}100 or 10,100,4 (that is 10{3}10 a hundred times; very advanced math notation like this is needed to express a huge number like that). And a geegolplex is 10{4}geegol, or 10^^^^geegol, or 10^^^10^^^100. Even more unbelievable! But that is the origin of the name Plexville Eagles. When you follow the advice of Eagle61 (the agent), it switches from a CYOA to a puzzle/advanced IF game requiring JavaScript. This is where browsers with high-grade security settings enabled may have a lot of trouble. Internet Explorer handled this part of the game very well, although we had to tell it to "allow blocked content."
Puzzles and Questions
This is the meat of the game; the only reason it takes thirty minutes or longer for some people to play. The first mission requires you to find the decimal equivalent of the base 36 letter sequence "love." Since base 36 is 0 through 9 and A through Z, that means you can code any letter combination or letter-number combination as a decimal number. You can even code numbers as other numbers, believe it or not. And with all that being said, you can code the word "love." I will give you a lengthy example. I will not use the word "love" or "life" (the first and third missions, respectively), because that would give it away. But I'll use a word that is not in the game as an example. I am going to pretend that the word "line" converted to a decimal number from base 36 is a mission in the game. Always start with one and a few zeros after it, like 1000. Here is the Line example.
Find the number that the letters of the word "line" in a base 36 number system would make in the decimal system.
1000
This number yields "rs." Rs is only two letters, so we know this number is way too small.
10000
We put another zero on it, which equals 7ps. This is only three characters, so we know this number is too small.
100000
Now we have one with five zeros, which equals 255s. Now we're up to four characters, but still too small.
1000000
One with six zeros equals lfls. In the case of "line" (also in "life" and "love," being four letter words that come after "lfls" alphabetically), we still need a higher number.
10000000
Ten million, this is equal to 5yc1s in base 36. This is five characters, so this is too large. Take off the last zero, leaving 1000000 again, and this time, change the 1 to 2.
2000000
This yields 16v7k. Still too high. Change that 2 back to 1, and go onto the next digit.
1100000
This equals nkrk. Four letters, but still too high. Change that 1 back to 0.
1010000
Changing the next zero to one yields lnbk. In this "line" example, as well as "life," this number is too high. In "love," it would ask for an even higher number. Since we are talking about "line," this number is too high. Change the 1 back to 0, and go to the next digit.
1001000
We changed the next 0 to a 1, which yields lgdk. So we need an even higher number to get something that starts with "li."
1002000
This is "lh5c", which is still low.
1003000
This equals "lhx4," which is still low.
1004000
This is "liow." Oh no! We overshot it this time! Change the 4 back to a 3, and go onto the next digit.
1003100
This equals lhzw, so we still need a higher number. At this point, we usually start skipping numbers to make it go faster.
1003400
This equals li88, which is closer to "line" but still small.
1003900
This is "lim4." Even closer to "line," but not quite. And we already determined 1004000 is too high, so let's change these last two zeros we have, starting with the tens place. Again, we're going to skip numbers to find the answer.
1003930
This equals "limy." We're even closer now.
1003940
This equals "lin8." We are really, really close to "line" now. The rest of it is mental math. If we add one, it will be "lin9." Then "lina," then "linb." So "lin8" plus six is "line."
1003946
This is "line." This is how a puzzle like this is solved. And no, I'm not giving you the answers to the two puzzles in the game that are like this. But that's how you do it. The good thing is, the game will tell you if the number needs to go higher or lower (if JavaScript is working properly in the browser). If you get the answer right, it will say so in the pop-up box, and automatically advance onto the next level when the box is dismissed.
The second level of the game requires the solving of binary numbers. This time, the game gives you a decimal number and is looking for binary. For those who don't know, a binary system is a system consisting of two digits. In the case of numbers, they are 0 and 1. Different combinations of 0 and 1 make numbers. In regular math, putting a 0 at the end of a number multiplies it by ten. In binary, it is a multiplication by two. For example, 1 is one, 10 is two, 100 is four, 1000 is eight, 10000 is sixteen, 100000 is thirty-two, 1000000 is sixty-four, and 10000000 is one hundred twenty-eight. And counting works the same way. Since we only have two digits, 0 and 1, 1000000 is 64, 1000001 is 65, 1000010 is 66, 1000011 is 67. Also, 111111 is 63. I better stop right there, because if I go too far, I'll give the answer away to the 61 mission.
The third mission is a base 36 mission like the first one, which has already been explained. So, let's go on to the fourth one. These missions require you to know some things about history or pop culture. Four, five, six and eight are all about the year things happened; the first moon landing, the first IF Comp, the debut of the cartoon series The Flintstones, and the first hit single by the Beatles, Love Me Do. If you guess a year that was before the event happened, it will tell you it happened after that, and a hint will be given. If you guess a later year, on the other hand, it will say the event happened prior to that, and give you a different hint.
The seventh puzzle is hexadecimal. Same principle as base 36 or binary, only this time you have 16 digits; 0 through 9, A through F. Therefore, 14 is e, 15 is f, 16 is 10, 25 is 19, and 26 is 1a. 200 is c8, 201 is c9, 202 is ca, 203 is cb. The object is to find 255. Experienced programmers and advanced computer users have solved this in five seconds.
This has been a basic walk-through/manual of the Reels game. After all missions are solved, you get the reels back, as well as some bonus items I will not mention here. So sit back, open up a good JavaScript-compatible browser, and get ready to solve the eight missions of Reels!