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LOOM

From Academic Kids

This page is about the LucasArts computer game. For the weaving device, see loom.
LOOM running in ScummVM
LOOM running in ScummVM

LOOM is a graphical adventure game, originally released in 1990, published by LucasArts (known at the time as Lucasfilm Games). It was the fourth game to use the SCUMM engine.

Contents

The game

The original project was led by Brian Moriarty, a former Infocom employee and author of some classic text adventures such as Wishbringer (1985), Trinity (1986) and Beyond Zork (1987).

Typical for LucasArts, some later games like Monkey Island referenced the Loom characters and storyline. For example, in the "Scumm Bar" in The Secret of Monkey Island, there is a character from LOOM dressed as a pirate with a button on his shirt that says "Ask me about LOOM", who will happily divulge marketing information when so asked.

Two sequels, Forge and The Fold (centered around the Guilds of the Blacksmiths and Shepherds respectively) were planned, but never realised. Although Loom is very brief and its universe was never expanded, its originality has won many players.

Background

"It was long after the passing of the second shadow, when dragons ruled the twilight sky, and the stars were bright and numerous..."

The events of the game are preceded by a 30 minute audio drama, included with some versions of the game. It is established that the Age of the Great Guilds arose when humans once again tried to establish dominion over nature. The world is not defined in relation to ours, but many hold to it happens to a greatly distant future, since the events of the game occur on a date 8004. People banded together to form city-states of a common trade "devoted to the absolute control of knowledge, held together by stern traditions of pride, and of fear". The humble guild of Weavers established themselves as masters of woven fabric, though they eventually transcended the limits of cloth and began to weave "subtle patterns of influence into the very fabric of reality". They were persecuted for these acts of "witchcraft", and purchased an island far off the mainland coast, which they called Loom.

Lady Cygna Threadbare is introduced as a bereaved mother who begs the Elders of the Guild of Weavers to use the power of the Loom to end the suffering of the Weavers. Their numbers are failing and their seed is barren. The Elders reprimand Cygna telling her that it is not their place to play gods. Cygna, against their threats, secretly assumes control of the Loom and plants one gray thread. She inadvertently draws an (unforeseen) infant out of the loom, incurring the wrath of the Elders. She surrenders the child to Dame Hetchel, the old serving woman, and accepts her fate. The Elders cast the Transcedence draft on her, who is transformed into a swan and banished from the pattern (the waking world, as the weavers call it). Hetchel names the child Bobbin, and cares for him as her own. Bobbin is ostracized from the rest of the Guild. The Elders note that the presence of his gray thread has thrown the pattern into chaos, and the Loom foresees the very unraveling of the pattern, and for these reasons, the Elders ban him from learning the ways of the Guild. Hetchel however secretly trains him. This is where the game begins.

Plot

On his seventeenth birthday, Bobbin is summoned by the Elders in order to determine his fate. But after they punish Hetchel with the Transcedence draft for educating Bobbin, a swan comes. She casts the Trascedence spell on all the village which transforms all the Weavers into swans who leave through a rift in the sky.

Hetchel who is now a swanling, says Bobbin who stayed behind that the swan (who visits him on every birthday of his) came to save the Weavers from the Third Shadow that was about to cover the world. Bobbin then moves on to find the flock, and on his way he meets other guilds and several adventures. One of them is a Cleric who after the Scrying Sphere of the Glassmakers, the Swords of the Ironsmiths and the products of the Shepherds, claims the Weavers' distaff to rule the world with an army of undeads, thus fulfilling the prophecies.

Technicals

Originally published on DOS floppy disk with EGA graphics, it was also released for Amiga, Atari ST, FM Towns and Macintosh. It was re-released on CD-ROM in 1993 with VGA graphics and a full voiceover soundtrack, with new dialog written by Orson Scott Card.

A departure from earlier SCUMM games in many senses, LOOM was based on a serious and complex fantasy story. It also had an experimental interface, eschewing the traditional paradigm of graphical adventures, where puzzles usually involve interactions between the game character, the environment, and multiple items the character can take into their possession.

The game can be played at 3 difficulty levels, each with slightly different hints. For example, the expert level does not mark the distaff and is played solely by ear. The expert player is rewarded with a graphic sequence that does not appear in the two other 'levels'.

LOOM can be played on multiple platforms using the ScummVM emulation engine.

The CD-ROM version was not greeted with much joy because it lacked many features due to the limitations of the early of that time technology. Close up portraits of characters were rejected because lip-sync was not possible. Also the dialogues of cutscenes were, in most cases, briefer than those of the original version because not much of voice recording would fit in the CD.

Due to a licensing agreement with Mindscape (defunct), the full CD-ROM version is not available; however, the floppy disk version can be bought from LucasArts and then patched with a download from Home of the Underdogs, an abandonware website.

Music

The original package offered an audio tape with a 30-minute audio drama that explained the nature and history of the Loom world, and the whereabouts of Bobbin's birth, and stops right before the game begins. The drama was enriched by original music composed by Jerry Gerber. (Trivia: The other side of the tape featured the same audio drama, encoded for Dolby S noise reduction -- the first commercial cassette ever to employ this format.)

The in-game music consisted of excerpts from the Swan Lake ballet of Tchaikovsky.

LOOM's gameplay centered instead around magical four-note tunes (drafts) that the protagonist, Bobbin Threadbare, could play on his distaff, which would have an effect of a certain type - "Opening", for example, or "Night Vision". The player's abilities would increase over the course of the game, with more and more powerful drafts. At first, only notes C to E were provided, but at the end of the game C' (high C) is given.

The package also offered an illustrated notebook, supposedly belonging to apprentice weavers. Its purpose was to optionally note there the drafts learnt, and also added some interesting tales related to each of them.

See also

External links

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