This was the first time I ever played a significant part of the games
in the competition, and managed to play them when the competition was
on. I can't say much about how it compares to other years, but I bet
someone else will. I hope I haven't misspelled to much.
I have a few ideas on how things should be done, and some games really
rubbed me the wrong way. Sometimes it was just that they didn't really
work as competition entries and sometimes I just hated what they
did. My ratings reflect my personal idiosyncratic taste. I primarily
played z-code games, and other easy to use platforms. I have a BSD unix
machine as my workhorse and don't use Windows. Write portable code at
all times, IF or not.
The big hangups:
1. Please take a moment to decide if you want to write novel or a
2. Please give me a reason to play, don't dump me in a wasteland.
I think it's sad that so many have commented on the games in their
blogs, spreading the reviews all over the blogosphere. It means I have
to watch a dozen blog in order to comment and read what others thought
and that's not going to happen. Well. I came in late, so maybe I'll just
have to live with it. Maybe nobody reads these things anyway.
Let's get on with some notes on the games, and my ratings.
OK, this is obviously an interesting concept, with two storylines. I
poke at things, wonder around and the game flows fairly well. A lot of
times there are silly errors to common actions and the game look very
rough but I keep on. Then I get stuck in a cave and the thing I must
do is obvious, but the game wont accept any of my phrases. Is there a
bug? Am I wrong? There is no help or hints so I quit. I would have
given this gave a 6 if it wasn't for the lack of help and
walkthrough. This game gets a 4.
OK, I start the game and after some prodding I get going. I start to
manipulate things and walk around. Soon I realize that you can die
just by entering the wrong room and when conversing with a soul I rack
up point in an unlimited fashion. Sorry, this game just isn't finished
it totally broken and unfair. This game gets a 2.
The Chinese Room
This is interesting. Just like So Far you start in a room, and have to
get out. It's soon obvious that this is not a game like anything
else. I read some of the infodumps and while there is a bit too much
to digest it's all very witty and the game and the philosophical
dilemmas actually work together! I talk to people, chuckle a lot and
even if you have to think a bit there's a delightful pump to use for
inspiration and I suddenly realize that my two hours is up! This game
is original and inventive, fun and quite polished. The only problem
was that there were spelling errors so frequent that even I
noticed. This game gets a 8, and is bordering on nine.
OK, innovative interface, and it actually work quite well. Now, what
am I doing again? After a short while the novelty wears off and I get
annoyed by the fact that if you don't use the new fancy interface the
steps to complete a simple action is tedious. This game tried to damn
hard to be a simulation and a realistic window in to a alternate
reality, with to much damn text as a result. I get bored and when I
enter a room and get to read a long piece of dialogue that "I" just
said (no I didn't!) I get fed up. Now that you have your interface
done, try to write a game that's to the point and well paced! Solid
but not interesting. Technically it's a feat, and very pretty, but
falls into the "write a novel" trap. This game gets a 5.
Across The Stars
This game started well, with a moody and well described space ship. I
at once managed to do what I wanted and even though it might best be
described as dungeon in space I really liked it. It wont win prices
for originality, but it has something else - a clarity of vision. This
is an old school treasure hunt in space. This game get a nostalgic 10.
Fox, Fowl and Feed
One classic logical puzzle, but now with extra annoyances it really
didn't need. I thought a bit and when I had it figured out the extra
garnishing started to show, and it was just cumbersome. I kept sloggin
on though until I realized that I had torn open the sack while it was
sitting in the boat, and since you can only have one thing in the boat
at the time I had rendered the game unwinnable. It wouldn't had been
so bad if it wasn't for the fact that you're only aware of the fact
that you're in the boat if you try to move! No cookie. This was just
irritating. This game gets a 4.
An Act of Murder
Ok, murder mystery. I like that. When I enter the house Deborah opens
the door and I enter and gets a tour of the house. Then I start
investigating. When I start to ask questions some daft person
interrups me and suddenly leads me on a wild goose chase to show where
he found the body. OK, this is still part of the introduction but it's
"interactive", I get it. I follow him around and when he has shown me
what he has to show I do another try to start investigating and try to
ask him about the body. This makes him say "Poor chap" and leave. WTF!
Write a damn novel. This game gets a 2.
Lord Bellwater's Secret
This is interesting as everything seems to happen in one room. I
quickly realize I have Victorian murder mystery at hand, and the
silent and empty room gives a nice feeling for a nightly breaking and
entering game. The safe took me forever to open since there are dozens
of dates on newspapers, diaries and other scraps of paper and I don't
get very far in my investigating before the two hours have
passed. It's polished and to the point. I really liked it. This game
gets a 8.
Beneath: A Transformation
There is no clear indication to what to do so I wandered around and
after witnessing a murder I found myself in a dark cell. After trying
a while to actually do something I just quit. This game is totally
lacking a purpose. This game gets a 1.
This seems to be some sort of meta-fiction judging from the
intro. After a while I realize that the whole game, and the "ABOUT"
info is written in a prose so overwroth and purplish I just can't
stand it. The fact that the only NPC present doesn't seem to speak
makes this one of the most dense and unplayable game in the bunch.
If you're this experimental, make sure you actually still have a
game. This game gets a 1.
My Name is Jack Mills
A Noir mystery! With voice over! I'm in love. I walk on rainsoaked
streets, I stalk a husband cheating on his wife and she is one hot
dame. I'm in over my head and I feel like I'm in heaven. Then it's
over! It has multiple endings, style and a *total* clarity of vision
so the only thing that don't gets this game a very solid ten is that
when you're in the car with Violet the game doesn't seem to understand
that I agree to her deal unless it's the very first thing I type. What
a sorry bug. This game gets a 9, and really deserved a ten.
Fun! As everything is described from the viewpoint of a quite
unsophistic orc gave it a very special and funny view of the
world. The amount of questions that could be asked of the alchemist
was a bit tedious and almost drowned those questions that gave out
hints or needed information. Cute game, though. I liked the fact that
it had a nice way of wrapping up the story. Well polished game. It's
bug free, and has its very own voice. This is a total winner! This
game gets a 10!
Eduard the Seminarist
Dull writing and it's not obvious after wandering around what the heck
this is supposed to be about. It gives me no reason to continue so I
quit. This game gets a 1.
A Matter of Importance
I have played games before when you play a thief, but this was the
hardest of them all. It's a very sparse game, and if you get stuck in
one point there is nowhere to go until it's resolved. It's very
clever, though, and well written so I kept trying and the hints and
notes was well done. Well done. This game gets a 7.
Slap That Fish
Fighting fish? A "arena fighting" piece of IF? Nice to be first, I
guessed. It became boring after a minute, though. This is just
dull. This game gets a 2.
A Fine Day For Reaping
OK. Humour. Personally I have never really liked humour adventures,
not even LGoP which everyone seemed to be so enthusiastic about all
those years ago. In this game I found it a bit contrived and sometimes
just annoying. The thing that really did this game in, though, was the
enormous anount of text that appeared when travelling to new spots and
the parser which had limitations. One thing was fun though, when I by
mistake let my fingers type what they most often type (ls) I got the
respone "This isn't Unix you know!" and that was fun. This game is a
solid effort and should get an ok grade even though it wasn't my
cuppa. This game gets a 5.
In The Mind Of The Master
Everything is in the past tense! Odd. The goal of this game is to
find out what is going on. After dying twice I was none the wiser and
quit. It was fun to play, though, and the setting was atmospheric. I
usually hate games where I feel railroaded and lost but this game
somehow gave me pleasure through the small fragments of clues to the
mystery. To bad it was a small bit to dense. This game is solid and it
gets a 5.
My Mind's Mishmash
You're in some kind of futuristic setting and everything is written as
if you already know everything, which you as the player don't. When it
actually say "having seen this before you ..." I feel the author don't
help me get into the setting and being locked in a room with no
obvious exits I quit. This game gets a 2.
This is a neat little DOS game, and with source code supplied we can
see it's written in Basic. While impressive and cool, it does give the
game a far more sparse parser than it would have had if using a IF
writing tool or language. Thus it looks like a game from the days or
yore, and you have your lantern, sword and go out to fight an evil
wizard. After getting killed twice by the Hellhound I wished the
author had included some hints on the relative danger of the monsters
encountered. It does its work well, but could have been even better as
a retro trip if it had had a more forgiving environment. I had fun and
for some reason I can't help myself and actuallt restarted the game a
few times. Why do I enjoy this game that has so many technical
limitations? I don't know. This game gets a 6!
Ghost of The Fireflies
This must be one of the more odd settings for a game in a long
time. The home-grown user interface is very impressive and worked
quite well. I do think the author should try to keep the intro shorter
and use the work "rotting" a bit less, but it's not that much worse
than more modern looking games in Inform and TADS. This game gets a
This is some kind of fantasy game, and already in the first scene
there are people with funny names and things that happens which you
Even though you have a mission it seems you can get points for just
walking around, which I did, exploring the world. I never really
understood how to get on with my quest but since it was about books I
went to the library. There I talked a bit with a librarian and after
"TALK TO LIBRARIAN" a few times I had gotten a long screenful of text
and a mission to go outside and talk to the man sitting outside. When
I did that I got another dump of fantasy prose and I was fed up by odd
spelled names. The author should probably write a novel instead. I
think it's unfocused. This game gets a 4.
Like Suspended this is all about sitting still and manipulating
things. I found it kind of boring and while it's well developed and
has some hints I couldn't get very interested in it.
Doing things in the right order by pressing buttons seems to much like
toys for children when they should try to fit a square piece in a
square hole. Kind of banal. This game gets a 5 since it has no obvious
Press [Escape] to Save
Another one of them games where you have to press "z" in order to see
what happens. Write a damn novel! It's supposed to be "interactive"
fiction! *sigh* This game gets a 3.
A: Because it fouls the order in which people normally read text.
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