[comp99] My Comp Reviews -- Part 2

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Suzanne Skinner

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Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
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[continuing from an earlier post]

Lomalow
Author: Brendan Barnwell
In a nutshell: A wonderful concept undermined by bad implementation
Rating: 5

Errrrgh.

I really, really wanted to like this game more than I did. It has a
fascinating storyline, evocative writing, and an uplifting theme. If the
author had turned the concept into a short story instead of an IF work, it
probably would have done very well. But despite all this, the best I could
give it was a 5: 10 for imagination, 0 for implementation. And that was
generous of me--I loved Lomalow's imagery so much that I intentionally
placed it a step above the other games that were crippled by bad
programming.

Technically, Lomalow is poorly done--it abounds with sparsely implemented
objects (to the author's credit, there are few "you can't see any such
thing"'s), overuse of aliasing (where a bunch of related objects point to
the same game-object), one-syntax-only situations (one of many examples:
you can go "in" when you're by the cabin, but you can't "enter cabin",
"enter door", or "open door"), lack of synonyms, and a few glaring bugs
(particularly in the hint system--there's a problem with object names
showing up as numbers, making certain hints distinctly unhelpful). Mimesis
is shallow at best. Despite the many conversational topics on the two
NPC's, they ultimately feel like cardboard, and this is a much more serious
matter than it would be for a puzzle-based game. Why don't they make any
reaction when I just waltz into their house ("hello"? "who are you"? "you
look like you just fell down a cliff"? :-])? Why are they missing some of
the most obvious conversation topics? (most grievously, "lomalow",
"phoenix", "man", and "woman") Why don't they respond when I give or show
various important objects to them (the book, the board, etc.), even though
they respond when I ask about the objects? And so forth.

The gameworld overall feels sparse and thinly implemented--it takes more
than long, detailed room descriptions to bring an environment to life. I
can't interact with much of anything. I especially wanted to interact with
the strange forces/feelings in the pit, but couldn't find any way to do so
(I know it's not standard practice to implement "intangibles", but I feel
it's an extremely good idea in a game of this sort). Many of the Inform
default responses could use overriding (e.g., "So-and-so is unimpressed" is
almost never a good response to "show" in a story-based game).

The end result of all these little oversights, and the resulting
cardboardlike feeling of the npc's and the landscape, is that when I
reached the end of the game, my response was a resounding "huh?". Until
then, the characters had behaved almost robotically--reacting to nothing
but the magic word ASK, and occasionally moving around after I asked a
particular (predetermined) question. Then they suddenly came to life and
everything happened at once. The man accused me of thinking him crazy, but
I never did--there was never anything, other than a single conversation
response, to indicate that he was any more or less normal than the
woman. Except for the fact that the man moved around more and the woman
said "honey" a lot, they didn't seem all that different. Both spoke in
fragments, spoke only when prompted, and didn't do much of anything
else. Neither of them seemed very responsive or human until the end.

I know IF npc's *are* robots at base, but it's possible to create a
very convincing illusion that they are more. I've done it and I've seen it
done! It just takes a lot of work. Gamefile size is one reliable
indicator--if it's 80k, you've almost definitely not put in enough code to
create humanlike npc's. These are things that are only learned with time
and experience, and I understand that a lot of the competition authors are
novices (and should be encouraged!)--but it's hard for me *not* to be
demanding when a game aims this high and has such a neat premise.

The whole concept of using ASK--almost exclusively--to advance the story,
is questionable. The game doesn't need to have more puzzles, but it needs
more *things to do*. Photopia is an excellent example of how to immerse the
player in a story without a single puzzle. And it needs a better reason for
why everything comes together when it does--one more meaningful than
"because you finished asking repeatedly about every topic the author
thought to implement". Ideally, it should be the *player* who initiates
those final scenes--as it is, it feels quite jarring and unfair to be
shouted at for something the game forced me to do!

One final beef: When I read the introductory text from the author (claiming
that the only puzzle in the game was to "read all the text that you
possibly can"), and saw that the game had no scoring system, I wondered
whether it had a formal end. As it turns out, it did (an ending well-worth
reaching, despite the above criticism), but I got stymied for a while when
I reached a hint that said "if you can see this message, you have already
won". It gave no indication that I needed to go back to the cabin, and
since I had asked about all the topics I could possibly think of, there was
no impetus to do so. I didn't realize something huge was going to happen as
soon as I walked in the door! So I presumed that was indeed the end, and I
quit. Nagging uncertainty led me to dump all the gametext via Ztools, at
which point I discovered that I was wrong. I would strongly recommend:
1. revising the introductory text to make clear that the game has a goal
and an end, and 2. adding a final hint, unless you choose to follow the
advice above and make the ending more logical.

I wouldn't be writing this long a review for "Lomalow" if I didn't have
such high hopes for it and its author, so I hope the criticism isn't too
disheartening. I would love to see a more fleshed-out version of this game
after the comp ends.

-------------------------------------------------------

Jacks or better to murder, Aces to win
Author: J.D. Berry
In a nutshell: Murder, intrigue, and monks
Rating: 4

I'll start by getting the negatives out of the way: "Jacks" was clearly the
work of an amateur game programmer. It has enough technical problems and
deficiencies that I gave up trying to maintain a bug list to send the
author; the game really needs (and deserves) a total overhaul. Almost all
objects are described the same way on second glance, even when this means
making the same discovery twice (e.g.: the description of "materials"
mentions the reed even after I've picked it up). I can touch and manipulate
various distant objects. "shoot reed at [person]" works, but "shoot
[person]" seems to assume that I want to use [person] as a weapon. In some
cases, "examine [object]" finds something but "search [object]" doesn't; in
some cases the reverse.

Most all the puzzles consist of looking at and searching things (with the
exception of the reed puzzle, which I love), which doesn't really meet my
expectations for interactivity in an IF game. The writing is tediously
verbose at times, especially when initial room/object descriptions aren't
changed the second time around (e.g. the speaker). I feel there must be a
better, more interactive way to introduce C and D than to tell me
everything about them as soon as I enter their offices (though, to the
author's credit, this only happens once). I'm afraid I was reminded of the
rooms in "Detective" a few times:

<< Outside >>
You are outside. It's bitter cold and you pull your jacket around
yourself. To the north is a nice, warm Holiday Inn hotel, where
the killer is rumored to be staying. Or you could go to his favorite
hang out, the Wall, to the west, or to the east is the place where he
is supposed to be working, the Doughnut King.

MIKE: Wow! And we figured all that out just by entering this room!
TOM: That was first-class detective work!

New authors, please download and play mst3k1.z5(*) and studiously avoid
every programming technique that you see mocked therein.

*whew* Which brings me, at last, to the positive. "Jacks" definitely has
one of the most unique scenarios in this year's comp; the setting and
storyline were interesting enough to leave me moderately forgiving of the
game's technical faults. The PC is well-sketched, and appears to be a mix
between the Pope, and Don Corleone :-) The "random babble generator" was
quite amusing, though I do wish it hadn't gone off every turn. There is a
large enough supply of imagination, intrigue, and good ideas here to make
for an excellent IF game.

My favorite moments were the reed puzzle (as mentioned) and the response to
"x paraphernalia".

-------------------------------------------------------

Beat the Devil
Author: Robert M. Camisa
In a nutshell: A puzzle-romp with a diabolical premise
Rating: 4

I don't often go in for a pure puzzle-game, though this one does have a
cute premise and bits of humor strewn throughout. The humor ranges from
genuinely funny to sophomoric. The narrator is rather too snarky, and the
overall tone a bit too cynical, for my tastes (the game was officially
docked a point after it insulted me one time too many). There are a few
moderately clever puzzles (the "un-un" machine was probably inspired by
Leather Goddesses, but I like it anyway). On balance, I have to score
fairly low since this just isn't my type of IF. Opinions may differ.

Though I found no serious bugs, the game could use a lot of polishing. The
author implemented many things as if they would only be done once. For
instance, there are many cases where room and/or object descriptions should
change after the player discovers something, but don't (for instance, "look
at windows" outside Pets from Hell reports the same discovery every time
you do it). Also, a number of plausible actions, such as "crush pill with
pliers", should get better responses.

I like the way you defeat "Lust", but then, I'm weird.

-------------------------------------------------------

Calliope
Author: J. Mcintosh
In a nutshell: A day in the life of a comp author
Rating: 4

Aiieee. This sort of thing is only funny once--and it's been done before.

Still, the game was very well-designed for what it was, leading me to be
generous when it came time for scoring. Most reasonable actions were
anticipated, and I only found a handful of cosmetic bugs. That's not
incredibly hard with a game this size, but it shows the author knows what
he's doing. I look forward to his future works.

Oh: and I liked the multiple endings trick.

-------------------------------------------------------

Lunatix
Author: Mike Snyder
In a nutshell: A zany, graphical, 80's-ish puzzle-based game
Rating: 4

[Warning: this review is a veritable essay. It includes a lengthy
discussion of parser and game design issues. If you don't feel like wading
through it, you're welcome to go on to the next review.]

I haven't been looking forward to writing this review. After all the talk
and debate on raif about the author's design decisions (designing his own
parser and game system rather than using an existing system), I honestly
hoped to be able to say "hey! I *liked* this game!"...if only because I
have a knee-jerk sympathy for underdogs ;-] Unfortunately, I didn't. On the
other hand, he's made clear he wants frank and plentiful feedback, so I'm
not going to mince words. Under the circumstances, I would consider it
irresponsible to toss out a one-paragraph review.

Lets start from the beginning. Setting aside interface and parser issues,
"Lunatix" is a solid, worthwhile puzzle game. As in many classic text
adventures (and even some modern ones), the storyline is more a framework
for puzzles than an end unto itself--which is fine. Lunatix is, in fact, a
*better* game than quite a few of the entries this year (notice that
the 1-3 bracket of my score list is heavily populated). I liked the colors
puzzle in particular, and the picture of the crazy cook :-)

However, as you can probably tell from the overall tone of these reviews, I
don't get very excited about puzzle-based games unless:

A. They have an extremely unique twist (e.g. "Erehwon"), or
B. The puzzles are highly clever, well-integrated, and satisfying to
solve (e.g. "A Day For Soft Food", "Enlightenment")

"Lunatix" falls into neither category, and that disadvantages it from the
start, since my ratings are strongly affected by personal preference. I'm
much more likely to be forgiving with a story-rich game, in which the
puzzles serve the story rather than vice versa. The puzzles in Lunatix are
mostly soup cans(**), and some are downright contrived (a fridge that turns
hot water to ice in seconds? I wish my freezer could do that!) There was
a time when it would have given me hours of enjoyment, but that time is
years past. The author, I hope, won't take this too hard but will instead
balance it out with the reviews and ratings of puzzle-loving comp judges.

But the real, almost universal problem with "Lunatix" is its interface. I
found the windowing system clunky and unpleasant to look at (I'm not sure
why the author didn't just design for Windows instead of making his own DOS
windowing system), and the chunky font literally gave me a headache after
awhile (on a 17-inch, high-quality monitor). The parser.....where to
begin? The parser is homebrewn, and was designed without any deep
understanding of TADS and Inform parsers, which represent many years of
accumulated wisdom. Problems that were already studied and *solved*
years ago (consistent disambiguation, io-handling, intelligent use of
adjectives, etc.) pop up everywhere in "Lunatix" because the author
attempted to reinvent the wheel--without studying the existing wheel. Many
of the short-cuts and parser enhancements that make a good TADS or Inform
game a joy to play (and that rgif-ers have come to expect) are missing.

I can see that the author put a lot of effort into implementing these
shortcuts and enhancements, based on raif input. UNDO is there, for
example. But from what I've seen, despite all that work, he's only scraped
the surface. I suspect there's only one way to create an IF system in the
same league as TADS/Inform -- study these systems intensively, read their
standard libraries beginning to end -- *then* start programming.

There have been a lot of "hypothetical" examples put forth on raif for how
a naively-designed IF parser might be apt to stumble (they weren't really
hypothetical, since the examples represented real-life problems that the
community had encountered). "Lunatix" provides plenty of non-hypothetical
examples. Here are a few:

* You can refer to the notes tacked on the wall of your office as "first
note", "second note", etc. But if you type "read second note" while
holding the riddle note, it assumes you mean that one! Moral: *never
discard part of the command*. Sweeping asumptions are a Bad Idea. It's
clear that the parser saw "read [blah blah] note" and simply ignored the
stuff in the middle, a technique that is fated to cause endless trouble
no matter how many special cases you code for. There was a lively
discussion on raif about why prepositions should never be discarded when
parsing (even if you allow the *player* to omit them at will), and this
moral is equally applicable there.

This issue would be a non-issue in TADS, Inform, or any IF system that
performs a proper disambiguation check: What objects (in scope) match the
noun 'note'? Okay. Now what objects match the adjective 'second'? Do any
objects match them both? If not, complain. If one object matches, use
it. If more than one, ask the user to disambiguate. This simple rule is
the basis of all TADS/Inform disambiguation. It requires some pretty
tricky programming to *implement* the rule (namely, the programming
involved in parsing the sentence into grammatical components), but once
you've done it, it overwhelmingly works, and you the game author no
longer have to code "special cases" all over the place.

* On a similar note, there are many cases where the parser ignores a
supplied indirect object. For instance, "pour cup onto tray" results in
the cup being poured out onto the ground! Moral: *never ignore what you
don't understand*. I'd much rather hear "I don't know how to pour
anything onto the tray", or even "I don't understand that sentence", than
to have the parser make unwarranted assumptions.

* If the player does anything that the game doesn't understand (even by
making sweeping assumptions), no matter what -- it responds with a
random, unhelpful, and sometimes insulting stock error message (e.g.
"Your logic, although interesting, is flawed"). There are only a handful
of special-case exceptions, based on what the author specifically
anticipated (for instance, the game will usually ask you to disambiguate
if you type "open door" and there are multiple doors). Outside of those,
the parser is distinctly obtuse. Misspelled a word? Stock error
message. Used a verb the parser didn't understand? Stock error
message. Left out an indirect object? Stock error message. Did something
valid that the author wasn't expecting? Stock error message. Compare
this to Inform or TADS, where the parser will often go out of its way to
tell you exactly what it didn't understand, and where the standard
libraries code reasonable default responses for all sorts of actions:

+ What do you want to inject the man with?
+ There were words after your command that I couldn't use.
+ An article must be followed by a noun.
+ I don't know the word "kunatic". [oops! typo]
+ I don't understand that sentence.
+ I don't know that verb.
+ That can't contain things (default response to "put in").
+ There's no good surface on the squid (default response to "put on").

Note also that the emphasis is on what the *parser* didn't understand.
If the parser is confused, it doesn't pretend otherwise. It is highly
annoying to be told "your logic is flawed" when you know that it is, in
fact, the game's logic that is flawed.

* If the player types "inject man" (while holding the needle and in the
same room as the psycho), the game responds with a stock error message!
As detailed above, the error message offers no explanation for why the
command failed. Well, it turns out one must explicitly type "inject man
with needle". Moral: prompt for an indirect object if you're expecting
one.

In TADS or Inform, this would have been handled very nicely. The game
would see that the player was only holding one object that could be used
to INJECT, and would assume it as the indirect object.

* If the player types "examine [unimplemented object]", the game pretends
that the object exists and says you don't see anything interesting about
it. "examine mxyxalfoobar", or whatever -- same response. Please don't
pretend something is there when it isn't! This is confusing (if the
player misspells the name of an important object and the parser responds
"you don't see anything interesting about it", the player may well assume
that the object isn't important) and, once the player catches on,
annoying.

I'm guessing this is a kludge to avoid telling the player "I don't see
that here" when they refer to a piece of scenery that you haven't
implemented. A much better solution is to implement all scenery objects,
and if you like, make some of them "decorations" (any attempt to refer to
them results in a stock message like "You don't need to refer to that
object in the course of this game"). Making a decoration object in TADS
is trivial:

pillars: decoration
sdesc = "pillars"
noun = 'pillar' 'pillars'
location = hallway
;

* The parser rarely understands when you refer an object by its adjective
only. For instance, you have to type "open east door" instead of "open
east". While the latter may not be good English, it is a standard
typing-shortcut which players have come to expect. Again, a system like
TADS or Inform makes this a non-issue.

* The game does not have you open unlocked doors automatically. Again, a
very useful shortcut which has come to be expected, and which is built
into the voluminous TADS standard library.

* There is no "script" system command (if there had been one, I would have
logged various exchanges for the purpose of example) and no "again"
command for repeating the last input.

This is just a sampling, one which I hope will enlighten the author on all
the thought processes that go into making a good IF parser (if he wants to
continue the project, more power to him!). Hopefully I managed not to
offend. The most important point is this: an intensive perusal of the TADS
(or Inform) manual and standard library will give you a wealth of good
ideas for future improvements.

However, it may also convince you that TADS is the way to go after
all. Once TADS implements scrolling frames (which I suspect it will in the
near-future, since I've been bugging Michael Roberts about it :-), there is
nothing Lunatix does that HTML TADS will not be able to do -- and in many
cases, do *much better*. This includes generating a stand-alone
Windows executable--the Author's Kit provides a utility to create a
self-extracting Windows installer for your game, with all the niceties
right up to a clickable icon on the desktop, and you can distribute that
alongside the platform-independent game file. So, excuse me for recruiting,
but...why not TADS?

-------------------------------------------------------

Hunter, in Darkness
Author: Dave Ahl Jr.
In a nutshell: An updated "Hunt the Wumpus"
Rating: 4

There are definitely some positives about "Hunter, in Darkness". It's
well-implemented, one of the few entries this year that isn't riddled with
bugs and/or gratingly amataeurish ("Dave Ahl Jr." is a pseudonym, I'm
guessing). The caves are atmospheric and emotionally convincing--especially
for the first little while. The tight crawl sequence had a particularly
strong effect on me.

So why only a 4? Well, I was going to say something here about the annoying
maze, or about how the author forces you to use "forward", "back", etc.,
throughout the game, and doesn't implement abbreviations (f,b,lf,r). But
the maze has a shortcut, and the non-compass directions probably work for
some people.

So why don't I just cut to the real point. "Hunter, in Darkness" asked me
to identify myself with a man who was hunting down and killing an animal
for sport. I didn't.

At least, as far as I could tell, it was for sport. No other reason was
given. If there had been an option to turn back, perhaps after noticing
the signs of near-human intelligence in my prey, my reaction to this game
may well have been utterly different. I couldn't find one, even by using
txd. There was only one way to reach an endgame, and that was to follow the
original plan to the end. I simply couldn't identify (didn't want to
identify?) with this kind of single-mindedness, and a game in which one
doesn't identify with the player character at all is usually not very
effective. I'm reminded of Aayela, another game of hunting in the dark for
an elusive prey--and a game I loved. In Aayela, the second option *was*
there. That made all the difference.

(Now, watch: Magnus Ollson wrote them both, didn't he?)

-------------------------------------------------------

Bliss
Author: Cameron Wilkin
In a nutshell: A fantasy game with a nasty twist
Rating: 4

Bliss easily has the most morbid ending of all the games in the
competition; nevertheless, I think the "twist" increased my enjoyment
rather than marring it. Of course, I played this one not long after
finishing "A Moment of Hope", and as I mentioned in its review, I was in
such a morbid mood at the time that playing a depressing game actually
cheered me up a little ;-] (the old "misery loves company", I guess). Much
the same applied here. But, mood aside, I *like* the twist--I like the
way things seem awry almost throughout, and the steadily increasing feeling
of unease and unreality. The change in the response to "score" was a nice
detail.

Why only 4, then? *sigh*. Same old story--like so many this year, "A Moment
of Hope" was badly programmed, a mess of logic bugs (I can get out from
under the bed while the guard is in the room and walk right out; a few
turns later, he discovers me *under the bed*?!), parser bugs ("draw dragon"
elicits a response of "I don't recognize that sentence", you must
explicitly type "draw dragon on pad"), and guess-the-verb puzzles (you can
"look under blanket" but not "move blanket", etc., etc.) from beginning to
end. Most players will end up going to the hint file in frustration. This
is unfortunate, since the puzzles in "Bliss" are fundamentally good,
solvable puzzles that are fun to figure out.

I do commend the author for the cases where he gave appropriate responses
to clever attempts: e.g., "throw book at statue". I'd like to see more of
this done. For instance, "throw knife at guard" (from a distance) should
get a better response.

-------------------------------------------------------

Stone Cell
Author: Middle Edge
In a nutshell: A peasant girl's story
Rating: 3

Er, well...um.

I like the premise of "Stone Cell". I like the writing. (Though I found
both highly disturbing in parts, all the moreso because the disturbing
parts probably aren't far off from the reality of centuries ago). I like
the affirmation of a young woman's power, hidden somewhere beneath all that
gloom and doom. This would have made a fascinating short story, and I know
some anthologies where it would fit right in. In fact, I quickly resorted
to experiencing it as such by typing straight from the walkthrough. Lord
knows I wouldn't have solved it any other way.

>get handle
The handle is attached to the chamber pot.
>pull handle
You can do little with the handle while it is attached to the chamber pot.
>break handle
You can do little with the handle while it is attached to the chamber pot.
>turn handle
You can do little with the handle while it is attached to the chamber pot.

[off to the walkthrough...]

>bend handle
>g.g.g.g.g.

And guess-the-verb puzzles are only the beginning. The author may have had
some reason for (to pull out one of many examples) dividing a tiny cell
into a 3-by-3 grid with 1-line room descriptions, but it most certainly
wasn't a *good* reason. As an IF game, I'd have to say that "Stone
Cell" is a failure. It's clear that a lot of work and imagination were put
into it, and I wish I had more positive to say. But the bottom line is,
this was another beautiful concept ruined by implementation.

-------------------------------------------------------

Remembrance
Author: Casey Tait
In a nutshell: An interesting, well-written, but not-too-interactive story
Rating: 3

Gaaaaaaah!! Why Tripod? Why Tripod? Okay, so you wanted it to be on the
web, but *why Tripod*, for the love of god?!! Even if you didn't want to
shell out 5 bucks for a decent website, there are about a thousand better
FWP's out there! Why, why, why???

*ahem* <stifling self>

The best I can say for "Remembrance" is this, and it is high praise:
despite the severe lack of genuine interactivity, the weird '?' characters
in place of quotes, the JavaScript window text that ran off my screen to
infinity instead of wrapping (in fairness, those two may have been a
problem with Linux Netscape, even though I have a quite recent version),
and the *damned annoying pop-up ads on every single page*, I finished
the story. The story was riveting and the writing is excellent.

But excellent writing doth not an IF game make. JavaScript-embellished
hypertext is simply not the right medium for interactive fiction (this is a
matter of opinion, but it's an opinion I hold quite strongly). Clicking on
options in pull-down lists, and typing things into pop-up windows, is
*not* mimetic! Even the worst point-and-click games are more
convincing. I did not at any time have a feeling of being part of the
story, or of having any effect on the course of events. It didn't feel any
different from reading a static short story on the web--except that I had
to do slightly more clever things to get from one page to the next.

*sigh* So much of this could have been so much better. The puzzle of
wetting the handkerchief, for example, could have been a great puzzle--if
it hadn't been blatantly given away as soon as I saw the contents of the
pull-down list! If I were judging the writing alone, Remembrance would
have received a solid 9 at worst. Unfortunately, I'm not :-(

I would be overjoyed to see this author learn Inform or TADS, and turn his
writing skills towards the creation of true, immersive IF.

-------------------------------------------------------

Only After Dark
Author: Anonymous
In a nutshell: IF does werewolves
Rating: 3

"Only After Dark" had about the same effect on me as most cheesy werewolf
movies: a mildly amusing diversion, but easily forgotten. The fact that it
rubbed me the wrong way from the start and gave me little feeling of
identity with the protagonist (I can identify with male PC's, but asking me
to identify with a male PC in a sex scene is pushing it) probably cost
it. Later, it started growing on me a little, but as a whole the game was
far too insubstantial: the days and nights whizzed by and I'd reached the
endgame before I knew it. The first little while as a wolf felt quite
convincing, though.

-------------------------------------------------------

Pass the Banana
Author: Admiral Jota
In a nutshell: See title
Rating: 2

Cute.

When I saw the first (er, only) room, I expected this game to be full of
ifMUD in-jokes, but it turned out to be just a brief, very silly
romp. Since this is clearly a gag game, I hope the author isn't offended by
the low rating I'm obliged to give it.

Bonus for the "last lousy point", though. :-) That one got a laugh out of
me.

-------------------------------------------------------

The Water Bird
Author: Athan Skelley
In a nutshell: A good beginning
Rating: [none given]

I didn't get to see much of "Water Bird", as I ran into the well-known
game-killing bug early on (and if I go back into the village without
getting the plant, Very Strange Things happen). I'm writing this review
only to encourage the author to release a fixed version after the comp: I
was intrigued by the beginning and would love to see more.

-------------------------------------------------------

* The MiSTing of the classicly bad IF game "Detective" can be found on
ftp.gmd.de in /if-archive/games/infocom/mst3k1.z5.

** "soup cans": A puzzle with no genuine tie to the game's storyline, or a
very contrived tie -- coined by Russ Bryan in describing a 7th Guest puzzle
("What the hell kind of villain thwarts the hero's progress with soup cans
in the kitchen pantry?"). Having to fix the bridge before you can cross a
river is not soup cans. Having to solve a Tower of Hanoi before you can
enter a room *is* (usually) soup cans.


--
tr...@igs.net http://www.igs.net/~tril/
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
"I'm sure the authors will write me and say yes, there were playtesters.
Sorry. It's a rhetorical question. What I meant to ask was, please, can I meet
the playtesters and *set them on fire*?" -- Andrew Plotkin

Mike Snyder

unread,
Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
to
Suzanne Skinner <tr...@host.ott.igs.net> wrote in message
news:80rvq0$mmr$2...@news.igs.net...

> Lunatix
> Author: Mike Snyder
> In a nutshell: A zany, graphical, 80's-ish puzzle-based game
> Rating: 4

Thanks! This is very helpful. :)

A couple things that might have made the game go a little smoother for you
(although I doubt the rating would differ) is the /T parm to play in
text-only mode. Didn't mean to strain your eyes -- that was the best 320x200
mode graphic font I could make in limited space. I could have given more
detail at the risk of losing space, but didn't want to lose space. Sounds
like you're "done" with it <grin> but if at some point you are *really*
bored, try LUNATIX /T (or even LUNATIX /B).

I did forget "again" (ack) because I implemented the up-arrow. I even meant
to get "again" included before the release but forgot. :( In that
hypothetical situation where you are really bored, the up-arrow will recall
commands for you.

Thanks again for the review!

Mike.

timsim

unread,
Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
to
Uh, remind me not to enter next year! The thought of being publicly
crucified is too much for me to handle.


Suzanne Skinner <tr...@host.ott.igs.net> wrote in message
news:80rvq0$mmr$2...@news.igs.net...

timsim

unread,
Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
to
Dang it. I always post the entire message. I need to re-enable that
warning window again. Sorry.


timsim <tim...@gateway.net> wrote in message
news:80t90k$lr0$1...@news.laserlink.net...

Joe Mason

unread,
Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
to
timsim <tim...@gateway.net> wrote:
>Uh, remind me not to enter next year! The thought of being publicly
>crucified is too much for me to handle.

If you don't think public crucifixion is your cup of tea, never publish
anything. Posting to Usenet is also a bad idea.

Joe

bre...@hotmail.com

unread,
Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
to
In article <80rvq0$mmr$2...@news.igs.net>,
Suza

> -------------------------------------------------------
>
> Beat the Devil
> Author: Robert M. Camisa
> In a nutshell: A puzzle-romp with a diabolical premise
> Rating: 4
>
> I don't often go in for a pure puzzle-game, though this one does have
a
> cute premise and bits of humor strewn throughout. The humor ranges
from
> genuinely funny to sophomoric. The narrator is rather too snarky, and
the
> overall tone a bit too cynical, for my tastes (the game was officially
> docked a point after it insulted me one time too many). There are a
few
> moderately clever puzzles (the "un-un" machine was probably inspired
by
> Leather Goddesses, but I like it anyway). On balance, I have to score
> fairly low since this just isn't my type of IF. Opinions may differ.
>
Different strokes :) I find most 'puzzle-less' IF fairly tedious.


> Though I found no serious bugs, the game could use a lot of polishing.
The
> author implemented many things as if they would only be done once. For
> instance, there are many cases where room and/or object descriptions
should
> change after the player discovers something, but don't (for instance,
"look
> at windows" outside Pets from Hell reports the same discovery every
time
> you do it)

NO! Really? Damn, I tried coding for that, I swear :) Thats why I put
the source code with the file (that and lack of time to implement
AMUSING)- there are a number of bits in there that compile well enough
but dont work as intended.

Guess you found one more.

b


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

bre...@hotmail.com

unread,
Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
to
In article <80rvq0$mmr$2...@news.igs.net>,
Suzanne Skinner <tr...@host.ott.igs.net> wrote:

> Beat the Devil
> Author: Robert M. Camisa
> In a nutshell: A puzzle-romp with a diabolical premise
> Rating: 4

> On balance, I have to score
> fairly low since this just isn't my type of IF. Opinions may differ.
>

Different strokes :) I tend to get very bored very quickly with
'puzzle less' IF, for example. I couldnt bring myself to play any of
those games in this years comp for the full two hours.


> Though I found no serious bugs, the game could use a lot of polishing.
The
> author implemented many things as if they would only be done once. For
> instance, there are many cases where room and/or object descriptions
should
> change after the player discovers something, but don't (for instance,
"look
> at windows" outside Pets from Hell reports the same discovery every
time
> you do it).

NO! Really? Damn, I coded for that too. The windows should change
after you get rid of the dog.

Thats why I included the source code( that, and I didn't have a chance
to do AMUSING)- there are a number of things in there that compile well,
but dont do what I intended, and I've no idea why.

'Throw water on demon' is one. Looks like you discovered another.

B

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
to
In rec.arts.int-fiction Anson Turner <anson@delete_thispobox.com> wrote:
> In article <8E8167C8...@167.206.67.104>,
> joe...@optonline.SPAMBLOCKnet.invalid (Joe Mac) wrote:
>
> :I dislike IF that doesn't have puzzles, as it's no longer IF, it's just F.
>
> What's wrong with F? Most people like F.

I like (static) fiction -- I've got four overflowing bookshelves of the
stuff -- but when I encounter it in an IF competition, I give it a low
score.

Last weekend, I went to the Masquerade (costuming competition) at Philcon.
The tradition is that people come out one at a time, wearing their
costumes. They can either just walk around in it, or do some brief
performance to highlight it. Dance, brief skit, whatever.

This year, one person game out in Scottish dancing regalia and did some
traditional dance that I can't remember what it was. And it went on *way
too long*. It was perfectly clear that the person was showing off her
dancing, rather than her costume.

It was fine dancing, but if I were a judge, I would give it a low score.
(Unless the costume were spectacular on its own -- which it wasn't.)
Dancing wasn't what the event was about.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Peter Seebach

unread,
Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
to
In article <eTpY3.55088$Jp4....@news20.bellglobal.com>,

Joe Mason <jcm...@uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
>If you don't think public crucifixion is your cup of tea, never publish
>anything. Posting to Usenet is also a bad idea.

Screw you! Only a mind-numbingly stupid idiot would think that posting to
Usenet would get you flamed. Does your mother know you dress that funny?

-s
--
Copyright 1999, All rights reserved. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
C/Unix wizard, Pro-commerce radical, Spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Will work for interesting hardware. http://www.plethora.net/~seebs/
Visit my new ISP <URL:http://www.plethora.net/> --- More Net, Less Spam!

Eric Mayer

unread,
Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
to
On 17 Nov 1999 19:30:20 GMT, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com>
wrote:


>I like (static) fiction -- I've got four overflowing bookshelves of the
>stuff -- but when I encounter it in an IF competition, I give it a low
>score.
>

<snip>


>It was fine dancing, but if I were a judge, I would give it a low score.
>(Unless the costume were spectacular on its own -- which it wasn't.)
>Dancing wasn't what the event was about.
>

OK. I'm glad you said it first, but as a newcomer to IF I agree.
Granted, the line between what strikes me as IF and F might be thin,
and I'd probably be satisifed with really, really easy puzzles, maybe
just exploring an area without appreciable puzzles, but at some point,
some "IF' becomes too much like static fiction which would be better
off in a book.

After all, even a book is interactive to the extent that the reader is
constantly faced with the decision of whether to turn the page. Since
I do a lot of writing, of the regular sort, there would be no reason
for me to learn some programming to just write the same thing. What
motivated me to write some IF was that it was different and, I
thought, pretty exciting.

Mind you, this is just my opinion and just the opinion I've formed
with a few months experience of the genre. It might change. Heck,
coding for "Choose [1] to turn the page, choose [2] to quit doesn't
sound bad when I'm thinking of all those bugs I've gotta contend with
in my game one of these days.
--
Eric Mayer
Web Site: <http://home.epix.net/~maywrite>
=====================================================
co-author of ONE FOR SORROW
A "John the Eunuch" mystery from Poisoned Pen Press
<http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/html/sorrow.html>
=====================================================
"The map is not the territory." -- Alfred Korzybski

Aris Katsaris

unread,
Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
to

Joe Mac <joe...@optonline.SPAMBLOCKnet.invalid> wrote in message
news:8E8167C8...@167.206.67.104...

> bre...@hotmail.com wrote:
>
> >Different strokes :) I find most 'puzzle-less' IF fairly tedious.
>
> I dislike IF that doesn't have puzzles, as it's no longer IF, it's just F.

The "I" in IF stands for 'interactive', not for 'puzzles', though. If you
say that
there can be no interactivity without puzzles, I beg to differ.

> Six Stories struck me like that.

It did have *one* puzzle, but yeah it was mostly static fiction, the puzzle
being unrelated to the story...

Aris Katsaris

Lord Apollyon

unread,
Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
to
In article <anson-16119...@line214cnt10.efortress.com>,
anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com (Anson Turner) wrote:

> Now who's channeling Mr. Cranky?

I like it. I'll have to try this phrase out on my friends. :)

=R=

--
The reply-to-address will expire on Midnight 1-December-1999.
Spammers: You will lose your network access. Guaranteed.
97 domains, 359 web-accounts, and 561 dialup ISP accounts flushed.

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
to
>Subject: Re: [comp99] My Comp Reviews -- Part 2
>From: Andrew Plotkin erky...@netcom.com
>Date: Wed, 17 November 1999 02:30 PM EST

>> What's wrong with F? Most people like F.
>

>I like (static) fiction -- I've got four overflowing bookshelves of the
>stuff -- but when I encounter it in an IF competition, I give it a low
>score.

[snip]

>It was fine dancing, but if I were a judge, I would give it a low score.
>(Unless the costume were spectacular on its own -- which it wasn't.)
>Dancing wasn't what the event was about.
>

>--Z

Hehehehehe.

I think you know why I am laughing.

Hehehehehe.

Yeah, I know we don't all agree on WHAT IS interactivity... the line differs
for each of us...

...but hehehehehehehehe. HA!

Doe :-)


doea...@aol.com -------------------------------------------------
Kingdom of IF - http://members.aol.com/doepage/intfict.htm
Inform Tips - http://members.aol.com/doepage/infotips.htm
IF Art Gallery - http://members.aol.com/iffyart/gallery.htm


Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
to
se...@plethora.net (Peter Seebach) wrote:

>In article <eTpY3.55088$Jp4....@news20.bellglobal.com>,
>Joe Mason <jcm...@uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
>>If you don't think public crucifixion is your cup of tea, never publish
>>anything. Posting to Usenet is also a bad idea.
>
>Screw you! Only a mind-numbingly stupid idiot would think that posting to
>Usenet would get you flamed. Does your mother know you dress that funny?

Nice irony, Peter.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
to
In rec.games.int-fiction Joe Mac <joe...@optonline.spamblocknet.invalid> wrote:

> kats...@otenet.gr wrote:
>
>>The "I" in IF stands for 'interactive', not for 'puzzles', though. If
>>you say that there can be no interactivity without puzzles, I beg to
>>differ.
>
> There can be interactivity without puzzles, just that said interactivity is
> usually dreadfully linear or of no consequence.

It's hard to disagree with this statement, because you're just saying that
you define "puzzle" very broadly.

Nothing wrong with that. *I* define "puzzle" very broadly.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
to
In article <80rvq0$mmr$2...@news.igs.net>,
Suzanne Skinner <tr...@host.ott.igs.net> wrote:
>So why don't I just cut to the real point. "Hunter, in Darkness" asked me
>to identify myself with a man who was hunting down and killing an animal
>for sport. I didn't.
>
>At least, as far as I could tell, it was for sport. No other reason was
>given. If there had been an option to turn back, perhaps after noticing
>the signs of near-human intelligence in my prey, my reaction to this game
>may well have been utterly different. I couldn't find one, even by using
>txd. There was only one way to reach an endgame, and that was to follow the
>original plan to the end. I simply couldn't identify (didn't want to
>identify?) with this kind of single-mindedness,

I had no problems identifying with the protagonist, but his single-
mindedness was a bit frightening. And I had some qualms when it turned
out the Wumpus was at least semi-intelligent.

I suppose the game may be taken as a commentary on the
single-mindedness of not only the original "Hunt the Wumpus", but of
many modern computer games as well (most notably the
first-person-shooters). The entire purpose of those games seems to be
to hunt and kill; "Hunter, in Darkness" confronts the player with the
consequences of this.

>I'm reminded of Aayela, another game of hunting in the dark for
>an elusive prey--and a game I loved. In Aayela, the second option *was*
>there. That made all the difference.
>
>(Now, watch: Magnus Ollson wrote them both, didn't he?)

No, I didn't; Zarf wrote "Hunter".

But I'm deeple honoured that someone would think that I had written
one of Andrew's games.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------

okbl...@my-deja.com

unread,
Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
to
In article <80v538$kp8$1...@newssrv.otenet.gr>,

"Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote:
>
>
> The "I" in IF stands for 'interactive', not for 'puzzles', though. If
you
> say that
> there can be no interactivity without puzzles, I beg to differ.

One interesting and probably useless point made by someone at some time
is that unless the interactivity is completely transparent to all, it
becomes a puzzle (to those for whom it is not transparent).
--
[ok]

Daryl McCullough

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
In article <811kbu$tom$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se says...

>>I'm reminded of Aayela, another game of hunting in the dark for
>>an elusive prey--and a game I loved. In Aayela, the second option *was*
>>there. That made all the difference.
>>
>>(Now, watch: Magnus Ollson wrote them both, didn't he?)
>

>No, I didn't; Zarf wrote "Hunter".

Did Andrew announce that, or did the literary forensics experts
figure it out?

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY


Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
In rec.games.int-fiction Daryl McCullough <da...@cogentex.com> wrote:
> In article <811kbu$tom$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se says...
>
>>>I'm reminded of Aayela, another game of hunting in the dark for
>>>an elusive prey--and a game I loved. In Aayela, the second option *was*
>>>there. That made all the difference.
>>>
>>>(Now, watch: Magnus Ollson wrote them both, didn't he?)
>>
>>No, I didn't; Zarf wrote "Hunter".
>
> Did Andrew announce that, or did the literary forensics experts
> figure it out?

I announced it (on IFMUD first, then in my reviews when I posted them.)

Nobody figured it out. I'm kind of stunned by that, really. I didn't try
to conceal my writing style at all. I'm pretty well known *for* my writing
style, so I expected it to be recognized.

J.D. Berry

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
In article <81413e$979$1...@nntp3.atl.mindspring.net>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>
> Nobody figured it out. I'm kind of stunned by that, really. I didn't
>try to conceal my writing style at all. I'm pretty well known *for* my
>writing style, so I expected it to be recognized.

Do people feel as I do that if Andrew had attached his real name to the
work he would have finished in the top 3?

Dave Ahl, Jr. -- "Oh, great, another cave game. Next!"
Andrew Plotkin -- "Another cave game? Oh, but it's by Z. This should
be good. Let me give it a chance."

Perhaps all entries should be entered with aliases? I'm thinking of
many similar and different biases that can (and have) occur(ed), not
just this one.


Jim

Dave Coleman

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Andrew Plotkin wrote in message <81413e$979$1...@nntp3.atl.mindspring.net>...

>In rec.games.int-fiction Daryl McCullough <da...@cogentex.com> wrote:
>> In article <811kbu$tom$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se
says...
>>
>>>>I'm reminded of Aayela, another game of hunting in the dark for
>>>>an elusive prey--and a game I loved. In Aayela, the second option *was*
>>>>there. That made all the difference.
>>>>
>>>>(Now, watch: Magnus Ollson wrote them both, didn't he?)
>>>
>>>No, I didn't; Zarf wrote "Hunter".
>>
>> Did Andrew announce that, or did the literary forensics experts
>> figure it out?
>
>I announced it (on IFMUD first, then in my reviews when I posted them.)
>
>Nobody figured it out. I'm kind of stunned by that, really. I didn't try
>to conceal my writing style at all. I'm pretty well known *for* my writing
>style, so I expected it to be recognized.
>
>--Z
>
>"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
>borogoves..."

Although it's easy to claim it now, I will say that I figured Hunter was
Zarf's after playing it for about five minutes. I think it had to do with
the single-minded seriousness of the tone, along with the deep
implementation of the puzzles. It reminded me a great deal of Spider and
Web.

Once I had come to that conclusion in my mind, I knew not to waste time
mapping the maze. I wonder how many people would have looked for alternative
maze solutions if Zarf's name was clearly attached to the piece?

-Dave


Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
In rec.arts.int-fiction J.D. Berry <jdb...@my-deja.com> wrote:
> In article <81413e$979$1...@nntp3.atl.mindspring.net>,
> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>>
>> Nobody figured it out. I'm kind of stunned by that, really. I didn't
>>try to conceal my writing style at all. I'm pretty well known *for* my
>>writing style, so I expected it to be recognized.
>
> Do people feel as I do that if Andrew had attached his real name to the
> work he would have finished in the top 3?

That concern (unwanted bias) was one reason I decided to enter
anonymously.



> Perhaps all entries should be entered with aliases?

That gets argued after every competition. The concensus has been that it
constrains authors in a way they may not want, and it risks turning the
whole thing into a "guess the author" contest. And different authors are
going to be recognizable in different ways and by different people, so you
can't even enforce the anonymity reliably.

Leaving the choice to each author has worked well so far.

timsim

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Beat me, baby! BEAT MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

timsim

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
See my 2nd post for the apology that came before this post.

Tim

Hanna Maria Pasula

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Magnus Olsson wrote:

> I suppose the game may be taken as a commentary on the
> single-mindedness of not only the original "Hunt the Wumpus", but of
> many modern computer games as well (most notably the
> first-person-shooters). The entire purpose of those games seems to be
> to hunt and kill; "Hunter, in Darkness" confronts the player with the
> consequences of this.

I'm not sure that I agree, exactly. It did make me empathize with the Wumpus
(we are two wounded creatures creeping through the caves, and it seems like
it's only circumstance that decides who is the hunter and who is the hunted)
but it doesn't seem like the protagonist learns anything from this.
Unless I missed some alternative ending, the Wumpus still gets killed.

To be honest, I found this mildly jarring. After my moment of empathy, I felt
like the only truly satisfying ending would be to make peace with the famed
beast, and leave the cave a wiser man. I actually spent a while trying to
distract it so I could bandage its wound. I was disappointed that my actions,
which seemed to make so much sense _emotionally_ , didn't even get a good text
response.

H


Damien Neil

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
On Fri, 19 Nov 1999 13:37:40 -0500, Dave Coleman <balt...@erols.com> wrote:
>Once I had come to that conclusion in my mind, I knew not to waste time
>mapping the maze. I wonder how many people would have looked for alternative
>maze solutions if Zarf's name was clearly attached to the piece?

I played "Hunter" after the comp, knowing who the author was. I didn't
spend a moment thinking the maze needed to be mapped...I was quite
certain there was a logical solution. I can't say whether I would
have felt the same way had I not known who the author was.

- Damien

J. Kerr

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
On 19 Nov 1999 17:23:58 GMT, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com>
wrote:

>I announced it (on IFMUD first, then in my reviews when I posted them.)
>


>Nobody figured it out. I'm kind of stunned by that, really. I didn't try
>to conceal my writing style at all. I'm pretty well known *for* my writing
>style, so I expected it to be recognized.
>

Zarf was at the very end of my list of possible authors of Hunter, for
the very simple reason that I completed it without resorting to
swearing, hair pulling, plaintive begging for hints or subconscious
techniques (after stoutly resisting the temptation to read all the
spoilers on r.g.i.f. I *dreamed* about Spider and Web - it didn't
help).

Quentin.D.Thompson

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
In article <eTpY3.55088$Jp4....@news20.bellglobal.com>,
jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) wrote:

> timsim <tim...@gateway.net> wrote:
> >Uh, remind me not to enter next year! The thought of being publicly
> >crucified is too much for me to handle.
>
> If you don't think public crucifixion is your cup of tea, never publish
> anything. Posting to Usenet is also a bad idea.

Erm, I'm confused. I don't think the ancient Romans had Usenet. And they
invented public crucifixion. :-)?

Quentin.D.Thompson
Lord High Executioner

Greg Cooksey

unread,
Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
On Sat, 20 Nov 1999 10:27:43, ne...@grace.acm.rpi.edu (Damien Neil)
wrote:

> I played "Hunter" after the comp, knowing who the author was. I didn't
> spend a moment thinking the maze needed to be mapped...I was quite
> certain there was a logical solution. I can't say whether I would
> have felt the same way had I not known who the author was.
>

spoliers?

Geoff Bailey

unread,
Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to

In article <814596$kom$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>,

Dave Coleman <balt...@erols.com> wrote:
> Although it's easy to claim it now, I will say that I figured Hunter was
> Zarf's after playing it for about five minutes. I think it had to do with
> the single-minded seriousness of the tone, along with the deep
> implementation of the puzzles. It reminded me a great deal of Spider and
> Web.

I also figured it out, but not that quickly. I was impressed by the degree
of implementation of the place, but Andrew isn't (quite) the only person
who does that. When I saw the supposed name of the author I knew that I
recognised it from somewhere; when I ran into the bats I realised where I
knew the name from, and it seemed likely to be a pseudonym. But it wasn't
until I reached the maze section of the game (which was a while later -- I
spent ages trying to shoot the blasted rope in the middle so there wouldn't
be a pointy end) that I recognised the cave generator from Zarf's web pages.

[ Or rather, I spent a little time trying to map it and came to the
conclusion that it was automatically generated, and the penny dropped. ]

The fact that the maze seemed unsolvable by conventional means pretty
much forced looking for an alternate solution; it still took me a while
to see it, though.

Cheers,
Geoff.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Geoff Bailey (Fred the Wonder Worm) | Programmer by trade --
ft...@cs.usyd.edu.au | Gameplayer by vocation.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Ross Presser

unread,
Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
alt.distingu...@cs.berkeley.edu (Hanna Maria
Pasula).wrote.posted.offered:

>I'm not sure that I agree, exactly. It did make me empathize with the
>Wumpus (we are two wounded creatures creeping through the caves, and it
>seems like it's only circumstance that decides who is the hunter and who
>is the hunted) but it doesn't seem like the protagonist learns anything
>from this. Unless I missed some alternative ending, the Wumpus still
>gets killed.

Well, there are several alternative endings where the player gets killed
instead of the Wumpus. And even in the "ideal" ending where the player
lives and the Wumpus dies, you don't get to leave with a trophy.

--
Ross Presser
ross_p...@imtek.com
"And if you're the kind of person who parties with a bathtub full of
pasta, I suspect you don't care much about cholesterol anyway."

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
In rec.arts.int-fiction Geoff Bailey <ft...@staff.cs.usyd.edu.au> wrote:
>
> In article <814596$kom$1...@autumn.news.rcn.net>,
> Dave Coleman <balt...@erols.com> wrote:
>> Although it's easy to claim it now, I will say that I figured Hunter was
>> Zarf's after playing it for about five minutes. I think it had to do with
>> the single-minded seriousness of the tone, along with the deep
>> implementation of the puzzles. It reminded me a great deal of Spider and
>> Web.
>
> I also figured it out, but not that quickly. I was impressed by the degree
> of implementation of the place, but Andrew isn't (quite) the only person
> who does that. When I saw the supposed name of the author I knew that I
> recognised it from somewhere; when I ran into the bats I realised where I
> knew the name from, and it seemed likely to be a pseudonym. But it wasn't
> until I reached the maze section of the game (which was a while later -- I
> spent ages trying to shoot the blasted rope in the middle so there wouldn't
> be a pointy end) that I recognised the cave generator from Zarf's web pages.

Damn! I was hoping nobody would catch that.

It's not even a fair hint, really. It's *not* the same code. The
algorithms have nothing in common, and I rewrote the source text from
scratch, or as scratchy as I could get working from the same brain.

Anyone who saw my web page could have stolen the idea. Yeah. That's the
monkey. :)

Geoff Bailey

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Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to

In article <81bmn4$nfr$1...@nntp9.atl.mindspring.net>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
> Damn! I was hoping nobody would catch that.
>
> It's not even a fair hint, really. It's *not* the same code. The
> algorithms have nothing in common, and I rewrote the source text from
> scratch, or as scratchy as I could get working from the same brain.

Looking again at your web pages, I can see that they are fairly different.
Still, I thought some of the descriptions seemed similar, which is pretty
much to be expected.

Jay Goemmer

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Nov 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/28/99
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Quentin.D.Thompson <stup...@my-deja.com> wrote in article
<816dtn$imi$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>...

> In article <eTpY3.55088$Jp4....@news20.bellglobal.com>,
> jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason) wrote:
> > timsim <tim...@gateway.net> wrote:
> > >Uh, remind me not to enter next year! The thought of being publicly
> > >crucified is too much for me to handle.
> >
> > If you don't think public crucifixion is your cup of tea, never publish
> > anything. Posting to Usenet is also a bad idea.
>
> Erm, I'm confused. I don't think the ancient Romans had Usenet. And they
> invented public crucifixion. :-)?

As though *private* crucifixition provided any kind of visible deterrent
for
potential offenders.

...Although I know a bunch of guys who are married... (ducking, because
I *am* one, and possess a priori evidence of above method of torture)


> Quentin.D.Thompson
> Lord High Executioner

Revel in your delusion while you can, buddy. ;->


--Jay Goemmer

Greg Cooksey

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Nov 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/28/99
to

ack.. looks like my message didn't post correctly
(spoiler space)

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