My take on the Contest. [BIG, BAD SPOILERS]

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Brad O`Donnell

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Dec 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/3/96
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A lot of the reasons for the way I voted were lost to the mists of
time. I played most of what I played during a one-week span near the
beginning of the contest, and I've been dying to spill my guts.

Well,
it was a great competition, and I look forward to next year's but
let's go back to the ONE RULE, and just take it for granted that posters
will behave, as they did this year, (at least to my satisfaction.)

I managed to play 25 of the 27 games, (which I hope is some kind of
record)
and voted on 22 of them. I still might manage the 26th game, and The
27th is coming ever so slowly in my grasp.
Some games, I played, but didn't vote on...these were the ones I tried
to
play, buit somehow, the energy to play got lost on me. (I'm very bad at
adventure games, as a rule, and the prospect of relying on my 23rd
walkthrough
just didn't appeal to me, so I dropped most games after that pretty
quickly)

My voting criteria were:
*Did I like it?
This is by far the most important. Of course, for me to like a game a
lot,
it helps if I laugh out loud during it at least once. For most of these
games,
that wasn't a problem. (Although I find the strangest things funny)

*Did it hold my attention?
Many of the longer games were played in two one-hour sessions (a slight
bending
of the rules, but, hey, so what?) If I played through as far as I
could,
this criterion was satisfied.

*Did the hints evoke a more: "Why didn't I think of that?" as opposed
to:
"What could possibly have made me think of THAT??"
If there hadn't have been hints, This would have been: "Did I feel like
killing the author because of the way the puzzles were designed?"

As you'll notice, I am a very high scorer. Everything I voted on got
an
automatic 4 if it was at all playable.


Ok. Here's my call on the 1996 IF-Competition:

7 # Aayela

I thought this one was fun. It had a neat implementation of a full-
darkness environment, and, since I skipped the intro text, I was
completely
surprised by the ending sequence. When I finished this game, I actually
felt
good --Not about completing the game, but because of the way the game
ended.
Reminded me of the feeling I got after finishing Quest for Glory II.
High praise...Write more of this.

7 # Alien Abduction

I don't know about the bugs people are talking about...perhaps that's
'cause
I didn't finish this game. But I liked it. I don't know how to play
Master
Mind, and I doubt I ever will, but that didn't interrupt the game at
all. In
fact, it helped the game, because MasterMaind is so "alien" to me that
it helped
the overall feel of being tested in some arbitrary way. Probably not
the
intention, but...
By the time I got to it, the game had skewed my mind to the point where
the
Duck puzzle made perfect sense. Still haven't beaten it though. Nice
atmosphere, especially thew bit (which still doesn't make much sense)
about
the head (body?) in the tube (chamber?).

6 # Beyond the Picket Fence

This was the first game I played. It would have got a 7 except it had
a
serious "bug" where an exit isn't revealed after it is available. It was
short,
sweet, and written in the grand old tradition of DOS-only games such as
SuperNova and Beyond the Titanic.

8 # Delusions

Now this was a game. Not a two-hour game, mind you. The atmosphere
was,
to say the least, mind-blowing. Some puzzles didn't make much sense,
(the
way to solve the fish Sim, for example) and I started on the hints
early.
The only reason this didn't get a 9 (or possibly a 10, since I'm such a
big fan of cyber-type games) was the Dr Shimada bug. That, and there's
way too much to do and figure out on your own. Also, the discourse
during the
many times you have to type KILL ME was a bit much.
(Is it just me, or is KILL ME a big theme of this year's competition?)
I'll definitely replay this one later.

6 # Don't Be Late

Boxes in boxes in boxes...and in ALan, too.
Since I'm biased toward ALan games, this was a real treat for me.
That, and I
didn't need any hints. It ran extremely smoothly, and therefore, I'm
impressed.
Write more of this.

X # Eldor

X means I didn't play it, or at least, not enough... Something about a
Grue,
and then I turned it off. I started to play it late in the running, and
it
probably didn't get a fair shake.

7 # Fear

There was, at the beginning, an excellent mood to Fear.
Unfortunately,
it quickly lapses into a dimensional-leaping game. Why it gets a 7 is
lost to
the mists of time.

5 # House of the Stalker

I would have given this a six, but the final area makes no sense.
I liked the parser talking back to you (HA!)

But why, oh Why, after I tie up the Stalker, do I have to kill him to
win?
I'm befuddled, and this one thing is what disturbs me most about the
game.

6 # In the End

Something just got lost on me. At first, I really dug this game. And,
right up until "the end" I was thinking "This is cool...I asked someone
a
question, and she answered instead of pretending ignorance..."
It seems I rate games highly for their atmosphere. Although lacking in
gameplay, this game didn't depress me nearly enough to harikari the
character.

OTOH: In a non-competition game, one of the first things I would have
done
when I hit a brick wall like that is KILL ME. But, of course, that's
*never*
the answer, so...


8 # Kissing the Buddha's Feet

Ha! This was cool.. The walkthroughs provided many "Doh!"s and few
"Hunh?? "s.
I especially liked Evan and (Cynthia?) Games with lots of NPCs are very
impressive. Even more so if they're all in the same room,


6 # Lists and Lists

I got a good story for this one:

When I first played this, I was under the mistaken impression that if I
had to
play a game for two hours or until beaten. So I fired up Lists, and on
the
opening screen thought "This is fishy. Andrew wouldn't have a
disembodied
door like this in a game..." I entered the door, and there was a the
machine. I looked at it, turned it on, misread the startup message, and
therefore thought that the machine was a Z-Machine, upon which I would
play
a game which, obviously, would be found somewhere else in the room with
the `
machine. So I decide to wake the genie, and somehow, I found out that
the
machine was a lisp interpreter, and that I was expected to do Recursive
programming problems until the end of the game.

I was aghast. When I read the word "Lisp" I swear my heart skipped two
beats.

Nonetheless, I did my assignment, or at least as much of it as I could
in
two-hours. Shortly after, I began planning an article for SPAG:
"Why Andrew Plotkin is Insane."
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a rather short article, ("He made a
Lisp Interpreter for the Z-Machine!!") and I never submitted it.

I was torn on this one... It was a work of technical genius, but as a
game,
it was nil. Average a 10 and a zero, and throw in a point 'cause now I
can
make head-or-tail of Lisp-like notation.

X # Maiden of the Moonlight

X # My First Stupid Game


7 # Of Forms Unknown

Yet another Dimensional transport game. I'm getting tired of these.
This,
however, was well done, and I thought it was fun, even though the bug
about losing the objects got me. Also, I can't see why you can't carry
the
light directly into the cave...

6 # Phlegm

I was overjoyed when I typed in:
LEO, THROW YOUR VOICE AT THE MOOSEHEAD.
and it worked! If I had been able to complete it, I'd've given it 7,
maybe
an eight.

7# Piece of Mind

From the time you "take control" to the disturbing shots at Copyright
Law,
this game had me wondering what was around the bend, a good thing for
any
game. From the protagonist's angst-ridden view of creation, to the
game-
within-a-game,

X # Promoted!

6 # Punkirita Quest One Liquid

What can I say, I liked it. What other game can you say lets you win
with
the directional verbs and the "Glow" Command? Also, good atmosphere.

X # Ralph
8 # Reverberations

Favorite part about this game, although I'm almost sure it was
unintentional:
The debugging verbs were on! Can't get past the security guard? PURLOIN
him,
and throw him in a ditch somewhere... Thoughoughly enjoyable.

4 # Rippled Flesh

I dunno... It just fell flat on me. When I got to the end, I thought:
"Yeah, but what did I just DO??"

X # Sir Ramic Hobbs and the Oriental Wok

7 # Small World

All "Little Prince" comparisons aside... This was really nifty. A game
that uses the word "Gloaming." What more can you ask for? Little
people...
you got it. Secret message red herrings? Oh, yeah. The Devil? Jumping
on
planets? Liliputans? All this, and more, made "Small World" fun.

8 # Stargazer

This gets an 8 for one really good reason: I want to see the rest of
it.
When I entered the final command, I was very disappointed that there was
no
more left. This is one of the few games that left me feeling that the
only
thing wrong with it is that it ended.

7 # Tapestry

Well, if you know any Vertigo Comics characters, you know Tim Hunter is
the
main character from "The Books of Magic." Plagarism thrown down to the
wayside,
it compelled me to keep playing...and the "Ha ha, sucker!" ending made
it all
worthwhile...

9 # The Meteor, the Stone, and a Long Glass of Sherbet

By far the most impressive of the competition entries (as a game).
No,
everything didn't make perfect sense; But the ambiance was there. I'd
really
hate to ruin the game by saying too much...

7 # Wearing the Claw

The first of the Inform games I played. I liked the end-game. Very
original.


--
Brad O'Donnell

"In any battle between the will and the imagination,
the imagination will win:
If you imagine you can, you _might_ not;
If you imagine you can't, you _will_ not!"
--T.L. Rampa

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