Doe's Reviews

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Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 17, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/17/00
to
I got rather distracted by the U.S. election, and still am, so I only wrote
seven
reviews -- which I had completed earlier. I wasn't going to post them since I
only have a few and haven't really polished them, but I've changed my mind.
Authors need feedback. Please look upon these as rough drafts.

Note: Although not reviewed here, for me, Kaged was a 10. A complete and
fascinating "world" -- intriguing plot WITH good interactivity. Glad it won.

Reviewed:
------------

BAP - 9
Rameses - 8
Shade - 8
Big Mama - 7
123 - 5
What IF - 1
Code - 1

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

Being Andrew Plotkin (9)

A delightful romp through previously uncharted territory, Andrew Plotkin's
(Zarf's) head. A scary idea at first thought, but it turns out funny. Although
not an original concept, because it is based on the movie "Being John M.",
there are enough inspired touches to keep it fresh. And the switching point of
view between three characters and the snappy by-play between the main two make
it diverting enough even for the Zarfian unenlightened. Puzzles are a few, but
there is still enough interactivity to create suspense -- keeping one playing
to
see what will happened. And that famous fuzzy photograph finally proves useful!

Note: Normally I wouldn't give a 9 to an insider joke, but I simply enjoyed
this more than any other comp game I played. Of course it helps if you have
seen
the movie first and/or know a little about Zarf. Naturally I was hoping for
some
major revelation. Not sure the fact that he bar code scans his books was it. I
mean, here I was, actually inside his head, and he still wouldn't explain So
Far. Arrrrgggghhhhhh! I would have also liked more conversation menu choices
and/or branching. But essentially, this left me wanting more, which is good.

Plot 8 : Borrowed, but still inspired.
Prose 8 : Fine, with touches here and there of nice imagery.
Wise-ass conversations are especially believable.
Programming 9 : May be bugs, but I didn't find them.
Puzzles 7 : Interactivity on the low side, but enough to engage.
32 / 4 = 8 + .5 for pure enjoyment = 9

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

Rameses (8)

Wow! Great writing, I really felt I was in the protagonist's head. Very
believable details and notice the word play (rameses = condom = impotence)
which summarizes the whole story. True-to-life coming-of-age tale: nebbish,
young prep-school boy nervously faces his first date. As the player you can do
very little, but that cleverly reinforces the narrative. I repeatedly tried to
confront the "assholes" (who behaved like all the assholes I have ever known),
and new menu choices would pop up. But when I selected one, I got a
context-appropriate self-rationalization explaining why I shouldn't. However, I
did repeatedly try to act, and I was impressed with how many new ways were
presented for me to be unable to act. Of course this set-up a conflict between
me, the player, trying to be assertive, and the protagonist, who was so trapped
by his low self-esteem and concern for what his peers would think, he couldn't
act. Our ~hero~ couldn't be a hero. Very believable. Frustrating? Definitely,
but with a good reason -- a hauntingly familiar one -- a teenager's fear of
rejection. Naturally this inability increased the protagonist's self-dislike,
and although this technique worked here, impotence would not work in most IF. I
also found the ending intriguing -- the over-idealized fantasy implied the male
friendship might also never have been real or only based on one/two incidents.
It left me strongly suspecting this fear-frozen guy could only be warmly human
in his fantasies. Well done, as my frustration mirrored his, or vice-a-versa.

Scoring break down never completed.

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

Shade (8)

Intriguing. Good writing with some truly creepy moments, but I felt it didn't
reach a satisfying denouements. Don't know what it meant. I had a guess, but
it wasn't clear (the ending, not my guess). Or it was as clear as sand. And, by
then, there was no reason to pull punches, and I was waiting for a major
resolution. So, for me, this lost points for having an ending that was a little
too obscure. Also the pacing was off. Until I discovered the list trick, I
seemed to have little do to and stumbled around doing that. Also trying z.z.z.
Then, in frustration, I gleefully went "mad" deliberately wrecking
(non-spoiler)
everything. Only later did I realize the list changed. But, despite all, this
actually had more playing satisfaction (read as more interactivity) than many
games and its surreal quality gave it a definitely distinctive flavor.

Plot 7 : Fine, but with overly obscure ending.
Prose 9 : Best part, with nice object descriptions.
Programming 8 : No major bugs, but see below.
Puzzles 7 : Enough interactivity, but I could have used more feedback
--
more hints about what to do (maybe more changing
objects like
the plant). Finally I got it, but I would have liked
to get it
sooner. I also feel I should have been able to om and
chant.
31 / 4 = 7.75

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

Big Mama (7)

Well, Mr. Barnwell's writing has definitely improved over last year. And I
notice this sort of thing because I tend to run-on sentences as well. In his
latest effort Mr. Dash and Mr. Semi-Colon make their debut. However, even
dashes and semi-colons can't prevent run-on sentences (believe me I know, I
really do; I use also lot of parenthesis to try to accomplish the same thing
-- break up a sentence without really breaking it up -- see what I mean?).
Last year, I couldn't visualize his imagery. This year, despite run-ons, I can.
And he paints some nice seaside scenery. A walk at the beach, a time for
reflection. The story gently ebbs and swells like big mama. Multiple endings
make replay interesting and the objective soon becomes clear. Although it was
nothing earth shaking or world saving, the time spent uncovering it passed as
a pleasant interlude between more urgent, weighty, or silly games.

Plot 7 : Refreshing, not earth shaking, but a bit on the short
side.
(Note that the beginning boxes were funny.)
Prose 7 : Good images, however, let us both make friends with Mr.
Period.
Programming 7 : No major problems.
Puzzles 8 : Interactivity is mainly conversation menus, but the plot
branches nicely based on the selection. And multiple
endings
make exploring the various conversations and the beach
fun.
29 / 4 = 7.25

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

1-2-3 (5)

I found the writing excellent. Really. Brief, little use of adjectives, and
yet it conveyed the appropriate moods (per character). The conversations were
also interesting. Still using the limited ask/answer/tell mode, if you asked a
character about the wrong thing, he would reply, "Don't you want to ask me
about the ____ instead?" Clever. But everything went down hill from there
simply because of the subject matter. A serial killer? P-l-e-a-s-e. Done to
death in: books, movies, and tv. I've seen, heard, and read enough of this
stuff years ago to now completely have lost interest. And, in a reverse
perverse
sort of way, it can turn violence against women into entertainment. When does a
movie/tv show about a serial killer become a soft-porn snuff film? Played out
more for vicarious thrills than anything else? I don't know, but I feel that
line
gets crossed a lot. Not saying this author was/is doing that. Am saying I wish
he would find a better use for his obvious talents.

Plot 3 : Subject matter is trite and overdone. If there were
as many
serial killers as pop entertainment implied, we'd
all be dead.
Also this had a very predictable "surprise" ending.
Prose 9 : Excellent.
Programming 7 : Adequate, but with a good conversation technique. However,
it
was also hampered by having poor directions at the
beginning.
Without the walkthru I would never have known where
to go.
Puzzles 2 : Interactivity is low and the one major puzzle should have
an
alternative solution. I am no a damsel in distress
in a gothic
novel, so I don't investigate strange noises at
night without a
flashlight. Deliberate stupidity should always be
avoidable.
21 / 4 = 5.25

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

What IF (1)

This is the 2000 Competition's proud winner of the "Harry Hardjono Award."
An honor presented to that author who writes something that will perceived as
not a game, or even Interactive-Fiction. And that means it also goes
without saying that the author, like Harry, is really a misunderstood genius.

Unfortunately, this piece also smacks of the "educational." A menu choice
let you choose among several essays. What would have happened if such-and-such
historical event had taken a different course? I have seen mainly-reading web
pages that are more interactive. And, with nothing to do, no way to partake,
like a restless student trapped in a classroom on a nice day listening to a
teacher drone on, I felt "lectured at." Not interactive and actually
unpleasant.

Plot 1 : Doesn't matter how creative the what-if scenarios were
because I had absolutely no motivation/desire to
explore them.
Prose 1 : Okay, but see above.
Programming 1 : At least it didn't reset the computer clock.
Puzzles 1 : Why he entered it.
4 / 4 = 1

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

Code (1)

Huh? Okay someone explained to "joke" to me. If you don't get it, dig up
someone to explain it to you. But I felt I was grading someone's c homework.

Plot 1 : I suppose it might be somewhat funny to someone who knew

what it was right off the bat.
Prose 0 : None, really.
Programming 3 : It may not be this author's code, but it looks like it would
work. It also looks like competent c programming. So I
give it
a C. (Well, I did feel like I was supposed to grade
it.)
Puzzles 0 : None. Too bad it didn't do something. Anything. OTOH, maybe
the author, in a truly hacker way, was really trying to
disclose
information he thought shouldn't be withheld. But I
doubt it.
4 / 4 = 1


---------

Doe


doea...@aol.com
Glulx/Glk for Dunces http://members.aol.com/doepage/glkdunces.htm
Iffy Theory http://members.aol.com/doepage/theory.html
IF Art Gallery http://members.aol.com/iffyart/
IF Review Conspiracy http://www.textfire.com/conspiracy/


Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 17, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/17/00
to
Forgot one.

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

Comp00tr (1)

Rybread Celisus meets Andy Kaufman. Only Rybread does Rybread better (worse?).
And no one does Kauffman, but Kaufman... and Jim Carey. This was supposed to be
a send up of bad games, but it is at the player's expense. However, I suppose
Kaufman's ~victims~ didn't really find him humorous either.

Plot 1 : The plot was sneer at the player. I am a player. (I know it
was
tongue-in-cheek, but insult humor is still not my cup of tea.)
Prose -1 : See review above.
Programming 2 : Barely adequate.
Puzzles 1 : Not sure if anything was a puzzle or if anything that looked
like a puzzle had a solution. Because of the language I could
never get the parser to admit that really really secret door
was really really there. And I always maintain that writing
"good" bad IF isn't that easy. It definitely isn't THIS easy.


4 / 4 = 1

doea...@aol.com

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 17, 2000, 10:25:03 PM11/17/00
to
This is a repost because my newsreader seems to take files created by my word
processor and doesn't reformat the line feeds correctly, making them very hard
to read. So I have manually removed the line feeds in the newsreader. I also
made some corrections here and there. Also see "Reviewed".

-----------

I got rather distracted by the election, and still am, so I only wrote eight


reviews -- which I had completed earlier. I wasn't going to post them since I
only have a few and haven't really polished them, but I've changed my mind.
Authors need feedback. Please look upon these as rough drafts.

Note: Although not reviewed here, for me, Kaged was a 10. A complete and
fascinating "world" -- intriguing plot WITH good interactivity. Glad it won.

Reviewed:
------------

BAP - 9
Rameses - 9 (Correction.)


Shade - 8
Big Mama - 7
123 - 5

Compt00r - 1

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

Being Andrew Plotkin (9)

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

Rameses (9) (Rating incorrectly shown before.)

Wow! Great writing, I really felt I was in the protagonist's head. Very
believable details and notice the word play (rameses = condom = impotence)
which summarizes the whole story. True-to-life coming-of-age tale: nebbish,
young prep-school boy nervously faces his first date. As the player you can do
very little, but that cleverly reinforces the narrative. I repeatedly tried to
confront the "assholes" (who behaved like all the assholes I have ever known),
and new menu choices would pop up. But when I selected one, I got a
context-appropriate self-rationalization explaining why I shouldn't. However, I

did repeatedly try to act, and I was amazed with how many new ways were


presented for me to be unable to act. Of course this set-up a conflict between
me, the player, trying to be assertive, and the protagonist, who was so trapped
by his low self-esteem and concern for what his peers would think, he couldn't

act. Our "hero" couldn't be a hero. Very believable. Frustrating? Definitely,


but with a good reason -- a hauntingly familiar one -- a teenager's fear of
rejection. Naturally this inability increased the protagonist's self-dislike,
and although this technique worked here, impotence would not work in most IF. I
also found the ending intriguing -- the over-idealized fantasy implied the male
friendship might also never have been real or only based on one/two incidents.
It left me strongly suspecting this fear-frozen guy could only be warmly human
in his fantasies. Well done, as my frustration mirrored his, or vice-a-versa.

Plot 8 : Familiar territory, but with some depth. Subtle touches

also imply the story is not as straight-forward as
it appears.
Prose 10 : Great.
Programming 9 : Apparently bug free.
Puzzles 9 : The interactivity is mainly mental. The player can try all
sorts of things. It is the protagonist who gives
various
justifications for why he can't act in such-and-such
a way
at such a time.
36 / 4 = 9

(I previously used an earlier -- and wrong -- version from my hard disk.)

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

Shade (8)

Intriguing. Good writing with some truly creepy moments, but I felt it didn't

reach a satisfying denouement. Don't know what it meant. I had a guess, but it

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

Big Mama (7)

really do; I also use lot of parentheses to try to accomplish the same thing --

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

1-2-3 (5)

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

Comp00tr (1)

Rybread Celisus meets Andy Kaufman. Only Rybread does Rybread better (worse?).
And no one does Kauffman, but Kaufman... and Jim Carey. This was supposed to be
a send up of bad games, but it is at the player's expense. However, I suppose

Kaufman's "victims" didn't really find him humorous either.

Plot 1 : The plot was sneer at the player. I am a player. (I
know
it was tongue-in-cheek, but insult humor is still
not my
cup of tea.)
Prose -1 : See review above.
Programming 2 : Barely adequate.
Puzzles 1 : Not sure if anything was a puzzle or if anything that
looked like a puzzle had a solution. Because of the
language I could never get the parser to admit that
really
really secret door was really really there. And I

will


always maintain that writing "good" bad IF isn't that
easy.
It definitely isn't THIS easy.
4 / 4 = 1

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

What IF (1)

This is the 2000 Competition's proud winner of the "Harry Hardjono Award." An
honor presented to that author who writes something that will perceived as not
a game, or even Interactive-Fiction. And that means it also goes without saying
that the author, like Harry, is really a misunderstood genius.

Unfortunately, this piece also smacks of the "educational." A menu choice let
you choose among several essays. What would have happened if such-and-such
historical event had taken a different course? I have seen mainly-reading web
pages that are more interactive. And, with nothing to do, no way to partake,
like a restless student trapped in a classroom on a nice day listening to a
teacher drone on, I felt "lectured at." Not interactive and actually
unpleasant.

Plot 1 : Doesn't matter how creative the what-if scenarios were
because I had absolutely no motivation/desire to
explore
them.
Prose 1 : Okay, but see above.
Programming 1 : At least it didn't reset the computer clock.
Puzzles 1 : Why he entered it.

4 / 4 = 1

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

Code (1)

Huh? Okay someone explained to "joke" to me. If you don't get it, dig up
someone to explain it to you. But I felt I was grading someone's c homework.

Plot 1 : I suppose it might be somewhat funny to someone
who knew what it was right off the bat.
Prose 0 : None, really.
Programming 3 : It may not be this author's code, but it looks like it
would work. It also looks like competent c
programming. So I give it a C. (Well, I did feel like
I
was supposed to grade it.)
Puzzles 0 : None. Too bad it didn't do something. Anything.
OTOH, maybe the author, in a truly hacker way, was
really trying to disclose information he thought
shouldn't
be withheld. But I doubt it.

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