Norman's Comp Reviews [File 1 of 3]

1 view
Skip to first unread message

Norman Perlmutter

Nov 16, 2003, 12:15:01 AM11/16/03
**********TABLE OF CONTENTS**********
Spoiler notice - File 1 of 3
Random general comments - File 1 of 3
My scores in the order of the reviews (organized by score) - File 1 of
My scores in alphabetical order - File 1 of 3
A few random statistics - File 1 of 3
Special awards - File 1 of 3
Notes on my evaluation system - File 1 of 3
Reviews of games rated 6 and above - File 2 of 3
Reviews of games rated 5 and below - File 3 of 3

*********SPOILER NOTICE*************
I have already sent emails to most of the authors. In these
reviews, I will try to focus a little more on the player's viewpoint.
Although I try not to spoil games in these reviews, they are likely,
by their very nature, to contain some MILD SPOILERS.

This is the first year I've gotten through all the comp games.
There were a lot of good games, but there were a lot of bad ones, too.
(Well, I guess that's sort of obvious.) One problem I noticed in many
games was grammar or spelling errors on the opening screen. Even games
that were mostly correct grammatically had this problem, possibly as a
result of the opening text being changed at the last minute.
At the beginning of each review, I note the genre(s) of the
game, and where it lies on the humorous-serious continuum. When I say
a game is in the Quasi-realistic genre, I mean it is about as
realistic as IF usually gets, but still may contain some minor fantasy
or absurd elements. At the end of each review, I often note under what
conditions I would recommend that someone play the game.
I'll also make the standard disclaimer that none of my
comments are intended to discourage an author from creating more IF in
the future. Some of these games were indeed quite bad, but the mixture
of bad games and good games is part of what makes the IF Comp
interesting. All the authors, from the worst to the best, are capable
of improvement, and I would love to see what glorious new works some
of them will produce next year, as well as the fruits of a new group
of novices.

10 Scavenger
9 Sophie's Adventure
8 Shadows in the Mirror
7 Risorgimento Represso
7 Cerulean Stowaway
7 Gourmet
7 Erudition Chamber
7 The Recruit
7 Adoo's Stinky Story
7 Episode in the Life of an Artist
6 The Adventures of the President of the United States
6 The Atomic Heart
6 Domicile
6 A Paper Moon
5 CaffeiNation
5 Slouching Towards Bedlam
5 Temple of Kaos
4 The Fat Lardo and the Rubber Ducky
3 Baluthar
3 Bio
3 No Room
3 Sardoria
2 Amnesia
2 Delvyn
2 Internal Documents
2 Rape, Pillage, Galore!
1 Curse of Manorland
1 Hercules First Labor
1 little girl in the big world
1 Sweet Dreams

6 for A Paper Moon
7 for Adoo's Stinky Story
2 for Amnesia
3 for Baluthar
3 for Bio
5 for CaffeiNation
7 for Cerulean Stowaway
1 for Curse of Manorland
2 for Delvyn
6 for Domicile
7 for Episode in the Life of an Artist
7 for Gourmet
1 for Hercules First Labor
2 for Internal Documents
1 for little girl in the big world
3 for No Room
2 for Rape, Pillage, Galore!
7 for Risorgimento Represso
3 for Sardoria
10 for Scavenger
8 for Shadows On The Mirror
5 for Slouching Towards Bedlam
9 for Sophie's Adventure
1 for Sweet Dreams
5 for Temple of Kaos
6 for The Adventures of the President of the United States
6 for The Atomic Heart
7 for The Erudition Chamber
4 for The Fat Lardo And The Rubber Ducky
7 for The Recruit

******* STATISTICS *********
Median: 5
Mode: 7
Mean: 4.77 (approx.)

*********SPECIAL AWARDS*********
Some of these are positive, some are negative, and some are up for

Funniest Game:
Adventures of the President of the United States

Best Game not in TADS or Inform:
Sophie's Adventure

Most Obscene Game:
The Fat Lardo and the Rubber Ducky

Most Surreal Game (tie):
Temple of Kaos

Least Interactive Game:
Rape, Pillage, Galore!

Shortest Game:
No Room

Longest Game:
Slouching Towards Bedlam

Worst Grammar, Mechanics, and Spelling:

Strangest Player Character (Tie):
The Atomic Heart
Slouching Towards Bedlam
little girl in the big world

Best Individual Puzzle:
The Recruit

Best Use Of Vocabulary:
Risorgimento Represso

********MY EVALUATION SYSTEM**********
My system is rather subjective, but it does have a very loose
methodology. One of the main factors is simply how much fun I have
playing the game. Therefore, a few bugs or design problems will not
greatly irk me. However, bugs that greatly interfere with gameplay
will result in a low score. On the other hand, a few games that are
nearly bugless and seem to have taken a lot of work still received
lowish scores because I simply didn't enjoy them.

Besides my gut reaction, the following factors, (roughly, but
not absolutely, listed in order of importance) influence my enjoyment
and/or aesthetic appreciation of the game, and therefore my rating:

1) Quality of the simulation
The game should convince me that I am actually exploring the
environment. Items should be adequately described, such that I can
examine anything in a room description and at least get some sort of
response. Items important to the game described in detail. I should be
able to do virtually any reasonable (in an IF sense) action I can
imagine. Logical or humorous explanations given as to why certain
actions are not allowed, including actions that are not usually
allowed in IF games. The author should avoid guess-the-verb/noun
situations by implementing plenty of synonyms.

2) Quality of Puzzles
This sort of goes together with #1. The puzzles can be hard or
easy, but if they are hard, it is particularly important that the game
has a good hint system. The puzzles should not seem arbitrary - they
should be there for a reason. The puzzles should respond to multiple
solutions - If I think of a solution that would work in the real
world, it had better work in the IF world unless there is a good
(logical or humorous) explanation why it doesn't. In non-humorous
games, puzzles should not involve trying to accomplish things that are
easy in the real world, but hard in the IF world. For instance,
puzzles that require me to use an object in a weird way because I
can't find an everyday object that would normally work to do the task
because the everyday object is not implemented even though it would be
easily available to the PC in real life are bad.

3) Appreciation of skills and effort
As a former comp author, I appreciate how hard it is to make a
quality game. If the game includes constructs that seem particularly
hard to implement, it may receive bonus points, especially if I enjoy
it. However, if the author took unnecessary effort to implement
something unimportant to tahe game while neglecting other aspects of
the game, the game may receive a deduction. This especially applies to
home-brew parsers. In this case, the author refuses to take advantage
of the parsing resources made available freely through IF languages
and spends most of his/her time writing a parser from scratch, almost
always to the detriment of the rest of the game.

4) Hints and walkthrough
The game should have a hint system, unless it is ridiculously
easy. The hints should be in-game. They should be dynamic, that is,
giving information appropriate to my progress through the game;
neither giving away the future nor telling me how to do things I've
already done. They should progress from vague clues to more explicit
ones. If the game does not have a walkthrough, the last hint in a
series must be entirely explicit, leaving no room for me to still be
confused. If a walkthrough is included, the last hint can be vague.
The walkthrough should be in a separate file, clearly labelled as
such, and contain a list of commands, one command per line.

5) Bugginess
As mentioned before, a few bugs, or even a fairly large number
will not greatly detract from the score, as long as I still enjoy the
game. However, games with exceptional buglessness may get a bonus
point or two. On the other hand, games with zillions of bugs, or with
bugs that ruin the quality of the simulation or make the puzzles bad
or make the game unwinnable will often receive serious deductions.

6) Length
The ideal game would take me exactly 2 hours to complete, and,
if it has replay value, possibly replay, without having to rely on
hints or walkthroughs unless I really get stuck. Of course, since
different people play more quickly and are more skilled than others,
this is not possible. However, a good game should take me more than 30
minutes to complete (and replay if desired), and should not be so long
that by the end of the 2 hours I have barely entered into the main
portion of the game, or have only managed to do so by using excessive
hints or walkthrough.

7) Creativity
If an idea is particularly novel, especially if it looks like
the game took a lot of work, I might not be as harsh on it as with an
uncreative game that I don't like.

8) Extras
Game info, readme file, credits, amusing things to try, info
on the author, etc. all enhance my appreciation of the game.
Multimedia usually neither enhances nor detracts.

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages