[Comp 99] Doe's Reviews, Pt. 3

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Marnie Parker

Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99

Death to My Enemies - Inform (7)

Lots of fun, but it was way too short and basically unsolvable without
sneaking a peek at the walkthru.

Programming : 7 Okay, but not as fully developed as it could/should be.
Did like response for smell, made me smile.
Prose : 8 The best part, Saturday afternoon melodrama combating
evil mad man, until then one realizes it is really kid(s)
playing "pretend" in a house. But successfully captures the
innocence heroic goriness of a child's perspective. Except
again I was annoyed by spacing problems. Distracting.
Plot : 8 Plot/prose closely intertwined, kill the dastardly villain.
Puzzles : 5 Nice the way several objects can be combined, also
misleadingly tricky, well done. However, a bit obscure,
without seeing the walkthru I would never have won. And
to look at the walkthru ruined the game for me, since they
always reveal too much. Built-in hints would have been much
better, one area that definitely needed more development.
But would like to see more from this author in the future.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
28 / 4 = 7


Halo - Inform (5)

Interesting sequencing from chapter to chapter. Intriguing fantasy premise.
But, truthfully, I found the novel, the story within the story, a "throw away".

It's okay if a "game" plunges the player mid-stream into a plot. In fact, it
can't really be avoided. But I lost interest and eventually became bored by
the novel in this game, because I got too many little bits spread out too far
apart. References to characters rang no "bells", because I had not read the
non-existent novel and its plot was never really told in a coherent fashion.
(If it was a parody of something I obviously didn't get it.) So, for me, that
"twist" simply did not work. Which finally made the whole thing fall apart.

Programming : 7 Technically, fine, but not much implemented. Also the
author should be made aware that special characters do not
on all platforms and/or with all interpreters. I saw garbage.
Prose : 8 Best part, boarded up doors gave a nice feel of an
world", but too cryptic about the before mentioned novel.
Plot : 3 Okay, I admit I didn't finish. The logic of the order of the
chapters, the shifting locations, was totally unclear. Maybe
they were pulled together in the end, but I gave up at the
second to last chapter. To suck me "into a story", a game has
to have a theme that I can grasp fairly soon. Twists are
as long as the initial plot is clearly established before it
is bent out of shape. Hiding either plot or twist too much
and/or revealing either too late, is, in my opinion, just
plotting. A satisfying twist has comprehensible
Specifically, this game's twist was revealed too late and the
novel's plot was not clearly established first (or ever).
Puzzles : 3 The fan was intensely annoying because it was overly
complicated, obviously just stuck in to have an puzzle. I
almost quit after that. The rest weren't too hard (although
I needed hints for 75-85% because I usually had no idea what
my current objective was supposed to be). Fortunately, a
great deal was also puzzleless. As I was clueless.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
21 / 4 = 5.25 = 5


Hunter In Darkness - Inform (10)

I don't know if this "deserves" a ten, I wouldn't rate it the quite the same as
Edifice, but otherwise to have it come in first on my rating system I would
have to lower everyone else's scores.

Programming : 10 Excellent. No bugs, no strange white spaces and the automated
reactions as the player proceeds forward are well-timed and
believable. In fact, this game's success lies in its timing.
Prose : 9 Descriptions are concise and well-imaged, only a few caves
are a bit too similar to each another. However, one still
one is really crawling around underground. Others might take
note how this was achieved with such brief descriptions. A
lot of us authors may fall in love with our own prose, but in
a game, long descriptions can often be distracting, not
immersing. Players want to feel "a part of it", not that they
are just reading. Over-long paragraphs can remind them they
are, because they slow them down. Anyway, this player feels
that way and I have always thought good writing is concise.
Plot : 9 A bit on the short side, but the plot is deceptively simple.
No background is really given, however no background is
really needed because the player's motivation is stated up
front and clear. Although I did wonder about my prey, was it
intelligent? If so, why was I hunting an intelligent being?
That ended up bothering me, but it was the only loose end.
Puzzles :10 Timing is great, game never drags. Puzzles are actually
somewhat hard, but solvable even without hints because they
are logical in context. The game's shortness actually works
its favor here because one can quickly back up and try
something else. Mentioning Edifice, this is the first game I
have played since that comes close to its "seamlessness"
between plot and puzzles (although some of the
games do almost as well). Interesting both are highly
oriented, I suspect it is because those kind of quandaries
don't seem like puzzles. Probably since the origin of puzzles
is humankind's problem solving ability which did evolve over
centuries of struggling to survive. That is also why this is
deceptively simple, making a game feel so natural isn't easy.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
37 / 4 = 9.50 = 10


Jack or Better to Murder, Aces to Win - Inform (8)

I found this hard to rate. Intriguing story, pretty easy puzzles, but they do
require some thinking. Weird spacing. Also very original. More a user-advanced
story than a dungeon crawl. But left with impression author has limited Inform
experience and this could been more polished with more. But on right track.

Programming : 7 Technically, okay. Found no bugs, but actions are limited.
Prose : 7 Fine. But could have been trimmed here and there and would
be better if crucial objects had shorter descriptions upon
reexamination. Also hit wrong note though with so many
big white spaces, I found them off-putting. Maybe these are
actually "programming notes", but they also affect the prose.
Plot :10 Best part, a definite plot, mid evil type of suppressive
religion with nasty political intrigue. Maybe not to
everyone's taste, but I found it quite absorbing.
Puzzles : 9 Effectively blended with plot. Based more on deduction rather
than mechanical manipulation. Although examining is a bit
overused, it also advances the story in well-planned
increments. Suggestion, next time give the player more to do.
Implement more and player satisfaction will also increase.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
33 / 4 = 8.25 = 8


Lomalow - Inform (4)

Sorry, this game annoyed me. Tried it three-four times, couldn't figure
out what to do, couldn't figure out how to win. Didn't finish.

Programming : 6 Adequate, except for major problems with entering cabin
and tree. In/out/directions/enter should have been
Prose : 4 The descriptions were too long and often unclear. In many
instances, I was not sure what was being described, found the
image presented hard to visualize and locate directions.
Recommendation, more editing striving toward more
Plot : 5 Since there didn't seem to be one, can't really comment, but
I also didn't finish. Read the history book, but couldn't
resolve all the inconsistencies outlined in the fantasy
Puzzles : 2 One puzzle would be okay if there was more of a hint to what
it was. Lots of rooms with nothing to do are probably more
appropriate to an IF Art show entry ;-). Too many in a
leave the player wandering around wondering, "Do I do
something here, there, WHERE?" Felt strongly author had not
fully realized his thoughts. Needs more work and clarity.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
17 / 4.25 = 4


Ludite - Inform (4)

I am disappointed. Happy to see a Rybread game in comp99, but that, as it turns
out, was it. No totally weird plot. No impossible to figure out commands (that
almost do something). No crashes. One loan major misspelling. No giant flaming
head (come to think of it there is an implied one, alright, 1/2 a bonus point).

What, oh what, has Rybread descended to? Four fairly-well described rooms with
one random message in each. One command to win. An extremely short game that
looks he wrote it in an hour (well, maybe that holds up SOME of his infamous
reputation.) But I think he has to try much harder to be sincerely awful.

Programming : 4 Didn't notice much programming. Practically nothing
implemented except directions. (Plus) But no bugs. (Minus)
Prose : 6 Comprehensible and consistent, I had a real inkling of what
the place was supposed to be. Also, few misspellings.
Plot : 2 Introduction and setting sort of provide a plot, even if a
minimal one. Okay, okay, almost none. (Plus)
Puzzles : 2 One puzzle, the command to win the game. Yes, I had to ask
someone what it was, but guess the verb is, of course, one
of the most annoying puzzles on record. Hmmm, that means it
was worse than I initially thought. (Plus) Except, within
context it was actually quite logical and even funny.
Flaming Head : .5 Bonus point. (Definite Minus, too clever by far.)
14.5 / 4 = 3.62 = 4


SpodgeVille Murphy and The Jewelled Eye of Wossname - Inform (7)

Nicely tongue-in-cheek, clever puzzles, although not too hard, but marred by
problems. However, a promising beginning from a new author. Keep it up.

Programming : 6 Okay, but needs work. Strange white space in hat
description. Item has description that says it is still ready
to fall
even after it has already fallen. A smell is mentioned, but
does nothing. Several things like that that are inconsistent
between before/after states and/or not implemented at all.
Prose : 7 Could be more concise, but cute.
Plot : 7 Overly familiar, slightly plagiaristic, but still silly
to be fairly fresh. Major problem... too short, wanted more.
Puzzles : 6 Inventive. Puzzles are actually the strongest feature. But
last puzzle is missing the crucial factor from the room
description. After spending a lot of time guessing the noun,
I had to get a hint from someone else. Also, holding the
eye I should have been able to think about a problem and
be provided with a solution, at least according to the
introduction. I thought that was going to be a "twist" and
was surprised and disappointed when it didn't work.
Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.
27 / 4 = 6.50 = 7

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

Marnie Parker

Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
I forgot my Six Stories review in my rush to post with the "biggies" last
night. So here it is...

Six Stories - HTML Tads (6)

One can't help but be impressed by the graphics and sound in this game.
I guess maybe because I don't have stereo speakers, maybe for some other
reason, the sound repeated in loops. Annoying. So I turned it off.

Programming : 6 Despite the nifty graphics and sound, I found a lot not
implemented. "Ask someone about herself/himself." and other
simple commands/words were not understood. Disappointing.
Prose : 8 Best part, stories told had an universal morality play or
fairy tale flavor. "Dream sequence" was also nicely surreal.
Plot : 7 Skimpy and the Darkness was never explained. But the stories
did fill out what would otherwise be a very short game.
Puzzles : 3 One real puzzle, but if I hadn't seen a particular Alec
Baldwin/Anthony Hopkins movie I would never have solved it.
Not sure what all the extra objects were for other than to
provide more graphics, but so many unnecessary ones seemed
overly misleading. The puzzle was hard enough by itself, one
or two "red herrings" would have sufficed. This felt
"truncated" to me, like more had been originally planned.
the fantasy/surreal elements appeared to have no relation to
the eventual plot/winning puzzle. Maybe there was more than
one ending, but the one I found was a "let down". Needs work.

Flaming Head : 0 Bonus point.

24 / 4 = 6

Sean T Barrett

Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
Marnie Parker <doea...@aol.com> wrote:
>SpodgeVille Murphy and The Jewelled Eye of Wossname - Inform (7)

>Also, holding the eye I should have been able to think about a
>problem and be provided with a solution, at least according to
>the introduction. I thought that was going to be a "twist" and
>was surprised and disappointed when it didn't work.

Me too! Even if the protagonist didn't know anything about
the eye, the action would have been reasonably in character
(goodness, the player was no doubt thinking pretty hard at
this point), and even if it had just been silly and useless,
it seems like a definite missed opportunity.

Sean Barrett

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