[IFBeginnersComp] Discuss "Limelight" by Justin Lowmaster (SPOILERS)

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Victor Gijsbers

Feb 22, 2008, 9:06:03 AM2/22/08

Emily Short's review
really says it all. The story of this game is so implausible as to
almost make no sense; the implementation is rough; and, this is my own
addition, whatever happened to the idea that things have descriptions
which you get to see when you examine them?


Okay, so you are a celebrity on the run from paparazzi. This premise is
original, and I thought that it might be fun.

The story, however, is at first highly mechanical (a paparazzi is
standing somewhere; you buy a bizarre piece of clothing and put it on;
he doesn't see you), then stalls (I spent several dozen turns on the
lower level, having no idea what to do), then turns into something weird
and inexplicable (thugs without weapons, an FBI guy who trusts me with
his life because I have bought sneakers for a buy, me throwing bricks
and wrenches at criminals while running at full speed?).

The game sadly lacks descriptions. Surely the fun of the first part
should come from the bizarre outfit I am assembling; but how can I enjoy
this when the pieces of clothing are not even described? And making a
toy in the toy shop should have been fun! I want to choose all the
different parts myself, and make a green elephant with an orange trunk
and bat wings! :) Seriously, that shop was a _good idea_, but you have
to _implement_ that idea, you have to let me _fiddle_ with it. The
longer I think of it, the more I'm thinking that that is the way a game
like this should have been developed. Let me build a fun toy. Let me
order an absurd coffee. Let me buy and wear a hilarious set of clothes.
Write lots of funny descriptions. Tell me how I walk out of the mall
with my fake beard, fedora, rum-chocolate-espresso with double cream and
pink parasol (I _insist_ on a pink parasol), a toy that Hieronimus Bosch
couldn't have invented and high SM boots.

And see my photograph on the cover of the "Story" next week. :D

All in all, I think the author of this game should try to think up a
better story and/or more fun stuff to do for his next offering.
Something more plausible, or at least more internally consistent.
Something where the puzzles make more sense (the clothing puzzles were
okay, but the running shoes puzzle was not). And his next game should
have deeper implementation as well.

I didn't enjoy this game. Although in technical respects it was better
than "Germania", "Germania" had me solving more sensible/interesting
puzzles. I'm going to give "Limelight" the same score that I gave to
"Germania": 3 out of 10.


Daphne Brinkerhoff

Feb 23, 2008, 5:59:39 PM2/23/08
On Feb 22, 8:06 am, Victor Gijsbers <vic...@lilith.gotdns.org> wrote:

> Emily Short's review
> (http://emshort.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/if-beginners-comp-games/#more...)
> really says it all.

I basically agree with you and with Emily Short on this one.

This time, I checked for "about" and "credits", but I found nothing,
so I feel a little safer asserting that beta-testing is a really good

Also, wasn't this comp supposed to mandate that people included some
form of hints/walkthrough? <googles> No, I guess it just says
"Help / hints should be available in some form", and the game does
implement the "help" verb with a few standard instructions there.
Basically I'm saying I wanted more help than that, and I ended up
turning to the source code to beat the game. As it is, I'm pretty
sure a beginning player wouldn't be able to win.



Feb 24, 2008, 7:12:11 PM2/24/08

To Victor:
As Emily Short noted, it seemed like a first attempt at IF. It indeed
was my first attempt. It didn't turn out how I wanted, but in order to
complete something for the contest, I had to stick with what I had.

I can see how adding more options for hats and all would have been
fun, I had to focus more on making the game work then adding in every
plausible green parasol and mauve undies that might have been

You can buy a teddy bear though.

While your review (or bashing) is very harsh and void of any good
points the game had (I wonder what I did right), I will continue to
work on IF and try and get better.

To Emily Short: Thanks for being kind enough to realize it was a first
attempt and not being too harsh.

To Daphne: All my beta testers managed to win the game. I agree the
ending is a little goofy, but as I said before, I had only so much
time and had to work with what I had made even though it wasn't really
going where I wanted.

Thanks for playing it, even if it wasn't top notch. I learned a lot
and am excited to try again.


Daphne Brinkerhoff

Feb 24, 2008, 7:49:37 PM2/24/08
On Feb 24, 6:12 pm, Chivalrybean <jlowmas...@gmail.com> wrote:
> To Daphne: All my beta testers managed to win the game.

That's great, but who were these people? Is there a place in the game
where they are credited? I have beta-tested a few games myself, and I
know I appreciate being mentioned in the credits. Since it's a
volunteer job, it's not like there's any other reward other than fame
and adulation :).



Feb 25, 2008, 12:13:30 AM2/25/08

Yeah, even though someone told me to make sure I did the credits, I
forgot {:0o

Victor Gijsbers

Feb 25, 2008, 11:56:56 AM2/25/08
Chivalrybean wrote:

> While your review (or bashing) is very harsh and void of any good
> points the game had (I wonder what I did right), I will continue to
> work on IF and try and get better.

Hey, it was not my intention to bash you, or to be unreasonably harsh.
What I was trying to do is write a review, and the purpose of a review
is strictly to allow people to get an informed opinion about whether or
not they should play a game. At the moment, I don't really think people
should play your game, and that's what the review tried to make
clear--but that doesn't mean that I think it cannot be turned into a
game that people _should_ play, it doesn't mean I think you are a
worthless author, it doesn't mean I think that there a no good points in
your game, and it doesn't mean I don't have anything helpful to say to
you. Maybe I'm at fault for focusing so strongly on reviewing your game,
instead of making more room for helpful advice en encouragement to the
author; maybe the whole community is a bit too focused on reviews. I
don't know. The truth is that I have been quite harsh because this was a
competition with the _express_ aim of writing games that are suitable
for beginners; and thus, what I wanted to judge in my reviews was the
implicit claim made by the authors that their game would be a good way
to introduce new people to IF. I don't think your game, in its current
state, is a good way to introduce new people to IF; and that is why
judgement was harsh.

But we can forget about the competition, and I can write some comments
that are a lot more useful for you. I definitely hope that you will make
a post-comp release of this game, and I also hope that you will write
more games in the future.

Okay, so what is good in your game, and how could you change the game so
that you use those strengths to the best effect?

I already mentioned some good points, actually. The premise is original.
That is not an empty compliment--many IF games have a premise that
everybody has seen a hundred times before. So that's good, and you
should definitely stick with it.

In fact, I think you should stick with it even more closely than you
have already done. The whole FBI stuff doesn't really have anything to
do with the original premise. If I were you, I would cut it out and
replace it with a couple of more puzzles and situations related to the
original fame/paparazzi premise. You can always make another game
involving FBI agents, criminals and high speed chase scenes.

The locations are good conceptually--as I already noted, the toy shop
has particular potential--and I also already said what you ought to do
in order to make them more fun to play: let me fiddle around with them.
I'm thinking of the protagonist as a real glamour person who doesn't
just go to the barbershop, but who goes to the barbershop in order to
get a very specific hairdo with a specially selected colour, form,
ornaments, and so on. Let me choose a hairdo! And make sure I can
examine it. :) Make sure I can examine the weird clothing articles. Make
sure I can build some kind of bizarre toy. If I am having fun in those
shops, it becomes more believable that the protagonist is also here to
have fun; it leads to instant bonding of the player with the
protagonist. Allow me to buy expensive shoes, a bizarre coffee, all of it.

Next, I think the puzzles need just a bit of work. Right now, I get into
locations where the paparazzi are standing, and yet they don't see me.
How is that? It would, I think, be better if you make it so that
whenever I enter a location with a photographer, I can duck away just in
time back to the previous location. This exudes more menace.

Then, maybe there must be some additional puzzles at the end to make up
for the cut FBI-scenes. I'm not great at thinking up puzzles, so I'm not
sure I can give you a lot of good advice here.

Anyway, that's one way you could go with this game. Make sure it gets
tested by at least one experiences beta tester--people like that find
ten times as many stuff that's wrong or underimplememted or whatever
than people who are relatively new to IF and who just play through your
game. A post on the newsgroup should be enough to get you someone.

Now, of course, maybe this is not at all the way you want to go with the
game. That's valid as well; I've told you what I think works and what I
think doesn't work, as have others, and I'm sure you could take that
into different directions. Or maybe you prefer to start working on
another game, which is also good.

Because, let's be clear about this: I do not think, and I don't want you
to think my review implies, that you are a talentless IF author. A lot
of things can go wrong when somebody makes his first game, and
especially when he does so under time pressure. Some things did go wrong
in this game, but they can be fixed.

And, most of all, what I want to say is that I feel bad about making you
feel bad with my review. It was not my intention (how could it be?).

Kind regards,


Feb 25, 2008, 10:47:54 PM2/25/08

Well, for sure, no hard feelings. I only felt bad for about 10
minutes, if that long, then got over it, even if I didn't like you
very much {:0p

I really did like the ideas of making the disguise more of the game.
One friend of mine really enjoyed spending limitless amounts of money

I thought the FBI bit was a cool twist, but in the end I wasn't able
to implement it in as great a way as I was hoping, and due to time
constraints, I had to stick with it to have something to enter into
the comp. After reading your latest post here (which I appreciate
greatly), I do have a desire to reforge the game into something
different. More of the first half of the game, and as you suggested,
no FBI stuff. (I did try to explain away but weaponless thugs with
'Take him alive!' but yeah... I was really pushing it there.)

Perhaps I can make it less of 'avoid these people' and more of
'complete these set of tasks, oh, and you gotta avoid these people
too' kind of game, and reward the player for what they complete, and
hopefully have a whole lot less railroading of the player.

Descriptions: I'll make lots more {:0)

Once again, thanks for your last post and for some more constructive
advice. I didn't really disagree with anything you said (I really did
know the game was not too great), but maybe because it was directed at
something I created, I took it harsher than you meant. Again, no
worries {:0)



Feb 27, 2008, 2:06:41 PM2/27/08
I'm pretty much a beginner at these things, so this competition is
really quite perfect.

"Limelight" was randomly selected by my kids as the first one to
play, and it went through neatly in an hour or so without serious
problems. I didn't get stuck at any stage, and fell into the idea of
having to disguise up without being prompted. Although the choice was
annoying a little, because I wondered if having an incongruous
combination of clothes would spotlight my presence, and tried to mix
and match items sensibly.

Hiding felt a little wasted, only needed it once, this could've been
exploited more - maybe having to move from cover to cover would've
ramped up the tension a little.

The stuff with buying running shoes for the boy was too obvious - and
it was too illogical that Mr Owen would respond to that action in such
a way. However, it did lead to a fun part of the game, the constant
chase and escape, which although a total contrast to the careful step-
by-step stealth of earlier, was thoroughly enjoyable - maybe precisely
because it was such a contrast?

Another downside was the lack of descriptive text of items and
interaction with shoppers - so overall I rated this a solid, but
unspectacular, 5.


Feb 27, 2008, 9:55:14 PM2/27/08

I'm glad someone liked the 'chase scene' at the end. I wasn't sure how
people would react to it. In retrospect, a game that had a lot more
involvement with sneaking and disguising would have made a better
game, but I got hung up on making a twist (FBI), so it ended up not
happening that way. I'm still considering remaking the game, but
haven't had time yet.

The best combo, of course, was a fedora and trench coat! But that is
my personal preference.


To Victor, and his thoughts on making lavish costumes: One thing I did
in the game was try and leave the player character up to the
imagination of the player. What type of famous person are they? Movie
Star? TV Anchor, Web Comic Writer? This is one reason it didn't occur
to me to make tons and tons of options available for the player to buy
to disguise themselves, because I imagined the player as a humble
famous person who didn't want to be bothered too much, therefore not
hung up on all kinds of clothing and etc. That was just a thought I
had today, and wanted to point it out in the hopes it might help
someone else who it making a game.

Victor Gijsbers

Feb 28, 2008, 5:39:45 AM2/28/08
Chivalrybean wrote:

> To Victor, and his thoughts on making lavish costumes: One thing I did
> in the game was try and leave the player character up to the
> imagination of the player. What type of famous person are they? Movie
> Star? TV Anchor, Web Comic Writer? This is one reason it didn't occur
> to me to make tons and tons of options available for the player to buy
> to disguise themselves, because I imagined the player as a humble
> famous person who didn't want to be bothered too much, therefore not
> hung up on all kinds of clothing and etc.

Yeah, that's true. I hadn't really thought of that when I made my
suggestions. (After all, why hide if you're into bizarre & exotic stuff
anyway?) Hm.


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