[Comp 98] Comments (depressingly short)

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Neil Brown

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Nov 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/16/98
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Hi all,

I really really wanted to vote on all the games this year, but work
reared its ugly head and demanded my full time undivided attention.
However I just about remembered to send in the votes for the games
I played before the deadline, and here are the comments I wrote about
them. I've made comments on:

Downtown Toyko
Research Dig
In The Spotlight
Acid Whiplash
Muse
Lightania (no score, as my TADS interpreter won't work properly)
Fifteen
Photopia

I hope to be able to get round to playing + commenting on all the
other games in the near future.

I make no apologies for taking things far too seriously. And that
kind of thing.

Oh, there are probably spoilers contained within as well.

- - -

Downtown Tokyo. Present Day.

Small game, originally written for the chicken comp but not entered.
Nice line in ASCII-character pictures. Some confusion over who the
player is meant to be playing - the character in the audience, or the
star of the show? Ultimately, both, which is probably quite accurate
when watching a film at a cinema. Meant to be jokey, but not really
laugh-out-loud funny. A few nice touches when depicting the cinematic
nature of the situation. No major spelling or grammatical errors. One
or two minor spacing problems, but nothing too jarring. Nice idea,
but would have worked better with more substance to go with the
trimmings.

My score: 5/10

--

Research Dig

Fairly pedestrian room descriptions - mostly functional but not very
descriptive or pleasing to read. Quite a few spelling & grammatical
errors, plus irrirating things such as writing numbers as digits
rather than words. Many objects mentioned in descriptions don't
actually exist. It isn't clear that a vital location exists, as it
doesn't appear to be mentioned in the adjacent room's description.
Puzzles fairly basic. My impression of the game is that it promises
an awful lot and was originally intended to be a lot larger but seems
to have been rushed and given an early ending in order to have it
ready for the competition, leaving a few unexplored avenues and
plenty of plot holes and implausibilities. I'm not too keen by the
two main east-west corridors either, as they give the game a linear
feeling. Having said that, there is some entertainment value to be
had, and I did play through to the end.

My score: 5/10

--

In The Spotlight

A one-puzzle game that will either infuriate the player or entertain
for all of five minutes. What's there is implemented quite well,
though perhaps the opening is a little overdone. I know these things
are meant to be completable in two hours, and there has been a bit of
fuss about entries being too big in the past, but really, this is a
little too far in the other direction. I don't feel comfortable about
giving this a score of above three, given that the two five-point
entries above had quite a fair bit of effort put into them.

My score: 3/10

--

Acid Whiplash

Hmm. I've never read Interview With A Vampire, but I can't help
wondering if its anything like this. God, I hope not. Advice when
playing the 'game': abandon all logic and reason. The puzzles are
easy enough, but you're never going to understand any of it. Oh, and
the spacebar is going to get used an awful lot. Maybe I should have
found it funny, but I played it with a stomach ache. That's fair
judging for you.

My score: 3/10

--

Muse: An Autumn Romance

Ultimately, a well written and charming tale told successfully in the
past tense. Relies heavily on its cast of well-implemented
characters. The solutions to 'puzzles' (for want of a better word)
are liberally hinted at throughout the game, giving the game a good
interactive story feel (with progress very rarely blocked for long).
The writing style successfully evokes a suitable atmosphere, and
happily I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors. The size is just
right as well - plenty to get one's teeth into, but fully completable
within the two hour limit. The only problem I had is that on the
first go I headed off in completely random directions without reading
the text and managed to crash the game within about ten moves, trying
to go north from the telegraph office.

My score: 8/10

--

Lightiania

Well, it has obviously been crafted with much enthusiasm, I'll give
it that. Unfortunately it hasn't been beta tested or proof-read by
someone fluent in the English language, containing many basic
mistakes that make the descriptions difficult to read. That's not to
say that the author is not a good writer - I suspect that once his
English improves he'll make rather a good one. Unfortunately, I was
unable to get anywhere in the game owing to a persistant run-time
error that prevented me from interacting with objects, but this is
down to an interpreter problem, as I understand. So, I shall withdraw
my original rating.

My score: <unrated>

--

Fifteen

A reasonably short game that follows in the style of the Scott Addams
adventures, with minimal (one might say non-existant) room
descriptions, seemingly endless mazes and no particular reason for
searching out various treasures (except, possibly, as part of a get
rich quick scheme). I'm not too keen on the style, though, and while
the game is solidly coded (especially the 15 puzzle game), with no
noticable bugs, I wasn't sufficiently interested to figure out which
way round the maze I needed to go to get something to work correctly,
and resorted to the walkthrough.

My score: 4/10

--

Photopia

Kind of feels like a more serious attempt at An Exploration of
Colour. [Note to self: ask doctor about possible ego problem on next
visit.] No particular puzzles as such - everything is so well
signposted that progress is never hindered, except perhaps for the
last puzzle. The story buzzes back and forth between different points
of view, and while it is difficult to see the point to it all at
first, a story emerges part-way through. I was actually expecting a
lot more to the game, and was surprised when it ended where it did;
but thinking back, the story *does* fit together and make sense if
you think about it. An interesting approach, and a piece of
interactive fiction well worth playing.

My score: 7/10
--
Neil Brown
ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk
http://www.highmount.demon.co.uk


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