Mike Snyder's COMP99 Thoughts

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Mike Snyder

Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
There are certain things you'll need to know before reading on.

-- One, I'm not really a critical person. It's the same with me when it
comes to movies. It takes a *lot* to disappoint me. As a result, I probably
have no taste when it comes to such matters, but by God I sure have a lot of
fun. :)
-- Two, these aren't really reviews, exactly. It's more like my thoughts on
some of the games (or, "why I thought most every game I played was great").
No scoring, either, although my picks (in order) for Miss Congeniality were
1) Beat the Devil, 2) Halothane, 3) HeBGB Horror. My point here is to share
my thoughts. Cheap beads of wisdom? Maybe. Pearls? No.
-- Three, when it comes to being "in-the-know" on in-jokes, "memesis", and
most modern works of IF, I'm peeking in from the outside. What has been
considered "unoriginal" to others, I found entertaining and new.
-- I'm reflecting back now. Although I *should* have written immediately
following the game (as many did), I simply didn't.
-- Although I'll *try* not to, some of what I say might be considered mild
spoilers for some of the games.
-- These *are* my actual thoughts & opinions. I’m not just trying to be
funny or boost any egos.


###] BEAT THE DEVIL [###
This was one of the first (maybe *the* first) I played. I really enjoyed it,
but I reached the 2-hour limit before finishing. I did peek at the
walkthrough to see that I had quite a ways to go. Since I never played (or
knew the premise) of similar works, it seemed a wonderful idea to me. The
writing really seemed to flow and it was witty and humorous. The "un"
machine was great (picked up a bonus point there, if I recall). I believe I
got rid of Gluttony and Sloth. Maybe this game wasn't original, but I
certainly didn't know it. I thought the ice cream shop was cool.
The author mentioned a "secret bonus point" which (blush) I think I found.
Perhaps if I were a character in the game, I would have been the one in line
at the movies. :)

In keeping with my pattern of enjoying all the games, I enjoyed this one.
Strangely enough, I hit the 2-hour limit not long after getting stuck at
what I *think* is probably the endgame (or close to it). I probably would
have been stuck there forever if a spoiler hadn’t been posted not long after
the games were released. I’ve traditionally thought that guess-the-verb
puzzles are ones where the author simply forgot to implement something (for
example “consume water” works but the obvious “drink water” does not). This
might fall under guess-the-verb but I prefer to think of it as “guess the
action” (which, at least in my mind, makes it ok). Still, I probably wouldn’
t have gotten it. I tried and tried and *tried* to remove what I thought was
the obvious (sense of smell) because that’s why I wasn’t able to approach
the shaman. This was frustrating but every bit of the game leading up to it
was pretty easy to solve and the story built pretty well. Ok, I did kind of
think it was odd that the ship captain (if I recall) happened to have just
the info needed, but oh well. :) I liked the imagery in this game.

Has the author of this game claimed it yet? As an exercise in
banana-passing, it succeeds with flying colors. I suspect (and have seen
evidence from other reviews) that it’s a in-joke concept game. I didn’t
really get “stuck” but it took a few moments to figure out which NPC would
be most receptive of the banana. I’m dense. Now we move on.

###] THE HeBGB HORROR! [###
I was trying to figure out if “HeBGB” was an acronym for something when all
I really needed to do was read it out. :) I kept seeing “KGB” for some
It didn’t give me the Heebie Jeebies fortunately. I also (possibly because
I used DOS ARUN) didn’t experience (that I noticed) any bugs which were
indicated by others (I did find one I’ll mention at the end). I have heard
of the Ramones but (as far as I know) I’m not really a fan. Still, I felt
like this was the kind of game I could really enjoy without having any
background or nostalgic feelings for the subject matter.
I emailed Eric about it a couple times while playing to let him know how
much I was enjoying it. I love puzzles. This is what makes an adventure an
adventure to me. I felt that HeBGB had a great story to tell.

In retrospect, this really wasn’t any more difficult than other puzzle
games in the competition, but somehow I kept getting stuck. If there was a
clue letting me know to “search” one thing in particular, I sure don’t
recall. I looked at it. I examined it I think. Searching is something that
never crosses my mind because in my (misguided?) mindset, I never really see
it as necessary. I got stuck again by forgetting to look under the bed even
though *my own* competition entry used the same reasoning no fewer than 4
times. Go figure. I got stuck again because I somehow missed the bit about
Gwen running into the Kitchen to attend to things. I thought my inability to
go back in there was a bug at first.
I don’t fault the game for these things. KANO was *very* enjoyable. Although
maybe it’s something that’s been done, I thought the “rope” puzzle was
pretty slick. I did win this one. In doing so, I was reminded why I must,
against all attempts made to dissuade me, remain single.

###] STONE CELL [###
I was pretty anxious to start playing. I hoped it would start. I got to
press a few keys now and then. That was pretty fun. I really enjoyed the
story leading up to the cell, just wish I could have participated more. I
don’t know if it was the author’s intent, or if I’m just really gullible,
but I felt sorry for the girl and really wanted to make sure she escaped.
Alas, with my help, she’s still stuck in the cell fiddling with the door.
She’s probably dead by now. :( Although I didn’t beat it, I didn’t spoil
*much* with the walkthrough because this is one of several I want to play
(or replay) later because I think there is more enjoyment to be found.

###] LOMALOW [###
I would like to say that I found this game highly enjoyable (and in fact,
that is what I’m saying). I know many of the others who’ve commented on it
didn’t. I thought it was nice of BrenBarn to explain how to win right from
the start because chances are I would never have gotten it. This allowed me
to do something atypical for me – play for the sake of the story, not the
puzzles. Perhaps I was in the right frame of mind for Lomalow. Perhaps I
just wasn’t put off by what some felt was a touchy-feely, silly story. I
felt a little strange playing it. Late that night, I was wrapped up in this
one. It felt very surreal. It’s really difficult to explain why it had that
appeal, but it did.
If it had not been for a newsgroup spoiler to “How do you leave the garage
in Photopia” a few weeks ago, I certainly would have been stuck trying to
get “IN” to the cabin. I emailed BrenBarn while playing this and briefly
discussed the ending. My view was a little different from his, but he could
be wrong. :)

###] SNOSAE [###
Probably, I played the MS-DOS games first, now that I think about it. In a
competition against 36 other entries, my first thought was “uh oh, how will
I sit with the other two PC-ONLY games?” I tried to guess what they were
written in. I think SNOSAE is in Pascal (did the text file tell me that? Don
’t remember). It included a very lengthy intro story which I (*blushing* -
and I apologize to the author) skipped because I was anxious to get started.
The interface was slick. Like my own, though, I think it comes from a
“programmer” instead of an “IF Author.” As has been pointed out elsewhere,
the directions on the command line were nice. I used to do similar things
(separate directions and in-room gettable items from the actual item
description) but was advised not to do that.
I didn’t get very far in SNOSAE but I did like what I saw. I did an
arbitrary “get all” not long after starting, which proved to be a wise move.
I’ve heard that the game is large and puzzle-filled (ooh la la!!!!) but I
didn’t get into it. I plan to though!

###] SKYRANCH [###
I think I saw two rooms. I’m not really sure. I thought the premise was
wonderful… a floating platform… workers on the way up. I LOVE SCI-FI!!! I’m
probably *the* foremost defender of the home-brewn parser, but I felt let
down when the pause-break on the first page was kind of placed arbitrarily.
It seemed that the text wasn’t physically structured right on the screen (I
don’t remember offhand why I felt this way). I just didn’t get very far.
Not that gimmicks are needed (because, crazy as I may be, I think a
home-brewn parser *could* succeed) but I didn’t see anything here. SNOSAE
was slick and the color/command scheme was great. Lunatix (mine… and I feel
awkward for mentioning before I get to that point) had a graphics engine
(somehow squashed into a 320x200 screen… which is half the size of even the
lowest Windows resolution… but I digress) and a text-only option if you
wanted that. Skyranch didn’t really have anything. :(

###] HALOTHANE [###
At the beginning, Quentin says something to the effect that nothing in the
game is intended to be taken seriously, and anything perceived to be is an
accident. Furthermore, he mentions that it has a lot of in-jokes.
I didn’t finish the game, but I made it over half-way through (I think) in
my two hours. I *LOVED* it. I did. If it was supposed to be a joke, maybe I
just didn’t get that far into the game to see, or maybe I just didn’t
recognize it. I really really liked it. This was one of the last games I
played before the 6-weeks were over (*the* last one, actually, if I recall).
I had to resort to the walkthrough a few times. Of all the games I played,
this one seemed to have the most verbose walkthrough (I tried… but didn’t
come close to this).
To the point that I stopped playing, I enjoyed everything. I felt like
there was a great story here and I was being pulled into it. Mystery.
Adventure. Puzzles (although supposedly optional). I came away from this
game with a sense of time well spent (in playing it, I mean). It was hard
for me to pick between this and BTD (although I didn’t win either of them).

###] LUDITE [###
It became clear that I wasn’t going to place dead last, at least.
It seemed that the game text (and I certainly pass as no expert when it
comes to such things) was spit out by a thesaurus. I mean, it looked like a
pretty simple description was modified so that synonyms (although not always
fitting ones) replaced more common words from what might have been the
unseen original text.
I really thought I was missing something. I explored (as much as you can
here) and tried looking at things. I was confused. I felt alone. In the end,
I asked the good Lord for guidance, and even that wasn’t my own idea.
Ok… so I didn’t like *EVERY* “game.”

Was Tod Levi an alias? If this has already been discussed, I missed it. I
felt this one was done by a “pro” using an alias. I don’t know why, and that
could be totally unfounded. I didn’t play much into it – I wanted to save it
for later. Later never came, and I regret this because it did so well in the
competition, it would have (and will, I’m sure) been worth the play.

I have a soft spot for ANSI graphics. I have a soft spot for gimmicks (the
direction-indication system was way-cool). I have a soft spot for nice use
of colors. I anticipated a great game (and it won). CONGRATS!!!! :) I set
this one aside for later too, though. Argh argh argh. I will play it.

I emailed the author about a bug I think most others have found. I *think*
I did a “get all” and picked up the time machine. At any rate, I was
carrying it around with me. Maybe it wasn’t “get all.” Maybe I was trying to
get one of its components or something. I thought maybe that was ok, but the
room description said the Time Machine was still there. Anyway, the author
wrote back that it shouldn’t affect the ability to win the game. I never got
around to completing it though (visited the first few rooms). It may have
been pretty cool. I’m a big SCI FI fan but it takes a lot to make good use
of a time-travelling scenario. This is one I hope to continue to at some
point. I enjoyed what I saw, if that helps. :)

This was mine. Obviously, I can’t speak objectively about it, but I do have
a few thoughts.
Opinions were varied (it had a pretty high STD.DEV. rating). This means
some people really enjoyed it, some people likened it to pond scum. My own
fault for this, but quite a few people indicated that they got hung up on
the interface which made seeing the game *as* a game pretty difficult (or
impossible). Others felt the interface was just fine (thank you Craxton!) I
intended to accommodate this by having the /T (or /B) command-line param but
I can’t blame anybody for not noticing this in the docs. IMO, text-only mode
would have eliminated the “this interface is weird” concerns but would have
then highlighted “not much story here” concerns. I think the results would
have been the same in the end.
Somehow, it ranked #12. I can’t feel “proud” since (from what I see in
other reviews) this just means it was the lesser of many evils. Being so
close to the “top 10” I can’t help but wish I’d done just a little bit
better. No matter though. I LOVED writing this game. I was just hoping not
to come in dead last.
It’s based on my LUNATIX BBS/Online multiplayer games. Many of the things
here (the cafeteria lady, the two nurses, the door guards,
Socrates/Napoleon) are taken right out of its namesake. I’ve spent more than
four years writing (or revising, to some extent) those games. It’s an idea
that has not only brought an amount of success to me, but it’s been enjoyed
by thousands worldwide.
For my IFCOMP99 offering, I wanted to work with this concept, except from
the viewpoint of Dr. Hammer. I was more (perhaps unjustly) interested in
portraying Dr. Hammer than in developing a breathtaking story. I also wanted
to work on a game with a wide enough appeal that it can stand by itself
regardless of the outcome of the competition. The people who play Lunatix
Online (and either of the BBS versions) will enjoy this. Some will have
trouble playing (they’d have trouble with any IF) but some will really get
into it. Daily, I get several requests for “more features” for Lunatix
Online. Add more IGM’s. Add a new area. Add new features. “The Insanity
Circle” is something new – but separate.


That’s it! I’m sorry I didn’t get around to playing all the games. I really
had fun at this, and I wish I had more time I could have invested. I’m glad
to have been a part of IF-COMP-99! :)

Mike Snyder
Prowler Productions

Mikko P Vuorinen

Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
In <d9qY3.5667$H8.1...@typhoon2.kc.rr.com> "Mike Snyder" <wy...@prowler-pro.com> writes:


Well, thank you, but I'm not really a king author yet :)

>I don’t fault the game for these things. KANO was *very* enjoyable. Although
>maybe it’s something that’s been done, I thought the “rope” puzzle was
>pretty slick. I did win this one. In doing so, I was reminded why I must,
>against all attempts made to dissuade me, remain single.

Yay. You're the first one to mention the rope I spent a couple of hours
coding. Have you tried to drop it in the closet while it's tied and going
back west? I think I did a good job in making the rope be in three
different locations at the same time.

)))) (((( + Mikko Vuorinen + mvuo...@cc.helsinki.fi
)) OO `oo'((( + Dilbon@IRC&ifMUD + http://www.helsinki.fi/~mvuorine/
6 (_) ( ((( + GSM 050-5859733 +
`____c 8__/((( + + Vuosi 1999 on muuten jo pitkällä.

Mike Snyder

Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
Mikko P Vuorinen wrote in message <80toaj$f6s$1...@kruuna.Helsinki.FI>...

>In <d9qY3.5667$H8.1...@typhoon2.kc.rr.com> "Mike Snyder"
<wy...@prowler-pro.com> writes:
>Well, thank you, but I'm not really a king author yet :)

LMAO!! (woops) - that's funny. :)

>Yay. You're the first one to mention the rope I spent a couple of hours
>coding. Have you tried to drop it in the closet while it's tied and going
>back west? I think I did a good job in making the rope be in three
>different locations at the same time.

Nah, when I figured out there *was* a rope, I figured out what to do with it
pretty fast. :) Very neat trick!


Marnie Parker

Nov 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/17/99
>Subject: Re: Mike Snyder's COMP99 Thoughts
>From: mvuo...@cc.helsinki.fi (Mikko P Vuorinen)
>Date: Wed, 17 November 1999 03:17 AM EST

>Yay. You're the first one to mention the rope I spent a couple of hours
>coding. Have you tried to drop it in the closet while it's tied and going
>back west? I think I did a good job in making the rope be in three
>different locations at the same time.

Yes, I did and yes you did.

Doe :-)

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


Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
> I emailed BrenBarn while playing this and briefly
>discussed the ending. My view was a little different from his, but he could
>be wrong. :)
I usually am, especially about what I mean.

Brendan B. B. (Bren...@aol.com)
(Name in header has spam-blocker, use the address above instead.)

"Do not follow where the path may lead;
go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail."
--Author Unknown

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