[comp03] More reviews to add to the pile

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C #M

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Nov 18, 2003, 1:29:05 AM11/18/03
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Hey everyone, I'm a habitual lurker here who's decided to come out to
post her IFComp thoughts before retreating back into her cave. Enjoy!

Random thoughts for the year:

1) I really, really wanted to play _The Adventures of the President of
the United States_. I'm not a big fan of Mikko Vuorinen - I've never
even played any of his games, to tell the truth - but I figured any
game with a title like that has *got* to be good. Unfortunately, I
didn't have an Alan interpreter and wasn't going to get one just to
play the two Alan games in the comp. *sigh*

2) I predicted _Sweet Dreams_ would get the Banana. And unless I've
read the results wrong, it did! :D

3) I wanted to play as many games as I could this year, so I started
with the miscellaneous web and PC games, made it through the
lesser-known interpreters, finished off the TADS games...and realised
I didn't have much time left for Inform, which means I didn't even
*touch* the top 8 games. Guess I'll just have to hold on to my
competition package a bit longer...

Okay, here's how my rating system works. The first score I give is my
knee-jerk reaction to the game, and after that I add or subtract
points for various things until I feel it gets the score it deserves.
For example, a final score could look like this: 8 + 1 (for excellent
writing) = NINE with eight as the score I first thought it should get
and nine being what I gave it when I voted. Simple?

IfComp 2003 Reviews (in the order I played them)

_Sweet Dreams_
Papillon

Pros: Different
Cons: Buggy, not really IF
Final Score: 7 - 1 (annoying bugs) = SIX

First reaction: Oh my god! This game is made with Game Maker! *I*
use Game Maker! OMGOMGOMG! Then I made a mental note to cut back on
the caffeine and started playing <g>

Well. Hmm. I expected the usual Unusual Things for this year, but I
must say I was NOT expecting an all-graphic game to be entered into a
competition specifically for interactive fiction and I'm sorry to say
this wasn't really a good choice. If the author wanted her game in a
competition she could have just waited for the next Game Maker thing
to come around. Still, the game *is* undeniably IF-fy so I won't take
any marks off for this (how *do* you penalize a game for being entered
in the wrong contest, anyway?)

The graphics were pretty, gameplay was smooth and the puzzles weren't
too hard. I did, however, have some quibbles with the controls. Yes,
I know pathfinding AI is hard to get right but there were times when I
pressed arrows on the *keyboard* and moved in the opposite direction.
This made moving around rather inconvenient and, at times, downright
frustrating. Also, the game started behaving strangely towards the
end and I didn't manage to finish it. It may have been that I didn't
figure out a puzzle but I think it's more likely I ran into a bug.
Another thing: the save feature doesn't work. Kudos to the author
anyway, for making an even halfway playable adventure game with Game
Maker.

Fifty bucks says this game gets the Banana

_little girl in the big world_
Peter Wendrich

Pros: Original, sort of fun
Cons: Somewhat limited parser, no definite goal
Final Score: 4 + 1 (because I liked it more than I probably should
have) = FIVE

Hoo boy, I thought as I fired up this game, *another* one of those
BASIC games with a craptastic parser. Luckily, my impression of the
game gradually improved, even though I had no idea what I was supposed
to be doing for quite a while. I had fun just exploring the world,
though, and despite not knowing what my "ultimate" goal was I never
had problems figuring out what to do next.

...problem was, there wasn't a whole lot to do. After I finished I
just thought, "Right. I'm done. That was a mildly amusing five
minutes." The author just wants us to explore the world, I know, but
it would have been nice if there was more world to explore.

_Rape, Pillage, Galore!_
Kristian Kirsfeldt

Pros: Mindless, lowbrow fun. Who doesn't love mindless, lowbrow fun?
Cons: Well, if you're not the type who loves mindless, lowbrow fun...
Final Score: 5 + 5 (because a 5 is all this game *really* deserves,
but I just found it so amusing) - 1 (because there isn't a whole lot
of reason to continue after you've played for a while) = NINE

Call me crazy, but I *liked* this game. It made me laugh.

_Sophie's Adventure_
David Whyld

Pros: Humorous, strong protagonist
Cons: It's an ADRIFT game, which means the text is lime green on black
and permanently damages your retinas if you look at it for too long.
Oh, and there's a few bugs, too
Final Score: 8 + 1 (for originality and entertaining NPCs) - 1 (for
bugs in the conversation system, at least one of which renders the
game unwinnable) = EIGHT

This game is quite good for something made with ADRIFT. In fact, it's
quite good, period, and if it doesn't make it into the top ten I will
rip out the intestines of every voter who gave it a score lower than 6
and sell them to the sausage industry, yes I will. Sophie's
personality comes across loud and clear and the NPCs are always fun to
interact with. In fact, I didn't particularly care whether or not I
could manage to beat it because it was just so much fun exploring the
game world. Perhaps the author of _little girl in the big world_
could learn a thing or two from this game...

There were bits where it dragged, and bits where it got annoying in
its meta-ness, but overall _Sophie's Adventure_ was lighthearted and
thoroughly enjoyable. Oh, one thing: it also contained a rather
baffling bug that should have been caught three seconds into
playtesting. The bathroom is listed as an exit outside Sophie's room,
but, well, there is no bathroom. Good game, nonetheless.

_Hercules First Labor_
Robert Carl Brown

Pros: Won't strain your intellect, at least not until you have to
start playing guess-the-verb
Cons: Where do I start?
Final Score: FOUR

You know, a rule of thumb I've come up with over the years is that if
an IF author can't master apostrophe use then his (or her) work
probably won't be worth playing and this game is no exception.
Perhaps it would have been better received twenty years ago, when
two-word parsers were the norm and transparent plots acceptable.
Nowadays stuff like this is just a waste of time.

_amnesia_
crazydwarf

Pros: None whatsoever
Cons: Come now, I wouldn't want to strain my wrist typing all that
Final Score: 4 - 1 (for obnoxious meta-ness, among other things) =
THREE

Sorry kiddo, you don't get prizes for being too young to know how to
make a good game and anyway, the youngest IF author I know is 7 years
old and makes slightly better games than you (she uses ADRIFT, by the
way, and perhaps you should too). I was going to write a review for
this thing but wasn't feeling sadistic enough to really let fly with
the criticisms and after all, a newbie is just a newbie and doesn't
deserve to have their hopes crushed so unceremoniously.

So here instead are some suggestions: Learn some spelling and grammar.
You'll look more intelligent. Play some IF by respected authors to
get a feel for what is expected. Let me drop some names for you: Adam
Cadre, Emily Short, Andrew Plotkin, Ian Finley, Magnus Olsson...I
could go on and on. Look at their games. Take note of what they're
doing that you're not, and what you're doing that they're not. Play
some stuff by Rybread Celsius for examples of what not to do (I
personally love Rybread, but one is enough). Practise. Try again
next year. Okies? (If you agree I won't complain about getting 100700
points out of 100 in this game despite dying an early death from
starvation)

_Delvyn_
Santoonie Corporation

Pros: Looks rather classy, original premise
Cons: Really, really big gamefile, often annoying gameplay
Final Score: 5 + 2 (because this game deserves those two extra points,
much as I hate to admit it) = SEVEN

I alternated between wanting to love this game and wanting to hate it
before finally working up the courage to play the damn thing, because
its 6 graphics-packed megabytes (this is what resource packs were made
for, people) just about doubled what my download time for this year's
games should have been.

I decided I wanted to love this game. I didn't. It was simply too
frustrating to play, with crucial objects turning out to not actually
be in the room and starving to death IN MY OWN HOUSE and getting
killed and eaten and walking past somewhere I needed to go 500 times
simply because the exit wasn't mentioned in the room description and
the shameless self-advertising in the antiques room (spare a thought
for what we pay our ISPs for downloads before including stuff like
that, will you?) and lots and lots of other small things like that
that just added up and made me quit in frustration. And yet you can
see all the effort that went into the game and how great it could have
been, if only more attention had been paid to the small things. Oh
well. Life's like that, I guess.

_Episode in the Life of an Artist_
Peter Eastman

Pros: The possibly unintentional surrealism messes with your mind
Cons: There is a fine line between "surreal" and "just plain stupid"
which the game crosses from time to time
Final Score: SEVEN

Well. Where do I begin? This game tells the story of an artist who
is not an artist, who was left on the steps of an orphanage as a baby,
whose adoptive parents *wanted* him to work in a production line,
whose IQ seems to be a good 50 points below average and who relies on
a book of quotations for life advice. This I thought was a bit
strange but then again, the whole game is a bit strange. Everything -
from the plot to the first person point of view - feels slightly
off-centre and seems tell the player to suspend all disbelief and just
enjoy the story.

Ahem. Right. About the story. According to the author the purpose
of this game *was* simply to tell a story, and this I felt was its
greatest fault. The game seems unable to comprehend that the player
might want to do anything other than advance the plot, and so gives us
no room to move around and explore. Furthermore, though the prose can
be strangely affecting at times, any serious messages it might have
conveyed are killed off by the outtakes. Best save those for a
lighter work of IF, my friend.

Overall a good effort, but would I recommend this to anyone?
Unfortunately not.

_BIO_
David Linder

Pros: Short, mildly interesting premise
Cons: Underdeveloped plot, too many instadeaths
Final Score: 3 + 1 (because it *is* a bit better than _amnesia_) =
FOUR

Why is there no "armoire" mentioned in the first room description,
forcing me to look to the walkthrough before taking a single step?
Why is a top-secret security code written on a bathroom wall? Why is
there a bullet casing just sitting in a toilet bowl? If I can unlock
a door with a lockpick, why can't I use it to unlock a padlock? These
were the questions running through my mind as I played through _BIO_,
a thoroughly mediocre contender in this competition.

See, this is the kind of game I hate reviewing, because there isn't a
whole lot to say that hasn't already been said. Put more thought into
your puzzles. Learn some grammar. Pull out all the instadeaths.
Come up with a plot that actually makes sense. Find some playtesters.
That's about it, really.

_Temple of Kaos_
Peter Gambles

Pros: Original, with interesting puzzles
Cons: The poetry is a bit esoteric at times
Final Score: 10 - 1 (because some puzzles *were* a bit unfair) = NINE

When I took a quick peek at the hints file for this game one line
caught my eye, the one about how the normal rules of logic,
cause-effect and physics may not apply. Upon seeing this line I
immediately closed the file and put the game on my "play when I need
my interest to be rekindled after playing through several forgettable
offerings in a row" list and I must say, it has not let me down.

Sure the game's logic was a bit hard to follow at first, and I did
rely heavily on the hints file at the start, but after a while one
starts to think differently and everything begins to make sense. The
puzzles were fairly well-designed and while it was possible to put the
game in an unwinnable position, it took some effort to do. I do have
a small quibble with the difficulty of the puzzles, however, as they
sometimes required seemingly random actions from the player, e.g.
praying, to be solved. Still, it was entertaining and a nice break
from the monotony of mediocrity. Thumbs up!

_Cerulean Stowaway_
Roger Descheneaux

Pros: Polished, fun to play, original plot
Cons: Very, very difficult
Final Score: 9 + 1 (because it was so smooth and polished) = TEN

This game is like the bastard child _Varicella_ and _The Arrival_,
really it is. You play as a fervent supported of the Ceruleans,
members of an alien race that has recently landed on Earth. Well,
that is, you support them until you sneak aboard their ship and
discover how they actually have their sights set on enslaving the
human race and using us them a source of food! After the relaxed,
non-threatening introduction, you are plunged into an alien-killing
adventure with a difficulty rating to rival that of Adam Cadre's
_Varicella_.

This game, folks, is no walk in the park. One must struggle to
survive on a spaceship populated with giant squid-like aliens capable
of crushing one alive. Some aliens can be killed in a variety of
methods, while others can only be killed off in a certain way so you,
the player, must construct an elaborate plan in your head and use it
to deal with each alien in the most efficient way possible. And you
must do it on your own, since the hint system is of no help
whatsoever. This is one of my few quibbles about the game, actually.
Yes, I realise that the author may want us to figure things out on our
own, but after I've been stuck on a part for a long time I start
wishing the game would give me EXPLICIT INSTRUCTIONS, dammit, instead
of the same, oblique, useless hint over and over again. Hopefully,
this problem will be addressed in a future version of the game.

Despite this (minor, might I add) flaw, _Cerulean Stowaway_ is still
of a very high quality, especially considering it is a comp game, and
in my opinion is completely deserving of the big 1-0.

_The Atomic Heart_
Stefan Blixt

Pros: Original premise, not too hard
Cons: Starts to fall apart a bit towards the end, winning action is
unfair
Final Score: EIGHT (but a high one)

I've never played as a robot in IF before. That was cool.

_The Atomic Heart_ tells the tale of a robot caught in the middle of
an electronic uprising where every robot except himself seems to be
turning on their human masters. And that's about it, really. You
don't really have a goal until quite late in the game, but you always
at least have a sense of where you should be going so that's not too
much of a problem. What *was* a problem was that in the end, the
action required to win the game was one which would have killed the
player under any other circumstances. I for one do not think this is
very fair.

Oh, and getting in an out of the Walkdozer was annoying, as was
fiddling with the adaptor. Small problems, though, all of them. This
is overall quite a good first attempt.

And that's about all the review I can think of for this game (hey,
it's a lazy Sunday afternoon and I want a nap).

_THE FAT LARDO AND THE RUBBER DUCKY_
Some Guy

Pros: It's short if you know what to do
Cons: It drags on and on if you don't know what to do. Also, it is
utterly pointless
Final Score: FIVE

The first time I played this, it was over in a single turn. "xyzzy",
you see, is the first word I type while playing any IF game. After
that I immediately played through again to see what I had missed, only
to find that there wasn't much to miss.

Is this supposed to be some sort of social commentary? Well if it is,
it doesn't work. Right now the only positive thing I can say about it
is that it was all over quickly.

_No Room_
Ben Heaton

Pros: Cute
Cons: Well, don't expect it to provide a wholesome afternoon of
entertainment, but there's not much stuff that's actually *bad* about
it
Final Score: 8 + 1 (for originality) = NINE

Heh. Cute. I have serious doubts as to whether the chemical energy
of a lemon is enough to power a flashlight, but let's not worry about
technicalities, shall we?

Dan Shiovitz

unread,
Nov 18, 2003, 2:52:54 AM11/18/03
to
In article <3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com>,

C #M <dessert...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Hey everyone, I'm a habitual lurker here who's decided to come out to
>post her IFComp thoughts before retreating back into her cave. Enjoy!
>
>Random thoughts for the year:
>
>1) I really, really wanted to play _The Adventures of the President of
>the United States_. I'm not a big fan of Mikko Vuorinen - I've never
>even played any of his games, to tell the truth - but I figured any
>game with a title like that has *got* to be good. Unfortunately, I
>didn't have an Alan interpreter and wasn't going to get one just to
>play the two Alan games in the comp. *sigh*

Out of curiosity, why not? For download time or space reasons? It
looks like Comp03.zip is 14 meg, and the alan interpreter is less than
half a meg. For convenience reasons? If you're using windows or mac
you can get the whole interpreters package and (at least on windows)
it'll install them for you. Just because it's only two games? But,
like, once you have the interpreter installed, you'll be able to play
the alan games next year, and the year after that, and so on, plus any
games released outside of the comp.

[..]


>IfComp 2003 Reviews (in the order I played them)

[..]
>_Rape, Pillage, Galore!_
[..]


>of reason to continue after you've played for a while) = NINE

[..]
>_No Room_
[..]


>Final Score: 8 + 1 (for originality) = NINE

I am a big fan of the way the current comp voting has no rules or
conditions on the scoring system people use, but I admit I am pretty
puzzled by the fact that you gave these two games near-top scores.
Is the idea that they were really good for what they were? Or that
they had excellent enjoyment/size ratios? I didn't care for them much
myself, so I'm having some trouble imagining a scoring system that
doesn't run out of room to score better games higher if these set the
baseline for a score of nine.

--
Dan Shiovitz :: d...@cs.wisc.edu :: http://www.drizzle.com/~dans
"He settled down to dictate a letter to the Consolidated Nailfile and
Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation of Scranton, Pa., which would make them
realize that life is stern and earnest and Nailfile and Eyebrow Tweezer
Corporations are not put in this world for pleasure alone." -PGW

Andrew Krywaniuk

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Nov 18, 2003, 3:52:27 AM11/18/03
to
> 3) I wanted to play as many games as I could this year, so I started
> with the miscellaneous web and PC games, made it through the
> lesser-known interpreters, finished off the TADS games...and realised
> I didn't have much time left for Inform, which means I didn't even
> *touch* the top 8 games.

Umm... probably a good thing. Cuz if you can give Fat Lardo a 5 (despite
having nothing good to say about it) and Delvyn a 7 (despite quitting in
frustration), you'd be swearing in frustration at the lack of a 15 on the
scoring form.


> _Temple of Kaos_
> Peter Gambles
>

> I do have
> a small quibble with the difficulty of the puzzles, however, as they
> sometimes required seemingly random actions from the player, e.g.
> praying, to be solved.

Umm... you are in the presence of God at one point, and the rest of the time
you're still in a temple.

Andrew


Papillon

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Nov 18, 2003, 4:52:21 AM11/18/03
to
dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote:

(sweet dreams bug-tracking)

>Yes,
>I know pathfinding AI is hard to get right but there were times when I
>pressed arrows on the *keyboard* and moved in the opposite direction.
>This made moving around rather inconvenient and, at times, downright

(explanation no one cares about) The keyboard movement was not, actually, an
entirely separate method of movement that did not involve pathfinding. What
it *did* do was set the pathfinding point very close to the PC's feet,
offset a tiny bit in the direction of the appropriate arrow. So you could
reliably move in a straight line in the direction you were pushing the arrow
- UNLESS there was an obstacle there, in which case the character would
frustratedly spin around because she was not capable of walking into the
obstacle.

>frustrating. Also, the game started behaving strangely towards the
>end and I didn't manage to finish it. It may have been that I didn't
>figure out a puzzle but I think it's more likely I ran into a bug.

There was a quite serious bug that unfortunately got introduced at the last
minute and seems to have ruined several reviewers' playing of the game.
(Others found it, but recognised that it was a bug and restored.) It's not
too near the end, though, so I'd appreciate more details if possible. :)

>Another thing: the save feature doesn't work.

... well, it does for *me*. :) What did it do wrong for you?
---
Hanako Games
http://www.hanakogames.com/

C #M

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Nov 18, 2003, 5:43:23 AM11/18/03
to
d...@cs.wisc.edu (Dan Shiovitz) wrote in message news:<bpcj4m$q8c$1...@drizzle.com>...

> In article <3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com>,
> C #M <dessert...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >Hey everyone, I'm a habitual lurker here who's decided to come out to
> >post her IFComp thoughts before retreating back into her cave. Enjoy!
> >
> >Random thoughts for the year:
> >
> >1) I really, really wanted to play _The Adventures of the President of
> >the United States_. I'm not a big fan of Mikko Vuorinen - I've never
> >even played any of his games, to tell the truth - but I figured any
> >game with a title like that has *got* to be good. Unfortunately, I
> >didn't have an Alan interpreter and wasn't going to get one just to
> >play the two Alan games in the comp. *sigh*
>
> Out of curiosity, why not? For download time or space reasons? It
> looks like Comp03.zip is 14 meg, and the alan interpreter is less than
> half a meg. For convenience reasons? If you're using windows or mac
> you can get the whole interpreters package and (at least on windows)
> it'll install them for you. Just because it's only two games? But,
> like, once you have the interpreter installed, you'll be able to play
> the alan games next year, and the year after that, and so on, plus any
> games released outside of the comp.

No, I was lazy. I was already able to play most of the games so I
didn't bother. Comp03 being 14 megs was actually part of the reason -
with my 33bps connection, by the time I got my hands on it I was all
downloaded out :)

> [..]
> >IfComp 2003 Reviews (in the order I played them)
> [..]
> >_Rape, Pillage, Galore!_
> [..]
> >of reason to continue after you've played for a while) = NINE
> [..]
> >_No Room_
> [..]
> >Final Score: 8 + 1 (for originality) = NINE
>
> I am a big fan of the way the current comp voting has no rules or
> conditions on the scoring system people use, but I admit I am pretty
> puzzled by the fact that you gave these two games near-top scores.
> Is the idea that they were really good for what they were? Or that
> they had excellent enjoyment/size ratios? I didn't care for them much
> myself, so I'm having some trouble imagining a scoring system that
> doesn't run out of room to score better games higher if these set the
> baseline for a score of nine.

Two reasons: 1) My twisted sense of humour. 2) The fact that I didn't
get around to playing *any* of the 8 top-scoring games (because I put
off playing the Inform games until I was done with everything else, by
which time I didn't have enough time left to get through them all).

~C#M

Enforced Exile

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Nov 18, 2003, 6:17:02 AM11/18/03
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dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote in message news:<3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com>...

> _Sophie's Adventure_
> David Whyld
>

> Cons: It's an ADRIFT game, which means the text is lime green on black
> and permanently damages your retinas if you look at it for too long.

What the hell does the fact that it's an ADRIFT game have to do with
the text damaging your retinas?

That's just plain ignorance on your part as, like WinFrotz, ADRIFT
gives the option to change the background colour, the text colour, and
(as an added extra) the command prompt colour.

Although you seemed to have enjoyed the game, the IF Comp should not
be used as a medium for displaying your grievances around an authoring
system. Sure, it's not as flexible as Inform (my personal choice) and
TADS, but like most systems it can be expected to have its pros and
cons. I'm sure Inform users, when reviewing, wouldn't say "hey! it's a
TADS game; that's bad!" or vice versa, but should a game be dissed due
to the authoring system it was created in. By all means, however,
focus on the bugs in the game and ADRIFT's parser (combined with the
extensions made by the author.)

The 'con' you listed is not a negative of either the game or the
system; the con is that people put things down without taking the
opportunity to explore them.

Ally

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Nov 18, 2003, 6:47:32 AM11/18/03
to
dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote in
news:3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com:

{snip}


> 2) I predicted _Sweet Dreams_ would get the Banana. And unless
> I've read the results wrong, it did! :D

{snippety}

What _is_ "The Banana"?

~Ally, as confused as always

--
E-Mail: kitzapoo {at} gmx {dot} co {dot} uk
ICQ: 136457018 * Jabber: kitty...@jabber.org * Y!: kitzapoo

Ally

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Nov 18, 2003, 7:07:12 AM11/18/03
to
I wrote

> dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote in
> news:3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com:
>
> {snip}
>> 2) I predicted _Sweet Dreams_ would get the Banana. And unless
>> I've read the results wrong, it did! :D
> {snippety}
>
> What _is_ "The Banana"?
>
> ~Ally, as confused as always

*looks at graphs on results website*

Hunh... I _think_ I _maybe_ get it.

Stephen Granade

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Nov 18, 2003, 7:57:41 AM11/18/03
to
Ally <kitty...@ifrance.com> writes:

> dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote in
> news:3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com:
>
> {snip}
> > 2) I predicted _Sweet Dreams_ would get the Banana. And unless
> > I've read the results wrong, it did! :D
> {snippety}
>
> What _is_ "The Banana"?

A while back, Andrew Plotkin donated as a prize a golden banana-shaped
bit of stuffed fabric that he dubbed the Golden Banana of Discord. It
goes to the author whose game got the highest standard deviation --
whose votes were the most spread out, in other words.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade
ste...@granades.com

Peter Gambles

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Nov 18, 2003, 11:39:39 AM11/18/03
to
Yeah, and I missed out by a narrow margin! Can't I even have the golden banana
skin?

Peter
(author of Temple of Kaos for my sins)


>> What _is_ "The Banana"?
>
>A while back, Andrew Plotkin donated as a prize a golden banana-shaped
>bit of stuffed fabric that he dubbed the Golden Banana of Discord. It
>goes to the author whose game got the highest standard deviation --
>whose votes were the most spread out, in other words.
>
>Stephen
>

PeterG

aka Peter Gambles
Oxford
UK

e-mail peter....@admin.ox.ac.uk

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 18, 2003, 12:21:43 PM11/18/03
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Here, Peter Gambles <peter....@admin.ox.ac.uk> wrote:

> Stephen wrote:
>
> >> What _is_ "The Banana"?
> >
> >A while back, Andrew Plotkin donated as a prize a golden banana-shaped
> >bit of stuffed fabric that he dubbed the Golden Banana of Discord. It
> >goes to the author whose game got the highest standard deviation --
> >whose votes were the most spread out, in other words.
>

> Yeah, and I missed out by a narrow margin! Can't I even have the
> golden banana skin?

I only made one skin, I'm afraid, and it's the one I stuffed.

A portrait may be viewed at
<http://www.eblong.com/zarf/pic/banana.jpeg>.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Michael

unread,
Nov 18, 2003, 12:45:22 PM11/18/03
to
takeahi...@hotmail.com (Enforced Exile) wrote in message news:<e8c559ff.03111...@posting.google.com>...

> dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote in message news:<3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com>...
>
> > _Sophie's Adventure_
> > David Whyld
> >
> > Cons: It's an ADRIFT game, which means the text is lime green on black
> > and permanently damages your retinas if you look at it for too long.
>
> What the hell does the fact that it's an ADRIFT game have to do with
> the text damaging your retinas?
>
> That's just plain ignorance on your part as, like WinFrotz, ADRIFT
> gives the option to change the background colour, the text colour, and
> (as an added extra) the command prompt colour.
>

Way to welcome the newbie...

> Although you seemed to have enjoyed the game, the IF Comp should not
> be used as a medium for displaying your grievances around an authoring
> system. Sure, it's not as flexible as Inform (my personal choice) and
> TADS, but like most systems it can be expected to have its pros and
> cons. I'm sure Inform users, when reviewing, wouldn't say "hey! it's a
> TADS game; that's bad!" or vice versa, but should a game be dissed due
> to the authoring system it was created in. By all means, however,
> focus on the bugs in the game and ADRIFT's parser (combined with the
> extensions made by the author.)

If you read many of the other reviews, there are plenty of them
slamming ALAN, ADRIFT, etc., by long-time memebers of this newsgroup
(see Paul O'Brian's reviews). Fact of the matter is, the authoring
system is a VERY integral part of an IF game, as it determines (among
other things) what the parser is like. It's fair game, in my book.

Michael

Papillon

unread,
Nov 18, 2003, 1:41:34 PM11/18/03
to
bilgepu...@yahoo.com (Michael) wrote:

>takeahi...@hotmail.com (Enforced Exile) wrote in message news:<e8c559ff.03111...@posting.google.com>...

>> That's just plain ignorance on your part as, like WinFrotz, ADRIFT


>> gives the option to change the background colour, the text colour, and
>> (as an added extra) the command prompt colour.

>If you read many of the other reviews, there are plenty of them


>slamming ALAN, ADRIFT, etc., by long-time memebers of this newsgroup
>(see Paul O'Brian's reviews). Fact of the matter is, the authoring
>system is a VERY integral part of an IF game, as it determines (among
>other things) what the parser is like. It's fair game, in my book.

.. however, the authoring system and the interpreter are two different
things.

It would be silly of me to complain that the default white-on-blue setting
in WinFrotz is uglier than the default black-on-white setting in HTML-Tads
and subsequently mark down all inform games. The author of the z-code game
did not write the interpreter, dictate that I play on that interpreter, or
prevent me from changing the settings so that they are no longer
white-on-blue!

It's fair enough to complain about things that are actually wrong with the
system, but an option that could be changed if you took a second to do so?

(Now, if the information on changing the colors is really really hard to
find and only ADRIFT aficionadoes know about it, that's different. I don't
remember. I only briefly installed ADRIFT to look at the PK girl last year,
I'm not terribly familiar with it.)

davidw

unread,
Nov 18, 2003, 2:43:12 PM11/18/03
to

"Papillon" <papillo...@bigfoot.com> wrote in message
news:dfpkrvoq0cd453j54...@4ax.com...

> bilgepu...@yahoo.com (Michael) wrote:
> (Now, if the information on changing the colors is really really hard to
> find and only ADRIFT aficionadoes know about it, that's different. I don't
> remember. I only briefly installed ADRIFT to look at the PK girl last
year,
> I'm not terribly familiar with it.)
>
> ---
> Hanako Games
> http://www.hanakogames.com/


Changing the font and colour is very simple. You click on the options button
at the top of the screen and select which font and which colour you want.
The default of green on black *is* a little yucky but as I changed mine to
white on black first day I used Adrift it's not something that's bothered me
since.


Quintin Stone

unread,
Nov 18, 2003, 3:22:42 PM11/18/03
to
C #M (dessert...@hotmail.com) wrote:

> 3) I wanted to play as many games as I could this year, so I started
> with the miscellaneous web and PC games, made it through the
> lesser-known interpreters, finished off the TADS games...and realised I
> didn't have much time left for Inform, which means I didn't even *touch*
> the top 8 games.

> Two reasons: 1) My twisted sense of humour. 2) The fact that I didn't


> get around to playing *any* of the 8 top-scoring games (because I put
> off playing the Inform games until I was done with everything else, by
> which time I didn't have enough time left to get through them all).

As an author of a TADS game that scored in the top 8, I feel the need to
point out that 4 (half) of the top 8 games are TADS (one of them is TADS
3). So I'm a little confused how you missed them if you actually did
finish off the TADS games like you say.

/====================================================================\
|| Quintin Stone O- > "You speak of necessary evil? One ||
|| Code Monkey < of those necessities is that if ||
|| Rebel Programmers Society > innocents must suffer, the guilty must ||
|| st...@rps.net < suffer more." -- Mackenzie Calhoun ||
|| http://www.rps.net/ > "Once Burned" by Peter David ||
\====================================================================/


Alexandre Owen Muniz

unread,
Nov 18, 2003, 3:26:19 PM11/18/03
to
[Spoilers for Temple of Chaos below]

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:

>>_Temple of Kaos_
>>Peter Gambles
>>
>>I do have
>>a small quibble with the difficulty of the puzzles, however, as they
>>sometimes required seemingly random actions from the player, e.g.
>>praying, to be solved.
>
>
> Umm... you are in the presence of God at one point, and the rest of the time
> you're still in a temple.
>
> Andrew
>
>

This one did bother me. Praying is how you communicate with a god one is *not* in the
direct physical presence of. If one *is* in the presence of a god, you'd think you could
just talk to it. (Now, maybe the god is the sort that really wants you to pray to it
before it will do what you want it to do. In that case it should say something to that
effect when you talk to it.)

There were a few other places in ToK where the action desired was not unreasonable, but
still insufficiently clued.

**Owen

Norman Perlmutter

unread,
Nov 18, 2003, 5:01:00 PM11/18/03
to
On 17 Nov 2003 22:29:05 -0800, dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M)
wrote:

>Hey everyone, I'm a habitual lurker here who's decided to come out to
>post her IFComp thoughts before retreating back into her cave. Enjoy!
>

I noticed your lowest score was a 3, and there were a fair number of
bad games this comp. In fact, there were about which you had virtually
nothing at all good to say, but still gave them a 3 or better. Out of
sheer curiosity, just how bad would a game have to be to get a 1 from
you?

Norman

Ally

unread,
Nov 18, 2003, 6:08:40 PM11/18/03
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in
news:bpdkf7$qqb$2...@reader2.panix.com:

> Here, Peter Gambles <peter....@admin.ox.ac.uk> wrote:
>
>> Stephen wrote:
>>
>> >> What _is_ "The Banana"?
>> >
>> >A while back, Andrew Plotkin donated as a prize a golden
>> >banana-shaped bit of stuffed fabric that he dubbed the Golden
>> >Banana of Discord. It goes to the author whose game got the
>> >highest standard deviation -- whose votes were the most
>> >spread out, in other words.
>>
>> Yeah, and I missed out by a narrow margin! Can't I even have
>> the golden banana skin?
>
> I only made one skin, I'm afraid, and it's the one I stuffed.
>
> A portrait may be viewed at
> <http://www.eblong.com/zarf/pic/banana.jpeg>.

Neat. Is it cuddly? Uhm, I mean: is there a relationship between the
bananitude(-ishness) of a score/number-of-votes graph for a love-it-
or-hate-it type game and the nature of the prize, or am I making
things up again? Cuz the visual similarity made me intuit the
meaning of the award.

~Ally

Andrew Krywaniuk

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 2:36:44 AM11/19/03
to
> This one did bother me. Praying is how you communicate with a god one is
*not* in the
> direct physical presence of. If one *is* in the presence of a god, you'd
think you could
> just talk to it. (Now, maybe the god is the sort that really wants you to
pray to it
> before it will do what you want it to do. In that case it should say
something to that
> effect when you talk to it.)

Umm... Again, did you play the game? As I remember it, you *could* talk to
god.

Andrew


C #M

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 7:44:54 AM11/19/03
to
takeahi...@hotmail.com (Enforced Exile) wrote in message news:<e8c559ff.03111...@posting.google.com>...
> dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote in message news:<3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com>...
>
> > _Sophie's Adventure_
> > David Whyld
> >
> > Cons: It's an ADRIFT game, which means the text is lime green on black
> > and permanently damages your retinas if you look at it for too long.
>
> What the hell does the fact that it's an ADRIFT game have to do with
> the text damaging your retinas?
>
> That's just plain ignorance on your part as, like WinFrotz, ADRIFT
> gives the option to change the background colour, the text colour, and
> (as an added extra) the command prompt colour.
>
> Although you seemed to have enjoyed the game, the IF Comp should not
> be used as a medium for displaying your grievances around an authoring
> system. Sure, it's not as flexible as Inform (my personal choice) and
> TADS, but like most systems it can be expected to have its pros and
> cons. I'm sure Inform users, when reviewing, wouldn't say "hey! it's a
> TADS game; that's bad!" or vice versa, but should a game be dissed due
> to the authoring system it was created in. By all means, however,
> focus on the bugs in the game and ADRIFT's parser (combined with the
> extensions made by the author.)

Arright, my bad, I didn't know that, no need to yell ^_^* I still
think lime green on black is a pretty strange choice for a default
colour scheme, but it's nice to know you can change it.

> The 'con' you listed is not a negative of either the game or the
> system; the con is that people put things down without taking the
> opportunity to explore them.

I meant that in the nicest way possible - that its only real fault was
the colour scheme, which I completely hated. The review was written
around the two-hour mark, when I'd barely left the house and hadn't
yet bumped into the more serious bugs. Hmm, I probably should have
gone back and changed the review (I still gave it an 8, though, since
that was what I wanted to give it after two hours).

C #M

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 8:00:05 AM11/19/03
to
Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote in message news:<Pine.LNX.4.44.031118...@yes.rps.net>...

> C #M (dessert...@hotmail.com) wrote:
>
> > 3) I wanted to play as many games as I could this year, so I started
> > with the miscellaneous web and PC games, made it through the
> > lesser-known interpreters, finished off the TADS games...and realised I
> > didn't have much time left for Inform, which means I didn't even *touch*
> > the top 8 games.
>
> > Two reasons: 1) My twisted sense of humour. 2) The fact that I didn't
> > get around to playing *any* of the 8 top-scoring games (because I put
> > off playing the Inform games until I was done with everything else, by
> > which time I didn't have enough time left to get through them all).
>
> As an author of a TADS game that scored in the top 8, I feel the need to
> point out that 4 (half) of the top 8 games are TADS (one of them is TADS
> 3). So I'm a little confused how you missed them if you actually did
> finish off the TADS games like you say.

...huh? After a quick check of my competition directory, I could not
help noticing that not only have I not *played* the top 8 games, they
are, with the exception of Gourmet, Baluthar and Slouching Towards
Bedlam, not even on my hard drive. I have the hints files for
Scavenger and The Erudition Chamber there too, but not the actual
games. I think it is now safe to assume that I have stuffed up.
Badly.

The reason, if you must know, is that I figured there was no way my
net connection was going to hold out for all 14 megs of the comp
package, so I thought I'd first attempt to download Delvyn until I
managed to get all of it onto my computer, then grab the rest of the
games separately. Except I got, you know, careless. I am *never*
trying that one again.

(Yes, I realise most people would just get a download accelerator.
But I, ironically enough, wanted to avoid the extra downloading >_<)

Branko Collin

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 9:18:55 AM11/19/03
to
dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M), you wrote on 19 Nov 2003 04:44:54
-0800:

>I still think lime green on black is a pretty strange
>choice for a default colour scheme,

Nah, it's a perfectly natural choice, that and amber on black.

(Sits down in his rocking chair, fills his pipe (and takes his merry
time about it), lights the pipe, draws some smoke, blows it out.)

You're probably too young to remember this, grasshopper, but in the
days of yore, computers used the punch card as output device. No,
wait, that's too far back ... somewhere between now and yore,
computers had only monochrome video output. The monitors that were
used back then were either light green on very dark green, or light
orange on very dark orange (lime on black and amber on black). People
grew up with these colour combinations. They may not be pretty to look
at, but there are people who cannot work without them.

That's my guess where that colour scheme in a text adventure
interpreter comes from.

--
branko
ik schrijf woorden achterstevoren

Alexandre Owen Muniz

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 9:13:44 PM11/19/03
to

Yes, I did play the game.

I don't have my transcript but a reconstruction of my efforts follows:

>talk to god
I don't know the word "talk".

>hello
You are unable to do that in the Presence.

>god, hello
You are unable to do that in the Presence.

>ask god about himself
I don't know the word "himself".

>ask god about exit
I don't understand that sentence.

At this point I gave up trying to talk to god.

**Owen

Andrew Krywaniuk

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 10:41:52 PM11/19/03
to
> I don't have my transcript but a reconstruction of my efforts follows:
>
> >talk to god
> I don't know the word "talk".

Not a problem. The absence of a talk verb merely suggests the presence of a
more advanced conversation system.

> >hello
> You are unable to do that in the Presence.
>
> >god, hello
> You are unable to do that in the Presence.

Okay, that's a bug, albeit a minor one. The TADS equivalent of react_before
has the wrong priority here.

> >ask god about himself
> I don't know the word "himself".

So why not try:
">ask god about god"
"KNOW THIS, MORTAL. I AM THE GOD."

> >ask god about exit
> I don't understand that sentence.
>
> At this point I gave up trying to talk to god.

Criticizing the author for a shortcoming of the parser is hardly fair. When
parsing a command, the TADS parser gives you an error if you ask <character>
about <verb>. Try this in any other TADS game in the comp. Check it out:

">ask god about eat"


I don't understand that sentence.

">ask god about north"


I don't understand that sentence.

But if you do something completely logical like:
">ask god about chest"
[Your shiftgrethor increases.]

"The chests are sacred unto Me, linked through space and time, to light and
dark.
My silent servant the crystal tends, but beware the blood."

Andrew


Alexandre Owen Muniz

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 1:25:01 AM11/20/03
to
Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
>>I don't have my transcript but a reconstruction of my efforts follows:
>>
>> >talk to god
>>I don't know the word "talk".
>
>
> Not a problem. The absence of a talk verb merely suggests the presence of a
> more advanced conversation system.

It didn't suggest anything much to me. Look, I know my failure is, in part, due to my
shortcomings as a player, but my playing experience is still a valid experience. If the
author had tried a little harder to anticipate what players would try, I might have gotten
to the conversation that was implemented. The author could have created a TALK TO verb
with a default response like, "[In this game, use ASK/TELL NPC ABOUT <subject>]" and I
would have tried that.


>
>> >ask god about himself
>>I don't know the word "himself".
>
>
> So why not try:
> ">ask god about god"

Because I don't write like that in English. Yes, I know this it is not uncommon for games
to fail to handle him/herself correctly, and if I had been trying a little harder to warp
my brain to think like a lazy IF author, I might have tried that. Unfortunately, I was
using all of my brain warping power to try to understand the setting and logic of the game
world, and had no more warp to spare.


> "KNOW THIS, MORTAL. I AM THE GOD."
>
>
>> >ask god about exit
>>I don't understand that sentence.
>>
>>At this point I gave up trying to talk to god.
>
>
> Criticizing the author for a shortcoming of the parser is hardly fair.

Sure. It's not fair. But it was part of my experience of playing the game.

>
> But if you do something completely logical like:
> ">ask god about chest"
> [Your shiftgrethor increases.]
>
> "The chests are sacred unto Me, linked through space and time, to light and
> dark.
> My silent servant the crystal tends, but beware the blood."

This would indeed have been a logical thing to try. But after trying five or so other
things and failing, I wasn't in the mood to keep trying.

**Owen

Enforced Exile

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 2:04:27 AM11/20/03
to
dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote in message news:<3ff7ba1e.03111...@posting.google.com>...

> takeahi...@hotmail.com (Enforced Exile) wrote in message news:<e8c559ff.03111...@posting.google.com>...
> > dessert...@hotmail.com (C #M) wrote in message news:<3ff7ba1e.0311...@posting.google.com>...

> Arright, my bad, I didn't know that, no need to yell ^_^* I still
> think lime green on black is a pretty strange choice for a default
> colour scheme, but it's nice to know you can change it.

No probs. I was a little annoyed when I read your review when I knew
you could just change the colours, and therefore to call such
versatility a con seemed wrong.

Andrew Krywaniuk

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 3:30:43 AM11/20/03
to
> > Not a problem. The absence of a talk verb merely suggests the presence
of a
> > more advanced conversation system.
>
> It didn't suggest anything much to me. Look, I know my failure is, in
part, due to my
> shortcomings as a player, but my playing experience is still a valid
experience. If the
> author had tried a little harder to anticipate what players would try, I
might have gotten
> to the conversation that was implemented. The author could have created a
TALK TO verb
> with a default response like, "[In this game, use ASK/TELL NPC ABOUT
<subject>]" and I
> would have tried that.

And had the author done that, he would have gotten flames from all the
players who complain that telling the player what words to type breaks
mimesis. If anything, it should be something like "You'll have to be more
specific."

Andrew


Joe Mason

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 3:55:49 AM11/20/03
to
In article <4KWub.439965$9l5.309919@pd7tw2no>, Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
>> >talk to god
>> I don't know the word "talk".
>
> Not a problem. The absence of a talk verb merely suggests the presence of a
> more advanced conversation system.

Or that there is none. Obviously it was a problem, because somebody
gave up. A good way to treat this is to say, "To talk to someone, do
such-and-such." Much more helpful.

> So why not try:
> ">ask god about god"
> "KNOW THIS, MORTAL. I AM THE GOD."
>
>> >ask god about exit
>> I don't understand that sentence.
>>
>> At this point I gave up trying to talk to god.
>
> Criticizing the author for a shortcoming of the parser is hardly fair. When
> parsing a command, the TADS parser gives you an error if you ask <character>
> about <verb>. Try this in any other TADS game in the comp. Check it out:

On the conmtrary, one reason NPC's are considered really hard is that
you open yourself up to such criticism. For whatever reason (inherent
complexity, disagreement on approach) the standard tools for doing NPC's
just aren't up to par with the tools for, say, doors. That doesn't give
you a pass on making your NPC's as close to seamless as you can - it
just means you have to do a lot more work. In this case, there's a big
shortcoming of the parser that you have to work around.

Joe

Joe Mason

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 3:59:22 AM11/20/03
to
In article <TY_ub.439433$pl3.1453@pd7tw3no>, Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
> And had the author done that, he would have gotten flames from all the
> players who complain that telling the player what words to type breaks
> mimesis. If anything, it should be something like "You'll have to be more
> specific."

Yep. And you'd get just as many flames for that useless piece of text.
You'd also get flames from people who think you shoulld use conversation
menus, and people who think you should just have hit points and a sword.
People disagree about these things - you have to pick an approach and
stick to it, Just ignoring the TALK verb, either deliberately or by not
thinking it through, is the worst one.

Joe

Quintin Stone

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 9:24:05 AM11/20/03
to
On Thu, 20 Nov 2003, Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:

> > >ask god about exit
> > I don't understand that sentence.
> >
> > At this point I gave up trying to talk to god.
>
> Criticizing the author for a shortcoming of the parser is hardly fair. When
> parsing a command, the TADS parser gives you an error if you ask <character>
> about <verb>.

Technically, the author can implement any verb as a noun or conversation
topic. It's rare that this is done. In the case where it'd be a valid
conversation topic, then I can see it. It's pretty hard to predict what
kind of topics your players will come up with though.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 2:05:34 PM11/20/03
to
Here, Andrew Krywaniuk <askr...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > > Not a problem. The absence of a talk verb merely suggests the presence
> > > of a more advanced conversation system.
> >
> > It didn't suggest anything much to me. Look, I know my failure is,
> > in part, due to my shortcomings as a player, but my playing
> > experience is still a valid experience. If the author had tried a
> > little harder to anticipate what players would try, I might have
> > gotten to the conversation that was implemented. The author could
> > have created a TALK TO verb with a default response like, "[In
> > this game, use ASK/TELL NPC ABOUT <subject>]" and I would have
> > tried that.
>
> And had the author done that, he would have gotten flames from all the
> players who complain that telling the player what words to type breaks
> mimesis.

I believe you are wrong. I see such complaints rarely, if ever.

People *do* legitimately complain about interactions like:

> FLIP SWITCH
[In this game, use TURN ON SWITCH instead.]

In that case, the game is clearly parsing the command correctly, and
it would be trivial to just do the right thing instead of complaining
about it.

But it should be acceptable to guide people away from a whole
conversation-parsing system that *doesn't exist*, towards the one that
*does* exist.

Joe Mason

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 3:03:45 PM11/20/03
to
In article <Pine.LNX.4.44.031120...@yes.rps.net>, Quintin Stone wrote:
> On Thu, 20 Nov 2003, Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
>
>> > >ask god about exit
>> > I don't understand that sentence.
>> >
>> > At this point I gave up trying to talk to god.
>>
>> Criticizing the author for a shortcoming of the parser is hardly fair. When
>> parsing a command, the TADS parser gives you an error if you ask <character>
>> about <verb>.
>
> Technically, the author can implement any verb as a noun or conversation
> topic. It's rare that this is done. In the case where it'd be a valid
> conversation topic, then I can see it. It's pretty hard to predict what
> kind of topics your players will come up with though.

I would argue that it's a bug that it defaults to "I don't understand
that sentence" instead of "I don't recognize that topic", though.

Joe

Quintin Stone

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 3:30:15 PM11/20/03
to
On Thu, 20 Nov 2003, Joe Mason wrote:

> > Technically, the author can implement any verb as a noun or
> > conversation topic. It's rare that this is done. In the case where
> > it'd be a valid conversation topic, then I can see it. It's pretty
> > hard to predict what kind of topics your players will come up with
> > though.
>
> I would argue that it's a bug that it defaults to "I don't understand
> that sentence" instead of "I don't recognize that topic", though.

Unfortunately, it's one of those built-in parser errors that can't be
changed by an author.

Adam Thornton

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 6:14:25 PM11/21/03
to
In article <slrnbrout...@gate.notcharles.ca>,

Joe Mason <j...@notcharles.ca> wrote:
>In article <TY_ub.439433$pl3.1453@pd7tw3no>, Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
>> And had the author done that, he would have gotten flames from all the
>> players who complain that telling the player what words to type breaks
>> mimesis. If anything, it should be something like "You'll have to be more
>> specific."
>Yep. And you'd get just as many flames for that useless piece of text.
>You'd also get flames from people who think you shoulld use conversation
>menus, and people who think you should just have hit points and a sword.

...but none of these would have generated nearly as much ire and flamage
as:

The god rumbles, "DON'T YOU WANT TO ASK ME ABOUT HER BREASTS?"

Adam

Quintin Stone

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Nov 23, 2003, 12:11:50 AM11/23/03
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On Fri, 21 Nov 2003, Adam Thornton wrote:

> ...but none of these would have generated nearly as much ire and flamage
> as:
>
> The god rumbles, "DON'T YOU WANT TO ASK ME ABOUT HER BREASTS?"

Damn, that was funny. (It helps that I've played 1-2-3, of course.)

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