2006 Comp: Gargoyle, Judging, Killing Things

20 views
Skip to first unread message

Preferred User

unread,
Nov 16, 2006, 5:49:10 PM11/16/06
to
Thanks to everyone who wrote up detailed reviews of the games. I'm
fascinated at the different reactions to certain entries, the ones in
the running for the Banana of Discord like Delightful Wallpaper and
Legion. I look forward to more discussion of those but meanwhile here
are few general observations from my judging experience this year.

*Gargoyle: Gargoyle made it much more pleasurable to play the Adrift
games this time around, and probably contributed to me scoring them
higher than in years past. Thanks to Tor Andersson for this tool! On
the downside, I used Gargoyle to play Legion, because the game overrode
my color options in Frotz, and I didn't realize until later that an
interpreter bug kept me from completing the computer sequence in that
game.

*Playing vs. Judging: At its best the comp for me is like a good film
festival: if one game isn't my cup of tea I just move on, there's
always the promise the next one could be a gem. But when there are so
many entries (I got through 30), I can get grumpy and dutiful, and lose
some of my enjoyment as a player--worse, get annoyed at the first glitch
or cliche that comes along, thinking "this just isn't my kind of game."

Authors probably know this but, especially in the IFcomp, if things at
the very beginning are polished--if it's pretty seamless, the scenery is
well implemented, my actions are anticipated, there aren't spelling
errors or guess-the-verb puzzles that bog me down too early--then the
game has won my trust. If it's lost early, it's really hard to get it
back.

A couple of good examples of polished games that swept me into the story
right away: The start of Primrose Path made me want to stumble
downstairs and answer the door right away--though I did hesitate there,
thinking, hmmm will this be a Monkey's Paw moment?--not stop and examine
things or poke at the scenery like a betatester would. Same with Madam
Spider: right from the start I felt I was tiptoeing around the house
with danger nipping at my heels (I really jumped the first time I caused
a clatter in the fridge), trying to be quiet AND hurry up at the same
time. That's nice immersion, right from the start.

In contrast to that, I lost some enthusiasm for Elysium Enigma, which so
many people liked, because I just didn't have that sense of immersion or
vividness. I knew the game wanted me to side with the natives against
my employers but I couldn't see why my character had any motivation to
do that. I had just come off of playing Floatpoint, which set up this
type of conflict so well: from the start, Floatpoint's Valenti was way
more interesting and charismatic and less crude and exploitative than
Kruger, so I was already shifting alliances. In Elysium, my first
meeting with Leela in the woods didn't make me want to go against
orders, in fact she was just kind of annoying. And there were also
those puzzles early on that I found kind of bland (dog in the way of the
shed, cat in the way of the box) ... which leads me to ...

*A Personal Rant: Don't Make Me Kill Things - WATCH OUT SPOILERS HERE

Hey, I enjoy playing the Bad Guy or blowing things up in a game as much
as the next person, but please, give me a character motivation if your
puzzles are going to make me kill someone. Don't make me shoot a dog
(Elysium), even if it turns out later it's only stunned (hmm, not that I
knew that!) just so I can satisfy my "get all" urge to pick up a
vegetable I may need later to solve a puzzle. Don't make me kill a
person--especially not a child (Requiem)--just to see a different ending
to the game: that's not inhabiting the story, it's like trying every
inventory object on something just to see what happens. Don't make me
kill a guard (Tower of the Elephant) when I can sneak around him, unless
you've already shown me that I'm that ruthless; otherwise it just feels
like a lazy solution (ok, from what Zarf posted about this game maybe
everyone knows, hey, it's Conan, you kill). I'm totally fine with these
things if you build up my character for it, but if killing someone is
just a handy puzzle solution, that creeps me out.

By contrast, in Legion I was certainly prepared to kill off all the
colonists if I had to. That's because the author had already built up a
believable distance between me and all those "alien" creatures who were
(albeit unknowingly) wreaking destruction on me. I wasn't even sure I
could trust the one human I was starting to feel sympathy for: maybe he
was just trying to lure me into the shuttle and ditch me in space??
It's way more interesting to do bad things in character than to off
people, just to see what happens. Though that's one definition of a
sociopath, after all. See I *knew* computer games were corrupting our
youth!

That's it for now,
Maureen

Yuki

unread,
Nov 16, 2006, 7:58:54 PM11/16/06
to
Preferred User wrote:
> By contrast, in Legion I was certainly prepared to kill off all the
> colonists if I had to. That's because the author had already built up a
> believable distance between me and all those "alien" creatures who were
> (albeit unknowingly) wreaking destruction on me. I wasn't even sure I
> could trust the one human I was starting to feel sympathy for: maybe he
> was just trying to lure me into the shuttle and ditch me in space??
> It's way more interesting to do bad things in character than to off
> people, just to see what happens. Though that's one definition of a
> sociopath, after all. See I *knew* computer games were corrupting our
> youth!
>
> That's it for now,
> Maureen

What colonists were these? Are you sure you don't mean Floatpoint?

Michael Martin

unread,
Nov 16, 2006, 8:32:38 PM11/16/06
to
Yuki wrote:
> What colonists were these? Are you sure you don't mean Floatpoint?

He means Legion. The exact nature of "her" becomes much clearer (to
the player, anyway; the PC can only draw the most tentative of
conclusions about these alien invaders) in the second half of the game.

There's still clearly some room for interpretation across judges, but
I'm pretty sure Devlin was pretty sure what each thing the PC sees
actually is.

--Michael

Maureen Mason

unread,
Nov 17, 2006, 12:00:37 AM11/17/06
to
> Michael Martin wrote:
> Yuki wrote:
> > What colonists were these? Are you sure you don't mean Floatpoint?
>
> He means Legion. The exact nature of "her" becomes much clearer (to
> the player, anyway; the PC can only draw the most tentative of
> conclusions about these alien invaders) in the second half of the game.

yes, colonists = members of the mining operation

Legion spoilers ...
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
I remember at the beginning of the game I pictured the "arms" in the
cave as some kind of minecrawler machine, with the five points being
five-fingered robot arms coming out of their sides.

Another player and I talked during the comp about how jolting it was
when you first put 2+2 together and realize oh my, I just destroyed a
human not a machine.

Maureen

Yuki

unread,
Nov 17, 2006, 4:17:06 PM11/17/06
to
Michael Martin wrote:
> Yuki wrote:
> > What colonists were these? Are you sure you don't mean Floatpoint?
>
> He means Legion. The exact nature of "her" becomes much clearer (to
> the player, anyway; the PC can only draw the most tentative of
> conclusions about these alien invaders) in the second half of the game.

Sorry. Wrong set of colonists.

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages