[IFComp03] Michael's reviews (part 1 of 4)

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Michael Coyne

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Nov 27, 2003, 2:17:48 AM11/27/03
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REVIEWS IN THIS POST
Sophie's Adventure
The Atomic Heart
Curse of Manorland
The Adventures of the President of the United States

Well, here they finally here. Sorry it's taken me more than a week to
get these out, but a lot of them were simply in the form of rough notes.
I also kept convincing myself that I would play and review a few more
of the games, post-Comp, which was foolishly optimistic.

In the end, I only managed to knock off 17 games during the competition,
and just Scavenger, post-Comp... though to be fair, it was only a few
hours post-Comp, but anyway...

Note these reviews are also available on-line at:
http://www.mts.net/~coyne/reviews.html

The reviews are listed in the order I played the games.

My reviews use Jess & Jenn's WABE scoring system, explained here on
their Strange Breezes website. In a nutshell, it scores the games 0-5
in Writing, Appeal, Bugginess and Entertainment categories. The score is
then totalled and divided by 2 to give a score from 0 - 10.

Play Order:
Sophie's Adventure
The Atomic Heart
Curse of Manorland
The Adventures of the President of the United States
Sardoria
Hercules First Labor
shadows on the mirror
little girl in the big world
Rape, Pillage Galore!
Sweet Dreams
Amnesia
Episode in the Life of an Artist
BIO
Delvyn
The Fat Lardo and the Rubber Ducky
Gourmet
Slouching Towards Bedlam
Scavenger


---------------------------------------------------------------
Sophie's Adventure

Author: David Whyld
System: ADRIFT

Tagline Summary: The adventure: finding the original plot device.

Well, I'd never downloaded or played an Adrift game before, so I
installed the shiny new Adrift Runner, Version 4.00, Release 41. How
exciting!

The introductory "Background" section is competent, and the initial
"Sophie's Room" location seems well-implemented. The objects mentioned
in the room description are examinable, and everything seems decently
written. A minor quibble about "open desk" not working, but otherwise,
it shows promise.

I try "get all" in the bedroom, only to be yelled at by the game, as it
tells me that 'get all' isn't going to work, as it makes things too
easy. This is rather vexing, as I now have to peer closely at the room
description and attempt to take every item individually, just to find
out what can be taken and what cannot.

In the upstairs hallway location, the punctuation starts to get a little
odd, the writing going down a notch or two. Well, that's okay. I still
have an open mind.

The bathroom to the north--let's try that. Typing 'n' gets the response
"You can't go in that direction, but you can move north, northwest,
west, southwest and down.". Didn't I just try north?

I'll try northeast then. Hmmm. "You can't go in that direction, but you
can move north, west and down." Strange.

I'll try north again. It still doesn't work. How about 'enter bathroom'?
That produces "Just a direction will do." I beg to differ.

I try going into my sister's room a few times, and end up with a magical
credit card, which disappears from inventory every time I try to walk
downstairs (not a bug, the game mentions it disappearing). So I try the
obvious solution: 'put card in pocket'. BLAM! One run-time error. Game over.

I restart in a somewhat less-optimistic mood, and head downstairs, where
I encounter my first annoyance with ADRIFT and disambiguation. Here,
'open drawer' produces "You can't open that.", while 'open chest of
drawers' produces "Which drawer? There are two in the chest of drawers -
upper and lower." Typing 'upper' or 'lower' at this point doesn't
resolve the issue, as I'm used to with other parsers.

I wander around the house for a little while. Let me just take the
opportunity to mention that this is the first game I'm playing, and I'm
already sick of houses. I hate wandering around people's houses in
interactive fiction. I don't like it.

Ah, the Aged Ps! Why are parents in interactive fiction games always so
stereotyped? For once, I'd like to meet a father who isn't busy with a
computer or television, and a mother who does something other than
prepare food, cook and clean.

After the well-implemented bedroom, the rest of the house seems a little
sketchy, with easy-to-anticipate actions not handled sensibly. For
example, 'turn tv off' (in the hopes of rousing dad) produces "You can't
turn the widescreen tv off." Why not? Is the knob broken? Do I need the
remote to do so? Would dad kill me? Am I technologically inept?

Similarly, trying to put something on the dining room table results in
finding out that "You can't put anything onto the dining room table." Am
I vertically challenged? I don't mind if actions are disallowed, but
give me an interesting message. The response in these cases tell me that
these fairly predictable actions weren't foreseen by the author.

It is upon opening the front door that I realise that ADRIFT seems
unsure of the size of my screen. All long dumps of text seem to wrap off
the top before the MORE button appears, resulting in continual
scrollback. I resize the window a number of times, but the end result is
always that about half a screenful of text ends up scrolling off the screen.

It's also upon opening the door that I run into the cheap rip-off of
Time Bandits. Over the commotion of the dwarves, I dimly hear the sound
of David Rappaport spinning in his little grave over the "Randle" (sic)
character.

It was at this point that the game descended into what seemed to be a
series of cheap rip-offs of various stories and adventures, from Monty
Python's to Harry Potter and various other works.

Anyway, I end up in the cave, and select Grolsch as the dwarf to take
with me. I did this mostly because the conversation sentence for that
topic was so intriguing: "Grolsch, I need someone to protect me and it
looks like being me". Very Zen. Or maybe it's a reference to Ralph Waldo
Emerson, and the importance of self-reliance. Regardless, I choose 3,
and the "other dwarves" leave. I am clearly left with Grolsch, as he
utters a few sentences. However, when I leave the cave, Snitch is
following me instead! Very odd. Grolsch has vanished without a trace. I
can only hope that some passing aliens have a matter reconstituter and
can bring him back for me (preferably not in a gold loincloth though).

I make my way to the eastern beach and the statue, where I attempt 'x
statue', which yields "You can't see the stone statue from here!", which
is a little odd--especially as I could examine it when I was further
away from it. "Talk to statue" results in "You can't see the stone statue."

Well, to cut a lengthy story short, I continue playing. At one point, I
foolishly type 'get all' again, but this time it works! Well, why was I
told it didn't work the first time I tried it? ARGH.

I start referring heavily to the walkthrough in order to get through the
part with the crystals and the doors, but an inadvertent slip of the
fingers means I exit one of the crystal rooms before getting the
crystal. The door seals, and I can't go back. At this point, I quit in
frustration.

Author Encouragement:
This is an encouraging first start. I think a more original story, with
some more of your own ideas would work well.

You might want to investigate an authoring system like TADS or Inform.
It will free you up from a lot of the painful programming hoops you
might have had to jump through (such as the disambiguation with the
crystals), leaving you more time to concentrate on the game itself.

Bedroom Notes:
There's not really much of anything to do in the house part of the game.
I recommend finding a better way to transport Sophie into the adventure.
Many objects in the house are under-implemented in any case, but I spent
a fair bit of time fumbling around in the house trying to find some hint
of Sophie's presents, thinking that was the real premise of the story.
When I finally opened the front door, and realised that the real game
had nothing to do with the house, it made me wonder why the house was
implemented at all.

Scoring:
W: 2
The basic plot is rather silly, very much on rails, and doesn't make a
lot of sense. It seems to be the result of grafting together ideas from
a lot of sources. The writing seemed promising in the background and
initial location, but fell off very quickly. Some
spelling/grammar/punctuation mistakes.

A: 2
Generally unappealing, but not actively offensive. Just not terribly
interesting.

B: 2
Fatal crash upon trying "put card in pocket", asked for Grolsch to
accompany me, got Snitch instead. Happened to open doors inside Arliss's
tower in a different order than in the walkthrough. I did not have or
see an item mentioned in walkthrough when doing a particular door, so
left the room before finishing everything. It was then no longer
possible to go back. I could not finish the game. Also, there was one
particular scenery object that needed to be opened. I would never have
thought of that, as examining the item gave NO indication that opening
it was required or even possible.

E: 2
I did not find this particularly fun or entertaining. Where the humour
wasn't simply insipid, it was childish or predictable. Many of the
puzzles involved performing illogical unconnected actions, or simply
walking into a location in order to solve them. Numerous plot elements
were lifted from other works--drawing attention to a shameless parody by
openly referring to it in the game as a shameless parody does not render
it any less shameless.

WABE score: 4


---------------------------------------------------------------
The Atomic Heart

Author: Stefan Blixt
System: Zcode

Tagline Summary: Atomic Heart: Atom-bombed before it had a chance to
reach the finish.

I wanted to like this one, really I did. The premise, though composed of
clichéd elements, was new in terms of the combination of all of them.

However, early on, the game has an irritating rush to perform a series
of tasks relying on non-IF standard actions. There are better ways to
introduce new syntax and tasks than to force the player to figure it all
out at once when he suddenly realises he's in danger of running out of
power, and might have to restart and go through all that nonsense with
the 'trainers' once again (including continually trying to call them
'shoes', only to have it fail).

After struggling through the syntax of that puzzle, it just seemed to me
that the whole process could have been made easier by adding synonyms
and additional verbs to accomplish the actions, just to allow a little
bit of latitude.

Even after the initial implementation problems, the game still felt
sloppy. There were extra linefeeds after examining objects or performing
actions in some cases, and not in others, lending a patched-together
feel to the text.

I ran into disambiguation problems, grammatical problems, unimplemented
scenery objects, and one puzzle early on in the game that was completely
unclued and impossible to guess. If you've played, you know the one I'm
talking about. It's even more irritating, as 'move' and 'get' tell you
that the item in question is "fixed in place", leading me to assume I
didn't need to interact any further with it.

I ended up leaning fairly heavily on the walkthrough, mostly due to
syntax problems I encountered. I could figure out what to do for a lot
of the puzzles, but not how to express it to the game.

Finally, I came to a point in the walkthrough where a certain item
needed to be interacted with. The command given in the walkthrough
didn't work, and I could find no other way to perform the action and
proceed with the game.

So, exit one Atomic Heart.

Author Encouragement:
I think this game would benefit most from testing by some IF authors.
They would have spotted the extra linefeeds, disambiguation problems and
so on. Try to enlist some for your next work--if they do their job
right, you'll love them and hate them at the same time.

Run through the walkthrough one final time before submitting the game.
It doesn't suffice to glance at the walkthrough and judge that all the
actions therein make sense. Sit down, and type them all in, one at a
time, and make sure you get to where you expect--the end of the game.

Scoring:
W: 3
Lots of problems with grammar, text spacing, linefeeds and so on. The
story was okay, though similar things have been done in IF before now.

A: 3
Nothing really to excite in either positive or negative ways. As I said,
I wanted to like this one, I liked the idea, it just wasn't the best
implementation that it could have been.

B: 1
Serious bug prevented the game from being finished, even following the
walkthrough. It's not just the game-breaking bug, it's the
implementation, the difficulties in making myself understood to the parser.

E: 3
It looked like fun, and I wanted to play it through to the end and get
the whole story. I just couldn't.

WABE score: 5


---------------------------------------------------------------
The curse of Manorland

Author: James King
System: AGT

Tagline Summary: The "curse" of Manorland is ubiquitous: it's affected
the writing, plot, parser and entertainment value.

This game got a laugh right on startup. The opening title box says:

By James King Version 0.1

I wonder if a later version of James King would have written a better
game? This one, I'm afraid, is rather disappointing.

The writing is not good. Conversations and quotes are all misplaced. The
"there" versus "they're" confusion shows up, synonyms are missing all
over the place (cannot use 'ball' for 'football'). Most locations make
no mention of the exits... objects continue to be mentioned in the text
after taking them...

The initial "puzzle" in the bedroom would have been impossible to solve
without the walkthrough, as I would not have assumed an 11 year-old
could pick up a mattress and throw it through a window (especially when
'open window' resulted in "You can't open the window."). Why do I want
to escape this bedroom anyway? What's my motivation?

The non-stop "It is very cold" messages continually abort user actions
in a very frustrating way. This girl also seems to be afflicted with
narcolepsy and poor circulation. If it's so cold, how come she can spend
the night outside in just a sleeping bag with no ill effects?

I managed to find the royal family eventually though: king, prince and
princess. I talked to the prince and he told me we need a new princess
soon and that with mother gone sarah will be queen. This can't mean what
I think it means, can it? The king is going to marry his daughter,
because his wife is gone? According to the instructions, this is a game
for kids!

At the point where the walkthrough told me to "tie the rope to the tree
outside the hut" in a location where no tree was mentioned in the
description (yet was there notwithstanding), I decided to give up. The
game has defeated me, and I'm afraid I fail to understand how children
are expected to play this.

My biggest question: what is a flock of grass? (see the Front Garden
location).

Author Encouragement:
The biggest suggestion is to have people beta-test your game. It will
work wonders, and you'll be amazed at what they uncover, or the things
they'll try that make absolute sense, but that you just never thought of.

My other suggestion to you is to learn a little more about the art of
writing, especially how to handle punctuation and character
conversation. Read lots of fiction and play lots of other interactive
fiction games to see the right way of doing these things.

The thing about IF players is, the majority of them are budding authors
(IF and otherwise) or at the least, people with a strong command of
language. You only have to read the posts on r.*.i-f to gain an
appreciation for the number of well-written people we have in this
community. The drawback to this is that they can be unforgiving. You
see, if we play a piece of IF like Curse of Manorland alongside pieces
like Scavenger and Slouching Towards Bedlam, comparisons will be made.
If other authors take the time to present the text in a readable
fashion, you should too, or you will be judged harshly--as indeed you were.

Bedroom Notes:
Here, the bedroom exists only as a location to exit, and there's no
fiddling around with the rest of the house, which is good. I don't
particularly mind this one starting in the bedroom, as you get out
rather quickly, and don't have to return.

However, the mattress and the window puzzle need to be a little better
clued. When I tried 'open window' and I got what seemed to be a standard
parser response, I assumed the window was not the way out.

The fact that the mattress is described as an "ordinary mattress" gave
no clue that it was light enough for a young girl to pick up, let alone
throw. Perhaps describing it as "lightweight" in some fashion would help
players latch on to the first puzzle.

Another idea is implementing alternate solutions to this puzzle, such as
tying the sheets together. A cliché, I know, but one that players might
expect to work.

In conclusion, work on the writing skills and make sure to get your
games tested. That will help a great deal. Oh, and don't work to the
Comp. By that, I mean don't rush your game out just to enter it in the
competition. It's not worth it. Think about how these reviews are making
you feel... that "punched-in-the-gut" sensation. Hang on to the game
instead, improve it, get it tested, and release it later... or in next
year's Comp if you're set on it.

Scoring:
W: 0
Pointless, nonsensical story, incessant grammatical mistakes, constant
"You are cold" messages aborting player input, no motivation for PC: why
is she trying to leave her bedroom.

A: 1
This game had no appeal for me. Irritating to play. Guess-the-verb.
Guess-the-object-which-is-here-but-not-mentioned.
Guess-the-random-action. Looking back to my original jotted notes during
gameplay, I see that they finish with the phrase: Forget this. That
sentiment remains unchanged.

B: 0
All kinds of unimplemented objects, objects that I'm supposed to
interact with not mentioned in the descriptions, inconsistent (or
nonexistent) directional messages in locations, lack of synonyms, no
anticipation of actions other than what's in the walkthrough, e.g.
opening window, doors, etc.

E: 1
This game was no fun whatsoever for me. The puzzles made no sense, and
very few of them could be solved without resorting to the walkthrough,
mostly due to guess-the-verb or illogical actions.

WABE score: 1


---------------------------------------------------------------
The Adventures of the President of the United States

Author: Mikko Vuorinen
System: Alan

Tagline Summary: You are in the IF Comp. Your descriptions are short.

What's up with Alan, anyway?

I type 'restart' and the game asks "Do you want to RESTART, RESTORE or
QUIT? I type 'quit' and the game asks "Do you want to RESTART, RESTORE
or QUIT?"

Didn't I already say what I wanted to do? Also, if I decide at this
point that I don't want to restart, restore, or quit, I'm sunk. I've got
to do one of them.

Oddly, if I type 'restart' the game doesn't ask "Do you want to RESTART,
RESTORE or QUIT?", it just gives me a filename prompt. So what's the deal?

Anyway, I've never used Alan before, so I'm not sure if this is the
standard way restart and quit are handled in Alan, so I'll say no more,
and not let it affect the score too much.

Okay. On to the report, which is brief, much like the game.

The writing is serviceable, but a bit hard to judge objectively, as
there isn't a lot of it.

I couldn't figure out what to do at first. You have to 'talk to agent'
in order to find out that he's thirsty, and I didn't realise that typing
'search rooms' at that point would turn up a can of pop, as I'd tried
'search rooms' before talking to the agent, only to be told "That would
take ages."

I got a laugh when, after exiting the White House, the location was
simply the United States with "Canada ... to the north" and "Mexico ...
to the south."

In a couple of locations, key items to be examined in order to finish
the game were simply buried in location descriptions, and it was not
obvious that they could be examined.

I came across one disambiguation problem, when 'kiss princess madeleine'
gave the response "Which princess madeleine do you mean?" Er, the one
that's here, looking pretty? Same goes for 'kiss madeleine'. Odd.

Overall, there's not a lot here to judge.

Author Encouragement:
I think your writing skills are decent. The length of this game and the
short descriptions don't give it much opportunity to shine, but you have
far more skills at writing than many native English speakers, at least
when judged against the rest of the competition.

Giving the more important objects in the game their own line of
description, rather than embedding them in the location description
would also help players on some of the puzzles, cluing them to the idea
that the items in question are important to the story, and should be
examined.

Scoring:
W: 2
Serviceable writing, basic skeleton plot, some funny statements.

A: 2
Not a terribly gripping or compelling story.

B: 2
Unimplemented, sketchily described objects, locations... not clear which
objects mentioned in location descriptions can be examined.

E: 3
Just not terribly engrossing. Very brief, skeleton plot. This relatively
high score comes from the can of soda puzzle, which was a blast, and the
"Canada is to the north and Mexico to the south" business.

WABE score: 4.5


---------------------------------------------------------------
(continued in next message)

David Whyld

unread,
Nov 27, 2003, 8:35:46 AM11/27/03
to
Michael Coyne <co...@ATmts.DOTnet> wrote in message news:<Ywhxb.26039$MW5....@news1.mts.net>...

> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> Sophie's Adventure
>
> Author: David Whyld
> System: ADRIFT
>
> It is upon opening the front door that I realise that ADRIFT seems
> unsure of the size of my screen. All long dumps of text seem to wrap off
> the top before the MORE button appears, resulting in continual
> scrollback. I resize the window a number of times, but the end result is
> always that about half a screenful of text ends up scrolling off the screen.
>

Unfortunately that's a problem with Adrift. You can have <waitkey>
commands that stop the text scrolling until a key is pressed but it's
difficult to judge exactly where to place them. Too many and the
player is tapping a key every few lines of text; too few and the text
scrolls off screen. Hopefully it'll get sorted out before long.

> I am clearly left with Grolsch, as he
> utters a few sentences. However, when I leave the cave, Snitch is
> following me instead! Very odd. Grolsch has vanished without a trace. I
> can only hope that some passing aliens have a matter reconstituter and
> can bring him back for me (preferably not in a gold loincloth though).

Yep. A bug. The fixed version on my website at www.shadowvault.net or
the main Adift page at www.adrift.org.uk has this sorted out.

> Bedroom Notes:
> There's not really much of anything to do in the house part of the game.
> I recommend finding a better way to transport Sophie into the adventure.
> Many objects in the house are under-implemented in any case, but I spent
> a fair bit of time fumbling around in the house trying to find some hint
> of Sophie's presents, thinking that was the real premise of the story.
> When I finally opened the front door, and realised that the real game
> had nothing to do with the house, it made me wonder why the house was
> implemented at all.

Why assume there's nothing in the house? I take it you didn't find the
Jack of Diamonds, the dummy, the strange coin and the rod (which can
be upgraded into the Hellrod later on), all of which are handy to have
with you throughout the game.

> Happened to open doors inside Arliss's
> tower in a different order than in the walkthrough. I did not have or
> see an item mentioned in walkthrough when doing a particular door, so
> left the room before finishing everything. It was then no longer
> possible to go back. I could not finish the game.

Why are you assuming the game was unfinishable at this point? It
wasn't. You only need to open one of the doors, get the crystal from
beyond it and you'll be told how to escape the test. The walkthru
merely shows you how to complete all six of the door quests; only one
is necessary. There's even a clue lying around somewhere that tells
you exactly which order the doors need to be opened.

Michael Coyne

unread,
Nov 27, 2003, 10:39:39 AM11/27/03
to
David Whyld wrote:

> Why assume there's nothing in the house? I take it you didn't find the
> Jack of Diamonds, the dummy, the strange coin and the rod (which can
> be upgraded into the Hellrod later on), all of which are handy to have
> with you throughout the game.

Well, perhaps I didn't phrase that right. While there are items there,
there's nothing to say that it has to be a house.

My main reason for talking about this is the glut of games, especially
from first-time authors, that seem to start inside houses, and they all
end up looking so very similar.

> Why are you assuming the game was unfinishable at this point? It
> wasn't. You only need to open one of the doors, get the crystal from
> beyond it and you'll be told how to escape the test. The walkthru
> merely shows you how to complete all six of the door quests; only one
> is necessary. There's even a clue lying around somewhere that tells
> you exactly which order the doors need to be opened.

I assumed the game was unfinishable, as I had broken the path of the
walkthrough and the commands immediately following the point I was at
didn't work, because I hadn't done the things prior.

So at this point, I called it quits.


--
coyneATmtsDOTnet
What do you mean, I need a signature?

David Thornley

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Nov 27, 2003, 11:03:55 AM11/27/03
to
In article <fcc784d7.03112...@posting.google.com>,

David Whyld <m...@dwhyld.plus.com> wrote:
>Michael Coyne <co...@ATmts.DOTnet> wrote in message news:<Ywhxb.26039$MW5....@news1.mts.net>...
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------
>> Sophie's Adventure
>>
>> Author: David Whyld
>> System: ADRIFT
>>
>> It is upon opening the front door that I realise that ADRIFT seems
>> unsure of the size of my screen. All long dumps of text seem to wrap off
>
>Unfortunately that's a problem with Adrift. You can have <waitkey>
>commands that stop the text scrolling until a key is pressed but it's
>difficult to judge exactly where to place them. Too many and the
>player is tapping a key every few lines of text; too few and the text
>scrolls off screen. Hopefully it'll get sorted out before long.
>
Until it does, it appears that games written in Adrift are going
to be annoying.

>> Bedroom Notes:
>> There's not really much of anything to do in the house part of the game.
>> I recommend finding a better way to transport Sophie into the adventure.
>> Many objects in the house are under-implemented in any case, but I spent
>> a fair bit of time fumbling around in the house trying to find some hint
>> of Sophie's presents, thinking that was the real premise of the story.
>> When I finally opened the front door, and realised that the real game
>> had nothing to do with the house, it made me wonder why the house was
>> implemented at all.
>
>Why assume there's nothing in the house? I take it you didn't find the
>Jack of Diamonds, the dummy, the strange coin and the rod (which can
>be upgraded into the Hellrod later on), all of which are handy to have
>with you throughout the game.
>

I can't answer for him, but here's my take on it.

The house is underimplemented. Lots of the obvious things to do simply
don't work. Doing a full search at this point seems uninviting, and
the fact that things change dramatically and irreversibly when you
open the front door suggests that the house is a waste of time.

This looks to me like a clash of expectations. There is an IF community,
and an Adrift community, and the IF Comp is pretty much in the IF
community. In the IF community, it's rather normal to expect that
a game that doesn't respond well and implements a house is doing so
as a programming exercise, rather than for game purposes. There was
inadequate cluing going on.

Ideally, this would have been picked up by a beta tester, with
communications like the following:

BT: "There was nothing to do in the house. You should probably
get rid of most of it."
You: "Of course there's things to do in the house. There are several
items that will be very useful later."
BT: "I didn't see anything to make me think that. The house items
were underimplemented, and in general it looked very unpromising."
You: "OK, I'll think about it. Either I'll do a bit more with the
house to make it worth searching, or I won't be surprised when
people complain that the house was pointless."

I don't know what betatesting you got, but it looks to me like either
you didn't have nearly enough, they didn't make nearly enough comments
on the gameplay, or you ignored most of the comments.

>> Happened to open doors inside Arliss's
>> tower in a different order than in the walkthrough. I did not have or
>> see an item mentioned in walkthrough when doing a particular door, so
>> left the room before finishing everything. It was then no longer
>> possible to go back. I could not finish the game.
>
>Why are you assuming the game was unfinishable at this point?

I would think because he was on the walkthrough at that point.
The game appears rather unforgiving, and I quit when I appeared to
have gotten the game into an unwinnable state. If it was still
possible to win, that wasn't obvious. This was shortly after the
first city.

In other words, the game does not inspire confidence. The player
has no confidence that the game is going to play fair, that it will
remain winnable. The initial bug which you have corrected was,
I think, very significant here. If a game is that obviously buggy
right at the start, it may well have more bugs that will, for
example, render the game unfinishable with any deviation from the
walkthrough.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Andrew Krywaniuk

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Nov 28, 2003, 5:47:41 AM11/28/03
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> My main reason for talking about this is the glut of games, especially
> from first-time authors, that seem to start inside houses, and they all
> end up looking so very similar.

How are all the games that start inside houses similar? (And what does this
have to do with them starting inside houses?)

Andrew


Roberto Grassi

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Nov 28, 2003, 6:32:00 AM11/28/03
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Hi,

> Until it does, it appears that games written in Adrift are going
> to be annoying.

Ahahahah... :)
That's ridiculous.

Rob


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Michael Coyne

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Nov 28, 2003, 1:16:50 PM11/28/03
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This is in reply to Andrew Krywaniuk's message, which didn't appear on
my newsserver, but is on Google...

Andrew wrote:
> Michael wrote

I wasn't only talking about this year's competition.

I was talking about the fact that *so* many first-time authors write
games set in houses that are under-implemented, have the right objects
present, but don't allow you to interact with them in sensible ways
(e.g. putting things on the table, turning the television off), have
stereotyped siblings and parents and so on, that games that start in
bedrooms or houses tend to irritate me. And I'm not the only one.

I cite Tony Baechler's reviews from this year, at:
http://groups.google.ca/groups?q=house+games+group:rec.games.int-fiction&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&selm=Xs3vb.7995%24Ue4.1323%40fed1read01&rnum=6

where he says:
"...please, no more house games! I don't want to wonder around your
house. This is a good first-time game, and the author has potential,
but the plot needs to be thought out more next time."


and various other past competition reviews are worth looking at too.


Houses turn off a lot of players when they see them at the beginning of
the game, myself included.

The thing is, I have a house. I have bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms,
televisions and so on. I don't need or really want to trudge through
them in an IF game.

Witness the difference with, say, Slouching Towards Bedlam. Now, there
was not really any location in the game that I hadn't seen in some way
before in life: office, hospital, shop, street, apartment, basement...
But the difference was they were all so evocatively described and all so
interesting... none of them were described in the "It's an ordinary
bathroom, sink, toilet, plumbing..." fashion.

Anyway, that's just my two cents worth.


Michael

Andrew Krywaniuk

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Nov 29, 2003, 3:18:39 AM11/29/03
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> I was talking about the fact that *so* many first-time authors write
> games set in houses that are under-implemented, have the right objects
> present, but don't allow you to interact with them in sensible ways
> (e.g. putting things on the table, turning the television off), have
> stereotyped siblings and parents and so on, that games that start in
> bedrooms or houses tend to irritate me. And I'm not the only one.

I know you're not the only one to complain. But what I'm asking is whether
you're sure it's a causation and not a correlation. Perhaps this anti-house
thing is just rgif snobbery. First time authors may start games in a house
at the beginning of the day simply because it seems like a natural place to
start. Then after being lambasted in review after review, the bottom 50%
give up and the top 50% of them don't start their next game in a house. So
if we assume that only beginners would set their game in a house, and
experienced authors make better games than beginning authors... anyway,
maybe we need a housecomp to test this theory :-)

As for this year's games:

Curse of Manorland -- Was starting in a bedroom really the problem with this
game? Amnesia didn't start in a bedroom.

Day in the Life of an Artist -- I didn't appreciate the house segment when I
played it, but after reading the reviews, I appreciated it in retrospect.

Sophie's Big Adventure -- I think the problem is that the house was a
seemingly meaningless segue into the real story.

Baluthar -- You start in a bedroom, but it's a one-room house. It seemed
like a perfectly reasonable lead-in to the story.

Little Girl in the Big World -- The whole game is in a house. It made sense
in the context of the story. Unfortunately, the game was entered in the comp
before it was ready.

A Paper Moon -- My idea was to start in a bedroom but also start in the
middle of the action. I.e. you awake in familiar surroundings, but something
has happened and you don't know what.

Delvyn -- I don't think the house was the problem with this game.

Adoo's Stinky Story -- The whole thing is in a house. It didn't detract from
the story as far as I'm concerned. The stuff in the house could have used a
bit more detail (what's on the CD, computer screen, etc) but that has
nothing to do with the house.

APUS -- It starts in the White House... that's a house, right?

Speaking of stereotypes, how many games these days are actually set in a
fantasy/post-apocalyptic world? I think there's something wrong if you are
forced to set your game in a fantasy world just so you have a plausible
explanation for why some everyday object is not implemented. That's what I
particularly enjoyed about Gourmet. It was set in the real world, with a
real-world scenario, and it works.

Andrew


Papillon

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Nov 29, 2003, 4:38:09 AM11/29/03
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"Andrew Krywaniuk" <askr...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>give up and the top 50% of them don't start their next game in a house. So
>if we assume that only beginners would set their game in a house, and
>experienced authors make better games than beginning authors... anyway,
>maybe we need a housecomp to test this theory :-)
>
>As for this year's games:

I started in a bedroom! Just not quite in 'your house'. :)


---
Hanako Games
http://www.hanakogames.com/

Magnus Olsson

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Nov 29, 2003, 2:35:03 PM11/29/03
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In article <zDYxb.520934$9l5.60190@pd7tw2no>,

Andrew Krywaniuk <askr...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>I think there's something wrong if you are
>forced to set your game in a fantasy world just so you have a plausible
>explanation for why some everyday object is not implemented.

Do you have any examples of that? I have some vague memory that I've
played some game where the absence of some everyday object was explained
in that way, but I may be imagining things :-).
--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)
PGP Public Key available at http://www.df.lth.se/~mol

David Thornley

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Nov 29, 2003, 2:43:14 PM11/29/03
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In article <0d9e48540beb9a78b78...@mygate.mailgate.org>,

Roberto Grassi <robg...@yahoo.it> wrote:
>Hi,
>
>> Until it does, it appears that games written in Adrift are going
>> to be annoying.
>
>Ahahahah... :)
>That's ridiculous.
>
In what way?

Mr. Whyld acknowledged that there was an interface problem with Adrift,
and implied that he knew of no good way to get around it. It is
often bad form to have long blocks of text, but sometimes they do seem
called for.

Since Adrift seems incapable of handling them well, that will make
playing such games less pleasant in Adrift.

At what point do you disagree with my assumptions or reasoning?

Magnus Olsson

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Nov 29, 2003, 6:04:54 PM11/29/03
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In article <3fc8f6d2$0$21574$a186...@newsreader.visi.com>,

David Thornley <thor...@visi.com> wrote:
>In article <0d9e48540beb9a78b78...@mygate.mailgate.org>,
>Roberto Grassi <robg...@yahoo.it> wrote:
>>Hi,
>>
>>> Until it does, it appears that games written in Adrift are going
>>> to be annoying.
>>
>>Ahahahah... :)
>>That's ridiculous.
>>
>In what way?
>
>Mr. Whyld acknowledged that there was an interface problem with Adrift,
>and implied that he knew of no good way to get around it. It is
>often bad form to have long blocks of text, but sometimes they do seem
>called for.
>
>Since Adrift seems incapable of handling them well, that will make
>playing such games less pleasant in Adrift.
>
>At what point do you disagree with my assumptions or reasoning?

I suppose he means that it's not the games that are annoying, it's
the interpreter. Technically, that's correct, but I'm afraid the
end result is the same - an annoyed player. (And, I suppose, an
author who's annoyed that the player is annoyed over something that's
not the author's fault).

Roberto Grassi

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Nov 30, 2003, 8:11:16 AM11/30/03
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Hi David,

> At what point do you disagree with my assumptions or reasoning?

At the point that a game can't be annoying
just for the fact that you've got to scrollback.

David Thornley

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Nov 30, 2003, 2:14:20 PM11/30/03
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In article <8d4dcef7171c4ee2362...@mygate.mailgate.org>,

Roberto Grassi <robg...@yahoo.it> wrote:
>Hi David,
>
>> At what point do you disagree with my assumptions or reasoning?
>
>At the point that a game can't be annoying
>just for the fact that you've got to scrollback.
>
Um, if you've got to scrollback enough times, that will get
annoying. Obviously, games can be annoying in other ways.
Prime examples would be "Fat Lardo" in this comp and "Stiffy
Makane" from an earlier one. Technically excellent.

Roberto Grassi

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Dec 1, 2003, 3:07:32 AM12/1/03
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Hi David,

> Um, if you've got to scrollback enough times, that will get
> annoying. Obviously, games can be annoying in other ways.

That's a wiser statement. :)

Adam Thornton

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Dec 2, 2003, 9:48:23 PM12/2/03
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In article <3fca418c$0$21580$a186...@newsreader.visi.com>,

David Thornley <thor...@visi.com> wrote:
>Obviously, games can be annoying in other ways.
>Prime examples would be "Fat Lardo" in this comp and "Stiffy
>Makane" from an earlier one. Technically excellent.

*THANK* you.

Adam

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