[Comp 98] Reviews

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Ben

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Nov 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/16/98
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Ok you mat not know me, but here are my reviews.

I place a lot of weight on technical implementation and how fleshed-out a
game is. In my opinion, this comp is about good IF. I rate highly games I
like, middling games I think are ok, and low games I dont like. Noone gets
charity points. I did not normalize. Bugs and technical errors seriously
affect my enjoyment of a game. My system comes out sort-of as a bell
curve, with most games falling in the middle. These reviews are full of
SPOILERS. Forgive me if all I do is point out technical flaws, I don't
mean to discourage anyone. It's just, well, Many games had VERY few flaws
and I don't see why any game need have any, especially with the free beta
tester site.

Where last year was the year of the Housegame, this year was much more
diverse. Thank god for that.

I only played the Inform and TADS games.

In summary:

Title: Rating:

1: "Photopia" 8
2: "Little Blue Men" 4
3: "Human Resources Stories" 3
4: "Cattus Atrox" 5
5: "Research Dig" 5
6: "Lightiania" 6
7: "Informatory" 4
8: "The Plant" 9
9: "Where Evil Dwells" 4
10: "In the Spotlight" 6
11: "The City" 4
12: "Acid Whiplash" 2
13: "Four in One" 3
14: "Arrival" 6
15: "Spacestation" 4
16: "Muse: An Autumn Romance" 4
17: "Trapped in a One-Room Dilly" 7
18: "The Ritual of Purification" 5
19: "Downtown Tokyo. Present Day." 6
20: "Enlightenment" 7
21: "Purple" 3
22: "Fifteen" 3
23: "Mother Loose" 6

Title: Rating:

1: "Photopia" 8

I am normally a puzzle-person, but I loved this game. Reasonably well
written. The talk method gets rid of the ask/tell tediousness. Some real
suprises in store, which I loved. Wings?!? Trying to figure out who I was
was fun. Neat "Dream sequence" written as an IF transcript. :) Took me
exactly 58 minutes to finish, but only because I took my time. I was never
"stuck". This game could be easily tripled in size, and I hope the author
does. Not a 9 becuase there werent enough puzzles for me, and it was very
linear. Objects and NPCs _fully_ fleshed-out (many humorous responses),
everything in most room descriptions is there. Great competition length.
I want more! [post-review comment: I did not encounter the "dont go south"
bug, so that did not affect my rating]

Bads:
Whats with all the definitions? "shovel clatters to the ground" -
underwater? No significant puzzles. Did you have to kill Alley? :)

One bug: you can talk to yourself. Strange, but non-serious. (for
instance, do "talk to mary" at the end)

IF IN-Jokes:
>x bear
You once asked Alley to tell you a story about your teddy bear coming to
life when you went to sleep, but she just smiled and said, "Oh, that's
been done."

puzzles: not too many. To me, this is one of its few flaws.
xyzzy: no
score: no

2: "Little Blue Men" 4

I started this game, played for a while and won in about 5 minutes. "This
cant be it". It seems there is only one short time where it will let you
away from your desk to see the other locations. If you do the right thing
too much, you win and its over. While the object is to attain Bliss, I
want to see at least half of a game's locations being involved in the
solution. I'm not sure if this winnable-too-early thing is a bug or a
feature. Since you always seem to be able to win by putting the second set
of papers in the box, im not sure what the point of the rest of the game
was. To discover what is "really going on" with your alien coworkers,
perhaps, but the game should not stop so quickly if that's not the true
goal. Since you can always "win", there arent really "unwinnable states"
but there are TONS of "un-solvable" states, where a puzzle will be locked
out from you. I hate this. It was kinda funny, though.

Puzzles: moderate
xyzzy: no
score: I like the pissed-off meter.

3: "Human Resources Stories" 3

I dont really get it, I guess. Not what I look for in "interactive
fiction". IMO, "Choose Your Own Adventure" style pick-an-answer questions
is pretty boring for an entire game. (it worked in "Photopia" only to get
rid of the ask/tell tediousness) Eventually I gave the "right" answers and
came out with $50,000 a year. Took me about 5 minutes but I didnt have
that much fun. I can tell the author is a non-native speaker. Good
implementation saves it from the pits of a 2.

Really Annoying:
> quit
Life doesn't work that way.

Puzzles: uh, no.
xyzzy: yes. I would post the xyzzy response, but it would take up too
much of this post. :)
score: sorta.

4: "Cattus Atrox" 5

Well, a valiant effort. Walkthrough absolutely required to solve. I mean,
come on.. on most streets:
"x street" gets "That's not something you need to refer to in the course
of this game."
But apparently you have to know to x street in exactly the right location
with no other clues. If you dont and you call susan and get into the car,
you are in an unwinnable state. not completely fleshed out locations - you
cant see any of the NPCs, or for that matter the lions, trap door, door,
or much of anything when you are on the floor by the trap door. no
response at all for "help" "hint" "about". Standard "run" response which
doesnt really work once you are in the living room. Descriptions need
work. For instance, when you are in the street next to the "Driveway" with
the car, the description doesnt mention that there is a driveway there.
You just have to know. At least it does have puzzles and a plot.

Puzzles: well-nigh impossible sans a walkthrough.
xyzzy: A small black cat struts by, rubs up against your legs, meows, then
scampers off.
score: no

5: "Research Dig" 5

Good competition length game, puzzles arent too hard. Has a story, but
seems to be not-fully-fleshed out perhaps. I did not expect to win when I
did. You can finish without all the points, a feature I like. That last
lousy point.
Found several misspellings in first five minutes, auto -1. (referance
book. artefacts . suprisement? :) ) A few minor bugs. "Get candles" only
gets one candle. You cant do 'in' 'look in coffin' or anything else for a
clue of going under it. You have to guess "down". You really should be
able to look in the coffin and see the mist in case you missed it the
first time. Major objects in some locations cannot be looked at or dont
exist. (most glaring is the Altar) Without the grammar errors and with
some better descriptions it would have been a 6 or more.

Puzzles: Easy-to-non-existent.
>xyzzy
Mists pour from the ground below you. They begin to spiral around your
legs. In the distance you can make out shadowy figures coming towards you
through the mist. You then hear a deep, booming voice say "Oh sorry, wrong
game." The mists vanish, and everything is back to normal.
score: standard system , 10 pts.

6: "Lightiania" 6

Ok, so english might not be the author's first language, but that's very
important in a text game. Minus points for various bad grammar and
spelling. Inventory bug with box. You can repeatedly "get" the book.
However despite this the world is VERY well fleshed-out. I had a hard time
finding an object in the room decscription that could not be examined.
Short, and well-fleshed-out. Maybe a bit too easy.

Puzzles: yes, but mostly find-the-item stuff.
score: standard system, 39 pts
xyzzy: no

7: "Informatory" 4

Each year, someone feels compelled to make a complete IF "in-joke" game.
Maybe it's some overwhelming desire for people to feel that they are part
of the group, I don't know. Anwyay, this one was just ok. A few good jokes
here and there. I liked the "see the source code" gimmick and one or two
other things. Good comp length, but below average because it misses the
point, IMO. One major bug involving the crowbar making it impossible to
get all the pts, but otherwise technically well done.

Puzzles: A few.
xyzzy: you better. :)
score: standard, 10 pts.

8: "The Plant" 9

Love this game. Well written, good combo of a strong story and puzzle IF.
All objects mentioned in description are implemented. Great puzzles - not
too hard, not too easy for the most part. I felt "stuck" for just the
right amount of time each time. However it was the first game I was not
able to complete in the 2 hrs. I managed 30 pts in the first 2 hours (got
to the cage puzzle) Puzzles tougher than any others in the comp ("so far")
but they are perfect for me. Excellent work, I am having a hard time
finding things wrong with it. I love the fact that there are no
insta-deaths and no unsolvable states. (that I found in the 2 hrs, anyway)
Only negative, perhaps would be the similarity of the plot to others
("Terminator" comes to mind), its not completely "original" in that sense.
I was also slightly annoyed with watching the same actions of the boss NPC
on EVERY move. Otherwise an awesome game, with well integrated puzzles.

Puzzles: Many, Excellent.
xyzzy: Teleports you nowhere. :)
score: standard, 100 pts.

9: "Where Evil Dwells" 4

Sorry to say I am not a huge fan of Horror fiction, but I gave it a good
chance. Feels kinda like someone's first inform game which wasn't
beta-tested. The "find out what happened to the missing person" plot is a
tad stale, too. A good shot, but it really needs a lot more work. No
"about" "help" "credits" "hint". Very significant scenery objects not
implemented. Obvious commands dont work. "lower bucket" works but not
"raise bucket". If you drop all your objects you will notice some appear
with the description of the room, some appear below it. In some rooms,
every look-able object in a room shows itself if you do "get all", giving
away stuff. (kitchen) Inconsistencies here and there. You can take every
object in Elizabeth's room including the bed. I am not sure if I have ever
seen this many keys in one small game.

LOL!
From out of nowhere, a black creature about the size of a cat, but with
more wings and teeth, scurries across the room and grabs the canopy bed.
Chuckling audibly over its newly acquired loot, it disappears again into
whatever shadows spawned it.

puzzles: mostly, find-the-object stuff.
xyzzy: no
score: standard, 100 pts.

10: "In the Spotlight" 6

One-puzzle IF is kinda cool, sometimes. Technically, implemented _almost_
perfectly, I found a small bug where God tried to take my stuff and it
didnt dissapear. Couldnt find many actions he didn't implement. I think he
should not have put the "swingers welcome" clue in. It would have been
more challenging (and more satisfying, for me at least) if he had not.
First time, finished in 61 turns. Bit short, but that's the whole idea.
And for those who havent found them, there are at least five ways to die
in this one, besides walking away, with different "ranks" for each death.
Possibly more. Insta-death is fun in one puzzle-IF. :)

*** You have been cast into the everlasting lake of fire ***

puzzles: one.
xyzzy: no.
score: standard, 1 pt.

from now on, I will keep track of...
Inform illegal use of object 0: yes, but he fixed the bug in one day after
I reported it. :)

11: "The City" 4

Plus points for an interesting concept, though I am not really sure how
disabling "save" adds to the game. Unfortunately to many, finding the
right thing to "ask" someone about is one of the most hated puzzles in IF.
I was fearing that's what this game was about until I found the lens. :)
"perscription" spelled wrong throughout, which is pretty glaring. Also
depends on the "search" verb, which bothers me a lot. (I dont use search
on a regular basis, and only try it when getting desparate which is what
happened here. :) I was unable to finish because of a rather serious bug.
"man, give me <gibberish>" starts what I assume is the endgame daemon. I
ran into this after I had gotten on the video and found the lens, so I did
not realize it was a bug until I could not see the old man or respond to
his questions. I was prepared to give this a higher score, but an
unfinishable bug kinda ruins it, unfortunately. "drop all" and "get all"
are broken. When I had the end of the cable and tried to put it somewhere
the game thought I didnt have it. (before you swing on it) After getting
above the first room, if you take the pill, smash the lens and "pull
cable", its impossible because all of the post-hole-in-the ceiling
objects are there, and it can't disambiguate "thick cable" and "black
cable". Also the "black box" object is still around.

As he states in the readme, he knows he should have playtested it and this
is what happens when you don't..

Puzzles: basically one-puzzle.
xyzzy: yes
score: nope.
Inform illegal use of object 0: yes, when you get on the video.

12: "Acid Whiplash" 2

Rybread celsius homage. In general, I find mimesis-less "in-joke" games
only mildly entertaining, and not nearly as fun as "normal" IF.
"Informatory" at least had puzzles to speak of. This one I just didn't
get, I guess. I'm not sure how much is a rybread game Not really any bugs
that I saw, but then how would I know? Attempts to br rybready-and-dumb,
but thats the point I guess. You really can't force beauty or mastery like
that, though. I would have preferred Rybread make just a normal game of
his own. Rybread is ONLY funny because he DOESN'T do it on purpose.
Purposefully done, well.. that just makes it a very bad game. Maybe I'm
wrong about that. Maybe I dont get it because i'm not one of the
IF-in-crowd, but, well.. no.

puzzles: not what I consider puzzles.
xyzzy: no
score: standard, 0 pts.
Inform illegal use of object 0: yes, at beginning

13: "Four in One" 3

Technically implemented well. I don't think I found any bugs. The author
did great research, and it shows. However - all in all, an incredibly
annoying game. Wins the "greatest number of NPCs" award for all time. I
really didn't have any fun, I was just annoyed. I *HATE* timed-move
puzzles. I want to stop and look at the scenery. It would be better if
there was some secret to getting the brothers to keep with you, like talk
to them every 4 turns or something. Maybe there is - the hints didnt
mention anything about it. The hints didnt really help me at all. For all
I know it's unsolvable, there is no walkthrough.

puzzles: effectively one, incredibly annoying puzzle.
xyzzy: "nothing seems to happen."
score: 10 pts.

14: "Arrival" 6

Alien dialogues and humor rememniscent of Douglas Adams. There are a
couple "insta-death" places, but the writing makes it funny and worth it.
It seems there are some un-solvable states though, and I hate that. For
instance, the dad should go back out if you tell him about the lights
again. Of course, the game is short enough that re-starting it is not that
big of a deal. Most everything has a description. Lots of humor. Good
hints. I like the parent NPCs. Library messages modified to be
"in-character" which is also kinda neat. A good size for a comp game as
well. However, the setting is not original which is a minus. A well done
game, but not spectacular or groundbreaking. My interpreter cannot display
the pics or sounds, so those were not included in my assessment.

One small bug where it says you walk out of the rec room, but you don't.

puzzles: yes
xyzzy: yes
score: standard, 30 pts

15: "Spacestation" 4

I remember this concept being talked about on the newsgroup, and the
author seems to have implemented it fairly well. Good work for 2 months by
an Inform newbie! However, a bit too short for a comp game. He said he ran
out of time, well he should have started sooner. :) A good start, but he
needs a good deal more original content. It was a five, but original
content is pretty important to me.

"look in pocket" to find a coin in your own pocket? "Caffeine"
misspelled. The NPC could stand for a lot more fleshing-out. For
instance: in the end, he wasnt on the couch with me, what happened to
him? I also dislike timed-move games. Just makes for a lot of saving and
restoring, it seems.

and, ok, I know there is a section about the original transcript about the
reactor going "critical", but a non-critical reactor is useless. That's
how they run. To find out exactly why, read the rant on sci.space.policy
(I believe it was) posted in september about "critical". :)

puzzles: pretty easy, almost not there.
xyzzy: 3 extra points!
score: standard, 15 pts with 3 extras
Inform illegal use of object 0: yes, at beginning.

16: "Muse: An Autumn Romance" 4

I am more into standard "Puzzle-based IF". I actually dislike the
past-tense thing. I suppose it is supposed to increase mimesis, but to me
it does the opposite. I am entering commands in the present tense "look at
trunk" "open trunk" and the responses are in the past tense.. Frankly,
this really bugs me. I want to feel like I AM in the scene, lot like I WAS
in the scene. I want to control the action, not watch it. Seems to me like
this might be a love-it-or-hate-it type of thing, and I can see this game
getting very high ratings as well as very low. I also don't like reading
romance novels, which this game was trying so hard to be. :) And, of
course, there are a few screw-ups where the author lapses into the present
tense. I didnt really enjoy it, so it gets a below average rating.

Besides that fact, the game seems to consist almost entirely of ask/tell
with the many NPCs. This is not something I enjoy, really... "priest,
hello" works, but "ask priest about.. " fails. (you must use father).
"<npc>, hello" _sometimes_ works to introduce yourself, sometimes not. In
a game dependent on its NPCs, they better be perfect. why no "knock" verb
in a hotel with many doors? Room 1 has no chair in it, from which Viktor
supposedly jumped.

puzzles: well, difficult NPC interaction. For me, anyway I hate that
asktell stuff and prefer object puzzles. Some of the hints dont seem to
work. what ghot Konstanza did not like the sketchbook even after she was
drawn in it.
I would really like to see a walkthrough, since I can't do it with the hints.
xyzzy: quote.
score: nope.

17: "Trapped in a One-Room Dilly" 7

I liked this one. As I said I am a puzzle fan, and that is what this one
had. The difficulty curve was good, and I had fun because it was
not-too-hard. I was never frustrated enough to go to the hints, like I was
in _Muse_ and _4in1_. I agree with the author's quote - only having one
room is somewhat liberating for some reason. Lack of really any story at
all is a problem, but I did have fun.

Some minor nits, but nothing major...
Typing any number gets you to the hint screen. This is _bad_. I did not
want hints, and merely the hint titles give things away. Interesting that
she implemented them as a room. Description of room does not change if you
stand on table, the lights are stoll "3 feet above your head". cannot use
"d" from table. I found the cubbyhole wooden panel through a
disambiguation error of "panel". A little guess-the-syntax with the spear
and the screw. "Turn Screw" should ask, "What do you want to turn the
screw with?" or "You can't do that bare-handed" (just like unscrew) not
"That doesn't appear to work" remove screw with spear does not work. after
you have seen the device but if you don't have it, "type <number>" really
needs to return "You need to be holding the device to type on it", not
"There doesn't appear to be a way to do that.." "put all in gap" only put
10 of my items in (library bug?) You can type on the keypad from standing
on the table. Why was the slot machine even there?
thats a long list of nits for a 7 isnt it. :) Ah well, what really matters
in my system is how well I liked the game.

xyzzy: no
score: 100 pts.
Inform illegal use of object 0: yes, at beginning, and when you "stand on
table" (first occurences)

18: "The Ritual of Purification" 5

Fantasy/Ethereal IF. I am generally not a big fantasy fan, however this
was well done and fairly enjoyable. I like that the daemon and everybody
was there to answer my fantasy questinons, because I didn't really know
all the different types of creatures, etc. :) Pretty good writing. NPCs
are well done. Not really any significant puzzles, which I would have
liked. Humorous, which is also good. Spells can be fun, though I didnt
realize I was getting them till the nymph explicitly said so. I don't
consider it spectacular or really above-average, though it was
entertaining.

"cast light at <npc-name>" doesnt seem to work, you have to "Cast light".
ecstasy, not extasy. If you talk to the wraith you might get "The your
reflection has better things to do." Ouch.

xyzzy: no.
puzzles: sorta.
score: 10 pts.

19: "Downtown Tokyo. Present Day." 6

Nearby, a KFC delivery boy lies crushed in a puddle of grease.

I like the "third person perspective" take on IF. The game requires use of
"grapple", which I got but more synonyms for that one would have been
good. Also you should be able to see the hook from inside of the chopper!
I never would have thought of the hook had I not examined the chopper.
However you do get to grapple a tiger with a helicopter and drop it on the
head of a giant chicken, which is something I've always wanted to do. Also
cool in the perspective vein is that you are plaing two people. If you
just "z" at the beginning you get some funny messages and prodding. I
also like the credits.

But I really felt kinda lost when I was in the sky. A lot of pointless
locations, it seemed, there for little purpose (other than perhaps to make
a pointless "maze" as it seems from the hints - if there was something
secret out there it wouldn't be so pointless.) If you don't take off in
the copter, chickenzilla actually doesn't kill you. Needs better puzzles,
should be a bit bigger. Great work for a first timer!

Uh, ASCII art in an IF game? Ok, I admit it made me laugh. But not as much as:

>hold her
(the woman)
A true hero doesn't need to cart useless junk around wherever he goes.

xyzzy: Our hero's grasp of the Japanese language is obviously poor!
score: [Your sleazy advances are ignored by the blubbery bulk in the next
seat. It doesn't look like you'll score tonight.]
Inform illegal use of object 0: Yes, when you enter the helicopter.

20: "Enlightenment" 7

Oh Yummy Gum,
Oh Gummy Gum,
I Do Chew You,
With My Teeth And Gums.
Oh Yummy Gummy Chewing Gum.

I was really entertained by a lot of this game. The "full" command rules!
No significant bugs that I found. My only problem with it is that it
seemed too hard (for me at least) to complete in 2 hours without hints. I
got about half of the puzzles by myself. I didnt really get the "breach
of copyright" thing. I loved the fake hints. I had forgotten about the
infocom "footnote" and how much I loved them. :) A lot of hidden humor and
attention to detail. The real hints are very extensive and well-done. And
on top of that, he made a Spelunker Today magazine. I hope this author
releases future titles, he is very creative and technically proficient.

NIt: Cavers *Hate* being called Spelunkers. Trust me on this one.

xyzzy: Not surprisingly, nothing happens. You mustn't have visited the
right place.
(also frotz and plugh!)
score: 250, of which you start with 240. :)
Inform Illegal use of Object 0: Yes, at the very beginning, and a differnt
one when you x gate.

21: "Purple" 3

Interesting, though depressing concept. I exited the first section rather
fast and was not sure that I had not missed something. (no, looking at the
"walkthrough") Quite difficult, and no score to indicate progress.
"rhubarb" misspelled. Lots of disambiguation problems. the water and the
water melon, the ignite lever and the controls. Many more. "get all"
sometimes gives away stuff. extremely obvious synonyms are not correctly
visible or not implemented. Try "dig down" several times, anywhere and it
creates a whole bunch of hole objects.
The disambiguation and synonym problems became bad enough that it became
annoying to play. Some objects even have blank descriptions.

Suggestion for the author: beta-test your game next time! Some good ideas,
ruined by a bad implementation.

score: not really disabled totally, seems broken. prints "."
xyzzy: no
Inform Illegal use of Object 0: Yes, at the beginning and in other places.

22: "Fifteen" 3

A simple, well-implemented treasure hunt. But what ever happened to room
descriptions? The ultimate in "exit-list" IF! Jeez! I don't think I've
ever read terser IF. This is insane. Kinda pointless, no real story, the
puzzles are extremely simple. i would say this would be good IF for a
child, but the places have no descriptions so they might lose interest. A
few neat things, like the randomized TV and square puzzle. (did he write
the code for these himself, or are they freely available code snippets?)
This has the feel of someone who wanted to program IF (and he has done a
fine technical job, except for the common object 0 error) but did not want
to *write* IF. It's just too small and has no interesting point to it. (it
seems like that was his point, with the CAPITALIZED "treasures" - well, he
is scored accordingly)

xyzzy: no
score: 5 pts.
Inform Illegal use of Object 0: Yes, when you see the table with treasures
on it.

23: "Mother Loose" 6

Very well done and well-fleshed out. Lots of research involved, obviously.
I did think it was a bit hard, because I did not realize there was a cat
in the well (where was that info - out of game? I thought it was a troll)
and I gave mary the pin too soon, hence blocking most of the game from me.
Reading the mary contrary sign did something weird to the font for the
"suddenly, an itsy-bitsy spider.." part. It went back to normal though.
Has what I consider an "unsolvable state" - with the hairpin. Sure, you
can still win, but why would you do this in a game? To annoy the player
and make them go back to do the cottage? All you are going to do is
frustrate them when they give up and go for hints, like I did. I do like
the idea that you get more points by doing things that arent required, but
blocking the player from getting points for doing something correctly
(giving mary the pin) is wrong, IMO. You can make many objects, no reason
to use one twice. And since when do little kids know how to pick locks? I
did not realize there was a cat in the well - you said it was a troll
after all.

The best part: "Before we leave, tell me the truth: did you attack Humpty
Dumpty, smash windows and neglect to return Mary's ladder?" Your mom gets
mad at you for things you did in the game! I loved that. And if you lie
you lose most of your points. :)


xyzzy: A hollow voice says, "Fooled you!"
score: 50 pts.

Predictions:

Winner: Photopia
2nd Place: The Plant

See you next year.

-Ben

--
bhi...@san.rr.com
http://members.tripod.com/~tunnels/

Ben

unread,
Nov 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/16/98
to
In article <nobody-1711...@g27mac15.anu.edu.au>,

Taro....@navy.gov.au wrote:
> > Inform Illegal use of Object 0: Yes, at the very beginning, and a differnt
> > one when you x gate.
> Hmm .. I never had this problem. Which interpreter are you using?? what
> options? How can I replicate this?
>
> Thanks, --OH.

MaxZip on the macintosh, with its strict error checking on. Note that this
bug did not affected the gameplay of your game, but it DID cause a bug in
"In the Spotlight" on maxzip - which he fixed as soon as I reported it. :)


Here's Andrew Plotkin's relevant post, to rec.arts.int-fiction.
http://x11.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=373629423

Author:   Andrew Plotkin
Email: erky...@netcom.com
Date: 1998/07/21
Forums: rec.arts.int-fiction

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jim Halliday (jhal...@indiana.edu) wrote:
> I am currently working on an Inform game. At one particular point in the game,
> just after some substantial reorganizing of objects, typing LOOK generates the
> following errors:

> Warning: @get_prop_addr called with object 0 (PC = f3b8) (will ignore
further occurrences)
> Warning: @get_prop called with object 0 (PC = f16a) (will ignore further
occurrences)
> Warning: @test_attr called with object 0 (PC = c3fc) (will ignore
further occurrences)
> Warning: @move_object called moving into object 0 (PC = cab0) (will ignore
> further occurrences)

> This doesn't seem to affect anything, but I'd rather not see these messages.

These are real errors in your game. You should fix them.

It is illegal in Inform to do any of the following when x == 0 (nothing):

child(x), parent(x), sibling(x), etc
if (x has attribute)
if (x.property == ...)
give x attribute
x.property = ...
move x to y
move y to x
remove x
... or pretty much anything else which assumes x is a legitimate
object.

Most interpreters do not test for these error conditions; they go haring
off along wild or NULL pointers. This generally doesn't cause any visible
effect, but do you want your game to do it?

(I will cheerfully bet that illegal opcodes cause at least one mysterious
crash in the development of the average Inform game. So the answer to the
previous question is "no".)

MaxZip tests. There's an option in the Preferences dialog to suppress the
visible warnings. In my opinion, you can suppress these warnings when
playing old games, but you *should pay attention to them* when writing a
new game.

--Z

--
bhi...@san.rr.com
http://members.tripod.com/~tunnels/

nob...@student.anu.edu.au

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Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
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> 20: "Enlightenment" 7

> NIt: Cavers *Hate* being called Spelunkers. Trust me on this one.
Urm: It was deliberate <ducks Zarf's wrath>
No seriously ... Spelunker Today was the name of the magazine in ADVENT.
(Spelunker was also a class in PCHack, and probably Hack - it was replaced
by Archaeologist, probably in the changeover to Nethack)


> xyzzy: Not surprisingly, nothing happens. You mustn't have visited the
> right place.
> (also frotz and plugh!)
and plover ... [Incidently, have you tried following the chain started by this
when you have 249 points?]

> Inform Illegal use of Object 0: Yes, at the very beginning, and a differnt
> one when you x gate.

J. Robinson Wheeler

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Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
to
Ben wrote:

> 13: "Four in One" 3

> xyzzy: "nothing seems to happen."

If Harpo's in the room, it gives a different message. Basically, xyzzy
toggles his ability to talk so that you can ask him questions. Why?
Just for fun, I suppose.

Well, it helps a little. Asking Harpo about Zeppo, for instance, and
vice-versa, gives some information about managing his behavior.


--
J. Robinson Wheeler
whe...@jump.net http://www.jump.net/~wheeler/jrw/home.html

ne...@norwich.edu

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Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
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In article <bhines-1611...@lax-ts1-h1-40-247.ispmodems.net>,
bhi...@san.rr.com (Ben) wrote:
> 1: "Photopia" 8

>
> Bads:
> Whats with all the definitions?

There is an excellent explanation for this. Check it again,
paying particular attention to the scene including the teddy-bear.

> 12: "Acid Whiplash" 2
>
> Rybread celsius homage. In general, I find mimesis-less "in-joke" games
> only mildly entertaining, and not nearly as fun as "normal" IF.
> "Informatory" at least had puzzles to speak of. This one I just didn't
> get, I guess. I'm not sure how much is a rybread game Not really any bugs
> that I saw, but then how would I know? Attempts to br rybready-and-dumb,
> but thats the point I guess. You really can't force beauty or mastery like
> that, though. I would have preferred Rybread make just a normal game of
> his own. Rybread is ONLY funny because he DOESN'T do it on purpose.
> Purposefully done, well.. that just makes it a very bad game. Maybe I'm
> wrong about that. Maybe I dont get it because i'm not one of the
> IF-in-crowd, but, well.. no.

Nobody else could (would) write it. There is a
freely unencucumbered imagination in there someplace, high above us, and below
our dust tomatoes.

> 16: "Muse: An Autumn Romance" 4
>

> Besides that fact, the game seems to consist almost entirely of ask/tell
> with the many NPCs. This is not something I enjoy, really... "priest,
> hello" works, but "ask priest about.. " fails. (you must use father).
> "<npc>, hello" _sometimes_ works to introduce yourself, sometimes not. In
> a game dependent on its NPCs, they better be perfect.

If you took the time to read the introductory and info text, you wouldn't
have run into those problems.

> why no "knock" verb
> in a hotel with many doors? Room 1 has no chair in it, from which Viktor
> supposedly jumped.

The scene with Viktor was the only problem I had. I really wanted to be able
to put my trunk underneathe him to save him. The missing chair was a mystery.

> Inform Illegal use of Object 0: Yes, at the beginning and in other places.

I'm not sure this is a good category since the Inform standard library
contains this bug, and most interpreters don't even detect it.

> See you next year.

Arrgh! Don't say that! It will take me months to recover, and I didn't even
enter the contest.

Contratulations to all the entrants.

--
Neil Cerutti
ne...@norwich.edu

-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own

David Glasser

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Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
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ne...@norwich.edu wrote in message <72rv71$mj0$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...

>> Inform Illegal use of Object 0: Yes, at the beginning and in other
places.
>

>I'm not sure this is a good category since the Inform standard library
>contains this bug, and most interpreters don't even detect it.


I personally considered use of this bug, even in the library (hey, you
should have paid attention and fixed it!) a horrible programming problem,
and refused to give a 10 to any game that had it.

--David Glasser

Oliver B. Warzecha

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Nov 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/18/98
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Ben <bhi...@san.rr.com> wrote in
<bhines-1611...@lax-ts1-h1-40-247.ispmodems.net>:

> Ok you mat not know me, but here are my reviews.

I'll comment on them and add some thoughts of my own. I am a lurker for
several years on the if-groups, and nearly managed to judge this year.
So if all trains and buses weren't late, I might have mailed out the
ratings before midnight. But I have not checked yet, you know, somewhere
on this planet it was still the 15th...

There were votes for only 3 games anyway, the fourth only played for
fiteen minutes. So to cut it short, this post is short compared to the
other reviews. ;) But I intend to play further, it seems I have missed
some fine games.

> 9: "Where Evil Dwells" 4
>

> tad stale, too. A good shot, but it really needs a lot more work. No
> "about" "help" "credits" "hint". Very significant scenery objects not
> implemented. Obvious commands dont work. "lower bucket" works but not
> "raise bucket".

This sums it up for me as well. I didn't manage to get in the house,
this was the half played game. So I never got to the part (until now,
I'll try this one right after this post) where supposedly the
out-of-tune funny references take over. The horror atmosphere worked
fine for me, I wanted to collect some wood for a torch to light the well
but was beaten to death by this "behemoth". Frightening!
But the parser with no standard features was annoying, I agree.

From my partial knowledge of the game I would have given it a 5.

> 11: "The City" 4
>
> Plus points for an interesting concept, though I am not really sure how
> disabling "save" adds to the game. Unfortunately to many, finding the
> right thing to "ask" someone about is one of the most hated puzzles in IF.

The disabling of the standard commands was a big let down for me. On the
other hand it has an interesting promise. "no statusbar, no score... it's all
part of the atmosphere". In fact the atmosphere somehow reminds me of Kafka or
Orwell, it's like some of those SF classics from around 1970.

Not until you solved the only major puzzle in the game you get to know why this
game is called "The City". So the game ends like it has begun, in a surrealistic
atmosphere. The technical side is not so bright, though. There are several
ambiguities that are not resolved by the parser, like in the scene with the blue
pill, where you get the answer on "examine it" (after you just got it) "which
one do you mean, the pill or the pill?". Oh well...

Also the one major puzzle is a little bit on the "guess-the-word"-side. I
already did what was necessary and was beginning to get turned off by the game
when I had a look at the walkthrough and found that you had to "search",
"examine" was not enough, hmmph. The time spent for removal of standard features
would have been better spent to doublecheck some objects IMO. Okay, you really don't
need to save, in this game, but it wouldn't have hurt to see a "The Room" in the
status line.

My rating: 6


> 13: "Four in One" 3
>
> Technically implemented well. I don't think I found any bugs. The author
> did great research, and it shows. However - all in all, an incredibly
> annoying game. Wins the "greatest number of NPCs" award for all time. I

I had a good laugh out of this game. When it comes to the point where
you have the three other Marxes follow you in Chico's room and you find
out that lots of extras have gathered there and now it's too full to
move out... now this is a classic Marx Brothers scene. Of course, you
have problems with knocking on doors while Harpo is following you...
what do you expect? :)

But this game is too damned hard! (Or I also was not in the mood for
this kind of puzzle.) Groucho wanders off after 10 minutes or so, Harpo
follows only after Groucho joins Zeppo, and Chico won't move until you
got all three others... ARRGH! I was so annoyed, I forgot to save, what
would have saved me some trouble (no pun intended). Or was I still
spoiled by The City?

Technically it has some feeling of a MUD, with all those characters
listed in a separate line. This would be a good place to put some
effort into for a post-comp-version.

My rating: 6

> 23: "Mother Loose" 6
>
> Very well done and well-fleshed out. Lots of research involved, obviously.
> I did think it was a bit hard, because I did not realize there was a cat
> in the well (where was that info - out of game? I thought it was a troll)

From the moment I read the description of the eyes visible in the well,
I knew it was a cat.

> and I gave mary the pin too soon, hence blocking most of the game from me.

I didn't have this problem, because I ignored the porridge at first,
(Carrying around a pot of 9 days old, cold porridge is unpleasant at
least, so better don't think about it ;) and when I finally found the
hairpin I had already tried to open the locks with the bent spoon. =:^)

But then, ye ole Zork II problem strikes again, lots of nursery rhymes,
and I'd be happy to know even one of them. not that Z2 had any nursery
rhymes, but I still haven't watched an entire baseball game, I think I
should write a game where a major puzzle is based on soccer, you get my
point.

This game is very well written (In fact I found the forest really creepy
until the wolf showed up :) and full of details. All obvious objects and
lots of the not-so-obvious ones have a description. I really like the
overall feeling, all things are interacting nice. It's possible to make
some real hard faults (I dropped the pot into the well twice *blush*)
but the hints say, it is possible to get over it, although I had no idea
how. :o| The very specific way to look for the off-switch of the wheel
nagged me a little bit, but the rest of the game more than compensates
it.

> The best part: "Before we leave, tell me the truth: did you attack Humpty
> Dumpty, smash windows and neglect to return Mary's ladder?" Your mom gets
> mad at you for things you did in the game! I loved that. And if you lie
> you lose most of your points. :)

The ending was great and the idea about getting points for bringing
*back* items is nice in itself. I still have the feeling I haven't seen
all of this game, especially after reading some of the reviews.

My rating: 8
--
OBW - Frobozz Magic Signature Company

Irene Callaci

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Nov 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/19/98
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> 23: "Mother Loose" 6

[snip]

> and I gave mary the pin too soon, hence blocking most of the game from me.

SPOILER ALERT!

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

Hmmm...several people reported this, but I purposely provided two
possible solutions for Humpty Dumpty AND the kitten in the well.
If you give Mary the hairpin, the rest of the game should not be
blocked; in fact, you are well on your way to winning with all 50
points!

Also, just because you get points for doing something doesn't
necessarily mean it's the correct thing to do. You might get
points now and lose them later. On the other hand, you might
*not* get rewarded immediately, but you might later. It's that
delayed gratification thing parents try to teach their kids.

irene

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