My thoughts on comp games

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Rikard Peterson

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Nov 16, 2002, 12:10:04 AM11/16/02
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Hello rgif readers, this is the voice of a newbie among all the
reviewing veterans. This was the first year I played and judged the
competition's games. (I didn't have the time last year and before
that I didn't follow these groups.) Outside this competition, I have
still only finished one IF game. (Unless you count Eric the Unready,
which you probably do. In that case I've finished two. Unless you
count adventure games without a parser, which you probably don't.) I
did not use any system for giving my scores, I simply gave each game
what I felt like giving at the time I finished it.

I started out with the intention of playing them all, but as usual
other things took portions of my time so I ended up playing only ten
games. These are my thoughts and opinions on the games I played, in
the order I played them (in most cases written immediately after I
completed the game).


Screen (My score: 5)

Screen started out nicely, and got me interested in what would come.
When it came, I didn't really see the point. Once in the screen, I
gradually lost interest.


Out of the study (7)

A nice puzzly game with a nice atmosphere and an attention to detail.
I liked the game, but I didn't rate it higher than 7 beacuse I
couldn't make sense of the end game. Maybe it's an excellent game
that's just too difficult for me.


Constraints (2)

This was a thing constructed of parts. The first (falling) I found
almost totally uninteresting. The second (inanimate) was an
interesting idea, but the execution still left me untouched. The
ending was not what I expected, but that didn't help much.

The third part (something, the truck) was IMO the best part of
Constraints. If the ending had been different, I might have called
this part good, but as it was, I won't. Yes, I understand the point
of the ending as it is but I still don't like it.

The final part is a boring maze. I played along for a substantial
amount of time but then I gave up. If there was something at the end,
I don't care. Those three words sums up my feelings for Constraints
pretty good: I don't care.


Bastard Operator From Hell (4)

The accompaning readme states: "In ten words or less - you are a
complete and utter bastard and you should act accordingly!" Ok, that
might be fun. Then I started the game and had a hard time figuring
out what I was supposed to do. By that I don't mean that I couldn't
solve the puzzles, I mean that I couldn't figure out why I was
solving the puzzles and what the goal was, besides being a bastard.
Later events would show that there was a goal, but I think it'd been
nice to see that goal from the start.

Still, I didn't think the first part was that bad. Then came part two
of two. I lost the remaining interest quickly and finished it with
the walkthrough. It didn't help that almost no things mentioned in
the text were implemented in this second part, and the exits were
also missing from the descriptions.


Moonbase (1)

The prose didn't grab me at all. It lacks feeling. Many words
mentioned in the text are also unimplemented. After 30 minutes of
playing, I didn't care at all about what had happened at the
moonbase. I quit.


Fort Aegea (10)

It was very refreshing to start Fort Aegea, and find a world that
felt alive. Games like this is the reason why I like IF. I quickly
became involved with the world and by the time I entered the main
game I was firmly drawn into the action. I couldn't complete the game
within the two hour limit (I fooled the dragon in one of four
directions, and was well on my way in two of the others) but I will
absolutely return to this game at a later time to finish it.

Good, engaging writing (I felt for the people I met) combined with a
gripping plot, plenty of details and intruiging puzzles made me give
my first 10.


Ramón and Jonathan (2)

Too short for its own good, this game failed to engage me even though
I tried. The background was too sparse for its setting to work. Who
were Ramón and Jonathan? What had they done? What was my part in the
matters? It probably was a conscious choice by the author not to tell
us any details, but the way things were told I was left untouched.


Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me! (7)

Well written. Good puzzles. Still didn't engage me. I don't know why.


MythTale (6)

At first I thought this game looked very promising when walking
around and finding the different cats. Unfortunately, after a while
my opinion changed. This is (in my opinion, of course) a game with
bad puzzles.


Augustine (7+)

I found the writing to be very good, and as a short story I liked it
a lot. However the interactivity is very limited, and very few of the
objects mentioned in the text are actually implemented, so I still
won't give it a higher score than seven (a very strong seven). It was
two hours well spent, and had it been better implemented (with more
objects and without bugs) I would have given it a higher score.


That was all.

Rikard

Adrien Beau

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Nov 16, 2002, 3:41:57 AM11/16/02
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Rikard Peterson wrote:

> Hello rgif readers, this is the voice of a newbie among all
> the reviewing veterans. This was the first year I played and
> judged the competition's games.

(...)


> I started out with the intention of playing them all, but as
> usual other things took portions of my time so I ended up
> playing only ten games. These are my thoughts and opinions on
> the games I played, in the order I played them (in most cases
> written immediately after I completed the game).

Well, it's almost the same here. It's the first time I judge
the competition. I've played ten games, half of which on the
first week-end (and then reality caught me back).

However, I hadn't planned to write formal reviews, so here's an
expanded retranscriptions of my notes; mini-reviews written
on-the-fly, in a way.

Janitor (6)

The game wasn't very attractive at first, and since discovering
what you're supposed to do is part of it, I won't say much
more. Let's just say it is supposed to attract IF old-timers.
Well done overall, even though it could have been more
polished. I didn't finish it after two hours of play, and don't
plan to go back on it.

Scary House Amulet! (4)

A beginner's game. Technically correct, even polished, but
there's almost nothing, story-wise. Extreme use of bolding and
exclamation marks is used as a style.

Well, now that the author knows he's able to code a game, he
may want to actually create something substantial. :) I
remember that this competition was initially supposed to
encourage beginners into IF, so... welcome, but you can't get
much more than 4.

Photograph (*10*)

And I mean it! Excellent game, quite puzzleless, with a great
writing and a fantastic story. Yes, fantastic as in the Poe
meaning of the word. It would take me hours (and some
introspection) to properly describe the impact this game had on
me; I can only invite you to play it. I got quite stuck right
at the beginning; don't let that stop you (use the walkthrough
if need be).

CastleMaze (NR)

Well, I liked the fact that it was implemented in bash
(walkthrough? use the source, Luke), and the vintage feeling
was funny. It turns out however that the game was not original
(but it seems the bash implementation was), so it was
disqualified. It would have had a 5, else.

Four Mile Island (5)

Vintage fun again. I will not spoil the end of the game...
Let's just say I believed it until the end. :) The game seemed
to be on a par with its BASIC peers from the 80's, and
technically correct for a BASIC game, so it got a 5.

Jane (5)

Somehow, I thought it would fail. Domestic abuse is a very
heavy theme, and I felt it would either be a success, and an
almost unbearable game for that, or that it would fail, which
it did. Simply put, it's a static novel, not IF. The player can
mostly examine things and choose between a few conversation
topics, which don't influence the story. Compare with
Photograph, which also deals with heavy and unhappy sentiments,
and succeeds immensely.

Augustine (4)

Hey, Rikard, now we have some disagreement here! Basically, for
me, it was a failure. Sure, there was quite some work put into
it, especially the town, which was nicely modelled. But... it's
not a game. There are no puzzles, and the author seems to think
that accomplishing basic actions (talking to someone) and
walking around are puzzles, and is happy with that. Well, I'm
not.

Eric's Gift (6)

Aah, the first TADS 3 game! So? Well, nothing exeptionnal,
certainly not a showcase of the new TADS 3 functionnalities.
The story is very nice, and I like its fantastic ending. If I
remember correctly, the author said it came mostly from a
dream, and this is indeed the feeling he carried in this game.
There aren't any puzzles per se, and guessing the next action
to do is not always obvious. All in all, a solid 6.

The Granite Book (7)

I played this game recently, before submitting my votes, after
a long break in playing. This is the only game I played
out-of-order, compared to what Comp02.z5 had generated for me.
Reason is, I wanted to play a last game, and the next one on my
list wasn't very appealing. So I read the remaining
descriptions, played one minute of each game, and settled on
this one.

I'm happy I did. This game is very interesting on several
accounts. The narration is excellent, all the game has been
written in the imperial 'we' ("We did not know what xyzzy
was."), the universe is extremely intriguing, and the more you
discover about you, the more disgusted/interested you are. The
game is amoral (not immoral), cruel, and just cool. There were
still several technical glitches, and most importantly, a
problem in a puzzle which got me stuck for so long that I had
to use the walkthrough to get past it (all the more infuriating
since I knew what I had to do, but the verb that had worked for
me wouldn't work for the other person). So, 7 were it should
have been 8.

Well, that's all for me, I'm looking forward to what other
thought about the games I played, and what games overall will
get nines and tens.

--
adrie...@yahoo.guess

Rikard Peterson

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Nov 16, 2002, 1:23:11 PM11/16/02
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Adrien Beau wrote in news:3dd604fa$0$2158$626a...@news.free.fr:

> Augustine (4)
>
> Hey, Rikard, now we have some disagreement here! Basically, for
> me, it was a failure. Sure, there was quite some work put into
> it, especially the town, which was nicely modelled. But... it's
> not a game. There are no puzzles, and the author seems to think
> that accomplishing basic actions (talking to someone) and
> walking around are puzzles, and is happy with that. Well, I'm
> not.

I also would have liked more interactivity, but what Augustine succeded
with where others failed was that it managed to draw me in and keeping
my interest. I only had such a good time playing two of the other games
(Fort Aegea and Out of the Study).

Rikard

Adrien Beau

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Nov 15, 2002, 5:41:57 AM11/15/02
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+ User FidoNet address: 1:396/4
From: Adrien Beau <adrie...@yahoo.guess>

Rikard Peterson wrote:

Janitor (6)

Scary House Amulet! (4)

Photograph (*10*)

CastleMaze (NR)

Four Mile Island (5)

Jane (5)

Augustine (4)

Hey, Rikard, now we have some disagreement here! Basically, for
me, it was a failure. Sure, there was quite some work put into
it, especially the town, which was nicely modelled. But... it's
not a game. There are no puzzles, and the author seems to think
that accomplishing basic actions (talking to someone) and
walking around are puzzles, and is happy with that. Well, I'm
not.

Eric's Gift (6)

The Granite Book (7)

--
adrie...@yahoo.guess
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Rikard Peterson

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Nov 15, 2002, 6:10:04 PM11/15/02
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+ User FidoNet address: 1:396/4
From: Rikard Peterson <trumg...@bigfoot.com>

Hello rgif readers, this is the voice of a newbie among all the
reviewing veterans. This was the first year I played and judged the

competition's games. (I didn't have the time last year and before
that I didn't follow these groups.) Outside this competition, I have
still only finished one IF game. (Unless you count Eric the Unready,
which you probably do. In that case I've finished two. Unless you
count adventure games without a parser, which you probably don't.) I
did not use any system for giving my scores, I simply gave each game
what I felt like giving at the time I finished it.

I started out with the intention of playing them all, but as usual

other things took portions of my time so I ended up playing only ten
games. These are my thoughts and opinions on the games I played, in
the order I played them (in most cases written immediately after I
completed the game).


Screen (My score: 5)


Constraints (2)


Moonbase (1)


Fort Aegea (10)


Ram n and Jonathan (2)

Too short for its own good, this game failed to engage me even though
I tried. The background was too sparse for its setting to work. Who

were Ram n and Jonathan? What had they done? What was my part in the

matters? It probably was a conscious choice by the author not to tell
us any details, but the way things were told I was left untouched.


Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me! (7)

Well written. Good puzzles. Still didn't engage me. I don't know why.


MythTale (6)

At first I thought this game looked very promising when walking
around and finding the different cats. Unfortunately, after a while
my opinion changed. This is (in my opinion, of course) a game with
bad puzzles.


Augustine (7+)

I found the writing to be very good, and as a short story I liked it
a lot. However the interactivity is very limited, and very few of the
objects mentioned in the text are actually implemented, so I still
won't give it a higher score than seven (a very strong seven). It was
two hours well spent, and had it been better implemented (with more
objects and without bugs) I would have given it a higher score.


That was all.

Rikard

Rikard Peterson

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Nov 16, 2002, 7:23:11 AM11/16/02
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+ User FidoNet address: 1:396/4
From: Rikard Peterson <trumg...@bigfoot.com>

Adrien Beau wrote in news:3dd604fa$0$2158$626a...@news.free.fr:

> Augustine (4)


>
> Hey, Rikard, now we have some disagreement here! Basically, for
> me, it was a failure. Sure, there was quite some work put into
> it, especially the town, which was nicely modelled. But... it's
> not a game. There are no puzzles, and the author seems to think
> that accomplishing basic actions (talking to someone) and
> walking around are puzzles, and is happy with that. Well, I'm
> not.

I also would have liked more interactivity, but what Augustine succeded

with where others failed was that it managed to draw me in and keeping
my interest. I only had such a good time playing two of the other games
(Fort Aegea and Out of the Study).

Rikard

Quintin Stone

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Nov 20, 2002, 10:39:38 AM11/20/02
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On 16 Nov 2002, Rikard Peterson wrote:

> Constraints (2)
>
> ...


>
> The final part is a boring maze. I played along for a substantial
> amount of time but then I gave up. If there was something at the end,
> I don't care. Those three words sums up my feelings for Constraints
> pretty good: I don't care.

Errr... that's odd, I don't remember a maze at all. The truck was the
last part of Constraints, as far as I could tell.

/====================================================================\
|| Quintin Stone O- > "You speak of necessary evil? One ||
|| Weapons Master & Coder < 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 ||
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Quintin Stone

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Nov 20, 2002, 10:45:11 AM11/20/02
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On Sat, 16 Nov 2002, Adrien Beau wrote:

> The Granite Book (7)
>
> ...


>
> There were still several technical glitches, and most importantly, a
> problem in a puzzle which got me stuck for so long that I had to use the
> walkthrough to get past it (all the more infuriating since I knew what I
> had to do, but the verb that had worked for me wouldn't work for the
> other person). So, 7 were it should have been 8.

*SPOILER*

I believe i had the same problem. I sat on the low table and witnessed
the ritual. However, I couldn't convince the girl to sit on it. Had to
go to the walkthrough for the answer.

Quintin Stone

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Nov 20, 2002, 11:14:19 AM11/20/02
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On Wed, 20 Nov 2002, Quintin Stone wrote:

> Errr... that's odd, I don't remember a maze at all. The truck was the
> last part of Constraints, as far as I could tell.

Nevermind. My problem was that I didn't finish all three parts in the
same game, so I never saw the "end game".

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