Comp97: Incoherent Blather (1/5)

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C.E. Forman

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Jan 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/10/98
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[Copyright 1998 by C.E. Forman blah blah blah]

C.E. Forman's very own patented, organic, naturally-flavored,
low-sodium, 99% fat-free, healthy-choice, prescription-strength
REVIEWS OF THE 1997 I-F COMPETITION ENTRIES (TM) !!!!!


This year I thought I'd try a slightly different rating system, or,
more precisely, one that explains in detail why each game got the
particular score I gave it. This means I'll probably be focusing more
on the negative aspects of the entries, but I've tried really hard to
include something positive for each one.

I've attempted to make my scores based less on personal opinion, and
based more on overall conformance, or lack thereof, to a specific set
of preestablished, generally agreed-upon I-F conventions. (Though I do
confess a strong personal opinion will undoubtedly slip in now and
then, and that's what the "notes to the author" section following each
score is for.) Each entry started out with a perfect 10 points, and
lost a point for any of the following:

-1 For making me think when I'm trying to get it to run. This includes
games that hang the system without giving any indication that
they're working properly, games requiring me to screw around with
options when configuring the interpreter, and any entry that
required downloading a bunch of stuff I didn't already have on my
machine. Puzzles should be *in* the game, not in getting the game
to run.

-1 For excessive "guess the word." Once or twice didn't hurt you, but
a lack of effort to identify common phrasing, or missing an obvious
synonym that I tried to use a lot probably cost you a point.

-1 For excessive typos. The occasional finger-slip I can understand,
but too many spelling mistakes (or any at *all* in the story's
opening paragraphs -- C'mon, people, you must've seen the opening
text at least 500 times!) impacted your score.

-1 For not having reasonable solutions or actions implemented. Again,
this is a judgment call, and I tried not to let one or two minor
isolated incidents blow the whole thing for you. Unless the game
was really small, in which case I expected *all* reasonable ideas
to produce an intelligent response, since small games aren't bogged
down with a lot of complexities.

-1 For any bugs or crashes that made the game impossible, or hard to
win, or just made me nervous enough about being in your programming
hands that I found myself saving far too frequently.

-1 For poor writing, grammar, sentence structure (a *lack* of structure
would be more appropriate). Prose didn't have to be great writing,
but signs of simple competence were sought.

-1 If the game had any poor construction. This covers such ground as
lots of padding and useless rooms, aimless back-and-forth movement,
mazes, unfair time limits, death without warning, etc. Things that
are *generally* regarded as being detrimental to a game (although
if used effectively, they may have slipped by the point deduction).

-1 For a cliched story or setting, something that's been done countless
times before. Or anything painfully derivative of anything else.
*Any* D&D or Tolkien-esque fantasy automatically lost 1 here (and
don't cry to me about it cuz you people brought that on yourselves).

-1 For a lack of "something really cool." I admit that's pretty darn
vague, and wide open to debate, but I was just looking for
something, anything, that made me go, "Oh, *wow*!" or "Hey, I've
never seen that before!" Just something innovative, in a very
positive way.

-1 For anything else that pissed me off. Things not covered by the
previous point deductions: illogical puzzles, an author having a
snotty attitude for no apparent reason, and using an AGT version
other than 1.83 which makes it re-print the entire room description
when you make an invalid move (sorry, AGTers, but I absolutely
*loathe* this!) Anything I just plain didn't like.

Keep in mind that the above are just general descriptions. A game with
decent but uninteresting writing could still have lost a point for the
writing category, etc.

Entries violating none of these guidelines got a 10. Entries violating
all of them got a 1, since that's as low as it goes.

Things to keep in mind:

* The comments that follow are just my opinions.

* Aside from quick scans for posts about my own entry, I did
not follow the newsgroups or the competition website during
the time I was playing the games. If you uploaded a fix or
an ex-post-facto walkthrough, I missed it. I played the
original version, as seen in EVRYTING.ZIP. A couple of
authors whose games I couldn't run at all may have received a
notice from me, giving them a chance to e-mail me a fixed
version or provide suggestions, but I did not download any
new versions of games, only the interpreters I needed.

* As I did not read other posts, I apologize in advance if I'm
bringing up any topics that have already outstayed their
welcome.

* I've been in a rotten mood lately, so in my criticism I will
probably come across as a snotty, egotistical, mean-spirited
jerk. Do not mail me to tell me this, as I already know.

* I do welcome discussion of these comments, both by authors
and by other players, whether you agree or disagree with me
(though there's one entry in particular I will *not* discuss).
If you're going to post to the newsgroup, please consider
mailing directly to me as well, lest I miss your post.

* This set of reviews utilizes the word "piss" a lot. If the
word "piss" offends you, you can always do a search-and-
replace, changing the word "piss" to another word that is
less offensive to you than "piss." I highly recommend
"pee-pee," or perhaps "tinkie."

Here, then, are my votes, in the order I played them:

(BTW, notice I waited until voting was over this year. See how easy I
am to get along with when we just plan the rules in advance instead of
trying to make up new ones fifteen minutes before the deadline?)


[Last chance to avoid spoilers...]


"Zombie!"
---------
-1 Bugs/crashes.
Trying to open some things (such as the basement window, from
outside) generate TADS error messages. Also, I was pushing the
chest around, and became confused when I pushed it east from the
dining room and ended up back in the same location. If I climb out
of the laundry and go straight into the lab without examining the
machinery, I can grab the syringe and wander around without any
hassle from Dr. Maxim or Smedley. This had me confused for awhile
because I'd overlooked the machinery. Finally, if I save the game,
quit, and restore, the command "turn dial to [number]" does not
work. This last one had the unfortunate effect of getting me stuck
until the end of the two-hour limit, so I didn't quite finish.

-1 Cliched story/setting.
I had to sigh when I saw every mad scientist cliche in the book
paraded right in front of me (wild hair, holed up in an old house,
his colleagues thought he was crazy but boy he'll show them, a
lummox for a lab assistant, beautiful woman the victim of his
hideous experiments, test tubes and beakers ad nauseum, etc). I
was reminded of so many lame B-flick roles filled by the likes of
John Carradine, Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson.

-1 Lacking "something really cool."
The "evil machinery" and Ed the Head were shining moments, but not
enough to raise the game to my watermark of "I've never seen this
before."

-1 Miscellaneous stuff that pissed me off.
I have a problem with filling both cups from the runoff: Why can't
I simply leave them outside so they'll fill with rainwater? And
how exactly do I juggle two cups of water, pouring one inside the
other and filling them from the runoff, while holding onto an
umbrella? (It could be argued that I set the umbrella down to do
it, but wouldn't extra rainwater fall into the cups and get the
measurements off?) Why can't I carry *anything* in the dumbwaiter?
I mean, a fuse isn't that big at all. This was a painfully
transparent way of forcing objects out the window, especially since
I can drop objects in the dumbwaiter with no apparent size
constraints. Comments such as the sink text ("Wow, this game's got
everything!") detract from the atmosphere in a game of this type
and are better left to farcical I-F.

My score for "Zombie!": 6 points out of 10.

Did I finish it?: No, but pretty close.

Notes to the author:
--------------------
"Zombie!" started out *great*. I loved the prologue, playing a
different character to gain more than one viewpoint. I don't believe
I've seen this technique since the days of "Hitchhiker's Guide" and
"Demon's Tomb."

Prose was good throughout, for the most part nice and tight like the
Infocom games, not a lot of long, dull description to wade through.
The rainstorm, starting out as Charlie, was particularly effective.
I enjoyed the outdoor text far more than the text inside the house.
Let's face it, it's really hard to write good descriptions of rooms
and furniture. I have yet to see a game that does this effectively.
On the plus side, though, at least you didn't bog down the rooms with
loads of useless furniture, as seen in last year's "Maiden of the
Moonlight." Since you showed restraint, no points taken there.

Good atmosphere-building with the rainstorm, great scare with the
pickle jar. Ed the Head is a terrific NPC, by the way, and I felt he
deserved a more significant role in the game than what he got. It
would have been neat to have Ed comment on places indoors and out as I
carried him around. Perhaps he could relate stories about his
experiences there, making him more complex than a mere informant. Or
perhaps he could be your guide to the lab if you slide him down the
chute into the laundry. He's been there, after all, and could warn
you about what to expect. Just ideas.

======================================================================

"The Obscene Quest of Dr. Aardvarkbarf"
---------------------------------------
-1 "Guess the word."
I can "hit" the time-machine panel, but I can't "break" it?! I can
"climb wall" and "climb down wall" and "climb ladder" but I can't
go "up" or "down"?! And no, I'm afraid including a list of
recognized verbs does *not* make a limited command set with no
alternate phrasings acceptable. This is lazy programming, plain and
simple.

-1 Reasonable solutions/actions not implemented.
Lessee... blowing doors open with the dynamite, burning doors with
the torch, blowing up the time-machine panel with the dynamite,
breaking the window, prying the vent cover with the hammer,
examining the water from *outside* the fountain... Did I miss any?
You certainly did.

-1 Poor writing.
Lots of exit lists in the room descriptions. Also, the offices all
look the same. After awhile I stopped reading them and began
typing: "X DESK. X DRAWER. OPEN DRAWER." I'm trying desperately to
recall even one pleasantly memorable piece of text, but I honest-to-
God can't do it.

-1 Poor design/construction.
Far too many useless rooms. Far too many red herrings. (Yes, I got
the joke in Jellyfish's office.) Far too much aimless traipsing
back and forth. (All those useless doors could've provided nice
shortcuts.)

-1 Cliched story/setting.
College campus. 'Nuff said.

-1 Lacking "something really cool."
But then, I wasn't exactly straining myself to find anything.

-1 Miscellaneous stuff that pissed me off.
Why are the rooms deserving the most protection behind the door
whose lock is easiest to pick? Offhand commentary provides
absolutely no depth to the characters. Why is my life with Dr.
Bignose so miserable? More details and pertinent anecdotes ought to
be revealed. Why doesn't Bignose lock his office to safeguard the
time machine, if he knows I hate him?

My score for "The Obscene Quest of Dr. Aardvarkbarf": 3 out of 10.

Did I finish it?: Yes.

Notes to the author:
--------------------
Unfortunately I thought the title was the best thing about this game.
It was mildly amusing, in a stupid kind of way, sort of the I-F
equivalent of a Jim Carrey film. With a better parser and a cleaner
design, it might even have been an entertaining diversion. Did you
make the whole game up as you were in the process of actually writing
it? Cuz that's what it feels like. Please consider giving the sequel
more plot, more direction, a specific aim at *something* concrete.

======================================================================

"She's Got a Thing for a Spring"
--------------------------------
-1 Bugs/crashes.
I got so occupied with the rest of the wilderness that I didn't
even venture back to the campsite until after dark. Then I couldn't
get the elk to move away from my tent. This was late in my play-
time, so it ended up preventing me from finishing, and was pretty
frustrating to boot.

-1 Miscellaneous stuff that pissed me off.
Just a few itty-bitty things: Having to use long words to refer to
things occasionally ("fireflies" works, "flies" doesn't), minor bugs
(the berry always seems to get left behind when I move), and one
"search" situation that felt completely unmotivated to me. Plus
Bob, though the best NPC I've seen all year, still repeats himself.
Very minor stuff here, but perfection would get boring fast,
wouldn't it?

My score for "She's Got a Thing for a Spring": 8 points out of 10.

Did I finish it?: Not quite.

Notes to the author:
--------------------
Wonderful title, wonderful game. I wanted to give this a 9 or 10,
really I did. Great parser expansion and player shortcut, the ability
to type a simple topic rather than "ask [character] about [thing]."
I thought it worked beautifully.

Great *original* idea, nice prose, richly detailed game, great
characterization, lots of obvious effort put into making it all work.
I'll confess I groaned a bit when I first saw the file size, but I'm
relieved to see that the space went into making the world (and
especially Bob) more vivid, instead of loading up the game with tons
of puzzles or useless scenery. (Although the bird book was really more
than I cared to know. My grandma would've enjoyed it though.)
Exploring the world was acutually more intriguing than the meeting at
the spring. Kudos for not making it all just a big inside joke between
you and your wife.

Great references to last year's competition. Before I even got the
book from Bob, I was playing around, asking him about miscellaneous
things such as Infocom, Graham Nelson, Curses, Jigsaw, Christminster,
etc., and finally braced myself and tried Delusions. I was astounded
(very pleasantly so) when it actually worked.

Once I finish the other entries, I will definitely go back and do this
one again. I'm only three games in, but this looks like a very good
first-place contender.

======================================================================

"VirtuaTech"
------------
-1 Poor writing.
Confusing. Lends itself to abstract "what's the author thinking"
puzzles, since the descriptions don't make the technology very
clear. Tries to be "The Legend Lives" in places, but doesn't even
come close. Some pieces of text venture into the unintentionally
funny. Get a load of this: "[The microphone] is wired to the red
wire, which is wired to the radio transmitter, which isn't wired to
anything." But how can the transmitter not be wired to anything if
the red wire is wired to it? Does wiring only go one way? If so,
I'd far prefer the microphone to be wired to the transmitter through
the red wire, which wires the transmitter to the microphone yet
isn't wired to anything itself. Follow? And on top of all that,
it's the *future*. You'd think they'd have wireless stuff.
(Wireless wire, which isn't wired to anything, cuz it's wireless!
Hee!)

-1 Poor design/construction.
The computer puzzles felt too abstract. "Cosmoserve" got them
right. (Of course, my own "Delusions" has abstract computer puzzles
in the endgame, but I've never claimed I liked the endgame of
"Delusions.")

-1 Cliched story/setting.
College dorm room. 'Nuff said.

-1 Lacking "something really cool."
Dealing with real-life technical support ain't fun. Dealing with
I-F technical support ain't fun to an even greater extent.

-1 Miscellaneous stuff that pissed me off.
Why does the (musical) keyboard work when the power is down, but not
the computer? Why do I have to type quotes around words when I look
them up in the phone book? (Is there an entry in there that
actually reads "me"?) Why do I use compass directions to navigate a
hard disk? (Damn Windows 2000!) Why can I carry my possessions
through the VirtuaPhone but not into the computer through the VR
suit? Why exactly is my door stuck (aside from the obvious answer,
to create another puzzle in the interest of padding the game out to
a two-hour play time)? If everyone's so concerned about the misuse
of broadcasting equipment, why isn't it regulated more strictly?
Why did this game leave me with so many unanswered questions?

My score for "VirtuaTech": 5 points out of 10.

Did I finish it?: Yes.

Notes to the author:
--------------------
If it seems to you like I'm bitching a lot above, it's because I felt
this game had a lot of promise, but didn't "live up to its potential."
I suggest you try another game in this same compu-tech genre, but with
a goal more significant than getting a stupid college paper printed.
Some sort of intrigue, or a satire piece, perhaps. Ditch the college
environment. It's hackneyed to the point of inducing nausea.

If this game was intended to mock the big corporations that are
responsible for supplying us with technology services but end up
botching it constantly (a shot at this year's AOL folly, perhaps?) it's
not a bad start, but I was never completely sure this was what you were
trying to accomplish.

======================================================================

"Zero Sum Game"
---------------
-1 Bugs/crashes.
Normal gameplay is flawless, but the instant I save and then try to
restore, the game bombs out with an error message. TADS games in
particular seem prone to this type of problem. Anyone know why?

-1 Cliched story/setting.
The game concept is original, but the fantasy setting kills a point.

-1 Miscellaneous stuff that pissed me off.
Pretty minor, actually. Consider using the [Enter] key in your hint
file. Some of us have crappy DOS editors that don't word-wrap.
Also, TADS users, please, and I'm asking really nicely: Allow "q" as
a synonym for "quit." For the herbs, you might provide a hint
(besides eating them and typing "undo") that they're lethal.
Finally, was the gratuitous sex scene really necessary? For me, it
didn't gel (eww!) with the rest of the game.

My score for "Zero Sum Game": 7 points out of 10.

Did I finish it?: On the last puzzle.

Notes to the author:
--------------------
Excellent satirical send-up of I-F, and treasure-quests in particular.
With all the recent discussions about moral decisions in I-F, it's
amusing to note that undoing all the damage an adventurer does can be
even more destructive than simply letting well enough alone. Brad (or
Darlene) is an excellent NPC, taking the adventurer from Enchanter to
the extreme. He acts *exactly* like a text adventurer, wandering
around, killing things, taking everything he comes across. I confess I
saw a bit too much of myself mirrored in him for comfort. This was
enough to trigger the "Oh, wow!" reaction that I was looking for.

Cute scoring gimmick, adequate puzzles for the most part. Your NPCs
have good mobility and purpose in the game, but could stand to be more
responsive. Nice handling of the dead-vs-living NPCs.

======================================================================

"Glowgrass"
-----------
-1 Miscellaneous stuff that pissed me off.
"Get all." It's an accepted standard these days, even a
requirement. Please implement it, instead of this "one thing at a
time" crap. I'd expect that from primitive AGT or a home-grown I-F
engine, but not TADS. Umm... I looked, but I honestly couldn't find
much else to complain about.

My score for "Glowgrass": 9 points out of 10.

Did I finish it?: Yes.

Notes to the author:
--------------------
Nice job of storytelling in the classic sci-fi (or whatever the hell
the "correct" term for it is) style. Terse but vivid descriptions.
Excellent job relaying an otherworlder's impressions of human
technology. This is what 1995's "A Night at the Museum Forever" could
have been. Perfectly paced, with just enough mystery to keep me hooked
until the exposition of backstory near the end. The character of Maria
is perfectly rendered, as is the bleak future you paint for humanity.
(I'm big on bleak futures, so I like that). If I had to offer any more
criticism, I'd suggest only that you consider making it a bit more
replayable. I don't have much incentive to go back to it.

I've played both "Hero Inc. Part One" and "Frobozz Magic Support," and
while they were both enjoyable, you've surpassed them with "Glowgrass."
Easily your best effort to date. Well done.
======================================================================

--
C.E. Forman cefo...@worldnet.att.net
Author of "Delusions", the 3rd place winner in the 1996 I-F Competition!!
Release 4 is now at: ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/infocom/Delusns.z5
Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe http://netnow.micron.net/~jgoemmer/infoshop.html

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/10/98
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Gee, man, I certainly hope you feel better after getting *that* load
of bad feeling and aggression off your chest.

Me, I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth. Especially since I just
stood up and defended the newsgroups as a nice, friendly, and
supportive place. I was obviously wrong.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------
Not officially connected to LU or LTH.

Steven Howard

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Jan 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/10/98
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In <698iuk$34g$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, on 01/10/98
at 08:42 PM, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) said:


>Gee, man, I certainly hope you feel better after getting *that* load of
>bad feeling and aggression off your chest.

>Me, I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth. Especially since I just stood
>up and defended the newsgroups as a nice, friendly, and supportive place.
>I was obviously wrong.

Really? I didn't think C.E.'s reviews were any angrier or
mean-spirited than, say, mine. They were a lot longer and
more detailed, which makes them better than mine.

(Oh, and for what it's worth, I gave "Sylenius Mysterium" a
rating of 1. Without the Game Worlds section, it would have
been at least a 5.)

========
Steven Howard
bl...@ibm.net

"Are you a COBOL programmer?" "No, but people tell me I look like one."


Magnus Olsson

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Jan 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/10/98
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In article <34b7d...@news2.ibm.net>, Steven Howard <bl...@ibm.net> wrote:
>In <698iuk$34g$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, on 01/10/98
> at 08:42 PM, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) said:
>
>
>>Gee, man, I certainly hope you feel better after getting *that* load of
>>bad feeling and aggression off your chest.
>
>>Me, I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth. Especially since I just stood
>>up and defended the newsgroups as a nice, friendly, and supportive place.
>>I was obviously wrong.
>
>Really? I didn't think C.E.'s reviews were any angrier or
>mean-spirited than, say, mine. They were a lot longer and
>more detailed, which makes them better than mine.

I wasn't really reacting to the reviews themselves - they were mostly
intelligent and to the point, partly brilliant, and quite fun reading
(especially the nasty parts) - but to the ranting that surrounded
them. I got the feeling that C.E. had a lot of bitterness that he was
taking out on his fellow authors. And the accusations of plagiarism
toward both "Babel" and "Tempest" aren't the kind of things that
should be taken lightly. And the way that any game in a fantasy
setting was *automatically* penalized, just for being fantasy, struck
a personal note - as a fantasy author and fan, I don't like the
thought that anything I'll ever create in the genre will be
summarily dismissed as derivative trash.

But maybe I'm overreacting.

Matthew T. Russotto

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Jan 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/10/98
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In article <69893k$b...@bgtnsc01.worldnet.att.net>,

C.E. Forman <cefo...@postoffice.worldnet.att.net> wrote:
}[Copyright 1998 by C.E. Forman blah blah blah]
}
}C.E. Forman's very own patented, organic, naturally-flavored,
}low-sodium, 99% fat-free, healthy-choice, prescription-strength
}REVIEWS OF THE 1997 I-F COMPETITION ENTRIES (TM) !!!!!

Well, if this was your final project for the Harlan Ellison school of
criticism, I'd say you probably passed.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Heiko Nock

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Jan 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/11/98
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In article <698nlv$dsl$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
>And the way that any game in a fantasy setting was *automatically*
>penalized, just for being fantasy, struck a personal note - as a fantasy
>author and fan, I don't like the thought that anything I'll ever create
>in the genre will be summarily dismissed as derivative trash.

But what a really, really good opportunity for you to prove him wrong ....

:)

--
Ciao/2, Heiko.....

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/12/98
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In article <KJTu0sRO...@rhein-neckar.netsurf.de>,

Believe me, I have every intention of doing so.

Joe Mason

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Jan 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/12/98
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> (Wireless wire, which isn't wired to anything, cuz it's wireless!
> Hee!)

"No, wooden wood is just redunant. Wireless wire is an oxymoron."

Joe


Stephen van Egmond

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Jan 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/13/98
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In article <698nlv$dsl$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:
>setting was *automatically* penalized, just for being fantasy, struck
>a personal note - as a fantasy author and fan, I don't like the

http://www.truespectra.com/~svanegmo/raif/2/msg06738.html
is a metadiscussion about fantasy IF (or the perceived excess of fantasy
games), and it got started as a result of the entries in comp96.

I also recall a particular nasty exchange when someone announced that a
game they were working on (perhaps the follow-on to Path to Fortune) was
forthcoming; they were greeted with a few "awww, not *more* fantasy"-style
comments as well.

It seems to be the debate of choice around here.

/Steve


Den of Iniquity

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Jan 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/13/98
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On 10 Jan 1998, C.E. Forman wrote [Copyright 1998 by C.E. Forman]:

>-1 For a cliched story or setting, something that's been done countless
> times before. Or anything painfully derivative of anything else.
> *Any* D&D or Tolkien-esque fantasy automatically lost 1 here (and
> don't cry to me about it cuz you people brought that on yourselves).

You know, I think this is a terrible way to judge a game (and I'm clearly
not in a minority) but hey! I'm not going to give a good rational
explanation for this opinion or one that anyone can sympathise with.

--
Den
{All right, maybe a little statement - surely the genre is not defined by
the setting but on the plot and the style? Why leave, say, Glowglass
alone, clearly SF, yet pick on games with fantasy elements?}


C.E. Forman

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Jan 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/14/98
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Den of Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:
>{All right, maybe a little statement - surely the genre is not defined
>by the setting but on the plot and the style? Why leave, say, Glowglass
>alone, clearly SF, yet pick on games with fantasy elements?}

I've never written an SF game that got bashed solely for being SF.

Graham Nelson

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Jan 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/14/98
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In article <Pine.SGI.3.95L.98011...@ebor.york.ac.uk>,
Den of Iniquity <URL:mailto:dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:
> On 10 Jan 1998, C.E. Forman wrote [Copyright 1998 by C.E. Forman]:

>
> >-1 For a cliched story or setting, something that's been done countless
> > times before. Or anything painfully derivative of anything else.
> > *Any* D&D or Tolkien-esque fantasy automatically lost 1 here (and
> > don't cry to me about it cuz you people brought that on yourselves).
>
> You know, I think this is a terrible way to judge a game (and I'm clearly
> not in a minority) but hey! I'm not going to give a good rational
> explanation for this opinion or one that anyone can sympathise with.

No, I'm with C.E. on this. Would anyone have objected if he'd been
awarding marks upwards from 0, and offered

+1 For an original, never-been-done-before setting?

Of course not! But that's fully equivalent to what he did do.

--
Graham Nelson | gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk | Oxford, United Kingdom


Stephen Granade

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Jan 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/14/98
to

On Wed, 14 Jan 1998, Graham Nelson wrote:

> In article <Pine.SGI.3.95L.98011...@ebor.york.ac.uk>,
> Den of Iniquity <URL:mailto:dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:

> > On 10 Jan 1998, C.E. Forman wrote [Copyright 1998 by C.E. Forman]:


> >
> > >-1 For a cliched story or setting, something that's been done countless
> > > times before. Or anything painfully derivative of anything else.
> > > *Any* D&D or Tolkien-esque fantasy automatically lost 1 here (and
> > > don't cry to me about it cuz you people brought that on yourselves).
> >

> > You know, I think this is a terrible way to judge a game (and I'm clearly
> > not in a minority) but hey! I'm not going to give a good rational
> > explanation for this opinion or one that anyone can sympathise with.
>
> No, I'm with C.E. on this. Would anyone have objected if he'd been
> awarding marks upwards from 0, and offered
>
> +1 For an original, never-been-done-before setting?
>
> Of course not! But that's fully equivalent to what he did do.

Mmm, I'm not sure I believe this. It's fully equivalent only if every
game's setting is binary: either completely original or completely
cliched. If, like me, you view this sort of judgement as containing shades
of grey, then it's not equivalent. In one case you're rewarding the most
excellent/punishing all the middle-of-the-road and bad settings; in the
other case you're punishing bad settings/rewarding the excellent and
middle-of-the-road settings.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Check out
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.miningco.com


Daryl McCullough

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Jan 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/14/98
to

Graham Nelson says...
>...Would anyone have objected if he'd been

>awarding marks upwards from 0, and offered
>
> +1 For an original, never-been-done-before setting?
>
>Of course not! But that's fully equivalent to what he did do.

Not necessarily. Suppose that the points system included the
following rules:

.
.
.
+1 For an original, never-been-done-before setting.
.
.
.
+1 For creating something fresh and original out of
a standard setting.

There can be more than one path to excellence.

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

Edan Harel

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Jan 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/14/98
to

da...@cogentex.com (Daryl McCullough) writes:

> +1 For an original, never-been-done-before setting.

> +1 For creating something fresh and original out of
> a standard setting.

Ahh, so if I use an original, never-been-done-before setting, I can
make something standard out of it?

Which sort of reminds me of those small trilogy games on gmd that have
different settings, but almost the exact same puzzle and/or plots. I
personally would like to see unique games, even if they are standard (but
not "bad") games. I have no qualms with easy puzzles, as long as the
story part of it makes up for it.
--
Edan Harel edh...@remus.rutgers.edu McCormick 6201
Research Assistant Math and Comp Sci Major Computer Consultant
USACS Member Math Club Secretary

Edan Harel

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Jan 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/14/98
to

Graham Nelson <gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk> writes:

>No, I'm with C.E. on this. Would anyone have objected if he'd been


>awarding marks upwards from 0, and offered

> +1 For an original, never-been-done-before setting?

>Of course not! But that's fully equivalent to what he did do.

Well, I would have preferred that way, as long as there were moe than
10 different possible ways to get a point. (although the idea that
a game deserves a point *just* because it has a new and different setting
could be insulting. Should we give, say, a poif about in the middle
of a sun a whole point, despite the fact that it's riddled with
spelling errors, no interesting objects, and fatal bugs?!).

My main gripe with C.E.'s way of giving scores is the fact that it's
unflexable. I don't think that a spelling error is equal to a bug or
that a new gimmic is as important as interesting NPC's or that a game
even needs an npc to be good (or have character developement). I can
imagine a completely "unoriginal setting" game that might deserve a 10.

Besides, it's only equivalent if there are exactly ten things to gain
point vs ten things to lose a point on.

While the idea that everyone starts off with a 10 is nice, I'd rather
grant points (albeit perhaps liberaly) based on a wide range of
attributes with different values, and perhaps change the end result
slightly based on whether or not the end result "works" or doesn't.

To think that good interactive fiction lies on ten equal parts is just plain
silly.

Edan Harel

Oh, by the way, "Ruins" would have probably gotten a 5(no thinking to get it
to run, no guess the verb, no typos, no bugs, no poor writing (well, it's
not that bad ;-)), and so would the basic infocom shell, now that I think
about it.

Den of Iniquity

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Jan 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/15/98
to

On 14 Jan 1998, Edan Harel wrote:
>To think that good interactive fiction lies on ten equal parts is just plain
>silly.

Of course. That's why most people don't use scoring systems, or, if they
do, have the sense not to explain them. :)

--
Den


Michael Straight

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Jan 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/15/98
to

On Wed, 14 Jan 1998, Graham Nelson wrote:

> In article <Pine.SGI.3.95L.98011...@ebor.york.ac.uk>,
> Den of Iniquity <URL:mailto:dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:

> > On 10 Jan 1998, C.E. Forman wrote [Copyright 1998 by C.E. Forman]:


> >
> > >-1 For a cliched story or setting, something that's been done countless
> > > times before. Or anything painfully derivative of anything else.
> > > *Any* D&D or Tolkien-esque fantasy automatically lost 1 here (and
> > > don't cry to me about it cuz you people brought that on yourselves).
> >

> > You know, I think this is a terrible way to judge a game (and I'm clearly
> > not in a minority) but hey! I'm not going to give a good rational
> > explanation for this opinion or one that anyone can sympathise with.
>

> No, I'm with C.E. on this. Would anyone have objected if he'd been
> awarding marks upwards from 0, and offered
>
> +1 For an original, never-been-done-before setting?
>
> Of course not! But that's fully equivalent to what he did do.

Only mathematically. Being praised for the 4 things one did right gives
an entirely different focus to a review than being criticized for the 6
things one did wrong.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


Jason Anthony Melancon

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Jan 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/16/98
to

Edan Harel (edh...@remus.rutgers.edu) wrote:

> My main gripe with C.E.'s way of giving scores is the fact that it's

> inflexible.

I'd just like to point out here that he himself bemoaned this fact several
times in his posts. But his votes did not count, so he was not too
worried.

Jason Melancon

Heiko Nock

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Jan 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/16/98
to

In article <Pine.A41.3.95L.98011...@login3.isis.unc.edu>,

Michael Straight <stra...@email.unc.edu> wrote:
>Only mathematically. Being praised for the 4 things one did right gives
>an entirely different focus to a review than being criticized for the 6
>things one did wrong.

It also isn't very helpful to know about the things you've done right.
A new author is probably more interested in the things he has done
wrong.

--
Ciao/2, Heiko.....

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/17/98
to

In article <om9v0sRO...@rhein-neckar.netsurf.de>,

Not necessarily - I think it depends on context. To start with,
a review to focuses entirely on negative aspects of one's game is,
well, negative. "I quite liked this game, but there were some very
obvious defects (goes on to list those defects at great length).
But apart from this, I liked it." can be quite depressing to
read. Damning with faint praise, and all that.

Pointing out things the author did right is especially important, IMO,
if the reviewer didn't like the game, or didn't think it worked as
a whole. I've reviewed games where I liked some parts of the
game, but thought they didn't really fit together as an organic whole.
If I had concentrated on this misfit, my review would have seemed
very negative indeed. Instead, I gave the good things more space than
the bad things, to encourage the author to continue doing good things.

It's all a question of balance, I guess.

Mary K. Kuhner

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Jan 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/20/98
to

>It also isn't very helpful to know about the things you've done right.
>A new author is probably more interested in the things he has done
>wrong.

I don't agree. If you try something experimental, and two
people say "That didn't work", and twenty people like it but
say nothing, you won't try it again--it will look like a
failure, even though it was actually very successful.

Praise also focusses your attention on your strengths, so that
you can emphasize them in future games. I think telling Rybread
that the premise and mood of Symetry are really intriguing
is just as important as saying that the code doesn't work.
Otherwise we might not get the good qualities next game.

I've found both praise and criticism very useful in my
written fiction, and I don't doubt they're both very useful
in IF.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Michael Straight

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Jan 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/20/98
to

On Fri, 16 Jan 1998, Heiko Nock wrote:

> In article <Pine.A41.3.95L.98011...@login3.isis.unc.edu>,
> Michael Straight <stra...@email.unc.edu> wrote:
> >Only mathematically. Being praised for the 4 things one did right gives
> >an entirely different focus to a review than being criticized for the 6
> >things one did wrong.
>

> It also isn't very helpful to know about the things you've done right.
> A new author is probably more interested in the things he has done
> wrong.

I'm much more interested in seeing more of the stuff I like than I am in
seeing less of the stuff I don't like.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


Heiko Nock

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Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to

In article <6a3316$t1t$1...@nntp5.u.washington.edu>,

mkku...@evolution.genetics.washington.edu (Mary K. Kuhner) wrote:
>>It also isn't very helpful to know about the things you've done right.
>>A new author is probably more interested in the things he has done
>>wrong.
>I don't agree. If you try something experimental, and two
>people say "That didn't work", and twenty people like it but
>say nothing, you won't try it again--it will look like a
>failure, even though it was actually very successful.

Of course, a new (and also a not-so-new) author doesn't want to
hear "That didn't work" as a constructive reply, but rather
"That didn't work, because you did this and that...".

The same applies to people saying "I like that." instead of those
who'd better say "I like that, because you did this and that....".

>Praise also focusses your attention on your strengths, so that
>you can emphasize them in future games.

That only works if the things, that people liked about your game, were
actually a result of one of your strengths and not just plain coincidence.

>I think telling Rybread that the premise and mood of Symetry are really
>intriguing is just as important as saying that the code doesn't work.

But I'm sure that Rybread knows that his code doesn't work. He does it
on purpose, doesn't he ?

That is kind of sad because Symetry, although being terrible imperfect,
had a certain kind of athmosphere, that really brought over what the
story tried to establish. A lovecraftian athmosphere.

Unfortunately that ability of his has been so enormously buried under
loads of bugs and guess-the-verb situations, that it really makes me want
to get out my trusty bazooka and send over a present, just because he
did it on purpose.

>Otherwise we might not get the good qualities next game.

So you expect him to improve his qualities ? :)

I'm sure his opinion of his qualities differs some way from yours.

--
Ciao/2, Heiko.....

Michael Straight

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Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to


On Thu, 22 Jan 1998, Heiko Nock wrote:

> In article <Pine.A41.3.95L.98012...@login2.isis.unc.edu>,


> Michael Straight <stra...@email.unc.edu> wrote:
> >I'm much more interested in seeing more of the stuff I like than I am in
> >seeing less of the stuff I don't like.
>

> You are assuming that every author knows about what he has done
> "wrong".
>
> If he is always told about the things that he has done right, how is he
> supposed to know, what he should improve for his next game ?
> If he isn't told about them, he will just make the same mistakes again.

I never said anything about not mentioning a game's shortcomings. I just
said I'd rather focus a review around it's strengths, that reviews giving
points for the things a game did well help achieve this focus, and that a
review docking points for "bad" things comes across as overly negative and
less constructive.

My reviews included an "I hate Adventure-style mazes" rant, but I hope
they focused on "this was good for these reasons, I'd like to see more
stuff going in this direction."

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


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