[IFBeginnersComp] Discuss "Connect" by James Hudson (SPOILERS)

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Victor Gijsbers

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Feb 17, 2008, 9:02:38 AM2/17/08
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Dear all,

I just finished my first IFBeginnersComp game, "Connect". Since we are
encouraged to discuss the games, let's do so. :)

BRIEF OVERVIEW

Connect is a solid game, if rather short. Except for one possible bug
(about which more later), the implementation is well done. There are a
couple of puzzles, there is a special ability that sets the game apart
from the generic, and most of the writing is okay.

PUZZLES

The first two puzzles (getting out of the room and defeating the guard)
were quite easy. The second puzzle stumped me, however, and I had to
turn to the hints to find out how I could get past the warden. It seems
to me that this puzzle was underclued--it was not clear to me that the
memory about the battle scene was a memory of the warden (I thought it
was mine), and it was not clear to me that talking to the warden was
going to help me. (Other ask/tell commands didn't give any special
output at all.) What did other people think?

BUG?

At some point, before I got past the supervisor, I asked the warden
about soup. He then walked "to the prisoners". I followed him into the
Office, after which he and the supervisor walked away north. I thought
this was strange and possibly a bug: shouldn't the supervisor be alarmed
when he sees me? I thus got rid of the supervisor without doing anything
for it.

CONNECTING

I likes the connect ability. It's good to see both a physical and an
emotional description of your environments, and I liked the way you
could look into someone else's mind. (However, this was perhaps a bit
too clearly a way to get game hints. In a longer game, something liek
Connect would have to be implemented in a more subtle way.)

THE GUY WITH THE BOX

Meta-fiction is old, especially in IF. Unless you have a really
interesting new take on it, don't bother. The guy with the box was (at
first) unnecessarily confusing to beginners, and (later) too much of a
cliche for advances players.

IS THIS A GOOD GAME FOR BEGINNERS?

Not really. The connect command + the meta-fictional guy with the black
box make this game too confusing for new players. I was a bit confused,
at first myself. Also, not all the puzzles are very well clued. So I
would say that this is a good game for people who already understand the
basics of IF, but not for real beginners.

FINAL IMPRESSION

The great bane of IF is games that are too short. This, too, is a game
that is too short. A couple of puzzles, the first vague ideas about a
setting, and then the game is finished. The end result is too forgettable.

Nevertheless, the game is put together well. There are some minor
problems (a bug, an underclued puzzle, a cliche), but in general Connect
is competently done. Nothing to blow us away, but nothing terrible either.

I rate it 6 out of 10.

Regards,
Victor

Emily Short

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Feb 17, 2008, 10:49:06 PM2/17/08
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On Feb 17, 9:02 am, Victor Gijsbers <vic...@lilith.gotdns.org> wrote:
> Dear all,
>
> I just finished my first IFBeginnersComp game, "Connect". Since we are
> encouraged to discuss the games, let's do so. :)
>
> BRIEF OVERVIEW
>
> Connect is a solid game, if rather short. Except for one possible bug
> (about which more later), the implementation is well done.

I thought it could have used a bit more polish in a few places --
there are a bunch of doors you have to open explicitly, for instance,
and it would be nice if it just opened them for you. Stuff along those
lines.

> PUZZLES
>
> The first two puzzles (getting out of the room and defeating the guard)
> were quite easy. The second puzzle stumped me, however, and I had to
> turn to the hints to find out how I could get past the warden. It seems
> to me that this puzzle was underclued--it was not clear to me that the
> memory about the battle scene was a memory of the warden (I thought it
> was mine), and it was not clear to me that talking to the warden was
> going to help me. (Other ask/tell commands didn't give any special
> output at all.) What did other people think?

I didn't get confused about the same part, but I couldn't find the
clue that would have told me the name of his division. I had to use
the game's hints to resolve this.

> BUG?
>
> At some point, before I got past the supervisor, I asked the warden
> about soup. He then walked "to the prisoners". I followed him into the
> Office, after which he and the supervisor walked away north. I thought
> this was strange and possibly a bug: shouldn't the supervisor be alarmed
> when he sees me? I thus got rid of the supervisor without doing anything
> for it.

That sounds like a bug. There is a different solution involving the
supervisor, which worked fine for me.

> The great bane of IF is games that are too short. This, too, is a game
> that is too short.

I thought the original point of the competition was to produce brief
games that would be accessible in an hour or less?

Anyway, I quite liked some of the specific connection descriptions
(especially the rat, herbs, and fire -- I wanted to pet the rat after
assessing its sleeping state, but the game didn't let me). The game
felt to me about on a par with a short Twilight Zone skit: it doesn't
really give you a whole long story, just some brief sense of how the
world has changed and why. In that respect, it seemed like one of the
more interesting post-apocalyptic IF settings I've seen, though quite
a few questions are left unanswered.

David Fisher

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Feb 18, 2008, 3:05:29 AM2/18/08
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"Victor Gijsbers" <vic...@lilith.gotdns.org> wrote in message
news:47b83e7d$0$14343$e4fe...@news.xs4all.nl...

>
> The first two puzzles (getting out of the room and defeating
> the guard) were quite easy.

The first puzzle was a good introduction to the "connect"
ability. The second one got me stuck at first; I tried to
set fire to the pieces of wood, but that would apparently
have been a "dangerous act that achieved little" ...

Default messages can undermine believability like nothing
else. :-)

> The second puzzle stumped me
...


> What did other people think?

I agree that the warden puzzle seemed underclued; I wouldn't
have guessed this one without the hints. Maybe I missed something,
but I'm not sure why I was meant to associate the battle in the
painting with the possibility of the warden being on my side ...

The part with the supervisor was a little confusing too,
since I got the hint about the "peanut chips" before
connecting to him, which meant that the peanuts in the
cupboard remained invisible.

> CONNECTING

... was the highlight for me. I especially liked the description
of the fire. It was quite a good idea to disable movement while
"connected", otherwise there would be no reason to not use it
continuously (and it is more fun/interesting to have to make a
choice about when to use it).

> Meta-fiction is old, especially in IF. Unless you have a
> really interesting new take on it, don't bother. The guy with
> the box was (at first) unnecessarily confusing to beginners,
> and (later) too much of a cliche for advances players.

I felt that this concept was a pretty good introduction to IF:
type stuff to make the character do something ...

It could have been a little clearer whose thoughts were whose,
though.

> The great bane of IF is games that are too short.

I wonder how long a genuinely new IF player would take on this
game (without resorting to the hints too much); about 1-2 hours
was the intention for the comp, which seemed about right for an
introduction to IF.

But it would have been nice for the ideas to have been developed
a but further, yes. (There was potential for more discoveries of
& uses for the ancient objects).

There also seemed to be a few red herrings; was there any use for
the cylinder in the first room? Not that red herrings are bad in
themselves, but they could be a bit confusing to beginning players.

David Fisher


Eric Forgeot

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Feb 22, 2008, 5:51:40 PM2/22/08
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An original "cyberpunk" story, with a great plot and conclusion. I liked the
mood in it, and the fact the story reconstruct while discovering new things
in it. I haven't played many "meta fictions" (in a way I'm quite a beginner
with games written in English), so I can't tell it was a cliché. The first
time I got out after leaving the man with the box, I was really surprised
by the end of game, so it worked well for me :)

I used the hint system a lot, but it's probably more related to my bad
understanding of the descriptions in English. I found the puzzles a bit
hard, but logical and original in a way (by reading people's mind and such)

I found a little bug (or it was in the black box?) :

while connected, if we type for ex. examine east we get :

"run time problem P10: since the east is not allowed the property "known" it
is against the rules to try to use it."

I'll post my score with the others on ifwiki.


craigjo...@aol.com

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Feb 27, 2008, 3:16:00 PM2/27/08
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This was the third random selection from the entries, and got off to a
great start with the post-nuclear-holocaust theme, which I'm a
particular fan of. Nice use of the CONNECT ability in the first room
gets things off to a rousing start, but the adventure sadly declines
from that point on. Part of this is you just get into the routine of
MOVE-CONNECT-DISCONNECT-MOVE-CONNECT-DISCONNECT which seems ultimately
to be a waste of effort - that you can examine someone in the next
room using connect is nice (although would've preferred a verb other
than examine for listening in to someone's thoughts) but the puzzles
involved were either laughably easy (the guard is scared of fire, in
the next room is a poker and a fire) (the final guy is allergic to
peanuts, in a couple in the kitchen are some peanuts) or jokingly hard
(the warder is obviously one of the good guys (that bit wasn't
confusing at all) but how to convince him I was on the level (you have
to not only examine some paintings, but examine the specific one, and
make the connection it refers to him (why not have one of the people
in the painting look like him?) ) - and this doesn't really make
sense, because at the end of the day, I was locked up by the baddies,
therefore I'm obviously a good guy too!

Liked the hint system "THINK ABOUT <something>" and really hated the
guy with the box at the end...what on earth was that all about, it
just sort of ended with my escape when I tried to take box, with no
rhyme or reason behind the box. I also didn't much like the puzzle of
putting peanuts in the soup - in experimenting, I'd put the wood chips
in the soup, you would've thought the guy would've seen those and not
eaten it! Hiding in the cupboard until he eat the soup? Not happy
- why not dress up as the chef and take the soup to him at his desk?
He wouldn't've left the prisoner unguarded to go and eat his lunch!

However, these quibbles aside, a very solid adventure, gathering the
best mark I awarded so far, a 7.

psytr...@gmail.com

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Mar 18, 2008, 7:10:48 AM3/18/08
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Hi everybody, I just want to thank you all for giving such incisive
feedback on my game, and the competition organisers for giving me
something exciting to work towards. The experience showed up a lot of
almost amusingly large flaws, but it's given me some impetus to keep
polishing the story and address some of the problems for release 3,
and maybe do something more ambitious in the future.

For those who wondered why the story had little background and made
references to unknown events - I based the scenario on a (plain old
paper) book I've been writing.

thanks,
James.

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