[Comp00] Tril's Competition Reviews (1 of 4)

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Suzanne Britton

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Nov 16, 2000, 12:06:04 AM11/16/00
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There are a lot of superlatives that can be applied to this year's comp. A
major one is "most experimental". A lot of authors struck out for new
territory--even those who have stuck to traditional puzzle-based IF in the
past (e.g. Jon Ingold, author of "My Angel"). Many authors used the less
common first-person voice to good effect; some played with past tense as
well--both of these give a game an entirely different feel, not less or
more immersion, but a different kind of immersion.

"Most storytelling". There was more a focus on telling a good story this
year than ever before. Many authors either threw out puzzles entirely, or
did their best to integrate the puzzles into the storytelling. There was
ample use of menu-based conversation interfaces.

"Most open-ended". There was very adept use of multiple endings in some games.

"Most inventive". There were games that virtually defined new genres, or
used genres that were previously near-empty in the IF world. There was
romance, historical fiction, Arabian fantasy, Plotkinesque surrealism,
dystopian SF, Twilight-Zone-style horror, wordplay, intrigue...There was
Ingold's "My Angel", for which I can't even find a good word.

But the foremost superlative is "best"! I feel justified in saying this
has been the best competition ever. The level of ambition and creativity
in the entries this year is stunning. Even many of those I scored low
impressed me with their efforts. Games I loved and rhapsodized about in my
reviews ended up at the 8-9 level where they would have gotten 10's in
years previous--because there were even better games above them! I granted
a mind-boggling *five* perfect scores. The judging period has been a joy
rather than a tedious duty, and for that, I thank and congratulate the
authors.

Below are my comments on the TADS, Inform, and Hugo games, in the order I
played them. I have omitted my reviews of the others, since they consist
largely of ranting about inadequate/non-existent parsers. The usual
spoiler warnings apply--it's hard to review a game in depth without giving
some things away. I've tried not to be dismissive or overly harsh. If I
*was* dismissive, it's probably for one of several reasons:

* You submitted an obvious gag game, and thus you were asking for it. I
don't mind gag games, I just don't devote much review time (or points)
to them.
* Your game was so not-my-thing that I didn't play or rate it (e.g.
RTZAS). Don't take this personally. Certain genres just turn me off.
* Your game was insulting.

If I was overly harsh on a sincere game, I apologize in advance.

A quick note on scoring: I have a natural bias towards serious games that
shows up in my ratings. A lighthearted game has to be really
mind-blowingly good to score higher than 8. If you wrote such a game,
you're welcome to mentally add 2 points to your score if it'll make you
feel better :-)

----------------------------------------------------------------------

1-2-3...
by Chris Mudd

Hmmm.

Okay, positives first.

1. The introduction grabbed me. I love "what the h*** is going on
here??"-style introductions, and this was an excellent specimen with
flawless, evocative use of the language. Then, an abrupt change of
scene, which also worked. Some may find this room description
overly artsy:

Darkness is pure; broken darkness is haunting. If not for the
streetlights the evening would be pure. The rain has let up, but the
air hangs heavy.

--but I loved it. With a mere two lines it painted a vivid picture in
my mind and awoke all my senses.

2. The writing in general is quite good. I think this is the first
slasher-genre IF I've encountered that didn't come across as sloppy
and juvenile.

3. I like the use of converging multiple viewpoints. Some may call it
derivative of "Photopia", but there are many worse things to imitate.

And now, the reasons why I ended up scoring 1-2-3 way lower than I hoped I
would:

1. The conversation interface simply doesn't work. The use of blatant
leading questions -- "wouldn't you rather ask me about <x>?" --
started out disconcerting and progressed, through some 20-30
repetitions, to downright annoying. It was a noble effort to render
conversation puzzleless that failed utterly in the mimesis department.
The way many questions have to be asked is unnatural to a seasoned
IFer: e.g., "ask him whether he will strike again" -- and in some
cases there appears to be no alternate syntax. It's unlikely that many
people will hit upon such questions before they are prompted by the
character (actually, I'll be interested to hear whether novice IFers
found this easier).

I don't normally care for menu-driven conversation, but in this case,
it would have been a much better option.

2. The time-handling doesn't work--especially in part 2 (when you first
become the investigator). The game told me I needed fresh air, so I
looked for an exit. There wasn't one--it turned out the game was just
going to let me wander back and forth talking to people until it
decided it was time for the next scene. Railroading the player is fine
if you do it transparently, but in this case, I was feeling pretty
annoyed by the time the game finally decided to move me on. And when
it did, my first reaction was "whaa??" I couldn't tell if the scene
was switching because of something I did, or as a time-based event, or
what.

I think the author has fallen for a common fallacy among IF authors
(even experienced ones): assuming that what feels natural to him will
also feel natural to the players.

3. There were lots of little parser oversights. This is understandable in
most comp. games, but less forgivable in one which is puzzleless,
relatively small and extremely linear. I can't refer to the prostitute
as "woman". Outside the cafe, I can see "her form", but can't "look at
her form" or "look at her" or "look at woman". When I type "in", the
game doesn't let me go in--but "east" works. When Bob asks if I want
to know what he would do, I can't simply say "yes" -- I have to say
"ask Bob about what he would do". Eaagh!

4. The plot is...well...goofy. The first few scenes left me with
high hopes, and I was disappointed to see it degenerate into a
"Psycho" spinoff. This criticism is obviously more subjective than
those above--I just find the whole man-obsessed-with-his-mother thing
very silly. It seemed, too, that the author was often going for
titillation rather than substance, and this also disappointed my
expectations. The movie "The Cell" impressed me in exactly the way
that "1-2-3" didn't, but could have.

Also, I didn't take off points for this, but...don't you think an "adult
content" warning was called for?

Rating: 4

-------------------------------------------------------

Ad Verbum
by Nick Montfort

I'm starting to feel optimistic about this year's competition. I'm only on
my second game, and already I've found a favorite. "Ad Verbum" is great
fun. It's a wordplay game in the tradition of Infocom's "Nord and Bert",
and one which--despite being a glorified treasure hunt--oozes cleverness
and personality from every pore. I played this game during my lunch break
at work, and several times, I had to literally clamp my hands over my
mouth and snicker into them to keep from bursting into loud laughter:

>sit
Sit? Sure. Sofa seems suitable. Sitting ... seated.

>sit
Sit? Seated. Second sitting suggestion superfluous.

>nibble nappy
Naughty, naughty! Nibbling nappies not normal.

"Ad Verbum" is almost flawlessly implemented, anticipating just about
everything I could find to throw at it. Add to that the room descriptions
("constrained passages to the n, e, w, and s look as if they might spell
trouble. Or perhaps they simply spell 'NEWS'"), the wordplay puzzles (bias
warning: I'm a cryptic crossword fan and a regular patron of
www.logophilia.com), and the pervasive gentle humor, and you have me
hooked.

I guess I'm supposed to come up with some criticism here. There were a few
oversights: "stow" doesn't work, "nab/snatch/grab book" (the no-e's book)
doesn't work (is "a" not allowed either? if so, the hints don't indicate),
and there were a very few instances where text was not alliterated
appropriately (e.g., typing "sit" in the study). It would be nice if
"stop" were synonymous with "quit" (in the S rooms), and if "open open
open door" worked. The illumination puzzle is perhaps a tad arbitrary.

But never mind all that. "Ad Verbum" rules. It's better than N&B. It's
better than "Verb". If it doesn't place high, I'll eat my thesaurus!

Rating: 8

-------------------------------------------------------

Castle Amnos
by John Evans

"Castle Amnos" has a lot going for it. It's an open-ended fantasy game
which gives you the opportunity to take multiple paths, find multiple
endings, and even influence the moral development of your character.
Regrettably, I found this out only by reading the hint system after I
quit. About 10 turns into the game, my eyes glazed over.

Since "Amnos" is clearly a worthy effort, I feel obliged to say something
about the little of it I did see, and why it totally failed to grab me.
After a reasonable starting sequence, I was thrust out into a sparsely
described, sketchily implemented maze of hallways, doors, and random
objects. Apparently I was expected to explore, though I felt little
motivation to do so (I found much the same problem with "Music Education"
last year). But explore I did. Then I found the anachronistic "public
restroom" and "authorized personnel only" sign, and my patience abruptly
ran out.

I'll have to leave this one to the less genre-weary judges among us.

Rating: unrated

-------------------------------------------------------

Asendent
by Sourdoh Farenheit and Kelvin Flatbred

Alas. Imitation Rybread just isn't the same.

Rating: 1

-------------------------------------------------------

Being Andrew Plotkin
by Celie Paradis (aka J. Robinson Wheeler)

Now *this* is an in-joke game.

BAP is hilarious. It could have failed in so many ways (I recall Mark
Musante put it in his "I'm Already Scared" category, on the basis of title
alone--I had much the same reaction), but didn't. That's not to say the
game doesn't have flaws, just that it kept me happy, amused, and moving
along briskly enough that I didn't pay much attention to them.

Because of the somewhat manic pace at which I proceeded through BAP, I
don't exactly have much detailed analysis to offer. A few things though.
Firstly, the fake ifMUD dialogue cracked me up. That was one of the high
points of the game, another was the screenful of status text when you
become Melvin. Oh, and Melvin's "note to self" regarding the roc egg |-D.
And the exaggerated detail and precision of Zarf's eye-view (not that the
writing style is a perfect imitation, by any means, but it's funny). And
the recursion gag. There's a lot I like about this game--I think I'm
rating it at least 3 points higher than I've ever rated a glorified
in-joke before!

Notable flaws: Outside of the single, constrained railroad track which
comprises BAP's plot, implementation is *very* sketchy. Even within the
track, there were scattered minor bugs (considering development started on
Sept. 2, not surprising!) Also, the starting sequence very nearly scared
me off. Having just come out of "Castle Amnos", I really wasn't in the
mood for another "what now?" game. Fortunately, that question was soon
answered (via the arrival of a stack of folders), and the author kept my
hands busy until things got interesting.

Rating: 8

-------------------------------------------------------

Breaking the Code
by [?]

Um. How clever.

More clever if the source code didn't have typos, mind.

Rating: 1

-------------------------------------------------------

Comp00ter Game
By Austin Thorvald

*groan*

Rating: 1

-------------------------------------------------------

Dinner With Andre
by Liza Daly

"Dinner with Andre" is a competently programmed, well-written, and
original game about a date from hell. It also started out, seemingly, as a
puzzleless story-based game, and caught my interest right away.
Unfortunately, it soon turned its attention away from telling a story, to
tossing increasingly contrived obstacles in my path. This part was
supposed to be manic and funny, I guess, but for some reason it totally
failed to tickle my funny bone. Perhaps part of it was a failure to
identify with the protagonist, and her over-the-top efforts to avoid
embarrassment. Tomboys probably weren't the author's intended audience.

At any rate, I did finally make it past the puzzles to the third phase,
which was more enjoyable and had some neat plot twists. Overall, though, I
have to rate the game based on its overall impression on me: a solid but
uninspiring work.

Rating: 5

-------------------------------------------------------

The Djinni Chronicles
by J.D. Berry

Oh my.

Did I say I was feeling optimistic about this year's comp? Check that. I'm
*thrilled* with this years comp!

"The Djinni Chronicles" is breathtaking. It's not flawless, but whatever
flaws it has are flaws on the surface of a diamond. Considering how
underwhelmed I was by Berry's 1999 offering, this is doubly exciting.
Almost all of the problems with "Jacks" which I harped on last year have
been, it seems, carefully avoided in "The Djinni Chronicles"--or else
rendered irrelevant by the carefully-designed constraints of the
gameworld.

"You can't do that--because I didn't implement it." This archetypical
failure message is the eternal enemy of immersive IF; it allows the player
to see through the illusion no matter how skillfully you word it. There
are three primary ways I can think of to defeat that enemy and provide
true mimesis. One is to face combinatorial explosion head on: code for
every reasonable interaction between the player and the gameworld. This is
very hard to do right and takes waaaaay more work than most comp authors
have time for.

Another is to narrow the interface itself, preventing the player from even
beginning to wander off-track. Failure messages are not necessary in this
case. There are many ways: menu-based conversation,
choose-your-own-adventure, "magician's choice", and so forth. This is
arguably the easiest tack, and has been used successfully by several
entrants this year ("Desert Heat", most notably).

But the cleverest and rarest way is to *make the limitations of the medium
seem natural*. "The Djinni Chronicles" takes this approach and does it very
well. You're a djinni, and your Purpose is both highly limited and highly
focused. It's to be expected that most random actions will result in a
curt failure message (in fact, your character's energy quickly drains when
you try to meander away from the point). The game is thus highly linear,
with little optional material--but that's how it's supposed to be.
Moreover, almost all the important stock messages have been overwritten,
which keeps things atmospheric and true to your character. E.g., "That was
not an action my Purpose allowed".

But the game's technical proficiency isn't what I most want to praise. The
story, and the method of its telling, is what took my breath away: told in
three converging threads, brimming with hints and subtleties, stunningly
original, and with a perfect storybook ending that left me staring at my
monitor in awe. The dash of mystery in the end left me pondering long
after I had gone on to the next game.

"The Djinni Chronicles" is puzzleless for the most part, but what few
puzzles it had to offer were a pleasure to solve (with the exception noted
below), cleverly hinted and yielding a nice "aha!" feeling when I got
them. Two that I particularly liked: the way to find the Room of Choices
(as the first djinni), and the way to get rid of the guards.

Flaws: Yes, they were there, though I wasn't paying much attention to
them. I encountered one serious bug where I ran out of Purpose just before
entering my container--then the *next* djinni died! Solving puzzles requires
ample use of save-restore (due to the strict timing), which might bother
some. The puzzle of wealth seemed somewhat arbitrary, and I was surprised
that Seegan had no interest in the giant emerald.

Nevertheless...

Rating: 10

-------------------------------------------------------

Enlisted
by Greg Berry

My opinion of "Enlisted" varied widely over the course of the game, but in
the end, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It's a modern (Trek-style) space
opera in which you enlist for a routine spacefaring mission, only to find
yourself and your crew in deep trouble. While the game is not particularly
innovative, it makes many good uses of the medium. The introductory
sequence is perfect for newbie IF players, gently introducing the use of
the parser, and the game in general gives plenty of syntax-prompting to
avoid "guess the verb" problems (although the prompting is sometimes too
blatant for my tastes). The opportunity to determine your character's
gender and capabilities is a nice touch: particularly the option of a
cybernetic implant, which seems to be meant as a sort of in-game hint
system (though I never found use for it). I like the fact that you can
bypass one of the puzzles by allowing a clone to be made of yourself--with
the penalty of an uneasy feeling afterwards.

But the puzzles themselves are where "Enlisted" really shines. I had great
fun solving them. None of the puzzles were contrived or arbitrary, all
were sufficiently hinted yet challenging, and all of them yielded to
logic. The way the VR-disk puzzle was clued was terrific, and I also quite
enjoyed the spacesuit trip (which honed my rather poor spatial-reasoning
abilities).

Now, the criticism. Unfortunately, I have plenty of that to offer as well.
The backdrop of "Enlisted" seems extremely unoriginal: a combination of
stock Star Trek and Star Wars tropes. The writing, though capable, is
rather wooden, especially the dialogue--none of the characters evinces
anything like personality. I half-expected in the end to find out I'd been
on a shipful of androids! There is one major exception to the wooden
writing, though: the EVA. The description of the protagonist's first space
jaunt was quite evocative, and the author's enthusiasm for his subject
matter shone through.

A few aspects of the plot really strained suspension-of-disbelief. Then
again, I have the same problem with "Star Trek".

"Enlisted" is buggy. There are lots of minor bugs and lots of writing
errors (the mechanics of the writing are competent overall, so the author
was clearly writing hurriedly and not proofreading afterwards).
Fortunately, none of the bugs were game-stopping, but they were an
annoyance. Parser implementation, particularly alternate ways of wording
things, was very sketchy: for instance, having to "push keypad", then type
the code, rather than the standard "type [code] on keypad". Without the
author's careful syntax-prompting as noted above, this would have been a
big problem, and even so it was annoying. Use of default objects was
nearly non-existent: surely I should be able to just type "sit" in the
auditorium, rather than "sit on seat"?

All in all though, the fun I had outweighted the annoyances.

Rating: 7

-------------------------------------------------------

Got ID?
by Marc Valhara

A good old-fashioned puzzle romp with an attitude. "Got ID?" is the story
of your quest to endear yourself to the in-crowd by bringing a case of
beer to their party. Just one complication: you're underage.

This isn't a memorable game, nor does it have much in the way of story or
character development, but I enjoyed it. For the most part, it was quite
well-programmed: my first choice of syntax usually accomplished what I set
out to do, and I found few bugs and writing errors. The gameworld is
fairly sparsely implemented, but that's okay for this type of game. The
default failure message ("that's unavailable, or irrelevant to the story")
is an improvement over "you don't see that here".

Did I mention "Got ID" has an attitude? You're trying to prove that you're
not a loser, but the universe is skeptical. For the most part, I enjoyed
this, particularly the reaction to trying to foist your fake id on the
clerk:

The clerk takes the I.D. and your beer, and he inserts your faux license
into a special compartment in the electronic cash register. The register
makes a .JPG copy of the I.D., then posts the .JPG on Usenet. Thousands
of clerks from all around the world mock your pitiful little attempt.

You notice a small sign here.

>read sign
It reads, YOU SUCK.

On the other hand, the snarky attitude went a little over-the-top at
times, at which point it became simply annoying.

"Got ID?" is rather a large game for the competition, especially if you
decide to spend time mapping it (a wise idea). My other major criticism is
of the rather contrived method of triggering events: often, the only way
to get the story to move onward is to do something totally unrelated to
what you are trying to accomplish. So, for instance, I figured out what I
needed to do to fake membership early on, solved half the puzzle, and
roamed the map trying to find the tool(s) I needed to solve the other
half. Little did I know that before I could solve that puzzle, I would
have to A. Get a job at the store through a contrived series of events,
then B. Handle a customer complaint which is triggered by an unrelated
action. This sort of thing, in the end, made "Got ID?" rather less fun to
play than the more logical puzzle-based games this year.

Rating: 6

[Continued]

--
tr...@igs.net - http://www.igs.net/~tril/
"I'm aware of that, sweetheart. It's just that when I wake up to a hissing
goat skull on my nightstand, and it hops off and runs across the floor on
spider legs, I sleep a lot better knowing where it ran off to."
- Ted (Red Meat)

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Nov 16, 2000, 2:55:29 AM11/16/00
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On 16 Nov 2000 05:06:04 GMT, tr...@igs.net (Suzanne Britton) wrote:

[about !-2-3]


> I don't normally care for menu-driven conversation, but in this case,
> it would have been a much better option.

Agreed. This game seemed to be begging for conversation menus. On
the other hand, it also allowed you to specify other topics to ask
about, even if few were handled. I suppose the ideal here would be to
support both forms of conversation.

Along similar lines, I'm toying with the idea of a hybridized
conversation system, in which "TALK TO FOOZLE" enters you into
conversation mode, complete with numbered lines of dialog to select,
but where the command line will accept either a number (for one of the
canned statements) or a string to ask foozle about. The motivation:
Under the ask-tell system, I frequently find myself entering many
commands of the form "ASK FOOZLE ABOUT BARZLE" in succession.
Admittedly, the drudgery is mostly eliminated by modern interpreters,
with their built-in command-line histories, but even with those you
have to delete the previous noun before you can type the new one.

>2. The time-handling doesn't work--especially in part 2 (when you first
> become the investigator). The game told me I needed fresh air, so I
> looked for an exit. There wasn't one--it turned out the game was just
> going to let me wander back and forth talking to people until it
> decided it was time for the next scene.

I had a similar problem: I missed a conversation topic. Apparently I
managed to guess a topic in the middle of the sequence on my first
try. But the game doesn't progress until you've gone through all the
available topics, and I couldn't even find out what I had missed by
talking to the characters, because they had reached the end of their
sequences too. I had to resort to the walkthrough.

>4. The plot is...well...goofy. The first few scenes left me with
> high hopes, and I was disappointed to see it degenerate into a
> "Psycho" spinoff. This criticism is obviously more subjective than
> those above--I just find the whole man-obsessed-with-his-mother thing
> very silly. It seemed, too, that the author was often going for
> titillation rather than substance, and this also disappointed my
> expectations. The movie "The Cell" impressed me in exactly the way
> that "1-2-3" didn't, but could have.

I found "The Cell" to be goofy. I found this game to be far goofier.


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John D Evans

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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> Castle Amnos
> by John Evans
[snip]

...eheh. On the one hand I want to rant about how you missed the point
of a number of things about the game. But that's really my fault, isn't
it?...Needs to be better described--Yes, that's certainly a valid
criticism. Needs to get the player/reader involved--I'll remember that.
(It's not a good sign that you learned about the game through the hint
files, is it?)

I guess all I can say is that I'm sincerely sorry you didn't enjoy it,
and, well, my only excuse is that it's sort of my first attempt at a
big IF project. I'll do better next time. I hope. ^_^;

John

Joe Mason

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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In article <3a1387e0....@goliath2.usenet-access.com>, Carl Muckenhoupt
wrote:

>canned statements) or a string to ask foozle about. The motivation:
>Under the ask-tell system, I frequently find myself entering many
>commands of the form "ASK FOOZLE ABOUT BARZLE" in succession.
>Admittedly, the drudgery is mostly eliminated by modern interpreters,
>with their built-in command-line histories, but even with those you
>have to delete the previous noun before you can type the new one.

That's why I had "OLD WOMAN, TELL ME ABOUT THE" bound to a hot-key in _Beyond
Zork_. Only hot-key I used, IIRC. (Well, maybe "ATTACK".)

Joe

Paul O'Brian

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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Beyond Zork spoilers below

On Thu, 16 Nov 2000, Joe Mason wrote:

> That's why I had "OLD WOMAN, TELL ME ABOUT THE" bound to a hot-key in _Beyond
> Zork_. Only hot-key I used, IIRC. (Well, maybe "ATTACK".)

My only other one was "ROLL ONION "

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@colorado.edu http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian
SPAG #23 will be devoted to the 2000 IF competition, and is actively
seeking reviews! Submit your comp reviews to me by December 5. Thanks!


LucFrench

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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Joe Mason wrote:
>In article <3a1387e0....@goliath2.usenet-access.com>, Carl Muckenhoupt
>wrote:
>>canned statements) or a string to ask foozle about. The motivation:
>>Under the ask-tell system, I frequently find myself entering many
>>commands of the form "ASK FOOZLE ABOUT BARZLE" in succession.
>>Admittedly, the drudgery is mostly eliminated by modern interpreters,
>>with their built-in command-line histories, but even with those you
>>have to delete the previous noun before you can type the new one.
>
>That's why I had "OLD WOMAN, TELL ME ABOUT THE" bound to a hot-key in _Beyond
>Zork_. Only hot-key I used, IIRC. (Well, maybe "ATTACK".)

Funny, I just used SHOW WOMAN _____.

Ah well.

Thanks
Luc "Verbmaster" French

Gunther Schmidl

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Nov 16, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/16/00
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> Funny, I just used SHOW WOMAN _____.

Yay!

I set one to "GIVE MAGIC LOCKET TO MOOSE" of course, since I needed it all
the time in Zork Zero; so why not in Beyond Zork, too?

-- Gunther

Sean T Barrett

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Nov 17, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/17/00
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(redirected just to r.g.i-f)

Suzanne Britton <tr...@igs.net> wrote:
>"Dinner with Andre" is a competently programmed, well-written, and
>original game about a date from hell. It also started out, seemingly, as a
>puzzleless story-based game, and caught my interest right away.
>Unfortunately, it soon turned its attention away from telling a story, to
>tossing increasingly contrived obstacles in my path. This part was
>supposed to be manic and funny, I guess, but for some reason it totally
>failed to tickle my funny bone. Perhaps part of it was a failure to
>identify with the protagonist, and her over-the-top efforts to avoid
>embarrassment. Tomboys probably weren't the author's intended audience.

I dunno, by that argument neither were men?

>At any rate, I did finally make it past the puzzles to the third phase,
>which was more enjoyable and had some neat plot twists. Overall, though, I
>have to rate the game based on its overall impression on me: a solid but
>uninspiring work.

I don't perceive it as "part 1: puzzleless story", "part 2: a maniacal farce"
and "part 3: umm, something with neat plot twists I'm not sure what
you thought it was". I perceive the whole thing as a silly farce,
especially what with the protagonist's over-the-top efforts to avoid
embarassment.

Mind you, it took until I lost due to failing to evade the ex-boyfriend
to REALIZE that's what was going on with the game (for up until that
point I didn't even realize I was supposed to be avoiding him). Some
of the fault is mine (come on, by this point I had hit a waiter with
a dinner roll), but I do think that the author probably should
have hit a comedic tone at the very beginning. I think I can see
the author feeling it was necessary to set things up as much as possible
to make the fall stronger, but it no doubt created a wrong expectation
for many people. Still, I wasn't perceiving it as a puzzleless story;
it only takes about 4 turns before it becomes clear you'll have to
futz with objects.

Personally, I shook off the initial false impression and rated it highly--it
and BAP captured 2 of my top 4--because I had fun playing them!

SeanB

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