Just so you know, I favor "puzzleless" IF in general, and sci-fi and
contemporary IF when all else fails. Obviously, puzzleless, sci-fi
IF (such as Glowgrass) wins favor with me almost immediately.
Also, I was unable to vote because the computer lab here at the school
was locked for a two-week holiday. But I intended to vote, really.
Scores are not given, to protect the acquitted.
First the overview:
Overall, I take a very positive outlook on the Comp. I highly
over 50% of the games, and in IF, < 50% is far more than acceptable
losses, in terms of effort both put into the games, and effort
playing them. On perhaps the brightest note, most of "lost" games
problems that extended beta- testing would solve, and this leaves me
both hopeful and expectant for the 1998 competition.
This year, I noticed that there wasn't quite as broad a range of
experimentation in the IF medium as in previous years. The games
been pretty much straightforward romps around a map. Is this because
last year's winner, Sherbet, was a straightforward romp? I think so.
It makes sense that fewer people would experiment if
experimentation in and of itself does not yield results and high
To those thinking of experimenting, but afraid that doing so would
endanger their placement, I say that you should really look at your
motive for competing. If you have a bold new vision of IF which you
think will knock our socks off, by all means, make an entry in that
form. The guaranteed exposure and commentary on such an entry will
at the very least provide a forum for the vision. ( If I recall
correctly, last year we discussed "In The End" 'till we turned blue.)
For the record, I consider this the best comp. so far, by far, even
with the lack of experimentation, and the high wheat-to-chaff ratio.
The games can be placed broadly into two groups:
-- Those games which were fully realized and ready for public
-- The rest, because of incompleteness, lack of beta-testing,
and/or other factors rendering it inappropriate for the
competition, should not have been entered.
What I have to say about the first group is clear in the reviews.
There really isn't any excuse for the second group, though.
I understand, however, the temptation toward releasing an unfinished,
untested game. When the "Intents to enter" were publicly released,
there was an additional pressure (even on those of us with
to "make a showing", no matter what. One day, on IFMud, I was
with someone about the possibility of entering, when I said: "If I
send one in this year, it won't have had time for beta-testing."
Shortly after that talk, I resolved not to enter, and have not
for it. Most importantly, you, the players, have not suffered for it
Also, there's the matter of Erden, which, being a full 25K bigger
_So_Far_, seems to go against the spirit of the competition. (Yes,
size doesn't matter, and Babel is 450K, almost as bad. But Babel is
a two-hour game; Erden is not. Same goes for Savannah.)
Before we plunge headlong into the reviews, a quick note about them:
The last thing I want is for it to seem like I want to discourage the
creation of new IF. Do I want the competition to grow? Yes. Do I
want it to expand? Umm, maybe not. You see, what I would like to see
next year is a crop of 30-40 well realized competition entries. I
know this is possible because the most of the "second group" entries
were written by competent people who just got in a little over
their heads. If next year provides 50 entries (and that's just as
likely) then I'm going to have to take a much harsher view of any
game that does not catch my attention in 30 minutes or less.
Anyway, next year let's all try to get started a little earlier than
August 30th, eh?
The reviews fall into two categories, too:
--"I really liked this game. I look forward to the next game by this
--"This game started out pretty good, but somewhere along the line,
(usually in the logic, but sometimes in the story or puzzles) the
game fell through."
Strangely enough, the two categories of entries are not very related
to the two kinds of reviews.
LEGEND __: = I didn't play this one enough to review it.
x_: = I played enough to review it, but did not come
near to finishing it.
xx: = Played all or nearly all the way through.
Now, the reviews:
I really liked Glowgrass. To me, it represents "feel-good game of the
year". This game was cooked up just the way I like it: short, easy,
well-written. Several times during play, I noticed something and said
to myself, "That's Cool". One such instance was when you figure out
to do to the sculpture, another was when I found the headset on the
I don't see why the game has to be expanded at all. In fact, I think
that if the epilogue didn't point to an expanded version, and if the
prologue were modified a bit, then it could very easily stand alone on
However, do look forward to playing the expanded version. The day it
out, I would go so far as to buy one of the university's rip-off-priced
disks to take it home that very day.
xx: Sylenius Mysterium
What kind of name is Sylenius Mysterium, anyway?
Originally, and from the prologue, I thought that this was a fantasy
Thus, I avoided it like the plague. When I did finally settle down to
play it, I found a surprisingly wonderful and engaging romp in a text
adventure. A text adventure about what? Video games. Well, since I
raised in the atari generation, I thought this was great, this game of
nostalgia and cute, pierced arcade attendants. (Yeah, I know about the
side-scrolling game in it, and I'll get to that later. Ignore it for
Gameplay-wise, I didn't find any bugs that I noticed. This game used
the recipe of short, easy, and well-written that is found in most of
other games I liked. Interestingly, this game, like Glowgrass,
to have creation of atmosphere as its selling point. I say *seemed*
because I'm not sure what makes good atmosphere in a game, I just kinda
_feel_ the atmosphere there. Boy, did I ever feel like a mallrat
this one. Cool.
The text adventure part of the game is among the strongest that I saw
the competition, and is my favorite of the competition.(given my
preferences toward video games and contemporary fiction).
But this entry has a dark side.
To beat it all the way through, you have
to defeat a massively buggy, and insanely unfair side-scrolling arcade
game with each timer slice written instead of displayed. Thing is,
the cursor-control functions of the z-machine, he probably could have
displayed it. (Yeah, it seems that printing out a 5 x 5 grid of
characters in the status window could probably work fast enough...)
Of course, whether he could have displayed it "graphically"or not is
the point, he obviously wanted to have it written out.
No accounting for taste, I guess.
Looks like Mr. F didn't want to win.
x_: The Frenetic Five vs. Sturm und Drang
I really wanted to like this one, and I did, at least to the extent I
able to get through it.
Unfortunately, I have no idea how far I got through it, so I'll play
ear. I liked the puzzles, especially the ones which involved using
powers of your co-workers. Having four NPC follow you around all the
is quite a treat, even if only Pastiche and Lexicon had meaningful
x_: The Family Legacy
Well, Marnie withdrew this one from the competition, and I have a hard
seeing why. I also didn't finish it, but what I did see I liked, for
xx: Sunset Over Savannah
Ok, this one, while wonderfully written and exhibitive of a genuine
creativity, seemed. . .forced. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the
The only thing that bothers me is that I have a hard time seeing taking
a crowbar to your surroundings as an effective (and legal) means of
attaining inspiration. The actions required to "win" the game seem
to be of the "because I can" variety, and the puzzles require too many
This analysis, of course, pales against all the fun stuff you can do
which is not necessary, and I look forward to Ivan's next game.
I just hope it's a little more directed.
x_: The Edifice
Coolest puzzle of the year: the language thing.
I stink at puzzles, but I loved this
particular one, as I beamed like a proud papa over its solution. Ah,
satisfaction. It suffers from numerous bugs that others have
all fixable. I look forward to playing the second release.
x_: Coming Home
Ugh. I don't want to be discouraging, but this is not the way to do
In the first screen, the only direction you can go is not indicated in
way. Likewise in the second room. Therefore, I could play no longer,
any game commiting such a cardinal sin would most likely be unbearable.
It sounds like I only gave this game two moves and then decided against
that is not the case. I restarted the game several times and found
still couldn't bring myself past the backyard. I did, however, browse
through the source and found some promising humourous bits.
*Ahem* On the note of not being discouraging, I'll just say that the
in the game is relatively well-realized. And nothing more.
x_: The Tempest
I wish I could write my comments about this game in medieval English,
I can't. That inability on my part is probably why I couldn't get
in this game.
x_: A Good Breakfast
I _really_,_really_ wanted to like this game more than I did. But this
a game with too much puzzle for too little reward. I got a substantial
through it, got the cereal, but when I went to get the spoon, I ran
a strange reversi-like puzzle game, and when I went to get the milk I
locked out of my own house by a parade of garden gnomes. I was not
I really liked the concept, though, and everything seemed well-coded.
x_: A New Day
Being one of the few people who liked stargazer, this entrant's entry
last year, I was somewhat disappointed by A New Day. It starts off
but slowly degrades into a game where I can't tell a bug from an actual
action. Add to this a time-limit imposed in the third phase of the
and I turn it off.
For the first part, until the player gets to the forest, the actions in
walkthrough seem sensible. After that though, I can't make heads or
out of it. Biggest ALan effort so far, and that much makes me happy.
When I first unzipped the Everything archive, I searched through all
games to find Rybread's, so I could play it first.
Let me explain:
It takes guts to do *anything* wearing a silver jumpsuit.
I bet Rybread wears *two* silver jumpsuits while he writes IF. Guy's
guts. He seems to revel in writing (IF) crappily,
and I believe no one should
discourage him from doing so, because he writes crappily so well. I
enjoying a Rybread romp far more than I think I should. Not, though,
from laughing at the material, or the spelling and grammar mistakes.
I end up enjoying it because it all makes some sort of
twisted sense. No, Symetry is not on the top of my list, but at least
can say that the author's intent was fufilled.
Tour-de-force stuff: I laughed, I cried, I sent and received Email.
Liked it enough, though.
I did not play this enough to register a proper opinion, but "x people"
crashed my interpreter, and I took that as an evil omen.
Good game. Probably the only one in the bunch that captivated me from
the start. Once again, this is short, easy, and well-written. Also,
it just oozes atmosphere, something which I'm finding to be an
even if elusively composed, quality in a game. Really, I guess the fun
that I had was with "guess the plot", which, neatly enough, I was not
entirely successful at. Normally I frown on large cut-scenes in a
This is that exception that proves the rule: if you can't do it right,
don't do it. This game uses cut scenes to excellent effect. Looking
forward to the next game by this author.
xx: A Bear's Night Out
The most surreal game of the competition, by far. I just couldn't help
imagining every little mundane thing I did in the game as done by this
teddy bear. The effect was pleasant, and although the puzzles were a
on the tricky side, this game was extremely enjoyable and bug-free.
Looking forward to David's next game.
__: Phred Phontious and the Quest for Pizza
Didn't play. Tried. Couldn't get into it.
__: Aunt Nancy's House
Didn't play. A nice concept, but what is it with the rash of games in
which the author models the game's layout around some building that
in reality? This one is a purist effort of that genre, trying to
faithfully recreate something. After I got to the third or fourth game
the "walk around and do stuff inside a house" genre, I was wondering if
was playing the IF competition or the Text-based CAD competition. No
offense is meant or comment is made by me about this entry, but I
that here would be the best place to talk about it.
x_: The Lost Spellmaker
Cute. I liked it.
A game which involves walking around in a house, feeding and changing
a baby. Not a *bad* game, but so small that there isn't much to talk
__: Poor Zefron's Almanac
Didn't play. The name pushed it down on my list.
I didn't get this one at all, really. I had trouble both getting places
and figuring out what I was supposed to do.
__: She's Got a Thing for a Spring
Didn't play. Will play soon, though.
xx: Sins Against Mimesis
Ah, the joy of having one's ignorance immortalized. I'm just glad
"Bruce" got my quote right. To see my own name in a game, made me
say "Ah, an automatic 8, right off the bat." This is not right or
fair, it's just the way I am. It turns out the, that Sins is actually
a game worthy of an eight. I bust a gut over the "Giant compass rose
your floor..." Funny, funny stuff.
Also, I did finally look up "mimesis" in the dictionary, and it turns
out that I'm generally against it (I think). I don't think that the
text of an IF game should read like a novel page, quite the opposite,
Anyway, if you want an automatic 8 in your next competition entry,
quote my stupidity somewhere close to the front of it. If it's in
the opening screen, I'll give you a 9.
xx: Friday Afternoon
I can't say anything that hasn't been said by other reviewers about
this, so I'll just say to look at one of the more positive reviews;
that's about how I felt.
__: The Town Dragon
Didn't play. Both "dragon" and "town" in title. Scary.
Although the name "Dragon Town" appeals to me, somehow.
x_: Travels in the Land of Erden
That's a sizable entry, now, isn't it?
The fantasy setting and the apparent size of the game kept me from
playing this for some time, and I had trouble reading the hints, as
were in some strange format. So, I was flying good and blind with
Erden captures a very Beyond-Zorky feel to it. There is SPACE.
Too much space to manage correctly or to get comfortable with in two
I daresay. Ergo, after wandering around on the island the bird takes
to for half an hour, I had to call it quits. I will definitely play
bug-fixed or (imagine!) expanded version of it, though.
Ed the head Rules!
Statements about the dispairity between quality of the prologue and
of the body of the game have been made already, so there's not much
I can say about this particular puzzle romp except that I enjoyed it.
I found the measuring puzzle just taxing enough to be satisfying
without being frustrating. Good atmosphere, too.
__: The Obscene Quest of Dr. Aardvarkbarf
Didn't play. Sorry, Gary. But hey, I didn't vote, either.
xx: Zero Sum Game
Rarely does one come across such a well-done game containing large
amounts brute force and copious shedding of innocent blood.
Cody regails us once again with an excellent, fun game, which
his fascination with rodents on more than one occaision.
Darlene is probably the best character of all, acting out the contents
"Everything you always wanted to do in a text adventure, but were
Smashing, breaking, windpipe-severing good!
This game was the one that got me out of my slump, when I first started
playing. You see, after I got few the first few games I tried, I got
really frustrated at what I percieved was a lack of good games in the
competition. (A perception which was most thankfully distorted, mostly
by mid-term exam pressures)
Although I don't remember very much about this game, I do remember
liking it enough to recommend it.
__: Unholy Grail
Didn't play enough. Really liked what I saw. Spent a great deal of
time perusing the source code. Is JACL a public system, or does only
the author know how to use it?
x_: Madame L'Estrange and the Trouble Spirit
Any game that spits out a whole page of text at me right at the start,
is not starting off on the right foot with me. I didn't play this one
enough to really pass judgement. What I do remember is that the next
two commands I entered both produced reams of text, and that really
scared me off.
So, there you have it. My opinions are, of course, the immutable,
undeniable truth, so I expect no contention :)
"A story is a string of moments, held together by memory."
> When I first unzipped the Everything archive, I searched through all
> games to find Rybread's, so I could play it first.
> Let me explain:
> It takes guts to do *anything* wearing a silver jumpsuit.
> My point:
> I bet Rybread wears *two* silver jumpsuits while he writes IF. Guy's
> guts. He seems to revel in writing (IF) crappily,
> and I believe no one should
> discourage him from doing so, because he writes crappily so well. I
> enjoying a Rybread romp far more than I think I should. Not, though,
> from laughing at the material, or the spelling and grammar mistakes.
> I end up enjoying it because it all makes some sort of
> twisted sense. No, Symetry is not on the top of my list, but at least
> can say that the author's intent was fufilled.
And that gets my special Golden Grue award for Best Review of the
Quick note: You can't compare TADS and Inform games by game file size.
TADS games are always bigger, for the same amount of game stuff. (Look at
the TADS and Inform versions of Colossal Cave if you want.)
> Also, I did finally look up "mimesis" in the dictionary, and it turns
> out that I'm generally against it (I think). I don't think that the
> text of an IF game should read like a novel page, quite the opposite,
That's not how I'd put it; more like "the text of an IF game should be
transparent -- you should be able to believe that it is a description of a
world, not an interface to a computer game."
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
> Quick note: You can't compare TADS and
> Inform games by game file size.
Yeah, that came out badly, but I was trying
to get across that I knew that file size
wasn't a good measure by commenting on
other large games in the comp. Interestingly
enough, large file size is (empirically)
a sign of games containing masses upon
masses of rooms. That's because it's much
easier to fill a game with rooms than with
interactivity. (For each new room, one
needs: a room description, the objects in
the room, and the "obvious" actions and
descriptions for the objects. New
interactivity often only adds a couple
of strings. That, and rooms and objects
are much more noticable than interactions,
and we prefer writing things that are going
to be noticed.)
> That's not how I'd put it; more like
> "the text of an IF game should be
> transparent -- you should be able to believe
> that it is a description of a
> world, not an interface to a computer game."
What an interesting thought. . .what would be
a good example of something that breaks mimesis?
That, and it turns out that I have an inverse view
of the text of a game: The text is an interface to
a game, which reveals both the *state of the game*, and
the description of a world. (In the right places (in the
room description, after a command is processed, etc.)
Perhaps I'm out to lunch on this, but I find such
games more immersive and enjoyable, because everything
I need to know is there at a glance. (I've been spoiled
by the mid-80's games I remember so fondly, because they
had the text screen divided into windows that really did
show everything at a glance. This can be achieved in
any text adventure language by the simple collection of
related information into paragraphs. Okay, the difficult
collection of related information into paragraphs.)
Well, as far as I could tell, it's either two neuter accusative singular
nouns or a neuter nominative singular and a genitive plural. Anyone
know the vocative endings offhand?
(The author is obviously lacking in Latin skills. :)
| Historian, Theologian, Fool - jf...@skidmore.edu |
| Interactive Fiction * rec.music.christian * Van |
| Halen * Byzantium * Ken Tamplin * In Your Face! |
> *Ahem* On the note of not being discouraging, I'll just say that the
> in the game is relatively well-realized. And nothing more.
Thank you very much. So you're the one who give me good review. I admire the
tenacity to find a good thing with my game. I'm sorry I put you through hard
time. I'll do better next time.
Of course I'll work on weekends without pay!
- successful applicant
On Wed, 7 Jan 1998, Brad O`Donnell wrote:
> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> > That's not how I'd put it; more like
> > "the text of an IF game should be
> > transparent -- you should be able to believe
> > that it is a description of a
> > world, not an interface to a computer game."
> What an interesting thought. . .what would be
> a good example of something that breaks mimesis?
"Uh-oh, this looks like it could be dangerous. I'd better save the game
first." Almost any game is going to run into that, but the longer you can
put it off and get me absorbed in the game's world before I have to worry
about saving my game, the better. That was one reason I really liked
Babel. It had puzzles early on, but it wasn't until I'd gotten well into
the game that I felt like I was going to try something irreversable, and
by then I was hooked.
Ultima 7 had a hilarious take on this. Whenever you would save the game,
one of the characters would say "I have a bad feeling..." and sure enough,
frequently after they had that "premonition" they would die or get hurt.
Other mimesis breakers include parsers that don't know what seem to be
important words; having to guess the right word because the parser doesn't
know enough synonyms; NPC's that don't react to items or behavior that
ought to provoke a reaction (showing a fellow in ancient Alexandria my
flashlight and having the game tell me he's not impressed).
The floor of this room is a mess of broken furniture: chairs, tables, fallen
shelves. At the far end stands a large, intact wardrobe.
> EXAMINE CHAIRS
You see no such thing.
This abruptly reminds the player that, yes, this is only a computer generated
world, and scenery objects aren't implemented. Less frustrating, though even
worse as far as mimesis is concerned, is:
> EXAMINE CHAIRS
That's not something you need to refer to in order to complete this game.
Which explicitly tells the player that, yes, this is only a computer generated
world, and scenery objects aren't implemented.
For more discussion, find the "crimes against mimesis" thread on DejaNews (or
has that already been gone over in this second thread? I've lost track.)
Sylenius can be 2nd declension male nominative singular or 4th declension
male or female nominative singular, m/f/n genitive singur, or male or female
nominative or accusative plural. Sylenius can also be a male or neuter
comparative adjective in the singular nom. or acc.
Mysterium can be a 2nd or 4th declension nom. male singular, or a 3rd
declension genitive plural of almost any gender, or a 2nd declension neuter
accusative or nominative.
Sylenius doesn't mean anything, but Silenius means "more silent".
Let's say mysterium means mystery. I'm not sure though, so possible
translations of "Sylenius Mysterium" or "Silenius Mysterium" are:
The more silent mystery
The more silent thing or person of the mysteries
Sylenius of the mysteries
The mystery of Sylenius
Of Sylenius's mysteries
Of the mysteries' Sylenius
The mysteries' Syleniuses
Then again, it might just be a name ;-)
+--First Church of Briantology--Order of the Holy Quaternion--+
| A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into |
| theorems. -Paul Erdos |
| David Wildstrom |
What, both that? I always thought Latin was so precise a language.
(The author of this note is onviously lacking in Latin skills.)
Miron Schmidt <mi...@comports.com> PGP key on request
WATCH TV... MARRY AND REPRODUCE... OBEY... PLAY INTERACTIVE FICTION...
Hmm, not too far off.
>Mysterium can be a 2nd or 4th declension nom. male singular, or a 3rd
>declension genitive plural of almost any gender, or a 2nd declension neuter
>accusative or nominative.
>Sylenius doesn't mean anything, but Silenius means "more silent".
>Let's say mysterium means mystery. I'm not sure though, so possible
>translations of "Sylenius Mysterium" or "Silenius Mysterium" are:
>The more silent mystery
>The more silent thing or person of the mysteries
>Sylenius of the mysteries
>The mystery of Sylenius
>Of Sylenius's mysteries
>Of the mysteries' Sylenius
>The mysteries' Syleniuses
Close. Very, *very* close.
>Then again, it might just be a name ;-)
DINGDINGDINGDINGDING WE HAVE A WINNER!!!
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