random comp07 thoughts

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Daphne Brinkerhoff

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Nov 16, 2007, 9:00:08 PM11/16/07
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Last year, I wrote up little snippets, intending to turn them into
reviews. It never happened, and almost a year later, I regretted not
posting the snippets in the first place.

This year, I wrote up snippets, again intending to turn them into
reviews. Um.

Here are the snippets:

A Fine Day For Reaping -- There are a couple typos, but that's not
really significant. The writing is like David Whyld turned down a
notch. This is fine -- Whyld's humor tends to be quite wacky and it's
good to see something a little more mild. Some minor problems:
inconsistency with whether you feel cold (in Nepal it says yes, if you
look at the hooks in your foyer it says no). I couldn't work out the
right syntax for the "lucky dip" -- I tried "reach in dip" and lots of
other things, and ended up turning to the walkthrough for it. Also
tripping me up was the syntax from the elevator. Here's what
happened: ***

The lift is currently on the second floor.

push first
You push, but nothing happens.

push ground
You push, but nothing happens.

push first button
You push the panel, but nothing happens.

x panel

You can use the buttons by typing 0, 1, 2 or 3. 0 to go to the hotel
lobby, 1 or 2 to go to the appropriate floor and 3 to leave the lift
at the current floor.

type 1

That didn't make any sense to me.

push 1
You push, but nothing happens.

press 1
You press, but nothing happens.

press one
You press, but nothing happens.

press 0
You press, but nothing happens.

press 3
You press, but nothing happens.

w

Type either 0,1,2 or 3 depending on whether you want to go to the
lobby, first or second floor or simply exit the lift at the floor you
are already on.

1

You press the button to move to the first floor. The lift jolts and
moves down.

***So you see, I would like some of those other syntaxes to work, or
at least "push xxx" should tell me that this isn't the right thing to
say. The correct syntax for the smoke alarm was pretty dodgy (I got
this one on my own, but it's not the first thing I tried either). The
game design has a couple of problems too. First, in two places you
have to consult books about things, only it's randomized and you don't
know how many messages are there (or even what you are supposed to
look for). Look up reviews of "Nevermore" for more info on why this
is a bad idea. Second, the walkthrough refers to times when you hang
around a spot a few turns and someone will show up (e.g, "While there
try getting in and out of the lift a few times until you bump
into..."). This is bad. There's no way I'm going to think, "Hey, I'm
stuck, maybe I'll do this random action a bunch of times and hope
something happens!" Third, there's a kind of indirect logic to some
puzzles. A fictionalized example: You want to dry up this puddle of
water? So you need to travel to NASA, become an astronaut, divert the
shuttle from its normal path so you can run into an alien ship that
contains a washcloth. Umm, no. If I don't know why I'm doing
something, it's not a path I'm likely to start down. Since this was
passably written and un-buggy, I'm going to say, a 6 (to be adjusted
later depending on the quality of other entries).

Jealousy Duel X -- Wow. That was both weird, and not a text
adventure. Okay, I guess it is an illustrated CYOA with enough words
to (barely!) qualify. But no way to save the game, and no hints/
walkthrough available that I know of. I died and am not really
looking forward to trying again. Score a 4 for now. [note: later
there was a walkthrough, but a) not when the comp started, so it
shouldn't count, and b) still no saved game, so.]

Lost Dimension -- Wow, this is going to be Paul Allen Panks's
*favorite comp ever*. I must say, if you're going to have a mindless
D&D imitation, this "click a button" interface is the way to do it. I
actually played for a while until my HP was pretty low and I ran into
a whole slew of monsters. Too bad this game has no plot, no logic,
nothing to make me want to keep playing. And too bad for the stupid
sound effects (I turned on my speakers just for this game). Too bad
for the "only one save slot". Too bad for the lack of writing. For
some reason I want to give this a 3, but probably only a 2 when it all
shakes down.

My Name is Jack Mills -- Holy crashes, Batman! That is to say, I was
enjoying this okay, and then I got a huge bunch of code spit at me and
"too many rulebooks in use". I don't like. That knocks this game
from a potential 7 to about a 5. Otherwise: writing was okay, not
flashy, not especially noticeable. Good use of italics. I was okay
with being my immoral self. I would've liked to see the real ending,
so maybe I'll go back and try again later.

Ferrous Ring -- I'm not sure what I think. Out of these first five,
this is my favorite, and yet, why? It is trying for depth that it
doesn't achieve, I think. I don't really understand the "good/bad"
thing. In practice, it seemed to mean "here are the objects you need
to deal with to get further in the game", with a bit of "here are some
attractive/yucky things" mixed in. I don't know if I get more out of
the story than "dystopias are bad". Confusion here, and maybe I need
to replay to appreciate it, I don't know. Anyway, for now, a 7.5.

Slap That Fish! -- I'm sorry, but that is quite possibly the
*stupidest* thing I have ever read. A 6.5.

The Mind of the Master -- Minor comment: the gambling is buggy. At
least, I don't know how you could get a score of "3" with three cards,
if aces are worth 15. The command to find the cudgel is just not
standard, and IMHO unfair (the game says there's nothing interesting
there unless you use the right command). There isn't really any
control over the story, and the plot is not anything unusual. So,
enh, maybe a 6.5 like the fish game.

Mishmash -- Okay. First of all, the revelation about memoryblam's
actual identity is a no-go. We mention him a lot throughout the game,
there's no way the PC wouldn't have mentioned it earlier, or
memoryblam himself might've. Second, I'm left with anticlimax at the
end. Third, I'm also left with questions: how does the historical
stuff here relate to reality? Is the game what happened in your past
timeline, or is it just a game? The reference to "homework" makes me
think it's history, but there's nothing really done with that, no
moment where you say "Unlike in the game, in reality the traitor
xxx." Or vice versa. And there's no emotional impact on you. I
guess that fits if your PC is supposed to be a young adolescent, but
it makes this game not matter much to me. Still my favorite so far;
still an 8.

Varkana -- This was just okay. The language issue was not a big deal;
a few awkward phrases but overall very good. The plot was a problem
for me. We had a goal; we met the goal; then we started walking
around in pretty-pretty land with no goal. Later I became a different
PC and they acted out of character; finally I got to have a huge text-
dump trying to un-villainize someone who couldn't really be un-
villainized. (Couldn't he have just *told* us that whole story before
he started acting like a jerk? We seem to be pretty gullible so we
would've believed him.) Finally, the part of the walkthrough where it
says "make sure these three things are done first" -- I never would've
guessed one of them. Maybe if, at the appropriate moment, the room
description had said something like "You wonder about the xxx. It'd
be neat to play with it." At that point, I have no real reason to
play with it otherwise. Anyway, all things considered, probably a 7.

Chinese Room -- That wasn't actually too awfully long. I did win in 2
hours. Yes, I went to the walkthrough, but only a little. Unfair in
a way to have the tower be a "no turning back" place. A few bugs, but
I was having lots of fun. So this is a 9 for now.

Lost Pig -- Wah! I can't get a perfect score! Woe is me! This was,
of course, lots of fun, even if Grunk was a little smarter than he
ought to be. So, yeah, another 9.

They Know (aka Reconciling Mother) (and parenthetically, what the hell
is up with that name?)-- Okay, *this* is actually the stupidest thing
I have ever read. I don't know what score you give a game that is so
dumb it makes you laugh your ass off. I can't bear to put it down
with the Paul Allen Panks games, but I certainly don't want to
encourage the author. Call it a 2.5 because I'm indecisive.

Act of Murder -- This is pretty nondescript, or something. I guess
it's just short, and there's no complications. Everything is as it
seems to be on the face of it. I only played once; I started another
time and I see the only thing different so far is the alibis, so
that's not very interesting. All in all, I like mysteries, so I will
be nice and give this a 7.

Bellwater -- I don't know how I feel about this game. On the one
hand, it's well-programmed, and a good concept. On the other hand,
there's no particular twist, and the "best" ending still leaves a bad
deed unpunished. I'm going to give it another 7 for now.

Deadline Enchanter -- That was strange. That was either a really,
really elaborate troll, like a Pudlo troll, or a really weird game.
Felt like a game written for the Walkthrough Comp. (for obvious
reasons) Some care given to connect the dots; the voice a little like
The Well-Favored Man [Elizabeth Willey novel] that I'm reading; no
obvious typos. I can't say about bugs, since the whole point was
shallowness of implementation. I guess it boils down to: do you like
the voice? Do you like the story? My reaction to both is kind of
"enh". So, another 6.5 [note: as I put it another time, it's as if
Elizabeth Willey, Elizabeth Hand, and Jacek Pudlo had a threesome and
somehow this game is their love child]

Emily Short

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Nov 16, 2007, 9:59:13 PM11/16/07
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On Nov 16, 9:00 pm, Daphne Brinkerhoff <cend...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> A Fine Day For Reaping -- There are a couple typos, but that's not
> really significant. The writing is like David Whyld turned down a
> notch.

Really? I found it sharper than most of David Whyld's humor (at least
in the games I've played): the imagery was more specific, the
metaphors crisper.

> Varkana -- This was just okay. The language issue was not a big deal;
> a few awkward phrases but overall very good. The plot was a problem
> for me. We had a goal; we met the goal; then we started walking
> around in pretty-pretty land with no goal. Later I became a different
> PC and they acted out of character; finally I got to have a huge text-
> dump trying to un-villainize someone who couldn't really be un-
> villainized. (Couldn't he have just *told* us that whole story before
> he started acting like a jerk? We seem to be pretty gullible so we
> would've believed him.)

I had the feeling (and I might be wrong) that this was originally
envisioned as a much longer game, with more twists and turns in which
we got gradually onto that guy's side. The only reason for this guess,
admittedly, is that the pace changes so abruptly near the end. If I'm
right, I'm a bit sorry the author didn't keep the game around and
finish out to its intended length.

Mike Snyder

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Nov 16, 2007, 10:01:59 PM11/16/07
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"Emily Short" <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:242e06ea-f09b-4bf4...@w34g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

> On Nov 16, 9:00 pm, Daphne Brinkerhoff <cend...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Varkana -- This was just okay.
>
> I had the feeling (and I might be wrong) that this was originally
> envisioned as a much longer game, with more twists and turns in which
> we got gradually onto that guy's side. The only reason for this guess,
> admittedly, is that the pace changes so abruptly near the end. If I'm
> right, I'm a bit sorry the author didn't keep the game around and
> finish out to its intended length.

I emailed the author early on, and she said roughly what you've guessed.
There was more planned for the game -- a whole section *after* leaving the
town -- that had to be scrapped due to time constraints. It really does
show, and that's one of the game's weakest points.

The target would have been too big for the IFComp, I think. Maybe a story on
a smaller scale might have worked.

---- Mike.


Daphne Brinkerhoff

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Nov 16, 2007, 10:39:07 PM11/16/07
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On Nov 16, 8:59 pm, Emily Short <emsh...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> On Nov 16, 9:00 pm, Daphne Brinkerhoff <cend...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > A Fine Day For Reaping -- There are a couple typos, but that's not
> > really significant. The writing is like David Whyld turned down a
> > notch.
>
> Really? I found it sharper than most of David Whyld's humor (at least
> in the games I've played): the imagery was more specific, the
> metaphors crisper.

Well, I'm not sure we really disagree. Maybe "turned down a notch" is
unclear. I was thinking specifically of Sophie's Adventure and A Day
in the Life of a Superhero, where the humor seemed more obvious, or
blatant, or something. More Monty Python-esque, whereas everyone's
saying Reaping is Pratchett. I've only read a little Pratchett, but I
see him as a little subtler than Python.
--
Daphne

Emily Short

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Nov 16, 2007, 10:52:08 PM11/16/07
to
On Nov 16, 10:01 pm, "Mike Snyder" <wy...@prowler-pro.com> wrote:
> "Emily Short" <emsh...@mindspring.com> wrote in message

>
> news:242e06ea-f09b-4bf4...@w34g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...
>
> > On Nov 16, 9:00 pm, Daphne Brinkerhoff <cend...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > > Varkana -- This was just okay.
>
> > I had the feeling (and I might be wrong) that this was originally
> > envisioned as a much longer game, with more twists and turns in which
> > we got gradually onto that guy's side. The only reason for this guess,
> > admittedly, is that the pace changes so abruptly near the end. If I'm
> > right, I'm a bit sorry the author didn't keep the game around and
> > finish out to its intended length.
>
> I emailed the author early on, and she said roughly what you've guessed.
> There was more planned for the game -- a whole section *after* leaving the
> town -- that had to be scrapped due to time constraints.

Rats! That sounds like fun.

> The target would have been too big for the IFComp, I think.

Maybe a good scale for Spring Thing, though.

Andreas Davour

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Nov 17, 2007, 1:31:16 PM11/17/07
to
Daphne Brinkerhoff <cen...@hotmail.com> writes:

> Last year, I wrote up little snippets, intending to turn them into
> reviews. It never happened, and almost a year later, I regretted not
> posting the snippets in the first place.
>
> This year, I wrote up snippets, again intending to turn them into
> reviews. Um.
>
> Here are the snippets:

[snip]


> Slap That Fish! -- I'm sorry, but that is quite possibly the
> *stupidest* thing I have ever read. A 6.5.

What? You think this is the stupidest thing you ever read and you rate
it 6.5? I thought it was just so pointless, and thus rated it 2!

I really don't understand how you rate the games.

/Andreas

--
A: Because it fouls the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
A: Top-posting.
Q: What is the most annoying thing on usenet and in e-mail?

Mike Snyder

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Nov 17, 2007, 2:06:15 PM11/17/07
to
> Daphne Brinkerhoff <cen...@hotmail.com> writes:
> > Here are the snippets:
> [snip]
> > Slap That Fish! -- I'm sorry, but that is quite possibly the
> > *stupidest* thing I have ever read. A 6.5.

>"Andreas Davour" <ant...@updateLIKE.uu.HELLse> wrote in message
news:cs9fxz4...@Psilocybe.Update.UU.SE...


> What? You think this is the stupidest thing you ever read and you rate
> it 6.5? I thought it was just so pointless, and thus rated it 2!
>
> I really don't understand how you rate the games.

I liked this one, but not so much from the first-play through. I really got
into it once I figured out that each battle had a gimmick, and I started
going for maximum points.

I didn't quite figure it all out. My solution misses just *one* lousy point,
but here it is.

http://www.sidneymerk.com/comp07/fishwalk.txt

---- Mike.


Emily Short

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Nov 17, 2007, 2:15:47 PM11/17/07
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On Nov 17, 1:31 pm, Andreas Davour <ante...@updateLIKE.uu.HELLse>
wrote:

> > Slap That Fish! -- I'm sorry, but that is quite possibly the
> > *stupidest* thing I have ever read. A 6.5.
>
> What? You think this is the stupidest thing you ever read and you rate
> it 6.5? I thought it was just so pointless, and thus rated it 2!

Things can be entertainingly stupid.

(Whether this counts or not is probably a matter of personal taste.
But I read the original comment as a semi-compliment.)

My favorite entertainingly bad entry this year was Press [Escape] To
Save: many times I considered quitting, but it was providing too much
hilarity with every turn, mostly because of the writing. I gave it a
slightly better score than it probably otherwise deserved, just
because I *did* enjoy it despite everything.

Daphne Brinkerhoff

unread,
Nov 17, 2007, 4:26:01 PM11/17/07
to
On Nov 17, 1:15 pm, Emily Short <emsh...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> On Nov 17, 1:31 pm, Andreas Davour <ante...@updateLIKE.uu.HELLse>
> wrote:
>
> > > Slap That Fish! -- I'm sorry, but that is quite possibly the
> > > *stupidest* thing I have ever read. A 6.5.
>
> > What? You think this is the stupidest thing you ever read and you rate
> > it 6.5? I thought it was just so pointless, and thus rated it 2!
>
> Things can be entertainingly stupid.
>
> (Whether this counts or not is probably a matter of personal taste.
> But I read the original comment as a semi-compliment.)

That's about right. I'm trying to think of an example from another
field... like a Kevin Smith movie? Where the premise is ridiculous,
and everyone involved is kind of stupid, but the results are really
funny.

--
Daphne

Andreas Davour

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Nov 18, 2007, 12:10:49 AM11/18/07
to
Emily Short <ems...@mindspring.com> writes:

> On Nov 17, 1:31 pm, Andreas Davour <ante...@updateLIKE.uu.HELLse>
> wrote:
>
>> > Slap That Fish! -- I'm sorry, but that is quite possibly the
>> > *stupidest* thing I have ever read. A 6.5.
>>
>> What? You think this is the stupidest thing you ever read and you rate
>> it 6.5? I thought it was just so pointless, and thus rated it 2!
>
> Things can be entertainingly stupid.
>
> (Whether this counts or not is probably a matter of personal taste.
> But I read the original comment as a semi-compliment.)

Hmmm. I guess you're right. I didn't intend to question the judgement,
only understand the relation between "stupid" and a value of 6.5 which I
found odd. I have many times heard of the concept of entertainingly bad
movies, but have not yet grasped what that means. Maybe this is one sich
occurence.

> My favorite entertainingly bad entry this year was Press [Escape] To
> Save: many times I considered quitting, but it was providing too much
> hilarity with every turn, mostly because of the writing. I gave it a
> slightly better score than it probably otherwise deserved, just
> because I *did* enjoy it despite everything.

Yeah, I think I see what you mean. I just had to little patience and
voted 2-4 on those games.

Mike Snyder

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Nov 18, 2007, 12:12:53 AM11/18/07
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"Andreas Davour" <ant...@updateLIKE.uu.HELLse> wrote in message
news:cs9lk8w...@Psilocybe.Update.UU.SE...

> found odd. I have many times heard of the concept of entertainingly bad
> movies, but have not yet grasped what that means. Maybe this is one sich

"Undefeatable" is proof positive that such a thing exists.

---- Mike.


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