Bob's Comp Notes 2006

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Bob

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Nov 18, 2006, 3:40:38 AM11/18/06
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These notes are in the order I played the games. I managed to play over
30 games, although I didn't finish all of them. If I finished a game
later, I will say so in the notes. Overall, I didn't find a game I
liked as much as Distress, Vespers or Beyond last year, but I should
say, I enjoyed most of the games, even those I rated a 4, so the
general quality of the games was quite high. And as I played only three
of the top six games, there still is something to look forward to. I
very much like to thank all of the authors of those games for giving me
a splendid time. If my rating was 3 or below, the enjoyment was not so
great - please submit a better entry next year.

Hedge
Well, I don't do crossword puzzles in thee newspapers, I don't see
why I should do them here, so I grabbed the walkthrough. In the garden
the possibilities of interaction (e.g. with the fountain) seem quite
limited; technical difficulties occur at other places also. For
example, ,,ask somebody for something" doesn't work, although
after the command ,,ask somebody about something" he gives you the
desired object. For the story - well I didn't get it. Sorry.
Score: 4

Mobius
If there ever was a really great time-paradox game, it was ,,All
things devours". Mobius shares the same idea, but I coudn't figure
out how to solve it. Sadly, he game didn't do anything to put me on
the right track. More sadly, when I had a look at the walkthrough, I
still couldn't see what I was doing wrong. Nevertheless, the opening
is good, it is well written and perhaps great fun once you the the
right idea.
Score: 5

PTBAD whatever
The random playing order made me try this. It's better than the PT
entry of last year's com, but still not to be called a game.
Doesn't seem to have an ending.
Score: 1

The Tower of the Elephant
When I tried this first, I encouterd a fatal bug: I couldn't restore
after saving. It seemed to be a problem with the installation of the
interpreter, since with gargoyle I didn't have any more problems. The
game is a weird adaption of a surreal fantasy short story. It lacks
puzzles and is pretty linear, but kind of fun.
Score: 6

Aunts and Butlers
I laughed hard at the introduction which additionally gives a clear
goal and a good impression of the setting and the tone of the game. I
very much liked the humor and the contempt the game shows for most of
the characters. The plot is well structured with a strange twist. At
the end of the two hour playing time, I had to resort to the
walkthrough, but since the game got a bit weaker anyway that was not
that bad. Overall, a very enjoyable game, without technical flaws and
with a pretty presentation. One of my favorites of this years comp.
Score: 8

Manalive I
I took the freedom to play Manalive I instead of Part 2 which was
scheduled. Of course, I skipped the test file of 100+ pages and went
straight to the game. At my first try, I brought the game in an
unwinnable state in a pretty bad way. I played from the beginning and
began to understand the goal of the game. I loved the PC's attitude,
the tone of the game and the excellent prose. However, after two hours,
I gained 35/100 points. I definitly will play the game after the comp,
but I wouldn't touch Manalive 2 until I finish the first part.
Conclusion: I had a great time, but it's just too big for a comp game
(especially if you consider both parts to be only one game), so I'll
give it the
Score: 7

Legion
One of the things I enjoy when playing a text adventure is to play
someone (or something) else than I am. I do accept that there is a
difference between the knowledge of the player and the knowledge of the
player character. But in the case of legion, the player doesn't know
the goal, anything about himself nor about his nemesis. It seems to be
the goal of the game to find out about the nature of the situation.
Since I didn't succeed in this, I was left confused. It definitly is
well done, but not exactly my cup of tea.
Score: 4

Strange Geometries
As a newspaper editor, the PC has to find out about the mysterious
disappearance of people in a small town. There is of course something
very strange going on. In style and theme, the game resembles
,,Anchorhead". I didn't finish within two hours but the game is
fun to play. If you like gothing horror games, check it out. (You
should also definitly play Anchorhead and Theatre)
Score: 7

Floatpoint
With rich descriptions and a strong backstory, Floatpoint puts the PC
in the position of an ambassador, who has to negotiate with an
ex-colony of earth about if and how they return to earth. The game is
very immersive and I enjoyed very much exploring and learning about the
background of the NPCs and the story. The game is not strongly based on
puzzles (although there are some) and obviously has lots of endings. I
reached only two in my playing time, but I'll probably return to it
(or at least I will read other reviews and follow any discussion about
it).
Score: 8

Enter the dark
A horror piece that begins on a cemetary and then goes straight to the
crematorium. Sadly, it has a lot of faults. Neither verbs nor nouns are
implemented as needed, it's very often unclear where room exits lie,
common abbreviations don't work and so on. It looks more like a first
draft of an adventure game rather than a finished piece. That's too
bad, since normaly I like horror games. But in it's present state,
it's just no fun.
Score: 3

Madam Spider's Web
A short puzzle-game, nicely written, not too difficult. There is a
surprising twist, although one that was a bit disappointing for me.
Nevertheless, it was nice to play and very solid implemented.
Score: 7

Ballymun School
The game is a simple treasure hunt, meant as an introduction for the
students of the author, set in their school. I really think it is great
when a teacher tries to introduce pupils to text adventure, but since
I'm already introduced and don't care much about the Ballymun
school, it's not for me.
Score: 5

Another goddam escape the locked Room Game
Well, as the title already announces, the plot is thin. Additionally,
what little there is doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The puzzles
(and these are the heart and soul of the game) are obscure and some are
extremely obscure. Yet, I liked the ones I succeeded at solving and I
had a couple of good laughs.
Score: 6

Simple Adventure
I can't even begin to list the things that could be better with this
one. I tried much more verbs that weren't implementet than those the
game understood. Scenery can only be interacted with if it's
especially marked. So the game can be won without reading any
descriptions. I won (that means I slaid the dragon) without solving a
single puzzle (if there are any). Well, it's supposed to be an
instruction how to program text adventures in basic. Perhaps it works
for that.
Score: 2

Unauthorized termination
Yery good science-fiction story with nice characters, strong plot and
innovative setting. In a robot society, the PC is examining a possible
murder (,,unauthorized termination"). The game starts very linear
and puzzleless, but as the story advances, there is some exploring and
to a minor degree some puzzle-solving to do to reach the ending.
Score: 8

Green falls
I know it doesn't seem fair to vote a game after max. 5 minutes of
playtime. But I did play simple adventure up to the end and this one is
an exact clone by the same author. Some people might enjoy the combat
system.
Score: 2

Wumpus Run
Yeah, well, now I'm known as master wumpus hunter or something like
that. I guess it's mostly about inside jokes I didn't get, but I
still don't know what a wumpus is and from where it did originate.
It's a pretty easy game: even without mapping I didn't need more
than twenty minutes to beat it. Sone kind of fun, but definitly lacks
substance.
Score: 4

Fetters Grim
Another Paul Panks game, which means hack'n'slay with the simplest
of parsers. Sparse room descriptions (if any)but this time at least
,,x" works as expected. When I tried ,,read parchment" the game
crashed, but I had seen enough. I'm getting slightly annoyed.
Score: 2

Xen- The Hunt
Although the sequel to ,,Xen - The Contest" from 2004, ,,Xen- The
Hunt" is a rather different game. Most af all, it avoids the mistake
of it's predecessor to start the story too slow. Instead, you are
plunged right in the middle of a sci-fi/fantasy/superhero story
essentially about the fight between good and evil. After the first
chapter, the episodic game has a very fast pace, which made me feel
like Dr. Kimble on the run. Each episode has one or more simple puzzles
nothing too difficult, but to beat the game, I had to look up the
walkthrough two times nevertheless and still didn't finish it. On the
negative side, the gameplay is extremely linear, which means there
never is a choice which puzzle to solve first. Nevertheless, I enjoyed
the story and fast pace of the game very much
Score: 8
P.S.: After playing to the end, one problem I remember from ,,Xen -
The Contest" turns up again: there are very strong guess-the-verb
situations at the end, one of them involving the verb ,,use".
Please: never expect the player to ,,use" an object, at least not
only once in a game.

A Broken Man
Very short and easy game about the PC trying to get revenge for the
brutal murder of his daughter. If you could like the game or not, is
pretty much a matter of taste: personally, I couldn't the least
identify with the PC, which made me enjoy the game less than possible.
But I found at least the interactive cut-scenes to be effective.
Score: 5

Moon-Shaped
Moon-Shaped is a fairy-tale with a slowly evolving backstory, very nice
puzzles, the right length for the competition (although I grabbed the
walkthrough a bit too often towards the end just to finish it in time
- bad habit). It also is very well written, bug-free and has a good
implementation. Everything I tried worked (even if it would put the
game in an unwinnable state - I very much encourage authors to give
the player this freedom). But although I really don't know what
exactly to criticise, the game didn't get my interes as it should. I
still enjoyed it and recommand it.
Score: 7

Initial State
Another self-made parser that simply isn't up to modern standards.
Neither the sci-fi story nor the prose did appeal to me very much and
the obstacles that are to overcome to advance the game can't really
be called puzzles. Since I dind't find a way to save the game, I quit
after I died at my first attempt (perhaps it was a bad idea to just
walk out of the airlock). Still, I like playing adventure games, even
if they are not that great.
Score: 4

The apocalypse clock
A short, wacky paranoia adventure. Although at times hilarious, is is
not very substantial, neither regarding story nor puzzles. Still ist
fun for twenty minutes, despite some more or less annoying bugs (like
non-existing doors).
Score: 6

Visocica
Obwohl ich Deutscher bin und seit mehr als zwanzig Jahren Textabenteuer
spiele, habe ich nie ein deutschsprachiges Spiel versucht. Natürlich
gibt es Dinge, an die man sich gewöhnen muss, einige
Wortfindungsstörungen, die bei einem englischsprachigen Spiel nicht
auftreten würden. Andererseits musste ich nie zu einem Wörterbuch
greifen... Das Spiel ist eine klassische Infidel-artige
Abenteurer-in-der-Pyramide Geschichte, allerdings angesiedelt in
Bosnien statt - wie erwartet - in Ägypten. Was mich ernsthaft
genervt hat, ist, dass ich niemals eine Ahnung hatte, in welcher
Richtung die Ausgänge der Räume liegen könnten. Zudem funktionierte
bei einem Rätsel die offensichtliche (und auch in der Komplettlösung
angegebene) Lösung nicht, so dass ich durch Versuch und Irrtum
weiterkommen musste. Angesichts der Rarität deutschsprachiger
Textadventures, könnte Visocia aber für Leute, die entweder Deutsch
anhand von Abenteuerspielen lernen wollen oder des Englischen nicht
mächtig sind, eine gute Wahl sein.
Wertung: 5

Game Producer
It's the last day of development for a RPG computer game. As its
producer, the PC has to take care of any remaining tasks. I didn't
find the story very interesting, but I enjoyed the easy but satisfying
puzzles. Since there are three levels of difficulty (I played normal),
there also should be some replay value.
Score: 7

Carmen Devine - Supernatural Troubleshooter
Well, I didn't get this game. Even with hints, I didn't get very
far and actually, the game didn't make me try as hard as I probably
could have. It didn't seem too bad, but after an hour of
accomplishing basically nothing, I quit. Sorry.
Score: 5

Polendina
A little game with a very unsatisfying, yet fitting ending. What starts
as a pretty generic game (the PC wakes up in a bedroom and has a kind
of strange amnesia), evolves to an interesting and suspenseful story.
The implementation is ok and the puzzles are on the easy side (just
remember to examine everything and especially ,,look under" things),
which is very good for the pacing of the game. Another one of my comp
favorites.
Score: 9

The Bible retold
Playing Jesus in a game has a big disadvantage: I just couldn't
identify with the PC. The bigger problem for the gameplay was that I
had no idea of my powers. I could heal a leper, but not a deaf man. I
could change the wind, but only after praying. Walking on water is a
trick I coudn't do even with praying. Since I didn't see the logic
behind this, I had to rely on brute force. But since I already
traversed a maze, I didn't feel like using brute force anymore and
quit.
Score: 4

Requiem
David Whyld seems to be one of the most creative IF-authors there is. I
don't think I judged in a competition to which he hadn't submitted
a game. And I always like the way he writes. This time, It's a
hard-boiled detective story with supernatural elements. It is cleverly
constructed and has a great story, is well written and catched me right
from the start. It plays more like a CYOA rather than a traditional
text adventure - there are no puzzles and there is nothing to
explore. That's nothing bad, but it also is not what I prefer.
Score: 7

The Elysium Enigma
This is the winner! Although I didn't reach a ,,good" ending in my
playing time (yes, I know I'm slow), Elysium was the best game I
played in this years competition. It is a science fiction story that
has a kind of Star-Trek feeling to it and is very plot-driven. Yet, the
plot evolves very naturally out of the player exploring the world,
solving puzzles and especially interacting with the great NPCs. I liked
the way conversations are handled and how the plot unfolds layer by
layer. There is of course the possibility I could be disappointed by
the ending, but somehow I doubt it. For me, the game was perfect
entertainment.
Score: 10
P.S.: Actually, I was a bit disappointed by the ending, since I was
expecting something more. But since I only got 20/30 points, I probably
missed a lot. I'll definitly get back to the game in some time.

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