[CompMM] Adam's general comments

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Adam Cadre

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Nov 15, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/15/00
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Remarks on the comp as a whole:

* Last year there was a fair amount of talk about whether Comp99 was
the weakest comp ever; a frequent counterargument was that perhaps
*every* comp seemed like the weakest comp ever, because one tends to
remember only the good games from years past. Well, this year tends
to suggest that maybe last year simply *was* the weakest comp ever,
because this group of games was by most accounts, including mine,
the *strongest* comp ever. In years past I've liked 30% of the games
each year; this year it was 36%. Not a huge jump, but certainly a
welcome one.

* And it might well have been a huge jump if the comp were restricted
to Inform games. For whatever reason, I found the Inform games to be
a really solid crop and the rest of this year's batch to be remarkably
dismal; of the top sixteen games on my list, fifteen were Z-code.
The homebrewed games are usually pretty awful (Commute, anyone? How
about Skyranch?), but TADS usually has a much, much better showing
than this. Maybe it's just a statistical oddity.

A few general observations on IF writing struck me as I was playing
through Comp00; some of the advice that follows is stuff I've been
doing from day one, while some of it touches on mistakes that I myself
have been making up till now. To wit:

* >EXIT should nearly always move you somewhere. If you're standing
out in the middle of an empty field, okay, then maybe you should get
a message asking for a compass direction. But if I'm standing in a
kitchen, and I type >EXIT, and I get a message saying "You're not in
anything at the moment", then dammit, that's a bug, because I *am* in
something -- I'm in a kitchen!

* If there's something obvious to sit on, >SIT should sit you down upon
it without having to ask for an object. If there's nothing obvious
to sit on, >SIT should either seat you on the floor or give you a
message saying why you don't really want to do that. Only when there
are multiple chairs in the room, and it makes a difference which one
you choose, should >SIT ask you "What do you want to sit on?"

* Unless there's some compelling reason to separate the two, I think I
prefer it when >READ is synonymous with >EXAMINE. If there's writing
on something, reading that writing should be automatic when you look
at the thing. This sort of thing is just annoying:

| You see a note here.
|
| >X NOTE
| It's a sheet of paper with writing on it.

Well, duh. I'm aware what a note *is*. Even this sort of thing is
on the silly side:

| >X NOTE
| It's a sheet of paper with a name and phone number on it.
|
| >READ NOTE
| "For a good time call Alex -- 900-267-5688"

In any case where >X obviously means "let me see what this says,"
tell the player what the thing says!

* Please make every effort to make exits obvious. Whether that's by
means of a status-line compass rose, an >EXITS command, or separating
out the exits list in room descriptions, it's always appreciated when
one doesn't have to invest a bunch of effort in figuring out where all
one can go from a given location.

I think that's it for now. On to the reviews. Here's a sort of key to
my scoring system:

10 = most recommended
9 = very strongly recommended
8 = strongly recommended
7 = solidly recommended
6 = mildly recommended
5 = marginally recommended
4 = neutral, or mixed feelings
3 = not recommended
2 = try to avoid
1 = avoid at all costs

I do grade on a sort of curve, so comparing my scores from year to year
can be a bit dicey. I always give my favorite game a 10 -- 10 to me
means not "perfect game" but "this is the game I want to win the comp".
How the other games line up depends on the competition. Last year I
gave two nines and an eight; all of those would have been fives in
Comp00. This year's sixes would have been eights and nines in Comp99.
Them's the breaks. Now, on with the show...

-----
Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA
web site: http://adamcadre.ac
novel: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060195584/adamcadreac

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