* 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
* 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