A Lurker's Competition Games Reviews

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bo...@i.am

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Nov 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/16/98
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A brief introduction: I am a long-time lurker (about 3 years) on both
i-f newsgroups. This was the first year I got off my duff and actually
mailed in my votes. I figured I might as well post my notes about each
game as well, in the hopes that someone might find this interesting.

What follows are my ratings for each game in the competition, save
"Four in One" for which I was a beta tester. My comments were based
on notes I took while playing the games, and on subsequent play after
I made my rating for the competition. The numerical ratings were
renormalized to span the integer range of 1 to 10 after all the games
were played. The ordering of the reviews is that which the comp98.z5
front-end gave me.

The overall quality of submissions was up this year, I think. The entries
have fewer bugs and the quality of writing is rather good compared to last
years. There are only two games that were clearly too long for the
competition: "The Plant" and "Where Evil Dwells". It was also interesting
to note the number of one-room games in the competition. Perhaps
many authors felt that they could do a better job on a single location
rather than spreading their attention over a multitude of venues.

While there were many games I liked this year, there were several I
had very strong reactions against. By and large, there is nothing
wrong with these games from a technical point of view (with one
exception). My distaste is based solely on their content.

When reading these reviews, one should be aware of my own prejudices.
I prefer stories to puzzles and conversations to descriptions.
Particularly in the competition, because of the time constraints,
if I run into a stumper, I immediately pull out a walkthrough.
I tire of a game very quickly if it does not paint in vivid colours.
McGuffin-chasing, psychobabble and more items than a flea market usually
cause me to lose interest; I liked "A Mind Forever Voyaging", but found
"Zork" pointless.

8 : Downtown Tokyo. Present Day. (tokyo.z5)

Very clever. Brevity is the soul of it's wit.

I nominate this game for The Flaming BIFF for Best Use Of Butt Ugly
ASCII Graphics (BUAGs). It took approximately 20 mins to complete, but
I needed the walkthrough to figure out helicopter. This puzzle is not
solvable unless you happen to examine the joystick. Not the controls,
gauges or gadgets, mind you, just the joystick. In my opinion, this is
the moral equivalent of a guess the verb "puzzle".

The pacing is excellent. You are swept into the story quickly, but this
falters when you enter helicopter. The break here is a jarring; at one
moment you are scrambling for you life, at the next you can take your time
puttering around while chickzilla ravages Tokyo. The pacing makes sense
from puzzle-solving point of view as it gives the player time to figure
out how to stop the Chicken From The Deeps, but dramatically, this
slow-down does not work very well. Things pick up again nicely when you
solve the monster problem.

The mis-en-scene is remarkably complete; many actions have non-default
responses. I particularly enjoyed dropping various things with the helicopter,
although killing all those zoo animals made me feel like a real heel.

An odd bug: Trying to "fly" in the helicopter throws one into darkness.

4 : Human Resources Stories (hrs.z5)

Very short and not very engaging.

I played it through four or five times in about fifteen minutes before
becoming bored with it. This is an odd little package: it's not just a
game, it's also a CYOA library.

I was unable to get top marks in everything (B, A+, A+ was my best score,
I think). The scoring seems to involve some trade-offs. The salary offer
appears to be random and did not seem to depend on the rating. One of my
worst ratings got the best offer; my best rating got the worst offer.

8 : Muse: An Autumn Romance (muse.z5)

Wordy, but worth reading.

"Muse" is evocative of the 19th century romantics, and owes a great deal
to Austin. It is a charming little story of tired grace.

That said, the story is slow to get moving and often stutters. Each
advancement in the linear plot requires a singular action on the part
of the player. If one gets distracted or confused, the pace begins to drag.
The most frustrating puzzle I encountered was getting Konstanza to confide in
the main character. It was not entirely clear how to proceed at that point.

I did appreciate the use of characters as puzzles; "solving" people is much
more interesting than finding the key for the next lock. Furthermore, the
mood and character are maintained well; there are few occasions when modern
speech and writing styles poke through.

There were some inconsistencies in the game. At one point, Viktor became
angry with me for no apparent reason. He could have at least mentioned
that his journal was missing. I had not thought to look for it before he
accused me of stealing it. Also, I must mention some hint text which I found
completely off-putting. "Closure" is a very modern idea, an invention of
the press in the last generation. The last scene was the right choice
artistically, but it did not need to be stained by that horrible neologism,
"closure". Also, if you happen to try to pick up the trunk at the instant
you first see Konstanza, you do not, in fact, pick up the trunk. Annoying.

The picture was very impressive. If used at the correct moment (picking
up the trunk), this shows how powerful a good set of drawings could be
in I-F.

10: Photopia (photopia.z5)

Wow.

This piece is very moving, but more importantly, perfectly suited to the
I-F medium. I cannot imagine that this could be told more effectively in
a different format.

In a few deft sentences, I was immediately drawn into sympathy with
the kaleidoscope of viewpoints, each presenting their own fragmentary
recollection of Alley. The storytelling interludes frame each viewpoint,
complimenting the actors' perspectives. I must admit however, that I
misunderstood who the storyteller and the audience were until the last
scene. This was a welcome surprise which only added extra depth to the
narrative.

By far and away, this was the best piece in the competition. I would
recommend that Opal O'Donnell look into publishing it, but I am not certain
how traditional publishers could handle it. Maybe Mr. Berlyn can help.

Technically flawless. I should take off a point for using that horrible
abortion "prolly" but I just don't have the heart.

7 : Purple (purple.z5)

A solid effort if rather buggy.

The mis-en-scene is too thin. The land you wake up in after Armageddon
is novel and bizarre but ultimately incomprehensible. While the new
world has a high "neat-o!" factor, its very strangeness detracted from
my ability to complete the puzzles. For instance, I had no idea how to
open the second Nest without looking at the walkthrough. I never did figure
out what the blob was supposed to be doing. There were also several puzzling
inclusions: the snake, the squirrel's bags, and the bird thing at the end.
I am not sure if these were atmosphere or puzzles I missed by "solving" them
unknowingly.

I encountered several bugs in the mid-game (after Karl wakes up) which
did not interfere with my ability to complete the game. A more serious
problem occurs if you move anything in the house before getting into the
shelter. This blocks the endgame. I consider this a bug: a seemingly
trivial action in the beginning prevents the player from completing without
warning or any recourse save a restart.

4 : The Commute (commute.exe)

An interesting style, but dreadfully tedious subject matter.

With a better concept, these authors could have had a very interesting game.
The Commute's internal "monologue" is one of the most original approaches
in this year's competition. It is a shame that the subject matter was so
insipid.

Unfortunately the custom-built interface really detracts from the game.
Common abbreviations do not work (there is no short cut for examine, for
example), there is no command history, and so on. Furthermore, choosing valid
commands and in particular, moving between locations is a tedious exercise
in reading the authors' intentions. I thought many of the commands were
more than a little obscure and was unable to proceed without consulting
the walkthrough at every pass.

3 : Cattus Atrox (atrox.z5)

"Cattus Atrox" is technically sound, poorly paced, and very distasteful.

The puzzles require either prescience or dying many, many, many, many
times. Why should I know where to find a crowbar? What motivates me to go
back to Karl's car after calling Susan? Who knew I needed a gun? I was
unable to complete this without the walkthrough.

Pacing is a real problem in "Cattus Atrox". The first act is frantic,
initially very promising, with its chase through the sewers. After
the sixth of seventh death, however, its attraction begins to pale.
At this point I picked up the walk through and am glad I did. After
Karl is dealt with, the remainder of the game is spent waiting. While
this may work in the movies, it is not very engaging I-F. The long pauses
(there are at least three by my count, each lasting about eight turns) do
not build tension, but are merely boring. To add insult to injury, the
player has little to do during these intermissions, which only serves to
further increase the sense of tedium.

The plot is what you would expect to find in a straight-to-video "erotic"
thriller. That said, I found it neither erotic nor thrilling. The sex scene
is gratuitous but mercifully brief. What little tension was built during
the chase through the streets drains away when you must return to the car,
then wait for Susan to get to Scott's house and THEN wait on the couch for
the tawdry denouement. During the final scene you are in fact tied in a chair
(well, a sofa) have the plot shouted at you.

For this story to have any chance at working, more backstory and
foreshadowing are needed: hints at the party, bones in the sewers, and so
on. Further, the motivations of the villains ares never even hinted at
in the story. Karl, Scott and Susan are simply your standard psychopathic
sexual deviants, cut out of the same cardboard you would find at the
bottom of any third-rate video director's wastebasket.

Two thumbs down, way down, for "Cattus Atrox."

6 : Acid Whiplash (acid.z5)

Rybread's contributions often leave me cold and unfortunately, this
is no exception. I honestly wanted to like this more than I did. While some
of his word play is interesting, all too often it degenerates into the
banal. The author tries too hard to be novel for its own sake at the
expense of any other merit this work might have had.

My advice? Do some more, Rybread, and don't forget that the audience
needs something to connect to. Writing without a reader in mind is not
art, it is merely pleasuring yourself. You need a good setting to show
off your verbal pearls. Without a solid foundation, plot and characters,
your efforts will always be so much dross.

5 : Fifteen (fifteen.z5)

Not very interesting. Notable only for its clever implementation of the
sliding tile puzzle.

8 : Little Blue Men (bluemen.z5)

If, as the author remarks in his introduction, "Little Blue Men" is a
shaggy old beast then its doghouse is deep in the Twighlight Zone.

What starts out as a simple day-at-the-office game soon turns into a
surrealistic murder spree. It is an interesting idea, and I delighted in
knocking-off my coworkers (hey, who wouldn't?), but I found it ultimately
unsatisfying. In particular, the pay-off is not particularly rewarding.
Frolicking gaily with nude Ed Asner clones is not my idea of a satisfying
afterlife. I suspect the author some problems with this himself, given his
afterward. I did appreciate, however, that the mystery of the blue men is
never revealed.

The pacing was good and the author gives us enough freedom that the rails
his plot runs on are usually hidden. The game is technically sound and the
mis-en-scene, well-rounded. Furman and Benson have strong personalities,
as does the main character, but the other two feel much less substantial.

7 : The Plant (plant.gam)

A linear, conspiracy game, very puzzle intensive.

This is too long for the competition, and I did not finish in time,
and played through with the solution. It is a competent effort but not
terribly interesting. The characterization, particularly of your boss, is
unsatisfying. Similarly, the sense of the player character, especially of
motivation is weak. A big reward? Come on! There are so many other hooks
lying around waiting to be used. The conspiracy and the desire to uncover
the truth should be played up from the beginning. This is far more
convincing motivation than a brief mention of some vague "big reward." Also,
a major shortcoming of the game is that most of the exposition involves you
remaining stationary for many turns watching boxcars of plot rumble by.
I much prefer "cut scenes" to be presented as a single lump. A single
scene indicates to the player that something significant has happened and
that new areas have opened up. Also, the author has an opportunity to
present the scene as a whole---better writing usually results. Finally
from a player's viewpoint, it makes the scene much easier to play through
a second (or third (or fourth ...)) time.

On the positive side, the puzzles in this game are among the cleverest in
the competition. The dog and firehose bits are particularly well done.

2 : I Didn't Know You Could Yodel (yodel.exe)

Amusing only to the intellectually-challenged.

This is not "playable" without the walkthrough. I gave up very early.
The "plot" turns on the FUNNY FUNNY JOKE that prunes make you go poo-poo
REAL BAD and I quickly tired of it. "Yodel" does not approach the sly idiocy
of spoofs like "My Stupid First Game" and I found the attempts at humour
merely irritating. I rushed through this game using the walkthrough because
it annoyed me so much. I really did not stop to examine the scenery (so I
have no idea how complete it was) nor do I recall any glaring bugs.

5 : CC (cc.acd)

Very Thin.

The plot makes little sense and I never became very interested in it. The
word puzzle is not difficult, but very tedious.

7 : The Ritual of Purification (ritual.z5)

In "Ritual" you are a cool majical wizard doing deep, mystical stuff.

The game has couple of major problems. I had a lot of trouble taking the
story at all seriously. The prose is overwrought, even purple, particularly
after each trial. The author tells you what you must feel rather than setting
the scene and allowing you to react to it. Also, while I am sure that the
author had a strong conception of the player's character, this did not come
across to me at all. The only lasting image of the character I had was that
of a khole-eyed teenager on their way to a Cure concert.

It is implemented well. The scenery is nicely rounded and the hell hound is
a particularly interesting actor. It was not obvious that the player
had spells to being with. A short note about the SPELL command in the
introduction would have helped.

6 : The City (city.z5)

Brave new wanking.

Buggy to boot: "Which pill do you mean, the pill or the pill?"
The tape idea was interesting however.

1 : Spacestation (space_st.z5)

An interactive plagiarism.

The implementation is fine, but the game contains very little
(no?) original text. I give no points for programming alone.

Does this entry comply with the competition rules?

4 : Lightiania (light.gam)

Paper-thin (like this review).

5 : Research Dig (research.z5)

Very flimsy.

I had no trouble finishing; I just followed the bright steel tracks that
ran through every location.

7 : Where Evil Dwells (evil.z5)

Bland eldrich horror.

A long game, I was unable to finish in under two hours. The atmosphere is
interesting, but the set-up strained credibility. During the first scene,
discovering how to enter the house, I kept wondering: "Why didn't I just
call the police?" It seems the author realised the length of the game and
cut it short; several plot points never happen. Among those that stick
out: the assistant never turns up, the Professor is remarkably static, and
the "pet" never is a problem.

This style has been explored by others recently, with much better results.
To be an effective horror game, the player always needs to be scared, always
worried that the next door they open will be their last. This game never
evoked a feeling of danger in me and all in all felt far too safe.

Bug: when the power to the house was restored, I still needed a light
source indoors.

Parser problems: Many items had similar adjectives and many automatic
actions were not implemented. This made the game feel like an AGT relic.
An example (when carrying a single key):

>unlock desk
What do you want to unlock the wooden desk with?

>small
Which do you mean, the small key or the small wooden box?

>key
You unlock the wooden desk.

What should have happened:

>unlock desk
(with the small key)
You unlock the wooden desk.

8 : Trapped in a One-Room Dilly (dilly.z5)

Oh no! I've been kidnapped by the CIA!

The only major thing missing in this fine puzzle game was an NPC foil.
I saw no bugs. The scenery is nicely complete. I will admit to peeking
at the hints occasionally, but overall the puzzles were nicely cued
and very fair. My single complaint concerns the slot machine. I thought
the loose panel was a little too well hidden, but I am inclined to consider
that my failing rather than the game's.

One notes that the alphabetic position of the letters in Laura A. Knauth
sum to 125, the digits of which, in turn, sum to 8. Further, the total for
Gareth Rees is 106, which sums to 7. Clearly, Ms. Knauth is the logical
successor to Mr. Rees. Therefore, one expects that her next game, to be set
in Berford, a prestigious campus in northern California, will involve you,
as the spunky younger brother, rescuing your absent-minded older sister, a
young assistant professor, from the evil plots of the tenured faculty.
Tickling, cruelty to animals and weepy co-eds will be major themes, one
supposes.

9 : Enlightenment (enlighte.z5)

Very clever, but hard on trolls. Nice extras.

I rated the game a 9 rather than a 10 because, as complete and entertaining
as it is, "Enlightenment" just did not have that extra something that makes
a good game great. It neither made me laugh out loud nor did it make me
reconsider my life. As such it rates as a technical gem but not an artistic
one.

7 : Persistence of Memory (memory.hex)

The son of "Down"

Last time you had a broken leg, this time you stand on a landmine! Still,
this is an interesting concept. This is a short game, but I thought it was
the most emotionally involving one-roomer in the competition. I rated
"Persistence" down because of its brevity. There is a good story here but
the game does not tell enough of it. In particular, the intercourse with
the other characters is all too brief. The first scene, with the man in blue,
is powerful, but the later scenes with his wife and father are much less
satisfying.

6 : In the Spotlight (spotlite.z5)

An extremely short one-room, one-puzzle effort.

God is an amusing touch.

9 : Arrival (arrival.gam)

Of pieplates and play-dough.

While not a large game, I had a lot of fun with this one. While other
entries have more technically trickery and display hacks, "Tokyo", for
example, "Arrival" is the best use of the current level of technology in
game engines in the competition. The opening poster and campy drawings
suit the game perfectly. One can only imagine what games like "Muse" could
have been like if the authors had made use of this kind of presentation
(I am aware of how difficult it is to use images in Inform). The alien "web
page" was a hilarious touch, although not being able to open the aliens'
personal pages was a minor disappointment. Ah well, maybe in the sequel.

Technically, the game has no flaws. I was delighted to see the help system
used by the author. TADS has long needed a hint system as easy to use as the
menus in Inform games. One hopes that the author will make this available as
a library module in the future.

The mis-en-scene is well-rounded. I found very few default responses
for even the silliest actions. Also, The puzzles are just about perfect for
the level of the competition. The only one I found I needed help for was
turning up the lights. Also, I did not find the "web page" until late in
the game (I touched the plate rather than rubbing it), but that did not
prevent me from finishing.

So, why didn't I give this game a perfect score? In a word, characters.
While the set pieces do a great job of establishing the aliens, the
ability of the protagonist to interact with them later is severely limited.
Similarly, the character's parents are not so much actors as puzzle pieces.
The game would be the better for more interactivity. The aliens roving
about the ship, parents scooping you up for bedtime, a smart-alec younger
sibling or a faithful dog, for example, all would have added colour to the
game.

8 : Mother Loose (loose.z5)

"Fractured Fairytales" meets "Alice through the Looking-glass".

A clever game, with witty responses to many actions but I found many
of the puzzles frustrating. Many of the puzzle solutions are very
idiosyncratic and not at all obvious. I was unable to complete this game
in the two hours, as I became hopelessly stuck trying to get the kitten out
of the well. My rating is based on what I saw of the game up to that
point.

One of my strongest impressions of the game is a feeling of emptiness.
This is strange considering the number of characters in the game, but
I think it derives from the descriptions of the cottage and the school.
I am not sure if it was intentional or not, but it sure made me as a
player feel lonely. Rather effective, I thought.

Ultimately, this game left frustrated. This was another game I wanted to
like more than I did, but the odd puzzles prevented that.

6 : Informatory (informat.z5)

Now in Inform-O-Vision!

I played with walkthrough close at hand. A clever idea, although the "story"
is essentially nonexistent. I found no bugs, but several typos detracted
from experience. Not my cup of tea. It succeeds neither as an Inform tutorial
nor as a game.

--
Kind Regards,
Bruce
bones (at) i.am

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Ben

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Nov 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/16/98
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Comments from the Puzzle IF contingent. :)

In article <72pn3g$oej$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, bo...@i.am wrote:
Tokyo:


> solvable unless you happen to examine the joystick. Not the controls,
> gauges or gadgets, mind you, just the joystick. In my opinion, this is

Nope. IIRC, You can see that the helicopter has a grapple on it if you
examine it before you get inside. Once inside, GRAPPLE and UNGRAPPLE. no
need to look at the joystick at all.

10: Photopia (photopia.z5)


> Technically flawless. I should take off a point for using that horrible
> abortion "prolly" but I just don't have the heart.


Well.. almost. Try talking to yourself. :) "talk to mary" at the end. Also
one of the only games which had a fatal bug report during the comp (don't
go S from the power plant or you cannot finish).


> 6 : Acid Whiplash (acid.z5)
>
> Rybread's contributions often leave me cold and unfortunately, this
> is no exception. I honestly wanted to like this more than I did. While some

Unless I am mistaken, Rybread had very little to do with this game as
everyone seems to think. (aside from the interview) It was a "tribute" to
rybread, and was fake. Written badly on purpose. Hence, pointless.

> 5 : Fifteen (fifteen.z5)
>
> Not very interesting. Notable only for its clever implementation of the
> sliding tile puzzle.

Are you scared to give a rating less than five? :)


> 4 : Lightiania (light.gam)
>
> Paper-thin (like this review).

I'm dismayed at the negativeness I see for this game. True, the author is
not a native english speaker. But I was VERY impressed at how well fleshed
out the world iteself was. Slow on story perhaps, but just try and find an
object in a scene that doesnt have its own description!

>
> 9 : Enlightenment (enlighte.z5)


> a good game great. It neither made me laugh out loud nor did it make me
> reconsider my life. As such it rates as a technical gem but not an artistic
> one.

Perhaps you never typed "full" or "places" then. That got me. LOL!

> 6 : Informatory (informat.z5)


> from experience. Not my cup of tea. It succeeds neither as an Inform tutorial
> nor as a game.

How does an entry that succeeds in no way warrant a six?

Thanks for the reviews,

Ben

--
bhi...@san.rr.com
http://members.tripod.com/~tunnels/

Alan Shutko

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Nov 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/16/98
to
bo...@i.am writes:


> "Cattus Atrox" is technically sound, poorly paced, and very distasteful.
>
> The puzzles require either prescience or dying many, many, many, many
> times. Why should I know where to find a crowbar? What motivates me to go
> back to Karl's car after calling Susan? Who knew I needed a gun? I was
> unable to complete this without the walkthrough.

What walkthru? I must have missed that... my comp98 package didn't
have any. So, I just gave up on it. (Unfortunately, I was sick and
missed voting time, so I couldn't give it the massively low score I
thought it deserved.)

My response to your review is "Crowbar? Sewers? Gun?"

--
Alan Shutko <shu...@ugsolutions.com> - (314) 344-5214

Geoff Bailey

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Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
to

In article <72pn3g$oej$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, <bo...@i.am> wrote:
> 4 : Human Resources Stories (hrs.z5)
>
> Very short and not very engaging.
>
> I played it through four or five times in about fifteen minutes before
> becoming bored with it. This is an odd little package: it's not just a
> game, it's also a CYOA library.
>
> I was unable to get top marks in everything (B, A+, A+ was my best score,
> I think). The scoring seems to involve some trade-offs. The salary offer
> appears to be random and did not seem to depend on the rating. One of my
> worst ratings got the best offer; my best rating got the worst offer.

Well, it looks like I'm the only person who enjoyed HRS. From my point of
view it was a puzzle, with the aim being to get high ratings and salary.
(As implied in the README file, it is possible to get A+, A+, A+ and a
salary of $100,000.) And while the salary does not depend on the ratings,
they are correlated in that they are both dependent on your answers to the
questions.

So the problem was to work out the pattern between the answers and the
ratings/salary, and what sort of tradeoffs are necessary to get high values
in both. (Some answers will increase ratings but lower salary, and vice
versa.)

Sure it was only one puzzle, but so was Spotlight. And Fifteen wasn't
much better in that respect.

Cheers,
Geoff.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Geoff Bailey (Fred the Wonder Worm) | Programmer by trade --
ft...@cs.usyd.edu.au | Gameplayer by vocation.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


ne...@norwich.edu

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Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
to
In article <bhines-1611...@lax-ts1-h1-40-247.ispmodems.net>,

bhi...@san.rr.com (Ben) wrote:
> > 4 : Lightiania (light.gam)
> >
> > Paper-thin (like this review).
>
> I'm dismayed at the negativeness I see for this game. True, the author is
> not a native english speaker. But I was VERY impressed at how well fleshed
> out the world iteself was. Slow on story perhaps, but just try and find an
> object in a scene that doesnt have its own description!

I agree with you. The descriptions, albeit in fractured english, were some
of the best in the comp. I bet most people were turned off enough too
quickly to really explore.

> > 6 : Informatory (informat.z5)


> > from experience. Not my cup of tea. It succeeds neither as an Inform
tutorial
> > nor as a game.
>

> How does an entry that succeeds in no way warrant a six?

This review succeeds neither as a pogo stick nor as a wood magnet.

--
Neil Cerutti
ne...@norwich.edu

bo...@i.am

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Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
to
> In article <72pn3g$oej$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, bo...@i.am wrote:
>
> 10: Photopia (photopia.z5)

> > Technically flawless. I should take off a point for using that horrible
> > abortion "prolly" but I just don't have the heart.
>
> Well.. almost. Try talking to yourself. :) "talk to mary" at the end. Also
> one of the only games which had a fatal bug report during the comp (don't
> go S from the power plant or you cannot finish).

What can I say? I never saw these bugs and I played through several times.
On replays, I try to stress games by doing stupid things, but I guess I
missed these. Chalk it up to having a two-hour time limit.

> > 5 : Fifteen (fifteen.z5)
> >
> > Not very interesting. Notable only for its clever implementation of the
> > sliding tile puzzle.
>

> Are you scared to give a rating less than five? :)

No. This game does succeed at what it attempts to be: a Scott Adams-type
game. I had no strong feeling about the game at all, so I gave it a median
mark.

> > 4 : Lightiania (light.gam)
> >
> > Paper-thin (like this review).
>

> I'm dismayed at the negativeness I see for this game. True, the author is
> not a native english speaker. But I was VERY impressed at how well fleshed
> out the world iteself was. Slow on story perhaps, but just try and find an
> object in a scene that doesnt have its own description!

In my case, it is not a negative reaction but the absence of one.

Since you seem baffled, I will expand on my rather snide comment. The game
consisted of only half a dozen locations, no other characters and a small
handful of challenges. The main character is a stock "mad scientist",
fleshed out by description, not by demonstration. Actually, I found a couple
of the room descriptions charming, but the game strays across the line and is
actively cloying in parts.

Finally, the game has no depth. An inventor finds an alien artifact, fixes it
and flys away. There are no whys or wherefores here. There is no emotional
resonance. Perhaps the best way I can put this is this: to write this little
review, I had to play the game again, indeed most of the way through, because
I had absolutely no recollection of it. This is not true of most of the games
in the competition.

> > 6 : Informatory (informat.z5)


> > from experience. Not my cup of tea. It succeeds neither as an Inform
tutorial
> > nor as a game.
>

> How does an entry that succeeds in no way warrant a six?

So, if anything I was generous? I think not. There was more substance
to "Informatory" than, say "Lightiania". It was better put together and had
many more foobles to frob. However, I never got interested. If a game
doesn't slip itself into my head and cry at the top of its lungs for
attention, then it is has failed to entertain. I did not rate any such
games higher than a six.

These three games (and several others) all did what they set out to do,
but what they did just was not very interesting. They are all puzzles in
search of a plot, you might say. Shadings of a point here or there can
be argued to exhaustion, but I marked up those tried harder than others,
and marked down those that were less well-rounded.

> >
> > 9 : Enlightenment (enlighte.z5)


> > a good game great. It neither made me laugh out loud nor did it make me
> > reconsider my life. As such it rates as a technical gem but not an artistic
> > one.
>

> Perhaps you never typed "full" or "places" then. That got me. LOL!

I did. "Blue Men" and "Tokyo" got me to laugh, this one didn't. Not everyone
has the same taste. I rate games only on my own reactions, not by
second-guessing what others might think. That way leads to soul death.

My only regret judging this year's competition was that I could not give
"Photopia" an 11.

Heiko Nock

unread,
Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
to
In article <72r9d6$5...@staff.cs.usyd.edu.au>,
ft...@staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Geoff Bailey) wrote:

>Well, it looks like I'm the only person who enjoyed HRS.

Quite probable :)

>So the problem was to work out the pattern between the answers and the
>ratings/salary, and what sort of tradeoffs are necessary to get high values
>in both. (Some answers will increase ratings but lower salary, and vice
>versa.)
>Sure it was only one puzzle, but so was Spotlight. And Fifteen wasn't
>much better in that respect.

Why exactly would someone want to solve that 'puzzle' ?

--
Ciao/2, Heiko.....

Adam J. Thornton

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Nov 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/17/98
to
In article <72s4ps$rmu$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, <bo...@i.am> wrote:
>Kind Regards,
>Bruce
>bones (at) i.am

Not, I must point out, One of the Bruces.

Or at least not That Bruce.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"There's a border to somewhere waiting, and a tank full of time." - J. Steinman

Lelah Conrad

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Nov 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/18/98
to
On 17 Nov 1998 18:42:30 +1100, ft...@staff.cs.usyd.edu.au (Geoff
Bailey) wrote:


>Well, it looks like I'm the only person who enjoyed HRS.

Actually, as I look over my list of unplayed but marked-to-play list
(I read all the opening scenes, then decide), I find that this one had
intrigued me, at least initially. Haven't gotten back to it yet
though.

Lelah

HarryH

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Nov 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/18/98
to
In article <36521cdd...@news.nu-world.com>, l...@nu-world.com says...

Nah, the game is nothing at all like the opening sequence. If you like the
opening sequence, just get to the fictional story (by typing XYZZY) and read
that. Some people think it's diatribe, but I didn't intend it that way. I
intended it to be funny. I still think it's funny, although the impact is
lessened knowing that it can be interpreted another way.

If you're not a programmer, there's no point in playing the actual game. On
the other hand, if you're an educator, you may find the included source code
interesting.

-------------------------------------------------------
IFC0.1 --C -P++ --A --r -i++


bo...@i.am

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Nov 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/18/98
to
In article <ydu3e7j...@slosf6.ug.eds.com>,

Alan Shutko <shu...@ug.eds.com> wrote:
>
> What walkthru? I must have missed that... my comp98 package didn't
> have any. So, I just gave up on it. (Unfortunately, I was sick and
> missed voting time, so I couldn't give it the massively low score I
> thought it deserved.)
>
> My response to your review is "Crowbar? Sewers? Gun?"
>

It was posted to GMD midway through the competition:

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition98/inform/atrox/atrox.txt

Whether this was legal to use or not is debatable, but I wanted to see
what the game had to offer.

Geoff Bailey

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Nov 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/19/98
to

In article <XXRU2sRO...@rhein-neckar.netsurf.de>,

Ummm.... because it's a puzzle, and that's what you do with puzzles. You
might as well ask why would someone want to play with a Rubik's cube? And
yet, millions did.

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