I've tried to avoid outright spoilers for those who haven't finished all
the games, but PLEASE: DO NOT READ THIS UNTIL YOU'VE FINALIZED YOUR OWN
VOTES. The following are my opinions, and mine alone, and should not
influence anyone else's votes.
Speaking of which, a note on my own scoring: I made an early decision to
vote on a curve, with the best game getting a 10, the worst a 1. (This
will, heh heh heh, maximize my voting power.) Since I liked a handful of
games so much better than the bulk of them, this made for some pretty
skewed scores towards the bottom of the scale. A quick translation would
10: Couldn't get enough of it
7-8: Liked it a whole lot
4-5: Major flaws, but had plenty to redeem it
3: Tolerable, but had to struggle to keep playing
1-2: Back to beta-testing
And finally, I voted entirely according to my tastes. If I came across an
entry that I absolutely loathed, but thought others might like okay, I
still gave it a 1. Let those other people give it a high score, and cancel
So, on to my votes (in alphabetical order):
[REMEMBER: DON'T READ BEYOND HERE UNLESS YOU'VE ALREADY VOTED]
Really easy (I never even thought about consulting the walkthrough), but
entertaining enough. And even though I've grown to hate this sword &
sorcery-style genre, the story and writing here were good enough that I
2 Alien Abduction
Oy. What kind of aliens test your intelligence by asking you to play a
game of Mastermind? Add in nonsensical puzzles (don't talk to me about
that damn duck), rooms that don't list all their exits, and a dozen easy
ways to unknowingly get the game into a winnable state, and the hackneyed
plot becomes the least of this game's problems.
3 Beyond the Picket Fence
Nothing much bad to say about this game, but nothing much to say for it,
either. Might make a nice first game for a beginning player.
Started this one, decided it needed more attention than I had to give,
then never had time to get back to it. (But given my scoring scheme, my
not voting on a game could be to its advantage...)
X Don't Be Late
Never was able to get the Alan runtime successfully downloaded.
Unplayable on my Mac, even under SoftWindows.
Well-written and engaging, but the puzzles are impossible (including
another gratuitous logic-game adaptation) and poorly implemented (you
can't UNTIE the string, you can only UNRAVEL it). Another one where I
couldn't have managed anything without the hints.
1 House of the Stalker
Leaving aside the questions of the moral implications of the story, and of
that infernal trapdoor, whatever sense of terror the author was trying to
impart to me ("nobody in their right mind would go down there without some
sort of weapon") were shattered when I was able to walk straight down the
stairs and rattle around the ground floor of my house without any
4 In the End
A nice idea, but it fails. Maybe if there were a bit more area to explore
(or a bit more depth to the conversations you can carry on), but as-is
it's just an unfinished short story in I-F form. (Unlike a lot of people,
I figured out the "solution" on my own, but that many players were
confused illustrates the difficulty of pulling off I-F where the only
"puzzle" is understanding a philosophical point.)
8 Kissing the Buddha's Feet
Didn't get too far in this (though I plan to go back to it), but enjoyed
it a lot anyway -- if there were a "best NPCs" prize, it'd win it hands
down. Had the wacky feel of a Jacob Weinstein game, though I have no idea
whether Jacob was in fact the author.
3 Lists and Lists
If I wanted to learn LISP, this would get a 10. I don't want to learn
X Maiden of the Moonlight
Another one that I just never got around to playing enough for a vote.
X My First Stupid Game
Unplayable on my Mac, even under SoftWindows.
2 Of Forms Unknown
I want to like this game. Really, I do. But between the bugs and the (yes,
again) incomprehensible puzzles (does Graham's bill of rights say anything
about the right to be able to understand puzzles' solutions at least
*after* you've solved them?), this is the highest score I can manage.
(Also, Chris -- possibly unknowingly -- stole my down jacket puzzle from
MacWesleyan. Bad Chris.)
First the name scared me. Then the llama feed did. I'll get back to this
X Piece of Mind
Sorry, but first-person past tense was just too jarring for me.
Unplayable on my Mac.
1 Punkirita Quest One Liquid
He wanted to finish last, and from the little I played of this game, he's
well deserving of it.
Another example of a great idea with terrible puzzles. I loved wandering
around as Ralph, but of the three tasks I needed to perform, only one made
any sense, even after I looked them up in the hints.
It's not as bad as Detective. Really it isn't. But it's damned close. I
was charmed a bit by this city of corrupt politicians and strangely
privatized district attorneys, where an empty pizza box gets you
admittance anywhere and there's always an earthquake just around the
corner. But charm only goes so far, in this case a "2".
1 Rippled Flesh
X Sir Ramic Hobbs and the Oriental Wok
This *would* run under SoftWindows, but what little I saw of it didn't
justify running SoftWindows just to play it. (Not much would.)
4 Small World
Nice fantastical world (sort of like being The Little Prince with a
devilish version of the genie from Aladdin as your sidekick), but what on
earth (or wherever) is going on? Gave up early and played this one
straight through with the hints, as it was clear none of the puzzles were
even slightly comprehensible, except after the fact. (The final puzzle, in
fact, may be the most unfair since Dave Baggett's "+=3".)
Yet another game that didn't get my requisite two hours.
Can you say *heavy-handed*? By the end of the prologue (at least I think
it eventually ended), I was ready to kill that stupid angel, myself, and
the author. (Hey, maybe if this game were combined with In The End...) I
should probably give it some points for being well implemented, but I
don't have to, and so I won't.
10 The Meteor, the Stone, and a Long Glass of Sherbet
The standout of this year's competition. Outstanding writing, incredible
depth for a relatively short game, puzzles that were puzzling but
sensible, a nice blend of author-controlled story and player-controlled
action. Not really deserving of a perfect score (there are a few
guess-the-verb implementation problems), but this game is so much more
*fun* than all the others that it had to get the maximum.
4 Wearing the Claw
Yet another game where I kept giving up and resorting to the hints in
order to get the story to progress. It's a nice story (though again, I'm
sick to death of the genre), but I still couldn't figure out what I was
supposed to be doing three-quarters of the time. Better-integrated puzzles
would make this a 6 or 7.
Also, if anyone wants my further thoughts on a game (I was trying to be
brief and spoiler-free), feel free to e-mail me.
> X Piece of Mind
> Sorry, but first-person past tense was just too jarring for me.
Aw - that only lasted four turns <pout>. Stick with it and it might relieve your
(Aware that a pun like that probably doesn't help his case any)