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Matthew Crosby

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Dec 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/3/96
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So, there have all these wonderfully detailed reviews posted. This
isn't like that. Rather, these are the notes I wrote down after 2 hours
had stopped. I basically wrote down what was on my mind. Now that I have
gone and finished/replayed many of these, I disagree with some of these
reviews, but I thought it would be interesting for people to see how the
two hour thing affects opinion.

Games are roughly in least->most favourite order.

---

My First Game

This makes detective seem like a good game. Truly terrible; lousy
to no writing, lousy to no puzzles, what was the point? It may
have been satire, intending to emulate a game written by a 9 year
old. If so, I missed it.

Rippled Flesh

Amateurish. Not quite as bad as First, but amateurish. Little coherency,
poor prose, variable puzzles, sillynes, too many useles locations, no
tightness. Boring.

Liquid

Slightly better then Rippled Flesh (or, god forbid, First), but still
amateurish. A bit more coherent, slightly better puzzles, full of
spelling and grammar errors, lousy prose, non-existent story line.

Stalker

An ok game, but not great. Prose is a bit iffy, lots of bugs. Some
puzzle are interesting. Story very ho-gum, killer a cardboard
cutout. Nothing terribly wrong with it, and certainly a respectable
effort (not a Detective), but not really one of the better ones.

In The End

What? I mean, Huh?
Ok. I can see what this person is trying to achieve. There is a nice
build up. The prose is good, though not wonderful. Points for achieving
a reasonable, coherent, atmosphere. Points for trying to be creative.
Sadly, I don't think this was quite pulled off. The ending really falls
flat on its face for me. Confession: I had to look at the walkthrough
to see what needed doing at the end.

I felt like this led nowhere. That was probably the idea, but I _like_
eg, Camus, but this just left me feeling, well, empty.

I must say, though, that given the infant nature of the F in IF, I think
this was a very interesting attempt, I have definately learned from it
for my future attempts at F oriented IF, but unfortunately I feel
that overall this did not succeed. Points for being by far the most
experimental IF in the contest, however. In fact, I would go so far
as to saying that this probably should be considered a seminal work
as we try to expand the field, and of all the entries that I want to
discuss, I want to discuss this.

dbl

This game was over almost before I started. Short puzzles, not much to
do. On the bright side, I loved the gimmick at the end. Alan seems
a little primitive as parsers go. Prose competent but not wonderful,
puzzles basic but functional. This would be a really excellent
beginners intro to IF, now I think about it.

Aayela

A somewhat short, formulistic fantasy. Postive points are the interesting
twist added by having to survive in the dark. Also fairly well written with
reasonable prose. Negative is that this feels like it lacks a lot
of substance.

Lists

Hey, what can I say. Scheme has always been a favourite language of
mine. "Oh wow" points, but I can't really judge this as a game.

Stargazer

Not bad as a prologue (which is, after all its intended purpose), but really
needs a lot more fleshing out as a real game. Still, there is a certain
some interesting ideas to it. Ok prose, not terribly interesting puzzles,
story could be very interesting or it could be standard fantasy stuff.

Sir Ramic Hobbs and the Oriental Walk

Some nice ideas, including the animal thing. I BEG the author to
ditch AGT; the limitations really showed therough here.
Downside was I found some of the puzzles a pain to solve correctly,
a number that don't make sense.

Phlegm

Attempt at sillyness. Succeeded sometimes, failed sometimes.
Left me a little flat, to be honest, but as you can see from the briefness
of the description I am pressed for time and a little sick of IF as
I write this, so I am probably being unfair to the author.

Alien Abduction

Fascinating story, some interesting puzzles, but a number that don't
make a lot of sense. I like the dubious nature of reality, but are
finding the puzzles a little frustrating sometimes.

Ralph

Simple, but a nice gimmick that works well. From a puzzle point of
view, however, I thought it was just a little arbitrary. Still, given
how few possabilities there are it isn't impossible. A little short, all
in all, but I probably wouldn't want it longer. This is one of those
games that are just fun to play. Quite reasonable prose, lots of
tounge in cheek humor.

Reverberations

Fun. A nice vignette of Southern Californian life. Yet another simple
one that had some interesting ideas and made me chuckle. Didn't quite
get the "surfer dude" feeling, the satirical aspect could have been
stronger, but nevertheless a very nice idea fairly well executed.
Felt a little "thin" in spots, however.

Kissing the Buddhas Feet

Very fun game. Excellent characters, great puzzles. Lots of nice
gimmics. The downside was that there are a pile of items needed that
I find myself unable to see. Perhaps there are places I should have
searched and missed, but as it was I found myself typing "take foo"
a lot based on the hints, when I had no clue foo was there, and even
afterwords trying to find foo.
By far the best NPCs in the contest.

Maiden

Nice, well thought out game with good puzzles, consistent atmosphere and
reasonable prose. The interesting thing about this is, this is a game
that in my mind requires undo (which, happily, tads has). There are
just too many nasty time critical puzzles, where you have to get the
timing right, otherwise.

The Meteor, The Stone and a Long Glass of Sherbet

The most traditional game of the lot.
I like it, BUT it felt too...traditional.

Perhaps part of the problem is that, well, I'll confess.
I'm a heretic. Quendor has always seemed very patched together to
me, and hasn't worked very well as a world. (Ok, the world of
Enchanter/Sorcerer/Spellbreaker did, but Zork * didn't).
And that feeling carries over into this game. I got the same feeling here.
I'm not saying that this is not a good game. I thought it was an
excellent game, with nice puzzles, nice writing, etc. I just thought that
some of the more createive games were more interesting.

Tapestry

Neil Gaimon writes IF! Or, more accurately, someone who is obviously
a big Neil Gaimon fan. Not, of course, set directly in Gaimon's
worlds, but everything from the depiction of Lucifer to the atmosphere shows
it.

Nothing wrong with that, of course. This is F oriented IF done
_right_. Very tight, nice prose.

Piece of Mind.

Fascinating, use of second person. Puzzles are a little...strange.
Somewhat twisted and interesting. I do not have an idea of where this
is going.

Delusions

Fascinating. I am not generally fond of Cyber-whaetver (perhaps because I
work with computers so much), but I am liking this. Puzzles are interesting
but difficult.

Smallwld

My favourite. Creative, interesting, superb puzzles, wonderfully tounge in
cheek, I loved playing this. Loads of fun. It is a little frustrating
in parts, and I confess to having consulted the hints. But brilliant.
(Can you tell I liked this game?)

--
Matthew Crosby cro...@cs.colorado.edu
Disclaimer: It was in another country, and besides, the wench is dead.

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