[Comp99] Polkinghorne Reviews

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Peter Polkinghorne

Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
Interactive Fiction Competition 1999 Reviews

Peter Polkinghorne

Standard Caveat: This is the first Interactive Fiction Competition
I have taken part in the judging of. Also I was fairly constrained
in time (although for most entries I either finished or took upto
2 hours on) - due to have young children and building work going at home.

Overall Comment: I enjoyed this process of judging far more than I expected,
and the games included some that I really enjoyed and most were acceptable.
There are a lot of comments on hardness of puzzles - partly me and mostly
time constraints.

Background: all the games were run on the family's 486 running Red Hat 5.2
with Frotz 2.32 for Inform games and Tads 2.40 for Tads games.

The reviews are in order of playing and have been sent where possible to
authors. Some mild spoilers may exist. I have also indicated scores.

Spodgeville Murphy and The Jewelled Eye of Wossname (wossname.z5) 8/10

I liked the humor, especially the FULL score information. The puzzle
was pretty logical, but I did have a difficulty which I have noted
to the author.

Lomalow (lomalow.z5) 4/10

The scenery was good - made me think of Switzerland. I also liked the
Lomalow phoenix myth. However the game seemed to promise more than
it delivered. In particular I did not get much interaction with the
NPCs. Also there were a few spelling errors - but I too am guilty :-)

Life on Beal Street (beal.gam) 3/10

This game had an interesting idea, but it did not really work for me.
There simply was not enough interactivity and story. Basicly 4 sections
plus exits and very little choice. May be I am being unsympathetic
because the environment was unfamiliar to me?

Four Seconds (4seconds.gam) 6/10

The scenario was familiar but well done and nice to have quite a few NPCs.
I have to say I found the puzzles quite hard and would not have made
much progress without the hints. The atmosphere got to me - I am not
a horror fan - and I almost gave up because of this!

Thorfinn's Realm (tac.z5) 6/10

This was quite nostalgic - as heavily influenced by Zork & Adventure.
The setting though largely empty was both atmospheric and funny.
There was quite a bit to do. Alas it also suffered from some of
the faults of old - namely inventory balancing, hidden directions and
hardish puzzles.

For A Change (change.z5) 9/10

This was my favourite. The use of language was very effective - I felt
oddly safe and in a dream like world - notwithstanding the dangerous
ending. The game had good hints and I found them essential to

Only After Dark (oad.z5) 5/10

The writing was effective, but the plot line was very linear and
I found some of the puzzles hard.

L.U.D.I.T.E. (ludite.z5) 3/10

My notes say "spelling variable, scenery wild and interaction so so".
I am not sure what else to say other than distinctive!

Hunter, in Darkness (huntdark.z5) 7/10

Although this game had many things I do not like, such as death, mazes
and retries, it was very solid and well writen. In summary not really
my cup of tea, but effective in a grim & claustrophobic way.

Bliss (bliss.gam) 7/10

This game had an excellent ending twist that really brought me up short.
So on the plus side it made me really think. Also the amount of
detail and mood changed as the game progressed - intentional or not
quite finished?

Beat the Devil (btd2.z5) 8/10

This was a jokey adventure that was fun and worked well. However I
found some puzzles quite hard, even when I knew roughly what to do
the details tripped me up.

A Day for Soft Food (softfood.z5) 5/10

This was different - being a cat. The cat's view of the world was effectively
conveyed to my inexpert eyes. However I found the directions round the
cottage confusing and the puzzles hard.

Winter Wonderland (winter.z5) 8/10

I really enjoyed this. A theme I had not come across before in IF and
well conveyed. In fact so much so I shall try it on my daughter!
The game lived up to its title but I had problems towards the end.
I also appreciated the nice hints, compass & snowy decorations.

| Peter Polkinghorne, Computer Centre, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH,|
| Peter.Pol...@brunel.ac.uk +44 1895 274000 x2561 UK |


Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
> L.U.D.I.T.E. (ludite.z5) 3/10
> My notes say "spelling variable, scenery wild and interaction so so".
> I am not sure what else to say other than distinctive!

You ain't been around here long, have you? >:===8) Rybread Celcius is
notorious for bad games.

Interestingly, "Ludite" doesn't mean anything, but "Luddite" means "one who
resists change."Looking at the game- an "Oven", unbelievably hot, a room of
"Apeirophobia", designed to instill fear, a "Prosthetic Flesh Fund", perhaps
reminiscent of "Hellraiser", no apparent way out except to pray. When you do
pray, despite everything reason (and I-F convention) tells you, you escape
to an existance equally incomprehensible but much more pleasent-sounding,
and get the message "deep abstractions lead to shallow interpretation,
shallow abstractions lead to deep interpretation."

I possible interpretation is that in this game, the PC has been trapped in
hell (hell is a Rybread Celcius game, heh. :). The reason for this is his
stubborness and pride, possibly also "addictive pleasures of the flesh."
(which make him a Luddite) and the only way out is to discard them and
embrace the method of change from a tortuous physical existance to a
peaceful etherial one. In this context, this may well be Rybread's best game
to date.

But it still sucks. ~_^

"All men are sexual. You'd better get used to it."- May Club
Long Live the Hentai Game!

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