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 Post subject: Re: The Chronicler
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:01 pm 
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Location: Burlington, VT
emshort wrote:
Spoiler: show
I'm afraid this particular author has a long history of submitting to the comp unfinished games with cool central ideas that could have been awesome. And every time, people say, 'hey, this could have been awesome if only it had been finished enough to be playable. Next time give yourself more time and finish the thing.' The advice hasn't sunk in yet, and this makes me think either he doesn't read the reviews at all or annoying comp judges has developed into some kind of bizarre performance art for him. Dunno.


I didn't know that. That's a shame, because I thought the cool central idea was indeed awesome, and intended to say something like, "Hey, take this stuff and implement some objects and give it an actual plot and it will be cool."

Spoiler: show
For a crap game without any implemented objects -- that's basically a description of its genre -- I did find this engaging. I played it almost all the way to an ending; if the text hadn't described it as unfinished I might have thought a bit harder about how to get to the ending, which is in fact gettable. Two of 'em, in fact. Though the endings definitely fit into the CGWAIO template; they're one step up from "A Winner Is You."


Anyway, this didn't annoy me that much, because I adjusted my expectations pretty quickly. If no other game in the comp annoyed me more, it would be a pretty great comp experience, at least from a me-not-getting-annoyed perspective.


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 Post subject: Re: The Chronicler
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:19 pm 
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scratchm wrote:
emshort wrote:
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or annoying comp judges has developed into some kind of bizarre performance art for him. Dunno.
Spoiler: show
Actually, I rather suspected that was what was going on with A Quiet Evening at Home... some kind of joke. :?


Spoiler: show
There certainly have been some joke games in the past. Sometimes they have a specific joke agenda in mind (see Sisyphus), which is still mildly annoying but at least you can see what they were getting at. The joke of submitting something that is not only bad but bad in a boring way, however... I dunno. I've heard that punchline too many times already, I guess.

I skipped both Chronicler and Quiet Evening because they weren't listing any testers, and because of the confession in Chronicler that it wasn't finished.


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 Post subject: Oxygen
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:30 am 
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Posts: 42
Oxygen by ShadowK

A short review for a short game...
Spoiler: show
On the one hand, I enjoyed this enough to play it through four times (and got four different endings). On the other hand, doing so took me less than an hour. I have a hard time giving the same weight to a small, one-room, one-puzzle game like this as I do to longer works.

The tiny nature of the game was pretty much my only complaint, however. It was well written and interesting; the puzzle was challenging but not impossible (although it would take a good deal of luck to get the best ending on your first attempt).


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 Post subject: Heated
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:17 am 
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Posts: 42
Heated by Timothy Peers

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One step up from the implement-your-house game (see A Quiet Evening at Home) is the go-to-work game. This was a fine example of the type: get dressed, shower, etc. Boring subject matter, but I guess people have to start somewhere.

The keys-in-the-toilet problem had me hoping for a hitchhiker's guide bablefish style puzzle, when I closed the toilet lid and they still managed to get in there. But several frustrating minutes later I hadn't found any way to place a heavy object on the toilet lid, so I gave up on that.

The death-by-electrocution bit had a nice easter egg.

The game was artificially sparse; although it tried to explain that away. The objects that did exist, however, were all implemented and I didn't notice any outright bugs, just a couple of grammatical errors. I congratulate the author on getting so much right on his first outing.

The central "Heat Meter" mechanic was interesting, sort of, but didn't do much to enhance the game for me. Maybe in a longer game with more opportunities to lower the heat level it would have been worth while. But a longer game would need a more interesting subject matter. I reached the end of the game, getting to work on time with personal hygiene in order, but my heat meter was too high so I didn't get the promotion. I could have re-started at that point and tried to play a perfect game, but who wants to go to work twice in one day?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:24 am 
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The Bible Retold: The Lost Sheep by Ben Pennington

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Almost as bad as A Quiet Evening at Home. The game goes like this:
Follow sheep. Search bush. Follow sheep. Search bush. Search bush. Search bush. Try all sorts of things that don't work. Read hint. Create completely implausible fire. Torch bush. Follow sheep. Ride buffalo. Follow sheep. Follow sheep. Follow sheep. Follow sheep. Follow sheep. You Win!

It has no story to speak of, just an arbitrary goal. It has two puzzles... the first one completely unreasonable and stupid (at least for anyone who has practice making fire) and the second... well, I don't know if I would have solved it on my own, because when reading the hint for the first puzzle it spontaneously gave me the solution to the second puzzle as well.


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 Post subject: The 12:54 to Asgard
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:35 am 
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The 12:54 to Asgard by J. Robinson Wheeler

Spoiler: show
This game started out well. It progressed from good, to great, proceeded towards astounding, then suddenly crashed into mediocrity and failure. Yet again I find myself praying to pagan goddesses for a fixed-up post-comp release.

The introduction was flavorful. Walking around the studio picking things up had a nice old-school feel to it. Lots of good descriptions. Although it certainly didn't seem to be required, I enjoyed cleaning up the maintenance closet and putting everything in the proper places. The tag on the suitcase hinted at things to come. So did "an open suitcase (which is open)", but I didn't realize it at the time.

Up on the catwalk, I spent far too much time trying to make the tree house safer by attempting to clean it with the mop and the sponge. Repairing the snake was more fruitful (although seemingly pointless in the scheme of things). My thought that I would need the tar paper, the rubber sheet, and the tile to repair the leak was quickly dispelled, and I proceeded to nail the tile on.

I knew what the game was setting me up for, but was determined to avoid my fate. First I tried to manufacture a safety harness from the feather boa. Then I tried for many minutes to use the drill and screws rather than the hammer and nails; that should at least have been implemented better but at the time I was still to enamored of the game to care.

Finally, I turned around and took that fateful swing with the hammer. Still trying to save myself, I grabbed at the snake, but it didn't hold.

Ok, so I'm dead. I knew all along this was coming, but was still surprised at how well it was done. I take stock of myself and my surroundings. The units of currency are obviously a reference to something, but I don't get the joke. Oh well. At this point I'm regretting my grab for the snake, so a stack of UNDOs later I've grabbed the suitcase instead. I'm a little worried that I should have stocked it better with some of the things I left in the maintenance closet, but trust that the game would have let me know if I were in an unwinnable state.

Across the water, I have a hard time figuring out that up is the correct direction to go in. No worries, I got it after a few tries. Then I meet Polly, and things take a turn for the worse.

Code:
>talk to polly

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in. 

>ask polly about herself

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in. 

>ask polly about me
You ask Polly about yourself.

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in. 

>ask polly about death

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in. 

>ask polly about turnstiles
(the turnstiles)
You ask Polly about the turnstiles.

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in. 

>ask polly about boat

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in. 


Ugh.

So I take a look at the turnstiles. Clued by Polly, I try turning each of them. One glides, one grinds, one stops and one goes backwards. Being a contrary type of person, I select the quartz turnstile which goes backwards... back to the studio!

So... there is no body in evidence, and all the flavortext seems to be the same as the first time around. Object status and location have NOT reset, but I find the suitcase with most of my belongings in the lost and found area. Notably missing are the hammer and nails, which seem to have disappeared at the time of my unfortunate accident.

I wander around the studio for quite a while. There is nothing left to do. I can't leave. I can't even re-create my accident and die again because I don't have the hammer and nails. I have a save point before giving the coins to death, but I'm low on time (yes, I play slowly) and this situation has taken away my will to continue playing.

Maybe there is a way to continue from this point... I'm kind of bad at puzzles a lot of the time. But if there is a way to continue, it's not covered by the walkthrough. So I quit.

Up until the point where it started sucking, this game rocked.


I am thinking of a new scoring policy. If a game seems to have been completed and tested before the competition deadline, I will give it a 10. Otherwise, I will give it a 1. That way if an unfinished or untested game wins the competition, at least I will not be to blame. Does anyone have thoughts on this?


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 Post subject: Death Off the Cuff
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:20 pm 
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Death Off the Cuff by Simon Christiansen

Spoiler: show
There is a very simple algorithm for solving this game; examine everything, examine the parts of everything, talk about everything you have seen, repeat. There is little else to do but follow this pattern. So while I do consider this a work of interactive fiction, it's less interactive than many of the other comp entries.

That's fine with me. CYOA games are also interactive fiction, but less interactive than normal. I considered Whom the Telling Changed to be less interactive than most games too.

The story, and more importantly the structure of the story and how it was told, was very entertaining. There was, however, one fatal flaw.

In order to limit the scope of what you could talk about, the game restricts you to talking only about things you can see. It then changes the set of things you can see, over time, to allow the story to progress.

This causes pain at many points during the game when something that was invisible becomes visible, but is mentioned only as part of another object's description. The game feels stuck until you re-examine every object, eventually finding the new clue in the form of a previously undescribed body part or item of clothing or whatever.

This pattern culminates in the ridiculous conclusion of the game, where the final confrontation is triggered by talking about Detective Goodfellow's suddenly-visible uniform. What, as if he was naked before?

I think this pattern of unintuitive obscurity is firmly rooted in the design decision to allow talking only about things that can be seen. I think the problem could have been eliminated, and a much more enjoyable game written, if abstract topics were allowed. I don't know if Inform makes this difficult, or if the author didn't know it was possible, or if it was a conscious design decision.

Despite that one problem, this was a solid story that I had a lot of fun playing.


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 Post subject: Re: The 12:54 to Asgard
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:09 pm
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scratchm wrote:
The 12:54 to Asgard by J. Robinson Wheeler

Spoiler: show
So I take a look at the turnstiles. Clued by Polly, I try turning each of them. One glides, one grinds, one stops and one goes backwards. Being a contrary type of person, I select the quartz turnstile which goes backwards... back to the studio!

So... there is no body in evidence, and all the flavortext seems to be the same as the first time around. Object status and location have NOT reset, but I find the suitcase with most of my belongings in the lost and found area. Notably missing are the hammer and nails, which seem to have disappeared at the time of my unfortunate accident.

I wander around the studio for quite a while. There is nothing left to do. I can't leave. I can't even re-create my accident and die again because I don't have the hammer and nails. I have a save point before giving the coins to death, but I'm low on time (yes, I play slowly) and this situation has taken away my will to continue playing.

Maybe there is a way to continue from this point... I'm kind of bad at puzzles a lot of the time. But if there is a way to continue, it's not covered by the walkthrough. So I quit.

Up until the point where it started sucking, this game rocked.

Spoiler: show
I did exactly the same thing. I thought at first "Oh, here's a chance to go pick up the suitcase and all the stuff I forgot" but then I had the same problem as you - no way back to the afterlife. I ended up starting over with the walkthrough. It's hard to tell how good the puzzles are when you have a walkthrough sometimes, but they seemed like they might be maddeningly arbitrary. I think I agree that the opening of the game was awesome, and the rest was a big letdown.

The intro gave me an impression of a really engaging PC, but unfortunately, as soon as he gets to the afterlife, he loses all his personality. And yes, the implementation gets progressively more sloppy as the game goes on.


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 Post subject: Re: Death Off the Cuff
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:35 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:09 pm
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scratchm wrote:
Death Off the Cuff by Simon Christiansen

Spoiler: show
In order to limit the scope of what you could talk about, the game restricts you to talking only about things you can see. It then changes the set of things you can see, over time, to allow the story to progress.

This causes pain at many points during the game when something that was invisible becomes visible, but is mentioned only as part of another object's description. The game feels stuck until you re-examine every object, eventually finding the new clue in the form of a previously undescribed body part or item of clothing or whatever.

This pattern culminates in the ridiculous conclusion of the game, where the final confrontation is triggered by talking about Detective Goodfellow's suddenly-visible uniform. What, as if he was naked before?

Everything you said about this game is exactly right, but somehow it doesn't capture how much fun I had with it. I was very liberal with getting hints, though, so I didn't spend much time being stuck. I just loved the premise of it - the famous detective who actually doesn't have a clue what's going on and has to bluff his way through. It's a perfect send-up of detective stories, and the characters were all very entertaining.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:32 pm
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capmikee wrote:
Everything you said about this game is exactly right, but somehow it doesn't capture how much fun I had with it.


I had a lot of fun with it too, it was just frustrating because I thought it could have been even better(TM).


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