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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:51 pm 
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Well, even if this list is poor, i'm a relative newbie to IF and so the number of games I've played is not wide, so I will no doubt be tweaking my choices a little bit over the next month.

Photopia -1
Heartwarming. The game makes you care.

Blue lacona -2
Such an emotional work on so many levels. I don't think the ambition has ever been equaled on such a scale.

Make it good -3
My personal favorite IF game ever. Yeah I know that's saying something, but I'm quite a mystery buff. Best detective IF ever, and heck, the puzzles are not straggling either.

Spider and web-4
John le carre style narrative, brilliant ideas.

Babel -5
I know a Lot of people think babel is overrated, but after playing it, I think it's overrated to call babel overrated.

All things devours -6
The only hard puzzle game I have solved without a walkthrough. But besides my personal situation, the writing is really stylistic, and the concept is explored in such a new awing way.

Anchorhead -7
Well, I'll admit that I don't like the game that much, ( mainly because I suck at puzzles) but this isn't a list of my personal favorites. I found the difficulty of the puzzles detracted from the atmosphere a little bit, but all things considered, the writing is superb. I've never been in such suspense before, and the world was crafted with such a lifelike feel.

The blind house -8
Disturbing, but so unique in the games I've played

Legion -9
Hmmm... Maybe the most controversial game on my list. I thought though that the plot was so well explored, and really never tried before.

Worlds apart -10
Although not quite up there with Photopia and blue lacona on an emotional scale, it delivers high on the scale.



In my opinion the best Infocom games:
Trinity

A mind forever voyaging



Well, let's have a look at some of the ones I did not pick:
Varicella- this is a game I loathe more than any other game I have played. I played it a million times before I used a walkthrough, and the fact of the matter is, I found the puzzles pointless and 'guess the author' style.

Shade- Gosh you don't know how much I wanted to put this on the list. One of my favorites but it doesn't quite add up in the 'best' category.

Blue chairs- Uh... I didn't get this game until somebody told me it was an allegory to dante's divine comedy. Then I looked for similarities and it made even less sense.

I'm sure I've missed the most obvious choices, but hey.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:11 pm 
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  • All Hope Abandon by Eric Eve
    This is probably my favorite IF game ever. The integration of setting and theme in this game is very evocative, and several moments in the game really inspired me.
  • A Mind Forever Voyaging by Steve Meretzky
    One of only two Infocom games that I've won, and playing this game was a satisfying experience. It's very well paced.
  • August by Matt Fendahleen
    Perhaps the least ambitious great game ever, but I feel that it's still a great game. I love the classic high fantasy style. It pulls off being both a serious fantasy and a romance, two genres that I think are rarely portrayed convincingly in IF.
  • The Bible Retold: Following a Star by Justin Morgan
    One of the best-spirited comedies in IF, with great NPCs and historical interest. It's the kind of comedy that doesn't devalue its own characters or story just to be funny. Also a very well-designed game.
  • Blighted Isle by Eric Eve
    A great combination of a traditional map with many puzzles but great story and characterization. This game has the most fun and interactive NPCs I have ever seen. Well, with the possible exception of...
  • Blue Lacuna by Aaron Reed
    The main NPC wasn't even my favorite part, even though he is awesome. This is probably the only IF I've ever played that I could imagine written as a prose, printed novel.
  • Distress by Mike Snyder
    The game has some cool meta techniques that I liked, with an exciting setting that seemed fuller than the short game actually was.
  • Floatpoint by Emily Short
    One of the most professional of the many science fiction games, in my opinion. One of the most interesting games I've ever played.
  • The King of Shreds and Patches by Jimmy Maher
    I never finished this game, because I found myself in an unwinnable state in the endgame and didn't have the motivation to replay. That frustration aside, the portrayal of historical London is awesome... and the characters you meet... and the things the you can do....
  • Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home by Andrew Plotkin
    I like the austere mystery.
  • On Optimism by Tim Lane
    This competition entry is my favorite relatively unknown game. I've always thought that the reviewers have missing a theme that seemed pretty plain to me when I first played, and I've wonder ever since if that theme was really there.
  • Spider and Web by Andrew Plotkin
    I still remember the thrills.
  • So Far by Andrew Plotkin
    This game captivated by young imagination and showed me the emotional potential of IF.
  • Theatre by Brendon Wyber
    A well-designed puzzlefest. My favorite of the horror genre. It's takes itself just seriously enough. This was the very first game that I ever began to play, although I completed Wearing the Claw first.
  • Whom the Telling Changed by Aaron Reed
    My favorite Spring Thing game. I really like the mystery of the pseudo-prehistoric.
  • Wearing the Claw Paul O'Brian
    A delightful, humble fantasy. All in all, this is probably my favorite IF story, and it's a very fun playing experience as well. The very first IF game I ever finished, when I was either 11 or 12 years old.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:28 pm 
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Judging by which games I tend to play over and over, they're mostly Infocom games, except for Adventure. So:

Adventure
A Mind Forever Voyaging
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Zork I
Zork Zero.

That being said, I also love a few games I've only played once or twice--but plan to play again:

For a Change
Lost Pig
The Meteor, the Stone and a Long Glass of Sherbet
Once and Future
Violet
Winter Wonderland (the one by Laura Knauth)

and a special mention for:

Pick Up the Phone Booth and Die!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:02 pm 
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I'll play! Thanks, Victor, for getting this started.

Caveat: my IF involvement has been minimal for the past several years, so this is going to be heavily weighted toward older games. (In particular, I suspect, from what I've read, that Blue Lacuna, Chancellor, Make it Good, Everybody Dies, Cryptozookeeper, Deadline Enchanter, Distress, King of Shreds and Patches, Alabaster, First Things First, and Floatpoint would at least be strong candidates for this list, had I played them. And I have no good excuse for never having finished Bad Machine.) Hopefully that will be balanced out by newbies who never got around to playing older stuff.

My 20, in roughly this order:

1. Spider and Web. Not much to add to what's been said above, and elsewhere. The single best marriage of puzzle and story to date, in my view. and while the central device has been used in static fiction, its effect is magnified by interactivity.
2. Trinity. Strong puzzles, engaging story, and one particular moment that (arguably) introduced the idea of the player's complicity in the plot.
3. Varicella. Viciously difficult, but well worth the many playthroughs it takes to finish. Perhaps the most fitting ending in all of IF.
4. Spellbreaker. Evocative mood, difficult-but-fair puzzles.
5. Anchorhead. Mood builds gradually, and the writing is appropriately restrained; the puzzles are designed in a way that, for the most part, draws out the plot but doesn't bring it to a halt. (The endgame, with some tight timing required, is an exception, but not egregiously so.) Well-designed storytelling that can be enjoyed even by those who don't care for Lovecraft.
6. So Far. More a mood piece than a narrative, but the mood is effectively done, and the puzzles, while sometimes cruel, are worth noodling over.
7. Zork III. The best puzzles of the trilogy (setting aside the timed event that makes the game unforeseeably unwinnable), the most consistently done atmosphere, and a sly subversion of the treasure hunt.
8. Worlds Apart. My memories of this one have grown slightly fuzzy, I confess, but I do remember extraordinarily deep worldbuilding, several well-drawn characters, and puzzles that serve rather than impede the plot.
9. Slouching Toward Bedlam. Not sure moral choice in IF has been done better.
10. Metamorphoses. Notable for the depth of its implementation--in particular, there are devices that can transmute objects into different substances, and the game does a remarkable job of accommodating all the possibilities--and for the indirect way the story is told.
11. Losing Your Grip. It may not be the only IF game that centers on exploration of the protagonist's own mind, but it's the only one I know of that's done it well. Not perfectly--I've never managed to make sense of some of it--but on the whole it rewards close analysis.
12. Augmented Fourth. Somewhat underdiscussed on the IF scene, this one deserves to be better-known; it's a witty sendup of/homage to the fantasy genre with not-too-hard puzzles and some genuinely hilarious prose. The opening scene, where the narrator is being tossed into a pit and mocked by some not-too-bright guards, is particularly good.
13. Lost Pig. The every-response-is-implemented game par excellence, and many, many laugh-out-loud moments.
14. Sunset Over Savannah. Another mood piece, beautifully written, with difficult but well-hinted puzzles.
15. Shadow in the Cathedral. Linear, but takes advantages of the strength of linearity--a strong sense that the puzzle-solving is driving the plot--without making the player feel railroaded. Well-told story, with some very good puzzles and some nice tense moments.
16. Wishbringer. The first, to my knowledge, and the best IF game to deploy the nightmare-version-of-familiar-landscape approach. Lots of multiple-solution puzzles at a time when that wasn't common. The puzzles are kid-oriented, but there's plenty of sly humor.
17. Jigsaw. Some of the puzzles are, in my view, flat-out unfair. But many are just right, and the scope and thoroughness of the thing keeps this among my faves.
18. Small World. Another mostly forgotten game, this one from the 1996 competition. Clever, tricky-but-logical puzzles, and a very funny NPC.
19. Shade. Some touchy event triggers, but still the best mess-with-your-head IF I can think of.
20. Infidel. Lots of clever mechanical puzzles, and an ending that left me slackjawed.

Honorable mentions: Savoir Faire, Christminster, Delusions, Enchanter, City of Secrets, All Things Devours, Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina, Mulldoon Legacy, Dreamhold, Curses, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Galatea, Hunter, in Darkness, Change in the Weather, Suspended, Bronze, The Gostak, Ad Verbum, Moonlit Tower, Fear, Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me!, Babel, Zero Sum Game, Janitor, Lurking Horror, Rameses, Rematch, Little Blue Men, Plundered Hearts, For a Change, A Day for Soft Food, A Bear's Night Out, Goose, Egg, Badger, Blighted Isle, Kissing the Buddha's Feet, Lydia's Heart, Violet, Maiden of the Moonlight, Ballyhoo, Djinni Chronicles, Inevitable, LASH, Pytho's Mask, The Weapon, Insight, All Hope Abandon, The Edifice, Scavenger, Heroes, Child's Play

* * *

Victor asked for a list of favorites, but I wonder if there's value in considering what IF we think is objectively the "best," rather than our subjective faves. My view, for what it's worth, is that IF is usually "best" when it most successfully merges story and puzzle, as this medium can do that better than any other. I.e., puzzles that are fully motivated by the plot and organic to the story, not set pieces or "say, here's a locked door, I will stop at nothing to unlock it" types--and advance the narrative rather than putting it on hold. Vividly drawn characters and settings are important too, but a novel can, I think, convey those just as well as IF can. (Admittedly, interactivity makes a difference in how one *experiences* characters and settings, but I don't think we're at the point where IF can clearly depict either *better* than static fiction can.)

Of course, the quality of the story matters too; a flawless game about going to the mailbox wouldn't make my list. Telling a story that matters is important--and the way it's told is just as important. The other way this medium improves on static fiction is finding ways to make the player's role in driving the story give it additional power--complicity, in other words--and games that effectively use IF's unique storytelling force should also be considered among the "best." Relatively few games make much of this, but those that do are, in my view, particularly noteworthy.

For myself, I'd put most of my 20 faves above among the "best" in this sense as well, but not all. As fond as I am of Spellbreaker, for example, I can't dispute that the plot is mostly absent, and it doesn't motivate the puzzle-solving except in the most general sense. Trinity is better in that regard, but still has long stretches where there's no obvious connection between the puzzle-solving and your ultimate goal. Smaller, more focused games like Child's Play, Delusions, Djinni Chronicles, and Change in the Weather integrate the puzzles and story much more tightly. And while Trinity has a "complicity" moment, it's just one moment; other games like Heroes and Bad Machine have done more with that idea.

(Sadly, I lack the time to replay all of my faves to reassess how successful they are on these metrics; I remember what I enjoyed about them, but not necessarily how well they motivate their puzzle-solving, say.)

Or am I just overthinking this?

--Duncan


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:25 pm 
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Nice to take a trip down nostalgia avenue... I wonder if I can get these into order? No, probably not.

1. Curses - While I don't think I would ever really recommend this to anyone else, I had such an enjoyable time playing it that it has to be top of my list. I don't think anyone has topped Graham here for his ability to turn interactivity into a conversation between player and game, with the successful solver providing the punch-line to so many jokes and having so many moments of real, intuitive insight. The puzzle of the romantic poetry book and the hedge maze are gems, that no-one would be allowed to get away with in the "real" world of games. Magnificent.

2. So Far - Plotkin has always had a wizard-like ability to turn code into world; so that even though So Far is brutally difficult and so easy to break, it never feels inert. From the (unnecessary?) pole-licking to the monster-fight in the arena, So Far felt like a living breathing world in which I was the ghost, drifting from place to place. And the ending of this was alive. Wonderful -- but again, very hard, and very hard to truly recommend!

3. The Witness - Of all the Infocom games, this one was my favourite, because I actually found clues, I actually followed them up, formed hypotheses and eventually cracked the case. It took a lot of replay and a fair amount of luck, and when I played Deadline later I found it impossible, unforgiving, and over-wrought. But The Witness seemed just right to me - simple enough to be accessible, responsive enough to provide a narrative. A great game.

4. Rimworld - (I think was the name.) In the early days of the internet, a few text adventures floated around, that have been largely lost. This one was a standard collection of plastic-purple-squares and plastic-purple-slots, but back when I played it, there were no walkthroughs, no forums, and no authors emails; so I wandered, alone and without help, through an empty alien world, and every discovery was my own. Games will never feel like that again.

5. Ribbons - one of the Art Show pieces, full of connections that might or might not be meaningful. This one was great for me because it made me realise, finally, that interactivity is what happens inside the player's head, and that what happens in the game-code to enable this interactivity is merely academic.

6. Shrapnel - bonkers, devastating, and Cadre at the height of his powers, creating a seamless experience bristling with meaning and consequence. This game for me marked the absolute heyday of the indie community; when games were quick, dirty, but wickedly effective.

7. Spider and Web - this almost doesn't feature because, in truth, I didn't enjoy playing one little bit. But the twist was fantastic, and the conversation system instructive, inspiring and, oh, yeah, really cool.

8. Lost Pig - Lost Pig was great.

9. LASH - I like all of Paul's work, but this one felt the most solidly built and meaningfully executed.

10. The Weapon - great sci-fi story, with a tight design and great pacing.

11. Starcross - a masterpiece of puzzle design on a budget.

12. Christminister - this one seems to get forgotten about, but looking back I feel like Rees' invented an entire genre of pacing here: the game is so graceful in ensuring that your scope is always small enough to be playable, but your involvement just gets deeper and deeper. I like to think of The Shadow in the Cathedral as something of a design homage.

13. Plundered Hearts - while not as tightly designed as some of its successors, PH managed to tell a real story and not let its puzzles get in the way, and that was a novelty in the Infocom games. And it was a great romp.

Honourable mentions: Deep Space Drifter, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, 9:05, Dangerous Curves, Slouching Towards Bedlam.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:56 am 
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* Adventureland: Sentimental. I keep going back. (I never played texty games until the 90s, but I used to watch my friend Kenny playing this).
* Beyond Zork: My favorite of the Zork-branded games and the game I've completed more times than any other.
* Leather Goddesses of Phobos: My favorite Infocom title and the game I've re-started more times than any other.
* Plundered Hearts: My first real okay-gonna-sit-down-and-play-one-of-these-for-real games, hooked me with style.
* Eric the Unready: My favorite non-Infocom commercial-era game, and on some days maybe my favorite work of IF overall.
* Galatea: Even though that statue is a sourpuss.
* Aisle: Makes me almost want to make my own gimmick game.
* Mentula Macanus: Apocolocyntosis: Modern game voted Most Likely To Make Me Jealous.
* The King of Shreds and Patches: My very favorite Lovecraftian game. Plus it's even now blazing new trails.
* Lost Pig: I bust a gut.
* The Shadow in the Cathedral: Textfyre, I'm sorry I doubted you (but it was Toresal's fault).
* Dragon Adventure: My favorite aimed-at-younger-folks game. Good for me, too.
* Yes, Another Game with a Dragon!: Modern retro done so right it discourages me from trying.
* I-0: I keep finding new angles and loving them all.
* Rameses: Embodied all my modern-IF prejudices and still impressed the heck out of me. So, yeah.
* Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom: As previously mentioned, this game demonstrates that everything I thought I knew about IF design was wrong.

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Last edited by Ghalev on Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:50 am 
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In no particular order:

1 Savoir Faire, Emily Short. The best example of a very powerful design approach: concoct an interaction mechanic that is distinctive and engaging, that can be applied widely and modified into variations and otherwise elaborated upon, then build that mechanic deeply into your world, character and themes. It's also got some immensely satisfying aesthetics. Its main flaw is that the difficulty curve is a little steep at the lower end; like a lot of people, I bounced off the opening section on my first attempt.

2 Spider and Web, Andrew Plotkin. This is the game that made me realise that text adventures could be literate, clever things. Yeah, That Puzzle is a doozy, but that never impressed me as much as the handling of the frame-story.

3 Varicella, Adam Cadre. What Cadre does best is to take really vicious nastiness and transpose it into a funny, larger-than-life, almost slapstick format without taking the edge off. Mechanically, it's excruciatingly hard, the basic assumptions of the world make an unsatisfying ending inevitable, and it's in sore need of multiple solutions.

4 Alabaster, Emily Short et al. If this didn't exist then Galatea would have this spot. It's the deepest conversational IF to date, it's appropriately sinister, but at the same time it has that satisfying, Bujold-like feel of a conversation between two thoroughly reasonable people. Since this is a work of many hands, the tone is a little uneven in parts, but overall it's excellent.

5 Violet, Jeremy Freese. One of the games that I have a dismissive reflex about, but which becomes a lot more impressive when I sit down and think about it. It has an extremely firm grasp on a lot of the things that IF does better than any medium: a world teeming with enticing and evocative objects, constraints on interaction defining the protagonist, play as a dialogue with the narrator. It doesn't advance IF design in the slightest, but it employs established techniques to their limits.

6 Photopia, Adam Cadre. Shocking choice, I know. And yeah, a lot of this is because the balls-out cheap emotional manipulation worked. It's still a brilliantly orchestrated sequence. The heart of it is not really about untimely death; it's about distance, about the other person being necessarily just out of reach.

7 The Baron, Victor Gijsbers. Moral-question IF is extraordinarily difficult to pull off, and this is the best example that I know of. Takes the standard philosophy approach of interrogating a question by repeatedly reframing it, but does so in a way that works as a dramatic story. Wrenching even if you're expecting the carpet to be pulled away.

8 Cryptozookeeper, Robb Sherwin. It didn't strike me as strongly as did Fallacy of Dawn, but a lot of that was because I wasn't expecting to enjoy Fallacy. It's a night journey, sprawling and random and rich and dark and cheesy, it makes no sense in a huge number of ways, it has a heart of gold and a mind in the gutter, it's Americana at its best. The usual things to talk about are Robb's weirdly excellent prose, vibrant NPCs and off-the-wall imagination.

9 Anchorhead, Michael Gentry. A masterpiece of pacing and atmospherics. When I first played it I hadn't read anything from the Lovecraft mythos, so my estimation of how it matches up is unreliable; my feeling is that it's as good as anything in the mythos, although this isn't an incredibly high bar. As with most Lovecraft, the climax doesn't live up to the buildup, but it scarcely matters.

10 Worlds Apart, Suzanne Britton. A touch too new-agey for my tastes, and you get the distinct feeling that it's not a complete story in its own right but rather an excerpt from something much larger. Nonetheless, strong, well-integrated puzzle design, strong setting, and an amnesia device that serves to help explore the character rather than an excuse to avoid doing so.

11 Bad Machine, Dan Shiovitz: fiendishly difficult, probably incomprehensible to anybody without a little programming background. About a decade since I played it, so possibly I'm viewing it through the rosy mists of nostalgia. Huge amounts of learning by death, though it could hardly be otherwise. Still: dark, atmospheric, clever puzzle mechanics.

12 Mentula Macanus: Apocolocyntosis, Adam Thornton. Again, I had a dismissive reflex about this when I first played it, but it grew steadily on me. Much of this is because the process of appreciating IF isn't a fixed, author-reader experience; much of the fun of Mentula lay in looking up the references, reading the code, talking and thinking about it, reading other people's reactions and analysis, and (ahem) drawing fanart and writing cheap rip-offs. Mentula invites this sort of thing by being self-indulgent and allusive, publishing its code (bringing the player closer to the authorial process), and using an open, fantastic-voyage structure.

13 Moonlit Tower, Yoon Ha Lee. Overwriting that works, rich symbolism and aesthetics-of-objects, a story more suggested than told.

14 Slouching Towards Bedlam, Daniel Ravipinto & Star Foster. Like Savoir Faire, this starts out slowly: when I played it in-comp I got the sense that something good was waiting in the wings, but didn't manage to actually get to it. But on the second attempt, somewhat later, it really opened up. Probably the best, most deeply engaged steampunk I've seen. By which I mean that it's genuinely interested in both the artistic tropes and the technology of the era, rather than treating it as a stylish gloss.

15 The Edifice, Lucian Smith. As anthropology it's honestly pretty crap -- nobody seriously thinks that horses went from wild to riding animals at a single bound -- but it works as a stirring allegory, it has well-integrated puzzles.

16 Vespers, Jason Devlin. The best 9:05 Twist game I know, and a nasty little subversion of metagaming. And I'm all in favour of medieval fiction being bleak and horrible.

17 City of Secrets, Emily Short. I tend to underrate this one, partly because I tested it and partly because Emily has very mixed feelings about it. But even though the underlying story design has some problems, it's full of beautiful details, the setting's well-conceived and there are a lot of individual sequences that are very good indeed.

18 Gun Mute, C.E.J. Pacian. The interaction gimmick is really very effective, but this also does a lot of very strong, economical things with setting, characterisation and NPC interaction. It helps that I grew up on 2000 AD.

19 Blue Lacuna, Aaron Reed; 20 Make It Good, Jon Ingold. Both works that I know damn well deserve a spot on this list, even if I haven't finished them and am not in a position to make a complete judgement.

Things that occurred to me while compiling these:

a) We really need to get better at endings. (I think this is a general problem with computer games.)

b) It's really hard to think of genuinely good games that don't seem totally obvious. Genuinely good IF games pretty much always make it into the canon? Which means that if you want to talk about interesting games outside the conventional greats, you pretty much have to deal with things that are mostly broken.

c) I am really not very good at articulating what I like about games.

d) The ones I was sure about cut off after sixteen entries; after that there were probably a dozen games that I think deserve to be on the list, but I couldn't really distinguish between.

e) man, we are really not good at doing things that aren't F/SF.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:41 pm 
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I should preface this by noting that my taste in games and puzzles seems to be somewhat out of the mainstream; the reason I like a game and include it here may reflect that. That said...

In no particular order:

The Gostak (Carl Muckenhoupt): I got turned on to this as a 'knock-on effect' of a discussion of linguistics, language learning, and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. In IRC. Don't ask. The story isn't much, the setting isn't much; what makes it interesting is the process of discovering how that world works, and (for me) thinking about the thought processes involved in such discovery.

Ad Verbum (Nick Montfort): Again, not much story or setting there; it was more fascinating to solve the wordplay puzzles, which are quite different in style than those in Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail Of It. I'm also an ex-programmer, so part of it is wishing I could see the source for it, and admiring a jewel from a distance.

Adventure (William Crowther and Don Woods, subsequently modified by et alia): At this point, mostly nostalgia (it is the granddaddy of them all...), even when playing variants like HUGECAVE. It's been years since I played an implementation that was limited to two words (VERB NOUN) for input, yet I still find myself slipping back into that 'mode' (GET BIRD. WAVE WAND. DROP KEYS. FILL BOTTLE. et cetera) when I play a variant of this.

Suveh Nux (David Fisher): Although different from Carl Muckenhoupt's The Gostak, it draws me for much the same reason.

A Mind Forever Voyaging (Steve Meretzky): A fascinating premise, a well-done story. It really draws me in, every time I play it. Maybe someday I'll finish/solve it.

> by @ (Aaron Reed): Admiration at such a minimalist game. Anything else one can say about it says more about the sayer than about the game. Which may well be part of the attraction.

Balances (Graham Nelson): Just because of its simplicity and the connection with Spellbreaker (which I never solved). A bit of relaxing fun every time I return.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:32 am 
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Thinking this through, it's depressing how few of the games considered "great" I've either not played, or barely touched. As such, I can only really come at this from the perspective of "which games did I play lots of and really stuck with me," so some of them might not be all that "great"...

The Hobbit (Melbourne House): No, I never finished it; spent hours on end carrying people around on my shoulders, or having them carry me around on their shoulders; the parser here was pretty amazing. Probably the game that most made me want to make something similar.

Agatha's Folly (Linda Wright): The other "good" Spectrum adventure game that stuck with me - the first part at least (I wasn't as enamoured of the second half) is a very dense "examine absolutely everything" puzzler with plenty of storyline buried in there.

Honourable mention probably goes to "Bulbo and the Lizard King" (John Wilson), which I'll admit wasn't very good, but the only other Spectrum-era adventure that I clearly remember chunks of.

Curses (Graham Nelson): It's a sprawling mess of a puzzler, but somehow better than Jigsaw - it never felt unfair, and I kept coming back to it to try and finish it.

The Legend Lives (David Baggett): Another sprawling game with puzzles that didn't feel all that unfair, and a well realised setting (okay, a setting that was mostly a futuristic update from four prior games but it mostly stood on its own).

Lists And Lists (Andrew Plotkin): Okay, what's this doing here? You could read it as a stand-in for Spider And Web, which I never finished but otherwise quite liked, but on its own merits, it actually does a good job of teaching something.

Anchorhead (Michael Gentry): Ah, that's better - good story, great setting, well drawn characters, puzzles that mostly weren't headscratchingly impossible.

Photopia (Adam Cadre): Lack of interaction didn't bother me in the slightest in this one. Touching and well written.

Lost Pig (Admiral Jota): Hey, look, I have played a relatively recent game! Brilliant, just brilliant. Great characterisation, good writing, and very witty.

Well. That was short. To be fair, there are lots of other games I liked, but none that have stuck quite like these have. I could probably add honourable mentions for Humbug (Graham Cluley), Christminster (Garath Rees), Uncle Zebulon's Will (Magnus Olsson), Galatea (Emily Short) and Spider And Web (Andrew Plotkin), but they didn't quite have the same memorable impact that the list above.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:09 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:30 pm
Posts: 319
Trinity.

Wonderful/terrible places to visit: Slouching Towards Bedlam, Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home, 1893: A World's Fair Mystery.

Pioneering explorations of complicity and player/PC relationships: 9:05, De Baron, LASH, Rameses, Spider and Web.

Glorious experiments: Aisle, Shrapnel, The Gostak, Ad Verbum.

Deliciously surreal: Blue Chairs, Shade.

Well-crafted: The Warbler's Nest, Delightful Wallpaper, All Things Devours, Gun Mute, Anchorhead.

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