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PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:36 pm 
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In the last year, I played several long, well-crafted, high-quality games that are in a Zork-like humorous magic world, including Risorgimento Ripresso, Speculative Fiction, Augmented Fourth, and Frobozz Magic Support. The first three could probably have been commercial games (the fourth is a bit shorter).

I had the same experience playing all four of these games. At first I was delighted with the settings and the writing. Each had a clever backstory or game mechanism that was intriguing. But after playing through some of the early puzzles, I began to get bogged down in the remaining puzzles, and Inwould lose interest, turn to a walkthrough, and watch the rest of the game, which was always funny and also very hard.

But the same thing didn't happen to me for the original six Zork games. Those games I loved, and even when I looked for hints, it wasn't because I was bored, it was only because I was stuck. Something about them really called out to me. Especially spellbreaker; I used to tell the story of that game to my toddler as a fairy tale and he loved it ("Tell me about the orange smoke guy!").

Now for me, this isn't nostalgia. I also played the Infocom games for the first time in my life this year. The only game I had played before was Zork.

So what made the Infocom games more fun for me? For me, I think that the four newer games missed a critical element of the early Zork games: the darker side. The Zork trilogy had a real sense of decay, dread, and wonder, with a lost empire, creepy sounds and animals, someone who locks you in a basement. Zork III especially had it. The enchanter trilogy continued with the dread and decay, with ancient demons and sacrifices and of course the events of Spellbreaker.

That same sense of decay is found in two Infocom-followers I really loved, Theater and Building, even though they were less polished than the four I mentioned above. That sense of decay is also found in the Lord of the Rings and in the King Arthur Legends. But the really polished games all seemed to lack that; in each one, you are a sprightly adventurer with a gleam in your eye who helps improve society, makes everyone happy, and goes home safe.

In the end, I feel it's just like milk chocolate chips vs semisweet. Semisweet is more popular because the bitterness offsets and compliments the sweetness. In the same way, real sadness can add a lot to a funny game.

These are just my thoughts. I know a lot of people aren't into the old Infocom games, but I'd be interested in hearing your feedback. What do you think makes for a good 'funny' game? What kind of story (not necessarily funny) draws you in?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:01 am 
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This makes me wonder what you think of Scroll Thief.

I'm glad for the "it isn't nostalgia" talking part -- occasionally I will converse with someone about this stuff that assumes it must be nostalgia, these games are so old.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:08 am 
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I've actually been too scared to try Scroll Thief for exactly these reasons. I'll probably try it this month or next.

It's not just Inform, either; when I tried Colossal Cave Adventure (after playing the Infocom games), it quickly became one of my favorite games; I loved the volcano view, and discovering the truth about the mysterious waving figure. I also loved ASCII and the Argonauts when I played it yesterday, and I've never played a Scott Adam's game.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:17 am 
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I'm surprised you didn't like Augmented Fourth more, to be honest. It's just as polished as an Infocom game, and almost as oldschool as the other games you liked.

BTW, you might enjoy...

Curses!
Jigsaw
Christminster (a personal favourite)
A Change In The Weather (approach with caution)

I wonder what you'll make of Varicella...


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:11 pm 
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craiglocke wrote:
What kind of story (not necessarily funny) draws you in?


The biggest thing for me in an IF game, post-Infocom, is when the author gives me a big reason to care about either the protagonist or game's situation before I input my first command. I've grown very jaded of games where you're plopped in a situation and just sort of expected to muck about for a few turns until you (as the player) discover something to "do."

Pre-Internet, or in the Infocom days it didn't matter to me because the games were expensive and there weren't 6,000 other games that I'd like to try. But yeah, getting hooked on what the author writes as the initial text is really important to me. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:50 pm 
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Thanks for your input. It's interesting to see other people's take on this.

@Peter, I've tried all of those games. I loved curses, disliked Christminster, and liked the others. Varicella is really cool but too dark for me.

By the way, do you like Level 9 or magnetic scrolls? I haven't tried any of them yet.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:10 pm 
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The Level 9 games I've tried are of the "Erik the Viking" vintage. I'm very eager to graduate up to Knight Orc and Lancelot to see that they're like.

Magnetic Scrolls are comparable with Infocom in some respects (in fact, you could compare Corruption to Deadline in general design), but whereas Infocom would often try to work WITH you, MS games often delight in being downright cruel. But my experience with MS so far has been limited. I would recommend "Fish!", with the caveat that at some point you'll want to take a deep breath and restart the second half of the game from scratch with a walkthrough in hand. But it's worth playing.

Christminster is one I really really liked, so I'm always bemused when people say they didn't like it - and a growing number of people are saying it. Ah well. :)

Mind you, I also had a flat-ish response to Risorgimento Represso, but Augmented Fourth is one of those I would recommend three thumbs up.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 7:17 pm 
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I'm not sure I can articulate why, but I'd have to say that my favorite game of all time has to be A Mind Forever Voyaging. It's not one of my 'go-to' games when I'm bored on the train, though, simply because it takes too long; for train trips, I tend to go for The Gostak, Suveh Nux, Ad Verbum, and maybe Balances or Kook University. After AMFV, or when it just doesn't appeal, I do go for (in no particular order) Adventure (the 350-point version) and the Enchanter trilogy (especially Spellbreaker), when I'm at home and have a real computer to play on; I've also dabbled at Scroll Thief, Dual Transform, and a beta version of Parallel (I should look for an update).


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:58 pm 
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Jeff Zeitlin wrote:
I'm not sure I can articulate why, but I'd have to say that my favorite game of all time has to be A Mind Forever Voyaging. It's not one of my 'go-to' games when I'm bored on the train, though, simply because it takes too long; for train trips, I tend to go for The Gostak, Suveh Nux, Ad Verbum, and maybe Balances or Kook University. After AMFV, or when it just doesn't appeal, I do go for (in no particular order) Adventure (the 350-point version) and the Enchanter trilogy (especially Spellbreaker), when I'm at home and have a real computer to play on; I've also dabbled at Scroll Thief, Dual Transform, and a beta version of Parallel (I should look for an update).

Adventure 350 and the Zork/Enchanter trilogies are my favorites for the "go-to" aspect, though they don't work as well on a phone without Trizbort or InvisiClues.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:34 am 
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Well, I'm going to try Scroll Thief tonight. Thanks for the encouragement, guys!

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