Sunday, October 4, 2009

Short Thoughts on IF Comp 2009 Games I

The yearly IF Comp has started once again, and this time I'm going to try and judge again. Since my blog has changed a bit since the last time I did this, I'll keep this short and talk about more than one game per entry so as not to bore my non-IF interested readers to tears. Don't worry, my babbling about films will continue in its usual pace throughout.

Star Hunter: Not a very auspicious beginning. Shallow, buggy implementation meets bland writing in a SF scavenger hunt that doesn't even try to pull the player in with new-fangled things like story, world-building or vaguely interesting language. Add to that early puzzles which are badly clued (which is to say, not at all) and based on not explaining the use of objects the player character should have extensive knowledge about, and see me quit the game very early never to return.


Eruption: Well, if all went my way, it would be forbidden for games to start like this one with the player waking up in a cave with some sort of memory loss. I also wouldn't allow for authors to enter their exercise games into the comp or anywhere else where I could stumble over them. Alas, my time as world dictator has not yet come.

My personal little problems put aside, this very short and slight piece turns out to be reasonably well written, solidly implemented and thoroughly competent. Alas, it's also maddeningly ambitionless and quite dull, because it is nothing besides competent.


Gleaming the Verb: Possibly even shorter than Eruption, this is basically one single word puzzle without anything of any interest going on. I'm not too sure I'd even call this IF, what with its absence of, well, fiction and its lack of interactivity beyond one single type of interaction. Even so, at least it's a thoroughly inoffensive game.


Trap Cave: A CYOA piece in English and German (I played the German version) that seem to be trying to keep in the spirit of the classic Fighting Fantasy books. Alas, it mostly finds the player trundling through a generic fantasy dungeon with dreadful design features like insta-death rooms and lacks in coherence.

The fixed window size of the (homebrew?) CYOA system makes for a squinty reading experience on a modern monitor. The German version also has its fair share of grammar problems, although nothing too terrible.


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