Thursday, October 8, 2009

Short Thoughts on IF Comp 2009 Games II

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.

Earl Grey: I would have loved to like this word puzzle based effort more than I actually did, mostly for its initial cleverness and lightness of tone. Alas, the puzzle solutions feel much too random to be satisfying - okay, so I can turn this piece of paper into a pauper, but why should I want to?

I also seem to have put the game in an unwinnable state later on in a timed sequence I didn't even understand in the first place. That looks like it's pointing to the game's core problem, really - there is nothing in it guiding the player in the direction she is meant to go at any given time, leaving one randomly typing from the walkthrough to achieve some arbitrary goal.


zork, buried chaos: How much of this is to be read as a homage to Zork, others should be more qualified to explain. Personally, I find the Zorks historically important for the form, but much too tedious and sparse to actually play through them.

"Sparse" is a fitting description for this one too. There's nary a sentence longer than six words in here, most objects aren't examinable, the whole thing is lacking in character so completely I at first was not sure if it was supposed to be parody. Fortunately, a merry bunch of typos riddle the text and make something as clever and obtuse as conceptual satire look quite unlikely as an explanation.

As an experience, this is a little depressing, demonstrating a complete lack in imagination (favorite room description: "maze", I kid you not), charm - really anything that would make the old trundling through a dungeon routine bearable.

Then there are niggling implementation problems like the fact that you can "turn on" a brass lantern, but not "light" it. And hey, following the walkthrough it's a lamp, not a lantern, but of course a walkthrough and the game it is for shouldn't have too much to do with each other to keep up a player's sense of adventure and so the game's second (or third, depending on how you count) maze can't be solved with its help anyway. Logic is of course right out. Not that you'd need the walkthrough for the rest if not for the problematic implementation.


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