17 Jul 2011

cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Bender is a z-code game by Colleen Boye.

The game starts with some extra stuff going on at the top - a map! A map that laggily changes as you move! And no instructions on how to use it.

The mini-map works OK - a bit slow, but interesting - and wasn't credited? correctly in the about (the line reads 'The minimap is ). Help isn't implemented, and those really should be in a game with unique commands.

Eventually, though, I see what's happening here - there's some interesting ideas, although I'm pretty bored of the '-bending' thing that's in these days. I guess it's some anime thing. I don't really know. Without knowing more, I think it's tricky - there's a few directions the world-building part of this mechanic can go, and it could be seen as homage or rip-off or boring, and that's something that would be discovered only in a fuller game, if the world-building does get fleshed out.

Puzzle-wise, the intro puzzle did have me restart several times; it became obvious, eventually, that there was really only one right way to do the puzzle because of the time-limit imposed by the NPC's actions. That being said, given a little more lead, it's a good short intro to the mechanics, one that should happen after 'TYPE 'ABOUT' FOR SPECIAL COMMANDS IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME PLAYING.'

Other than that, some general stuff - the POV switch is not delineated and confused me when I got out of a car that wasn't the one I had just gotten into. The narrator at one point checks her GPS but I can't look at it.

So in the end I think I'd like to see more of it, but I'm wary that something like this might be plagued with the trickiness of balancing gameplay and puzzle mechanics with plot.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Parthenon is a z-code game by Charles Wickersham.

>ask cameron about greece
Cameron turns to you and says, 
Its great sweetie! Im so glad we finally 
got around to taking this trip!

and
hanckerchief


This is IntroComp, not no-spellcheck, no-beta Comp.
Very little that's described is given a description.
I don't even really want to finish playing the demo.
It was over quickly enough, but not before showing some bizarre theme changes. It brought to mind the following:
1. overhearing everyone's blared music, which is common living in the city in the summer, which means you get inane pop followed by pointless nu-metal, and

2. Something a friend of mine said recently about pretending to be someone you're not:
AW YEAH I'M SO DARK AND BROODING OH HEY DIDNT SEE YOU COME IN JUST SITTING HERE STROKING A RAVEN AND STUFF.

So no, not really looking forward to seeing more.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
I keep finding various names for authors for several the games: the voting page, the distro, the game itself. I'm really not sure anymore. You know what? If you're the author and you read this or any review, just comment on your entry and tell me what name you're going to use.

Comments are screened because I'm letting non-DW=members comment and that means I get spammers.

Gargoyle is a ChoiceScript game submitted to IntroComp 2011.

My first assessment is that the 'skills-building' part of CO games is tricky. I think it's more immersive if it's subtle.

The theme is a somewhat generic fantasy - why am I a gargoyle? I'm not feeling anything different - just a combination of a human magical student and a dragon. And dragons are pretty well-done in ChoiceScript right now.

Tone shifts, in part because I wanted to go in one direction and it was only partially implemented. As a result, the choices I made were not ones that made sense for the character at that time. I think in a fully-formed CO game, they then wouldn't appear. For example, extremely militaristic choices shouldn't appear if I've been pushing my character to be bookish.

In conclusion, I'm not really impressed by the implementation or the originality. Of the two games written by this author, I think Exile has more potential.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
The Despondency Index is a Z-code game by Ed Blair, entered into IntroComp 2011.

A walkthrough! Notes that beta testers existed!

A walkthrough I checked because, wow, really, over that quickly?

The game appears to be a detective-slash-(likely) magic or occult theme (Anchorhead-y?), set, at least in the beginning, in northern California, with a detective that may have screwed something up before the game began. The writing is solid and I already get a little sense of the protagonist.

I'd like to see more of this, I think. What's there so far is well done - so well done I was really surprised it finished so quickly. That being said, things that edge into horror territory need to be handled carefully, but they are a genre I like when done well.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Stalling for Time is a z-code game by Dominic Delabruere entered into IntroComp 2011.

I'm not entirely sure what genre this is, which is fine. You're a guy in his 20s - so far unnecessarily gendered, IMO, but that's sort of an 'advanced complaint' - going across the country to pick up your Uncle Ted from grad school. I tried restarting to see the grey-box intro text again, and Frotz isn't letting that happen for some reason, so I can't entirely say.

There's some of that sullen college philosophy in it, which, like horror and humor, needs to be handled carefully to avoid being trite or cliched. I do like how it starts with an action that I've already done; that's a nice way of dropping me in the middle. The kid's depressed, so he doesn't remember. Some people might think that's weak, but I suspect those people haven't ever really been depressed. So there's a point.

Conversation is handled OK, although I felt a bit rushed, as it let me choose one response before the NPC moved it along to the next set. This can be good or bad; it's better than making me go through all the options, which seems a bit popular in the ChoiceScript games, but in a first play-through in particular, I may want to try out a few questions, to get an idea of the scene or the potentials, without having to UNDO or restart.

I did hit an error when I attempted to 'talk to Kenji.' I also feel a bit awkward about Kenji - he bows, he 'humbly sits' - and so far I don't see him as a person. He's JAPANESE_GUY and we're going to use Japanese words. Why does Uncle Ted want us to give him a ride? How does he know him? Obviously, this could be expanded, but I feel a little wary right now. (I also felt awkward telling my uncle I wouldn't give him a ride in a second short play-through, but that's the kind of player I am.) I think the writing's generally good, so it's too bad the NPCs seem a bit flat.

Based on the inclusion of implemented texts discovered at one point, I am a little leery that this may turn out to be a religious game of self-discovery; I don't enjoy 'games' that I feel are pushing me to a particular agenda. However, I cannot make that judgement right now, given that this is an intro. Actually, I went back into the game to see if it let me swear, given that the term 'pisser' is used at one point. It does, so maybe the inclusion is just flavor - in which case, it's well done.

Do I want to see more? Sure, although I'm a little cautious.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
The Z-Machine Matter is a Glulx game by Zack Urlocker submitted to IntroComp 2011.

I think it's the largest game submitted, as well; it certainly feels large, and I put off playing it because of its perceived size.

There are a few interesting errors:
"This whole thing reminds me of 
a case I worked in LA back in '38, 
before the war...."

>ask duffy about 38
"Mr Dollar, what do you make 
of that?  It's German, am I right?"


I understand now that a gun appearing significantly later is 'the' .38, but it threw me. I know, keep to the highlighted terms, right? But the game is so full that while the highlighted terms may be important, a lot of things have at least some description. There are also some occasions concerning people with the same last name - I hadn't heard of one yet, but I suppose if I'm in character, I would have possibly known about them.

These are big game problems. The writing is good. The homages are pervasive - maybe a bit too much, I thought at first, but this feeling dissipated in the depth of the story so far.

Do I want to see more? This is huge! But absolutely, I want to see this out.

When I finished playing, I read through the transcript and discovered that one character's attitude may change towards the protagonist based on initial interactions. Perhaps not much, but the way he talks to you may signal internal mechanisms that maybe affect later behavior. If so, this is great. If not, even the surface changes are a sign of really well-thought-out and comprehensive design.

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