cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
IntroComp was started in 2002 - a full history can be found here at the IFWiki. It is for started games, and I think it's kind of nifty that the winner is not a 100% winner until her or his game is finished within a year.

Only thirteen games and I'm in a bit of summer semester lull, where I'm working reasonable hours...sounds like I'll try to do some reviews! It's my first time reviewing games outside the big IFComp but this little netbook doesn't handle much more gaming...nor does it need to.

I just downloaded the packet and I checked Em Short's blog, but I haven't done anything else yet. I note that there are some ChoiceScript games, which I'm not opposed to, but I have to say, I find they have a different feel than more traditional IF games. I rather like some of the ones I've played - I've disliked some as well - but they feel different to me. I'll mark them as Choice of... in the header of each.

On with the games!

NOTES:
First: I have not beta tested any of the games in IntroComp 2011.

Second: I am politely recusing myself from writing a review for 'Seasons'.

I've randomized the game list and come up with the following sequence:
X - Chunky Blues
X - Speculative Fiction
X - Z-Machine Matter (delayed due to size)
X - Petal Throne (CO)
X - Exile (CO)
X - Of Pots of Mushrooms (CO)
X - Zombies (CO)
X - Bender
X - Parthenon
X - Gargoyle (CO)
X - Stalling for Time
X - Despondency Index
All reviews will be tagged with introcomp2011 tags, like this entry is.
X - played and review up.
o - played and review pending.
__ - not played yet.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
What is this? Two reviews in one night? Blame my schedule. I blame it for everything, including, long story short, the two pounds of pasta with alfredo sauce in the fridge.

Below the cut: A review of The Blind House, by Maude Overton. Plot definitely discussed.
Read more... )
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Okay, so I'm a little behind. I've spent a few weeks working in a new place where people are less 'sick', per se, and more 'out of blood'. It's a lot more interesting, and it doesn't smell as bad.

Fine, let's get to the review of The People's Glorious Revolutionary Text Adventure Game, by Taylor Vaughn. One puzzler spoiled (re things relating to a book.)
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cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
The 12:54 to Asgard, by J Robinson Wheeler.

Today's Digression is on Trains:
There was, and there was not, and only secret government files know, but once there was a girl who took the train to work. One day, she got to the train, and two of the train cars had been gutted entirely; one was taken up by a strange magical box, and the other had nine soulless guards standing at pedestals. Then, given that the guards had removed many of the seats, the citizens crammed onto two cars where there used to be four, and arrived at work disgruntled.

And the men and women who took the 7:45 train starting taking other trains, because they were only implementing this on one set of cars, in hopes of implementing it on others, because apparently finding out if someone has a bomb while they're already on a train is logical in the Kingdom's infinite celestial wisdom. One day, the magic box, which detected sandwiches, and the guards, who didn't do much of anything, disappeared, like nothing had ever happened. The End.

Game down below: Read more... )
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
One Eye Open, by Colin Sandel and Carolyn VanEseltine

Above the Fold - I will admit, I did skim a few of the other reviews before writing mine for this, because I wanted to verify something non-spoilery: that this game is really huge and I'm nowhere near an ending at the two hour mark. After reading reviews, especially Em Short's, I can feel assured that yes, yes it is. I was starting to get to the point where I was beginning to believe it was me - that I was becoming the slowest player in the world. But no, I think the 'randomize games' button gave me a few of the longer ones at onset.

Also, I'm writing this while on the bus. More below:

Read more... )
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Game: Under, in Erebus, by Brian Rapp

This is the time of year I wish the comp wasn't in October. October is a busy month for me, and it's my first year back in school - in an accelerated program, at that - so I'm burning out a bit. I feel determined, though, and I'm on a roll. This next one isn't a long review, so no more preamble.

NB: Puzzle discussion unavoidable.
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cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Today's Game: The Bible Retold: Following a Star, by Justin Morgan.

Today's Diversion: Job's Syndrome. Job's Syndrome is the catchier name for hyperimmunoglobulin E (hyper IgE) syndrome. I mention this mostly because 1. I, your friendly but occasionally cranky neighborhood atheist, once had to explain the name to the doctor I was working with who was treating someone for it and 2. we started the immunology section of my pathophysiology class today. It's called that because it generally presents with recurrent skin infections, like the boils of the Old Testament story. Per the original Lancet article, they also named it that because their initial patients looked, and I quote, 'pitiful.'

Bonus warning: Sweary!
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cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Today's review, a bit delayed, is for Rogue of the Multiverse, by C.E.J. Pacian.

Today's digression has nothing to do with the game itself, but an observation I'm going to make instead: I haven't read one other review of any games yet. It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I don't like to read them before I've played them, of course, and I've been playing in drips and drabs. Today's game I finished two days ago, but I had a clinical shift over the weekend and a test this morning and....well, that's why I'm in the library now sounding productive, with all this typing, and actually writing up my review now. Starting Halloween weekend I get my weekend back at the expense of part of my week, so we'll see if that becomes more or less productive for the last 2-3 weeks that judging is still open.

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cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Aotearoa, by Mark Wigdahl.

Preliminary Anecdote: I take a shuttle bus to school, and I used to take the same one to work. About two years ago, it was really, terribly rainy. I was in a foul mood because I hated my job and it was raining and I couldn't get my phone to tell me when the next shuttle was going to show up. A guy offered me his umbrella and I said, "No, thank you," in that sarcastic-petulant teenager way, which was pathetic from a woman in her mid-20s. So the next day I apologized to British-Looking-Guy-with-Umbrella. And that's how David and I became bus friends.

David looked really British, but it turned out he was from New Zealand. He said he couldn't speak any Maori, and I have learned that I can't get used to typing it.

Read more... )
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Of note, I did do a randomly generated list and so there won't be any order to these. I'm also going to try to be less quantitative and more qualitative in the written reviews this year. Near the end of both years last year I looked at my spreadsheet of scores and kept considering how much relativistic merit I wanted to use to twitch the scores - it's hard to say if, given a year's worth of games, any particular one tends to be more of a 5 or a 6. I acknowledge the possibilities of no 10s or 1s, and I'm not going to curve, per se, but in the intermediate games, I think reflection does help score it. Memorability is something to be assessed at least a few days later.

Okay, enough cut-tag fodder.

NB: I will definitely give away plot, but I will try not to give away puzzles. I'll say if I have to.

Read more... )
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Re: reviews vs my schedule
Let's put it this way: my confidence is beyond shaken; perhaps 'made into meringues' is more correct. We'll see what happens.

ETA on Tuesday morning: Oho, it looks like Em Short's linked to me. So I'm going to make a promise to do 13 games, or half of the competition. That way, if I reach the goal, I feel all right, and if I surpass it I feel better.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Last Year's Scoring Schema turned out to be too complicated. I'll see if I can work out a new one. I was proud of myself for almost finishing all the games in 2008, kind of embarrassed about 2009, and this year?

This year I'm back in school full time. More than full time. In fact, I'm supposed to be up at 0530 tomorrow and it's 0030 now. I got about four hours last night. So I honestly do not know if I'll be able to pull this off BUT I am willing to try to schedule 2 hours to do this, five days a week. If I could figure out how to do this and jog at the same time, that would be a real accomplishment.

25 games this year = 50 max hours. It won't be 50 - some game will be 10 minutes, I'm certain of it; there's always a large proportion that are only around one hour. Perhaps I'll keep track of duration this year. (I still hold that FOR COMP, a two hour game is the max enjoyable one, especially this year for myself.)

Let's think about the schema for a moment.
1. Workability/technical acceptability is still something to be considered. 0, 1, 2 is all it should be: doesn't work, sort-of works, and works fine. That's all. .exes are going to get 1, because I just don't see the point.
2. That Writing scale should be simplified. An 11 point scale? What the hell was I thinking?
3. Special Issues in IF is something that should be considered - but on an individual basis. It's rare enough. Decoupling it from the writing means it could be conceptual or using the media differently. In a new schema, I'll put this below the writing/puzzles, being the meat/potato of IF; this is 'in addition' more than a required part.
4. Puzzles, again, should be considered separately. It's still not enough to win on puzzles alone.
5. Individual game adjustment points. This is where my opinion counts, although not for more than a point or two either way.

Last year I did this gigantic mathy spreadsheet thing, and then I realized I had to add one to almost all the games to get the scores to 'fit' better. Tomorrow I have a 12 hour shift. Tomorrow is not going to be day 1. Maybe tomorrow night I'll manage a schema and set up the spreadsheet. So I'm thinking first review hopefully Sunday morning.
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Craft Day.

three lobed gods eye


Story going to be late tonight. Lost a day yesterday due to some after work stuff. It was planned, but not really planned around, and the upshot was that I felt a bit off until about an hour ago.
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Necronomicon - Parody and Prop.

The Necronomicon is a perfect example of how a few details can lead to an extremely useful plot device. The few details are that we know who wrote it and when (A. Alhazred, 8th c CE), and some history of the physical book. It is precisely because so few of the details are described that later authors, as well as contemporary ones, could ascribe almost anything to the text. It does have the potential to act as a deus ex machina by containing anything that would be useful to the plot, and its lack of specificity, as well as its suggestive and pronouncable name, compared to other fictional tomes his writing circle created, has arguably led to its becoming anemic. Everyone seems to be able to get their hands on a translation, both in stories, and, thanks to various occult publishers, in real life. The horror and Otherness is diminished by access.
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(NB: there is no Day 8.)

Original post: Othering and Other Artists.


The source post demonstrates with music, which, given yesterday's discussion of sound and Lovecraft, is fine to continue with. Not to be flippant, but there's a resonant line in an episode of 'The Venture Brothers': " No, no, no, you're not ready to step into The Court of the Crimson King. At this stage in your training an album like that could turn you into an evil scientist."

You know how some people in their late 20s-mid-30s were raised by parents who listened to the Beatles? Mine listened to Yes, and Cream, and Blue Öyster Cult and, yes, King Crimson. I can't hum more than a few bars of 'Hey Jude' but Aqualung comes on Rock Band and I don't need to look at the screen. The combination of willingness to deviate from the standard format of what consists of a song, as well as what was appropriate to sing about at the time - be it fantasy epics, space, or the unsavory parts of real life - made it transgressive and the form it took was often ethereal.

Other types of artists which I suggest fall into this same experimental mold include Fluxus musicians such as Nurse With Wound and Fantomas, in particular 'Delirium Cordia'; over an hour long, starting with the sounds of medical equipment.
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I read 'The Festival' at lunch, as the compilation I grabbed this morning was missing 'Nyarlathotep.' Both stories mention sound. (A quick survey of 'At the Mountains of Madness' failed to reveal many references.) There appear to be two types of sound in Lovecraft's writing - sounds that portent madness or the great foreign Otherness, and a lack of sound that illustrates solitude.

The solitary scenes are emphasized by their lack of sound, and nearly always, 'deserted streets', or the lack of lights in windows. These serve to show isolation of the body. Sound then pierces the still air, which is effective in modern films and only slightly less so when the atmosphere has been built up to be quiet and alone. As most reading is also done in quiet places, this can be compounded within those persons who have the ability to have a strong focus on his or her task. (Strong focus, incidentally, is correlated with the ease by which a person may be hypnotized.) The sound is rarely the sound of crowds or of another human person breaking the spell of quiet, or solitude. The sound serves to transport the narrator over the lintel of silence into the Other, as it is an unidentifiable, horrible sound.

Flippant remark: I think Lovecraft would hate my favorite falafel place.
cobaltnine: cobaltnine name and retro-looking shapes (Default)
"Using your chosen film as a starting point, discuss Lovecraft’s influence on Carpenter’s
oeuvre in 300 words or less."

Well, given that whatever I watch for this assignment is going to be the extent of my John Carpenter film viewing. I haven't seen Halloween, and we did own a copy of Christine for a while, but I haven't seen it recently.

I do own several more-independent Lovecraft films, including the first compilation from the Film Festival. Lovecraft's work is appealing to film-makers with its potential, but translates poorly. Short films, such as Bryan Moore's 'Cool Air', seem to work better than stretching out and/or padding the short story to feature length. 'Nyarlathotep,' on the same disc, doesn't try to follow a character, but slides deeper into the artistic side of filmmaking - fitting for a story that is a few steps above a fever dream.

After several technical problems, I did get 'Cigarette Burns', the shorter film by Carpenter, to load. Madness transmissible by a film - an unspeakable film, that corrupts all who touch it, which compels victims to it - these are Lovecraftian echos. The unseen adds to tension; the gore takes away. The religious themes (definitely shades of 'The Ninth Gate' or 'The Club Dumas') and the Electra themes don't quite work in a film this short, and I feel like the conclusion seems a bit incongruous. I'm bothered by the amount of blood - not by the blood itself, and I feel that the scene with the French 'filmmaker' does work, because he is not just committing one act, but has been compelled by the film's madness over a longer period of time and is working to further its viral transmission. The scenes near the end, including the part with the projector, are self-limiting.
cobaltnine: cobaltnine name and retro-looking shapes (Default)
I haven't done Day 2 yet, since I've been cleaning my apartment, and right now I'm out of state at a friend's house. This is a trip - to Massachusetts, actually, which is fitting for a Lovecraft project - that I make every six months. I also rarely drive my car, so each of these trips is preceded by an oil change.

An older man asked me if I was making a sweater. I wasn't very far along, so that's understandable. I told him a lie. I did not admit I was making a creepy, woolen tentacle.

Knit Tentacle
cobaltnine: cobaltnine name and retro-looking shapes (Default)
VNS: The Cute Cthulhu Debate.

I tried to only be a day late with this, but between a three hour drive, half of that on the accursed Mass Pike, followed by a late-night viewing of 1966's Incubus, starring a pre-Star Trek Wm Shatner and a bunch of people speaking a language non-fluently, my brain rebelled at doing such prosaic things as typing coherently.

I'm guilty of indulging in 'The Cult of Cute Cthulhu,' although with irregularities borne out of my discomfort with it. My reflexive complaint is that it's lazy. Making something that is supposed to be an unspeakable horror easy to access is offensive to me in the same way that, to use an out-dated analogy, AOL was offensive in the age of dial-up. It let people engage without any pretense of understanding either the underlying [infra]structure or cultural background that made it possible. Goetia for Dummies. Do-it-yourself suture removal. Flow-bees.

In contrast, when I was in college, I found out my senior year that one of the first-year writing classes was using the new-at-the-time Penguin Classics collection of Lovecraft's stories. That was a much better introduction, I hoped, than the failed Campus Crusade I'd started, the one that involved reading modern mythos fiction on picnics and a failed attempt at atmospheric roleplaying. Modern mythos fiction often skirts a line between capturing the intent of Lovecraft's world (the Otherness) and appropriating images, characters, or worlds, and placing them in modern, or at least different, settings.
cobaltnine: cobaltnine name and retro-looking shapes (Default)
VNS Day 2
300 words or less on the connection between Lovecraft’s personal biases and the Otherness of his mythos.

To continue the ideas laid out previously, I propose that the two sides in many of Lovecraft’s stories consist of what is perceived to be quantitative, clinical and scientific human perspective in opposition to an insular, secretive, cryptic ‘other.’ This other can take the form of the limitless void; the depths of space, or the abyssal depths; it can also be sensed, by someone of Lovecraft’s time and inclinations, to be present in the ethnic enclaves of cities, of insular small towns such as in ‘The Rats in the Walls,’ or, to take it to an extreme, in non-Anglo cultures of any type.

It could also be argued that the perception - especially by someone in an anxious state - that oneself can be understood but cannot understand, due to language barriers or other cultural states that foster an ‘other’ identiy for the purposes of cultural cohesion - can create a sort of paranoia. Knowing in part consists of being able to quantify; anything innumerable or being perceived to be so - the rats, in this story, but consider anti-immigrant statements that speculate on either women who never leave the house or the number of people sharing housing. Lack of cultural knowledge further creates barriers to knowing, or to community, creating an ‘other’ not out in space, but on the other side of town.
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