cobaltnine: Text reads "There are games here" and the cursor blinks. (interactive fiction)
IntroComp 2012 voting runs through Weds 15 Aug 2012.  "voting deadline [extended] until August 25th."

Let this post be seen as a 'intent to play through' placeholder.



6 Entries in 2012 

The Bafflingly Casual Adventures of No One of Significant Import, by Robb Kinnison (Quest)
Belief, by Justin de Vesine (.gblorb)
Compliance, by Christopher Conley  (.gblorb) 
GENESIS, by ML  (.gblorb) 
Resonance, by Nereida Scales (ChoiceScript*)
Wasteland, by Taylor Melton  (ChoiceScript*)

*ChoiceScript unpublished games, that is, games run from folders or drives, do not work in Chrome.
From the site...
Vote based on "How much do I want to play more of this entry?"
"...when voters vote, they'll be asked to not only vote with a rating reflecting how much they'd like to see the author finish the entry, they'll also be asked (but not required) to enter anonymous text with (at least) one positive thought and one constructive criticism on each game."

When I post reviews, this information will not go up.  Rather, in response to my ongoing attempt to simplify review ratings (versus giving readers all the categories I sift through to try to make consistent decisions) I will be trying a new, three tier system.  



cobaltnine: Text reads "There are games here" and the cursor blinks. (interactive fiction)
These are going to be quick reviews since all but one of the games was a quick play. That's not a value judgement - it's just that I feel a bit silly putting individual reviews in.

The first two were ≤ 5 and the second two > 5 in my votes.

Sleuth, by Scott Greig (Quest) )
The Egg and the Newbie, by Robert DeFord (Glulx) )
The Rocket Man from the Sea, by Janos Honkonen (Z-code) )
The White Bull, by Jim Aikin (TADS 3) )
cobaltnine: Text reads "There are games here" and the cursor blinks. (interactive fiction)
It's the end of term, but there's only four Spring Thing games!

The Egg and the Newbie, by Robert DeFord (Glulx)
The Rocket Man from the Sea, by Janos Honkonen (Z-code)
Sleuth, by Scott Greig (Quest)
The White Bull, by Jim Aikin (TADS 3)
cobaltnine: Text reads "There are games here" and the cursor blinks. (interactive fiction)
'Ted Paladin and the Case of the Abandoned House' is the sole Alan game in the comp, written by Anssi Räisänen.

Letter Grade: I (Incomplete/introcompy)

Details: )
cobaltnine: Text reads "There are games here" and the cursor blinks. (interactive fiction)
'Playing Games' is a Glulxe game written by Pam Comfite.

Letter Grade: I (Incomplete/introcompy)

Details: )
cobaltnine: Text reads "There are games here" and the cursor blinks. (interactive fiction)
38 games this year.
Played list links to reviews. Please assume all reviews contain some spoilers, but fear not! It turns out spoilers rarely detract from your enjoyment.

Played:
Playing Games
Ted Paladin And The Case Of The Abandoned House

Unviewed:
Vestiges
The Hours
Cursed
The Ship of Whimsy
Taco Fiction
Awake the Mighty Dread
Andromeda Awakening
Keepsake
The Life (and Deaths) of Doctor M
Emily Boegheim's "It"
PataNoir
Fog Convict
Tenth Plague
Cana According To Micah
Calm
Operation Extraction
Death of Schlig
Sentencing Mr Liddell
Escape From Santaland
Dead Hotel
The Binary
Beet the Devil
Return to Camelot
Fan Interference
The Myothian Falcon
Kerkerkruip
How Suzy Got Her Powers
The Guardian
Last Day of Summer
Cold Iron
Professor Frank
Luster
The Elfen Maiden
Blind
Six
The Play


Games excepted from play/voting:
none right now
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.
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
Choice of Zombies is a ChoiceScript game by Heather Albano.

I think the deciding factor in ChoiceScript games is that because many of them are so fast, especially given that these are just previews, if I replay because I want to, and I know it's only going to take me ten minutes, that's a good sign.

If I find out that the prose actually changes when I go from a character with one background ( = set of skills, which is better than 'What are your skills?') in this trailer of a full game? That's pretty awesome. The prose is, so far, among the best I've seen in an unofficial CS game.

Also, I dealt with the New England Snowpocalypse this winter, so I'm biased in favor of details like 'of course there is a shovel in your trunk.'

There was one instance of the code scrap '(tempsafelocation)' that came up, and one or two typos, but nothing to distract from play.

Final Assessment: I'd absolutely play this fully through when complete.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
'Of Pots and Mushrooms' is a ChoiceScript game by 'Devi and Maya'.

I'm going to be honest - this is big, there may be some shred of a plot underneath it, but it feels like walking into a big, crowded and cluttered dorm room.

It's happened to everyone who lived on campus, especially a large one. Someone has notes, or a lamp you're buying, or found the sweatshirt you left in the lecture hall, and you're very briefly in a dorm room that isn't familiar, and it's a goddamn mess. There's more there than needs to be and someone's in the corner laughing madly at Adventure Time or whatever the kids watch these days when they feel like being amateur herbalists and you just want to do what you have to and get out; you don't feel threatened, but goddamn it's annoying, especially that kid who has the most annoying laugh ever devised.

The game kind of feels like that to me. Especially the laughing. Oh, and the casual homophobia. That's really pointless.

Final Assessment: I'd probably not play this if it was completed.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Exile is a ChoiceScript game by Simon or Simski (depending on where I look this up.)

The setting is somewhat fantastic; it feels slightly familiar, but not enough for me to put my finger on it other than bits of this and that. That's fine. I actually love the abandoned desert setting; it's very surreal and modernist at the same time and I'm fans of that.

The characters are fine; I'm not really into the Lady of the Lake, but I like the feeling I'm getting from the others. I don't know quite how I'd personally tweak her character.

Unfortunately, this is not a 'Choice Of' game, or interactive fiction. I don't seem to be able to do anything to change what happens next, and I don't see evidence of the character building stage that I've come to expect in these games. If the story forked or I saw character building, I'd be happy, but I don't see evidence of either right now.

Final Assessment: I can't say either way whether I'd like to see this game completed. I'd really want to see evidence of interactivity. Right now it's a bit of a railroaded story-line - I can choose any option and it will keep presenting me with them until the right one, or the few that moves the story along - is chosen.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
'Choice of the Petal Throne' is a ChoiceScript game, written by Danielle Goudeau.
It is inspired by M.A.R. Barker's 'Tekumel' world, which I think makes it a little harder for me to give this an end-rating.

This is what I know: I can tell there's a rich world building behind here, but it's not written by the game's author. That's okay. You can have fan-created works that really work in the setting, are of the setting of a world, or you can have fan-created works that could be ported practically anywhere. The latter are much weaker. As I don't have any grounding in the Tekumel background, I'm taking it for granted that it feels pretty well ingrained without being too overwhelming for someone unfamiliar. (It does remind me of Richardo Pinto's series, which I happen to be rereading now, with a notable amount of non-Euro background to the mythology and world.)

I feel like there's a lot going on here, and what this part of the game played at was all the stuff that in completed ChoiceScript games is 'character building'. It helps define how well you'll do later on, what choices will be available, etc. I feel good about this, though. Maybe using someone else's setting means the author gets to focus more on action and doing stuff and not having to be bogged down with much world-creation.

Final assessment: Yes, I think I would like to play a full-sized game of this. In fact, I played through a few times to see what differences might appear already. Do I think it might be a ginormous game? Yes. No problem. I'm still waiting for some of the official 'Choice Of...' games to be complete, and I think they're fun romps.

Plus, I don't have to draw maps. Huzzah.
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
'Speculative Fiction', a z-code game by Diane Christoforo and Thomas Mack.
Read more... )
cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
Chunky Blues, subtitle: A Triumph of the Human Spirit, is a Glulxe game written by Scott Hammack and Jessamin Yu.
Review Inside... )
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)
I'm stuck. I'm really, really stuck. I've actually only had two ideas, ever, and now that I've discarded both I'm kind of meandering without concrete ideas.

The first was an injoke which would be relegated to the outside periphery of IF and required a lot of fiddly bits for one relatively important, recurring aspect of armor. To re-write it without the injoke kind of removed any particular tension and, bizarrely enough, turned it into a cooking game. Too close to one of the puzzles from Savior Faire, so I threw it out.

The second idea worked, it really did. But I have to put it, not even on the back burner, but all the way back into the freezer. It's huge. Last count there were over 30 locations, across a town, with three buildings that had at least three rooms, one of which had to have SEVEN for plausibility's sake. NPCs were going to be hellishly complicated or the town was going to be creepily deserted. It starts with a good puzzle and then...kind of fizzles out from motivation. Originally, I thought of a motivation (love) for my main character, which lead to a very good puzzle. Then I decided it was pretty contrived. The character doesn't actually want to fall in love and leave town.

Zonked out from the ridiculous heat, I was sprawled on a couch and said to a friend, "I don't know where to staaaaart." Okay, it was a bit whingey.

"Start inside a door," my friend says. Ha, ha. That was a bug/feature I encountered once in a Rybread Celsius game. I somehow managed to get stuck inside the property of the name of the door, or something like that. It was special.

"You know," he continues, "from the point of view of a termite, maybe."

"Nooo," I say. "I can't write 'A Day for Soft Wood.'"

People'll think that's AIF material anyhow.
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