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Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion ’12 Games! (Part Two)
Oct 24th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

The Lift by Colin Capurso

More so than any other type of game, weapon pedantry is really annoying in CYOA (“OH NOES YOU CHOSE THE KNIFE WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE CHOSEN THE CROWBAR!”). Starting off with that kind of situation was an instant fail in my book. The only nice thing I can say about this piece is that the premise recalled the Outer Limits episode “The Elevator” for me.


The Test is Now READY by Jim Warrenfeltz
(I played the first version)

Starting your game off with someone shouting “run, you magnificent bastard!” is pretty funny.

That said, I hate games that explore morality (I saw another review call it ethics and maybe that is the better term). How I play games doesn’t have enough of a correlation to how I view the world to have any kind of meaning, so you’re really only signing up to hear what the author has to say about it. Even if the author’s point is about the ambiguity of it all, again, it’s a meaningless exercise that bugs me enough that I intentionally avoid it.

Oh, yeah, I had something to say about the intro, too. I think I would have preferred the fake-prompt method to keep the intensity up, where each keypress equals one letter in the prompt, although the full-command it does here will definitely be useful if somebody plays the game on something like the ifMUD’s Floyd bot. Also, the pedant in me doesn’t like the fact that the introduction uses a command that I can’t use (“LOOK BACK”).

Response-wise, the game could use some work:

Frank says, “God, Harry, I thought we were dead for sure – I mean… well, metaphorically dead, you know, not like… well, the walking dead.”

>talk to frank
That’s not a verb I recognise.

>ask frank about dead
There is no reply.

>

Between the lack of implementation and discovering that it was a morality game, I closed the book on this one after finishing the first section.


howling dogs by Porpentine

All of the slow, looping prose felt like the CYOA-equivalent of unnecessary-IF-pauses. While being far from deducing What’s Going On, I enjoyed the ideas of martyrdom/saintdom and its relation to the persecution of women and how it is injected into a futuristic setting, but the pace was far too plodding for me and I eventually threw in the towel before completion.


Kicker by Pippin Barr

By the end of a playthrough of Kicker, it’s clear that it isn’t really much of a game (nor is it trying to be). In it, you play a football (or “American football”, for non-US people) kicker. The entire game seems to be based on random outcomes. Even when it is time to kick the ball, your success seems to have no correlation to how many times you’ve >PRACTICEd, >STRETCHed, or >EXERCISEd (I couldn’t think of any other commands to improve my chances).

While not a small amount of work to code, I imagine, I can’t say Kicker is really “IF comp material” nor is it really enjoyable. It seems to me like it’d have been better done as a Textfire game or something, where it would have had the good graces to end after one quarter. Oddly enough, the Textfire games were released in the 90s, which is also the last time I really laughed at a kicker joke.


Valkyrie by Emily Forand

According to the blurb on the IF comp site, this game is a collaborative effort among community college students. I don’t think this is a successful game as it is, but I don’t want to be harsh. Technically, there are misspellings and ill-constructed sentences. After reaching a dead-end (yes, it’s a CYOA), the ‘go back to the start’ link didn’t even work.

I don’t think the tone of the writing works well as text, but I found myself imagining that it could work in some sort of audio-based CYOA system (isn’t that a thing? I thought there was a thing) where they read the passages aloud. That might force some urgency.


STAY TUNED FOR PART THREE!

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Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion ’12 Games! (Part One)
Oct 21st, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

Transit by Shaye

Transit is a game from the perspective of someone separated from a friend at a foreign airport, with no means of communication. Looking over the prose again as I write this review, I see humor where I missed it before. For me, I think the humorous/surreal/exciting elements really need to be turned up some notches; it was really a struggle to care about the story when I initially played. It was only the small size of the game and a feeling that the author wasn’t ill-intentioned that kept me playing.

That said, I am biased against CYOA, and since I didn’t feel this piece elevated the form, I gave it a pretty low rating.


Shuffling Around by Ned Yompus
(I played the first release)

It seems that there are a fair amount of IF players who enjoy these wordplay games. I, for one, don’t since these games always seem to have a fair amount of puzzles that are stupidly arbitrary, allowing one word but not allowing another reasonable word. This game seems to try to avoid frustration by empowering the PC with a hint gadget, which I thought was interesting.

Still, I thought a game about anagrams that only accepts one word commands kind of keeps the limitation of the implementation on the brain. Also, the sad fact is, I couldn’t even finish the tutorial area when I couldn’t find some guard, but I was kind of happy to be given an excuse to quit.


Signos by M4u
(I played the first release)

This was an interesting game. I mean, the first time I played, within a handful of moves, I had gotten myself stuck in some dark room where I (seemingly?) couldn’t do anything. I thought that was enough to determine a score, but I figured I’d play around a bit more just the same. I have to say that I’m intrigued by the philosophy angle the other rooms I explored had, even if I didn’t accomplish anything meaningful in any of them.

It was kind of odd that the game provided options to GET characters. I imagine Quest has the capabilities to specify what kind of default commands are allowed with objects and characters and that the author just hasn’t learned how to do this yet. That’ll be a big improvement when it’s fixed.

I also thought the background music contributed positively to the mood of the game. While not successful in the making-making-me-want-to-play-it-to-completion category, I thought the tone was nicely not off-putting, so even though the game’s flaws really weigh it down, I also feel oddly endeared to it.


Changes by David Given

Changes starts off with a disturbing gory scene, and a pause. After the keypress, there’s enough of a scene change to make the pause’s existence justifiable. A couple of turns in is where the true moment of horror is, though, as I read the prose and thought, dear god have I woken up as a furry??

Fortunately, Changes doesn’t go as far down that path as one would worry it might. Overall, it’s one of the better comp12 games I’ve played so far. There are enough rooms to require mapping for somebody like me but not so many that I felt weighed down. The efficiency-lover in me wonders if it could be trimmed further, though. There’s also a certain daemon that is really tiresome if you trigger it before the plot calls for it.

The game is strongest in the “game proper”; the sci-fi backstory stuff is interesting but the prose is not really engaging yet. Maybe that could be improved.

Overall, the puzzles are intuitive enough, but the execution of some could be improved (like the [rot13]qvirefvba bs gur qrre ureq[/rot13]). The only real stinker is the last puzzle (ohvyqvat n gevcbq bhg bs fgvpxf) which was so bad that it docked the final score several points. I think Changes could be a fully-successful game with some polishing. Hopefully, it gets there.


Lunar Base 1 by Michael Phipps

First off, I was a betatester for this game so I will not be rating it.

The other year, I wrote a review of his previous game, Hallow Eve. You can find it here.

Some may call his new game disappointingly railroaded, but I think that compared to his earlier game, it is nice to see the ideas within more easily accessible.

The game is odd within its own right. Things like, why are astronauts taking the time to reminisce about childhood? In a game like this, the point is not so much about realism as it is about telling an earnest story.

I imagine there are still some annoyances. I hope you can now look out that one window if the other astronaut is not in front of it. Some of the phrasings and punctuation didn’t sit right with me when I played it, but I never got around to compiling my issues for the author since in a way, those things are not the point of this kind of game. It tells its story well enough and is a fun little romp and succeeds in being more engaging than your average game.


STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO!

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Endless, Nameless Review by Roody Yogurt
May 5th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

Endless, Nameless by NamelessAdventurer (Adam Cadre)

Official Web Page
IFDB Link

This write-up doesn’t aim to be a proper review. The first bit is just some hints for people who have already begun the game but are a bit stuck. The second has some thoughts about the game but doesn’t try to cover it exhaustively. I’d only recommend the second block to someone who has played most- if not all- of the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

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JET LAMP Q&A Audio, Thornton, CO
Feb 21st, 2012 by Ice Cream Jonsey

A couple years ago, Jason Scott flew around the US to promote his movie, GET LAMP. Paul O’Brian and I rented out a Cinebarre theater in Thornton, CO. (We actually arranged two showings – one was at the Nonesuch Theater in Fort Collins, Colorado, where I believe there were six people in attendance.)

The show in Thornton had something between 20 and 30 people, including some I already didn’t know! (That was my own criteria for success: people I didn’t already know showing up.)

Mike Maginnis, at 6502lane.net was at the show in Thornton! Even better, he recorded the Q&A that evening. This wasn’t linked on Planet-IF, so let me do that with this post.

Check out JET LAMP – The Lost Audio Files here. Thanks for recording this, Mike!

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The Games Are Here! Announcing The 2012 HugoComp
Jan 4th, 2012 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Welcome! The games are released! Here is everything you need to know for getting the 2012 Hugo MiniComp games.

UPDATE! What the %!$# is this but more games? See below for the two other additions!

Hugo is a language you can use to make text adventures. Hugo games work on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. You just need to get the right interpreter. We are recommending the interpreter Hugor to play Hugo games. If you don’t have a Hugo interpreter, just click that link to download one for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X!

Here are the games for the Hugo MiniComp. Click each title to download the games individually.

Party Arty, Man of La Munchies by Jonathan Blask
World Builder by Paul Lee
The Hugo Clock by Jason McWright
Spinning by Rob O’Hara
Tales of a Clockwork Boy by Marius Müller
Retro-Nemesis by Robb Sherwin

And a game called Teleporter Test by Paul Robinson that introduces teleportation to Hugo players everywhere! Screw you, Cardinal Directions!

Perhaps you are on Windows and would like the Hugor interpreter and all the games packaged together? Download this.

If you’d like to make your own games in Hugo, there is a forum on Jolt Country where Hugonauts will be happy to answer questions and provide help. There is also a wiki called Hugo by Example that has lots of examples of Hugo code.

If you enjoyed these Hugo games and would like to play more, the Interactive Fiction Database is a great place to look. Click here for all listed Hugo games.

Thanks for playing the games!

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The Hugo MiniComp
Dec 22nd, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Welcome to the upcoming Hugo MiniComp! What is Hugo? Hugo is a language by Kent Tessman for creating text-based video games.

Roody Yogurt had this to say in the original announcement of the comp:

2011 saw the Hugo release of Robb Sherwin’s Cryptozookeeper, one of the largest multimedia-enhanced IF games ever. That alone makes it a good year for Hugo, as we Hugo users are few. A handful of us thought we’d end the year on a good note and challenge ourselves to a SpeedIF. Schedule-fitting and unexpected interest from some non-Hugo-savvy authors have turned that idea into an altogether different thing, though.

Now, we christen that thing, “The Hugo ‘Open House’ Competition.” The rules:

- Games can be any size and can even be a work already in progress.
- Games are due the morning of December 31st. The entrant is then free to (and somewhat expected to) celebrate the transition into the new year heartily.
- Waiting until the last week (or day) even and writing a classic-SpeedIF-sized game is viable (we made the coding-time intentionally vague so newcomers can as much time as they want acquainting themselves).
- Links to games can either be posted here or at the joltcountry forum. If you don’t have any place to upload your game, e-mail your entry to roodyyogurt at gmail.

Games will not be ranked. There will not be prizes other than acceptance into a small yet tightknit group of IF enthusiasts.

People new to Hugo may want to look at Hugo by Example’s “Getting Started” page.

Questions about Hugo coding can, of course, be answered on this forum in the “Other Development Systems” base or at the Hugo base at joltcountry.com.

Good luck!

I know one game is finished and I am going to try to finish mine tomorrow. We’re going to have the games available by December 31st. Won’t you join us?

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This Post Does Nothing But Get You An Icon File.
Aug 2nd, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Jon Blask, who was wonderful playing the part of Grimloft in Cryptozookeeper, very nicely provided me with an icon file for the game. You can download it here, (please right-click and download) and then use your favorite Internet Search Engine to figure out how to make it appear as an icon to Crypto instead of whatever the default icon is. I will now tell a story.

There are things that are recognized on the Internet as being cryptids of note, and there’s trash like the hand spider. I can say with complete confidence that I wasn’t aware of any particular example of them when I decided to put one in my game. I just… I knew there was gonna be human DNA, and I knew there was gonna be spider DNA. When you combine the two, you really get a licensed Marvel Comics character with more than 40 years of backstory, storylines and history, all of which they tossed in the shitter to make the execrable third film. I felt that putting such a character in my game might be a bit “off-limits” in the current entertainment climate. Thus a hand spider. I see now that there are a few other examples through Google Image Search of people riffing on the same idea.

I think the biggest fake creature involving spiders that people can just use without getting their ass in a sling of litigation is that of the camel spider. The camel spider is supposed to be inspired by a real thing, Solifugae, and the Solifugae has a website — http://www.solpugid.com/. You’ll note that the opening page says Welcome to our website. This is because spiders of all forms are sentient, evil little pits that should never be trusted. Even if their websites look like they are either from the late 1990s or a typical state-of-the-art FM radio station.

The thing is, you don’t need much source material to fake a spider story. They all look like they’ve just arrived fresh from galactic slaving schooners, so they don’t become any more terrifying if you introduce the “giant” spider or whatever. You can’t multiply great evil by great evil and get something useful, which is why Lewis Carroll was such a poor suspect for Jack the Ripper.

I have an update coming soon about a limited-edition hard copy pack. It’s not limited edition because I am trying to play games with people, it’s limited edition because I am afraid I’ll lose my ass, financially, and I want to minimize the damage. More on that by the end of the week.

OK, I guess this post did something else than get you an icon file, but the ico file is the real star here, and I think you will agree. Here’s the link to Cryptozookeeper, hosted on archive.org if you’d like the entire game.

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Cryptozookeeper at the OVGE
Jun 21st, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I had a chance to demo Cryptozookeeper at the Oklahoma Video Game Expo over the weekend. It was really inspiring to see person after person, and kid after kid walk up to the six computers Rob O’Hara, Jeff Martin and Brian Green had going. A Commodore 64 playing Scott Adams’s Hulk game next to an Apple II with Oo-Topos and so forth. Outstanding.

I wrote a blog post detailing my full experience with the expo, with photos over here on Caltrops.

Rob O’Hara did the same here on his site.

Rob and I got our games (he released HANGAR 22 for the show) into a lot of people’s hands, and I look forward to the show taking place in 2012! (NOTE, I shall include a link to where you can get/play HANGAR 22 as quickly as possible.)

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[New Game] Cryptozookeeper
May 27th, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Cryptozookeeper is finished. Download it through the Internet Archive here.

All of the other info I have on the game is at http://www.cryptozookeeper.com, which actually re-directs back to this blog.

It’s been a long time in the making, and there’s a host of people I’d like to thank, but I did so in the actual game. That being said, Kent Tessman, who wrote the programming language Hugo that I developed in, just released a piece of screenwriting software called Fade In Pro, and I would be remiss if I didn’t make things weird and uncomfortable for everyone involved by telling him how much I like all his software.

All right, I’m going to find the city’s biggest strip steak and put it where it belongs.

– Robb

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Haunted Houses, Haunted Dreams
May 27th, 2011 by Ice Cream Jonsey

The setting I usually write is most easily described as the near future. In 1999, when I wrote Chicks Dig Jerks, I set it in 2014 – a decade and a half away. Cryptozookeeper is set in 2015, which is just four. I’d love to be able to pick a real-world location in the current date and speak to it with passion, color and intelligence, but I am bad with directions and wholly ignorant of local history. There’s a statue of a blue Bronco with bright red eyes before the Denver International Airport. They make beer in Golden. When it comes to my ability to spin yarns about the state in which I live, I think we’re caught up!

So I am quite fortunate to know a guy who makes an almost completely new haunted house each year.

In case you’ve no idea what a ‘haunted house,’ as a business is, let me explain – starting toward the end of September, and all through October, there are a number of small business owners that are in the business … of horror! They find a piece of property. They obtain some volunteers. They modify the buildings and land on this property to be spooky. Perhaps they have a particularly terrifying theme, like “The Land of the Dead” or “The Corpse Locker” or “Trapped On A Bus With The Writing of Bethlehem Shoals.” When the haunted house (and “house” is really a generic term here) is ready, they charge customers a bunch of money to walk through. What you get for your money is employees jumping out of the shadows and yelling, “agggh!”, sure, but on some of the better ones I’ll admit I’ve been a bit taken with the scenery, the crisp autumn weather and the palpatable passion on display. There’s a sick creativity among the individuals in the medium that’s very alluring.

My pal Randy, as mentioned in the previous entry, has put together a haunted house near Denver for each of the last four years.

He has also generously allowed me to tour and take photos at night, before his business went “live.” This is gold to me, for the games I make. I place a graphics window in my games to show the player where they are, so having these unique locations as a backdrop is just awesome. Touring real cities and photographing them for a game is a colossal pain because people leave their cars parked on the side of the street. I’d rather code a wet trough of Dutch adverbs than a bunch of automobiles, especially cars uninvolved in the plot. (Plus, the “missions” in any given Grand Theft Auto game might be designed by feebleminded bores, but they dominate everything regarding breaking into cars in a computer game conceptually. Let’s allow them to own this and think more of them for it; they do good work there.) Fake towns created to see the effects of nuclear weapons during the Cold War seem a little creepy. Wandering around some of the villages Randy has made is the closest I’ve experienced to that.

In this way, our crazy nature benefits each other. Because he has to tear down his haunt each year, it’s almost as if there’s a bit of performance art to them that slips into the ether come November — when the season is over and the walls, props, mannequins and fake pig organs have been packed away, his art is gone forever. (Especially since he has too much buzzing about in his brain to simply replicate what he’s already done.) His constructs live on in the games I make, and my work wouldn’t look half as interesting if the scenery was mostly made up of bad daylight shots of sunny Fort Collins and bums sleeping on parked Civics and Escorts.

I’ll include a few pictures I took of Randy’s haunts over the years after a MORE jump. I don’t want to spoil anyone’s breakfast who might be reading this at Planet IF. (I am assuming stuff only shows up to the WordPress MORE prompt on Planet IF. Otherwise, I probably owe you a breakfast.)

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