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Roody Yogurt Reviews Interactive Fiction
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:02 pm    Post subject: Roody Yogurt Reviews Interactive Fiction Reply with quote

Originally, this was going to be a thread devoted to the IF Comp 11 games. I am making it more general since it's unlikely I'll cover more than a couple of games. I also am not going to post these on the RSS'd front page, as I don't intend to put in the effort of writing them well. In many cases, I'll probably jump straight into spoilerville and my comments will probably reflect more upon myself than the games I review! So there.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Comedy of Error Messages (previously called the Elfen Maiden), IF Comp 11

In this game, you are a personal computer. Specifically, you are the pc of some WoW-esque game-playing person. In the original version, that person is a straight male, and you are much quicker than he to realize that the person he has been chatting with and has set up a date with is a gay male. You take it upon yourself to save him some kind of embarrassment. In more recent versions, the player gets to dictate the characters's gender and sexual preference, and the game tries to find a suitably unsuitable love interest. The original premise did bug me. Some find the replacement set-up a bit too contrived, but for me, the wackiness worked in its favor as it establishes its own in-game logic instead of playing off of real-world phobias and prejudices.

This more recent version put me in a much better mood to enjoy the genuinely-funny writing.

That said, I couldn't get very far in this game without bashing my head against the game's design. Maybe other players don't have the same issues, but here are things that I'd change:

1) The game has sort of a TRON world-inside-of-a-computer mentality. As far as I can tell, after finding the chat logs (and being informed of the objective of the game), the first thing you have to do is leave the computer and go out into the internet. The room for doing this is at least a couple from the beginning location, and there are plenty of other (local) rooms to explore first.

I'm a big believer of the bottleneck puzzle design approach. Before letting the player get to the internet, make the player familiarize himself with the initial location. This way, the game doesn't feel so intimidating. I found myself, as a player, really wanting to solve a local problem before finding even more locations.

2) Every move in the computer equals one minute of real time. This makes for an annoyingly harsh time limit. I quit before running into it during my second play through so I don't know how harsh, but I know I ran into it during the first play through. That just doesn't gel with a game that's half about exploration.

Personally, I would change that. Instead of keeping track of the "real time," I would split up the time into stages determined by puzzle accomplishment. Alternatively, instead of 60 turns equaling an hour, make it 200. Lastly, one could only make time pass in rooms that have deal with the owner (like the webcam node where you can watch him sleep).

I didn't look at the walkthrough to see what lies ahead. Maybe the game calms down and gets away from its "the sky is falling" feel, but I'm left feeling that this is a potentially-good game bogged down by some bad decisions. Hopefullly, these IF Comp revisions aren't the last we see of it.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blind (IF Comp '11)

The premise of Blind is that you are a kidnapping victim. The twist is that the protagonist is blind (tagline- "Who says blindness is a handicap?"). Given IF's popularity among blind gamers, my first thought was, wow, I wonder if this author is blind? I expected a game that'd describe the world as a blind person would perceive it which definitely would be interesting to me.

Unfortunately, by the way things were described and the way the game treated blindness as a gimmick, it became clear that the author is sighted which made it much less interesting.

The game does some nicely creepy characterization of the abductor. There also seem to be alternate solutions to some puzzles and extra actions to be taken to uncover more pieces to the puzzle, but the level of implementation doesn't really convince the player to go back and find these things.

The author submitted two games to the competition this year. This was the better of the two. I wouldn't quite call it a success, but it touches on some interesting things.
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Tdarcos



Joined: 16 May 2008
Posts: 4441
Location: University Park, Maryland

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
Blind (IF Comp '11)

The premise of Blind is that you are a kidnapping victim. The twist is that the protagonist is blind (tagline- "Who says blindness is a handicap?"). Given IF's popularity among blind gamers, my first thought was, wow, I wonder if this author is blind? I expected a game that'd describe the world as a blind person would perceive it which definitely would be interesting to me.

Considering that we don't have the ability to program through voice commands, e.g., to write programs if you're not sighted, it is very hard without expensive software (or having a sighted assistant) to work on a program to run on a machine if you actually are blind. Or the guy would have to find someone who is blind and run the game through him and get his comments.

I mean, there are a lot of things I know only as a result of being in a wheelchair that I otherwise wouldn't realize. There are also things I know as a powered wheelchair user that I did not know during the two years I was using a manual wheelchair; for example, I could probably ride a manual across gravel without a problem; if I drive a power chair over gravel I'll get stuck. (I found this out the hard way. Once.)

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
Unfortunately, by the way things were described and the way the game treated blindness as a gimmick, it became clear that the author is sighted which made it much less interesting.

Again, considering that the amount of money available for developing a text adventure is essentially zero, someone is only going to do this because of their love of the genre. I mean, at least writing fiction has lots of paying outlets, writing interactive fiction has almost no paying outlets except perhaps for games written for cell phones and tablet computers, by purchasers interested in a text-type adventure, a very small market. Regular games have much larger markets and there is a much bigger range of targets for those apps.

So again, given this, to be able to actually develop in such a manner that the way the game operates shows descriptions in a way that a blind person would, would require that the author find a blind person and ask them if the descriptions were good or if they would use different descriptions, presuming the person was able to do so. And unless they are going to pony up money out of their own pocket to do so, they'd have to get this blind person to do so for free, too.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know at at least one game written by a blind person, and in fact, that game was written in ZIL.

Point is, despite anything you've said, it's doable, and it's especially doable now that there are English-based languages like Inform 7.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
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Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luster (IF Comp '11)

Quote:
"Well, I heard a rumor. Treasures are there, and not just any treasures."

He pauses dramtically before saying, "These treasures give you fame and glory."


I think most IF Comp reviews will quote this part of Luster as proof that the writing isn't very good. I, on the other hand, think it is an example of the author's intentional humor.

Despite its capitalized objects and oddities, there's enough good things going on here that part of me almost thinks that an established author is having a laugh at us- trying to make his or her own version of, say, a Phoenix-type treasure hunt. The few puzzles I solved really did have a nice sense of accomplishment to them. Also, there is an odd sort of narrative going on (the protagonist has a past that we find out more about throughout the game).

The thing is, if my established-author-conspiracy-theory is to be believed, the author also has a pretty low opinion of this genre of games, as it just isn't written well (in the typo sense). Despite the fact that that several of my attempts ended in unwinnable situations, I kept going back just to see if there was another puzzle that I had missed.

I didn't entirely give up until I came across a puzzle involving water, a goblet, and some colored dyes, as the parser seemed to hate everything I tried. I guess it's unlikely that the author is experienced, but I dunno, maybe that's proof that he used to work for Magnetic Scrolls?
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bruce



Joined: 04 Jun 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
I know at at least one game written by a blind person, and in fact, that game was written in ZIL.

Point is, despite anything you've said, it's doable, and it's especially doable now that there are English-based languages like Inform 7.


One rather well-known blind IFfer has written me asking for modifications to CLI I7 to make it work better for him.

Bruce
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Ice Cream Jonsey



Joined: 27 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And you told him to go fuck himself, right?
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck in adapting that, bruce. Glad to hear it.
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Flack



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to beat a dead horse, but I don't think "write" necessarily means "physically input into the computer". If a blind person came up with a story and some puzzles but then had someone else type it into a computer for them, I would still consider them the author, or at least one of the authors.
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, and we have examples of that happening, too. Well, I know of at least one. Written by JC people, in fact.
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Flack



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you've not played it already, I would like some feedback and a review on my first, full IF game:

http://robohara.com/temp/hangar_22.z5

I will not be offended if you say it's rough around the edges. I know there are many areas I need improvement on in game #2.
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a good idea, Flack. I will try to do that. I've opened it up but have yet to play it (it is often, in IF, that I have a hard time pushing myself past that first turn).
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Flack



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For what it's worth, I don't think it's possible to get the game into an unwinnable state. Most people that have played through it do it in 2 or so hours.
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bruce



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, his requests were perfectly reasonable, so I made his suggested changes.

Sorry.

Bruce
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Ice Cream Jonsey



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bruce wrote:
Actually, his requests were perfectly reasonable, so I made his suggested changes.

Sorry.

Bruce


Ah, that sort of makes me look like an asshole then.
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Tdarcos



Joined: 16 May 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
bruce wrote:
Actually, his requests were perfectly reasonable, so I made his suggested changes.

Sorry.

Bruce


Ah, that sort of makes me look like an asshole then.


What do you mean "sort of"?

(Canned laughter erupts from audience bot.)
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Tdarcos



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flack wrote:
If you've not played it already, I would like some feedback and a review on my first, full IF game. [deleted] I know there are many areas I need improvement on in game #2.


Question: Why is this guy broke? Has he been on unemployment for 99 weeks and now no longer eligible (it has since been increased to 99 weeks; it was 26 when I was on unemployment about nine years ago), was he declared ineligible for unemployment for misconduct or because he voluntarily quit, or is the guy so incompetent he doesn't know he can apply for unemployment?

Oh, by the way, "misconduct" means real serious bad behavior. Basically you either have to do what Herman Cain is accused of having done (now to 3 women instead of 2 as earlier reports had it), pilfer company funds or punch your boss. Being laid off or being fired because you're incompetent are NOT "misconduct" and you're eligible for UIC.

So you should include a reason why he has no money and doesn't have unemployment. And failing that, why doesn't he have welfare? If you have no money at all and very little assets, you can get that. Basically you can probably get $100 a month in food stamps even if you can't get cash assistance. And notwithstanding the "welfare reform," nondisabled adults are still eligible until they've been a recipient of assistance for five years. So if you got three months at some point, you're still eligible for another four years and nine months during your lifetime.

"Very little assets" doesn't mean almost nothing; it means a car or similar vehicle worth up to $2,500, and cash assets up to $2,000. Unreachable assets such as pensions or 401(K) plans you can't collect from because you're under 59 don't count.

Hell, I get Social Security Disability and I still am eligible for $16 a month in food stamps. That, plus they pay the $100 a month for my Medicare insurance premium. Oh, and I get $1.50 discount on my prescriptions, so I pay $2.50 at the store for a one month's supply of levothyroxine instead of $4. Medicare picks up the difference, about $16.
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Tdarcos



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flack wrote:
If you've not played it already, I would like some feedback and a review on my first, full IF game:


One thing I don't like about Inform that Hugo does is that you can capture prior text for the purpose of quoting it, which I've done in reporting other games. This means to make a report here I have to type it in instead of copying and pasting it.

In the living room it says there's an entertainment center. "turn on tv" says you can't see any such thing. (Why do you have a remote control and no TV?). I think it probably should show a message that you're too far and need the remote. Taking the remote control then trying to turn on the TV does the same thing.

If there's no TV, say you sold it (or pawned it) when you ran out of money.
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Flack



Joined: 18 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

>examine remote control

If buttons are any measurement of manhood, owning this remote makes you a stud among studs. Back in the day, this bad mamma-jamma controlled everything you owned: your television, your DVD player, your cable box, your stereo, your coffee pot, and sometimes even your neighbor's automatic garage door. Over the past few months you've sold everything the remote used to control, but you keep the remote as a reminder of happier times.

>examine entertainment center

The particle wood bows in the middle where your television used to sit. Your television, DVD player, and stereo used to sit together on the entertainment center. Now, they sit together at Bad Brad's BBQ and Pawn.
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