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Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion '12 Games!
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:27 pm    Post subject: Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion '12 Games! Reply with quote

Ok, here is my thread for reviewing comp games, bitches. First, let me be clear about my biases. CYOA and IF-games-with-unnecessary-pauses (you know, press-a-key-to-continue stuff) are not my favorite types of game.

Let's start!
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:29 pm    Post subject: Transit Reply with quote

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.


Last edited by Roody_Yogurt on Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:33 pm    Post subject: Shuffling Around Reply with quote

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.


Last edited by Roody_Yogurt on Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:35 pm    Post subject: Signos Reply with quote

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.


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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:06 pm    Post subject: Changes Reply with quote

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.


Last edited by Roody_Yogurt on Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:26 pm    Post subject: Lunar Base 1 Reply with quote

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: http://www.joltcountry.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=7906&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=35

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.


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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:17 pm    Post subject: The Lift Reply with quote

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.


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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:37 pm    Post subject: The Test is Now READY Reply with quote

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:

Quote:
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.


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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:42 pm    Post subject: howling dogs Reply with quote

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.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roody, you are the MAN, and anyone remotely interested in text games owes much to you, not just for this thread but for all you've done for the community. And these reviews are AWESOME.

I wanted to make sure that was all perfectly clear when I said that reading these reviews makes me never want to play a text game again (except for CZK which I am morally and socially obligated to complete.)

God.

GOD.

All we're asking for is, get ANYWHERE CLOSE to how fun this shit was in the LATE 1970s. COMIN' UP ON 45 YEARS AGO, FOLKS.

I really, truly get the sense that a lot of these modern day IF authors think the implementors were missing something. When as far as I can tell it is still TOTALLY the other way around.

CHRIST.

Sorry.
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Ice Cream Jonsey



Joined: 27 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok. I really, really, really wish that there was a CYOA competition and a text adventure competition. I think "separate but equal" got a bad rap in this country. I think it was because people who are now DEAD treated black people so poorly.

SEPARATE BUT LEGITIMATELY EQUAL. Can we do that, please? Can we?!? And I literally mean "we." The people of this forum. Nobody on this forum has ever indulged in a racist hate crime. Nobody on this forum should have "separate but equal" used against them.

CYOA Comp.

Text Game Comp.

Hell, release 'em both on September 30th, I don't mind. I will even give CYOA this: I would never, ever play a text adventure while in line at a Safeway. I did enjoy advancing Zombie Exodus in bite-size chunks. I just wish that Roody could fire up a crop of games and get the text adventures he craves. Well, that I crave him craving.

NOTE: I say this as someone making a text game / CRPG hybrid. It ain't a text game. It ain't a text adventure.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words, guys! That's the majority of the games I've played, but I'll try to get more reviews out as quickly as possible.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm down on the comp. I'm not. I do agree that many modern authors have forgotten some nice lessons from the older games, but I'm happy to see the medium explore new types of stories and tread new ground.

I feel like now that I'm older, I'm feel more aware of exactly what I don't like in IF. I'm happy to point this stuff out. Hopefully, it's useful to somebody, but I don't really care if people write off my opinions as cranky rants. There's a certain satisfaction in just knowing what I like.
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:51 pm    Post subject: Kicker Reply with quote

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.
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I decided I should go back and add author names to my reviews. So, thanks, Tdarcos!
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 2:05 pm    Post subject: Valkyrie Reply with quote

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.
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:14 pm    Post subject: Spiral Reply with quote

Spiral by Justin Morgan
(parts of this review were written as I played the game)

First thought: there are some spacing issues. After being first told, “[ Hint: important commands are THINK and REMEMBER ]”, shortly followed by, “For a while, the disorientation is overwhelming, and you can't think about anything. But once you start thinking, you can't stop,” I thought, oh great, this is going to be on rails and only accept THINK and REMEMBER. This turned out not to be the case, luckily, as the game accepted less-common commands that were hinted at in the text.

Hmm, looks like the protagonist (and opening text) is randomly picked at the beginning of the game, but you have the option to switch to the other perspective. Gargoyle is cutting off a handy part of the status line informing me of who I am. I should hope that Inform 6 has ways of dealing with differently sized screens (not a big deal but something hopefully polished in a final version).

There are justified pauses (during scene changes). Lots of objects and commands get responses. The map isn't too sprawling, although it's complicated enough that I did have to break out the map program.

It'd be nice if the cutting of things was automated when you have a cutting tool and type >CUT THING. Also, I'm pretty sure I got myself into an unwinnable situation, as two objects seem to have disappeared on me (the fvpxyr and the fpvffbef).

Despite not getting very far, I predict this will be one of my higher rated games. There was a somewhat worrying start (amnesia, really? Plus, I'm not a big fan of >THINK and >REMEMBER), but it's well-constructed where it matters, making me give it the benefit of the doubt (and I admire it for winning me over).
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:27 pm    Post subject: Last Minute Reply with quote

Last Minute by Ruderbager Doppelganger

Hmmm, CYOA. I have to admit this one has some great, funny lines. I think I have a hunch about who wrote it, too. Still, as a CYOA game that doesn't elevate the form, in my scoring, it'll find itself the highest rated of my lowest tier of games (not that there aren't a lot of regular IF games in that tier this year).
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Roody_Yogurt



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:52 pm    Post subject: Fishbowl Reply with quote

Fishbowl by Joshua and Ethan Rupp
(second release, I think. Also, parts of this review were written while I played the game)

First off, the game opens up with one of my gripes. It is the one where scoreless games only show the turns in the status bar, but instead of having something like “TURNS: #”, it is just the turn counter up there by its lonesome. I think authors should get rid of the turn counter altogether or replace it with something like “MOVES: #” or the other thing I mentioned. Now, that's not something I'll detract points for, but I like to mention it in case authors think about it and possibly agree with me.

Okay, spacing issues in the room description once I got up. Some things could use some further implementation:

Quote:
> x door
The door is a piece of plywood on a hinge. The lock is a rope tied
around a nail on the inside.

> untie rope
That’s not a verb I recognise.


Some odd capitalization at other parts. I thought I was stuck, but the walkthrough tells me there is an exit in a direction that wasn't listed in the room description. Hmm, now I dropped a dead fish in the open, and there's a bug preventing me from picking it back up.

This game is some sort of comedic horror game. The comedy is kind of cute, but it'd need to be really strong to make up for some of these problems I've been encoutering. This game is not yet ready for prime time.
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Flack



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I very much enjoyed the reviews and look forward to more of them.

I agree with Robb on the "separate but equal" thing (as it applies to games). Lumping CYOA and IF together is like saying Super Mario Bros. and Q*Bert both belong in the genre of "jumping games".
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject: J'dal Reply with quote

J'dal by Ryan Kinsman

Right away, here's another game that does the status bar thing I don't like (see previous review: Fishbowl). The game sets up some social injustice stuff that I don't really feel one way or the other about, but there was a moment of satisfaction when I saved myself from eating food that had been tampered with.

The interface is a little non-standard but makes good use of it for the most part. Some commands illicit that non-answer buggy response:

Quote:
>tell roderick about lock
>tell stolas about lock
>x lock
It looks pretty sturdy.


The puzzles are simple but satisfying, although I thought some lend themselves to non-existent multiple solutions. There are also still some bugs.

All of the swearing in this fantasy setting is a little odd but also kind of entertaining. The game could use more polished implementation, but overall, I found it fun.

EDIT: I guess there are multiple solutions to some things, but the things I tried didn't work.
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