The Mailbag

The Trotting Krip Mailbag...It's Not Just A Mailbag, It's An Experience

Week three of our grand mailbag has arrived. For those of you just joining us, let me explain to you the grand concept behind this bag o' trash: Weird people send us E-mail. A good bit of it. We print their E-mails. If they ask questions, we try to answer them. If they flame us, we moan and weep and flame the suckers back. If they comment favorably on the site, we offer them a lifetime subscription to the exclusive e-zine Trotting Krips Monthly(not available in stores, via Internet, or through this special offer) and kiss their ass a bit. You get the idea. The mailbag is a lot of fun. You can read our old mailbags, which are also a lot of fun, by browsing through the stupendous archives

You can get printed in our mailbag by writing us(duh) at Make our day. Hell, make YOUR day. Make everybody's day. Just write!

Anyway, enjoy the mailbag this week. Live it - love it - revel in it. Our responses, as always, are in italics.

Dear Trotting Krips:

TEXT ADVENTURES? Are you SERIOUS? You mean people still play games made up of just...TEXT? What is wrong with you??? Ever heard of "images"? Or "music"? Or, dare I say, "video sequences"? Believe it or not, but it isn't 1980 anymore. Games are being continually made today which challenge and expand every gamer's perspective on what gaming is. These games utilize the very best technology has to offer to enhance their experience. Serious game designers and publishers make their games more realistic, more interesting, more involving, and, yes, more entertaining this way. There's more to life than just words, thank Buddha. If anyone was really interested in making a "great" game they'd be trying to stretch the limits of their medium instead of just fooling around with text. Face it: the text adventure is DEAD. BURIED. FINISHED. Calling the games "interactive fiction" doesn't give the genre any additional viability because the GENRE AS A WHOLE is now archaic. Only wistful old has-beens who don't really give a damn about gaming and are only interested in reliving their childhood still play text adventures. You guys are as bad as the crowd that thinks the Atari 2600 is the greatest video gaming console system ever made.



Diobello's argument is flawed in too many ways to go into detail here, but first of all I must state the obvious: so long as people play text adventures, it is a viable form of entertainment - period. I don't believe that art really becomes archaic because no matter how primitive a work or type of art is, so long as it retains the ability to touch people in one way or another it has a reason to exist. It would be difficult to argue that cave drawings or Medieval art rival the art produced during the Renaissance, but the existence of Renaissance art does not mean that we should pretend as if the cave drawings and Medieval art never existed. They ALL have a reason for existence, and they ALL still have the capacity to captivate and entertain. Whether you consider computer games "art" is another subject, but I certainly think that they are.

Also, I don't think the text adventure is so primitive as you seem to think, either. It is just made up of "words", but so is every great story and every great speech and every great scientific theory ever uttered or scribbled on paper. Words are powerful. What's cool about the text adventure is that it removes the auxiliary elements common to computer game, such as sound and video sequences, which makes crafting the story of the game a much more difficult task. The author has to make the story real for the player using only text. There's nothing wrong with graphics and sound and video sequences(some interactive fiction contains all of those things), and in fact it would be hard to imagine some games without 'em, but it's also safe to say that they're used a bit gratuitously in a lot of current commercial games by game-makers who just don't have enough story to go around and must make up for it with cool bells and whistles.

Lastly, the text adventure isn't dead - there are tons of people out there creating new ones every month! And the competition is alive and well and continues to expand. The text adventure is ALIVE, I tell ye, ALIVE! Oh, and the Atari 2600 isn't the greatest video gaming system of all the time - that would be the Vectrex. Muahahaha!

[Graphics have absolutely no bearing on a game's fun factor. I bought Sinistar:Unleashed last week and it is one of the prettier games out there right now. It's an absolute bore to play, however, so I returned it. I love games where you are shooting people with rocket launchers. A lot of them are great. However, the only genre currently doing quality characterization is interactive fiction. Sometimes I simply want to play a good story. -- Robb]


Dear Trotting Krips:

nice review of symetry. hope your enjoying L.U.D.I.T.E (can ancronyms be mispelt?)


Holy CRAP! Rybread Celsius visited us! We've made it, we've made it!


Dear Trotting Krips:

Hi guys Just wanted to comment on the site. First off, a lot of the reviews are funny. I was wondering though, why on earth does everyone think Rybread Celsius is some sort of genius? Am I missing something? I just want to be in on the in-joke.

-Steven Cross

I was actually under the impression that most people thought that Rybread Celsius' games were a blight upon humanity. I mean, come on, EVERYBODY trashes his games. And it ain't right! He may not have written up a masterwork yet, but by no means are his games abysmal. Tons of worse games have been created(a game I was playing earlier today comes to mind immediately. It was called, uhm, A Night With Troi.) What's more is that all of his games show traces of originality in their plots and their presentation. Rybread may not be getting 10s from this site anytime soon, but he won't be getting 1s either.


Dear Trotting Krips:

Oh my God, I have waited so loooooooong for this! Someone else but me likes Plundered Hearts!!! I agree completely with Catherine: Plundered Hearts is brill!!! I hate it how nobody gives it the time of day now even though there are tons of pages about other Infocom games. I can't seriously believe anyone would prefer to play Nord and Bert Couldn't Get Their Heads Out of Their Asses than Plundered Hearts. Somebody write up a review soon!!!

-Rebecca Thomas

You girls should go form a club or something. "Nord and Bert Couldn't Get Their Heads Out of Their Asses"??? Thou art a cruel, cruel maiden.

[Um. "Brill?" -- Robb]


Dear Trotting Krips:

Badass mothers, I just recently got dumped by my girl "friend" of four and ahalf years. It was the most devastating thing that ever happened to me. I have not been able to eat or do anything lately. I found your site through usenet and just wanted to say that it has brought a small amount of joy to my otherwise crap life. That interview with Ben Parrish was so funny! The review for Pass The Banana was the first time I laughed out loud in a long while. Two questions before I go. 1. Is Bryan british? 2. Who would win in a fight: the legless horse from the pawn or the blind robot from Suspended? byebye

-Malcom O'Reilly

I'm glad you found this site instead of our competitors' Reviews From Trotting Girlfriends(no link provided). If you had found the latter, it no doubt would have driven you suicidal. Thanks for the kind remarks. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, call Oprah. If you ever need a larf, come here. As for thy questions: Bryan ain't British. He's Southrun. Well, actually, he is British, but you'd have to climb up his family tree quite a long ways to reach Britain. And as for the fight thing, I was about to go with the robot, but I was just playing The Pawn the other day and noticed the legless horse is toting a Magnum. That ain't nothin' to screw with.


Dear Trotting Krips:

Hey, isn't it a bit early for competition reviews? I thought you weren't supposed to talk about the games till it was over so you wouldn't effect the voting.


There's no such rule. I like to review games immediately after playing them, so that my impressions are still fresh and vivid. Now, I could write the reviews immediately after finishing the games and simply not post them until the competition is over(which is what Robb is going to do - as an author of a game in the comp, he can't write any reviews till it is over), but there's no reason I should. Plus, if I did it that way the site would basically shut down till Nov. 15th considering both Robb and myself will probably be playing mostly comp games till then.

Dear Trotting Krips:

I am in a house full of strange and dangerous people - one is without a doubt a murderer, but which one? There is the haughty, superficial, cheating wife, the sultry, adultress secretary, the drunkard good-for-nothing-with-cool-musical-taste son, the grumpy gardener, the gossipy yet deceitfully clever housekeeper... My mind is in a whirl. I only have till this evening. What can I do? Oh, how I wish I had been given another assignment. Oh, how I wish I had Trillian by my side. But at this point in time, I'd settle for no tea and Zaphod.


[Every single time that Halloween rolls around I find myself at a party with dozens of other costumed denizens. Inevitably I think to myself, "Wow! This would make an absolutely excellent game! People are wearing masks, so you can refer to them by their alter-egos, and you'd never know who really did what!" And then, almost instantly after completing that thought, I remember the game Suspect and curse Marc Blank for being such a fricking badass mofo and already making that game. Sinistar would say, "argh!" -- Robb]


Dear Trotting Krips:

After playing "Exhibit" and "Lunatix", I have only one thing to say. Graphic games should be outlawed from the comp. They just make the downloads take longer, and in my opinion they detract from the real purpose of the comp. Sadly, if there is a "Photopia" among this year's entries, I certainly haven't found it yet.


I'm guessing Debra hasn't found "Pass The Banana" yet. I don't agree with her about the graphics games. For now, they're cool. If they start to outnumber the text adventures,. then we might have a problem, but when it is just a couple of games out of thirty-some entrants, I don't think there's anything to worry about. I think "Lunatix" is pretty cool, actually. Haven't played "Exhibit" yet.

[18 MB is a lot to download if you don't get free local phone calls. Hell, 18 MB is a lot to download if you do get free local calls. I wonder how people would feel if someone with a CD burner publically said, "send me a blank CD and a couple stamps and I'll make a copy of the comp for you." Actually, it would probably be the coolest thing ever said by someone with a burner, eclipsing the previous bests of "w@R3z d@ W<\R3Z d00000dzzz" and "here's a mad child rearing Xpl0!+: giving @ baby @ bottle m@k3s them qui3t! G!|/3 m3 m@</ pR0pZ d00d!" -- Robb]

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