The Mailbag

The Trotting Krip Mailbag...Lost in Cyberspace

Week four of our grand mailbag has arrived in typically grand fashion a few days later than it should have been. This is becoming a habit. For those of you just joining us, let me explain to you the incredible 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:

I'm extremely disappointed with the competition this year. A LOT of so-so games that will be forgotten as soon as the player types "quit." Very little quality experimentalism. Hell, there's even very little quality adventure game writing. It's the weakest comp in memory even with the forty some entries. I only hope that reviewers such as yourselves will not be afraid to criticize. The future of IF is at stake unless we want the hobby taken over by hacks.


What the??? Honestly, I've enjoyed this year's competition just as much as last year's. Sure, there's no Photopia this year but I believe games are only allowed to be entered once. This year's comp has it all: adventure, drama, experimentalism, mystery, comedy, sex, violence, potatoes, monkeys, demons, etc etc. I haven't played even a majority of the games yet seriously but I have basically enjoyed what I've seen. There are a few stinkers, yeah, but every comp has had those(including the very first one.) A lot of very interesting and fun games. Maybe not too many individual games rival, say, the Infocom classics, but in general rivalling Infocom has never been what the competition has been about in my mind. It appears that somebody else agrees with me about the quality of this year's comp.

[Er, you have to admit that it would be pretty funny if the hobby actually was wholly and completely taken over by hacks. To the point where, like, they were holding up a new game from David Lebling and Steve Meretzky out of spite, momentum and a medieval (yet real) sense of control. It would be like 1984. But in 1999. And we'd all have to grease the Review Board. Or something, natch. ]

Read on:

Dear Trotting Krips:

I am astounded by this year's Interactive Fiction Competition. So many great games! I think my favorite is Exhibit. I think it'll win for sure, but second place is going to be hard fought for! I've probably had more fun with this year's crop of games than with any of the other competitions.(I've voted in each one from 1996 on, and I played all the 1995s after the fact.) I'm writing this letter mainly to thank Robb Sherwin for entering his terrific game! I laughed and I cried(well not really) and I played it through to the end on my first play! Thank you! I'm also writing this letter to get in the mailbag. Please let me in!

- Roger Fitzer

You're in. I think Exhibit is pretty cool, too, but it's not my pick to win. What is my pick to win? I ain't saying yet.

Dear Trotting Krips:

I am in a forest primeval, surrounded by an aura of malevolence and danger. I see beyond the trees the faded white paint of a house looking strangely out of place. I feel the need to investigate the dwelling further, having had little luck in the forest wresting open a large iron grate. In fact, all I've really accomplished so far is pissing off a bird by raiding her nest. Clearly, further adventure beckons. My heart is beating faster and faster for I do not know what the future holds. Is the strange building occupied? Is there treasure to be found therein? Death? Intrigue? Romance? Wish me luck, my fine feathered friends, for I prepare to enter the jaws of death, and I propose to return out of them unscathed and the richer for it.


You know, Nasser, you're my hero.

[I'm trying to place the game here. Is it Zork I? Or the Atari 2600 classic Roc N' Rope. A lot of people said that Roc N' Rope wasn't an adventure game and that it had gameplay typical of arcade scrollers. A lot of people also scoffed and laughed when they saw it, Kool-Aid Man and Hide-And-Seek available for $0.59 after the First Great Console Crash. Now I'm not a betting man, but I'll wager the soul of my (eventual) first-born that Nasser is a big Roc N' Rope fan. Wheee! -- Robb]


Dear Trotting Krips:

Hello, nice site you have here. I liked that interview you did with Ben Parrish very much, so I was hoping to see more similar interviews in the future. Do you plan to do more interviews? I know XYZZY does em too but your style seems more fun and the interviews are more interesting to read. Thanks,

-Bob Burks

Absolutely not. We created that interview section just for that one special interview. WE'LL NEVER DO ANOTHER ONE AGAIN.





Oh, I'm just kidding. Of course we'll do more interviews, but it actually takes some work to prepare one, and you've got to get somebody to agree to take the interview. By the way, just personally speaking, I've always found the XYZZY interviews a barrel of laughs. That Eileen Mullin puts me in stitches!

[Rybread Celsius will most likely be the next candidate for an interview. I am checking with Phillip K. Dick to make sure I have the correct environment to administer a Voigt-Kampf test. -- Robb]

Dear Trotting Krips:

Hi. I just wanted to add my two cents into the Plundered Hearts discussion. I am a woman and I hated, hated, hated that game. In fact, I still do, even though I do not own it and have not played it during this decade. Boring romantic crud! The story should have been made into one of those trashy romance novels that have Fabio on the cover. Oh, yes, the reviews are really good. Keep up the good work and whatnot.

-Muriel Rachel McAllister

I'm proud of the fact that this mailbag continues to bring in all sorts of feedback, from male AND female commentators. I'm especially glad Muriel decided to add her thoughts on "Plundered Hearts" in this week's bag, as our next message has to do with the lack of femality in the tightly cloistered, elitist, chauvinistic world of interactive fiction. Femality?

Dear Trotting Krips:

One thing I can't figure out is this lack of women adventure game players and writers. Wassup up wid dat??? Most women claim to not enjoy computer games for reasons that simply don't apply to interactive fiction. How much hand-eye coordination does a game of Photopia require? How many bloody combat scenes are there in Muse? What great IF does NOT have an excellent, well-developed plot? And yet, it doesn't seem to me that any larger number of women play interactive fiction than play other types of games. God bless Eileen Mullin and Liza Daly, but they're in a very definite minority. Interactive fiction seems to be suffering from a testosterone overflow. Something must be done, and fast!

-Luke Bollard

Not to give you a cliched answer, but the thing is, fewer women play computer games in general than men. They're less interested than men in the whole concept of computer gaming, hence they're less likely to even learn what interactive fiction is in the first place. I don't think IF's gender quality track record is too bad, though. You've got Roberta Williams, for example, who was once one of the adventure game genre's brightest names. Before the crack addiction, that is. Phantasmagoria?? The last two King's Quest's? Eeek! Then there's Dorothy Millard, one of the most prolific text adventure creators for the C64 ever. And various other females in the Modern Age who have created a fine freeware game here and there. These intrepid women are undoubtedly in the minority, but...hey! At least we don't have to worry about the hobby turning sissy or anything. There's always going to be plenty of violence and sex in text adventures, censors bedamned.

[I think the reason women don't play computer games as much as men is because we are such flaming, geeky fruits. We sit there, slack jawed and frothing... strangely blinking at the sun, at relationships that involve anything other than our own mothers. We are the elite, gentlemen. And it is up to us to pave the way for a new generation of entertainment software addict. Are you buff? Are you tone? If you don't have a gorgeous, bronze tan and the ability to bench press 525 (10 reps) then you are part of the problem.

Ergo, two options remain available.

1. Hari-kari. If you are convinced that you are going to remain forever the boychild who gets virtual sand kicked in his face then find a ceremonial dagger -- oh, hell, climb the stairs out of your parent's basement and shoot yourself with the old man's sawed-off.

2. Andro. Someone once said something regarding the fact that if you don't work out every single day you'll get enormously fat while on it, but I read that snippet on the internet so it must be false. True, chicks gush over the long ball, but they also want to be swept away by a man able to name all six robots in Suspended.

Allow me to also say this. Imagine, if you will, that Laura A. Knauth entered a watermelon contest instead of an IF contest this year. In that reality, I have to say that Ms. Knauth's final watermelon was an absolute blast to experience. It was well-crafted, remarkably entertaining and full of vivid immersion. I was definitely impressed with her ability to see a watermelon through, from seed to 141 pound delicacy. It was wonderous.

(I skate a fine line.) -- Robb]