The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Discuss text adventures here! The classics like those from Infocom, Magnetic Scrolls, Adventure International and Level 9 and the ones we're making today.

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

https://ifcomp.org

There ya go! A two-second glance showed that Stephen Bond entered a game, who I thought left the internet. I hope I can say hello to my friend again somehow through this competition.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

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Jizaboz
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Re: The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Post by Jizaboz »

I'd like to play and review a few games. Then, I looked at the descriptions of the first few presented.

- RetroCON 2021

Eh.. no.

- Taste of Fingers

Twine but sounds better than the first one.

- Recon

Fucking Twine again?

- The Spirit Within Us

Sounds like perhaps an interesting concept. Not sure about verb-noun parser syle. Then again, I did pay for and play Cypher so who knows.

- Ghosts Within

"But you wonder: Did I ended up here by accident?"

Yeah, I'm wondering the exact same kind of shit myself lately every year here complete with bad grammar. At this point I am up for recommendations Bryan and other dudes.
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bryanb
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Re: The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Post by bryanb »

Game: Ghosts Within by Kyriakos Athanasopoulos (TADS)

It's cool that this game is also one of the first ones Jizaboz checked out. I chose to play it first mostly because it was the only TADS game entered into this year's competition (well, and also because the writer's Greek...I felt like I owed Theodorakis that much, RIP). I was curious to see if this game would help keep up the TADSmentum that Jay Schilling's Edge of Chaos, Deelzebub, and Captivity established last year. Interestingly, like EoC and Captivity, Ghosts Within also puts a major focus on conversations with NPCs. Perhaps TADS will become the language of choice for dialogue-heavy parser games.

Jizaboz might be judging the writing a little harshly because I don't consider Ghosts Within to be a poorly written game. Admittedly, I do tend to cut IF writers some slack if they're clearly not native English speakers, and most dudes named Kyriakos Athanasopoulos this side of Melbourne, Australia aren't native English language speakers. Nikos has been communicating with us for years solely through grunts, squeals, and rhythmic toe tapping yet we can still generally decipher the Hugor changelogs. In any case, I'm grateful Kyriakos chose to write his game in English instead of focusing on the lucrative Greek IF market.

Conversation in Ghosts Within generally follows the ASK CHARACTER ABOUT X format though there's some support for direct inputs like bye and yes/no. You can ask characters repeatedly about the same thing to get different responses which makes it at times feel like an RPG where you keep talking to people until you've exhausted the unique dialogue responses. I wasn't crazy about this approach for a couple of reasons. For one thing, this approach to dialogue can feel mechanical. You can save on typing with judicious use of the up key, but it's at the cost of engagement and conversational flow. The other thing I wasn't too fond of is it felt like Kyriakos deliberately makes some characters give really short responses with the knowledge that players will keep asking about topics to get more details. A topic that could easily have been covered in a few sentences in an initial dialogue response can now require three different ASK CHARACTER ABOUT X inputs.

In general, I would say the conversations in this game don't flow as well as the conversations in EoC and Captivity even though there are suggested topics given and you can often ask characters about a variety of other things that aren't listed. Perhaps the lack of flow is partly because this game is very much a mystery. You are trying to figure out who you are, what's going on, what's the deal with the laboratory, and if ghosts are really real among other things. Not every character wants you find out the truth about these topics so they have every reason not to be forthcoming and they often aren't. Deadline had a similar dynamic, but that game had a host of memorable characters with big personalities who were fascinating to talk to and discreetly observe. The characters in Ghosts Within are much less interesting to interact with, but I literally just compared this game to literally one of my favorite games ever which is arguably not too fair. GW is interesting enough and I do want to solve its mysteries even if it's not the best game EVARRR.

One interesting aspect of this game is it offers multiple starting paths and apparently also has multiple endings. You start out in rough condition in a forest and have the opportunity to choose one of three starting locations which will affect various aspects of your playthrough (though you will be able to visit the other locations after you've been nursed back to health). I personally recommend going to the laboratory first for your first game because it has the best initial NPC interactions and gives you the most background information, but I've got saves going for every starting location and there's something to be recommended for each one. Your choice of starting location can have some surprising impacts on how your game goes. For instance, if you go to the village first you get helped by a villager and get to meet her father. Later on, you can ask her about her father. If you meet her after having chosen a different starting location, you don't meet her father and can't ask her about him even though she constantly mentions him. In all honesty, this seemed really weird to me and could possibly be a bug, but suffice it to say your first initial choice in the game is an important one.

Download Link: Ghosts Within by Kyriakos Athanasopoulos

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Re: The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Post by bryanb »

Game: And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One by B.J. Best (Inform -- Glulx)

This game is a heady mixture of 80s tech nostalgia-driven fantasy and coming of age agony. You are Emerson, a gender ambiguous and thoroughly nerdy young thing, and you are at your friend Riley's house to play a new game, Infinite Adventure, that offers the possibility of truly unlimited adventuring. Riley is on the verge of moving to another city with her family -- indeed, the house is mostly packed already save for Riley's computer. Suffice it to say that what awaits you here is not just adventuring without limit, but also a potentially difficult conversation with a friend you won't be seeing much of in the near future. Let's postpone that as long as humanly possible, please.

And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One is a game where you spend most of your time playing other games. Infinite Adventure is itself a game made up of many other games, and if you ever get bored of it Riley also has some other games you can check out including an RPG, strip poker, and a medical edutainment title that aims to teach you more about the human body. The real world, such that it is, bleeds into the various game worlds at times: you can talk to Riley in the middle of playing a game to hear her commentary or listen to the storm rage outside as you cruelly slaughter fantasy creatures. The games themselves aren't great nor are they supposed to be, but they are oddly immersive and mysterious. And Then You Come does a great job of capturing the way video games can seem bigger than life and infinitely full of possibilities when you are a kid and first playing them even if the games you are playing aren't exactly expertly coded or designed. It brought back memories for me of playing Kevin Bales' Castle Adventure (1984) and feeling astonished at just how big the castle was and how many secrets it held. It's a BASIC game that isn't technologically that sophisticated, but to me playing it back in the day really did feel like traveling to another world. I was aware of the game's technical limitations, but somehow I just didn't care about them considering there was a castle in need of exploration and treasures to find.

I call And Then You Come a fantasy because things happen in this game that wouldn't make much sense in the real world. For instance, items acquired in a game can follow you into the real world as well as from game to game. Characters in the games have knowledge of other games and the real world. Indeed, they're actually better at helping you solve personal problems than they are at helping you win video games. There are no clear boundaries between the world of video games and the world of reality here. Unlike a game like A Rope of Chalk which seems crazy and thoroughly off the rails right until the point when the curtain is drawn back and everything makes sense again, ATYC never tries to explain away its weirdness. You could genuinely play it with the understanding that the player character is insane and seeing things that aren't really there. You could assume the whole game is an acid trip and perhaps Riley actually moved away weeks ago. However, to me it's most satisfying if you just accept the fantasy as fantasy and let the rules of reality be temporarily suspended. What does feel real are the emotions of characters, whether they're real or video game, and the pain Riley feels to have to leave everything behind, including your character, is both raw and easy to relate to. The opportunity to help ease her pain a little and indulge in tech nostalgia at the same time is one I leaped at. Apparently there's a bad ending that's quite bad indeed, but I think you'd really have to actively choose to be a dick in order to reach it. I haven't been able to work up the motivation to check out the other ending, but I certainly will if I end up deciding to write a full RFTK review of the game.

Download Link: And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One by B.J. Best

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Tdarcos
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Re: The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Post by Tdarcos »

Jizaboz wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 10:18 pm - Taste of Fingers
Twine but sounds better than the first one.
- Recon
Fucking Twine again?
What do you expect? These programs handle a lot of strings!
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bryanb
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Re: The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Post by bryanb »

Where does the time go? It's the last day for comp voting already. I can't believe this. At any rate, I've decided I'm just going to keep playing comp games through the end of the year (and hopefully play more of them than I've played so far) so this thread is far from over. I guess that means I'll have absolutely no excuse for not checking out this year's winner whatever it may be.

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bryanb
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Re: The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Post by bryanb »

Results are in! Here's the top 5:

1. And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One by B.J. Best
2. Dr Horror's House of Terror by Ade
3. The Song of the Mockingbird by Mike Carletta
4. What Heart Heard Of, Ghost Guessed by Amanda Walker
5. The Libonotus Cup by Nils Fagerburg

Amazingly, all those are parser games. What's also amazing is that I accidentally ended up playing a comp winner before the results were in which breaks a years long streak of mine. It turns out B.J. Best also wrote Off-Season at the Dream Factory under a pseudonym so out of the five or so comp games I've played so far two were actually written by the same guy. I kind of hate when that happens, but at least neither of them were designed to teach anyone Lisp programming.

Here's the rankings of some other games we've talked about:

6. Off-Season at the Dream Factory by Carroll Lewis/B.J. Best
12. The Best Man by Stephen Bond
28. Ghosts Within by Kyriakos Athanasopoulos (tied with The Waiting Room by Billy Krolick)

There were over 70 games entered into this year's competition once again.

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Jizaboz
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Re: The 2021 IF Comp Thread! BE HERE!

Post by Jizaboz »

"BJ Best" LOL

I apologize for not getting it into it this year. Despite not working since September, I've been pulled in a lot of directions.. one of the biggest trying to make a non-text game to sell to the masses. Thank you for taking the time, bryanb! Dr. Horror's House sounds kinda neat. I've bounced the idea around of making a Hallow Eve II one day; but I would like to get DPRK released first eventually. I will check out your top picks over the holidays.
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