Posted 4 August 2006 to rec.games.int-fiction
I guess since the official judging period is over it's ok to post these now?
Just impressions and thoughts I wrote down while playing. All the games had something to like about them (harder to find in some), and may the best one win.
Child's Play, Stephen Granade
First impression of this game: It was written by someone who has horrible grammar. Then I realized it was supposed to be an infant talking, and wondered why the infant sounded like a teenager with a sub-70 IQ.
My God, I almost quit when I read:
"This is oppressive, you are being held down by the man."
I can appreciate a game that wants me to play as a baby, but when you pretend that the baby is smart enough to use words like oppressive, yet too stupid to use proper punctuation, I just get annoyed.
The puzzles worked for me. Everything was implemented well, and I didn't have to guess verbs.
The ending actually left me wanting more. The promise of a feud with a little girl sounds good.
Despite the early bad taste in my mouth, Child's Play turned out all right after all. Hey Stephen—Bring it on.
Mechs, Allan Crain
Salvageable was spelled wrong.
This might be interesting. I'm a robot that has no clue what the heck I'm supposed to do, except that I can't disobey orders and the only place I can go involves typing "XYZZY." It doesn't help that the descriptions are all technical jargon type things that I don't know how to interact with.
While I'm "XYZZY'd" I examine the screen: You can see a James Garcia - is there more than one?
I was able to switch one of my arms on but I'm unable to do anything with it so I don't see what the point is. I tried, but needed more direction. Don't really feel like playing more. If I had a bit more background information on the abilities of my robot and how to use them, I'd be more inclined to try harder.
Sabotage!, Felix Plesoianu
X ME produces the standard response with an added "How else?" If you're not too lazy to alter the standard response, give me something more.
I'm told all I can concentrate on is the bathroom and space. After I enter the bathroom and leave, suddenly a computer is ready for me to use it.
The computer greets me as Agent Carter.
(Rokra's main computer about that)
"There is nothing special about that."
The captain locks his cabin when he's not around, which "Really makes me think." Maybe Earth dwellers in 2150 aren't obsessed with security, and people who want to protect their belongings are considered kooks.
I'm told that the escape pods are something I will not need to refer to in the course of the game. That's a relief!
I resort to the walkthrough. One of the walkthrough commands gives me the response, "That's not something you need to refer to in the course of this game." Thankfully it's optional, but that's one thing I don't want to have to type.
The room descriptions just bugged me, since I never knew where the exits were. Overall a half-decent effort, with a weak story and limited implementation of descriptions. Wasn't really too interested in what happens next.
Nothing But Mazes, Greg Boettcher
I had serious reservations about even playing a game called "Nothing But Mazes."
For some reason I'm sleeping or unconscious but "Eventually you wake up enough to understand that you are awake." Unfortunately I'm too disoriented to know who I am.
Ah, i'm in a coffin. The old "thought you were dead so we buried you." But no! I signed up to be frozen and now I've been brought back. Weren't there like 3 of these in the last IFComp? Oh well.
Suddenly, a hand-drawn kermit the frog appears before me! More screens appear with nice pictures, and then I'm thrown into a room with two frog guards, and start being interrogated by two intellectual frogs, one of whom is a "Professor of Interactive Fiction."
Conversation is handled through a choice menu system, and it seems that once I ask one question, the others are left for another play through.
Seems these aliens regard IF as the highest form of art, and wrote a game, and since I'm interested in IF, and have first hand knowledge of Earth's "Golden Age of IF," I'm the perfect Beta Tester. Turns out the froggies like IF with lots of mazes....very funny, only their IF game is real, and has tons of Insta-Death rooms, and if you die in the game, they kill you.
Seems like there was a lot of setting up the story before I actually got to do anything, which made me a bit impatient.
Meh, I hate "entering computers and fiddling with programs" just because it's so hard to figure out what to do with all of them. Thankfully my cell mates are helpful and i eventually figure out what to do.
I liked the hand-drawn graphics, and the story was humorous. Hopefully I don't have to go through a bunch of mazes in the final. I would like to see how this one ends.
Southern Gothic, Mordechai Shinefield
Apparently I'm afflicted with OCD, since I refuse to pick up a china cup that I spent hours deciding where to put. I'm not too Monk-like though, since I crawl through an open window with no problems.
Oh, I'm on a stage. Maybe that's why I don't want to move the scenery.
I'm told that the piano bench looks curious, but attempts to examine it are unsuccessful because I "can't see any such thing." I'm reminded about the piano bench again, so I guess it's important. Maybe I should try finding it, after I examine the water cooler. Oh, I see nothing special about it. Back to my piano bench search. It's on the stage, and its locked. I have to find a key. Another prompting says mom told me it was hidden in the antiques. Since I don't see any antiques in the theatre, and I'm forbidden from leaving, I guess I'll have to try another course of action.
I type "SIT" by the couch:
(on the clothes) They're not something you can sit down on.
Lots of things are not given descriptions, which is annoying. I can't leave the auditorium until I finish preparing for the show. I turn the lights and music off, which is about my only option, and I still can't leave. The music has stopped and the stage is dark, but I can't do anything else.
I can go south and down from the auditorium forever. Interesting.
Apparently the cannon is important, from the before-game quote, but I can't fire or load it so I guess I'm stuck.
After trying to interact with everything again, including the water cooler ("There's nothing suitable to drink here.") I'm forced to give up. I might be interested in seeing more if more objects had descriptions and I knew more about how to prepare for the show.
The Art of Deception, she's long gone
The opening menu seems a bit screwed up.
Ah, a Bond-esque game with good writing and different difficulty levels. I choose Ghost, and supposedly this will let me take any action I want, even ones that will put me in an unwinnable state. Cool.
I arm my explosives and blow myself up. So much for that! Let's try again. This time on Rookie, so I don't spend time doing something stupid.
"JUMP OUT WINDOW" doesn't work, but "GO OUT WINDOW" does. Thankfully I learned that before I died again.
There's gotta be more to this...I've already reached the end? It was fun while it lasted, anyway, and I killed quite a few people, including my partner. Can't wait to play the whole game. Certainly has a lot of promise.
Unyielding Fury, Michael Pruitt
Pretty cool set up, until I type X ME and get the good ol' "As good-looking as ever."
This has to be a joke. I wander around and get lost and go in circles. I move in all sorts of directions but get nowhere. Reminds me of a game I once played called "Rippled Flesh." Thinking this is a dream, I type "WAKE UP." Unfortunately, I'm told "The dreadful truth is, this is not a dream." More like a nightmare.
At least I can type "QUIT" and end it.
This article copyright © 2006, DJW