IF Comp 2009: The Duel in the Snow

Duel in the Snow. I hadn’t read any other reviews or spoilers and other than the blurb had no idea what to expect. Possibly some kind of duel, in snow! So, um, there’s that.

Spoiler cut!

I feel bad, because this game is very earnest and well-programmed and nothing is obviously broken and I probably should have liked it.

But I kind of resented a lot of things in this game. Like how I had to screw a pretty long time with the soda fountain until “shake siphon” finally worked. “Hit siphon” didn’t work, and probably should have just for people who hate guessing every possible verb.  Maybe I was having another dumb day and shake was supposed to be obvious.

I resented the flashback sequence on the carriage, because there was nothing I could do “back in time” to change the future, and I couldn’t play billiards even though there was a billiard hall, and I couldn’t really engage my companions in conversation about anything much, except for possibly about my recent dreams or my wife that left me. (I could’ve probed for more information about this than I did, I guess.)

I even kind of resented having to type “wake up” to begin the game, even though I figured out basically immediately that’s what I had to do.

I did manage to get the game in this state:

Gronovskij looks at the bottle you are carrying sneeringly, as if to say: “Why would anybody carry an empty brandy bottle to a duel?”

>hit gronovskij with brandy bottle
One duel is quite enough for today.

Out of curiousity, what difference does it make? I know this game is about historical honor duels and they go a certain way, but, eh, why not let me beat the crap out of him with a broken bottle if I’m going to die anyway?

I did die, and then checked the walkthrough to see what I did wrong. Apparently according to the walkthrough dying is a totally legitimate ending, so I didn’t do anything wrong per se and there’s no more game after that.  The death can also be avoided with one particular trick. Then you live, but it’s otherwise sorta the same, except you actually miss stuff because you don’t get nested death dream sequences.

Though I confess that at the end of the nested dream sequences, the command I was typing in was “die.” I think I typed “die” like three times. I was picturing in my head the one MST3K episode where Crow was screaming “ENNNNND! ENNNNND!” at a scene and it wasn’t even close to over yet.

Some stuff I did like: the way objects generally worked… for example the way I could “x my face” by using the mirror (even if the description wasn’t much, it was good that they thought of it), and the basic amounts of detail in the environments.

I just felt like the story was a bit too on-rails and I was just drifting through it. I think it’s telling that there’s so much ‘z’, ‘z’, in the walkthrough, because you just gotta wait for stuff to happen.

Also, I know my sense of humor is inappropriate in this context, but when it’s offered directly to you it’s hard to resist:

Kropkin reaches down from the box and hands you a hip-flask. “You look nervous, old fellow!” he says. “Have a drink!” The carriage gives a lurch, and Kropkin disappears again.

>get ye flask
You can’t see such a thing here.

(Can I request this be the new ‘xyzzy’ that everyone has to implement because it is funny?)
(…especially if someone actually offers me an actual flask?)
(Ok, I know I can’t make requests. Just askin’.)

IF Comp 2009: Rover’s Day Out

Just to make sure I’ve posted on all the games I have played so far.  Rover’s Day Out:

So far this is my favorite game I have played in the comp.

The morning routine part starts out a little monotonous but I think it’s important to establish this routine so you can still perform it later when there are no environmental clues.

Shamefully, I got a little hung up the first time I was told to “take care of business.”  I think the metatext threw me off, because I walked in to the bathroom, assuming (as it turns out, correctly) that this was what I was supposed to do, but my masters out of the computer then talked about how this was “the landing sequence.” The landing sequence?  I thought I was dropping the kids off at the pool! So I tried some things like ‘remember landing sequence’ which were to no avail.

Eventually I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the verb ‘piss’ was implemented.  That’s good I guess!

I got thrown off again the first time I had to navigate as the dog.  Not so bad when you get used to it but really odd to me at first.

I got a little annoyed with the implementation of the verbs to enact on the plunger. It’s like you can lean it, and then turn it, but you can’t twist it?  Something like this, and they have to be done in a certain order, or else the game will complain that it’s fixed in place.  I had no problem, however, with the ‘fix the toilet’ puzzle. Ironically my toilet broke in that exact same way just recently.

I don’t know if anyone else noticed this particular bit, but I discovered with much amusement that, when you pull the tag off of the pink pillow, the universe ends.  Normally a sudden death like that might be a little upsetting, but, hey, I did pull the tag off a pillow, so clearly I had it coming.

I’m not sure if the second half of this game is as strong as the first. I got pretty flummoxed during the boarding sequence with the robots and wasn’t sure if I was doing it right, so I finally broke down and consulted the walkthrough which only contained two solutions, one of which I’d already tried.  The only other way to kill them that I found was flashing them (heh), and every solution only worked once.  Then there is this little extra bit and it ends.

The game offered me a whole list of Amusing things I could try, but I discovered that, not only was my time up, but that I didn’t particularly feel like trying any of those amusing things. Like, I COULD go back and ‘remember’ more things about Janet’s life, but I realized I just wasn’t all that invested in that particular fiction for whatever reason.  I didn’t really end up caring about the human characters in the finale, in other words, but I was a little disappointed I never figured out how to properly ‘mount female dog.’  I must be a perv since I spent way too much time attempting this.

IF Comp 2009: Eruption

No spoilers in this review!  This is a game about a volcano, which is evident enough from the cover and the game.  It’s an easy and kinda boring game. Is that a spoiler?  I guess it would be an okay game for someone who had never played a text adventure before, since it’s not buggy or anything and is not hard to figure out.

Though if this was the first text adventure I’d ever played I’d probably wonder if they were all this dull. I have no idea. Maybe I’d view it with an amazing child-like sense of wonder about the potential of the medium as not realized, at all, by this competition entry.

Also, if you’re wondering why all these are being posted in such rapid succession; I played the games earlier and I’m just getting around to actually publishing the posts now that I’ve fixed my blogger issues!  The other game I have played so far is Rover’s Day Out, and later I imagine the blog posts will slow down to a more normal rate as I write them one at a time rather than batch out.

IF Comp 2009: Byzantine Perspective

My psuedo-random game choice process perhaps amounts to ‘skipping every other one, for now.’  I don’t know if I will play them all but I will try.  I have a preference to start with some of the games playable on-line since that’s just so simple to do.  Anyway…

Major puzzle spoilers in this post here.

Byzantine Perspective. Good lord, I did not get this at all.

I feel dumb confessing it, but… Not at all.

The game is a heist game, surrounded by a movement/maze puzzle.  There’s a “feelie” map provided for it, that helps with the movement, maze puzzle, and a set of in-game hints at well.

And god, I still didn’t get it.

So I read some spoilers, which basically said “it’s fun to figure out the puzzle by yourself and try not to use the walkthrough.”  But I got frustrated pretty fast, and the walkthrough was so deliciously tempting, sitting right there next to the “feelie” for the game, that I went ahead and clicked on it.  Then I followed the walkthrough for the game and had no idea why it worked.

So I browsed around several reviews, and it took me maybe six different ones before someone outright spoiled the puzzle so I could understand the solution.  I will spoil it for you now too so if you stumble on this review and are in my same boat you understand: the glasses you’re wearing, which are magic I guess, show you a room other than the one that you’re standing in, so what you ‘see’ is not where you ARE. You interact with things in a room adjacent to the room you are apparently in.  I was thinking way “inside the box” on this game, and spent precious minutes trying to find the “hologram projector” in the first room. D’oh.

I guess this is a game you either get or you don’t. I’m not dumb at IF and have solved plenty of them without help, but I never ever had the “click” moment for how this works.  Hard to figure out how to score it, since my understanding is, it’s really easy if you “get” it, but obviously not at all if you don’t.

IF Comp 2009: Beta Tester

Beta test of posting in the new format? Well, also a game I played!  By the way if you too want to experience the IF Comp games the place to download them is this page right here, or, you can play on-line. That’s what I did for this one, having been on my lunch break a couple days ago at the time.  Some of these reviews are just ‘catchup’ because I wasn’t actually posting my impressions on these until now.

Spoiler space is as great a time as any to mention that I don’t have any particular rules about whether I’m playing games that are pretested or not. Apparently I’m actually the Beta Tester for this game?

This game has fairly clever text and I was pleased by it at first for that reason.  It drops me in a puzzle room and gives me a puzzle to solve about ringing a bell. Not too hard to figure out and seemed to be implemented okay.

Cute response for ‘xyzzy’, which a lot of people tend to try.

After solving the hamster puzzle, I move in to what I guess is the free-roaming portion of the game.  It sets me free to solve various puzzles in the environment if I feel like it, and want to, I guess. There’s not really a specific goal here but I can figure out that I probably want to get drinks and food.

This is the part where the game doesn’t seem as well-constructed all the sudden and I wonder if I’m experiencing bugs, or if the bugs are designed to be “charming” parts of the half-broken logic of the game world itself.  The ‘Fun N Games Room’ has a lot of stuff that seems broken.  Is it really broken or “charmingly” broken?

This is a relatively small room but it is very well-decorated with nicely carved wooden cabinets and tables.

>x cabinets
You can’t see any such thing.

Talking to Hellaine, or trying to, also nets really confusing responses.  The game calls me “illegal object number.”  Wait, is that a fake bug or a real bug?

I figured out how to get in to the theater and spawn the comedian.  I didn’t figure out how to get to the walkthrough without consulting another review, since it’s not obvious.

I think I might like this game if it weren’t broken! But it is broken, I think. Or maybe not. I can’t tell so I’m giving up.

On Moving One’s Blog

Wow! That was amazing! See that thing I just posted below, about gleaming or gleaning something or other, and how I wanted to use a spoiler tag on it, even though there are really no spoilers?  It forced me to republish, reformat, and redo my entire blog!  Something about Blogger moving on without me to a totally different publishing format, one that allows spoiler tags where my old one didn’t.  I’m not even sure I like this new template. I really prefer purple, but, maybe a less dark-colored template is better for some viewers’ eyes.

At least the new template allows me to easily edit the links sidebar I tried to add yesterday and was forced to add manually via CSS, so some changes are good changes.

IF Comp 2009: Gleaming the Verb

This is my first post reviewing Interactive Fiction competition submissions. If you have no interest in IF Comp stuff, you can skip over, since I’m going to also use jump-cuts to serve as spoiler space. Reviews of IF Comp games will generally have spoilers, so be advised before clicking on the jump.

First Review is of Gleaming the Verb and is practically spoiler free. I’m picking the games to play sort of randomly, to be honest, by whatever strikes my fancy and this one looked short.

Cutting mostly to practice cutting correctly. This is a test of cutting!

There’s actually not much I can say about this one that hasn’t been said by other reviewers. I thought it looked short but it is really short. It had no particular story to speak of. Stuff outside of the scope of the main puzzle wasn’t implemented at all. Once you ‘get’ it, it’s pretty boring. Maybe future reviews will be more interesting than this!

Shouldn’t it be ‘gleaning?’ I thought. No, it’s a reference to some movie, about a cube, that I never saw, and the title of that movie doesn’t make sense either. Huh.

Interactive Fiction Comp

This post is a general state of intent – since I’ve been following the Interactive Fiction Competition for a few years now, I’ve decided to go ahead and write reviews for this year’s entries. I enjoy IF and someday I’d like to learn to write it myself… that is, as soon as I have a solid idea for one I’d want to do. Good thing I also like playing it as well.

I also intend to make a post soon about my experiences with Batman: Arkham Asylum, though it also means I’m admitting to playing another new-release game! It has been a good one, though.

One smallish update to blog layout: I included a list of my frequently-visited blogs and related sites to my sidebar. I will add several more later I’m sure as they jump in to my head.


I recently returned from the Penny Arcade Expo!

This is not an extended report, but I can link you instead to some photographs – here – PAX on my Flickr.

I’m particularly fond of the Bioshock booth photo, and I have several more I need to upload.

One anecdote relates to the photo that you might see of my Gameboy DS, which might be difficult to understand. The game I’m playing is “The World Ends With You,” a great one-off JRPG with some interesting mechanics. The game allows you to level up your special powers (called pins) three different ways. 1) through use, which is a standard mechanic 2) through turning off the Gameboy and resting it for a period of time, and 3) by “mingle,” which allows you to get points on your pins for every other person who happens to be using a Gameboy DS in the same area that you are. The idea behind Mingle is that you leave Mingle on and go to someplace where another Gameboy is potentially likely. I would get a few hits, for example, just walking around campus at MSU.

So I attempted to fire up Mingle when there were approximately 3,000 people in the same room as me with a DS, attempting to set the world record for Most DSes played in the same place.

I am pleased and amused to report that, while it was working at first, the Mingle Mode eventually just started crashing me back to the play screen without registering hits. It was definitely overwhelmed. Not before I racked up a few thousand points though.

During the actual record attempt I was playing Final Fantasy 4.

Now Playing: Far Cry 2

Eyes focused, gun in hand, I carefully, strategically approach… the bus stop.

No one there. I’m in luck! Had any other humans been present at the location of the bus, I would have been forced to slaughter them.

The bus itself is driven by no one. The only purpose of a car in Africa is to run people over. If a person in a car happens to see you, they will immediately abandon all other avenues of action in order to turn the car and run you over. That is the law of Africa.

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