Archive for the ‘if comp 09’ Category

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IF Comp ’09 Super Sexy Black Tie Awards Wrap Up!

November 5, 2009

Instead of writing this up, I’ve been watching Riff play Uncharted 2, which is a lot like watching an action movie, if the main character in an action movie were psychologically incapable of doing anything until he’d completely searched the surrounding area for treasure.  “Drake!  Get out of there!  It’s gonna blow!”  “I’ll get out of here in a minute, goddammit, I’m looking for shinies.”  And then, because there’s a small part of Uncharted 2 that wants to be an exploration game instead of a narrative-driven on-rails climby-shooter (which it is, and is very good at being), he will in fact find a statue of Ganesh or something in a corner of the imminently-exploding train car and his neurosis will be rewarded, even as the climby-shooter part of the game yells at him and asks if he wants a hint.  Here’s a hint, designers:  it’s weird to both yell at people and reward them for the same behavior.  If you did that to a kid, you’d have a fucked-up kid.  If you did that to a hamburger, you’d have a fucked up hamburger.  In terms of potatoes, that’s bad parenting.

This post isn’t about Uncharted 2, though, it’s about the 2009 Interactive Fiction Competition.  I haven’t forgotten.

[spoilers for every game in the comp and also last year’s Riverside and incidentally 2006’s Another Goddamn Escape the Locked Room Game given free rein after the jump]

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IF Comp ’09 – Sarah Morayati’s Broken Legs!

October 25, 2009

Mr. Magnifico: Math problem, courtesy of Little Mag: “I have 2 branches. One has one more than the other. How many different ways can there be?”
Mr Magnifico: (Answer: “It’s obvious that there are 30.”)

I saved Broken Legs for last, because the au jus seemed to like it.  So, with no further fucking around, let’s play it.

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: This game is steeped in personality and funny writing, and in that sense, I loved it.  Its puzzles, though… okay, maybe I’m denser than an Eric Eve protagonist, but I tried to solve its puzzles by myself, failed miserably, exhausted the hint system, continued to fail, consulted the pre-walkthrough, somehow managed to read it wrong, kept right on failing, resorted to the actual walkthrough, typed something in wrong, failed once again, then finally finally finally got it.  I feel like maybe a very small percentage of this is not entirely my fault.

So, yeah.  You should play it, though.  You’ll enjoy the writing, and can’t possibly do any worse at the puzzles than I did.

[spoilers begin here]

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IF Comp ’09 – Eric Eve’s Snowquest!

October 23, 2009

Eric Eve is this year’s Big Name from which we are all Expecting Great Things.  I’ve only played one of his other games, last year’s Nightfall, which had a couple nice features to keep the player up to speed with what the PC knows, but could have used some going the other direction, because man, the protagonist is thick.  (Not stupid, mind you, just… you know how characters in pre-Scream horror movies were ignorant of genre conventions, and would often wander away from the others to get a beer from a dark basement while a serial killer was at large, and you’d find yourself screaming at the screen?  Or how characters in romantic comedies get into huge misunderstandings and don’t speak to each other for more than half the movie, because somehow neither of them managed to use a noun, and you find yourself screaming at the screen?  I found myself screaming at the screen, is what I’m getting at.  “David!  That ticking thing is a bomb!  Don’t give it a biscuit!”)

I liked Nightfall, though, and I am prepared to like Snowquest, which I hear has a female protagonist, so maybe she will be somewhat less dense.  There are a finite number of ways to find out, and the easiest one I can think of is playing the damn game.

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: It was pretty good.  That’s sort of all I have for you, upshot.

[spoilers begin here]

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IF Comp ’09 – Rob Dubbin & Adam Parrish’s Earl Grey!

October 22, 2009

I didn’t write an RSS buffer beforehand, like I usually do, because man, I had nothing.  I typed out, then backspaced, something about how I am a sucker for the kitty in our backyard, and bought her a little mousey, which she seems to have taken to her secret hiding place.  I wish she’d bring it back so we can play mousey games.  She is the least interested in a laser pointer of any cat I’ve ever seen.

But anyway.

Note:  there are complete puzzle solutions in here.  (I’m sort of making a point to type them out, in fact, in case people want them.  Careful, though, they’re sort of smushed in two or six at a time.)  I had a great time with these puzzles, and if they’re at all your sort of thing, I think you will too, so I’d suggest not spoiling yourself for as long as you can possibly hold out.

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: I friggin’ loved this game.  Granted, I like word puzzles.  Some of you may not enjoy word puzzles, and will hate the fuck out of this game.  I thought it was bloody brilliant.

[spoilers begin here]

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IF Comp ’09 – Matt Scarpino’s Resonance!

October 20, 2009

Not sure what to RSS-buff about today.  I did read that toy (I think) designer Alex Green has developed a process to turn your baby’s placenta into a (disputedly) adorable teddy bear, which is extremely umwhat.  Also, this doner kebab I’m eating is both delicious and messier than fuck.  (I would say “messy as fuck,” if I simply wanted to indicate that it was very messy, but no, it literally is messier than fuck.  Well, not all kinds of fuck, I guess, but many.)

Anyway!  Four games left!  Let’s knock this noun off a second noun!

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: Sort of a detective game with sci-fi elements, and definitely one of the better games I’ve played this comp.  Reminded me a bit of last year’s Nightfall.  The combination of an integrated map and GO (LOCATION) moving you towards a named location made it nearly impossible to get lost, the conversation system eliminated the need to figure out what to ASK about, and typing HINT gave me a single hint relevant to my current situation.  The writing was not bad (more over-the-top hardboiled detectivery would have been fun, but whatev) and the puzzles were enjoyable enough, but the main thing I liked about this game was its commitment to tedium avoidance.

[spoilers begin here]

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IF Comp ’09 – Matt Wigdahl’s Grounded In Space!

October 18, 2009

On a completely unrelated note for the RSS buffer, Machinarium, the new game by Amanita Design is out, and I’ve been playing it a tiny bit.  All Amanita games are along the same lines:  you solve environment-manipulation puzzles by clicking on shit in this sort of magic-trees-robots-and-airships fantasy world that is oddly hard to describe; the closest I can get is “like Wallace and Gromit and the Little Prince had a baby.”  They’re all pretty damn cool, and Machinarium brings some new stuff to the table.  The earlier games could sort of be brute-forced by moving the mouse around until the cursor turned into a hand, but Machinarium won’t let you click on something unless your little robot dude – oh, you’re a little robot dude – is near enough and the right height (your little robot dude has three heights) to reach it.  Also – oh, man, there are little boys screaming at each other in hero and villain voices outside my window, and one of them just declared the other one would never defeat him, and cackled.  That is so damn cute.  Where were we?

Oh!  Right!  Machinarium has a super kickass feature that is my new favorite thing ever:  each screen has one hint, and a walkthrough.  To access the walkthrough, you have to play a little platform mini-game, navigating a key through a field of spiders, and it is hard as fuck. To the point where I went “fuck these spiders, I will figure it out.”  Then did.  (I hadn’t realized yet my little robot dude had three heights.)  Figuring that one out for myself was approximately as satisfying as a warm English muffin with strawberry jam and oozing butter, which I really want now, dammit, and the game playing keep-away with the walkthrough kept me from robbing myself of that.

Anyway!  Grounded In Space!

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: This game is mega science-fictiony.  Probably Heinlein-inspired, although I’ve never read any, and I suspect I wouldn’t enjoy it.  From what I can tell, the puzzles are clever, but I have no idea how I would have figured them out in a million kajillion years.  There ar e six beta testers credited and all of them must be way smarter than I am, or read so much science-fiction that laser beams, reflector fields, and fusion chambers are what mice and cheese are to the rest of us.  If you are one of those people, you will probably enjoy this as a fun little puzzler, in the same way that Mothra enjoys Tokyo as a light snack.  Personally, I couldn’t hack it.

Update:  Oh, and according to Elizabeth, Matt Wigdahl and his wife just spawned a baby human, so grats on that!  If it’s a girl, I think you should name it Penumbra.

[spoilers begin here]

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IF Comp ’09 – Tom Murrin’s Spelunker’s Quest!

October 14, 2009

Only seven games left?  Really?  The zeitgeist does not think much of Spelunker’s Quest.  I have yet to discover what the schadenfreude and the zaftig think.  Casually dropping German words into your sentences is sort of hip still, because absolutely everyone doesn’t think you’re a pretentious asshole for doing it, like they do when you casually drop French.  Speaking of which, we really need to get our own word for “denouement,” because there’s no good way to Anglicize the pronunciation without sounding just ridiculous (duhnooeyment?) and if you go for the accent you might as well announce to the world that you actually order things out of the Signals catalog.  (I make that joke fully expecting at least forty percent of my readership to own an outdoor thermometer with a Robert Frost poem engraved upon it in Gaelic.  It’s okay.  We’re still friends.)

Anyway.  Spelunker’s Quest.  Caves and shit.  Let’s do it.

Mostly Spoiler-Free Update: If you’ve played older IF games, you’ve pretty much played this one.  Wasn’t badly done, though.

[spoilers begin here]

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