Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

[REVIEWS] Four ADRIFT games on MacScare

Last response: in Video Games
Share
Anonymous
April 20, 2004 8:41:55 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Since MacScare emerged on the scene and I no longer have my
traditional reason for not playing more ADRIFT titles, I decided to
download a bunch of games and give them a shot. Here's a quick
description of my experience, which is sort of a combination of review
and MacScare feedback.

First, a disclaimer: ADRIFT's parser issues really do make me spend a
lot more time than I otherwise would cycling through possible
phrasings of things. If you can just accept that annoying fact and
move on, there's some entertainment to be had anyway. It's a little
like eating stinky cheeses. I'm not going to talk about this problem
too much in the reviews. Take it as read.


The Last Hour, by Roberto Grassi

My full review will soon appear elsewhere, but as far as I can tell,
this didn't generate any errors with MacScare.


The Woods Are Dark, by Cannibal

This starts off reasonably promising. It's a horror game set in
Ireland, and the Irish local color felt fairly realistic to me -- some
of my favorite bits of the game are to be found in the dialogue that
establishes backstory. I haven't been to Ireland and have no idea
whether Irish people actually speak like this, but there were some
parts of the conversation that felt realistic rather than generic or
stereotypical, and I enjoyed them.

The body of the game is about exploring a deserted cottage for clues
about the murder of some people who lived there long before. The
setting is austere but, for the most part, well done. Then I ran into
a point where I simply wasn't allowed to pick up an object that had
been brought into my environment due to an event. I kept getting a
message saying that I "didn't have it with me", or words to that
effect. This was mysterious. I found a walkthrough for the game; I
followed it precisely but still wasn't able to get past that buggy
point. Therefore, I am suspecting a flaw in MacScare rather than in
the game code, though it's hard to be sure.

The walkthrough included a transcript, so I was able to read what
happens past the point where I got stuck. Unfortunately some of the
puzzles seem to be a little arbitrary, and the writing becomes less
restrained and more over the top, in the later portions. I have this
problem with almost every horror game/book/movie I have ever
experienced, though -- once I get past the creepy hinty bits into the
graphic revelations, I'm turned off. Even Anchorhead, one of my
favorite IF games ever, did this a little. So these comments deserve
a grain of salt.


Legacy of a Princess, by "Me"

This appears to be largely a parody/expansion/fanfic/something based
on The Legend of Zelda. As I never played the original, it didn't
mean much to me. There were a number of rooms where there was nothing
to do, and the initial several moves of plot were of the variety where
X tells you to go somewhere and see Y, and then Y tells you to go and
see Z, and Z tells you to visit X again. So I wasn't terribly
enthralled, and quit. Someone with nostalgic feelings towards Zelda
might have a different experience. Or not.


Paint!!!, by David Whyld

Of the four games here, probably my favorite in terms of raw
entertainment value, but also the one I most suspect of showing bugs
under MacScare. In this game, you're the head of a paint crew hired
to make over a shabby office. Your workmen are sloppy and lazy, your
equipment is not the best, and you yourself (it's implied) are not so
bright. Everything goes wrong that could possibly go wrong, not to
mention a few additional events of which you would never have dreamed.

What's good: this is another light-comedy/farce IF, somewhat in the
vein of "To Hell in a Hamper" and "Gourmet". I like this sort of
thing, especially as a break from more somber works. I wasn't quite
as blown away by the writing of "Paint!!!" as the writing of
"Gourmet", but I think that's largely a question of the narrative
voice being one I sympathized with a little less. And the farcical
events are a little more extreme. Still, it gets in some funny
moments and isn't drab.

What's more, it offers a lot of room for replaying. The events of
"Paint!!!" will unfold no matter what you do, and your job is to
optimize the situation as much as possible. I find this format fairly
effective when it's done well: you're less likely to get totally stuck
than in a purely win-or-lose type of game, you can enjoy playing
around trying to find the variant endings, and so on.

What is not so good: some of the puzzle solutions are a little on the
odd side, and there are one or two that I doubt I would have come up
with without hints from the author. Parts of the game are fairly
timing-finicky, and in particular there are things that you can
trigger if you do the right action at the right time, but you don't
always have reason in advance to know that you should be doing them.
For a one-room game, there are a surprising number of red herrings.
Moreover, at least in my playthrough of the game, there were some
objects that turned up more or less inexplicably, and some timed
events that seemed a little off. From exchanging email with the
author, I'm starting to suspect that these again are the result of
MacScare errors rather than flaws in the game's programming, though I
don't know enough to diagnose these in more detail.

Also, I promised not to rant too much about parser flaws, but there
are a few in here that are particularly bad, and that should have been
patched over, because they create definite guess-the-verb situations.

Finally, I mentioned that this kind of game design allows for lots of
different fun endings. This is true, but I was actually a little
disappointed by the specific endings to be found in this one. Mostly,
they amount to being paid different amounts of money for finishing the
job; more wacky variety would have been more entertaining.

So I liked the concept and the writing but had some issues with the
execution. This is one of those games that would be more fun if it
were rereleased in a hardier form -- though, again, it's hard to say
how much of that is the game and how much the interpreter I was using.
(In fact, all the farce-IF I know of seems to have gone through
phases of severe bugginess, even if it eventually wound up being
rereleased in a fairly polished form. Maybe this is just a particular
danger of the genre? Anything with lots of timed events is going to
be trouble, I'm sure.)


====

-- Emily
Anonymous
April 21, 2004 4:27:21 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

On 20 Apr 2004 16:41:55 -0700, emshort@mindspring.com <emshort@mindspring.com> wrote:
> Since MacScare emerged on the scene and I no longer have my
> traditional reason for not playing more ADRIFT titles, I decided to

I assume that your computer is not java capable; jAsea's been out for a year
and a half.

> download a bunch of games and give them a shot. Here's a quick
> description of my experience, which is sort of a combination of review
> and MacScare feedback.
>
> First, a disclaimer: ADRIFT's parser issues really do make me spend a
> lot more time than I otherwise would cycling through possible
> phrasings of things. If you can just accept that annoying fact and
> move on, there's some entertainment to be had anyway. It's a little
> like eating stinky cheeses. I'm not going to talk about this problem
> too much in the reviews. Take it as read.
>

jAsea (and SCARE, unless it's been greatly changed) should be pretty close
to the ADRIFT parser in terms of handling overridden commands. It is very
different in terms of handling library commands.

--
------------------------
Mark Jeffrey Tilford
tilford@ugcs.caltech.edu
Anonymous
April 21, 2004 4:27:22 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

"Mark J. Tilford" <tilford@ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote in message news:<slrnc8bg2h.gjo.tilford@ralph.earthlink.net>...
> On 20 Apr 2004 16:41:55 -0700, emshort@mindspring.com <emshort@mindspring.com> wrote:
> > Since MacScare emerged on the scene and I no longer have my
> > traditional reason for not playing more ADRIFT titles, I decided to
>
> I assume that your computer is not java capable; jAsea's been out for a year
> and a half.

Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but basically it boils
down to jAsea not working out for me at the time that I investigated
it, and me having a prejudice against java applications unless I
couldn't avoid them (slow, you see), and me not thinking about it too
hard again until I saw the MacScare announcement. It didn't really
seem worth explaining all that, but I didn't mean to slight you there.


> > download a bunch of games and give them a shot. Here's a quick
> > description of my experience, which is sort of a combination of review
> > and MacScare feedback.
> >
> > First, a disclaimer: ADRIFT's parser issues really do make me spend a
> > lot more time than I otherwise would cycling through possible
> > phrasings of things. If you can just accept that annoying fact and
> > move on, there's some entertainment to be had anyway. It's a little
> > like eating stinky cheeses. I'm not going to talk about this problem
> > too much in the reviews. Take it as read.
> >
>
> jAsea (and SCARE, unless it's been greatly changed) should be pretty close
> to the ADRIFT parser in terms of handling overridden commands. It is very
> different in terms of handling library commands.

Okay, possibly so. In my experience, however, parsing wackiness is a
problem shared to some degree by just about every ADRIFT game I have
played or seen played on any interpreter, Windows or otherwise.

Still, I'd be curious to know a little more about these interpreter
differences, just for my future reference.
Related resources
Anonymous
April 21, 2004 2:06:10 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Thank you for the review, Emily. :) 
I've still to learn many things so i really appreciate your review.
About minimal interactivity i suspect it is probably due to
"non Windows interpreters".
For example i tried "The Last Hour" on Jasea and noticed that
MANY actions that had default responses in native "player"
had "I don't understand what you mean" in Jasea.
Don't know if it's the same for MacScare.
Rob



--
Posted via Mailgate.ORG Server - http://www.Mailgate.ORG
Anonymous
April 21, 2004 2:45:06 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

"Roberto Grassi" <robgrassi@yahoo.it> wrote in message news:<7df51a31d61161b86dbcd1a028800822.99203@mygate.mailgate.org>...
> Thank you for the review, Emily. :) 
> I've still to learn many things so i really appreciate your review.
> About minimal interactivity i suspect it is probably due to
> "non Windows interpreters".
> For example i tried "The Last Hour" on Jasea and noticed that
> MANY actions that had default responses in native "player"
> had "I don't understand what you mean" in Jasea.
> Don't know if it's the same for MacScare.
> Rob


The latest SCARE source base, which is the one used in MacScare, does try
to include the default verb responses that Adrift has. Yes, even including
the hilarious

> jump
Wheee-boinng.

and the undocumented

> xyzzy
I'm sorry, but XYZZY doesn't do anything special in this game!

That's not to say they're all there, but I've tried to make it a pretty
complete list. One I did deliberately leave out of SCARE, though, is

> campbell
Campbell wrote this Adventure Runner. It's pretty good huh!

It seemed somehow inappropriate to have this in SCARE.

A final note -- if anyone would like to send me details of the places in
these games where MacScare seems to behave differently to the Adrift Runner,
I'll be happy to take a look and see if I can improve the match between the
two.

SCARE's _major_ goal is to smell, walk, and quack as much like the Adrift
Runner as possible (with the exception of the "campbell" verb), but in a
portable, platform-neutral, and open-source way. Oh, yeah, and also to be
fast. Fast-ish.
April 21, 2004 10:51:11 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

Thanks for the review of Paint!!! I'm bearing in mind all the relevant
points for if/when I get round to revamping it.
!