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Jonadab's Comp04 Playnotes

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November 19, 2004 11:32:49 AM

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

These will _mostly_ be of interest to the authors, but I'm posting
them here
on the grounds that this is where most of the discussion about the
games is
taking place. These are notes that I took while playing the games;
there are
some opinions expressed herein that have since changed, due to playing
more
of the games or due to other factors. (For example, I rated Gamlet
after two
hours of play, being about one puzzle shy of finding the chamber,
after which
point the quality drops off sharply. It drops off sharply again once
you find
the book. If I had finished it, I would have rated it substantially
lower.)

One other thing: I don't have a real newsfeed anymore; I'll check
back via
Google for responses over the next few days (and am specifically
interested
in discussing why I deviated so far from the mean score for Blue
Chairs),
but after that email me if you want a response, and put the phrase
"Interactive Fiction" in the subject to avoid getting lost in the
spam.

So take these notes cum shakero salis, but here they are, in the order
in which
I played the games...


Playing/Judging Notes for IFComp04,
Jonadab the Unsightly One <jonadab@bright.net>
(If you contact me by mail, put IFComp04 or Interactive Fiction in
the subject line. I get a lot of mail, and if it lands in my
unsorted inbox I could be a long time getting around to it. If
you label it with one of those things in the subject header, it
will get sorted into a folder where I will see it much sooner.)

I used Comp04.z5 to order and rate the games, but I took notes also,
which are below and may be of interest, especially to the authors.
Yes, I'm a tough judge, but I'm tough on everybody -- to get a 10,
you've got to rise to the standard of truly great comp games of the
past, such as The Meteor, The Stone, and a Long Glass of Sherbet.
Conscious of the fact that I may rate tougher than others, I made
sure to rate as many of the games as possible, so as not to unbalance
the results.

1. Blue Chairs:

"Green like candy almost never is" sounds like something out of
the Bulwer-Lytton. Then it hits me straight up with copious
gratuitous profanity and obvious typos like "the the". This one
better improve fast if it wants two hours out of me.

Okay, so I drink the stuff and head for the dream, which had
better be an improvement on the framework story... The slovenly
grammar is getting to me.

Neat trick with trying to speak... The execrable grammar is
getting to me, and there had better be a plot soon.

"It's a regular old hallway with blank off-white walls.
Undoubtedly you'll forget all about this one in a couple days --
isn't that sort of sad? Then again, it's just a hallway, one of
thousands, one of millions of moments your brain will eventually
discard as unimportant." That probably sounds deep if you've been
drinking pale green liquid out of a cough syrup bottle... but at
this point I'm going to bail. This game scores two points, one
for managing to hold my interest for upwards of five minutes, and
one for having a good parser.

2. Redeye [waiting for interpreter to download]

3. Who Created That Monster [waiting for interpreter download]

4. Orion Agenda:

Gratuitous attempt to use the first person, which seldom works
well in IF. This immediately promises to be substantially more
literate than "Blue Chairs", however.

The first puzzle is easy enough to stumble through, but satisfying
to complete, in that it wasn't entirely obvious. The prose is
helping.

# There is a page for me coming over the PA: "Captain
# Stark. Captain Jon Stark. Please report to the General's office
# at once. Thank you."
>report to the general's office
#[That's not a verb I recognise.]

*sigh* It was worth a shot.

"reading what looks to be an Orionion bible" is awkward. I think
it's the word "Orionion" that's awkward. Orionite or Orionese or
even Orioner would be less awkward, IMHO.

Ah, the terminal reveals that this one definitely has plot enough
to consume my two hours. The second puzzle is also satisfyingly
straightforward, once I explored the station's locations and
looked up the obvious suspects in the terminal. And I got to
"take the case", heh.

The shuttle bay has what I think is an unintended puzzle, due to
there being no mention of the shuttles' presense in the room
description.

Argh. The manual says to know my partner's capabilities and use
them. She's a linguist. But I can't put the translator on her,
or put it in her ear, and if I give it to her, she says she'll
hold it. If I tell her to wear it, she doesn't think that will
help. If I ask her about language, she's perplexed. Either the
terminal was full of balogna about her linguistics background, or
there's some serious oversight going on here. I'm docking the
game a point for this one.

It's a shame I didn't have the foresight to bring grapefruit juice
from the cafeteria. I don't think the tea is going to cut it.

Well, I just about managed to get out of the village, and I'm out
of time. This game could have scored eight or nine, except for a
few oversights, the worst being the aforementioned
translator/partner thing. Also the priest wasn't blessed by the
gods with knowledge about half the objects in the temple, some of
the religious topics he mentioned, or anything in the garden. And
the plants in the garden aren't organic. And the final piece of
the Skill puzzle suffered from a mild guess-the-verb problem
(though the hints cleared it up -- with different wording, the
solution I'd already tried worked). Still, a good game, seven
points despite the fact I didn't finish in two hours, and giving
this game seven makes me feel all stingy and miserly.

2. Redeye:

One point right off the bat for an interesting setting.
"I don't know the word xxx", where xxx can be most of the objects
mentioned in the scene description, however, is not an encouraging
sign.

And when I find Arthur, I seem to have guess-the-verb problems
communicating with him. Or else he just isn't very communicative.

Ah, disambiguation fun: "Which urinal do you mean, the toilet, or
the toilet?"

Hmmm... I think the reason I couldn't talk to Arthur is, it would
have screwed up the plot. I don't really care for strictly-linear
plots in IF; I'd read a book if I wanted that.

"I don't know the word constable." "I don't know the word
Phillips." Nothing is implemented in this game. I'm done.

One point for the setting in the initial scene, and one point for
holding my interest past five minutes, and a third point for the
potential I sense probably lies under the surface, if the author
would just finish _implementing_ it. Three points, and I feel
very generous.

3. Who Created That Monster:

Lose one point for having floating surveillance spheres in an
unrealistically soon year. The setting worries me, but I'll
withhold judgement on that momentarily and see where the author
goes with it.

The memo is hokey beyond all reason. This had better get better
fast.

Umm...

# >nw
# The terrorist blocks your way.
# The terrorist seems to be getting angrier.

Oh, *that* kind of game. No thanks.
One point because the grammar was okay.

5. The Sting of the Wasp:

The blurb at the intro assures me the first scene does not set the
tone for the whole game.

Oh, the plot is simple enough -- in theory. There's potential
there. Mrs. Stratham seems to be well implemented; that's a good
sign.

All the NPCs are decently implemented, actually -- but the focus
of the game seems to center mainly around unpleasant gossip, and
so I'm going to pass on the remainder of it. Three points: one
for holding my interest past five minutes, one for decent prose,
and one for the well-implemented (if largely unpleasant) NPCs.

6. Typo:

As I examine the parts of the machine, I catch myself remembering
that I'm being watched. Not sure how the author accomplished
that. One point just for that.

I found a bizarre scoping bug:
# >l it up in the manual
# You can't see "it" (the blue switch) at the moment.
# >l up blue switch in manual
# "The blue switch engages and disengages the order processing
subsystem."
This doesn't impact gameplay much, really, but it's sure weird.
Perhaps the worse bug is that I can't find any way to look up the
order processing subsystem, even though looking up subsystem tells
me there are four matching entries, listing that one and three
others.

Attempts to put anything in the empty slot result in "you have to
be more specific". Apparently the slot is not implemented.

Interesting death messages.

Cannot disconnect the hoses once connected. Restarting...
twice...

Too frustrating. The constant need to type out lengthy commands
with lots of adjectives is getting old. The bug that prevents me
from using "it" when switching back and forth between looking
things up in the manual and examining or manipulating them
exacerbates this effect, but needing to constantly refer to the
"blue switch" or "yellow light" because neither "blue" nor "light"
is enough information, and similarly with any number of other
pieces of the machine...

I played this one for a full hour and have solved a number of
minor puzzles, but at this point I'm going to bail, due to the
technical problems. It's not the game's concept at fault here,
mostly just technical issues that could probably be worked out in
a future version. Two points for holding my interest for a full
hour, one point for the interesting concept, one point for the
cool death messages, and the aforementioned point for making me
feel observed, a clear and obvious case of involving the reader in
the story. Five points, and with some fixing up here and there
this game definitely has the potential be a six or seven, maybe
better, depending on how the rest of it goes that I didn't get to.

7. Murder at the Aero Club:

I admit, the title biased me slightly against this one, and I
shouldn't let the title influence me. I'll withhold judgement and
play it, but it had better not be what it sounds like...

Past 40 Celsius, yeesh, I don't even like _imagining_ that.

Unimplemented objects in the workshop, but score a point for
motivating me to look something up on the internet, even though I
really didn't need to know to play the game. (It took me about
six searches and weeding through fifty irrelevant possibilities to
find the correct ASAC, but nevermind.)

The inspection proves to be mostly undifficult. The notebook is
a handy timesaver.

I can't examine his tie? That's not right. I want to know what
colour of tie he was wearing. Can't turn over the corpse either,
or see the wound. The author needs to pay more attention to
detail. The office has neither desk nor filing cabinet. Oh, and
the trivial parse_name routine needed for Haagen (so you can call
him Haagen Das if you like without any ambiguity) is absent.

Oh, and speaking of flat static characters...

Had to consult walkthrough to find the stupid battery. Only
significant puzzle so far, and it was a matter of which unobvious
place to search.

Oh, and getting into the aircraft to talk to the occupant was less
than altogether obvious; add_to_scope would have seemed
appropriate here.

Okay, two points for holding my interest pass an hour, but it
forfeits the extra point for completion because I had to consult
the walkthrough, as there were no in-game hints, so near as I
could determine. One aforementioned point for getting me to look
something up, and a point for being mostly not too hard, but
forfeit the atmosphere point for having too many unimplemented
details, something that ought to be worked out for a rerelease.
One point because the two most obvious suspects didn't do it, that
makes four, which isn't as bad as it sounds, coming from a
nitpicking curmudgeon such as myself, and working in a genre I
don't really care for that much.

8. Zero:

I'm reading lame prose in the preface, a broken idiom in the
prologue, lousy grammar, and serious punctuation issues, and we
haven't even got to the introduction yet.

OTOH, the goblins aren't the bad guys, so maybe we're outside the
box here.

Then again, when I start doing things, I get some incredibly lame
stock responses, such as, "Okay, you're no longer in the throne".
This had better improve fast.

And we're wandering around in caves and halls that somehow manage
to lack any atmosphere, despite each having a distinct object
(albeit, mostly ones you cannot interact with in any meaningful
way). I've seen enough here.

One point for thinking outside the box, and a second point for
(just barely) holding my interest past five minutes. Two.

9. PTBAD 3:

I'm seeing gratuitous tense shifting in the opening paragraph...

There are many short sentences. They are simple sentences. They
have only one verb each.

There is no point to this game, but it gets one anyway because
that's the minimum I'm allowed to give.

10. Ninja:

I can't x the shrine. I can't use the pronoun "it". Inside eight
moves I'm getting _very_ tired of reading "You cannot do that."
Lose three points because there is no polite word I can use to
describe the parser.

The prose is mostly oversimplistic, but occasional almost-literary
words such as "nary" rescue it from losing a point.

The game does not bother to explain _why_ I must reach the shrine
of the Evil One. Lousy parser, mediocre prose, and no plot...

One point for "nary".

11. Stack:

The grammar in the opening paragraph is not impressing me.

The opening scene looked to be a tedious slapstick of
what-else-can-go-wrong pain, but, mercifully, that ended quickly.

I can't sit or stand on the table? What gives?

Well, that was straightforward enough, and gives me some idea what
the game is about. This topic has been done to death in IF by
now, but I'll hang on and see if the author does anything new with
it.

The second puzzle is harder, but now I have room to wander.

Trying to fill the helmet with the liquid results in "But there's
no water here to carry". If I can't use it to carry the liquid,
it should be for a good reason, such as because it's permanently
attached to the suit at the neck.

Also, I can't do obvious things with the rubber strip, such as tie
it to myself or anything else, or wrap it around the gyroscope and
pull to start the thing. At this point I resorted to the hints.

There's a discontinuity in the pronoun "it" where the author used
a second object for the barrel. You're supposed to update itobj
in these situations so the player doesn't notice.

Had to resort to the walkthrough to get the keycard.

When I tried to show the manual to the nurse, I got a dialog box
from WinFrotz (yes, I'm playing the competition games on a Windows
system; no, that's not my regular system), "fatal, illegal
object". Strange.

Okay, two points for holding my interest for a full hour, but
forfeit the extra point for completion because I had to resort to
the walkthrough, and because due to the crash I didn't actually
finish (though I'm sure I was quite close). One point because the
station had some interesting stuff to interact with, and one more
for working in-game hints that got me through several tight spots.
That's four points, which isn't as bad as it sounds coming from a
nitpicking curmudgeon such as myself who started this game out
thinking "this concept has been done to death".

12. The Realm:

What is it with waking up drunk or hung over? Did someone
announce that as the competition theme for this year and not
everyone realised they were joking?

The parser doesn't grok personal pronouns. I thought TADS could
do better than that. Oh, and I have a trousers.

The writing in the room descriptions is decent (mostly), but
actual objects are simple to the point of feeling like tokens and
are spread very sparsely around the map. The NPCs, though
numerous, do not seem very communicative; neither are they very
active.

And the game is getting tiresome. It's not that it's _bad_, it
just... isn't intriguing. I don't find myself wondering where
it's going; I pretty much know where it's going, and roughly how
it's going to get there, except for the minutia.

So, one point for the decent writing, one point for being the only
wake-up-drunk game so far that *didn't* inundate me with a deluge
of superfluous profanity out the wazoo in the first scene, and the
point for holding my interest past five minutes, that makes three.

13. Gamlet:

Oh, I wonder where the name of the game came from</sarcasm>

Where on earth is Pudlo, and why are Hebrew names mixed into a
British story? I want to know where the author is going with
this.

Okay, Ewww.

The prose is good, though, and the gameplay is smooth. Eight
chances out of ten this was written by a well-known RAIF regular.

The author has done a good job of capturing the mind tricks
insomnia and a dark empty house can play late at night, with the
little noises and things.

Fruit before the meal, after I've just gorged myself on everything
in the pantry, and nibbled a bit more of most of it for good
measure? That message should have been altered.

I'm... stuck. I don't know how to enter the shaft (assuming
that's the correct thing to do). I pray to the name for a sign,
and nothing comes.

Why is a Hebrew religious book talking about factorials in terms
of houses and stones? Why is it talking about factorials at all?

Upon closer inspection, I find the carriage, but I don't know how
to get a light down there.

I'm now just about certain this was written by a well-known RAIF
regular, and I've got a certain one in mind (though I could well
be wrong about which). I ran out of time, but I didn't get
anywhere substantial in the last fourty minutes or so. I liked
the way the hint system was integrated with the game, but
ultimately it fell short of helping me quite enough.

Okay, this game misses the point for completion, because I just
couldn't find a way to get unstuck, and it misses another because
the occasional Really Extraneous Gross Silly Thing (the method of
the murder and the thing with the servant (and the boy is
_twelve_?)) detracts substantially from the mood, IMO. Eight, and
I'm being miserly with the points again.

14. The Big Scoop:

There sure are a lot of murder games this year. Oh, and (big
surprise) I'm waking up drunk again. No points for originality on
either count.

I hate time-based puzzles. All that restoring. Bleh.

The policeman sees me by looking out the window, when I'm inside a
closed, pitch-dark wardrobe. Now, if the wardrobe were one of a
couple hundred objects in a very complex game, that would be an
understandable oversight, but here, if you discount the objects I
can't actually interact with ("leave that mess for someone else"),
the wardrobe is one of maybe three objects, so you would think an
obvious use for it would have occured to the author. I didn't
necessarily think I would fully evade the police by hiding in the
wardrobe, but I certainly expected that at minimum the police
would have to _open_ the wardrobe in order to find me there. I
got impatient after this gross oversight and used the hints to get
past the first puzzle. (The hints were good, albeit not subtle.)

This had better get better fast now.

Great. The same muffled voice called again, with the _SAME_
message about the police and the swat team. The first time when I
found Brian, and again when I was in the alley. I checked my
transcript, and there's a contiguous path. The author isn't even
keeping track of what events have already happened.

The anonymous stranger asking how I feel and driving me to the
hospital is *weird*. It's like the author just didn't want to
implement the part of the game where I make my way home.

Oh, and I'm a different character now, so the author didn't _need_
that dodge at all; he could have just cut the scene when I hit the
street.

Someone in the company is stealing secret information? Wow,
that's not generic or anything. I'm going to call this one now,
as it's clear it's not going to improve much.

One point for holding my interest past five minutes, one point for
successfully switching player characters without confusing me, and
one point for more-or-less descent grammar. Three, and it earned
all three of them cleanly; I'm not just being generous.

15. Luminous Horizon:

Good title. Let's see if the game can live up to it.

To stay in strict compliance with comp rules, I counted the time
spent reading the Comic Feelie against my time limit (if it comes
to that). In exchange, this game has the one point for holding my
interest past five minutes pretty much in the bag, which seems
like a fair bargain.

Okay, so, the actual game...

# The damaged road sign appears to be in perfect working order
already.

Hmmm... certain verbs that are almost always present but normally
see very little use aside from frustrated players reading stock
library messages are going to play a real role in this game.

Wow, violence against inanimate objects is more satisfying in this
game than in most IF. Oh, and I like the way the hint system is
integrated.

I'm not sure what to make of having the story broken up into short
segments. I guess it fits with the comic motif, but it's
distracting.

I like the little dialogs the evil villians have every time we
accomplish anything useful. They're hokey, in a comic-book sort
of way, but they're not like the sort of thing we usually see in
IF, and I like them.

Also, the two-character thing is working.

Oh, and the prose is not bad. Terse and informal, but not bad.

I find it an odd coincidence that this is the second game with a
yarmulke.

The dodging game is tedious. Tedious, and I had to restart once.
I got it on the second try, though.

You know, this game was fairly sparse with the objects, and I
didn't even *notice* until now. It didn't feel empty. I guess
the action wasn't sparse.

Okay, this one gets two points for holding my interest past an
hour, plus the extra point for full completion, a point for
successfully pulling off two characters, a point for doing a genre
that's NOT been done to death in IF already, a point for the
well-integrated hint system, a point for significant use of verbs
such as "jump", and a point for the satisfaction of breaking doors
and stuff. That's... eight. Does this game deserve eight
points? I feel a little generous, but I enjoyed the game, so I'll
let it stand at eight.

16. Goose, Egg, Badger:

Well, it's certainly not what the title makes it sound like.
(That's a good thing.)

The hint system seems lacking. Maybe it's just me, but it tells
me what I already know, mostly.

Umm, my score goes down, and there's no clue why. Fullscore only
tells me a number, no reasons. This game is interesting, but it's
not polished.

Whee, indeed, but that accomplished what, exactly?

There must be an obvious answer to the duck, surely...

I have a dream of a brighter place, but... apparently not bright
enough to make any kind of difference. Apart from the oil, I
don't see anything I can do different.

Well, at 63 out of 100 points, it's clear I'm not going to finish
this one before time runs out, and I'm frustrated, so I'm calling
it now.

Two points for holding my interest past an hour (though it was a
close thing on more than one occasion), one point for not being
what I expected, and one for interesting writing in places.
That's four, and I'm being magnanimous.

17. Blink:

Good room descriptions. Mostly good dialog, except that the PC
often doesn't have very many options.

Shame about this (apparently) being Yet Another War is Bad Vietnam
Thing. Despite having never seen that in IF before, I've had a
bellyful of it elsewhere. (I could also be wrong about where this
is headed, but I'd have to get further into the game to find that
out.)

The description of the creek (where I first find it) doesn't tell
me the direction of flow; nor can I "examine current". Also, the
game doesn't think there is much to be achieved by climbing a
tree. Ten to one the author grew up in a metropolitan area. He
should have sought help writing this scene.

There's not enough water to swim in, although a river blocks my
passage; I can't ford it, swim in it, jump over it, wade, ... I
can't swim in the pond either, nor the creek -- but I can stand in
the pond, surrounded by cattails, drop my rifle and radio, walk
away, come back, and pick them up as if nothing happened. In a
scene with only one actor, ten locations, and two portable
objects, you'd think the author could think of the interactions.

I've tried the radio in every location, tried every possible
direction (including up and down) from all the edge points of the
map, have tried the obvious things with the pipe, and can get
nowhere.

# >shoot me
# You wouldn't want anyone to be alerted to your presence.

No, if I'm going to shoot myself, I certainly wouldn't want to
alert anyone that I'm here. I'm giving up on this scene,
restarting, and hoping to get a different branch of play by
choosing different dialog options...

Well, despite the help info, it doesn't seem possible to avoid
that scene. I've tried pretty much every dialog option, including
saying as little as possible. So I'm completely stuck, then.
Yes, one bad scene _can_ ruin an otherwise decent game, if the
game is linear in nature.

One point for holding my interest past five minutes, one for good
room descriptions, and one for mostly convincing dialog. Three
points, take it or leave it.

18. Kurusu City:

Well, that's not the _usual_ reason for playing hookey.

I don't know what to say about this one. I fiddled with it for an
hour and a half, using the ROT13ed hints for the latter half of
that time, and didn't get nearly as far as one would hope. I got
as far as giving my id card to Annette, but I don't have anything
else to help her fix it; the hints imply that I can get something
from Masako, but there doesn't appear to be anything to get. I
need to ask Wesley for something, but I have no idea what to ask
her for, and no idea how to find out. I almost get the impression
that there's background information I don't know related to the
genre, or something.

Two points for holding my interest past an hour, one point for
being in a genre that's not been done much in IF, and one point
for more-or-less literate prose. Four. I probably would have
rated it better if I'd been able to get further.

19. I Must Play:

The older boys must be better funded, quarter-wise, than is normal
in my experience. No matter.

Interesting concept. But will it work as IF?

I'm not getting the thing with the orange one. I mean, I got the
five points and everything, but I'm not sure what was going on.
(Eventually, when it was the only one left, I used the hints.)

The less reputable parts. I'll have to remember that one.

These don't seem much like normal video games.

Frogger? Well, at least that resembles a real video game, albeit
one from the era of my childhood. (Ironically, perhaps, I still
remember the music from Frogger. I only actually got to play it
one time for about two minutes, but I heard the music for an
entire bus ride every day for several months, because one of the
kids on the bus had one of the "tabletop" units.)

Okay no points for plot. The built-in hints were good, when they
were needed, so a point for those. (I particularly liked having
the boy give me hints, although as a character he fell flat in
other ways.) Two points for holding my interest (barely) past an
hour, plus the extra point for completion. One point for the
interesting concept, which as far as I am aware has not been done
before in IF. I'm not sure how well it worked, but it was worth
experimenting with once. That's five, which is pretty good for a
game with no plot, but hey, I feel benevolent this evening.

20. Getting Back to Sleep:

The readme says characters might talk to me or leave the room
while I'm typing. I'm trying to figure out how that's a selling
point, and I'm coming up empty. This game had better be a whole
lot better than I anticipate.

A required .DLL file, MSSCOREE.DLL, was not found. Well, I'm not
going DLL hunting to play a game whose main selling point is that
stuff's going to happen while I'm trying to type. I'd be within
my rights to rate it one point, but I'll be forgiving and merely
not rate it at all. HTH.HAND.

21. A Light's Tale:

Another game featuring a featureless white cube? And then we
quote According to John and The Matrix back-to-back, followed
shortly by Lewis Carrol. At least the author didn't screw up the
grammar in the John quote. Oh, !?!

# This doesn't look like a safe place. It looks like the kind of
# place where shady characters would hang out.

For the author to _describe_ the appearance of the place, and let
me draw that conclusion on my own, would smack of writing talent.

One point because at least the pointless managerie of context-free
quotes borrows from some worthwhile sources.

22. Mingsheng:

The premise is lame, but the writing seems okay.

Plus a point for implementing sensible responses to the
out-of-the-norm things that I tried at the door.

And the door puzzle is not too hard, but for some reason less than
satisfying, maybe because once you examine the right things it's
too obvious.

This game _feels_ fairly open, even though I think in practice it
is largely linear. Maybe because always there are new locations
to explore. I have the key.

I cannot tie the vine to the tree, or to me. Nor can I swing it,
whip it, twirl it, or even untie it. I tried dropping the box in
a wide assortment of locations and ultimately had to resort to the
walkthrough for the solution to this one.

After that, nothing was very hard.

Two points for holding my interest past an hour, but the extra
point for completion is forfeit because I had to resort to a
walkthrough to get the box open, although several things I tried
should have worked or at least had better responses (rather than
making me think to try a slight variation on this, such as maybe
another location, the responses instead lead me to believe I was
barking completely up the wrong tree). However, the game won that
point back on the door puzzle by implementing good responses to
everything I tried. One point for good writing, particularly in
the descriptions of objects and locations. One point for using a
genre I've never personally seen before in IF, and making it work.
Oh, and one point for giving the feeling of delay while watching
the snake and the stork, without making me hit z several times;
the way that was implemented was just right, if mildly unorthodox.
That make six points, which seems fair.

23. Blue Sky:

Well, I can wander around and examine a lot of buildings... I
sure hope the author doesn't think that because he grew up in
Santa Fe that means I want to read about its landmarks the whole
game long.

It's an open game, which I like, but for some reason it lacks
atmosphere. It's not that the room descriptions are bad, no,
they're okay. Maybe it's the lack of any significant number of
objects, or the way the NPCs are basically unimplemented, or
perhaps the stock messages (e.g., "There's a llama nearby.")

I don't know what it is, but the game is boring.

The map is funky. For example, from the nw corner of the plaza,
going west and then back east lands me... north of the plaza, but
I can't get back to the plaza by going south from there -- even
though the room description implies I should be able to do so.
From the se corner of the plaza, going east then nw causes similar
weirdness. If this served some purpose in the game, or if the
game explained why it was that way, then I could understand that,
but as it stands it just feels like bad design. I'm getting lost,
and that shouldn't be; I don't get lost; I didn't get lost playing
Curses, and I never drew a map for the collossal cave adventure,
even. This game is confusing me about where I am without even the
courtesy of a decent reason. It reminds me of the closets in
Detective.

Something had better happen soon, something more substantial than
a fully scripted scene wherein I eat mexican food and my eyes
water.

Okay, the solution to the Cathedral puzzle is *lame*. If there'd
been any mimesis in this game, it would have completely withered
to nothingness at this point.

Also at this point I know the entire plot of the game (and I'm a
little surprised I didn't pick it up earlier; if I hadn't been so
busy grousing about the lack of atmosphere, I probably would
have), and it's A) repetitive, B) unoriginal and C) boring, so I'm
playing no more of it.

One point for pretty good room descriptions, and the point for
holding my interest past five minutes. That's two. The setting
could make for an interesting game, but only with some plot added
and some objects or real NPCs or something. Two points it is.

24. Order:

The opening dialog is, despite the cheesy premise, well written.

The ability to create is... well, let's just say it has the
potential to make for a fun game. If it's implemented well.

A lot of things are unimplemented in this game. I can't see any
such thing a lot of times.

To the west is a small castle... To the west is more open
ground. Right.

The puzzles are all very easy.

I can't create salt, which seams obvious for fighting a slime
beast. Oh, nevermind.

Throwing either of the objects I've created for the final puzzle
does nothing; it turns out I just have to _have_ them?

I do hate time-based puzzles.

Now, with the final monster, the problem I expected finally rears
its head: there are dozens of things I might create to solve this
puzzle, but none of them are implemented: fans, sails, a
windmill, wings, birds (or a dragon...), calm or stillness, wind,
a storm, earplugs (to stop the howling and screaming), a jet, an
airplane, another wizard, shutters (for the windows on the
steeple), ...

Oh, I got a stack underflow (i.e., WinFrotz crashed) when I
created the sandbag. Is that normal? I'll try this again...

Okay, the crash was a fluke aparently.

For the horde of creatures, what I really want to create is a
BFG9000. But I can't create that. Or fleas.

I can't seem to create diseases. Or pain. Shame, that.

Wow, one hour *on the nose*. I'll give it the two points for
holding my interest for a full hour, but that was a close thing.
It also gets the extra point for completion, plus a point for
letting me create stuff, and a point for decent writing. I can't
give it any points for plot, though, and too many things were
unimplemented to give it points for technical quality. Five,
then.

25. All Things Devours:

The intro makes this sound like a time-based puzzle. I sure hope
that's an inaccurate misgiving... I *hate* time-based puzzles...

The buttons... a normal real-world solution to the "it needs to
be down when I'm not here" problem is to set something on the
button. But putting things on these buttons "would achieve
nothing".

Oh, that's herring anyway (at least for now). Okay.

The premise is hokey beyond the bounds of all reason, like a bad
ST:TOS episode. I get the distinct impression that the prototype
probably looks like it's made from cardboard and spray paint -- or
would if it weren't made purely from text. OTOH, the prose is
pretty okay, nothing at all like the bad dialog in ST:TOS.

There's a switch, but "flip" isn't a verb I recognize.

Okay, I did what the intro said my plan was, but the catastrophe
still occurred -- with no indication about why, or what went
wrong. There were no integrated hints, so I had to go to the
website. The epilogue, contrary to the first hint there, does
*not* give any clue what went wrong; it is exactly the same as if
I don't plant the bomb at all.

Some of the other hints don't even make sense, as if I haven't
gotten far enough for them to make sense. It's true that there's
quite a lot of this game I haven't explored... but if I try to
explore any of it, my six minutes runs out pretty much
immediately. I'm tired of restarting. Just when I *start* to get
into the game, it's over and has to be restarted, so I never
really get fully immersed in the game's world. This completely
ruins the game for me.

At this point I debated going for the walkthrough, but honestly, I
haven't even had a chance to explore the game. The author's
probably going to get talked into releasing a version with the
time limit bumped up several orders of magnitude, after the
competition, so I think I'll wait for that, rather than spoiling
it with the walkthrough.

One point for holding my interest past five minutes, plus the
point for decent prose, and a bonus point because I fully intend
to play this game again later, after the author fixes up some of
the worse technical problems, such as the draconian time limit.
That's three, which is about how many minutes I was able to go
between restarts.

26. Identity:

The whole identity crisis thing in IF was innovative, back when
Delusions was done...

When I x me, nothing is said about the compucom, though of course
I found it by taking inventory. The first use for it was quite
obvious.

Should I explore the craft? Get out immediately? I like that the
game has me thinking along these lines... (Now, to figure out how
to do any of those things...)

# >take extinguisher
# Taken.
#
# >extinguish fire
# You try to put out the fire with your hands, but the fire is too
hot.

Really, the game should be smarter than that. At least the
wording to get it to do what I mean is obvious.

# >open tubes
# The cryotubes, although cracked, are still locked and cannot be
opened.
#
# >unlock tubes
# You don't need to perform that action with the cracked
cryotubes.

A better response than this is in order. When you tell the player
that something is locked, he's *going* to try to unlock it. The
other obvious thing (the way I got myself out) has no noticeable
result.

In the pod, it would have been nice if the description mentioned
the level of gravity. I wasn't entirely certain it hadn't
launched into space, and I was hesitant to open the hatch.

Second game with a yak. Must be a coincidence. The yak does not
appear to be motivated by perverse stubbornness.

# >x jar
# A small plastic jar with an air tight lid. The specimen jar is
open and contains .
#
# The yak utters a low guttural sound.

That should be "contains blue berries". Oh, and...

# The yak nibbles at a few bits of grass on the ground.
#
# >put berries on grass
# You don't need to perform that action with the grass.

Yes, in fact, I *do* need to do that, or something equivalent.

I can see the reset of the village.

Personal pronouns don't work entirely properly.

Regarding the wiring of the radio: I could have figured out what
the hints were telling me, but I was missing the information about
which jumpers were what, due to not realizing that the panel and
the interface board were separate objects, and I'd only examined
the board. Eventually one of the hints mentioned something being
written on the panel, which clued me in, but by that point I'd
read some hints I really didn't need. Also, wiring up the radio
is tedious.

I got the game in an unwinnable state (I _think_) because I used
the pitcher of water before I realized what it was really for. (I
thought getting it refilled would do the trick, but if there is a
solution in this case, that isn't the whole deal.) Fortunately
I'd saved right after putting the radio together.

The ending felt very abrupt, and terse, as if the author rushed it
after spending most of his time on the rest of the game. The
description of the journal also felt rushed. I would have liked
to see his own words there.

Two points for holding my interest past an hour, plus the extra
point for full completion. One point for pretty good writing in
most parts, and one for a good hint system that got me past the
couple of places I got stuck. Five points.

27. Bellclap:

Well, the style here is a bit innovative, with the intermediary
and everything. I'm not sure if I like it or not. I think not so
much, but I'm not certain yet...

Hmmm... things that don't work, may work on a second try in this
game. And, things that don't work on a second try may yet work
after something _else_ is unsuccessfully tried.

While the player probably should have been warned of this, it
seems to fit the mood of the game.

Inventory doesn't tell me what's in the bag. That's annoying, as
taking proper inventory becomes a two-step process.

The in-game "hint" command only tells me what I already figured
out (about repeating actions and stuff). Apparently carrying
around a sheep carcass that's still spilling blood doesn't count
as a way to stay one's course in low visibility. (I was thinking
making a trail; apparently the author was thinking of staying the
course like a ploughman does, by looking ahead at something.)

Most actions have sensible responses implemented. I entertained
myself for a while, but ultimately I had to resort to the
walkthrough.

And.. the walkthrough also doesn't contain enough information;
both versions of it have me going w from the roof; that only
results in death when I try it.

Oh, I see. Following the walkthrough _VERBATIM_ reveals that some
very precise and unintuitive wording is required at a certain
point. That's an unnaturally hard puzzle.

Oh, and that's the end of the whole game? Yeesh, a one-puzzle
game, just about. Two if you count getting out of the temple as a
puzzle. Oh, and the problem with the walkthrough is that it omits
the second-to-last step from both solutions.

Well, one point for holding my interest past five minutes, but
forfeit the extra point for completion because I had to resort to
the walkthrough. One point for mostly making the nonstandard
character scenerio work. One point for implementing responses to
most actions, and one point for pretty good prose; that's four.
With better hints it could have had more.

28. Magocracy:

The writing in the intro is pretty interesting.

Then I get into the game and find out it has a health command that
reads out all kinds of numbers, which is always a bad sign.

There's a lot to explore; the game is well laid-out as far as that
goes, and the descriptions are good. But as soon as I meet
anything hostile, my choices devolve into flee or else
attack/undo/attack/undo/attack/undo/attack/undo/attack/restore.
There is nothing clever about this, neither in terms of what it
requires of me, nor in terms of what it required of the author.
Even the piddly little creatures in the dungeon take a veritable
long time to defeat this way, and the process is very boring.

I made it just over an hour into this game before I gave up on it
as a combat-fest. I kept holding out hope that I'd be able to
find or learn things that would help me bypass some of the combat
or solve it more cleverly, but (unless you count picking up some
armor) it was not to be. The game kept dropping hints that I'd be
able to create a golem or learn new spells or get the key and find
out what's in that chest or whatever, but nothing of the kind ever
actually happened. (I did manage to put Loge to sleep once...
but there was no apparent value in doing so, and I was unable to
repeat it.)

Two points for holding my interest for a full hour, plus one point
for the good prose. Three. I tried to think of an excuse to give
this one a fourth point, but I couldn't come up with anything else
to give the point for. Really, the good prose is holding together
an otherwise uninteresting work. Three points it is.

29. Chronicle Play Torn:

Well, it's riddled with comma errors, but apart from that the
grammar is almost decent, except for a few things like "could
made" and "amount of symbols". It feels strongly as if English is
the author's second (or possibly third) language. "Rocker"
doesn't work for the rocking chair, probably for the same reason.

The description of the eiderdown is nowhere near detailed enough
for such an obscure item. According to dictionary.com it is
apparently some type of duck-down quilt, but if the game requires
me to know any more than that about it I'm sunk. Hopefully it's
just scenery, but in that case you'd think it would be described
in greater detail.

The sphere is wrapped in paper, but...
# >unwrap sphere
# That's not something you can open.

Why, is the paper too strong for me?

Also, why would a casual feeling overcome me? What kind of
feeling is it, and how can it be merely casual if it's strong
enough to overcome me?

The books (on the shelf) that the note refers to do not appear to
exist. Thinking to find the book by trial and error, I tried to
take the first book listed in the shelf description, but I got a
"Fatal: Illegal Object" error from WinFrotz, which ended the
game.

One point for an interesting setting, the one point for holding my
interest past five minutes, plus an extra point because it feels
like the author is really trying here, but something is just
getting lost in the translation. I would have played longer (and
possibly found more reasons to award points) if it hadn't crashed,
and even then I might have felt more like restarting if the game
had been proofread at beta-test time by someone fluent in English.
There's potential here, but it needs some fixup. As it stands
right now I'll give it three points.

30. Escape from Auriga:

The comp site says it's been disqualified, so I didn't bother to
rate it, since the vote deadline is impending.

31. Ruined Robots:

# There is also a small hole where the wall joins the floor, but
# you can't get in it or put anything in it.
#
# >x hole
# I don't know the word "hole".
#
# >x wall
# I don't see any wall here.
#
# >x floor
# It lies beneath you.

Well, why mention it then?

I found what I think is a bug in HTML TADS, triggered by a bug in
the game. If I do a certain (obviously stupid -- but I had to see
the response, which incidentally was rather lame) thing in the
first room, the text color changes to give me a certain message,
but when it tries to change back, it changes to black, which is
quite hard to read against my #294D4A background. (That part is a
bug in the game.) No problem, I'll just undo... but that doesn't
fix the problem; the font is still black after undo. (That part
is the bug in TADS.) I had to exit HTML Tads and start the game
over from scratch. Since this was VERY early in the game, I went
ahead and restarted, but this bodes ill.

# >x sink
# A sink. It has no interesting features.
#
# >x oven
# A old wood-fired oven. It has no apparent doors or interesting
features.

I'm sensing a trend here. This game has no interesting features.

# >x hands
# It's your hands, the same one you have had all your life.

Right. Additionally, I was still holding the gluestick when I
foolishly placed my hands in the fire, and I'm _still_ holding the
gluestick, which appears to be unchanged and still sticky, but my
hands are not sticky, even though I am holding it.

I feel like the author might be going somewhere interesting with
this one, but he's not getting there very well.

# >ask beaver about elmark
# The robo-beaver says: "I am afraid I don't know anything about
# that. You might try asking one of the robot elves in the forest,
# they were developed to answer mysterious questions."
#
# "Nice weather we are having."
#
# >ask beaver about weather
# I don't know the word "weather".

Lots of things are not implemented.

# >x hat
# Hmm, funny, but you suddenly know that you can pull a rabbit out
# of this magician's hat. Do this by typing 'pull hat'.

It would obviously be way too much trouble to implement a scope
rule to allow the obvious wording, so we're reverting to two-word
parser mode. I know grammar is an Inform strongpoint, but TADS
surely can do better than this.

I've seen enough here. One point for holding my interest past
five minutes, plus one point for what looks like it potentially
could be an interesting storyline, if only it were actually
implemented. That's two.

32. The Great Xavio:

11:30

Is this a Doyle knock-off? I hope it's at least a _good_
knock-off...

The mission is an odd one.

I can't seem to ask Mercouri about Xavio's tricks. Showing him
the newspaper or a dollar bill does nothing. "Magic Multiplier"
apparently means the same thing to him as "Magic". It's like he
doesn't know Xavio's show exists. This is odd, under the
circumstances.

It feels very odd for Mercouri to just hang out by the floor 3
elevator, completely unconcerned at our comings and goings.

If I try to enter the bar without a light, he asks me if it's
logical to move around rooms in the darkness -- even if he's not
here with me.

After fourty minutes I have no idea where to find a room key, a
credit card, anything like that, so I had to consult the
walkthrough. Well, no, I didn't; the game intercepted that and
told me how to get better in-game hints. Good enough.

It's interesting how Dr. Todd can sign papers when he's two rooms
away.

I seem to have to use that key a LOT once I've got it. Almost
every-other turn. Surely the game could have automated some of
this.

Waitasec, I need a key just to use the *elevator*, but once I'm on
the floor I can just walk right on into the nicest room in the
place?

Theft is illogical, but sneaking into rooms is logical? This guy
is a bad cross between Spock and a spoiled child.

The chocolate bar is lost in the interior of the chest, but I can
still examine it and read the label?

I can't see the thousand-dollar bill; I cannot, for example, take
it to demonstrate the trick.

# >search bed
# There is nothing on the (MasterBedroomBed).

Left off the shortname and the HSN both, did we?

Well, at the very end I did have to use the walkthrough after all,
when I seemed to have done what was required but couldn't figure
out how to end the game (other than by just quitting).

Oh, I see. I'm not sure how I was supposed to know to ask the
concierge for a paperclip, or Dr. Todd for a penlight.

Two points for holding my interest past a full hour, one point for
having a non-flat and somewhat convincing NPC (Dr. Todd), one
point for acceptable grammar and so forth throughout, one point
for having most reasonable things that I tried implemented, with a
couple of exceptions. That's five.

33. Square Circle:

A swivel chair, in an aggressively spartan room? Whatever
happened to solid oak?

With this much reference matter to wade through, I really miss the
standard abbreviation "l up", which this game does not recognize;
and here I was thinking all the major IF creation systems included
such standard conveniences in their standard libraries in these
*cough* enlightened times. (Incidentally, the whole basic future
justice-gone-totally-wrong theme is one I consider to be done to
death in a way that transcends medium. The game could rescue it
by doing it well, but the basic theme is not original or very
interesting in itself.)

Why can't I stand on the blue book, that is sitting on the green
book, on the red book? Oh, okay, I see, that was so obvious I
missed it at first and was making it harder than it needed to be.
But the marker makes no mark on the bulb. Time to use the key,
then.

Outside the cell, there's no apparent pattern to what is
implemented, e.g., there are poles and meridians on the globe, but
no parallels. There's a prime meridian, but no international date
line.

When attempting to draw the square circle, I'm getting a
guess-the-syntax problem (I think). It's trivial to draw a figure
on a globe that (if you squint and allow the edge resulting from
the intersection of a subplane with the sphere, usually called an
arc, to be called a straight line -- the game seems to allow this,
since "draw line on the globe" is not regarded as an impossible
action) meets the green book's definition of square (albeit with
180-degree angles, not 90, which is somewhat unconventional for a
square), and of course *anything* drawn on the sphere meets the
green book's definition of circle, given the green book's fairly
inspecific (and circular) definition of centre, but I found it
difficult to tell the game how to draw the thing; if you just tell
it where to draw the four individual "lines", it does not treat
them as a single figure, just lines.

I tried just drawing a circle and (re)defining square as
necessary, but that's not a valid option. "Tell the guard that
the circle is a square" gets me noplace.

Worse, the in-game hints chose now to abandon me, so I had to give
up on the game at this point.

Two points for holding my interest for the full hour (albeit a
significant amount of that time was spent reading the reference
material). One point for involving non-Euclidean geometry. One
point for the first part of the game (getting out of the cell)
being straightforward, well-implemented, and satisfying, but no
points for the hints, and after getting out of the cell things
felt more thrown-together and less robust, as if they received
less development time and testing. What's that come to? Four.

34. Die Vollkommene Masse:

The comp website says this one was withdrawn, so I didn't rate it,
since the deadline was impending.

35. Splashdown:

I had a guess-the-verb problem getting with Spider and the plate,
but the hints cleared it up for me.

I can't put the hose in the niche, drop it into the niche, et
cetera. I'm confused as to why not.

Did I mention that I hate time-based puzzles? At least the time
is sufficiently long on this one that I can save/explore/restore
and actually learn enough to do something useful before starting
the next save/explore/restore cycle, but still, it's tedious.

One hopes that with the generator on, I can dispense with that.

Found a very weird bug in the pumping station. After the
generator was on, I'd had the hose connected to both spigots
(green and red), but I couldn't get the pumps to work. The
computer wouldn't do anything with them. So, I consulted the
hints, which told me to do what I'd already done, although they
listed the spigots in the opposite order, so I detached the hose,
attached it again, and still it did nothing. After fooling around
in the rest of the ship some more, I came back and detached the
hose from one of the spigots, only *then* getting the message
about the second hose being attached and the ballast tanks being
pressurized. This bug cost me at least fifteen minutes of play
time off the two-hour limit. (Fortunately, I'm nearly done.)

Two points for holding my interest for the full hour, plus the
extra point for full completion. One point for pulling off a
player transformation in an interesting and useful way. I refuse
to give points for in-jokes, but some of them were amusing. No
points for spider, either (other than the aforementioned player
transform point), because he didn't have meaninful responses to
hardly anything. (He was an interesting character, nevertheless,
though.) One point for good grammar and atmosphere throughout
(though I don't think it was the room descriptions that did for
the atmosphere,, more everything all together), but I don't feel
right giving the point for good writing, because none of the prose
was really _exceptional_, just good enough to avoid being noticed.
I can't give any points for plot, either, because frankly, it's
been done. I can give one point for decent built-in hints,
though. That comes to six -- and may I just say that I'm quite
glad I got a six for my last game of the comp. I was afraid I'd
have to end my judging experience on an anticlimactic two-hour
four-pointer; if it wouldn't be grossly unfair to the other good
games that landed their play order according to Comp04.z5's
randomness, I'd give it the seventh point just for rounding out
the comp on a good note for me, but that wouldn't be right. So,
six points.

[That's it. Those are all the games that showed up in my play bin,
based on
the way I flipped the levers in Comp04.z5. I tried to be fairly
inclusive,
but there was a limit to how many interpreters I wanted to track down,
and
at one extra game each the law of diminishing returns kicks in with
vigor.]
Anonymous
November 19, 2004 8:34:19 PM

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

jonadab@bright.net (Nathan Eady) wrote:


(minor All Things Devours spoilage)

> Okay, I did what the intro said my plan was, but the catastrophe
> still occurred -- with no indication about why, or what went
> wrong. There were no integrated hints, so I had to go to the
> website. The epilogue, contrary to the first hint there, does
> *not* give any clue what went wrong; it is exactly the same as if
> I don't plant the bomb at all.

Sounds like you hit the same problem I did the first time I played this -
failure to set the bomb correctly. The opening text had given me the
impression that I was carrying a ticking bomb and all I had to do was drop
it and run. This was not the case. (Since I *also* noticed that I got the
same ending message by just leaving without doing anything, I figured out
that I had not, in fact, set the bomb. But this could do with being made
more clear.)
---
Hanako Games
Anime Games and Screensavers To Download
http://www.hanakogames.com/
Anonymous
November 19, 2004 9:44:34 PM

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

Here, Nathan Eady <jonadab@bright.net> wrote:
> 6. Typo:
>
> As I examine the parts of the machine, I catch myself remembering
> that I'm being watched. Not sure how the author accomplished
> that. One point just for that.
>
> I found a bizarre scoping bug:
> # >l it up in the manual
> # You can't see "it" (the blue switch) at the moment.
> # >l up blue switch in manual
> # "The blue switch engages and disengages the order processing
> subsystem."
> This doesn't impact gameplay much, really, but it's sure weird.

But not unusual. I suspect most Inform games that use the "consult"
verb also suffer from this bug.

The standard way to build an consultable book is to create a bunch of
topic objects, and have the "look up" grammar search the topic list
*instead* of the player's location. This makes disambiguation work
very nicely, but it also separates topic objects from game-world
objects, which breaks "it" (as you see).

You could have the grammar search *both* the topics and the location.
However, that would almost certainly screw up disambiguation. (It's
practically begging for "Which do you mean, the blue switch or the
blue switch?")

A safe fix might be to put a hack in the ITGONE_PE parser error
handler, and generate a <<consult pronoun_obj.relevant_topic>> action
if the object has the relevant_topic property. Of course you'd have to
set obj.relevant_topic for every game-world object that's also in the
book.

That's off the top of my head, though. Test this before you release
it. :) 

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
November 19, 2004 9:46:41 PM

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

On 19 Nov 2004 08:32:49 -0800, jonadab@bright.net (Nathan Eady) tried to
confuse everyone with this message:

>11. Stack:
> One point because the
> station had some interesting stuff to interact with, and one more
> for working in-game hints that got me through several tight spots.

See? The in-game hints are working! You just made my day! :) 

--
|a\o/r|,-------------.,---------- Timofei Shatrov aka Grue ------------.
| m"a ||FC AMKAR PERM|| mail: grue at mail.ru http://grue3.tripod.com |
| k || PWNZ J00 || KoL:Grue3 NationStates:Holypunkeye |
`-----'`-------------'`-------------------------------------------[4*72]
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 12:17:16 AM

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

Andrew Plotkin <erkyrath@eblong.com> wrote in message news:<cnleui$gip$1@reader1.panix.com>...
> I suspect most Inform games that use the "consult"
> verb also suffer from this bug.
>
> The standard way to build an consultable book is to create a bunch of
> topic objects, and have the "look up" grammar search the topic list
> *instead* of the player's location. This makes disambiguation work
> very nicely, but it also separates topic objects from game-world
> objects, which breaks "it" (as you see).

Relying on the normal scope rules (i.e., the objects the player can see)
would clearly be wrong, but I think making the topics separate objects
from the game objects they represent is a wrong approach, too. It would
not be all that hard to write a scope rule to pick up all the objects
listed in a topic_container object's add_to_scope property, for example,
or if there's only one reference book you could use an istopic attribute
and have the grammar for consult pick up any object (anywhere in the game,
not just in the normal definition of scope) that has it.
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 12:25:31 AM

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

Papillon <papillon_hentai@bigfoot.com> wrote in message news:<dfbsp0hgqsbt2krs4ho7h0uqofddp0pj98@4ax.com>...
> (minor All Things Devours spoilage)
>
> Sounds like you hit the same problem I did the first time I played this -
> failure to set the bomb correctly. The opening text had given me the
> impression that I was carrying a ticking bomb and all I had to do was drop
> it and run.

I'd set the timer, or thought I had. Some other detail was missing; I'm
not sure what, because I never got much further -- the author claimed that
the epilogue would tell me what was wrong, and it didn't.

Admittedly, if I had more patience for time-based puzzles, I might have
been able to figure it out. But after about the third time I had to restart,
I was not really interested in restarting again.

If the author released a version with the time limit pushed out about two
orders of magnitude, I'd be more interested in playing it some more, but
an IF game where I can't spare a move to examine something for fear the
world will end is just not fun. I guess I'm just one of those players who
likes to take my leisure examining everything closely, looking yet again at
the room description to see if I missed anything (I always play in verbose
mode), trying different combinations of actions... a tight time limit puts
a real crimp in my playing style, and the game is no longer fun. Splashdown's
limit was long enough that I could get immersed in the game world for a while
between restarts or restores, but ATD's was so short that it kept jarring me
out of the game world every time I tried to get into it.
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 2:21:16 AM

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

On 19 Nov 2004 08:32:49 -0800, jonadab@bright.net (Nathan Eady) wrote:
<42dae7fc.0411190832.77be30ea@posting.google.com>

> 4. Orion Agenda:
>
> Argh. The manual says to know my partner's capabilities and use
> them. She's a linguist. But I can't put the translator on her,
> or put it in her ear, and if I give it to her, she says she'll
> hold it. If I tell her to wear it, she doesn't think that will
> help.

She has her own disguise, and her own translator. Giving her your own
translator won't really be that much useful to her, especially since you
need a translator to pass one of the puzzles of the game.

>
>15. Luminous Horizon:
>
> The dodging game is tedious. Tedious, and I had to restart once.
> I got it on the second try, though.

I've noticed that you've been having to restart games a lot - you can shave
off a lot of time spent on reviews by using saves/restores rather than
restarting from scratch. You don't have to Ironman every single game in
the competition.


>17. Blink:
>
> I've tried the radio in every location, tried every possible
> direction (including up and down) from all the edge points of the
> map, have tried the obvious things with the pipe, and can get
> nowhere.

From the southern area, type "Get all". You never know what you can find
from objects hidden in room descriptions.

>
>18. Kurusu City:
>
> Well, that's not the _usual_ reason for playing hookey.
>
> I don't know what to say about this one. I fiddled with it for an
> hour and a half, using the ROT13ed hints for the latter half of
> that time, and didn't get nearly as far as one would hope. I got
> as far as giving my id card to Annette, but I don't have anything
> else to help her fix it; the hints imply that I can get something
> from Masako, but there doesn't appear to be anything to get. I
> need to ask Wesley for something, but I have no idea what to ask
> her for, and no idea how to find out. I almost get the impression
> that there's background information I don't know related to the
> genre, or something.

The hints are being vague, that's all.

If you've given your ID card to Annette, then it means that she has one
half of the puzzle. You need to give her Masako's University ID, but she
needs some encouragement to "drop" it. Think about what she's doing at the
time (but be careful as getting the ID card too early will lock you out of
another puzzle.)


>
>25. All Things Devours:
>
> Okay, I did what the intro said my plan was, but the catastrophe
> still occurred -- with no indication about why, or what went
> wrong. There were no integrated hints, so I had to go to the
> website. The epilogue, contrary to the first hint there, does
> *not* give any clue what went wrong; it is exactly the same as if
> I don't plant the bomb at all.

That's because you placed the bomb in the wrong position. It's not one of
those nuclear bombs that wipe out a building - it's a pipe bomb that
destroys the contents of a single room.

It's basic logic - if planting the bomb doesn't do a thing, then perhaps
it's not being planted.

> Some of the other hints don't even make sense, as if I haven't
> gotten far enough for them to make sense. It's true that there's
> quite a lot of this game I haven't explored... but if I try to
> explore any of it, my six minutes runs out pretty much
> immediately. I'm tired of restarting. Just when I *start* to get
> into the game, it's over and has to be restarted, so I never
> really get fully immersed in the game's world. This completely
> ruins the game for me.

If this is the case, then you should make two passes on the game - first to
map out the place. Second is to make the attempt to solve the puzzle. BTW,
the game can be finished without hints within one hour - I did it, and so
should anyone else.

>32. The Great Xavio:
>
> Oh, I see. I'm not sure how I was supposed to know to ask the
> concierge for a paperclip, or Dr. Todd for a penlight.

You can't tell for sure that the concierge will have a paper clip, but it's
a fairly common object that gets used for that sort of stuff. It's a
guess-the-noun thing, but not too bad since you can use the bicycle repair
kit instead.

The penlight can be discovered by examining Todd, and either examining his
pockets or asking him about its contents.
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 8:49:25 AM

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

Here, Nathan Eady <jonadab@bright.net> wrote:
>
> If the author released a version with the time limit pushed out about two
> orders of magnitude, I'd be more interested in playing it some more

That would be a different game. I mean that in all senses -- the main
puzzle would evaporate, and since this is a one-puzzle game, it would
have to be replaced by something completely different.

I'm not saying that this is the wrong course, from your point of view.
However, from my point of view, the author should write a different
game next time, instead of rewriting this one. That way there'd be two
games, and maybe you'd like the second one.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 11:50:13 AM

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

> > I found a bizarre scoping bug:
> > # >l it up in the manual
> > # You can't see "it" (the blue switch) at the moment.
> > # >l up blue switch in manual
> > # "The blue switch engages and disengages the order processing
> > subsystem."
> > This doesn't impact gameplay much, really, but it's sure weird.
>
> But not unusual. I suspect most Inform games that use the "consult"
> verb also suffer from this bug.

The reviewer is wrong to arbitrarily criticize Typo for this problem.
However, it did occur to me to try it on a different game. The first one I
thought of was The Orion Agenda, and what do you know? You can lookup "her"
on the infonet after talking to Rachel and it works.

Andrew
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 12:01:56 PM

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

See, this is what I'm saying. Some people just shouldn't be judges.

(I could go through this reviewer's post and point out all the mistakes he
made in judging, but there's no point because he obviously knows how
arbitary his scores are, and he takes pleasure in it. AFAICT, these scores
are actually worse than the output of a random number generator.)

Andrew
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 3:25:16 PM

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

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
> See, this is what I'm saying. Some people just shouldn't be judges.
>
> (I could go through this reviewer's post and point out all the mistakes he
> made in judging, but there's no point because he obviously knows how
> arbitary his scores are, and he takes pleasure in it. AFAICT, these scores
> are actually worse than the output of a random number generator.)

Tastes are arbitrary.

Stephen.
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 3:26:17 PM

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

jonadab@bright.net (Nathan Eady) wrote:

>Papillon <papillon_hentai@bigfoot.com> wrote in message news:<dfbsp0hgqsbt2krs4ho7h0uqofddp0pj98@4ax.com>...
>> (minor All Things Devours spoilage)
>>
>> Sounds like you hit the same problem I did the first time I played this -
>> failure to set the bomb correctly. The opening text had given me the
>> impression that I was carrying a ticking bomb and all I had to do was drop
>> it and run.
>
>I'd set the timer, or thought I had. Some other detail was missing; I'm
>not sure what, because I never got much further -- the author claimed that
>the epilogue would tell me what was wrong, and it didn't.

Because he (perhaps unwisely) assumed that *anyone* could achieve the
prologue's clearly-stated goals of "set the bomb" and immediately get the
epilogue that pointed out what the REAL goal was.

But it did tell you what was wrong in a way - it made it clear that you did
not set the bomb, since you got the exact same text that you did by exiting
and doing nothing.

>If the author released a version with the time limit pushed out about two
>orders of magnitude, I'd be more interested in playing it some more, but
>an IF game where I can't spare a move to examine something for fear the
>world will end is just not fun. I guess I'm just one of those players who
>likes to take my leisure examining everything closely, looking yet again at
>the room description to see if I missed anything (I always play in verbose
>mode), trying different combinations of actions... a tight time limit puts
>a real crimp in my playing style, and the game is no longer fun. Splashdown's
>limit was long enough that I could get immersed in the game world for a while
>between restarts or restores, but ATD's was so short that it kept jarring me
>out of the game world every time I tried to get into it.

Well, from everything you've said, you never reached the actual *game* at
all and remained firmly stuck on the opening move. Figuring out how to *give
yourself time* is, after all, the major point of the game... :) 

I'm fine with a tight time limit for a *part* of a game, since it helps deal
with one of the areas that many games in the comp were lacking - motivation.
Being told "Quick, do this now or the world will end!" will change my style
of play, sure, but it will also keep me from wandering around bored not
having any idea what I'm supposed to be doing or why no one seems to care
about my Important Mission. If I'm told that I must work QUICKLY then I'll
be pretty disappointed if I can take all the time I want to smell the
flowers and nothing bad happens. That's a gameworld failure to me.

I didn't play this one out completely - once I got to where I could
understand what the central puzzle was, I went for a walkthrough, not having
the patience to fiddle with it. But I'm very, very lazy. :) 
---
Hanako Games
Anime Games and Screensavers To Download
http://www.hanakogames.com/
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 6:29:53 PM

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

Here, Andrew Krywaniuk <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote:
> See, this is what I'm saying. Some people just shouldn't be judges.

That is false.

Well, people who aren't IF players shouldn't be judges. That's not
what you meant, though.

The IFComp is deliberately set up to ingest the entirety of the
IF-playing audience, as much as possible. All of their opinions go
into the score. Maybe you think someone is an ignoramus who doesn't
understand your game -- but you are going to have to put up with that
person outside the IFComp, too.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
November 20, 2004 7:44:41 PM

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

"Andrew Krywaniuk" <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:8KDnd.284956$%k.121582@pd7tw2no...
> See, this is what I'm saying. Some people just shouldn't be judges.
>
> (I could go through this reviewer's post and point out all the mistakes he
> made in judging, but there's no point because he obviously knows how
> arbitary his scores are, and he takes pleasure in it. AFAICT, these scores
> are actually worse than the output of a random number generator.)
>
> Andrew
>
>

And what qualifies *you* to decide that? Everyone's viewpoint is equally
valid, unless they're just slating games for a laugh or to cause trouble.

More annoying, from my point of view, than a bad set of reviews is someone
going round telling other people how they should be doing things.
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 6:50:55 AM

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

> The IFComp is deliberately set up to ingest the entirety of the
> IF-playing audience, as much as possible. All of their opinions go
> into the score. Maybe you think someone is an ignoramus who doesn't
> understand your game -- but you are going to have to put up with that
> person outside the IFComp, too.

When I started this thread, I didn't think it would be universally well
received, but I still thought it was something worth saying. Certainly, if I
was an author then it would seem petty to go around criticizing some of the
judges. But I am not one of the authors, so why not? Nathan repeatedly takes
a game that the author probably spent 100+ hours writing and boils that down
to "one point for a good parser and one for keeping me interested past 5
minutes". "Every opinion is equally valid" is a nice aphorism (and a very PC
thing to say), but is it true? I would like to think that an informed
opinion (i.e. one based on more than 10 minutes of play) is more valid than
an uninformed one. If someone is "critiquing" the games (to put it mildly),
then why shouldn't I critique their reviews? Actually, Rotten Tomatoes now
has that feature for movie reviewers. If we did it for IF reviewers, maybe
Paul O'Brien could be Roger Ebert and this guy could be Mr. Cranky.

Andrew
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 7:41:54 AM

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

Here, Andrew Krywaniuk <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > The IFComp is deliberately set up to ingest the entirety of the
> > IF-playing audience, as much as possible. All of their opinions go
> > into the score. Maybe you think someone is an ignoramus who doesn't
> > understand your game -- but you are going to have to put up with that
> > person outside the IFComp, too.
>
> When I started this thread, I didn't think it would be universally well
> received, but I still thought it was something worth saying. Certainly, if I
> was an author then it would seem petty to go around criticizing some of the
> judges. But I am not one of the authors, so why not?

If you were writing criticism of the reviews, in the academic sense,
there would be no reason not to. Instead, you wrote "some people
should not be judges" or something of that form.

> Nathan repeatedly takes a game that the author probably spent 100+
> hours writing and boils that down to "one point for a good parser
> and one for keeping me interested past 5 minutes". "Every opinion is
> equally valid" is a nice aphorism (and a very PC thing to say), but
> is it true?

"PC" is a meaningless term. And I didn't say "every opinion is equally
valid". What is true is that every opinion is an opinion, and the
IFComp is set up to gauge the opinions of the IF-playing audience.

If you want to set up a competition which accepts only *valid*
opinions, well, have fun choosing whose opinions are valid. I guess
you could run a pre-competition competition to decide who's a good
competition judge. Of course you'll have to decide who can validly
judge *that*...

Or you could gather a group of people who you accept as good
reviewers, and start writing reviews. That's called a magazine. (Or
web-zine or whatever format you choose.) I hear that's popular.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 7:55:04 AM

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

bk039@ncf.ca (Raymond Martineau) wrote in message news:<pchtp0d4lgqttpsaa1els4450mminalkbt@4ax.com>...
> > 4. Orion Agenda:
> >
> She has her own disguise, and her own translator.

Ah. I definitely missed that. I'm going to go back to this game, since
I didn't finish it, so I'll look for it then.

> >15. Luminous Horizon:
> >
> > The dodging game is tedious. Tedious, and I had to restart once.
> > I got it on the second try, though.
>
> I've noticed that you've been having to restart games a lot - you can shave
> off a lot of time spent on reviews by using saves/restores rather than
> restarting from scratch. You don't have to Ironman every single game in
> the competition.

Yeah, I probably should save more often. I usually save after accomplishing
something hard, but LH didn't really have any particular sticking points
prior to this scene, so I just plumb forgot. The second time through, I
saved right before this scene.

The game where I really had to restart too much was ATD: restoring wouldn't
help there, because you only get a spare handful of moves total before the
game just kills you, and if you restore to a position three moves earlier,
you now only have three moves. Saving is kinda unhelpful there. That's a
key reason why I have no patience for timed puzzles.

> That's because you placed the bomb in the wrong position. It's not one of
> those nuclear bombs that wipe out a building - it's a pipe bomb that
> destroys the contents of a single room.

I put it inside the prototype. One supposes that's close enough.

> It's basic logic - if planting the bomb doesn't do a thing, then perhaps
> it's not being planted.

I gathered that there was some way in which I wasn't planting the bomb
correctly, but I had (and still have) no idea how to determine what
specific point I was missing. I'm stuck in a way that the hints do
not address. Granted, I'm a below-average puzzle solver.

> The penlight can be discovered by examining Todd, and either examining his
> pockets or asking him about its contents.

Mea culpa on that one.
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 8:22:59 AM

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

"Andrew Krywaniuk" <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<8KDnd.284956$%k.121582@pd7tw2no>...

> he obviously knows how arbitary his scores are, and he takes pleasure in it

No arbitrariness was intended. Sure, nobody's _totally_ objective, but I
was attempting to be reasonable and fair.

Granted, this was my first time judging, and I've already worked out a
refinement to my process if I judge again: rather than starting out each
game at zero and raising it, in the future I would start each game out at
four and then add from there (or subtract for annoyances). (Then I would
not, for example, give a point for "decent prose" but instead would subtract
a point for really bad prose in a few games, leave most alone in that respect,
and give a point only for really excellent prose such as in the first half
of Gamlet.)

You will note a certain consistency: I tend to add points for the same sorts
of things to a number of games, or on the other hand I penalize games (mainly
by quitting early) for the same sorts of annoyances: bad grammar from the
get-go, unimplemented objects mentioned prominently in room descriptions,
inadequate hints, disambiguation issues, ... On the flip side, the things
I grant points for are things I think make the games interesting or fun:
good characters, good plot, an interesting premise, ... all of this is,
of course, inherently subjective to a certain degree, but I tried to evaluate
the games in a reasonable and level-headed fashion.

There is an inconsistency or two, that I've noticed ex post facto. For
example, I gave the first game I rated (Blue Chairs) a point for having a
good parser, but then I neglected to give this point to any of the other
games I rated, although many of them had fine parsers. This is an oversight
on my part. (The easy, lazy way to fix it would be to downgrade Blue Chairs
to a 1. The correct way, I suppose, would be to upgrade all the other games
that had good parsers by one point. Luminous Horizon would then get 9 from
me, for example. Not that the scores can be changed now, after the deadline,
in any case, but we're talking in retrospect here about the way that I did
score.)

I'm guessing your real objection is that I either severely downgraded a game
that you liked, or scored a game that you hated rather higher than you think
it deserves.
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 9:47:15 AM

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

> If you want to set up a competition which accepts only *valid*
> opinions, well, have fun choosing whose opinions are valid. I guess

I didn't say that we should only accept valid opinions, I said that judges
ought to have *informed* opinions.

Not that it can actually be enforced, but judges ought not to be
congratulated for flaunting their ignorance. (There's a rule that judges
can't play a game for more than 2 hours that can't be enforced either, but
it's still a rule.)

> If you were writing criticism of the reviews, in the academic sense,
> there would be no reason not to. Instead, you wrote "some people
> should not be judges" or something of that form.

It was observed that some judges submitted scores whose variance from the
mean exceeded the standard deviation in multiple cases. Based on a
comparison of approximately 16 sets of reviews, it was noted that a
correlation existed between these judges and the frequency of incidences in
their reviews where they indicated that they abandoned a game without
finishing it (before 2 hours was up). After discounting the cases where the
reviewer cited the lack of hints/walkthough as the reason for quitting, the
correlation became even more pronounced. There was no observable correlation
between judges who displayed a high variance and the specific set of games
they rated highly. From this, it is concluded that judges who submit scores
based on a short time of evaluation add a random noise component to the
final scores, and this factor is expected to be significant enough to affect
the placement of the top 10 finishers.

Andrew
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 3:28:55 PM

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

"Andrew Krywaniuk" <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<zgUnd.291695$%k.80143@pd7tw2no>...

> Nathan repeatedly takes a game that the author probably spent 100+
> hours writing and boils that down to "one point for a good parser and
> one for keeping me interested past 5 minutes".

I only did this with a handful of games that annoyed me too greatly to
continue playing -- typically games that started out with grammar mistakes
*and* profanity in the introduction, mediocre room descriptions, and no
clear evidence of plot.



If you want to argue that I made a mistake jumping to that conclusion in a
particular case (e.g., I suspect you're really talking about Blue Chairs,
since that's the one where a large number of voters significantly disagreed
with my assessment), I'm interested in discussing it. In particular, I've
seen a number of reviewers say things to the effect that they forgave the
weak beginning in Blue Chairs due to its merits, but the details about said
merits are thin on the ground. After the game got such good reviews, I went
back to see if I could find what I missed, but maybe someone could clue me
in, because I spent another thirty minutes or so and still didn't find it.
What I did find was a lot of metaobservations from the PC written into the
room descriptions, so that the character is disappointed that the girls are
more interested in the game than in him each time he goes into the bedroom,
shocked that the bathroom is empty each time he visits it, alternately sad
and then dismissive about forgetting the hallway each time he walks through
it, and so on and so forth. I daresay that if I'd rated the game based on
forty minutes of play instead of six or eight, I'd have probably rated it one
rather than two. But I'm interested in hearing a coherent explanation for
why people (clearly, quite a lot of people) felt it was worth a lot more than
that. There's obviously something I'm missing, something a lot of people
picked up on. But I suspect there's a more profound reason why I'm missing
it than merely because I didn't play the whole game through. (What, exactly?
I don't know.)

And as far as 100+ hours (and here I'm no longer talking about any specific
game), that isn't very long for writing a good game; I suspect most of the
games averaging six points or more were more like 500+ hours of work (just
for the authors, not counting the time testers put in). But with that kind
of outlay of time, you'd think the authors would realize the importance of
putting an extra hour or so into the introduction and the opening room
description. Novelists know that they have to hook the reader in the first
paragraph, because there are other books at the bookstore.

If I read your objection right, you are suggesting that the comp judges
should be expected to play each game that they rate to completion or to the
end of the two-hour limit. However, I didn't see anything about that in the
competition rules or guidelines. It did say we should try to play and rate
as many games as possible, which I did. I tried fairly hard to give games
the benefit of the doubt; you will find numerous places in my playnotes where
I made a comment to the effect of, "I'm withholding judgement" or "this had
better improve" or the like, and I kept playing -- for a while. But at some
point there wasn't enough doubt left to provide much benefit.
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 4:19:59 PM

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

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:

> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>>If you want to set up a competition which accepts only *valid*
>>opinions, well, have fun choosing whose opinions are valid. I guess
>
> I didn't say that we should only accept valid opinions, I said that judges
> ought to have *informed* opinions.

Well, you said "some people just shouldn't be judges", which kind of
implies that their uninformed opinions should not be accepted in the
comp. (What else could it mean?) You later said you thought "informed"
opinions were more valid. So I don't think Zarf was misrepresenting your
words.

>>If you were writing criticism of the reviews, in the academic sense,
>
> It was observed that some judges submitted scores whose variance from the
> mean exceeded the standard deviation in multiple cases. Based on a
> comparison of approximately 16 sets of reviews, it was noted that a
> correlation existed between these judges and the frequency of incidences in
> their reviews where they indicated that they abandoned a game without
> finishing it (before 2 hours was up). After discounting the cases where the
> reviewer cited the lack of hints/walkthough as the reason for quitting, the
> correlation became even more pronounced. There was no observable correlation
> between judges who displayed a high variance and the specific set of games
> they rated highly. From this, it is concluded that judges who submit scores
> based on a short time of evaluation add a random noise component to the
> final scores, and this factor is expected to be significant enough to affect
> the placement of the top 10 finishers.

Is this what they're doing in English Lit these days? I think I
prefer pomo.

Stephen.
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 6:47:37 PM

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

Here, Nathan Eady <jonadab@bright.net> wrote:
>
> The game where I really had to restart too much was ATD: restoring wouldn't
> help there, because you only get a spare handful of moves total before the
> game just kills you, and if you restore to a position three moves earlier,
> you now only have three moves. Saving is kinda unhelpful there. That's a
> key reason why I have no patience for timed puzzles.

On the contrary -- saving and restoring was extremely helpful to me in
ATD.

(SPOILERS:) 


Look, you have six minutes, which is 72 moves (except that moving
counts double). It takes about two minutes to try every described
exit in the beginning part of the game. Then you get into the only
interesting room available, and run out of time. So you restart, go
straight there, and save. You now have 64-ish turns to experiment.
That's not a handful, and if you run out, you have a save point in the
room you were exploring anyway.

Once you start figuring out the machine, you need more save files.
Sensibly, you save once before using the machine, having gotten there
in an optimal number of moves. Depending on how far back you jump, you
may have a few moves or many. So you choose a value that gives you
several minutes of leeway, and save there. Then you continue
experimenting.

I'm not advocating saving after every move. When I won, I had just
eight save files. Some of those wound up being useless, but I only
seriously restarted the game twice. That is, most of the time I was
restoring my most recent save. I pursued one decision thread halfway
through the game, backed up, pursued another most of the way through
the game, backed up to the beginning, and then won.

(And, precisely *because* the game is so short, restarting was not
onerous. It looks like I solved it in about an hour.)

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
November 21, 2004 7:02:26 PM

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

Here, Andrew Krywaniuk <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> > If you want to set up a competition which accepts only *valid*
> > opinions, well, have fun choosing whose opinions are valid. I guess
>
> I didn't say that we should only accept valid opinions, I said that judges
> ought to have *informed* opinions.

Informed about what? Whether the game is playable? If I find a game
unplayable (and that includes both getting stuck in the first scene,
and throwing it across the room because the first scene is terrible)
then I certainly have an informed opinion about it.

(We have this argument every year, just so you know. So far, the
people who say they have better voting requirements have failed to
agree with each other, much less convince anyone else that the current
"Vote for the game you think is best" stricture should be discarded.)

> > If you were writing criticism of the reviews, in the academic sense,
> > there would be no reason not to. Instead, you wrote "some people
> > should not be judges" or something of that form.
>
> It was observed

(That is, you observed -- I'm not sure why you switched to passive
voice here)

> that some judges submitted scores whose variance from the mean
> exceeded the standard deviation in multiple cases. Based on a
> comparison of approximately 16 sets of reviews, it was noted that a
> correlation existed between these judges and the frequency of
> incidences in their reviews where they indicated that they abandoned
> a game without finishing it (before 2 hours was up). After
> discounting the cases where the reviewer cited the lack of
> hints/walkthough as the reason for quitting, the correlation became
> even more pronounced. There was no observable correlation between
> judges who displayed a high variance and the specific set of games
> they rated highly. From this, it is concluded that judges who submit
> scores based on a short time of evaluation add a random noise
> component to the final scores, and this factor is expected to be
> significant enough to affect the placement of the top 10 finishers.

You can always declare a factor to be "random noise" if you assume
that it's meaningless.

However, if you release a game outside of the competition, and many
people can't or won't finish it based on the first scene (and lack of
walkthrough/hints/etc), that certainly will affect how people look at
it a year later. It will affect the ratings you get in review
collections, and it will affect whether your game is remembered and
recommended.

Most likely that will be a negative effect.

Do you believe the IFComp should fail to correlate with those
outcomes?

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 1:32:28 AM

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

In article <42dae7fc.0411211228.1b61d97d@posting.google.com>,
Nathan Eady <jonadab@bright.net> wrote:
[..]
>
>If you want to argue that I made a mistake jumping to that conclusion in a
>particular case (e.g., I suspect you're really talking about Blue Chairs,
>since that's the one where a large number of voters significantly disagreed
>with my assessment), I'm interested in discussing it. In particular, I've
>seen a number of reviewers say things to the effect that they forgave the
>weak beginning in Blue Chairs due to its merits, but the details about said
>merits are thin on the ground. After the game got such good reviews, I went
>back to see if I could find what I missed, but maybe someone could clue me
>in, because I spent another thirty minutes or so and still didn't find it.

(some Blue Chairs spoilers)

It sounds like you didn't get out of the house. I don't know that this
would necessarily have increased your score, but the majority of the
game takes place on the ride to the girl's house -- so if it felt like
you were doing a lot of aimless wandering around the house waiting for
something to happen, yeah, that's because it's only supposed to be the
introductory scene. I expect your reaction will be "how was I supposed
to know that?" and I agree that this is one of the major weaknesses of
Blue Chairs -- namely, too much inclusion of stereotypical IF elements
just because this is an IF game.

The whole puzzle involving finding the ride out of there is pretty
bad; it'd be fine in a puzzle game but this isn't one, and requiring
people go rummaging through the attic for no apparent reason (worse
yet -- after being actively dissuaded from doing so unless they have
the right item) is a lousy puzzle. Oh, yeah, and then even when you
find the thing in the attic, if you've done something else first
you've made the game unwinnable. Whee.

But what I liked about the game more than made up for the flaws. I
liked the writing (there were at least a half-dozen great lines), I
liked the random weirdnesses lying around casually, and I liked the
evocation of a sleepless journey where you can't quite tell what's
real and what's a dream. I'm also interested in the big question the
game is kicking around -- something like "Man, how did I get here in
my life? What happened? Why did some relationships break down, and why
did I end up in this dead-end job and dead-end life and -- didn't it
use to be better? Where did I go off-track?"

If you don't like the things I liked about the game, and the big
question doesn't have any real resonance for you, then sure, I can
certainly see why you wouldn't care for the game, since I don't think
the author was focused on providing much of anything else (which, I
should clarify, I think is a good thing -- stick to what's important
to you and leave the rest out).

--
Dan Shiovitz :: dbs@cs.wisc.edu :: http://www.drizzle.com/~dans
"He settled down to dictate a letter to the Consolidated Nailfile and
Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation of Scranton, Pa., which would make them
realize that life is stern and earnest and Nailfile and Eyebrow Tweezer
Corporations are not put in this world for pleasure alone." -PGW
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 2:02:51 AM

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

In <cnqdap$31l$1@reader1.panix.com> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> Here, Nathan Eady <jonadab@bright.net> wrote:
>>
>> The game where I really had to restart too much was ATD: restoring
>> wouldn't help there, because you only get a spare handful of moves
>> total before the game just kills you, and if you restore to a
>> position three moves earlier, you now only have three moves. Saving
>> is kinda unhelpful there. That's a key reason why I have no patience
>> for timed puzzles.
>
> On the contrary -- saving and restoring was extremely helpful to me in
> ATD.
>
> (SPOILERS:) 
>
>
> Look, you have six minutes, which is 72 moves (except that moving
> counts double).

Only if it involves some implicit door opening. Actually it is three
turns if it involves implicit door unlocking and opening.

> Once you start figuring out the machine, you need more save files.
> Sensibly, you save once before using the machine, having gotten there
> in an optimal number of moves. Depending on how far back you jump, you
> may have a few moves or many. So you choose a value that gives you
> several minutes of leeway, and save there. Then you continue
> experimenting.

One trick I used during development was to turn recording on and make a
transcript. Then I could just add in an earlier action or something
easily and get back up to the current spot. This is not exactly
flavoursome and I wouldn't recommend it, but it is a trick worth knowing
if your patience ends up running thin with a game like this.

Still, I understand that some people don't like timed puzzles at all
which is why I put the warning in the 'about' text. I suppose though,
that being a Comp game there was an obligation of sorts to play it
anyway...

half
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 2:59:31 AM

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

> I'm guessing your real objection is that I either severely downgraded a
game
> that you liked, or scored a game that you hated rather higher than you
think
> it deserves.

You did both, multiple times. But that is not my real objection. As I noted
before, my main complaint is that your reviews made judging the games seem
like such a chore. If you can't dedicate sufficient time, then why not judge
fewer games or just wait until the comp is over and play the ones you think
you'll like. If you find a well-written game where you are not the target
audience (e.g. All Things Devours), why not skip it rather than giving it a
bad score.

My second complaint is that your judging system seemed to boil down to how
long you played the game, which a) is mostly based on personal taste, and b)
seems to be fairly dependant on random factors, such as your mood on that
day. If you want to bail on Ninja or PTBAD3 after 15 minutes then I can't
say I blame you, but you also gave up on some technically very competant
games without giving them a fair chance. Sure first impressions/personal
taste matter, but should that be the difference between a 3 and an 8?

My third complaint is that you always seemed to quit the games without
looking at the hints or the walkthrough. Your criticism of Blue Chairs was
based solely on the first scene (maybe 15% of the game). When I played it, I
wasn't going to give it an 8 based on the first scene, but it certainly
wouldn't be an 2 either. My final assessment of an 8 was based on the game
as a whole. BTW, the game you reviewed the most unfairly IMHO was Sting of
the Wasp.


> Granted, this was my first time judging, and I've already worked out a
> refinement to my process if I judge again: rather than starting out each
> game at zero and raising it, in the future I would start each game out at
> four and then add from there (or subtract for annoyances). (Then I would

FWIW, your proposal for a revised scoring system seems at least better than
your previous one, although it still seems designed to save you the chore of
actually having to play all the games you judge/review.


> If I read your objection right, you are suggesting that the comp judges
> should be expected to play each game that they rate to completion or to
the
> end of the two-hour limit. However, I didn't see anything about that in
the

It's not a rule, but it is common courtesy.

Andrew
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 3:59:38 AM

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

> Well, you said "some people just shouldn't be judges", which kind of
> implies that their uninformed opinions should not be accepted in the
> comp. (What else could it mean?) You later said you thought "informed"
> opinions were more valid. So I don't think Zarf was misrepresenting your
> words.

To clarify this again (in case it's not completely obvious by now), I meant
that judges who do not make an adequate effort to play games ought not to
vote on them. "Adequate" is a fairly subjective criterion, but if you bail
out on several games after 15 minutes because "they are hopeless" and those
games end up finishing in the top 10 of the comp, then it is time to
reevaluate your judging method.


> Is this what they're doing in English Lit these days? I think I
> prefer pomo.

Pomo as in post-modern? To be honest, I had to read that 3 times before I
realized that it didn't say porno (with bad kerning).

Andrew
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 5:00:28 AM

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

First, let me say that I am doing my best to try to reply to everyone's
comments without being overly repetitive (although I'm sure that is being
called into question). For the record, I agree with almost everything Eric
said earlier in this thread, and overall it's a pretty good summary of what
I was saying.


> (We have this argument every year, just so you know. So far, the

So I am told... although I can't say that I remember it the last 2 years.


> > It was observed
>
> (That is, you observed -- I'm not sure why you switched to passive
> voice here)

I was writing "in the academic sense," and in the persona of a stats major
(not English lit). Apparently at least 2 of the 3 people who replied didn't
pick up on that.


> You can always declare a factor to be "random noise" if you assume
> that it's meaningless.

True. But any judging session will have some random elements...

1. The mood of the player on that day.
2. The exact commands that the player types.
3. Whether the player misreads or misunderstands some aspect of the game.
4. Whether the player gets stuck on a particular puzzle.

Any of these factors could vary randomly on a day-to-day basis. My
conclusion is that a hurried evaluation (because the player is impatient,
unreceptive, etc.) will tend to magnify these effects. Should getting stuck
on one minor puzzle really make the difference between a 3 and an 8? If the
player makes an attempt to play the whole game (at least falling back to the
hints/walkthrough when he is stuck), then the random factor will probably be
decreased.


> However, if you release a game outside of the competition, and many
> people can't or won't finish it based on the first scene (and lack of
> walkthrough/hints/etc), that certainly will affect how people look at

Well, for one thing, I have consistently made a distinction between games
with hints/walkthrough and those without.

> Do you believe the IFComp should fail to correlate with those
> outcomes?

No, but:

1. A game outside the comp will be judged/played mainly by players who enjoy
that particular genre.
2. A game outside the comp will be judged by players who are actively
seeking out a game, not players who suffer from "comp fatigue".

Andrew
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 10:10:56 AM

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

dbs@cs.wisc.edu (Dan Shiovitz) wrote in message news:<cnr51s$8ju$1@drizzle.com>...
>
> (some Blue Chairs spoilers)
>
> It sounds like you didn't get out of the house.

I didn't get further out of the house than the front porch. After thirty
minutes of play or so. Maybe I'm just dumb, but the house was the game's
setting, or so it seemed. Yeah, there _was_ the phone call, which seemed
to indicate I should be getting a ride someplace else, but it was a call
from someone that it seemed I hadn't seen in aeons (i.e., someone not
important in the PC's life), and the PC was badly stoned at the time, so
for a while I discounted it as unimportant. The game did reinforce its
importance later: "Lest We Not Forget Our Purpose...", but by then I was
quite thoroughly disgusted with the game already.

> The whole puzzle involving finding the ride out of there is pretty
> bad; it'd be fine in a puzzle game but this isn't one, and
[snip details]

The difficulty of the puzzle isn't the whole deal here, though. The game's
whole style just didn't connect with me. The game didn't pull me into its
world, didn't appear to even care if I played any further, and didn't do a
very good job of motivating me to explore its world -- and if it motivated
me to get out of the house, it was only because everything in the house
(i.e., in the game's whole world up to that point) was boring. The writing
is actively annoying (to me anyway) in pretty much every paragraph. Just
for one example, the line I quoted above doesn't make sense; I don't think
the author knows what the word "lest" means. If I listed every individual
thing like this that I didn't like about the game, I'd draw down flamewars
upon myself as surely as if I said I was going to write my own parser in
three days in BASIC.

> if you've done something else first you've made the game unwinnable.

Ugh. Was there at least a reasonable in-the-game way to get a clear
warning that that was the problem?

> But what I liked about the game more than made up for the flaws. I
> liked the writing (there were at least a half-dozen great lines),

For me, five times that number of great lines would not make up for the
writing in this game. I commented in my playnotes (based on about eight
minutes of play) that one line in particular sounded like something out
of the BLFC. After the game got second place, I started wondering if I
missed something, and went back and played another thirty minutes -- when
I did so, I found several additional examples of writing that actively
reminded me of specific prize-winning BLFC entries. The worst was the
mashed comparison with the fruit salad -- not the kind with the mandarin
oranges, the other kind, the kind with apple slices -- immediately followed
by a tangential-but-irrelevant sentence fragment. Maybe I'm missing some
great insight that makes this funny rather than annoyingly bad, but the
problem is, I appear to be missing it rather consistently...

> I'm also interested in the big question the game is kicking around --
> something like "Man, how did I get here in my life? What happened? Why
> did some relationships break down, and why did I end up in this dead-end
> job and dead-end life and -- didn't it use to be better? Where did I go
> off-track?"

*lightbulb*

Oh. There people who really struggle with those questions. You know,
that makes sense now that you point it out. I probably should have thought
of that. I think I mistook it for aimless writing, and here the author was
probably aiming to portray aimlessness -- and hitting it right on the head,
I'd say. Maybe he portrayed it *too* well, because I thought it was real.

That helps a little, and starts to explain to me why the game was rated
so highly by so many judges. I still don't like it, but if I'd understood
that the aimlessness was deliberate, I'd have been a bit more forgiving.

This doesn't make me want to go and play it some more though. Quite the
contrary: I'm now pretty sure I wouldn't like the rest of it either.
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 10:26:08 AM

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

"Andrew Krywaniuk" <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<DZ9od.293044$Pl.203264@pd7tw1no>...
> My second complaint is that your judging system seemed to boil down to how
> long you played the game, which a) is mostly based on personal taste, and b)
> seems to be fairly dependant on random factors, such as your mood on that
> day. If you want to bail on Ninja or PTBAD3 after 15 minutes then I can't
> say I blame you, but you also gave up on some technically very competant
> games without giving them a fair chance.

Would it be better if I just gave NR to all the games I don't want to play
past fifteen minutes?

If I did that, I'd want to grade the rest on the kind of curve that raises
them all by N points so that the best ones get a 10 -- to avoid penalizing
the games that I played and rated since I tend to rate more harshly than
average.

> Sure first impressions/personal
> taste matter, but should that be the difference between a 3 and an 8?

In static fiction, authors know they have to grab you in the first paragraph.
That's one of the trademarks of good writing -- so much so that they teach
it in junior high English classes, and give it a name: Narrative Hook. I
don't think it's unfair to expect that same thing in IF.

> BTW, the game you reviewed the most unfairly IMHO was Sting of the Wasp.

Oh, yeah, I forgot about that one. (On purpose, I think.) Sure, it had
significant technical quality, but it was also actively unpleasant. Should
I have just given it an NR?

> > Granted, this was my first time judging, and I've already worked out a
> > refinement to my process if I judge again: rather than starting out each
> > game at zero and raising it, in the future I would start each game out at
> > four and then add from there (or subtract for annoyances). (Then I would
>
> FWIW, your proposal for a revised scoring system seems at least better than
> your previous one, although it still seems designed to save you the chore of
> actually having to play all the games you judge/review.

I thought I wanted to play all the games. Then I saw how bad so many of
them were, and I didn't want to play the really bad ones.

Maybe the problem is that I'm picky.

> It's not a rule, but it is common courtesy.

I was not aware that it was even a _guideline_ (along the lines of, "judges
should try to play as many games as possible"). And so far, you're the only
person I've seen arguing for it. If the comp organizers endorsed this view,
or if I gained the impression that a lot of people felt this way and it was
a consensus, that would make a significant difference.
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 11:54:34 AM

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

half <half@nospam.fakeaddress.com> wrote:
> One trick I used during development was to turn recording on and make a
> transcript. Then I could just add in an earlier action or something
> easily and get back up to the current spot. This is not exactly
> flavoursome and I wouldn't recommend it, but it is a trick worth knowing
> if your patience ends up running thin with a game like this.

I wound up having to do a slight variation on that in order to beat
Varicella. And it's *way* longer than ATD.

--Michael
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 2:31:15 PM

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

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:

> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>>(That is, you observed -- I'm not sure why you switched to passive
>>voice here)
>
>
> I was writing "in the academic sense," and in the persona of a stats major
> (not English lit). Apparently at least 2 of the 3 people who replied didn't
> pick up on that.

I picked up on it. My point was that analysing critical reviews from
the point of view of a stats major is ridiculous.

One's appreciation of a game is not a quantifiable entity. In the
comp, it *looks* quantifiable, because people are asked to translate
their appreciation into a number between 1 and 10 -- but the precepts
people use to do this are arbitrary or indefinable, and vary from
voter to voter, from game to game, and from day to day. My vote of
7 does not mean the same as your vote of 7. My vote of 7 for game X
does not mean the same as my vote of 7 for game Y. Sure, in the
end you get a bunch of numerical data on which you can perform
statistical analyses -- but most conclusions you draw from such
analyses will be meaningless.

(Which is not to say that such abuses of statistics don't turn up
regularly in marketing, "management science", journalism and other
spurious disciplines.)

Stephen.
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 2:44:44 PM

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

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:

> My second complaint is that your judging system seemed to boil down to how
> long you played the game, which a) is mostly based on personal taste,

How are people meant to judge on anything other than personal taste?
Am I meant to judge based on someone else's personal taste?

> and b)
> seems to be fairly dependant on random factors,

Personal taste is based on fairly random factors, such as place of
birth, upbringing, genetics, brain chemistry etc. You can't eliminate
"random factors" from the voting.

Stephen.
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 3:24:05 PM

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

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:

> To clarify this again (in case it's not completely obvious by now), I meant
> that judges who do not make an adequate effort to play games ought not to
> vote on them. "Adequate" is a fairly subjective criterion,

True.

> but if you bail
> out on several games after 15 minutes because "they are hopeless" and those
> games end up finishing in the top 10 of the comp, then it is time to
> reevaluate your judging method.

Why? It could simply be my opinion that said games are hopeless.

>>Is this what they're doing in English Lit these days? I think I
>>prefer pomo.
>
>
> Pomo as in post-modern? To be honest, I had to read that 3 times before I
> realized that it didn't say porno (with bad kerning).

Depends on how you train the nets, I suppose.

Stephen.
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 6:24:17 PM

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

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
>It was observed that some judges submitted scores whose variance from
>the mean exceeded the standard deviation in multiple cases.

Of course they do. If they didn't, the standard deviation would be
narrower. This is a bit like observing that 50% of all games are
better than average.

I agree with you that games should be given a fair chance, but you
sounded a bit too harsh. It sounded like you meant that people not
giving your definition of a fair chance should not vote. This kind of
meta-judging is a slippery slope.

The original poster recognised that his votes tend to be lower than
average, and he tried to play as many games as possible to avoid
tipping the voting balance. Fair enough for me.

Marshall T. Vandegrift wrote:
> Only one of my scores ("Gamlet"'s 10) is outside of the standard
> deviation, but otherwise my rankings are well within statistical
> bounds

This thread seems to be haunted by the assumption that being in a
minority is something that calls for excuses. (I know that you
probably weren't justifying yourself - I quoted out of context to make
a point).

Nusco
Anonymous
November 22, 2004 8:33:19 PM

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

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
> [...] From this, it is concluded that judges who submit scores
> based on a short time of evaluation add a random noise component to the
> final scores, and this factor is expected to be significant enough to affect
> the placement of the top 10 finishers.

As far as I can tell the placement of the top 10 finishers is pretty much
meaningless in any case. If you're investigating the mean height of males in
Duluth, there is a right answer and there's a clear sense in which error
bounds on your approximation of it make sense. If you're trying to predict
how people will vote in an upcoming election, there at least *will* be an
answer, and error bounds still make some sense, though not as much.

In the case of comp game rankings there just isn't a right answer, because
it's just not the case that one of the 36 games is better than all the
others, another is worse than that one but better than the 34 others, and so
on. You're never going to get a reasonable approximation to an answer that
isn't there. It may make sense to say that there's a partial order on the
games; for example, you could give each mean score a fuzziness equal to,
say, half of a standard deviation on each side, and then declare two games
incomparable when their fuzzy ranges overlap. If you do that, the top 10
games in the official ranking are mutually incomparable, which makes sense
to me.

But it would be a bad idea to publish a partial order on the games as the
official result. Not because it's less accurate, but because it's
unsatisfying. People like having winners; they like being able to take any
two games and say that one beat the other. And in particular *entrants* to
the contest are motivated by a desire to take first place, and the real goal
of the IFComp is to encourage people to write good games, not to figure out
which ones are best. Random noise from rogue judges may affect the rankings,
but I don't think it affects the quality of the entries.

-- Ben
Anonymous
November 23, 2004 10:38:35 AM

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

"Stephen Bond" <stephen@NOSPAMkuleuven.ac.be> wrote in message
news:1101120343.788568@seven.kulnet.kuleuven.ac.be...
> Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
>
> > My second complaint is that your judging system seemed to boil down to
how
> > long you played the game, which a) is mostly based on personal taste,
>
> How are people meant to judge on anything other than personal taste?
> Am I meant to judge based on someone else's personal taste?

Well, you might consider making personal taste just one factor in your
voting. You can also judge based on commonly accepted standards of
bugginess, implementation detail, spelling/grammar, perceived effort, etc.

> > and b)
> > seems to be fairly dependant on random factors,
>
> Personal taste is based on fairly random factors, such as place of
> birth, upbringing, genetics, brain chemistry etc. You can't eliminate
> "random factors" from the voting.

I believe you're taking my comments out of context. As I explained in a
different message, "random factors" refers to potential variations in the
score of *a particular judge* due to such factors as mood, luck, timing,
whether they played the game early or late in the comp, whether the phone
rang while they were playing, whether there happened to be something good on
tv...

> Look, to describe someone as "well-informed" has no objective meaning,
....
> Similarly, I might decide that the comments of someone who quit a game
> after ten minutes contain a great deal more insight than the
> exhaustive review of someone who played all the way to the end. I often

Again, it's not a comparison of two different people. It's a comparison of
the same person under two different at two different levels of
'informedness'. Any given judge will be better qualified to judge a game if
they play it for longer than 10 minutes. Even if they do decide to quit,
they will still be semi-qualified to judge if they at least read the
hints/walkthough.

> > other reviewer for doing so? I merely said that it seemed inappropriate
to
> > put too much emphasis on any one factor.
>
> I can't find where you said that, but fair enough. You must realise this
> is a less sweeping statement than "some people just shouldn't be judges".

Well, nothing like a little hyperbole to drive home a point. :-) But anyway,
I did say that it was inappropriate to put excessive emphasis on genre
and/or personal taste. And I still believe that judges who are unwilling to
make a substantial effort to play a game ought to voluntarily refrain from
scoring it.

Andrew
Anonymous
November 23, 2004 10:38:36 AM

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

"Nusco" <nan0744@iperbole.bologna.it> wrote in message
news:c2799cc5.0411221524.16518ed7@posting.google.com...
> Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
> >It was observed that some judges submitted scores whose variance from
> >the mean exceeded the standard deviation in multiple cases.
>
> Of course they do. If they didn't, the standard deviation would be
> narrower. This is a bit like observing that 50% of all games are
> better than average.

Okay, but you're taking that statement out of context. I said that the
judges(*) with a high variance from the mean correlated with the ones whose
reviews indicated that they gave up easily. (at least the ones who posted
their scores)

Marshall later posted his scores as a counter-example to this. I think what
he did differently was that he quickly eliminated the bottom ~30% of games
based on objective criteria, whereas Stephen and Nathan used more subjective
criteria.

Andrew
Anonymous
November 23, 2004 2:49:52 PM

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

On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 22:32:28 +0000 (UTC), dbs@cs.wisc.edu (Dan Shiovitz)
wrote:

>In article <42dae7fc.0411211228.1b61d97d@posting.google.com>,
>Nathan Eady <jonadab@bright.net> wrote:
>[..]
>>
>>If you want to argue that I made a mistake jumping to that conclusion in a
>>particular case (e.g., I suspect you're really talking about Blue Chairs,
>>since that's the one where a large number of voters significantly disagreed
>>with my assessment), I'm interested in discussing it. In particular, I've
>>seen a number of reviewers say things to the effect that they forgave the
>>weak beginning in Blue Chairs due to its merits, but the details about said
>>merits are thin on the ground. After the game got such good reviews, I went
>>back to see if I could find what I missed, but maybe someone could clue me
>>in, because I spent another thirty minutes or so and still didn't find it.
>
>(some Blue Chairs spoilers)
>
>The whole puzzle involving finding the ride out of there is pretty
>bad; it'd be fine in a puzzle game but this isn't one, and requiring
>people go rummaging through the attic for no apparent reason (worse
>yet -- after being actively dissuaded from doing so unless they have
>the right item) is a lousy puzzle.

Actually, the hints provide information on an alternate method on how to
get into the dance. If you don't feel like drinking that toxic substance,
you could raid the fridge instead and drink some beer. You don't exactly
have a great dancing experience, but it can work.

>Oh, yeah, and then even when you
>find the thing in the attic, if you've done something else first
>you've made the game unwinnable. Whee.

Really? Can I see? :) 

I've relied on the hints to get through the game, and missed out on how to
mess up the game mechanics. I suspect it might have to do with an attempt
to drive your car prevents you from using it in the epilogue...

The only major problem with the game is that it globally alternates "Alice"
and "Alicia" every three commands. This can be a bit of a problem in some
cases, such as the conversation with the party girl....
Anonymous
November 23, 2004 7:53:33 PM

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

In article <zgUnd.291695$%k.80143@pd7tw2no>,
Andrew Krywaniuk <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote:
>If we did it for IF reviewers, maybe
>Paul O'Brien could be Roger Ebert and this guy could be Mr. Cranky.

Dibs on the Filthy Critic.

Adam
Anonymous
November 23, 2004 9:30:52 PM

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

Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
> "Stephen Bond" <stephen@NOSPAMkuleuven.ac.be> wrote in message
> news:1101120343.788568@seven.kulnet.kuleuven.ac.be...

>>How are people meant to judge on anything other than personal taste?
>>Am I meant to judge based on someone else's personal taste?
>
> Well, you might consider making personal taste just one factor in your
> voting. You can also judge based on commonly accepted standards of
> bugginess, implementation detail, spelling/grammar, perceived effort, etc.

But there aren't many "commonly accepted standards" in the areas you
mention. The standards people have in different areas, and the weights
they attach to them, are matters of personal taste.

> I believe you're taking my comments out of context. As I explained in a
> different message, "random factors" refers to potential variations in the
> score of *a particular judge* due to such factors as mood, luck, timing,
> whether they played the game early or late in the comp, whether the phone
> rang while they were playing, whether there happened to be something good on
> tv...

Yeah, but people have lives. Whenever they vote, there will be "random
factors" affecting the score. Even if it was necessary or desirable
(and it isn't), you couldn't get rid of them.

>>Similarly, I might decide that the comments of someone who quit a game
>>after ten minutes contain a great deal more insight than the
>>exhaustive review of someone who played all the way to the end. I often
>
> Again, it's not a comparison of two different people. It's a comparison of
> the same person under two different at two different levels of
> 'informedness'.

Similarly, a judge might place no value on the information to be gained
in finishing a game he doesn't like, and thus not finish the game. You
might consider him less "well-informed" for that, but he would disagree.

>>>it seemed inappropriate to put too much emphasis on any one factor.
>>
>>I can't find where you said that, but fair enough. You must realise this
>>is a less sweeping statement than "some people just shouldn't be judges".
>
> Well, nothing like a little hyperbole to drive home a point. :-)

We've been through this before on r*if, but hyperbole comes across
very poorly on Usenet. Failed or misunderstood attempts at irony and
hyperbole have led to a lot of bad feeling in the past. On Usenet,
it's best to assume people will take your statements at face value.

Stephen.
Anonymous
November 24, 2004 1:38:49 AM

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

On 19 Nov 2004 08:32:49 -0800, Nathan Eady <jonadab@bright.net> wrote:
> 4. Orion Agenda:
> "reading what looks to be an Orionion bible" is awkward. I think
> it's the word "Orionion" that's awkward. Orionite or Orionese or
> even Orioner would be less awkward, IMHO.

Isn't Orionion the Orion Steakhouse's name for their
onion-ring-appetiser variant?
--
Matthew Miller <mwmiller@columbus.rr.com>
Anonymous
December 1, 2004 11:15:03 AM

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

In article <chq6q01t6q8idrvrtbiapr12pnmc89a6e0@4ax.com>,
Raymond Martineau <bk039@ncf.ca> wrote:
>On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 22:32:28 +0000 (UTC), dbs@cs.wisc.edu (Dan Shiovitz)
>wrote:
>>(some Blue Chairs spoilers)

>Actually, the hints provide information on an alternate method on how to
>get into the dance. If you don't feel like drinking that toxic substance,
>you could raid the fridge instead and drink some beer. You don't exactly
>have a great dancing experience, but it can work.
>
>>Oh, yeah, and then even when you
>>find the thing in the attic, if you've done something else first
>>you've made the game unwinnable. Whee.

Whoops, looks like you're right. When I drank the beer originally it
seemed like I didn't have enough time to make it to the center of the
dance, and the message made it seem like this was intentional, but
sure enough, it is possible to make it through the dance just with the
beer. That makes me feel a lot better about this puzzle.

--
Dan Shiovitz :: dbs@cs.wisc.edu :: http://www.drizzle.com/~dans
"He settled down to dictate a letter to the Consolidated Nailfile and
Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation of Scranton, Pa., which would make them
realize that life is stern and earnest and Nailfile and Eyebrow Tweezer
Corporations are not put in this world for pleasure alone." -PGW
!