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How did this happen? (Spoilers, and LONG)

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Anonymous
November 25, 2004 10:58:57 AM

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

Hi Everybody!!

There are a few things I'd like to get off my chest about the results
of this year's if-comp. These rants will take the form of reviews,
laid out in a pro-con format, on a couple of the top ten games. Oh,
and there are a lot of spoilers. Tons of spoilers. BIG SPOILERS LIE
AHEAD!!! If you haven't played the top please do not read the rest of
this post! In fact, I'll go ahead and warn you that not only will I
give spoilers to games from this year's if comp, I'll probably refer
to other if games as well and spoil them for you, though I'll try to
be as vague as possible so you won't figure out what I'm talking
about.

But before I get to all of that let me just say this: it is not my
intention to hurt anyone's feelings. If you believe nothing else of
what I write, please believe both the previous sentence and the next
one. I do not want to insult anyone, or make anyone feel less of
themselves or their abilities – I just want to "call ‘em as I see ‘em"
and try to state my ideas the best I know how.




S

P

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S

P

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C

E





1) Luminous Horizons
Pros: This was a fun game. I have to admit, I didn't play the
second in the series, but I did play the first one and had high
expectations going into this. And I wasn't disappointed. The tone
was the same, the characters were entertaining, and the evil villains
were evil and villainous. If I remember correctly, the first one
stumped me for a bit, but after a while of trying different things I
ended up victorious. It, like this game, was funny, comic-book-esque
(yeah, I know that's not a real word), unique, and made me laugh while
I played it. It definitely scored points in that column. The
brother-sister interaction was wonderful, and while the NPCs weren't
as developed as they could have been there were much better than most
(a hell of a lot better than mine) and were fun to talk to.

Cons: The puzzles, they, well, weren't all that hard. I finished
the game in less than an hour, (closer to 30 minutes if memory serves
*see later* – see, I usually don't write reviews so I don't take very
thoroughly detailed notes when I play these games). There are three
things I like to see puzzles be: creative, unique, and unexpected. My
most favorite games of all time contain puzzles that have those
attributes. The puzzles in EAS3 could at most have two of those
three, but I didn't find one that could be described by all three.
There was one puzzle in EAS3 that stumped me for some time, but I
ended up victorious in the end, and there were two puzzles that, when
I got to them, I thought, ‘Ah, now this should be a fun challenge'
that ended up disappointed me greatly. Let me go into detail about
one of those. This was when the PC encounters the parents for the
first time. My initial reaction to the onslaught of attacks was to
dodge them every time while trying to think of ways to defeat in
between. I didn't do this, of course. Some of the most fun to be had
in IF games is to do the opposite of your initial reaction (just for
kicks and giggles) and then reload the game and react accordingly the
next time. I just stood there trying different things while me and my
suit got bombarded with hits and I ended up dying. ‘Oh well,' I
thought, ‘Let's try that again.' And the next time, going along with
my gut instinct, I happened upon the solution to the puzzle. In my
book, that qualifies as being an easy puzzle. And they all fall under
the category "Find locked door, find key, unlock door" – that is to
say, they aren't compound puzzles like the ones you might find in
Trapped in a One Room Dilly, or Curses! There is a key in that latter
game that's hard to get at. Once you've solved the puzzles required
to obtain the tools you need to open the glass demijohn that has the
key in it, the key drops to the floor, falls through a crack, and you
have to go through another series of puzzles before you can finally
obtain the key. This is what I mean by compound puzzles: puzzles
layered atop one another to create a complex weave that makes the game
frustrating, challenging, and great.
Next subject: the hint system. Or rather, the in-game hint system
that I didn't realize was a hint system as I used it. This could very
well be why I found the game so easy. But if the first of the series
(I could spend a few minutes and play that game to find out but I'm on
a roll here and don't want to derail this train of thought) used the
same shtick for the hint system then I really don't remember that game
at all. And I really do try not to use hint systems in comp games. I
will sit at my computer for tens of minutes thinking only, ‘Don't type
HINT, try something else. Don't type HINT, try something again.
Don't type HINT, try something strange and weird.' And when I found
out later that I'd been using the hint system for this game I kicked
myself hard in the tuckuss. But when I'm playing a game, I will try
to use everything at my disposal to beat that game *see last
paragraph*. And, when I was stuck outside the robot room trying to
think of how I would get past all those robots to the large machine in
the back, I tried everything I could think of including asking the NPC
next to me about things. That was a mistake (translation: I wish I
hadn't done that) and an irreversible one at this point.
Bugs. I didn't write down a list of all the bugs I found in the
game, nor did I go out of my way to find bugs, and I'm not going to.
I did come across this one – an archway that you can pick up. That's
a pretty easy one to find and de-bug, and frankly the game loses
points in that column.

Overall score from 1 - 10 (10 being high): 6


2) All Things Devours
Pros: This game blew my mind. BLEW MY FRIGGIN MIND!! I loved it.
Once I understood the premise of the game and what the challenge was
about, I was giddy and happy and jumped up and down in my chair. I
haven't finished the game yet, but merely thinking about how the game
might be solved is, well, one dilly of a pickle! This is the most
creative and innovative puzzle I've seen in IF in, well, I've ever
seen! To try and go back in time and coordinate all your actions so
that the continuity of the timeline can be preserved while all the
time being in multiple places at the same time… whew! Yes, I'll
grant that it's hard. It's no compound puzzle, but it is a creative
and unexpected one. It's also one of those challenges that I've come
across in my life where I can't possibly see how it could be solved,
and yet I know it can be solved, so if I just think about it long
enough and juggle the components long enough I know that I'll figure
out to solve it. I love that process!! I love tricky puzzles, and
man, is this one tricky. I can't tell you how many times I've
destroyed Boston in this game, or how many crumpled up pieces of paper
now line my trash can as I make time tables on my actions and then
throw then away as I realize I forgot one key component. And I love
it! (Have I said that I love it yet?) In fact, I don't think I want
to finish this game just so I can savor this taste in my mouth: this
wonderful feeling of excitement and anticipation wondering how and
when I'll solve this puzzle. I tried to think of the last time I felt
this way, to give a good example, and I couldn't. I could only think
of a time I felt this way, and this was when I was first introduced to
the Towers of Hanoi. I thought to myself, ‘it can't be done.
Impossible.' But people who knew the trick told me that yes, it could
be done, so I sat and I thought. I thought about it and played with
it until I figured out what the method was. All that time while I was
working on it my brain was on cloud nine. Now that I know the method,
however, I can still appreciate the puzzle but it will no longer bring
me the joy and wonder that it first did. That's why I think I'll wait
a few weeks at least before I solve Devours. (If you don't understand
any of that, well then, you'll probably disagree with most of the
things I have to say anyways.)

Cons: Umm… I hate to say this, but I can't think of any. Like I
said, I haven't finished the game, so I haven't experienced it all and
there might be cons I don't know about. I'll give you that. I don't
do a thorough bug testing when I play these games (just try a couple
things here and there) so there could be some problems in that regard.
And also I've been known to love something so much that I'm blind to
any downfalls it might have, i.e. the Simpsons, Outland comics by
Berkeley Breathed, my niece, etc, so I could just be missing a big
thing here that the majority of those reading this (if they bothered
to get this far) could name and probably will name in a reply post,
but as I sit here in front of my computer I can't think of anything to
list under the Cons for this game. I love it. Oh, and I don't think
Toby Ord is the author's real name. Perhaps it is, and perhaps I'm
just going to be so embarrassed that I'll continue to hide from the IF
community for the rest of my life, but I'm looking at the pseudonym
and I'm familiar with Tennyson's poetry, and I can see the metaphor
that might lie there. And if we're dealing with someone clever enough
to code such a twisted game as Devours, then they could be clever
enough to create a fake website to cover their fake identity. ;) 

Overall score from 1 - 10 (10 being high): 9


I guess what I'm trying to get at is: HOW IN THE WORLD DID EAS3
MANAGE TO TAKE THE TOP PRIZE?! No offense to those involved,
(honestly, I doubt anyone's still reading this at this point) and I
don't want to rain on your parade (I liked the game! Really, I did!)
but let me put it this way: if someone was to come along and say,
"Hey guys! I'm new to the IF arena and I'm wondering if you can
suggest to me some really good games I should take a crack at?" I
would have a list ready. This list would include among other previous
winners of the annual IF Comp, RR, Slouching, Curses, T in a ORD, etc.
And now on that list I will include Devours. But EAS3? No. I would
not put it on my list of top games. Would anyone else put it on his
or hers?

I guess I have to assume the answer is yes, since enough of you people
out there voted the game high enough to allow it to win the
competition. I guess I have to learn to deal with that, just like I
have to learn how to deal with the fact that Junior was re-elected. I
realize that I've left Blue Chairs out of the discussion here recently
and it placed between those games I just reviewed, and while it's an
awesomely surrealistic game, it doesn't fall under the same category
as either a fantastic game that I will remember ten years from now or
a straight-forward game with no difficult puzzles. I think it
deserves the place it received, as do the rest of the top ten games.

Oh, and while I'm on my soapbox I've got a few more things to say. I
like mazes (just not in comp games). I don't mind games that have a
5-1 ratio of un-usable rooms to usable ones. I will use UNDO,
RESTORE, and RELOAD to my advantage because that's what I do in other
computer games and no, I don't think it ruins the "illusion of the
game". I don't dislike a game just because it kills you without
warning. I realize the majority of the community doesn't agree with
me, but I felt like sharing some personal feelings with those two
people who ended up reading my entire post. Thank you. Now it's time
for some coffee.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jennifer

More about : happen spoilers long

Anonymous
November 25, 2004 1:42:09 PM

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

kyria79@yahoo.com (Jennifer Maddox) wrote in message

> Oh, and while I'm on my soapbox I've got a few more things to say. I
> like mazes (just not in comp games). I don't mind games that have a
> 5-1 ratio of un-usable rooms to usable ones. I will use UNDO,
> RESTORE, and RELOAD to my advantage because that's what I do in other
> computer games and no, I don't think it ruins the "illusion of the
> game". I don't dislike a game just because it kills you without
> warning. I realize the majority of the community doesn't agree with
> me, ...

I totally, wholeheartedly and absolutely agree on this in every
respect!

Yet, I would put the E&S trilogy on your aforementioned list. It's a
marvellously written game that perfectly catches the spirit of
superhero comic books. I, too, would add All Things Devours (which I
didn't play during the rating period), but more for advanced players,
not someone just discovering IF. I'd also recommend Blue Chairs, but I
don't think it's to everybody's taste.

Bob
November 25, 2004 1:50:02 PM

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

"Jennifer Maddox" <kyria79@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:ee85d1d1.0411250758.64f80b74@posting.google.com...
> Hi Everybody!!

> I guess what I'm trying to get at is: HOW IN THE WORLD DID EAS3
> MANAGE TO TAKE THE TOP PRIZE?! No offense to those involved,
> (honestly, I doubt anyone's still reading this at this point) and I

It's probably explained in the standard deviation. Luminous Horizon is a
great game -- but you only need to average better than another game to rank
above it. A game that receives all 6's from 100 judges will beat the game
that receives fifty 1's and fifty 10's. I seem to remember both of the top
two games boasting impressive numbers in the 9 and 10 spots. All Things
Devours probably frustrated enough people who "didn't get it" that the
average dropped too low for first place. The same with Blue Chairs. Both
will be remembered and recommended once the dust settles, but Luminous
Horizon stands as the most universally liked game from the comp.

And that is how it won. That's how every game every year wins. :) 

---- Mike.
Related resources
Anonymous
November 25, 2004 8:35:16 PM

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

The Prophet Jennifer Maddox known to the wise as kyria79@yahoo.com, opened the Book of Words, and read unto the people:
>I guess what I'm trying to get at is: HOW IN THE WORLD DID EAS3
>MANAGE TO TAKE THE TOP PRIZE?! No offense to those involved,
>(honestly, I doubt anyone's still reading this at this point) and I
>don't want to rain on your parade (I liked the game! Really, I did!)

I feel much the same way, albeit for different reasons. Paul is a
wonderful author, and EAS3 is a fine game which deserves recognition,
but it felt to me a bit of a letdown that it won the comp, for two
reasons: it felt a bit straightwforward and not really
envelope-pushing (altohough being able to change characters was pretty
damn cool, I confess), and it's a sequel to a previous comp winner
(which is not a bad thing in its own right, but it's hardly an
exciting thing to see win the comp).

My money was on Blue Chairs, but, y'know, around the top, all the
games were excellent, and half and Chris can take pride in their
performances: I know I would were I in their positions.
--
D. Jacob (Jake) Wildstrom, Math monkey and freelance thinker

"A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."
-Alfred Renyi

The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily endorsed by the
University of California or math department thereof.
Anonymous
November 25, 2004 8:35:17 PM

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

In article <co554k$nka$1@news1.ucsd.edu>, dwildstr@zeno.ucsd.edu says...
> Jennifer Maddox (said):
> >I guess what I'm trying to get at is: HOW IN THE WORLD DID EAS3
> >MANAGE TO TAKE THE TOP PRIZE?! No offense to those involved,
> >(honestly, I doubt anyone's still reading this at this point) and I
> >don't want to rain on your parade (I liked the game! Really, I did!)
>
> I feel much the same way, albeit for different reasons. Paul is a
> wonderful author, and EAS3 is a fine game which deserves recognition,
> but it felt to me a bit of a letdown that it won the comp, for two
> reasons: it felt a bit straightwforward and not really
> envelope-pushing (altohough being able to change characters was pretty
> damn cool, I confess)

It was more than pretty damned cool, IMO, which is why I was glad to see
Paul take first place even though I agree that key aspects of the game
like the final battle weren't flawlessly implemented. EAS3 is more than
the sum of its puzzles, which is what makes a top-scoring title.

Few forms besides IF wed the reader to a single character's point of
view. Even novels written in the first person can employ devices to
bring other characters to center stage. IF authors, though, have always
been reluctant to allow their human players to shift their perspective
between different characters or otherwise move between different points
of view. This is probably due to fear of breaking the player/character
emotional connection.

But the only connection that counts isn't between player and character;
it's between player and story. Paul gave us a nice demonstration of
that truth here, and I hope other authors will run with it.

-- jm

------------------------------------------------------
http://www.qsl.net/ke5fx
Note: My E-mail address has been altered to avoid spam
------------------------------------------------------
Anonymous
November 26, 2004 2:27:38 AM

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

On 25 Nov 2004 07:58:57 -0800, kyria79@yahoo.com (Jennifer Maddox) wrote:

>Hi Everybody!!
>
>There are a few things I'd like to get off my chest about the results
>of this year's if-comp. These rants will take the form of reviews,
>laid out in a pro-con format, on a couple of the top ten games. Oh,
>and there are a lot of spoilers. Tons of spoilers. BIG SPOILERS LIE
>AHEAD!!! If you haven't played the top please do not read the rest of
>this post! In fact, I'll go ahead and warn you that not only will I
>give spoilers to games from this year's if comp, I'll probably refer
>to other if games as well and spoil them for you, though I'll try to
>be as vague as possible so you won't figure out what I'm talking
>about.
>
>But before I get to all of that let me just say this: it is not my
>intention to hurt anyone's feelings. If you believe nothing else of
>what I write, please believe both the previous sentence and the next
>one. I do not want to insult anyone, or make anyone feel less of
>themselves or their abilities – I just want to "call ‘em as I see ‘em"
>and try to state my ideas the best I know how.
>
>
>
>
>S
>
>P
>
>O
>
>I
>
>L
>
>E
>
>R
>
>
>
>
>S
>
>P
>
>A
>
>C
>
>E
>
>
>
>
>
>
>2) All Things Devours


>
> Cons: Umm… I hate to say this, but I can't think of any.

For some people, the 6-minute timer was a bit too tight. Persoanlly, I
think it's "just right", but the game really should have given a bit more
information about the environment so that the first attempt wouldn't fail.

Also, when I showed the game to someone else, he though it was a great
puzzle, but told me that he really didn't have the time to figure out how
to do the temporal mechanics properly (e.g. how to coordinate your actions
before and after using the prototype to avoid failure). Didn't see why,
since he's much more experienced at Interactive Fiction games than I am.

>Like I
>said, I haven't finished the game, so I haven't experienced it all and
>there might be cons I don't know about. I'll give you that. I don't
>do a thorough bug testing when I play these games (just try a couple
>things here and there) so there could be some problems in that regard.

There were problems, but I considered the puzzle alone to overcome the
problems caused by these bugs. (For example, the "about" command taking a
turn, or lack of background information.)
Anonymous
November 26, 2004 4:43:26 AM

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

kyria79@yahoo.com (Jennifer Maddox) wrote in message news:<ee85d1d1.0411250758.64f80b74@posting.google.com>...

> 2) All Things Devours
> Pros: This game blew my mind... I loved it.
> Once I understood the premise of the game and what the challenge was
> about, I was giddy and happy and jumped up and down in my chair...
> This is the most creative and innovative puzzle I've seen in IF in,
> well, I've ever seen! To try and go back in time and coordinate all
> your actions so that the continuity of the timeline can be preserved
> while all the time being in multiple places at the same time? whew!
> Yes, I'll grant that it's hard. It's no compound puzzle, but it is
> a creative and unexpected one...

Heh, me too! It was my personal favourite game of the comp. I have
solved it, and my last few iterations, trying to get the timing
exactly right... well, I just couldn't stop! It looks simple on the
face of it: just go in, plant the bomb, get out. But of course it's
not quite that simple...

>
> Cons: Umm? I hate to say this, but I can't think of any. Like I
> said, I haven't finished the game, so I haven't experienced it all and
> there might be cons I don't know about. I'll give you that. I don't
> do a thorough bug testing when I play these games (just try a couple
> things here and there) so there could be some problems in that regard.

The only bug I found was with the 'decoration' doors, but the author
already knows about that one.


Of course, I never got round to playing EAS3, since I'm as yet without
a Glulx 'terp. It would have to go a long way to beat ATD, though, for
me.

--Tim B

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