Is This Thing Still Up?!?

Last December I didn’t pay my hosting site, for various reasons. So when I went back in May to revive it I discovered my domain names had been taken over. I revived my sites by changing the .coms to .orgs and vice-a-versa.

Recently I checked the IFWiki to see if David Welborn had updated my links and discovered that he had archived my site. Not necessarily a smart thing to do because I MAY add things to it. But, what the hey.

So I clicked other things on my IF Wiki page (Marnie Parker) and came up with this blog site. Honestly, I figured Word Press would have taken it down by now since I hadn’t updated it since 2007.

So maybe I will update this thing and keep it going. Or not.

I’ve deleted past non Iffy posts to keep it just Iffy (for now). So maybe I won’t update this page since IF has moved far beyond me with lots of younger and even younger people involved.

We shall see.

Checking In

I haven’t used word press for a long time. Yes, I am still around.

IF Comp 2007 – Lost Pig, Across the Stars


I said I had two more games I wanted to play. Well, it was Across and one another. But I finished the other one so quickly I decided to play a few more. I have played a few more, but I am only going to review/critique/comment on two more.

Also, as we near the end, I tend to adjust my votes. Which is why my numerical votes are not published here. Before when I did comp reviews, the last seemingly six years ago, I wrote them all up with numerical scores and only published them in rgif once the deadline was over. I used a four point judging system, the four P’s:  plot, prose, programming, and puzzles. I would award 1-10 points for each. Add the total and divide by four to arrive at a 1-10 overall score.

This year, because I started writing as I played and voted (because of the change in the comp web page), I knew I would change some of my numerical votes up or down later. So there was no point in publishing them, because they would have changed.

I adjust my scores to help ensure the one I wanted to come in at the top comes in at the top, and to help ensure the one I wanted to come in at the bottom comes in at the bottom. Not that one vote can affect the outcome, but I try. 😉 I also adjust to spread out my own votes — I tend to bell curve, with maybe one ten and one one and the majority hovering around above and below five — what I consider average. Though I don’t usually have that many fives, because not that many games are really average.

This year I found myself adjusting Pack Rat much further up than its programming really warranted, simply because I enjoyed it more than most. I also adjusted I am Jack Mills up further than I felt its shallowness warranted, because I also enjoyed it more than many others. I also adjusted some others down and up, but those two benefited the most from my final adjustment.

In the end, there were really only a handful of comps games I enjoyed. Sure some were okay, and some were not too bad, but in the end, I look for enjoyment above all else.  (And when I used the four P method, I’d find myself adjusting for enjoyment as well, which made the four P method  questionable, since I’d have to adjust one or two of the four P’s up or down to compensate.)

So I enjoyed…

Lost Pig

It wasn’t very long before I was into this game that I knew an experienced Iffer had written it. It had a “zarfian” quality, in other words, it had a response to everything I tried. And not just “that doesn’t accomplish anything” type of response (although I ran into one or two), more along the lines of “you try that and blah, blah.” Those paying attention to Live Journal will know who the author is, I don’t, so I didn’t.. at first. It’s not zarf, but it is someone who has been around the Iffy block.

You are Grunk, an orc, big, green, and stupid, and you’ve lost a pig. And not your pig, so you have to get it back. At first the dumbed down dialect annoyed me, but the more I played (and ALL the responses had Grunk-speech, not default library messages) the more I liked it. Especially when chasing the pig around, which I suspected might be a bit smarter than Grunk. Grunk also ends up being rather endearingly child-like, curious and good-natured. After all, its not his fault that he’s big, green, and stupid — it just comes with the territory.

I found the other NPC in the game not nearly as well-drawn, although he is mainly a talking head, sitting in one place to answer Grunk’s questions. But I felt he could have been made to have a tad more character as well. Grunk really overshadows him.

Because this game has a response to just about everything (I would say everything, but I didn’t try everything), it is a good game. The sort of game one can trust. This is what Infocom games had going for them that modern IF often lacks, trust. Trust that the game isn’t buggy, trust that you can work at the puzzles, trust that you can solve them by trying different things and finding out what will work from what doesn’t work, and trust that the puzzles will be well-clued and not some obscure idea in the author’s head. So I leaned back, relaxed, worked at the puzzles, and enjoyed the game.

However, I still got stumped about 3-4 times. But I suspect if I didn’t feel in a rush to finish games and had more time to work at it, I would have solved most of them on my own because all the hints are there. Although sometimes the depth of response ended up being very misleading, creating red herrings. SPOILER ON. I put the green pole in the statue’s upraised hand. And because I could, for a long time I thought that was the proper solution. Yes, there was a hint elsewhere that that was not it, but I could do it! I am not sure if this level of response shouldn’t be fine tuned to allow only one proper solution, or if the author wanted to mislead. And I am unsure if I would recommend changing that or not. Because in real life more than one solution will often work. I remain undecided about it — but it was often misleading. SPOILER OFF.

It is nice to see such a very well-crafted game in the comp. Overall I enjoyed it and seriously wished there was more. This could easily have been double the size, triple the size — the larger the better — I would have enjoyed it more with more. But a nice feature of Lost Pig is that one can win without getting all the points. I won with 6 out of 7. I am unsure what point I missed, but suspect where it was because there was a clue I never used.

I will give this high marks, but not top marks, because once I hit the main playing area, I felt it was a tad too short. Not quite complex enough. That seems a funny reason not to give it top marks, but the level of complexity in the game, the responses for everything, led me to expect more. That is one downside of excellent crafting. 😉

Across the Stars

This isn’t really a two-hour game, at least, not for me. I have not finished it yet, but I have to move on and finish up my reviews and voting.

I started this game, failed at the first puzzle, and then put the game aside to play last. Because the first puzzle showed me that the puzzles were going to be difficult, but with decent cluing, and I really like spaceship scifi. However, I ended up enjoying it less than I had anticipated, mainly because it goes from science-fiction to a more obcure sort of fantasy. In fact, this game seemed unable to decide what it wanted to be — Star Trek, Indiana Jones, or The Illearth War. This overlapping of genres makes the puzzles much harder to solve than the authors probably thought they were, because there are clues in the prose. Only one is often unsure how to use them — go for a straight scientific approach?, go for a fantasy approach?, or go for a daredevil approach? It turned the fantasy approach would not work, but there is nothing really in the game, at least for quite a while, to say if it it will or will not.

There is a very good hint system, emphasis on hint (although solutions are offered too), and by use of it I was able to progress as far as I have to date. Sometimes all I need is a hint and that is why I hate having to resort to walkthrus. But I don’t like having to resort to hints either, and not so often.

I didn’t find any bugs, although I found some areas that could be improved, so it’s a pretty decent game overall. However, a great many of the puzzles are too difficult without either a lot more game play and/or a lot more cluing in the text. Several times I would go to hints and it would appear the authors felt I had been clued in the text, but I had missed it. It wasn’t obvious to me. SPOILER ON. Box – I had to ask someone how to get in the secret compartment to not be caught, even with hints and a walkthru. Why? Because once I took the card out of the slot, the box was rewebbed anyway. And if I unwebbed the box and moved it, I could not move it back. So there didn’t seem any point in going to such effort to reweb it and I did it the easy way. Something was wrong there, either I should have been able to move the box back, or the rewebbing sequence should have mentioned it also moved the box. Rune – The rune in the secret alcove wasn’t even mentioned in the room description. It was also not mentioned in the worm description, so I didn’t know there was a rune there to scan. I kept scanning the one outside the alcove. APU – when I went into the cargo hold, and asked Adar about the APU, she said it was aft, except I couldn’t go aft then. That response was appropriate for when I was in the cockpit, but not the cargo hold. There were quite a few things like that that could be caught with more betatesting and more work, more writing — those were just the only ones I wrote down. SPOILER OFF.

The game borders on the trite, I suppose, but not enough to worry me. I will give it decent marks for being a decent game, but I feel it could use more work. Not in the programming area, not even in the puzzle area, but in the prose area — to make the world encountered more believable and to add clues to the puzzles into the PROSE rather than into the HINT SYSTEM. A good hint system is simply great, but it is not really a substitute for good game writing and with Across I feel the authors ended up relying on it too heavily.

IF Comp 2007 – More Brief Mentions (Jack Mills, JDX, Mishmash)

Some of these mentions will be very brief. If you start from the beginning of my reviews, you can probably tell that I am running out of steam on analyzing games.

 The first I am voting for.

I am Jack Mills

I don’t have much pithy to say about this. I rather liked it, as I am fond of mysteries. I also rather liked encountering a “film noir” type of detective in the comp, but in the end I felt this game fell short of its promise. It is short and sort of shallow (not thin, but bordering on it), and a bit obscure. Overall, there is nothing seriously wrong with it, but it does need tightening up. That would raise it higher, closer to the “good” game bar.

You are a P.I. looking for a valuable, stolen Roman coin. The time period is not explicitly stated, but it could easily be the 1940’s/1950’s. However, as the player trying to find the coin, you may have to resort to walkthru more than you would like.

I liked how driving the car worked (the PC has to know of/about some location before he can drive there), I liked Jack Mill’s voice overs (not too intrusive, appropriate to the plot development, the player learns more because of them, and they are in italics to distinguish them), but I still found the puzzles too hard. Some of this was due to guess the verb, some was due to actions that seemed illogical, and some was due to the fact that there wasn’t really quite enough to do. So I feel this would be hard to win without the walkthru, although the walkthru isn’t required for every action/puzzle. However, I think this could be fixed. I would also suggest a little more “attitude” for the PC, so we get a better feeling of him as a character. And maybe more for the NPCs as well. More writing would add more meat to the story and improve it.

SPOILER ON. Guess the verb – When I encountered the container and the fire escape, I though, aha, supposed to get on container and climb ladder. Why not just call it a garbage can, by the way? Plastic containers were not prevalent in earlier time periods. But get on container would not work, etc., etc., so I had to look at the walkthru. I did see later that the in-game help commands mentioned climb, but a synonym of get on would be better. Opening the window with the knife – I tried opening the window and breaking the window with the knife. Some hint there would help because that is almost a guess the verb problem. Maybe a voice over from Jack after the player tries it two times, “The latch looks worn and old, probably the knife could pry it open.” Illogical — It seemed counter-intuitive for me to go and confront Geigner at the night club. I already knew he was a thief and a hood, what would confronting him with those facts get for me except broken knee caps? Somehow the idea of masquerading as someone else needs more lead in. I had to look at the walkthru there too because I am not fond of getting beat up, in games or elsewhere, so I tend to avoid it. 🙂 And actually, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to photograph someone through a window where they would spot me. Branches – I am not sure either that the plot branching works all that well in this game. I only played one, Violet’s offer, but it seemed to make the whole game way too short. SPOILER OFF.

This isn’t a “bad” game, but it also isn’t quite a “good” game, either. However, if the author will take more time to expand it a little more — more writing and attitude and tighten up the puzzles and plot inconsistencies, then I feel it just might fall into the latter category.

Jealousy Duel X

Nice graphics, some cute ideas, looks like it was a lot of work to make/write it, and not-my-cup-of-tea, again. In fact, many IF players will probably not like the CYOA/graphic approach. I also didn’t like the attitude toward women that seemed to be expressed in this game. Sorry, I didn’t. I know the PC is supposed to be bitter, but the girls at the bar were bad reflections also.

I only played long enough to cover the initial game map and to figure out that I probably could win it if I kept playing (although it seemed difficult). The goal was sort of stated, but it still wasn’t clear to me at first. However, I wasn’t really enjoying the laborious puzzle solving (being restricted to such simple choices makes it harder) and had no desire to keep working at it, er…, playing it.


And, boy, is it! This game irked me, though I didn’t take a strong dislike to it like I did to one other. I was more disappointed than disgusted.

The writing wasn’t bad, the plot seemed promising with intriguing ideas, I like science-fiction, I can even stand all the reruns of “Starship Troopers” on TBS, and I like virtual reality science-fiction. But, uh, after more than a couple of turns I wasn’t sure what this was. Or wasn’t. I suspect thought went into this, but be warned, when it comes to science-fiction, vagueness is no substitute for clear, good writing.

What is a cold suit? What is a node? Was I trooping? Was I virtual realitying? Was I the ghost in the machine? A computer bug?I don’t know. I had to use the walkthru for everything and after about 15-20 turns I gave up. I like to play, not watch (having to use a walkthru is watching). Also, not only was the surrounding reality, or lack of it, unclear, so was the goal. How the author expected me to deduce what to do is beyond me. SPOILER ON. How was I supposed to know getting into the crate was a good idea? Because how did I know that penetrating the factory further was what I wanted? SPOILER OFF.

In sci-fi one does not have to explain HOW some technology (unfamiliar to the reader/player) works, but, at the least, they do have to explain what it IS. There may be a good game here somewhere, but I didn’t find it.

P.S. Note that this is another game where more beta testing would have helped the author clarify the plot — another game that would have been greatly improved by it. See Ferrous Ring review.

IF Authors get a big break in the comp, because many judges are committed to finishing games regardless. Or finishing the games they started. Or finishing some games. But when a game is released outside the comp there is another standard, a more “real life” standard. When player confusion outweighs player motivation and/or enjoyment — the player simply stops playing.

IF Comp 2007 – Two Brief Mentions (Gathered, Press Escape)

I still have two games I want to finish playing, but I thought I would briefly mention two others.

Gathered in Darkness

This is a Quest game. I am not sure I have ever played a Quest game before. The interface is different (than I7 or TADS), but not bad. Actually, I was surprised to not dislike the interface.

However, I did really dislike the tiny red text on the black background (bad choice). Fortunately, through options that is changeable.

The writing seemed fine, the programming adequate, it didn’t feel buggy, but I soon stopped playing. Basically the story is not-my-cup-of-tea. Well, to be truthful I had inkling what kind of story it was going to be, so I took a quick look at some reviews and, yup, not for me.

Since I don’t like marking a game down based just on its content alone, and I didn’t really play this long enough to explore its writing and programming competence further, I will not vote on this.

Press Escape to Save

This game is seriously flawed, and yet it has some interesting/off beat ideas, and it seems good natured.  However, I couldn’t play far without resorting to the walkthru, and when it got even more complicated the walkthru essentially became required, not optional.

This game needed a lot more beta-testing to catch guess the verb problems, crashing problems, and obscure puzzle problems. Play testers can tell one when one’s puzzle ideas are not clear, and they need to be CLEAR, even if hard. Mushy puzzles are too hard for the player to get — if they are mushy in your own mind they will be mushy in others’. SPOILER ON. Guess the verb — Grab hand worked while take hand and hold hand did not. So I had to look at the walkthru to even get that verb right. Crashing — The game crashed on me when I went to sleep, woke up, and found the person touching my shoulder. I tried talking to him and it tried to go back to an earlier conversation (some flag set wrong), and produced endless screens of errors (array). That’s crashing, because I couldn’t undo it. Puzzles — The infinite corridor puzzle is non-intuitive, since touch wall is something most will not normally do and since so many other objects in the game yielded nothing unusual to the touch or could not even be examined. Therefore, that’s quite a leap. Also getting away from Jimmy, going backward, seemed counter-productive and I also had a lot of difficulty staying ahead of him, even with the walkthru. SPOILER OFF.

I liked the weird and inventive concepts in this game, but it needs LOTS more work before it will be a really playable game. However, since I stuck with it long enough and far enough, I will vote on it.

IF Comp 2007 – Orevore Courier

I have started a few more games I haven’t mentioned here, and voted on a few more games than I have mentioned here, but I am getting a bit tired of writing reviews. So it goes. Also I guess my reviews are really more critiques, intended for the authors, rather than reviews intended for players. Or an odd and uneasy mix of both.

There are two other two games as well that I have started and want to finish. Since the contest end is drawing nearer and I have other things to do, I suspect I will just play those two and let the rest go. But we shall see.

Orevore Courier

I didn’t make any notes while playing this so I could easily be off on something.

I enjoyed this and found it funny. Not wildly funny, but funny enough to have gotten a laugh or two out of me.

You are on a spaceship in the security control room with a console and buttons. This is actually a one-room game, but because other things happen in the rest of the ship, because there are NPCs, and because you can affect some of what happens on the rest of the ship, you really may not notice it at all. Anyway, this is one one-room game where I didn’t mind the one-roominess.

Game play is fast and the game is short. It also seriously violates an old axiom, expressed in Graham Nelson’s “A Game Player’s Bill of Rights” (but an axiom that he didn’t originate and one has been agreed to by many), that a player shouldn’t be able to learn some things only by dying first (i.e. not winning). Pshaw. This game almost makes that old axiom look silly. However, if the game was any longer then it could be very annoying. So the author cleverly keeps it just short enough that dying over and over (or not winning over and over) to gain new information seems okay, or at least not too irritating. So this is an unforgivable game the player can easily get it into an unwinnable state, things must be done in the correct order, miss one and you’re dead or fail.

If you play this over and over you probably can win, as you find out more with each failure. I enourage you to play it over and over. What you do with the console board is crucial. Also I found most of the dying (or not winning) amusing and it seems to differ based on what you do. I always like games where the dying is creative and amusing. Since it’s only a game, why not?

Basically, within this small story and short game there are several branches. I only made it through to three failures before I decided to go to walkthru. My time is limited, but I sort of wish I hadn’t done that, because when I did do the walkthru I had several Ahas! In my opinion, good puzzles have Ahas! (I don’t think all puzzles can have Ahas!, but it nice when a preponderance do.)

One thing I thought should have been better explained, SPOILER ON was the copy and xmit buttons. I thought they were sending it outside the ship to home base or something. I really, really missed that. Maybe it said something somewhere — probably if I examined the buttons. However, because the bad stuff starts happening quickly, I never really had time to X all the buttons. I think that might be improved a tad. Yet, on the other hand, the game does have to be kept short. Maybe just another turn or two allowed for examining at the beginning. SPOILER OFF.

I found no bugs, everything seemed to work well, it has slightly off the wall sense of humor, good and pretty good puzzles, and several branches. Although the writing is sparse, I felt thought had gone into it.

Worth playing and I am giving it fairly high marks, but not top marks because it IS short and… unfair. 😉

IF Comp 2007 – Another I Started (Deadline Enchanter)

…And Have Absolutely NO Desire to Finish.

Deadline Enchanter

I took an extreme dislike to this game. At first I though, great, another Infocom-type game. But the title appears to be arbitrary.

How to describe this? Well, first there are two voices. The normal PC voice, you do such and such and the room is such and such. AND the author’s voice, which is doing sort of interruptions or voice overs. That is very confusing to begin with, keeping track of two voices, but on top of that the author’s voice is sort of sneering and condescending. “I didn’t implement this, but I did implement that, don’t you feel flattered that I did?” Yeah, sure. BIG of you.

Luckily there is a book at the beginning that tells you about the first eight moves. Because there is no obvious goal at all, and the room descriptions are often obscure. And when I encounter a beast, the game says I can do these actions concerning it, yet the game recognizes none of the verbs.

There is a hint of a possible interesting fantasy world, Mundanes and Faux, but how can one even see that world past the author’s very intruding presence? His/her voice, in addition to being condescending, is seemingly cracking in jokes in jokes — in jokes so far in they are only funny in his/her own head. So the writing ends up almost incomprehensible, as if it was written while the author was stoned. And that is being charitable. Or maybe it’s just drivel — an attempt at post modern fantasy with pretentions of intellectualism, Iffy intellectualism.

There also is not much to do. So this is not a game, I don’t know what it is but it’s not a game.

With this piece, the author makes it very clear his/her ego is much more important than my playing experience. Ergo, this may be one game that I didn’t play much of that I will vote for.

Now isn’t that BIG of me?

IF Comp 2007 – Games I Started (They Know, Varkana)

..and Have No Desire to Finish.

Now you must remember I have been around a long time, and even though these are the first comp games I have played in years, in the end, I have still played a lot of IF.

That is my disclaimer, which means, I just don’t have the patience anymore to play a game that either doesn’t intrigue me and/or seems to be so flawed from the get-go that I know it will be more work to play it than it will be fun. Or a combo of those two or something along those lines.

Lots of times in the past I would play a game say, 5-15 minutes, and still vote on it. This year I decided not to vote on games I only played a few minutes of. <shrug> Sometimes they get better than I think they will, and it seems fairer to the authors (who, after all, probably put a lot of time in on their games).

They Know

Ho hum. University setting, so many graduate students write IF (or used to), where have I seen that before? An agent on some kind of secret mission, unspecified, but the purpose seems to lift some technology from the college. A cave at the beginning that appears important, but I can’t enter it or seem to interact with it in any way.

It does have a game map, good, but wander around, and what do I find? Paganism, or some kind of black magic, or Satanism stuff here and there. Nyah. Already we have a combo of science and magic. Okay, that means probably very counter-intuitive puzzles where solving them will mean combining magic and science in ways that I will find it hard to guess at. I also am not clear on my mission. Just what technology I am supposed to industrial spy on and where it is? As a spy going after it, I should know that from the beginning. Mission Impossible type prepping and all that.

It might end up being okay, but probably way too much work for me. I also don’t like that cave thing, it bodes ill. Besides, it doesn’t appeal to me anyway.



Cool graphic. Okay, looks good. Two people from the beginning me, the PC, and a female friend. Nifty. Strong start. Hmmm, it also seems like a well-conceived fantasy world. Okay, friend eventually takes off. Now what do I do? There was a suggestion of what I was supposed to be doing right now, but not clear to me exactly what it was. Also there is a big celebration going on, so it may not be work as usual.

Oh, a platform, some kind of flying bicycles? Motorcycles? Neat. Wander around and look. Okay, found my room. Nothing much helpful there, but I can change my clothes. Hmmm, you know this is turning out not to be as promising as it first looked. Wander around some more. Doesn’t seem to be much I can do.

Just what was my goal, anyway? What am I supposed to be doing right now? Taking a holiday or pursing my original work day tasks? Very unclear. Maybe there isn’t much to do, but it sure looks like it will take me a lot of time and effort to determine if there is or not.

I am getting turned off — not engaged anymore.


IF Rule 999 – Make sure from game start that the goal is clear, or clear within the first ten turns. Even if that goal turns out not to be the real goal after all. It gives the player motivation to play.

Of course, all rules are made to be broken, but usually they are only broken well by experienced game authors.

IF Comp 2007 – Bellwater, Wish

Lord Bellwater’s Secret

This game will probably place in the top three. Since I have not played all the games and probably won’t play ALL the games, take any prediction of mine with a grain of salt.

This is a well-done game. It has no bugs that I could find, and everything seems to be implemented. It also has good puzzles, not too hard and well clued, but still challenging, and the writing is good.

I just have sort of an aversion to one-room games, although I must admit this one one-room game that is so well-done that you may not miss the lack of other rooms that much. Or not until the end.

Semi-spoiler here, as you do not know this at game start — you are a groom in Lord Bellwater’s service and your ladylove, the housemaid Elsie, was killed falling from the window of the study. You are convinced he is a cad and he had a hand in her death, so you sneak into his study to find some evidence to prove it.

I liked the mystery element.

Since this is a one-room game, the player, naturally, has to examine and search everything in that room and the environment is rich. It provides flashbacks telling who you are and what you are doing and it also provides puzzles and hints. In fact, the rich environment also provided me with a learning experience. Heh. Learn something new every day. One of the items in the room is a grocer’s cardboard box that was delivered. This struck me as an anachronism, and I had to google to see if cardboard would have been appropriate to the time. What do you know? Cardboard (and grocery delivery) was used in the 1800’s. Not the corrugated cardboard we have now, something much thinner. But I found that interesting and I ended up feeling that the author had researched the time period and the items likely to be used in that time period. The amount of research put in is another aspect of the game that makes one feel it is well-done.

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this game, because a great deal of it is examining things and solving puzzles and to discuss it much more would be spoily, but I did find one puzzle TOO hard. SPOILER ON. After I had Lord Bellwater’s birthday, I figured that was the basis of the safe combination. I don’t know, maybe there was something somewhere that indicated that was not enough. But after doing about 8-10 combinations of the birth date, I gave up and had to peek at the walkthru. I didn’t feel that part was well-done. Looking at the walkthru, I couldn’t figure out how, on my own, I would have ever hit on the combination. SPOILER OFF.

Despite this game being crafted than most, I still felt that there was a major problem with the ending. SPOILER ON I am not sure I found the only ending, or the optimal ending — I suspect not.  Trying to leave the room when done, I got caught. I had been very careful to avoid removing the money so I wouldn’t be called a thief, after all, I was looking for evidence, not to do some thieving. Yet when I was caught, I was arrested for thieving. Now, logistically I could have been arrested for trespass, but the papers I still had on me probably would not have supported what the ending said happened. Although I admit I may not have reset something back, and maybe if I had that wouldn’t have happened. I almost decided to replay the ending to see if that was it, but lack of time has prevented me. Anyway, unless I missed something, in my opinion, that needs fixing. SPOILER OFF.

Overall, I enjoyed this game, and appreciated the care that went into it. However, I still find one-room games not very intriguing — I like moving around a game map, it makes the world inside the game more believable to me. I am very spatial and tend to look for that. And I like having a game map because usually it means that game is more complex as well. Therefore I find one-room games too short and hard to take seriously as full games or view as more than show-your-stuff comp entries.

So I will give this game high marks, but I will also not remember it for that long.

But this author has serious potential.


I was bored by this game, sorry. This is really nothing WRONG with Wish, the writing is okay, there are no bugs that I found, the needed things seem to be implemented, the puzzles aren’t too hard — except playing it felt pointless. To me, anyway.

There are two stories running concurrently. The PC is a little girl and she is thinking about her grandpa at Christmas time — in cut scenes. She is also wandering around a game map, a fantasy game map, and there appears to be no relation between the two stories. In the end, they are brought together, but not in a big AHA kind of way.

Fantasy is hard to do and I found this fantasy land incongruous, not consistent, and also not full bodied enough to be intriguing.

Maybe my attitude is based on the fact that the writing is minimalistic. But the plot also feels minimalistic. The game feels minimalistic. Too thin. Way too thin.

I peeked at the walkthru fairly early on, but still after solving some on my own. I also solved some after peeking. But I just wasn’t interested enough to keep working at it, so I peeked a lot. SPOILER ON I only found one puzzle that seemed unfair, waiting for the hat to fall off. No indication really that that was going to happen. Maybe if the little girl tried to go pass the guard the hat would fall off, I couldn’t tell. SPOILER OFF.

I feel this game was probably a good exercise for the author to learn I7. But if it had been me, I would have left it as an exercise and never released it.

Overall, it just doesn’t feel like an adult game. (Not speaking of sex here. :-)) This might be a game a child would enjoy playing, I have no idea. But I am not a child and I didn’t.

I will give this decent marks for being well enough done, but also rank it average for being too thin.

IF Comp 2007 – Ferrous Ring

I made no notes on the following games as I played them, so I better get my thoughts down before they fade. (I was going to post three reviews in this section, but as I have already posted one and wordpress keeps reformatting my paragraphs, I will post the other two in a separate post.)

Ferrous Ring

I ended up unsure how I felt about this game, so it is going to be hard for me to rate. I found no programming problems and everything that needed to be implemented seemed to be implemented, but I ended up pretty confused. I also read someone else’s review and don’t agree with his take on it, so here’s at it…

The PC is living in a post-acopolyptic world near a university/library. It is unclear what happened, although it is clear that some of it has happened quite recently. There is some destruction that implies a war, bombing, something — which evidentially occurred right before game start. But there are also indications that the deterioration of society and infrastructure has also been going on for some time. So one gets the feeling that the war has been getting progressively worse and coming closer and closer to home. The remaining pockets of civilization are rapidly disappearing.

It is unclear whether the PC is a student, but he appears to be one, or a semi-student, and he has friends that live in underground grottos and collect food cans. It’s like people have been hanging onto technology and the survival items created by mass production as long as they can while society has been falling apart. Only now the library is also gone and it appears his reason for continuing to remain there has disappeared.

The intriguing thing about this game is that it is done in first person, I, and done pretty well. No responses I got included the word you, such as “You can’t see that here.” This, I felt, was done better than I would have expected and worked better than I would have expected.  Also there is an interesting take on inventory/surroundings. If you enter “look”, below the room description is a listing such as this:  “Good: list” and below that “Bad: list.” Each list includes things in one’s location and one’s inventory. A nice conceit, although I am not sure that most of us classify our surroundings that primally, into what we think is good and bad around us. Although maybe on some level we do, as a survival trait, what is a threat to us and what is not. Since the story is written first person, though, it does let us know where to focus our attention and where not to, because it lets us know where the I in the story is focusing his attention.

The game starts out pretty directive, which at first annoyed me, but that tapers off pretty soon and eventually it fades out completely — but in a realistic and gradual way. The directions are also done well, with things like “I probably should go over to…” (paraphrasing, it’s worded a little better than that). This is extremely helpful, what would the person that you are sort of riding along with do in this situation? So the game tells you more at first, and less and less as you go along and get a sense of who the PC is. It also seques from one scenario to another pretty effectively, by use of the space bar. These are not quite chapters, but they do help skip over intervenening actions that might not only be time consuming but also hard for the player to figure out while he/she is still getting to know who the PC is and what he would do.

But there were two problems with this game for me:  once all the direction is removed, I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t “get” the finale — at all.

In the end, I feel the technical expertise shown and the thought given to how a first person story should work, how the game play should work, was not supported by the plot. The plot is murky.

A plot does not have to be clear and straight forward, but I feel it should let the player guess at what is happening, so it should be, I feel, guessable. This one really isn’t. Or not for me, anyway. What is clear in the author’s head often does not end up clear or even semi-clear in the game — it doesn’t make the transition from imagination to implementation. I think having beta testers give feedback on whether they “get” a plot would greatly improve some games, and I think it would have greatly improved this game.

The PC sets out to find someone (this is a semi-spoiler as the player doesn’t know that right away) and the rest of the game focuses on that. I found the bulldozer puzzle a bit tricky, but finally managed to solve it. However, SPOILER ON, when I made it into the house and was unceremoniously dumped out of it, I didn’t know quite what to do. Finally I looked at the photo, and realized something had happened. Only that still didn’t let me know what to do. Since I had exhausted everything in the immediate area, I returned home just to see if something would happen back there. I guess I was supposed to search the library before I went, but I had no clue really that since the library was demolished that the stuff on the back of the photograph could be looked up at the library. So at that point of return, after I revisited some sites and fumbled around, I went to walkthru mode, and continued the game from there on out in walkthru mode. I frankly doubt even with more game play that I could have figured out most of the following actions without walkthru anyway. And watching the walkthru take place, much of the last part of the plot seemed to be spurred by the PC continuing to LOOK at one particular item. I also doubt, that without walkthru, I would have repeatedly looked at that item to spur the story on. SPOILER OFF.

After finding the person, the game ends up with the PC finding a place of isolation and safety that is not the place he was originally apparently destined for. This is the confusing part. Does he really find it? Or is he imagining it as he lays dying from a beating? Also he is supposedly replacing someone in that place. Is he replacing the person he went searching for? (One contraption in the vicinity is similar to another one he saw earlier in the vicinity of the person he found.) Or is he is in some time loop, where he is actually becoming the person he was searching for? And those are only some of the possibilities.

Beats me. I don’t know what happened.

A bad ending can ruin even a great game, and this is not a great game. But I do feel this had some serious thought go into it about how to do a first person game.

A worthy effort.