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.

Next.

Varkana

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.

Next.

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.

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