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IFComp 2014

rejected
I skipped last year, having just started a new job. Now I'm funemployed, so I should have ample time to play every entry, if my motivation isn't first ground downCollapse )

IFComp12: A Killer Headache

rejected
You are a zombie. You didn't mean to be, you meant to blow yourself up, or at least your brains.

First, a brief digression about zombies and brainsCollapse )

IFComp12: Shuffling Around

For the Horde!!!
A series of deeply contrived circumstances vaguely linked with a thin plot veneer and something about anagramsCollapse )

IFComp 2012: howling dogs

lego
This is not a game that is easy to review without context. The name Porpentine carries some odd, slightly oblong weight, making it hard to compare this game with other entries on equal footing.

This is a twine game, a CYOA with all of the ups and downs that entails. The biggest down is that I only get spoonfed the things the author wanted to link. This is good and bad; it keeps the story tight and well-paced and keeps me from tasting the scenery.

You're in a life pod of some kind, a three-room apartment with the barest of essentials and no exit. Your nutrient generator keeps you fed, your 2-minute shower rations keep you clean, you've got a bunk. A sanity room provides you with simulated views of nature, while the activity room gives you something to do. It's a quick head-nod to dystopian futures.

Once you've explored your modest surroundings, things get weird; the contents of the activity room provide you with semi-lucid, semi-interactive dreams, which is where you'll spend most of your play time.

Previous CYOA games have been bad enough that I haven't had to consider the fundamental difference between tree IF and parser IF; in the latter, the experience is the result of the actions you take, given the illusion of a complete world. In tree-based IF, the experience is the result of the actions you take given a list of options, which is mathematically identical to the experience being the result of the actions you choose not to take.

In some ways, this is the major weakness of CYOA: more than the loss of agency, you also lose the limited, directable focus that IF provides. You don't get to play The Elephant and the Blind Men, choosing to build your concept of reality through directed examinations; you don't get to pretend the Elephant is a tree, the Elephant is right there in front of you, naked and waving its hyperlinks at you.

After a lengthy discussion with jearl on the subject, I came to the conclusion that this weakness is also a potential strength. Having these choices presented outright also means that the choices you don't make are part of the experience, where in parser IF you may never know they existed.

The writing in dogs is engaging and creative. Porpentine can turn a phrase, that's for sure. The description of the almost-dark blue light of the bedroom scene, or the later festival scenes, in particular. I'm left with an odd juxtaposition of two surreal worlds, the 'real' world, practically a cage, and the 'dream' world which borders on nonsensical. There are basically no meaningful choices to make in the 'real' world, and while there are numerous choices to make in the 'dream' world, I still can't tell if they were meaningful. This was clearly deliberate, but I don't actually know what to take away from this.

This is the rough equivalent of the 'huh?' puzzle problem. There's clearly decisions being made, but I'm not really clear on what those decisions are. The trees are just hyperlinked words within the narrative, sometimes with guessable context (click on 'trash disposal' to dispose of trash) and sometimes really not (what does clicking on '...' vs a verb in the same sentence mean?).

6/10, but without prejudice. I don't think it's the best that the CYOA genre can offer (I'm reasonably confident such a CYOA has yet to be written), but I think it's hinting at it. It's certainly art which inspires deeper conversations about the nature of the medium; any aspiring CYOA writer should include howling dogs in their library.

IFComp 2012: Guilded Youth

billy's balloon
Guilded Youth is the first IF game I've seen make heavy use of the Vorple library, an extension for Parchment and Undum to allow greater use of the browser by adding graphics, music and scripting support. There's a lot of promise here, though it does mean games written to take advantage of the extension need to be played in a browser (whether hosted online or distributed as an archive containing html/javascript/css and the story file). This isn't much of an obstacle and online play will likely be the norm; in this year's ifcomp, for example, I've only been forced to play one game offline (as there is no browser-based Adrift interpreter that I know of) and online interpreters have matured to be just as sophisticated and stable as native applications.

Anyway, about the game itself: it makes excellent use of the extension to present a custom interface, with a style that changes depending on which world you"re inCollapse )

IFComp 2012: The Test is now READY


This isn't so much an interactive fiction as a series of interactive vignettes. It's fairly hamfisted and ultimately about as deep as a livejournal quiz.Collapse )

IFComp 2012: Eurydice

curiosity and rebellion
Part Greek myth, part grief-stricken tale of bohemian angst and loss.

Eurydice opens in an empty room, once occupied by Celine, whom the narrator is deeply emo about. I mean, all Cure and Smiths mix tape.Collapse )

IFComp12: Escape from Summerland

rejected
I had high hopes. The game starts in medias res, my caravan (I guess I'm in the UK somewhere) is on fireCollapse )

IFComp12: Signos

rejected
After a life time, you still wondering the same old questions: "Why am I here?", "Where I came from?" and "What's my purpose?".


Also, how is babby formed?Collapse )
rejected
The title is accurate. You play Irvine Quik, and your job is to find a fishCollapse )