24 September 2009
Anyway, since most of those in the original order are no longer in print, I had to make a new order. Thankfully, cyoa.com came to the rescue on that one. Check out their website... we're getting several orders of "The Whole Enchilada."
Should be able to start sessions of the club next week! I'm so excited. I think first we'll go with Journey Under the Sea... thereafter all book choices will be up to the students!
Also, looking into starting up a service learning program at local high schools. Have to talk to the curriculum director about that, though. We'll see how that goes.
15 September 2009
The Abominable Snowman
Journey Under the Sea
Space & Beyond
The Worst Day of Your Life
The Cave of Time
The Brilliant Dr. Wogan
The Curse of the Haunted Mansion
The Forbidden Castle
Journey to the Year 3000
The Lost Ninja
Mystery of the Forgotten Planet
Prisoner of the Ant People
The Secret of Mystery Hill
Secret of the Dolphin
Greed, Guns, and Gold
House of Danger
09 September 2009
DISCLAIMER: I consider this game to have not yet been developed to its full potential. Please take any criticisms I make only as relating to the game in its current state, in the hopes that any improvements on it will completely void my statements here. In the attempt to be completely straightforward about things that need to be fixed, I may be more blunt than you desire. I apologize for any discomfort this causes you, but, again, these comments are meant only for the game in its current state, and are not meant to be taken as if the game could not possibly be improved, unless such a thing is directly stated in those specific words.
13 July 2009
Continuing to go over this spam as it assaults the ADRIFT Forum...
Dishonorable mention to the following chain of messages from one post earlier in the day (12 July 2009)...
how to get free porn
Thanks, but I already have the internet. Might as well put an ad like “how to watch free commercials every five minutes” on television.
saved by the bell porn
Another strange Rule 34 moment I didn’t need in my life. It might sound blasphemous to some, but really I barely remember that show. High school was never like anything on TV, anyway.
Out of far left field. Way to complete the list.
Tonight's list comes from a post later at night, by Agobbyino (if you're a mod, can you ban these people?).
Subject line: "We breed poodles and shih tzus alabama"… which obviously means the whole thing was about hotels, porn, and diseases.
1) Historic spell hotels, a complete innovator
Innovator? That’s a bit of a stretch! I mean, wizards have pretty much had hotels since Leomund learned to cast tiny huts. It’s only a third level spell.
2) North-central Wildwood, NJ 08260
Besides hotels, a big theme in this particular post was Wildwood New
3) New Global raptorial bird Traveler
Our old friend the raptor made a cameo appearance in this one (falsely claiming to be new), this time escorting people around the world. Too bad it was just more nonsense used to fill out the post. Seriously, I’d pay for that ride.
4) Hotels.com offers disproportionate revenue enhancement...Hotels.com offers enormous tax
A curious juxtaposition that makes me think euphemism/real meaning. Nothing against hotels.com, they were just the object of the spam message.
5) Conurbation Conjugal
Props to this spammer for making me look up “conurbation.” Unfortunately, upon looking it up I realised this was just another way of talking about a ginormous orgy, so anti-props for falling back on the porno spam cliché. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if some band has already taken this name.
6) Trylon Tourist trial/Trylon Tourist committee
This one interested me particularly because it seemed to be the only element even remotely related to ADRIFT. The recent AIF Minicomp featured an ADRIFT game based on Battlestar Galactica which used “Trylon” as a way of getting around the (probably very copyrighted) term “Cylon.” I didn’t finish that particular one because some of it seemed off-colour to me-- to put it lightly-- although its author assures me none of those commands are necessary to win the game.
But it turns out Trylon’s also a hotel (so no surprise).
7) Get physical object on European nation
It is not clear which European nation you are referring to.
>get physical object on
You take the physical object from the
>throw bone at bulldog
The bulldog is more interested in eating you.
****YOU HAVE DIED!****
...man, I hate that game.
8) a full-clad measuring deviceA yardstick in plate mail.
11 July 2009
1) The Initial Prices and a Jampack abounding Search
I think that might have been one of the garage bands that popped up at my high school (actually, it would've had to be "Jampack abounding Search and the Initial Prices" because the star always comes first, followed by the). Come to think of it, just about anything a spammer says could make a good band name. I mean, check out the rest of these...
2) coupon bonefish
I don't know what you think of when you read "coupon bonefish," but I think of three possibilities. One is a coupon with a fish bone on it, possibly used at a fish market by a starving street cat. The second is a disparaging or dark-spirited poetic experiment attacking capitalism (not any specific one, but just the vague idea of one). And then I think of a desperate spammer trying to think up a few last words.
3) Language the Blustery Vertebrate of prey
Oho! Indeed, language is a blustery vertebrate of prey... a bird, even. It's like someone stuck Noam Chomsky and Alan Ginsberg in a blender.
4) Reading the Bare Vertebrate of prey
Really, this spammer had a lot to say about "vertebrates" and things "of prey." I liked the first bits about them, but they just got repetitious & stale after a while. Still, I suppose it was better than some of the other choice phrases about Airsoft guns and various diseases.
5) Godforsaken Raptorial craniate
It's forceful, but vague enough to be just about anything. Anything evil. With a cranium.
Word of the day. Good thing there's only like 10 minutes left in my day.
17 June 2009
Reviews of other entries may come later.
6th place: “No Such Thing”
Inspired by Sandy’s Lost Doll (I thoroughly encourage Sandy to release another game, if she feels up to it... shame we haven't seen her around the forum) and Richard Otter's Vague, No Such Thing intended to explore unimplementation as a possibly useful trope in interactive fiction rather than just an aggravation. To do that, I tried to make unimplementation significant to the game’s storyline, so that it actually became one of the driving forces of the plot rather than an obstacle to it. In this case, the messages intent on informing the player of unimplementation (such as the canonical “You see no such thing.”) are not for the player only. Revgiblet hit the nail on the head when he said, “The struggle of the protagonist to interact with his world is the whole point” (emphasis added). Somehow, thanks to the magic of text, the PC literally sees and yet does not see or is otherwise inexplicably constrained from action, and suffers something of a breakdown at the inconceivability of his or her situation.
This intro has four possible endings: one is triggered by looking at, trying to pick up, or opening almost any object four times (does not have to be the same object each time). Another is triggered by going north, then down, and typing “kill npc” (although it is recommended the player “talk to npc” once or even twice before for full effect/explanation). The third is triggered by looking at the ghlegh’hel. The final, super-secret ending should only be available if you are able to open the game in the generator/debugger and set the “secret” task to “completed.” On further consideration, a player could theoretically just type in the secret task at any time, since it lacks a #, but I won’t mention what that task is so that breaking into the game is still required for the ultimate anti-climax (the command for which would also have to be looked up in the generator/debugger).
Also note that your spouse will return from outside if you just wait. If you keep waiting, you’ll get a further hint about where the game might go later.
While I can’t answer with certainty, No Such Thing probably won’t make it into a full game. As it is, its primary gimmick doesn’t really have the resilience to extend over much more than the intro… i.e., I think it gets old far too fast. If I can think of some way to keep it alive, inject some flexibility or other sort of longevity into it, then maybe. If you think it has more resilience than I think it does, let me know (and if you don’t, let me know). On the other hand, it might be easy enough to finish that I’ll go ahead and do it anyway.
The title “Dish Duty” was meant solely to mislead players into thinking that something was actually wrong when they couldn’t “wash dishes”. Apologies to any who are still confused.
5th place: “To End All Wars”
I mentioned in the forum that this game was inspired from watching All Quiet on the Western Front the previous summer. I started writing TEAW as an RPG— which I believe I also mentioned on the forum— where the player could generate their own character based on four stats (marksmanship, esteem, nerve, and fortitude), or generate a random character (a system which turned out to take over 400 tasks by itself). I actually turned in a transcript for a final grade, with which my professor seemed pleased.
Months later it started to become blatantly apparent that the RPG elements made the game too bulky & expansive for me to realistically expect to finish, so I scrapped them and decided to go with a more linear story. Specifically, I had originally thought I’d create a separate storyline for players who started with 1 in their fortitude stat— that has now become the main storyline. However, I still expect this thing to have several possible endings— opening the story file in the generator will reveal the intro alone has ten possible endings [beginnings?], three of which are deaths that end the game. Thanks to Thingamus, it will now have eleven (since the chocolate nutcake & sugar cubes are now edible, and result in another mustard gas scene).
I fully intend to finish this game, but who knows how long it’ll take? If you happen to be a history buff (or otherwise) and notice some sort of inconsistency, or you think some sort of functionality should be added to it (With the shovel for instance, have you tried to “fix trench”, “hit corporal with shovel”, or “dig” after Smythe gets blown up? Have you tried to “shoot self”? “Slap Smythe”?), please let me know. Some small problems with this intro still need to be fixed, for example eating Smythe should not be allowed on the third turn (only the fourth). I would also like to sprinkle period music throughout the game as a sort of ironic juxtaposition with the setting & circumstances (after the mustard gas, I’m thinking the first minute or so of “I Don’t Want To Get Well”), but we’ll see. Maybe I’ll have to get them remixed.
Funny thing is, I don’t think that the intro really gives the player any idea where the story is actually going. Historical fiction it may be, but the story really has almost nothing to do with actually fighting a war (the player is removed from fighting via injury). I s’pose it’s more about the effects of war and the conditions of the Great War, in particular. Just have to wait to see how it all develops, ça ne fait rien.
Apologies to any who expected to live through a fifth turn or more on the front line.
2nd place: “Dung Beetles Are Aliens!”
Ah, yes. Dung beetles. A Mind Forever Voyaging and 7 Days a Skeptic (not IF, but still adventure-- note the series of weak Yahtzee references on the computer) inspired me to make a game where a few of the puzzles have to be completed through a computer, so I set out to make one, which became MAWINDEX (a suitable mish-mash of Macintosh & Windows, I thought, it also helped determine the game’s time period). At the same time, I was also playing through Earthbound and really loving the crazy battles with angry slugs and ants and things. Somehow it all came together to inspire this mess.
There’s not much there in the intro, but I didn’t know how much else I could offer in three rooms. Still, I felt I had to include it for several reasons, one of which was the sheer age of the thing. The only older project I have still intact is Irvine Quik and the Search for the Fish of Traglea (which I tell myself is the project I'll focus on next, but we'll see). It would be a shame, I thought, if Dung Beetles was never seen by anyone (if you think otherwise, lemme know). Plus, I thought that the general spoofy B-movie weirdness of it made a nice juxtaposition with my other entries, which seem a little more on the serious end.
I felt a little bad about the insect research file being “lost or deleted.” Feels like such a cop-out.
Hopefully players noticed the objects on the table… in particular, the bug translating helmet, specimen carrier, and the gas goggles will all play a big part in the game. Did anyone try putting objects on the gas goggles? Intend to make a running gag of them. Funnily enough, the Zegathean slug is the only ASCII art I have in the game so far, really. That was sort of a last-minute addition. I haven’t thought up what ASCII moths, dung beetles, etc. might look like, although I do have a king elephant in another game that never made it (one of the many).
Has anyone ever actually been to Georgia (anyone visiting my blog, that is… obviously people have been to Georgia)? My favourite adventures have always been ones that create a strong sense of time and place, and I’ve a particular geographic location in mind for Sarkalouga, nestled in the Ridge & Valley section of Appalachia. Flora, fauna, culture… I’ve done some of my own research, but it will never beat first-hand experience. If you know something about northwestern Georgia in the 1980s, lemme know.
Apologies to any who wanted a completeable intro.
02 June 2009
Anyway, will try to get all my votes out today. 'DRIFTers, have you voted already? If not, when do you plan on voting?
01 June 2009
Well, I’ve played through the IntroComp entries (except for my own, on which I will not be voting). I’m delighted to see such a curious spread of games. From detective noir to worlds of magic to time travel… I hope all who entered to finish their story files & encourage them to give us the whole bathtub!
In this post, I intend to discuss how I’m going about thinking of ratings for these games [WARNING: SOME SPOILERS & LENGTH]… but first, allow me a paragraph to rant.
Numerical ratings might be convenient, but they make me cringe. They really do. I have such a hard time assigning a number to the personal works of others, especially when a 10/10 is assumed to mean “perfection.” It’s my own stupid, stingy rule to never vote a game “perfect” (great games have imperfections, say I). A game would have to be nearly life-changing to score a 10. 10s I would only assign retrospectively to great classics. I’m just as unlikely to assign a 9… some might say my scale should be called out of 8, but giving an 8/8 implies a sort of holistic completeness that inexplicably bothers me on some level. At any rate, this is all to say that I prefer qualitative ratings over quantitative... my scores will almost undoubtedly come out low, but that does not necessarily mean that my opinion of a game is low. I encourage people to vote my own games just as low if they see fit to do so. (Why yes, my glass really is eternally five-eighths empty…)
With that out of the way… after playing these games I had to decide how I would weigh such a diverse bunch against each other. Each has individual merits, & level of proofreading, implementation, etc. are all things to consider in these intros, but there’s more to making a good intro than just that. The criteria for the winner is the game of which a player most wants to play more. Therefore I chose to give weight to what I thought was the crux of the competition: the literary hook of a piece.
I’ve cast two votes already, but I don’t feel like I can continue voting quite yet until I’ve discussed the how & why of my votes a little. The votes I’m referring to are for Donuts (8/10) and Apokalupsis (7/10). Each game had strong writing in its own, unique way. They were both quite memorable, I thought, and I wanted to play more of each. But here’s the kicker, and it’s why Donuts got a higher score even though I felt that Apokalupsis is a game with a stronger guarantee I'd enjoy it in full form— again, it’s all about the hook. By the end of Donuts, I wanted to play more. I need to go on, no matter how weird or bad the game might end up. The writing managed to consistently subvert my expectations and keep me off balance, like some weird, raw judo. I'm hooked.
On the other hand, Apokalupsis ends with a lighter hook… you exit the crime scene having gathered some evidence, but nothing definitive. I didn’t get the hint of that horrible archnemesis sort of thing that I wanted, nor did I feel I’d seen the sort of cinematic crime & villain hinted at in the beginning. From the evidence (and by the narrator’s reaction), I appear to have witnessed just a routine crime of passion from an unseasoned criminal. Dangerously unseasoned, maybe, but I don’t feel like the narrator really explored that. So the light hook was little bit of a let-down in an otherwise well-written story.
As for the rest of the entries (again, excluding my own), I thought I’d take a moment to weigh out what I thought the hook in each entry was, just to help clarify my voting process for the benefit of myself & the authors. In no particular order…
Through Time: A sympathetic protagonist faces a long-awaited & positive change of fortune.
Dead Race: Zombies, for one, are their own hook. Text messages received make the player look forward to the upcoming rescue missions.
The Magician’s Niece: The unique items & magic system seem to promise some really interesting puzzles.
Existence: Unique protagonist promises unusual gameplay opportunities.
The Merlin Bird of Prey: The protagonist is an adventure game enthusiast… story aside, this seems to promise some in-jokery & amusing references to other games.
Authors of the above, what are your own thoughts on your games or the competition? Am I right about your game’s hook or am I a blathering idiot? If so, please correct me.
As for my own entries, I’m obviously somewhat concerned about the use of music in To End All Wars. I’ve tried my best to court fair use, but I dunno. I haven’t read up on British copyright laws. Should I remove the song? Should I use the whole song? Thoughts, please.
20 April 2009
* * *
4th place/Disqualified: Homeless Harry, by Burblesnot.
[Disqualified for sexual & offensive content-- see rules.]
Homeless Harry is grotesque, grossly overwritten, offensive, and annoying— and even if that’s what it set out to be, it’s not a good thing to be. I get the feeling its author was the kind that, when handed a colouring book, will start to draw on the walls (and probably not with crayon).
HH is a game you dread starting up a second time because you know you’ll have to sit through a terrifyingly unnecessary fest of wait taggery & big fonts before getting into it. Once you do get into it, the presentation is incredibly messy & a huge turn-off. Descriptions throw up on your screen. The most insignificant details seem to get turned into gigantic infobombs. My first instinct as a judge was simply to mark the game “tl;dr”. If I had NOT been a judge, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it.
The story isn’t terribly compelling, either (in fact, it’s more repelling than anything). It’s linear, the protagonist is thoroughly unlikeable, and the experience feels unrewarding as a whole. While the writing holds to a very strong authorial voice & singular unity of effect, and (for those willing to wade up to their eyes in sludge) there really is some entertaining writing hiding inside those overblown infobombs, I just wouldn’t feel right actually recommending this game to anyone.
On a lighter note, morbid curiosity more than once made me wonder how a game like this might fare at the Erins.
* * *
3rd place: Sandy’s Lost Doll, by Sandy.
The first thing any player will notice about Sandy’s Lost Doll is that although there’s some degree of detail in most of the room descriptions, absolutely zero objects are implemented. Aside from lack of implementation giving the player no motivation to use “look”, and providing no clue further to use the specific syntax “look in X”, the game is unwinnable due to a coding issue that should have been caught in playtesting (Winning task’s restriction is “Referenced number must be equal to 2” rather than “mom must be equal to 2”).
Really, anything beyond the above is just nitpicking, but I will mention one specific room. “Hallway” doesn’t even really have a room description, just a mention that it is the hallway, and the directions leading away. There is also nothing to signify to the player that they ought to type “look for doll” here (and no reward for them if they do so). Properly immersive room descriptions & structured, well-paced signification are keys to writing good IF. A little playtesting can help develop these things.
Overall, I’m inclined to read Sandy’s Lost Doll as a sort of Rybreadish poetic experiment in some ways, where the player enters believing from the title and room descriptions that they will play as Sandy, but where they later discover through bleak and hopeless exploration of an imposter house that the protagonist is actually Sandy’s doll lost in a roughly describable, but inaccessible prison-world with no doors, no windows, and no exits dominated by the vague presence of overbearing parental figures and abandoned by children. Then again, I also get the strong feeling that I’m the only one who interpreted the experience of the game this way & that it’s not what the author intended. Plus, whenever I have to interpret something that way, it pretty much automatically knocks five stars off on the conventional rating scale. Unconventionally, though, Sandy’s Lost Doll gave me a surreal & chilly frisson for a few minutes, which is perhaps all I can ask of any game or story.
* * *
2nd place: Mr. Fluffykin’s Most Harrowing Misadventure, by Justahack.
The writing probably got perfect attendance at the same charm school where Homeless Harry was constantly & conspicuously truant. Structuring the game as a CYOA was a clever way to get around the task limit imposed for the competition, and allows for multiple endings (wins, losses, & otherwise) as a matter of convention. Clearly a lot of writing went into the game, and it was generally well-organised.
Still, the game suffered from some problems that kept it from taking first place. The story file contains a lot of spelling & grammatical errors, especially regarding the usage of apostrophes… “Fluffykins”, “Fluffykin’s”, “Fluffykins’”, and even just “Fluffykin” are all used inappropriately at least once. At times a player was given false choices or even no choice (only one page to turn to, or else the choice was simply forced on the player, as in the Candyland scenario), which I didn't think made for a very effective use of the medium as interactive fiction. One of the endings mentioned in the readme wasn’t properly implemented, so it didn’t work. It would also have been nice to just type in the number of the page you want to turn to rather than typing “turn to page X” every time.
A fun read, but it could use some polish.
* * *
1st place: ESS Chance: Reactor 1, by Justahack.
Not without its problems, the player might notice spelling errors like “greenhouse affect” even from the introduction, and one of the endings especially had a few sections that obviously lacked some proofreading. Dialog with the Chief Engineer worked out a little strangely in that if one didn’t expressly quit the dialog, one was assumed to still be engaging in dialog… this could interfere with trying to raise the shields, since that action shared its command with a dialog option.
Still, for the strength of its story, its slick presentation, & its execution, ESS Chance: Reactor 1 stole this competition from the very beginning. It’s the only game in the Spring Ting that I felt was unquestionably worthy of a sequel (although any others who wish to make a sequel should not be discouraged). Command input was signified in a way that made the game accessible even to first-time players, and the sense of time, place, and above all urgency came on strongly (I specifically recall feeling alright about "greenhouse affect" because, hey presto, it's science fiction). It’s a tight game with few rooms, but several possibilities, and all a bit flabbergasting for a first game release. Two thumbs up, recommended.
* * *
18 April 2009
It was updated using data from the archives of Richard Otter's Delron site (http://www.delron.org.uk/adrift-games.htm).
According to this data, the ADRIFT community has (or has had) 232 authors and produced 540 games.
For more information (names of authors & games), you can check out this spreadsheet, but this should give authors an idea of how the community's production is distributed overall.
I'm at three-- where are you?
13 March 2009
Gorxungula’s Curse placed 7th of 9 places in the Odd Competition. In order to cut down on the number of objects used for the game, it takes place in abstract space with rooms such as A New State of Being and Uncertain Toast. It was my favourite entry to write, although many (myself included) have expressed disappointment with the game’s ending.
The walkthrough is as follows:
Down. Down. Wait. West. Restart. Down. Down. X tub. Get tome. Up. East. Give tome to Clathering. West. Down. Put beverage in tub. Put coin in tub.
...and then the ending comes along to ruin your fun!
Asteroid Aftermath was written using ADRIFT as an entry in the Odd Competition. As proposed by Abbi Park, entries in the OddComp were tightly restricted, generally small games, which had to assign odd numbers from 3 to 11 onto the prime ontological components of the ADRIFT Generator-- rooms, objects, tasks, events, and characters. OddComp reviews can be found here.
Asteroid Aftermath was the only game with 11 characters. Its "characters" are satellites. It placed joint 9th of 9 places, tying with quantumsheep's Seance. Revgiblet gave it the "Most Technically Impressive" Award.
Asteroid Aftermath isn't so much a game as it is a single puzzle-- you have to reconfigure a switchboard by opening & closing valves. Normally, you'd have to open or close a valve and then move in a cardinal direction to check a camera, from which you would note the resulting satellite arrangements and whether or not particular satellites had been moved into or out of position. However, the walkthrough just concerns itself with the switchboard, which is solved as follows:
Open second valve. Open fifth valve. Open fourth valve. Open first valve. Close second valve. Open third valve.
…and that’s all there is to it!