Friday, October 20, 2017

"Bookmoss" (review)

"Bookmoss" is a hypertext style interactive fiction written by Devon Guinn for the 2017 interactive fiction competition.

The first thing which caught my attention were the "instructions" linked to the title page. I have never seen instructions with a hypertext game before. These provided an interactive introduction to beginning players. These gave me some sense that the author cared about me, the player. That sense of confidence in author carried me through the first two chapters, but waned as I began to fear this was just a mundane account of a father-daughter trip to the Harvard library. Fortunately by the third chapter some elements of magical realism are introduced. By the fifth or sixth chapter there is even a compelling goal. But it was a little slow to start.

I noticed three distinct writing styles: detailed descriptions of place, scripted dialogue, and excerpts from classic books. I'll describe these one at a time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Guttersnipe" and "Behind the Door". A review of two Quest games

"Guttersnipe: St Hesper's Asylum for the Criminally Mischievous" by Bitter Karella and "Behind the Door" by eejitlikeme are both Quest games written for the 2017 Interactive Fiction competition.

These are two of the three games written for this year's competition in Quest. Despite the somewhat limited popularity of this platform, there are a lot of good things to say about it from the player's perspective. I like the automatic mapping that shows up in "Guttersnipe" and in Bitter Karella's previous entry "Night House". I like the hybrid of typed input and menu driven input that seems to be the default in Quest games. "Behind the Door" allows no typed input but even without that, "Behind the Door" gives the player an illusion of having a wider freedom of choices than the standard CYOA hyper-link game will offer.

What I don't like about Quest is the instability of on-line play. There is a time limit for online play, which feels even more onerous if the player has not logged in with a Quest account. The games tend to stop or crash at the most inopportune moments. In one case the Quest interpreter crashed while I was reading the final paragraph of the end game for "Guttersnipe". Fortunately I had a recently saved backup and was able to return to the same end fairly quickly.

Individual game reviews following the break.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"1958: Dancing With Fear" (review)

One way to get your IF competition entry posted near the top is to title it with a number. But with more entrants cottoning on to this (three this year), it is still no guarantee you'll be listed first.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"The Adventure of Esmeralda and Ruby on Magical Island" (review)

We had a conflict over the computer last night. My daughter (eight year old Addy) wanted to play ABCya! and I wanted to play interactive fiction. Reminding her how much she loved last year's "16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonald's" I cajoled her off her game site to the IF competition page. My window was already opened to "Eat Me". Addy was intrigued by the cover art. I thought she might enjoy that one, but I'd already played it.

"The Adventures of Esmeralda and Ruby on Magical Island" by Marco "Eric108"Anastasio is the first in the alphabetic series which says "made up for children" so we launched that one.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Eat Me" (review)

"Eat Me" is a parser game with a tightly constrained verb set, written by Chandler Groover for the 2017 interactive fiction competition. Chandler Groover is one of the most poetic voices in modern IF. A sentence or two from his keyboard generates an entire landscape of macabre surrealism. That's not just a writer-ly skill he employs in the opening paragraphs, but one he applies with equal vigor in every single passage. On the down side, it can be a little overwhelming if the reader doesn't enjoy the style of fairy-book horror which is Groover's specialty. I sort of enjoy the genre.