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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in ralphmerridew's LiveJournal:

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Monday, October 3rd, 2011
1:37 pm
Comp 2011: Blind, Ship of Whimsy
General comments: I rank games relative to each other. The best game in the comp gets a 10; the worst gets a 1. Games which show at least basic technical proficicency generally rank 4-10; games which do not, or which are too lightweight, generally get 1-3. In addition, I will sometimes flag a score with an asterisk
to show I thought it was particularly good, or an X to show it was particularly flawed.

Transcripts are available to any author who asks.

Game 1: Blind, by Arman
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Saturday, November 7th, 2009
5:54 pm
Both Duels, Grand Quest, Condemned, buried chaos, Byzantine, Snowquest, Interface, Invisible Man
Duel that Spanned the Ages (played one hour)

Plenty of testers. Good!

Violence is the answer this time.

Score: 5

Duel in the Snow: played 30 minutes

That which is present works (though there are some undirected parts), but the story as a whole seems to be half-revealed.

Score: 6

The Grand Quest: played 30 minutes

Very sparsely implemented puzzleboxes (gives the player a whistle, but doesn't accept BLOW WHISTLE, PLAY WHISTLE, or USE WHISTLE; there are a few weapons, but won't even allow the player to use them on the snake at the end). The card puzzle is beyond tedious (and no hint is given as to what effect the boxes have.

Score: 3 X

Condemned: Played 20 minutes (not played to completion)

The email address suggests "Mark Jones", author of PETS and When Machines Attack. Has he learned and gotten some proofreaders this time?
Well, I didn't notice any blatant errors, but the game failed to hook me. After an unmotivated action (DROP NAILS), I quit.

Score: 2 X

zork, buried chaos (played 10 min, not palyed to completion)

"As good looking as ever." No tester credits. Not good omens.

Minimally implemented dungeon crawl.

Score: 1 X

Byzantine Perspective: played 15 minutes

Nice tester list; "x me" overridden. Good start.

Overall, it's an interesting gimmick, and it's executed competently, but the game is rather small. It needed some more substance.

Score: 5

Snowquest: played 30 minutes

The game was fine during the early parts, when it was about a concrete story about surviving the cold. At the increasingly symbolic parts of the snowfield, I stopped caring.

Score: 4

Interface: played 30 minutes

I don't mind that the game was very old-school, but it needed some more polish; I noticed a number of places where there were excess spaces, or capitalized words that shouldn't be, but didn't run into any bugs as far as the programming went. I ultimately won with 70 points out of 90 (using the hints, I later got an additional 5 for opening the garage but otherwise don't know what I missed).

Score: 5

The Believable Adventures of an Invisible Man: played 30 minutes, not played to completion

"undo" doesn't work. I'm really curious how the author messed that one up.
Plenty of rooms are underdescribed. (Some rooms, like my lab at the university, even lacked an exit list.) It needed more effort on syntax. (I went through quite a few phrasings before I was able to throw the pizza out the window. Had I not been told that was the solution in the hints, I would have changed tacks long before. "Walking through doors" text is sometimes printed when the door is locked.

In short, while this could have been an interesting game if it had been fully polished, it should have gotten much more work before being entered.

Score: 3 X
Monday, October 5th, 2009
2:08 pm
[IF COMP 2009]
Resonance (played one hour)
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1:00 pm
12:58 pm
IFComp 2009, general comments
I rank games relative to each other; I give a 1 to the absolute worst and a 10 to the best, with the other games scored in between, and try to give 1-3 to games that I did not enjoy overall, that show significant flaws, or that I feel to be lightweight. (I also care more about distinguishing the high-ranking games than the low-ranking games.) In addition, I will give a "*" to any game which I think is something special, an "X" to any game with enough problems that I wonder "Why did this person think this game was worth entering?"

My play transcripts are available on request.
Sunday, November 9th, 2008
8:15 pm
Comp 08 (In the Hall of the Fount of Artois)
In the Hall of the Fount of Artois: Played 30 minutes, not played to completion
- No "x" shortcut. No "verbose". Two testers listed in . If you restart the game, it doesn't reset your inventory count.
- Most of the time, only the objects listed separately at the end of the room description can be referred to, and those objects are referred to strictly by the name listed in text. A few times, you suddenly need to use an odd verb and a different noun. (For example "examine door" does the same thing as "examine runners", but only "smear vaseline on runners" will allow you to get past, as "smear vaseline on door" gives a "Not a good idea" message.)
- Even ignoring the problems caused by a custom engine, the game is still weak. The area is big and mostly empty. It can take a while to even find a puzzle. The path between the Scullery and Kitchen Garden doesn't go the same way, which wouldn't be too bad if the Kitchen Garden weren't dark, so any player who stumbles into the room without first assembling the torch will probably have to restart. (And you can't light a few matches to see your way out, for some reason.)

Spend more time designing your next game. If you're going to do a homebrew system instead of using an existing system, spent a lot of time studying parser design. And do much more testing.
Score: 2X
8:15 pm
Comp 08 (A Maritan Odyssey)
A Martian Odyssey: Played 15 minutes
- The walkthrough stops working on the step "WEAR TANK". Score: 1X
8:14 pm
Comp 08 (Anachronist)
Anachronist: Played 25 minutes, not played to completion
- "X ME" overridden, but no list of testers
- "OPEN GARAGE DOOR" gave a blank line. "TURN REDDISH VALVE" gave a run-time problem.
- "POINT TRACER AT (uninteresting item)" gave an incorrect fallthrough.
- The warehouse mentions that there's a hall to the east, going east fails.
- Objects mentioned in the description frequently aren't implemented, but then the canvas is suddenly important.
While some of the ideas are interesting, the game needed a few rounds of testing before it was ready for public release. I'd be interested in a postcomp version, though. Score: 3X
8:14 pm
Comp 08 (Lighthouse)
Lighthouse: Played 10 minutes
- "Foyer" and "Front door" are capitalized in the first room text. "X ME" is default. No credits available. Not an auspicious start.
- Rooms are just lists of objects. None of the objects have descriptions.
- Gameplay is primarily lock and key puzzles.
- The "game over" message doesn't actually end the game.
Score: 1X
8:13 pm
Comp 08 (Magic)
Magic: Played 1 hour
- There are some interesting ideas, but it needs work. How long has the situation with rabbits been such? If it's been like this for a long time, why did Rupert agree to enter the hat in the first place? If it's fairly new, when did the church appear? The meta spell could be interesting, whether or not two objects are comparable seems arbitrary.

Score: 4
8:13 pm
Comp 08 (Trein)
Trein: Played 30 minutes
- Sign is capitalized. "X me" overridden. No credits available.
- Capitalization is inconsistent; it could be doing overcapitalization for an old-fashioned effect.
If your game wasn't worth the time for you to test it, it's not worth my time either.

Score: 2X
8:04 pm
Comp 08 (Grief)
Grief: played 20 mins
- Sparsely implemented, but in a way that makes sense in context.

Score: 4
8:04 pm
Comp 08 (Ngah Angah)
The Ngah Angah School of Forbidden Wisdom (played 30 minutes)
- No script
- No real flaws, but very sparingly implemented.

Score: 4
8:03 pm
Comp 08 (Escape from the Underworld)
Escape from the Underworld: Played 30 minutes (not played to completion)
- "x me" handled. No "credits" verb
- "Mechanic" is capitalized.
- Guess-the-verby with removing the hinges and using the phone.
- Played through most, but when I tried to use the phone, the right number wouldn't work. (It worked when I did a replay from the walkthrough.) Other comments suggest it's a Gargoyle issue.

There were some interesting ideas here, but it needed to be better tested.

Score: 4
8:03 pm
Comp 08 comments (40%, and Freedom)
The 40% Mark:

Another 20% through, one more standout game, and a bunch of "not ready for release" games.

Freedom: played 10 minutes
- No response to credits. Default for "x me".

"Implement the author's daily routine" is one step away from "implement the author's house". No particular flaws beyond not being very interesting.

Score: 2
8:02 pm
Comp 08 Comments (Cry Wolf)
Cry Wolf: Played 30 minutes (not played to completion)
- The first thing I noticed is that it uses the Simple Chat extenstion. Good choice by the author. Plus the mention of wolves
- Credits mention a single tester. "X ME" is implemented.
- If the lamp inside is on, and it's night outside, the player wouldn't be able to see through the glass.
- I played through it until close to the end of act I, and no matter what I did, I couldn't drug the wolf. Some of it was due to problems with Inform (it seems to prefer removing pills from the steak instead of the consopifil bottle), but others (can't refer to consopifil as "bottle") were an annoyance by the author. Also, except for one time when I managed to accidentally kill the wolf, it kept eating the steaks again and again, even after I'd left the room.

Don't enter buggy games into the comp! It's okay to hold it back for the Spring Thing or the next year's comp. I was interested in seeing more of the story, but the game is just unplayable buggy. But I am interested in playing a post-comp release of this game.

Score: 2X
8:02 pm
Comp 08 comments (Channel Surfing)
Channel Surfing: (played 20 minutes)
- Had a few testers. Good.
- Examining the post-it gives a response of "16". How well tested was this?
- Examining the remote gives no hint of what controls are present. "turn off tv" and "change channel" are not understood. It needs "change channel to __".
- Steve is still listed in the room description after he's left.
- "Older man" not accepted.

The game as a whole was underimplemented. It really needed a few more rounds of testing / polishing before it was fit for release. The last three paragraphs of the epilogue didn't really have much to do with the rest of the game.

Score: 3X
Sunday, October 19th, 2008
5:59 pm
More comp08 comments (Piracy 2, Buried in Shoes, Search / Ultimate Weapon, Red Moon, Everybody Dies)
Comments behind cut:

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Not mentioned previously, but I'll send my transcripts to any author who's interested.
Monday, October 6th, 2008
10:15 am
Sunday, October 5th, 2008
10:03 am
More comp 08 comments
Comments on The Lucubrator, April in Paris, and The Absolute Worst IF Game In History

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