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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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

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.

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

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

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

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