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Showing posts from November, 2013

IF Comp 2013: 'The Wizard's Apprentice' by Alex Freeman

I reviewed the games entered in the 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition that I completed within the two-hour time limit for open judging.

Unlike the other Comp games that I've reviewed, this one is not playable in web browsers.  To play it, download the file 'apprent.gam' (link is to IF Archive competition listing) and use the official interpreter software (Windows), QTads (Linux, Mac, Windows), or Gargoyle (Linux, Mac, Windows).

A plainly-presented text adventure that feels old without evoking much of a retro feel, The Wizard's Apprentice is straightforward and mediocre.  Still, the game holds some interest due to its attempted characterization of a conventional text adventure scenario.  The game attempts to use the stereotypical text adventure conventions in a patronized, cute way.  Although that attempt fails, the failure is itself somewhat interesting.

The game is implemented in the older version of TADS, and its design and world model would probably have be…

IF Comp 2013: '100,000 years' by Pierre Chevalier

I'm reviewing the games entered in the 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition that I complete within the two-hour time limit for open judging.

Brief and intriguing, 100,000 years is an interactive poem.  It uses the hypertext medium better than parser-based attempts at interactive poetry tend to use either the command prompt or keywords.  Its strength lies is its innovation, the way it uses its extremely minimalist interaction mechanic to reveal the poetic technique.

The method of interaction actually feels like an organic part of the poetic structure.  There are no choices to select or links to click; the interactive poem is simply controlled by clicking ASCII arrows to move between the six stanzas.  This should be too minimal to be effective, but the way that this mechanical is tactically related to the content of the stanzas is actually quite interesting.

Not to say that the poem's minimalist design isn't a problem.  Although the minimalist mechanic is integrated perf…

IF Comp 2013: 'Tex Bonaventure and the Temple of the Water of Life' by Truthcraze

I'm reviewing the games entered in the 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition that I complete within the two-hour time limit for open judging.

Science fiction shows like Doctor Who and to some degree Star Trek often embrace their own campiness and geek appeal, while still telling serious stories in their genre.  Tex Bonaventure and the Temple of the Water of Life does this with the conventions of traditional parser IF.  Very meta without quite becoming parody, Tex Bonaventure pays enthusiastic homage to the tradition of old-school text adventure games.

The game's design hybridizes the puzzlefest tradition with the IF community's modern expectation of convenience.  Most modern text adventures merge puzzles with convenience by making sure that the puzzles are fair, not too difficult, and (if the game has a significant narrative framework) organic to story and setting.  Tex Bonaventure instead teases the unfairness of the early text adventures, while framing the unfair p…