8 Shoes on the Shelves - Marc Duane

I found this game unplayable without resorting to the walkthrough; the descriptions just don’t explain adequately what’s there.

[spoiler]First room: you can’t move without pushing the boards; you can’t push the boards because they’re stuck under the pole. You can’t push the pole because the pole has prongs, but when you examine the prongs, it only says that they’re attached to the pole, not that they’re stuck in the boards. Only once you push the pole, it says:

It sounds like the prongs need to be removed, but you can’t pull the prongs or get the prongs; you have to turn or “rotate” the prongs, which just isn’t the slightest bit obvious from any of the object descriptions.

Even once the prongs are turned:

[code]>push pole
You can’t lift it, but you can spin it a bit or slide it back and forth. You don’t need to engage with it further.

slide pole
That’s not a verb I recognize.

spin pole
That’s not a verb I recognize.[/code][/spoiler]

The game is full of descriptions that mention things which turn out not to exist when you examine them. The authors should follow the BENT rule from Aaron Reed’s Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7: “Bracket Every Notable Thing.” Following that rule will force you to come up with an object description for every thing mentioned in an object or room description (or remind you to rephrase to avoid mentioning a thing that can’t be interacted with).

In the very first room description:

>x gap
You can't see any such thing.
>x desk
You can't see any such thing.
>x wall
You can't see any such thing.

>x board
You can't see any such thing.

> x boxes
The boxes [... etc etc...] Ah: a partially disassembled radio.

> x radio
You can't see any such thing.

[spoiler]Some of this is singular vs. plural confusion. You can “x desks” but not “desk,” “x prongs” but not “prong”, “x walls” but not “wall.”

The cabinets aren’t mentioned in the room description, especially once you’ve gotten out from under the boards, even if you examine the walls. The only way to get a reference to the cabinets is to “look in desks” (“open desks” doesn’t work) or to examine the debris, which disappears from the room description once you stand up.

[code]>look in desks
The desks are not positioned such that you can easily explore their contents, but the drawers you can reach contain only dust and the odd cobweb. You may be better off investigating the cabinets along the wall, the boxes underneath, the crates, the barrels, the drum, or the bed.

x bed
You can’t see any such thing.[/code][/spoiler]

Finally, this game is so short that you never get to find out what this story is about. (It feels like it might have been a more fitting submission to IntroComp.)

[spoiler]False orders, cool! But what are my real orders? To destroy the Dweller in the Water? If so, shouldn’t the ending text say something nice about “mission accomplished?”

Why did killing the Dweller matter? Why was the German form incomplete? What did the shoes have to do with any of this?[/spoiler]

Playtime: 30 minutes (or less).

Blurb: An account of one soldier’s unfortunate attempt to locate a secret buried beneath the war-torn Flemish countryside.

Content warning: violence, war, self-harm

Play online:

IF Comp 2017 website

I liked the writing in this short work. The walkthrough is too brief. It doesn’t include EXAMINE commands which might hint at the backstory. There are a few typos in the comp.zip version.

“ROTATE” is a surprising way to remove nails although the game mentions they have square heads.

It seemed like it was genre A for most of the story but then the ending was genre B. I guess it could be called a surprise ending. It seemed it dropped out of the sky with no warning. Make a save and try different things at the end to see the endings.

So, has anyone had any luck finding “the intended process of discovery and backstory” mentioned in the walkthrough? I’ve discovered that you can get a few more details about your background via the verb “remember” or “think about”, but so far that’s yielded only very cursory stuff, and nothing that explains the creature in the pit, or the shoes, or the digital watch.

Decompiling suggests that you have found everything.

It’s unfortunate. There are hints of an intriguing game here, but as it is, it’s unplayable. This is a problem:

[spoiler]> x desk
The desk is flipped on its side, revealing some sort of cutting device attached to the bottom near
the floor, comprised of a wooden brace the length of your torso, a metal release handle, and a
blade the size of your hand.

x device
You can’t see any such thing.

x brace
You can’t see any such thing.

x handle
You can’t see any such thing.

x blade
You can’t see any such thing.

cut package
You don’t have anything appropriate to cut with handy.[/spoiler]

In further tales of dodgy implementation…


I fortuitously figured out “twist pole” works at the beginning without the walkthrough, but after all that nonsense I checked the walkthrough when I hit the liminal space. I was pretty shocked to discover that was all there was to it.

There is no hint that “remember” is a valid verb, and while I love it, it isn’t used consistently enough to toss in your game unprompted. There are no hints or help that I could find either. Wouldn’t have known about “remember” without reading here. Or the knife. Actually I still can’t find that and don’t have the time to waste trying.

Three rooms, two guess-the-verb puzzles, two endings I found, a pale hint of backstory if you happen to try the right unusual verb. Did I miss any? There’s a monster in the pit, we’re a secret agent tasked with destroying “E Group”, some guy gave us a digital watch that doesn’t work? It sounds like there’s an interesting enough story here, they just refuse to TELL the damn thing. Jeeze.[/spoiler]

I have posted a review and transcript here: blog.templaro.com/3394-2/

…and an excerpt:

Let me propose a story that fits the facts as we have encountered them. A soul-devouring alien with a foot-fetish lands in Belgium during the Great War and takes up residence in an underground bunker. Somehow, this alters the timeline. In response, the Temporal Constabulary teleports a tachyonic phase-neutrino bomb (and an aluminum desk) to the past, but the bomb requires activation by one of their agents. Conveniently, one is already in the period operating under an assumed identity. Throwing the bomb into the pit traps the alien forever and restores the timeline. On the bright side: footwear monster destroyed; less optimally, the time agent failed to avert two World Wars and Donald Trump.

FWIW I did come up with a less guess-the-verby solution to the puzzle at the beginning, without hitting the walkthrough:

PUSH PRONGS worked just as well as ROTATE PRONGS, at least as of a couple of days ago when I played this

But I didn’t get the backstory.

I’ve got a short review of this here: xenoglossy.dreamwidth.org/80253.html#cutid1

I had pretty much the same frustrating experience as most people here seem to have had.