Amanda's SeedComp Reviews

There’s a woeful lack of reviews on SeedComp games, so I’m going to write some short ones so authors can get some feedback.

Starting off:

In a Minute There Is Time by Aster Fialla

I might be a smidgen biased because this game is based on my “Prufrock” seed (gamifying the poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock), but I adored this. I had an idea that gamifying this poem might be better done in a choice-based format, and I was correct-- you could never do something like this in a parser game.

The game starts with a poem by the author. If you’re writing a game based on Eliot poems (I caught some of The Waste Land in there, too) and you start with your own poem, it better be damned good, and this one is, and plays the theme nicely, setting up the PC and their frustrations. The game is patterned after a snippet from the poem-- “In a minute there is time/For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.” You have one minute (counted down on the screen in big numbers) to wander through the streets and hotels and oyster bars of the poem, and at the end of the minute, the game rewinds through all your choices and lets you “revise” for another minute to make different choices.

Ordinarily, I dislike timed IF. But here, it made brilliant sense. The poem is about the loneliness and isolation of a man living through a profound and terrible revelation about himself and his world-- heartbreak at the choices he has not made in his narrow existence. And THAT’S why a choice based format works so well here, and why a sense of time running out, of missing things, is so effective. Because that’s Prufrock in a nutshell. This game pays great homage to the poem while being wholly the author’s own creation, and I recommend it heartily. And do read the poem, y’all.


Hi, thank you so much, this all is exactly what I was going for! I’m flattered you think my poem is ‘damn good’, especially with Eliot’s for comparison :smiley: I also have mixed feelings about timed IF but here I knew I had to do it or it wouldn’t make thematic sense. I was drawing on Queers in Love at the End of the World also, and the sense of FOMO and panic that comes with timed games.


Hidden Gems, Hidden Secrets by Naomi Norbez and Josh Grams

I found this game really upsetting, as will anyone who has been harassed by someone in authority who has gained your trust. So be warned that if you’ve had such an experience, this game will bring it back. Some spoilers below.

The game is, I believe, set up like a Discord chat. I’ve never used that, so I can’t speak to its authenticity, but the interface is good-looking and friendly to use. Storywise, there’s a group of poetry lovers, all connected to an older man-- Corn-- who I think is/was a poetry professor who gathered them all together online to discuss poetry. One night when Corn is missing from the group, the conversation about him takes a very serious turn. The game switches perspective between several members of the group, interspersed with earlier correspondence between that character and Corn. This is an effective way to show the relationships Corn has with these people, and how he has communicated with them. The game is admirably subtle-- at first it doesn’t seem as if Corn is anything more than a nice, slightly clueless older dude. But slowly his patterns (he’s got a line he repeats over and over that I swear I heard nearly word for word from a nasty professor I had) and the way he ratchets up his pursuit show him to be that most banal and common of predators: the mentor that slithers his way into your esteem, establishes himself as a teacher, and then starts working on you. There’s a lot more to the story that I won’t spoil here, but suffice it to say that the revelations of Corn’s group come out under complicated circumstances that put pressure on everyone.

I didn’t care for the timed text because I never do, but I can see why the authors did it this way-- it does add to the sense of being in a chat when you’re waiting for someone to type something.

I am going to cautiously recommend this. It’s well-written, well-framed, and looks great, but it deals with a difficult subject and I found myself angry and unsettled after play, which I do believe is the point.


Yeah. I keep thinking about this, because I’m firmly in the “timed text is a crime” camp myself. So it was kind of wild to work on a piece where… ok, yeah, that’s part of the experience of being in a live chat: what are they saying? Are they just going to delete it and not say anything? etc. And obviously this is Bez’s art; I just put the visual pizzazz on top. And tbh we didn’t talk about it at all. If… if it had been a longer timeframe I might have asked “can I make this optional? Or offer speed settings? Or hold-to-skip?” but as it was I was chasing bugs until fairly late in the jam.

But it was definitely interesting to see, “oh. This is why people do timed text” even knowing that it’s not going to land for a fair number of people.


Sclera by MeiZi

This game is a great representation of being really fucked up at a bar, something I have way too much experience with, but luckily I don’t do anymore. This is a hip dance club instead of a too-cool-for-school Austin live music venue (almost all the good ones are gone, so I’m sorry if you visit Austin now because you missed the boat), but it definitely has that dreamlike/nightmarelike feeling of being lost in a sweaty crowd of strangers while gorked out of your mind.

There are some great images here, and the graphics are effective. I played through twice, and there are some branching choices that take you to different places, so there is definite replay value here.

I didn’t get any sense of a real story here, and it ended fairly abruptly, which bugged me at first, but after I thought about it for a while, I realized that’s exactly how those nights are: no real narrative, just waiting in lines to pee, losing your things, and getting another drink that you definitely do/don’t need while feeling major deja vu, and then suddenly it’s over. So it worked for me, and I recommend it.


Well, it landed for me way better than it normally does, because it was mimicking a real phenomenon. I think it’s such an overused and abused effect that people are hostile to it right off the bat, when it actually made a lot of sense in this game. Beautiful work in coding it, Josh. It felt real.


I’m playing The King’s Ball now, and I could use a hint. @Warrigal , a little help?

I made a fire in the bucket with the straw and the wood from the crate (a large flame) and put it where I was prompted to in the Lane, but nothing happened. I tried telling the guard about it and moving it around, but I can’t get anything to happen. Maybe I need to make the fire bigger?


I think you missed one thing in the original hint: You need something to make it smokey. A damp flour sack from your backyard should do the trick.


Aha! Thanks.

Story of my life.


Only read this if you need it. To attract the guard’s attention: Hide in a location adjacent to the laneway and yell or shout or scream.


Closed Door; Key? by KnightAnNi

This is a short, simple little escape room game with one puzzle. As per the seed’s instructions, there are no verbs in the writing; it’s only nouns and adjectives. There’s no story here-- you’re simply examining things in the room until you find the clue to open a secret compartment, which gives you the key to escape the room, which should take you less than 10 minutes. Because it’s so brief and storyless, there’s not much to say about it except that it’s a clean and enjoyable little game, and makes good use of the seed. Definitely worth the few minutes it will take you to play it.


While Rome Burns by CSR

According to the home page for this game, this is the author’s first game, “rushed and unedited.” And boy, is that true. I couldn’t finish the game because of a pop-up window that blocked the only choice I could make in the game. Typos are everywhere.

It’s about Nero, of course, trying to be a musician and give a concert, except all these sad, stupid people are worried about that silly fire, taking up his time and energy with the trivial worries about their lives and property. It’s a great set-up. But the writing is bursting with typos, grammatical errors, and incomprehensible bits. The formatting is off the rails, and then there was that pop-up box that ended the game prematurely for me (I’ve attached a screenshot so the author will know what I’m talking about).

Folks, it’s a common courtesy to your players to at least run your game through a spell-check before submitting it. Ideally, edit it and then get a good editor to look at it too. And a play tester or 5. I don’t think there’s a single game in the history of IF that didn’t have some typos and bugs when it first came out, but most of this can be easily avoided by asking for some help here.

There’s a good game trying to get out of this game, but I can’t recommend it as is.

** Edit: looking at my screen shot, I now wonder if that was the end of the game? Not sure.

Screen shot of pop-up box


The Rye in the Dark City by manonamora

This is a really fun game. It’s a hard-boiled detective story, complete with a gorgeous dame in distress, a seedy PI, and a noirish feel. Also, it’s really silly, mixing the ridiculous in with the serious tropes of the genre. A crime has been committed at a local bakery, and a beautiful woman-- one of several who run the bakery-- has been accused of it. She asks the PC, a private investigator, for help. The game holds back a lot of information: we don’t know exactly what the crime is, although our hero is assuming it’s a murder. I took the route of asking her many, many times if she was guilty (the options for questioning are really funny), and she fired me on the spot, ending my first play through.

My second try led to an OOPS page, informing me that this path was the end, although not the end of the game, which was disappointing. I did find out what the crime was, though! I dislike replaying games multiple times, trying to remember what choices I made to get back to the last branch I took, so I stopped play after these 2 tries. Apologies to Manon for this-- I just don’t care for replay.

Overall, I recommend this. It’s goofy as hell, which really works with the detective-and-troubled-woman-client tropes. I’d love to see the ability to rewind a few turns instead of having to play the whole thing again, but that may be a limitation of the format? Anyway, I giggled a lot during this game and it’s well worth trying out.


Glad you enjoyed it! I really tired to make something light-ish this time around. It’s nice to see it worked :stuck_out_tongue:

Normally there should have been arrows at the bottom of the page to go back and forth in the “history” (same with your keyboard arrows, just realising now that I forgot to write it on the game page, that’s my bad). I can definitely add a [return to previous choice] button at the end page tho to avoid full replays!


Cozy Simulation 2999 by KADW

Well, that was disturbing. This is a very strange story, and I’m not sure I fully grok what was happening, although it kept me entirely engaged.

SPOILERS below as I try to work this out through my review.

You’re in a lovely cozy cabin in winter. It’s homey and snug and you get to pick the designs on your blanket and so forth. You can read, drink something, and sleep. As you progress, new options become available (watching a holoscreen, going outside, making art, etc) and there’s an intimation that you’re being kept here by someone else, who allows you to have or not have certain things.

And then there are the nightmares/memories, of a terrible, broken futuristic world, like post-Skynet attack. Everything is gone, everything is awful and scary. And then you get to come back to the cabin (by waking up? Ending the memory?). There’s a lot of repetition of pleasant tasks here, and it’s weirdly soothing, and then you get jolted out of it by the horrible dreams/memories.

Are you a captive (in which case, sign me up for captivity)? Is the cabin the dream that takes you away from your terrible life? Is it real? I don’t know. But I found this game very effective at unnerving me and keeping me guessing, and I highly recommend it. If you think you know what happened, please post your observations so I can read them.


Re Cozy Simulation It felt very matrix-y to me, albeit one where the machines are creating the ideal world rather than a “real life” one. It felt like maybe this was one of the reiterations that the machines built but failed due to humans being hard wired to question and ultimately potentially reject a simulation of what a machine thinks should be the perfect, peaceful life causing the simulation to glitch and crash.


Yes, I like this explanation.

It seemed ideal to me, for sure.

I guess I don’t see where the PC was questioning the simulation. Perhaps I’ll play again looking at it through this lens. Thanks for the perspective!


I suspect this is pulled more from the first Matrix film as a form of headcanon than anything from the game. I didn’t see the protagonist question anything either, but in the first Matrix film this is explicitly stated, so perhaps a significantly large enough fraction of the population had problems accepting it. Enough folks in our reality readily accept comforting fictions that I wouldn’t expect everyone to question this cozy reality, including, potentially, our protagonist.

Agent Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization. I say your civilization, because as soon as we started thinking for you it really became our civilization, which is of course what this is all about. Evolution, Morpheus, evolution. Like the dinosaur. Look out that window. You’ve had your time. The future is our world, Morpheus. The future is our time.


In a dream I told my mother by MiloMesdag

This is a tough game to say anything about, because it’s surreal, shifting, the locations having nothing to do with each other, the narrative fractured. In short, it’s a dream, and it’s very like a real dream-- the way that you step out of a room and are suddenly in your 6th grade classroom, or on the beach, or face to face with someone long dead.

So it was hard to know what was going on, and I think the point is that you just accept and go with it. The writing is strong and vivid, as Milo’s writing always is, so although it’s uncomfortable for me to play a game in shattered pieces, the writing carried me through. There’s a good deal of scary, nightmarish imagery here, so be warned; the whole thing is chock full of really terrifying places.

Do I recommend this? Yeah, I do; but don’t go into it expecting any kind of traditional linear narrative, or for the pieces of it to hang together. Just as you have to keep opening doors in your dreams and accepting whatever is on the other side of it, you will need to tap into that same acceptance here.

Edit: Oh, there was one scene I literally could not read at all because the text was flashing. I couldn’t see a way to turn it off. So I just picked an option at the end of the page without reading the scene. Also, there’s music in this from seeds, but I ALWAYS turn off the music in games and I did so here, too. I don’t know why-- I just can’t abide music of any kind in my games.


[Plans to release his single lampooning -VIOLENT- nerds from Texas as part of the OST of next game. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:]

Edit ^^^^