Amanda's Springy Thingy Reviews

I’m not crying happy tears; you are. Someone is cutting an onion on this forum. I am being totally normal about this.

I’m really happy you enjoyed the game!! :grin:

Admittedly, it didn’t feel as intense while I was coding it, but when I look back on it now, it’s…quite a bit, lol. Multiple sections exceed 2,000 lines of code. The process has been wild.

I owe all the smoothness to my amazing testing team. The chunk of game that went untested is entirely my own fault, but the smoothness everywhere else is possible only through their amazing work and transcripts.

The English language fails to let me express how honored I am to read this right now.

Thank you for the time you spent in the game, and I’m overjoyed that you had a lot of fun! :grin:


Not sure if it was coincidental or intentional, but fantastic and very appropriate scifi reference with the choice of bird:

Also, congrats Jess! Way to swing for the fences!


Ha, I had the same thought!


@inventor200 Just so you know, my fellow Tadsperson, I took a peek at your game and it looks intense! I’m not blessed with much playing time right now, but I look forward to eventually seeing what you cooked up!


Nothing Could Be Further From the Truth by @keturion

I did not get very far into this game. I gave it 2 hours, and then decided that it was simply too cruel for me and I didn’t want to play anymore.

That’s too bad, because the setup is really fun, the writing is terrific, the tone is goofily dystopian, the characterization of the PC is relatable, and it has pretty much everything I could want in a game. But my lord, the cruelty. I found myself testing out commands and then typing UNDO for every command that didn’t work (which was most of them), because the timer is merciless. I reloaded a save about 20 times in those two hours, typed UNDO over 50 times, and that was just for the first real puzzle (hiding the bodies), which I did not complete.

I look forward to seeing other reviews, because it’s possible that I am just having an extremely knuckle-dragging day. Evidence for this hypothesis is that I misspelled a word (contraption → contaption) at one point, didn’t notice that, thought it didn’t work, and so got stuck enough to have to ask for a hint. There are in-game hints, but I didn’t find them very helpful, as I know what to do; it’s just that coming up with the right commands in the right order to beat the timer is really hard for me, and I don’t find it very fun.

I do recommend that everyone try it, because when I started play, I said to myself, “Self, you’re going to LOVE this game.” T’was not to be for me (this is clearly the game the author meant to write, and if it isn’t for me, that’s OK), but it will be so for others. If you don’t mind undoing and reloading after every few moves in order to find the right actions in a strictly timed manner, you’ll be golden here.

What bird is it? It’s a cassowary. Ridiculously silly and fun-looking, with all sorts of charming attributes that make you want to hug it. But it will rip you into bloody shreds if you do.

Commentary on error messages:

If you misspell something in this game, the standard response is “Can’t do it” instead of some variation on “I don’t know that word.” So spotting your own mistakes, especially in longer words, is harder to do. Getting your error messages right for the myriad of possible player screwups is a painfully difficult thing to do, and I have never managed it well so this is less criticism and more whining, but this was part of the difficulty for me in this game.


Amanda, I love your comparing the game to a cassowary. I have never heard of a cassowary, but your reasoning speaks for itself.

I’m glad you tried the game. I hope you had a little fun. Yes, the game is cruel in the way you describe. As you say, I imagine it won’t be for everyone. I didn’t do that on purpose, of course. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Thanks for your time - and for the comparison to a cassowary!


It’s a shame you didn’t get past the bodies… there are large stretches in the middle of the game where you can experiment without a ticking death clock. But oh, yes, Oliva Mirram has no shortage of ways to die… that’s just a thing. Outside of the timer context, I think the puzzles have quite a satisfying level of difficulty.


I got to a place in my life (which we call “old”) where I just don’t have patience for constantly restoring games. Been there, done that for the first 20 years of my IF life. Wrestling with hard puzzles is one thing; wrestling with all the UNDO and RESTORE is another.

That said, it’s a totally valid and time-honored way to make a game and there are loads of people who thrill to this. I hope my review made it clear that this is a particular quirk of mine and not a reflection on the game’s quality.


How, uh, old is “old” anyway? Asking for a friend. :wink:


I’m 51. And let’s not kid ourselves, that isn’t midlife anymore. It’s early old.


I can verify this statement.


Many of us are in the fifties, and as said: If you wake up in the morning with no pain, you are dead surely.
By the way one thing is to play with a game and another that the game plays with you.


It could be that the time box at the start of the game is too short and therefore cruel. I am certainly open to the idea that the puzzles must be tweaked to provide a better experience. I think the community will be the final arbiter on that point.

Also, I was looking at the hints last night, and they can use a refresh. “Lobby” (number 9) was originally called “Getting Rid of the Bodies”, but I didn’t want to reveal even that bit of information before the scene occurred, so I renamed it to “Lobby”. However, the hints for the vending machine are not there. And at least one hint refers to the section “Getting Rid of the Bodies”.


Stygian Dreams by Giorgos Menelaou (I couldn’t find a user name to tag the author with, so if anyone knows it, give me a shout.)

This is a back garden entry, and the author acknowledges its lack of polish in the Comp blurb. And that’s true-- it could definitely use some polish. But there’s a lot to like here regardless.

Do not play the blorb file of the game-- play the online version. I tried the downloadable game in Spatterlight, and didn’t get any images, plus there was so much scenery that was unimplemented that it was hard to know what nouns in the descriptions were important. The online version is a parser/click hybrid that highlights the important stuff so you can just click on it instead of trying to examine every noun to find the implemented one. Additionally, there’s some really cool AI-generated art in the online version.

It’s largely a walking simulator, where you move from location to location (with some difficulty as exits aren’t always listed, so you simply need to try all the cardinal directions) in a world of Greek mythology. There are no puzzles, and few actions you can take, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It is frustrating that so little of the interesting scenery is interactive, so mostly you can appreciate the description of the scene, but not the bits that make it up.

In my attempts at both the Inform version and the online version, I hit a wall after about 15 minutes where I couldn’t find anything else to do (where the statue is). It’s possible that I just hit the end of the game, but I don’t think so-- I think it just wasn’t obvious what to do next. So I wandered around the areas I had access to, trying to find new directions or objects I’d missed, but no such luck. Admittedly, I didn’t spend a long time doing this.

This is a pleasant experience with some good mythological background, but it doesn’t really seem to have a plot line, and it’s not intuitive at all what you should be doing to advance the game. I’d play through again if there was a little more direction given, or a better sense of where I can go and what my goal is. The author says on the online play page, “You don’t really need to do much” and that’s OK. But there should definitely be some rhyme or reason to what the player can/should do to complete the story. As it stands, I recommend you check it out, but don’t expect a full game with the basic parser conventions implemented.

What bird is it? You can see a bird drifting lazily on the wind high in the sky, but it’s too far away to tell exactly what it is.

That’s the last full-length parser game in Spring Thing, except for @kamineko 's Repeat the Ending, which I was a tester for. At the end of my reviews, I hope to post something about the games I tested, but you should definitely play RtE-- it’s a highly unusual game with a very cool mechanic.

On to full-length choice games.


In response to ‘The Familiar’

I have to agree - This was the first game I took a look at from the comp and thoroughly enjoyed playing it. Coming from the ‘old school’ parser based games I don’t usually like ‘choice’ based games - this was a mixture of both traditional ‘parser’ input and some choice based responses (especially the ‘caw’ sections which prompted certain ‘emotional’ choices - not sure how much effect that had on the story?) but the story line was compelling (to me anyway) and I found myself invested in the plight of the bird to save their ‘master’ . None of the puzzles were particularly difficult but the ‘flow’ of the plot just kept me wanting to keep playing until I had completed it (the sign of a good IF game if you ask me :slight_smile: ) - Well done @groggydog


Thank you so much! That’s really kind praise.


Lady Thalia and the Masterpiece of Moldavia by @EJoyce and @Encorm

I just adore the Lady Thalia games. This is the third in the series (you can find the first and second at the authors’ page) and it picks up just a short while after Thalia 2. The heroine, Lady Thalia, is a delightful art thief; the antagonist morphs into a more complicated relationship over time, the jokes are truly funny (the nickname Wicket made me spit my drink on my keyboard), and you slowly learn more about Thalia’s life throughout the games. So much queer art reflects the pain and sorrow of being persecuted, and that is important and valid. But these games, while they reflect the need to hide one’s true nature, fold that up with the other reasons we hide what we really are in a way that should speak to everyone who has a secret self. Thalia’s secret is less that she’s gay and more that she’s a criminal mastermind, and that she has complicated feelings about her enemies and her husband and his lover (Her husband Oscar, with whom she has a lavender marriage, finally gets a starring role in this game). The games are full of witty conversation, silly hijinks, and caricatures of the snobbish rich, and Thalia herself is a bit of an early rich-white-feminist caricature: sure she’s smarter than everyone else, always chic, and using her cover as a gentlewoman to mastermind heists that shock/ titillate society for being a woman’s work. Yet the caricature is written with enough stumbling and uncertainty to make her endearing and real. The heists can have a moral component; in this game, a the conversation central to the art theft is the British tendency to loot other countries for their art.

I don’t want to say too much about the story, but if you haven’t played the first two games, you should be able to pick this one up without trouble (although I recommend you play the first two so you can appreciate the narrative arc). Gameplay consists largely of talking to people to get information, trying to read each NPC well enough to determine whether they’re more likely to respond to friendliness, directness, or being led. There is a map to explore as well, and some light puzzle elements, so there’s plenty of interactivity here. The scoring system (a Q-like NPC named Gwen) is just flat-out ingenious-- one of the most (if not the most) well-integrated scoring system I’ve ever seen in IF.

This game changes the Thalia landscape in big ways: you learn far more about her husband and their relationship, there’s a new sort-of-but-maybe-not antagonist, and her old sparring partner Mel’s role changes significantly in this game. There is a bit of a rushed quality to Mel’s reasoning in this game-- I’m not sure I entirely bought her reasons for her change, although the ending does make a more compelling case. I felt like Mel was less well-characterized in this game than in the others, but the intricacies of Thalia’s life were better drawn, so it’s a draw there.

I did run into a bug halfway through the game, which is now fixed, but other than that, implementation and gameplay were smooth and intuitive.

Of course I recommend this highly, and the first two games as well.

What bird is it? It’s a Moluccan cockatoo. Larger than life, gorgeously dressed, intelligent, funny, and mischievous, always putting its pink crest up to wow you before clowning around and finally resting its head on your shoulder.


This is the best thing ever! If this game had a physical box this would definitely be the top blurb on the back.

Thanks for the great review!


There was supposed to be at least one full playable conversation between Mel and Miss Marshall, which probably would have helped sell the character development, but that was perhaps the most significant casualty of our time management issues. Hopefully I’ll get it into the post-comp release. Of course, it’s also possible that there just isn’t space to make that development convincing given that Mel comes into the game a little late, but I think (I hope?) it should help to actually see her start to come to the realizations she mentions at the end.

(It also occurs to me that, while this development was meant to be following on from the previous game’s emphasis on how underappreciated she is by the police, the fact that she’s away from home at the time makes it possible to read that as a problem with the Paris gendarmes specifically, as opposed to the intended “same shit different country,” so maybe I should have hit that point harder.)

Thanks for the review, and I’m glad you enjoyed the game!


Serious spoilers here:

Oh, I would love to see that. There’s so much rich stuff to mine there: both of them underutilized and underappreciated women in a field that to this day is hostile to women, but with this hostility and mistrust hanging between them. What I didn’t quite buy is that this would be the last straw to drive Mel out of policing, and right into complicity in one of Thalia’s schemes. Some conversation that rounds this out would be great. Or possibly I’m just being a nitpicker who does what I always do with works I like: But Bilbo should just tell the dwarves to go fuck themselves instead of emptying his larder for them!