Andromeda Legacy Comp 2013 - The Verdicts

To reiterate, there are two entries this year:

  • Andromeda Genesis by Joey Jones
  • Andromeda Ascending by Jim Warrenfeltz

and there are three judges. Me (Wade Clarke), Marco Innocenti and Paul Lee.

Each of us will be posting our assessments of both games across the span of the near future, and doing so in a random order determined by ‘Who is ready to post the next assessment and When?’

After all the assessments are up, we will reveal the winner of the competition.

ADDITION: The games are now available for download. See down 3 posts.

  • Wade

Andromeda Ascending by Jim Warrenfeltz (Inform 7 / glulx)

(There are spoilers in this review, but no massive specific ones)

This lively, character-driven and big contents entry into the Andromeda saga is set during the 8140s, a time when humankind in the Andromeda Galaxy are living up on the mechanosatellites in the wake of the first cataclysmic Event. With this sentence, I’m sure I have made myself sound tremendously knowledgeable, but trust me; this shared universe has already grown dense and complex enough (including the two entries in this year’s Andromeda Legacy competition, there are now six games going on seven!) that its chronology is no longer a place for wimps, if it ever was. I thank Marco for his potted history cheat notes and his walking library-esue knowledge of backstory.

In Ascending, the player takes on the role of Quin, a resourceful smartarse of a young woman who lives on Mechanosatellite 3 (MS3). Quin is also a reasonably clouty member of the gang called The Vipers. Her playful skirmishes with both the military police and a coy rival gang member who wants to woo her (Rici) result in her having a day of chaotic adventures of unexpectedly great import.

Ascending is the most overtly funny entry into the Andromeda series to date. It has lots of dialogue (probably too much for me), a range of amusing and peculiar characters, a great inventory of in-jokery in relation to other Andromeda games and a good deal of farce. It’s generally linear and not into puzzling, but the amount of content is impressive – the author describes it as novella length, and that’s how it feels to me.

My problem with Ascending is that the ultimate chronology and import of the events depicted within it began to get away from me during its second half, and had almost completely escaped me by the end. I offered Marco my interpretation of the game, and it was quite different to his – and what with him being the father of the series, I put more store in his interpretation. In terms of getting the “big” meaning (for the series) out of this game, you might need to be an Andromeda fanboy, and even then you might be struggling.


The tension between the military and civilian inhabitants of the satellite shows that the broad power structures described by Paul Lee back in Tree & Star ( are still in place, but by this point in time, those structures are beginning to acquire a farcical dimension. It’s clear that living in space for centuries has slowly been driving humankind dotty. Most of the civilians encountered in Ascending act like classically rebellious teens, even though you get the sense that some of them are probably in their 20s (including the heroine?). The military are their killjoy adult foils, but neither group seems to take its role, or life in general, very seriously. Civilians form harmless-seeming gangs because they’re bored, and the military try to shut the gangs down because that’s what they do, and they’re bored, too.

In physical terms, the arrangement of MS3 isn’t described too explicitly, and I don’t think that matters because the geography tends to be suggested by the social setting. People gossip and fight in the cafeteria. The Vipers chill out in their Viper Pit, and motormouth geek Pip performs her experiments in The Back Room of the Viper Pit. This situation changes in the second half of the game when Quin is kidnapped and taken to another satellite. On her own and in hostile territory, she’s confronted by seemingly endless, circling and empty white corridors. I don’t know for sure that the satellites are spherical structures, but this passage strongly makes me imagine that they are.


Probably the first thing that struck me about Quin was that her particular brand of smartassery coincides strongly with the kind of smartassery IF players have come to expect from many a parser. I don’t know whether the chicken or the egg came first for the author of Ascending, but the upshot is that this game gets to wield that smartassery with good justification. The downside could be that Quin is made a little bit more generic in the process. The dialogue sequences are menu-based, and the often verbose choices available to Quin show the velocity and farsightedness of her fantasy wit. At times these were a bit much for me, but there’s no doubting the game’s commitment to this particular tone throughout its writing.

Rici is the rival gang member who gets Quin in trouble (more so) and he behaves in many capacities: as a potential love-hate romantic interest, as a bumbling teen type, and as a guy I just wanted to throttle occasionally. Sometimes when talking to him, I was all like - “Argh!”. I realised that being, like, all like, was the operative phrase here. Most of the gang members come across as excitable teens, and the game is good at capturing their spirit, as irritating as the spirit may occasionally be to bedraggled adults.

If the boredom of satellite life has made young adults act like teens, it has done much worse to the adult-adults. Members of the ruling military families on the satellites behave like doddering fin-de-siecle British Raj. Supreme General Hick’errs routinely kidnaps young women to add to the harem of his son, Major General H. Hick’errs. These men’s plans are mostly pathetic and ineffectual, their characters weak, and in this sense the ultimate ascension of the civilians which begins to take place at the end of the game makes perfect sense.


Technical delivery of the game is strong. Even though there are lots of different scenes with people coming and going, and some obvious causality demands, everything stays on track. This is aided by the story being of a linear type overall, and by the fact that there are no puzzles which have ramifications beyond the next move, and extremely minimal puzzling in general. My only complaints are nitpicky: Almost no synonyms are implemented (this is the major of the minor complaints, because I felt it all the way through) and more mundanely, there are infrequent spelling and punctuation mistakes.

Girl Andromeda Power, yeah!

Ascending is rife with specific and affectionate references to other games in this series, as well as placing itself at a relatively important point in the chronology. Characters here talk about dreams they have had or theoretical situations they’re speculating on which recall scenes from the other games. There’s often a light-hearted jabbing at some fictional or adventure gaming devices that have been used across the previous games, and for Andromeda followers, these observations help clarify the lighter tone of this game, given that nothing that came before has used as much humour. This aspect of the game is well executed, being entertaining for the people who can identify the references and unlikely to get in the way of anyone else. Unfortunately, such a benefit is only of theoretical value when a lot of the macroscopic machinery of the game, including the explanation of its denouement, is likely to be opaque to the majority of players, whether or not they have followed the other games – and especially for those who haven’t.

Given the unusual situation of its characters (living in satellites as refugees from a galactic disaster) a lot more or even a little more needs to be said about this situation. These aforementioned facts for starters. Then: Why is there a civilian/military split? What is the relationship between the populations of different satellites? Who has what awareness of what (if anything) is going on down on the planet’s surface? Who is hiding what from whom, and why? The trouble at the moment is that the context-creating answers to all of these important questions have to be formulated by studying some of the other Andromeda games at length, and the fictional historical materials contained within them, and perhaps even the out-of-game chronology chart. And even then, your answers will often only be guesses. While the game is entertaining enough and in-the-moment enough that most players are likely to enjoy it superficially at the very least, it is called Andromeda Ascending for a reason, and builds to a significant conclusion, but one which is significantly underexplained and chronologically confusing.


Andromeda Ascending is a fun and busy game, with a bunch of human vitality and talky characters of the kind still thin on the ground in this series. (Understandably thin, given that this galaxy is always exploding or collapsing or experiencing some other cosmically drastic shiznit.) It is most similar to Tree & Star, linearly, puzzle wise, setting wise, but Ascending’s main flavour comes from its more absurd outlook, which is an interesting take on stir craziness in space. The game knows the other Andromeda games well, references them all and ultimately moves to be of heavyweight consequence in the overarching chronology, except that the details and mechanics of this consequence, and the real reasons behind it, remain elusive. Fortunately, the game is easy and enjoyable in spite of its confusing finale.

PS The game already has snazzy in-the-style title page artwork, though it’s not easy to see at the moment.

  • Wade

It’s supremely weird to read reviews/assessments of games that haven’t been released yet.

By (somewhat) popular demand, and to avoid the silly outcome of having to read reviews of games never published, here are the games for this year’s ALComp.

Have fun!

Andromeda Ascending

Andromeda Ascending recasts the themes of the previous Andromeda games in an optimistic voice that is not too pretentious to make fun of itself. Although it is still basically serious, it is not very mysterious, granting little sense of the smallness of humanity in comparison to the long eons of the cosmos. Instead, it is a fun story about human triumph, drawing connections and allusions to all of the previous Andromeda games. The game makes at least a pretense of being a traditional Infocom-style text adventure, which feels appropriate given its tone.

Ascending is the most outstanding continuity piece so far in the Andromeda collection. It makes heavy allusions and explicit references to all of the previous Andromeda games, developing backstory that relates to characters from Andromeda Awakening and Andromeda Dreaming. The setting draws heavily from the first character-viewpoint glimpses of Mechanosatellites in Dreaming, and the plot evokes a scene from Tree and Star. Although Ascending adds relatively little lore to the worldbuilding, the connections it makes to the other games suggest fascinating possibilities. I’m the author of Tree and Star, and one of the references gives me ideas about the ultimate fate of the ship in my game and the relationship of my game to the timeline as a whole that I had not considered.

Like Awakening and Tree and Star, the plot of Ascending involves important knowledge that had been hidden from the public by a corrupt system. The military dictatorship is more or less taken for granted, and although the existence of the dictatorship is a carefully developed part of the Andromeda legendarium, it makes sense that it would seem arbitrary (and would truly be arbitrary) to the people of the Mechanosatellites in Quin’s time. From this straightforward conflict, the plot moves rapidly without need for a complicated structure. The ending sequence reveals a flashback technique that was completely absent from the interactivity, connecting Quin to Ektor in the future. Although the material in the flashbacks is interesting, I don’t think the isolated and unprecedented flashbacks work very well on their own. It would have been better if the flashbacks could have been worked into the interactivity, and if the frame story that the existence of the flashbacks creates had not come as a surprise.

Even given the shortness and relative simplicity of Ascending, the gameplay is multi-faceted. Gameplay is partly fueled by the menu-based conversation trees, and partly by the common high-granularity technique of rapidly unraveling the plot around the player’s interactions, no matter what the player decides to do. Although the game as a whole is not particularly interactive, individual scenes from the game have internal interactivity, allowing for different states created by different interactions with NPCs, or else simply presenting different dialog threads. The level of implementation is moderate. The first scene is probably the best developed, allowing for responses to atmospheric verbs and tracking a complex set of possible ways to move into the midgame.

The really controversial gameplay element is the maze, which might literally be the only puzzle. The maze is about as traditional as text adventure mazes come, at least in presentation. It is actually quite easy; all exits from the maze rooms are listed after the identical room descriptions, and all those exits form straight, two-way connections. (Fortunately, re-entering the maze after having solved it once skips the process of traversing the maze rooms again, immediately moving the player to the room at the other entrance to the maze.) Therefore, the maze does not present a game-stopping dead end, but it does require an investment of time and effort. Structurally, the maze serves to separate the midgame from the endgame, slowing the plot. Along with lighter self-mocking tone, the old-fashioned maze makes the game appear Infocomish on some level, although it lacks the mechanics and design required for puzzle-solving and exploration.

The story is character-driven, possibly even more so than Dreaming. All of the characters are are lively and distinct. The characterization is thorough, almost every description in the game contributing to the player’s perception of one character or another. However, the characterization lacks the color and attention to detail of the cast from Dreaming, conveyed through that game’s carefully-worded dialog and special dialect slang. The protagonist and player character, a young woman named Quin, dominates the setting and the story, her narrative voice both describing and limiting the presentation of her world.

The lack of dialect slang probably makes sense in light of the narrative implications of the epilogue, but it nonetheless implies that setting and worldbuilding are less important than in the previous Andromeda games. In Awakening, Dreaming, and Andromeda Apocalypse, the settings are characterized with almost as much liveliness as the characters, even though the relationship between setting and character is different in each of those games. In Ascending, the Quin’s voice is so universally integrated with the prose that there is less room for the setting to take on a life of its own. This is not to diminish the significant worldbuilding that Ascending does accomplish. The practical realities of living on old satellites are convincingly considered, and the societies that the inhabit the Mechanosatellites are diverse.

Perhaps the most distinctive element of Ascending lies in the very fact that it takes itself less seriously than its predecessors. One memorable thread of dialog between Quin and a humorous supporting NPC explicitly exposes and makes fun of potential weak points in the existing worldbuilding. Maybe that dialog is partly a sarcastic criticism of Ascending’s predecessors, but its main purposes appears to be a self-conscious wink at the player, asking the player to suspend disbelief and enjoy the science fiction while simultaneously signifying that this particular installment doesn’t take itself completely seriously.

Ascending’s careful continuity with the other Andromeda games, along with its deliberate connections to the most important and outstanding character in the “canonical” Andromeda works (with perhaps a significant allusion to Aliss from the import spinoff Dreaming) make it feel a bit like fan fiction. I do not at all mean to belittle the game by this; I have always thought of my own Andromeda game as fan fiction. As such, Ascending is great fun for fans of one of IF’s most well-developed genre universes. I guess that it would be confusing for outsiders, but I think its optimistic, human-centric story and themes may be more attractive to a general audience than a dark, serious genre setting.

Wow–this is really cool so far, and nice work on the quick turnaround. Makes me wish I’d made the time to follow through with my game. Looking forward to more.

In this post I will potentially be completely spoiling TWO games in the Andromeda series (Dreaming and Genesis) so read on at your own peril! / convenience. I was thinking of spoiling the film Inception as well (only as a side-effect of something I would have said) to make a point, but I decided not to, as that could just be annoying for people who want to read this but still haven’t seen Inception. I repeat: I do NOT spoil Inception or even mention it again after this line!

My response to

Andromeda Genesis by Joey Jones (Inform 7 / Z-code)


Andromeda Genesis is a direct sequel to Joey Jones’s fine entry into last year’s Andromeda Legacy competition, Andromeda Dreaming ( It seems that the cast of Dreaming might not have been vaporised at all, not that there was ever a guarantee that they were. But whether you thought they were, or didn’t think that, get ready to have your beliefs, or lack thereof, challenged! – or don’t. This is the primary effect of Genesis; to quantify and concentrate Dreaming’s ambiguity of reality into a kind of superambiguity, one which grows out of rules suggested by the previous game and which is then emboldened by more rules added in this one. This effect would be a huge one for a tiny game (245,784 bytes of Z-Code) to pull off in its own right, but the catch is that it’s not achieved in its own right. Genesis is a small experience on its own and feels more like a coda to the previous game, albeit a coda which telescopes a lot of already interesting ideas.


Oh, mechanosatellites! Where would we be without you? Either vaporised or down on some planet, I guess.

The game is set mostly on Mechanosatellite 12 (MS12). There’s not much time or need for an elaboration of the habitat’s physical details in Genesis, since the game’s itinerary consists of a couple of conversations and a couple of recollections. Those details which are present are evocative of the enormity of space and its ever inhospitable physics. The opening image of Aliss floating gravity-less amongst some debris in front of a window which may or may not be looking out onto the galaxy is an attractive one. The game doesn’t forget to casually suggest the satellite’s scale, either, when appropriate. People don’t just go to their rooms here, they “retreat to a distant corner of the mechanosatellite.”


Everyone from Dreaming is back: Aliss, Kadro, Little Jimmy, Sen Kulpa. However, there’s little screen time given to each person, except Aliss. Genesis adds a bit of humanity to her, offering more flashbacks to her past and arguably less confusion about her present. (In Dreaming, she was an amnesiac who recalled nothing that happened before Dreaming. Now she’s a woman who recalls the events of Dreaming plus a handful of other things.)

The most important factor adding to a player’s sense of Aliss as a person is the fact that in this game, she gets to make some decisions which have real and immediate consequences. At several points, the player must choose what Aliss thinks about various phenomena with a simple Yes or No response, and once a choice has been made, the prose shows Aliss rationalising to accommodate its consequences. This is a really neat mechanic which I can’t say I’ve encountered much before myself, or at least not delivered the way it is here, and it’s an especially well considered one in a game which introduces the concept of individuals being able to access parallel existences through lucid dreaming. With Genesis’s additions to what was established in Dreaming, the two games have set up an exciting sci-fi dramatisation of our ability to shape our perceptions, and thus our reality, through willpower alone. And they suggest that this concept extends to the alteration of time itself and multiple realities.


While the main schtick of the Yes/No questions altering Aliss’s reality is a very cool piece of design, the rest of the game feels under serviced. There’s just not much for Aliss to say, not much that the other characters say, not much that you can do. There are only a few different scenes, and I’d have liked more of their contents to be implemented so that I could fiddle with them. Again, I feel that my main criticism of Genesis is simply that it’s too small all around, yet metaphysically, what it adds to Dreaming – at least in terms of new concepts for this fictional universe – is big.

The prose is Joey good again (* the odd mundane typo excepted, and I expect they’ll be rounded up in the already promised post-comp release.) It’s concise and flows to create images, feelings and dialogue. I am not of the school that says less is necessarily more, though of course it can be. My point is that Joey’s writing has a character of delivering all that he needs with the pitch and density that he needs, and which is appropriate for what he does. That may sound like a blah truism describing all good writing, and maybe it is, but it’s true here, again. And Joey’s fictional textbooks and histories are always completely convincing. Here’s a sample intended to give flavour, but not necessarily intended to be understood:

“This lends weight to Han’s Conjecture, along with Phelios archival evidence, that there was a belief among the MS12 technocracy in a forthcoming apocalyptic event that had to prepared for. Han has argued that this is the kind of paranoid belief symptomatic of life enclosed in the smallest of the thirteen mechanosatellites. Misa, in The Modernity of the Ancients, contends instead that the inhabitants…”

Girl Andromeda Power, yeah!

Genesis scores pretty highly on Andromeda-ness, given that it’s (a) a direct sequel to another game in the series, and (b) builds on the concepts introduced in that game, almost in an exponential fashion. Genesis provides fodder for reassessing the outcome of the first game, invites you to speculate on its own outcome and sets up a bunch of concepts which we can all merrily exploit in the future. In the context of this competition though, I feel I do need to make the distinction that Genesis feels like it pulls 90% of its power explicitly from Dreaming.


Andromeda Genesis is a clever conceit, taking Dreaming’s characters further into “Is what’s happening real, a dream, the past, the future or just an alternate universe?” territory, with potentially boggling metaphysical implications. Yet they don’t feel boggling because the two games have constructed a mythology and rule set which can describe how any of the possible interpretations could be reached.

The thing about Genesis in its own right is that I don’t see it as having much of its own right. If I may press a literary example for a moment, an outcome-multiplying chapter added to the end of a great book isn’t a new great book, though the combined effect of the two may be Great +. And I feel like Genesis is too spare to be considered a new book. A kind of minimal interactivity was well justified in Dreaming, where the player was physically restrained (with good reason) and the significance of the sleep/awake sections was greater. Macroscopically, Genesis is less interactive than Dreaming without either of these devices being in play. A sleep status meter at the top of the screen seems to be of no importance. The Yes/No mechanism is well used for the game’s brief duration, but overall, I just wanted more of everything for Genesis’s own sake – more time with the people, more dialogue, more moving around, more to do, more to see. Still, I find it fascinating that this game could add so much value to its predecessor, and to this universe in general, without feeling satisfying in a self-contained way at the same time.

  • Wade

Andromeda Genesis

Last year’s Andromeda Dreaming added another dimension to the Andromeda lore with its metaphysical portrayal of dreaming, tied to the intriguing background of the player character and her colorful companions. Set after the apocalypse depicted in Andromeda Awakening as well as Dreaming, Genesis continues the premise of Dreaming, further developing the science-philosophy called “oneironautics.” Where Dreaming was mostly about the characters and the tie-in event to Awakening, Genesis is mostly about the dream.

The setting of the Mechanosatellite is inherited from Dreaming, but portrayed more darkly. We are allowed to see a little more of the satellite, but like the game itself, the glimpses of setting are fleeting and vague. The room descriptions are tight and evocative, helping the setting where the lack of implementation hurts it; but most of the feeling of setting is accomplished by a combination of mood and interactivity. The player is required to interact with the setting in order to advance from the first of the sequence of short scenes to the second, and although the player might well fail to notice the practical effect of his or her choice on the game world, this interaction anchors the setting. The relationship between setting and interactivity reinforces a theme that is more explicitly broached in the prose – the relationship between perception and reality.

This is a clever but passive use of interactivity. The most obvious mechanic is the use of mutually exclusive YES/NO choices, overriding the parser at the point where a question must be answered. There are three such questions, one of which is the crucial determination between two important conditions, representing different potential beliefs held by Aliss. Another choice that affects the outcome involves interacting with the standard parser and conversing with an NPC with the standard menu-based conversation system. At any rate, this is the kind of interactive flash fiction that needs to be replayed several times in order to be properly completed and understood, not wholly unlike Aisle. If you haven’t seen four different endings, you haven’t played the game.

At this point in IF history, it doesn’t seem useful to put up a disclaimer that this “game” is really a story or an artistic expression rather than a game. The game mechanics are defined by the tracked states that are set based on the player’s choices. Although this is interesting to see in a normal parser-based game, the thin implementation of the model world is a hindrance. To some degree, austerity serves the art – being able to look at and play with lots of objects would be distracting. However, austerity is pushed a little too far, and on initial play-throughs, it can seem that there is nothing to do while watching the brief story flash by, admittedly with some customization. The game hides its shallow implementation very well, though. The objects that are implemented seem to respond appropriately to logical commands, and the possible actions fit together well with the descriptions, helping to build the atmosphere.

Genesis really is an artistic expression, even more than it is a story. There is a story, of course, told by a fast succession of very short scenes; but as short as the game is, not even all of the scenes advance the main plot. Two scenes appear to exist only to tell some of Aliss’s backstory and to mention a character from Dreaming who would otherwise have gotten no screen time.

One of those scenes is a clear allusion to one of the flashbacks in Andromeda Apocalypse. That seems to be the only nod to one of the previous Andromeda games, aside from the characters and story continued from Dreaming. However, Genesis does contribute new worldbuilding to the legacy of the Mechanosatellites, and the continued exploration of oneironautics is a significant conceptual addition. The psychological ability granting quasi-supernatural powers (at least by one interpretation) evokes themes from classic science fiction novels, such as Dune by Frank Herbert. One ending suggests the theme of a society denying that the universe is greater than the society, a theme that might have appeared in one form or another in every previous Andromeda game.

Andromeda Genesis is an insubstantial but very subtle vignette. The flashes of setting conveyed by the micro-scenes are surprisingly vivid and memorable, despite the somewhat shallow implementation. It is an ambitious little work, provoking thought and wonder. Still, I think it would be much improved by better implementation, and perhaps more interactivity within the scenes.

So here we are.

Again, we had a nice Competition, this year. Too bad Andrew didn’t find the time to complete his work. I (we all, actually) sure hope he will release soon. And I hope Wade will find the time to make his “undersea-thriller” set in Monarch, sooner or later. (Hint: I smoke 30 cigs a day. If you want to make sure I play your games before I die, please hurry.)

The reviews: adding something to what Wade and Paul wrote is frankly impossible. I will try and be brief, and to give some of my famous non-reviews. As usual, they are coming more from the guts than from the brain. And that could be a nice thing. You don’t wanna see nothing from my brain, I assure you.


SETTING: The best thing about the development of a story is its setting (especially in a sci-fi piece). I think Jim did an impressive job in creating a place with politics and believable every-day routines. The right way to describe a world is to show it instead of explaining. Everything here and there works quite fine. I was impressed by the harem-MS. And by its inhabitants. The change of place is frequent and abrupt, and I loved this too.

NPCs: There’s a bunch of them, and with each you can have a long conversation. I would have liked to see (hear) more from Stennis (I’m gonna marry him, but there’s not that much i know about him), but just for the sake of graphic content. The rest is living and breathing, and I loved them all. My preferred character was the Major-Something-Husband-Non-Wannabe: his love story and the way he’s depicted before you can even understand what’s happening between the two of you are funny and somewhat moving. But, of course, my preferred character is Pip.

OH, THE MOCKERY!: Hahhahahahha, hahhahha and, I repeat, hahahahha!. I understand the fears of Pip (try and talk to him until the end) are a sort of revenge against my review of Jim’s game in the secret IFComp forums. Or so I think (Paul has given a far more accommodating explanation). Anyway: they are really cool. They blow on the castle of cards of my previous games, but do it while BEING in the same setting, and this is encouraging. It means he doesn’t REALLY want it to come down. I guess.

PC: Quin. So we now have another Main Character in the Andromeda universe, erm… galaxy. Cool. The name is another mockery, I presume (people kept asking me why did I name the planet Monarch? Well, what the hell?! a name’s a name). But the character is not. She is the one who gave birth to modern-era society of Andromeda, the one who INVENTED the Councils (both of 'em!), who is probably the LEADER, the VERY PRESIDENT of it all. Wow. She made me think. About good intentions. About how those good intentions can (and usually do) lead to disaster. About how ofter, a revolution brings only a new tyranny. Life’s a bitch, I guess.

CANON and ADDING TO THE CANON: This game has fared really well in the scale of how much it was in and added to the canon. Nothing is out of place. It sounds like Jim has put a lot of effort into research. A lot of study on the subject. What he added (if I’m not mistaken, and I may be, given how the authors of this year ALComp have talked to each other before releasing the games): The 13 MSs. Not a random number, no sir. He added a lot of politics both prior and contemporary to the events depicted in Awakening. A set of nice characters. And a crucial moment in history: how the military was blown away by a revolution. Thank to Jim (and Paul, and Joey) we now have so much content to this setting that it could go on forever.

WRITING: Brilliant. I loved the mood (Quin’s a bitch, and I love her). I loved the descriptions - never redundant, never lists of things you see. I loved every bit of it, especially the funny dialogues. Top notch.

GAME EXPERIENCE OVERALL: Quite a pleasure. The pacing is right. Even the (usually) annoying maze is short and doable with just a pen and a piece of paper. I would have lived even without it, rest assured, but I guess the intent of Jim was to outnumber my games in terms of rooms count, too. [emote]:)[/emote] It is long, but short enough to deliver an experience without being silly. Perfectly right for my busy life.

ANDROMEDA SCALE: I guess this is one of the best games in the Andromeda series, in total. I can’t comment on mine, but it sure struggles for first place with Dreaming by Joey. Dreaming was a punch in the stomach, this is more like a good, terse story that fits perfectly into continuum and makes an author proud of his previous work. Somehow, I must have been inspiring. I still puzzle how come, by the way.

Aaaand now:


SETTING: The parts that work are stunning. Namely: the very first room. As soon as I found a way out of there and have been witness to some of Joey’s pure magic, I felt the urge to write him and tell him. To be honest, this game could have been set in Anchorhead and no one would have noticed, but I guess that - if you link it with the previous episode, Dreaming – everything works. The setting of this game is, of course, mainly in the mind of the PC. We don’t get to see much (while in the Ascending we get to travel a LOT of corridors, in here the maze of twisty little passages and tunnels and so forth of a Mechanosatellite is barely described), so what we perceive is better than what we actually look at. More on this on the “writing” section.

NPCs: Mph. My heroes ar all here. Kadro and Sen. My preferred characters in a loooong time (IF-wise, I mean). BUT. Somehow, they changed. Ok, Kadro is almost himself. Sen is not. What has happened? Did the Apocalypse change something into their mind-sets? I don’t know if I can accept this. Councillor Kulpa is a bastard. A cold-blooded bastard. The wiping of a galaxy cannot be enough for her to become “the mother of all there is”. Ok, this could be part of the character (she thinks of herself as a goddess, that’s right), but it’s frankly not easily digested. The mutation of Kadro, from a mystery of a man, some moral assets but none quite clear, to “the one who says sorry” could have been better explained. I dunno.

PC: Aliss is Aliss. Period. She’s still fine. In some way, she even evolved. While in Dreaming she was quite a parasite of the events, a passive being, in this sequel she begins to take part in what happens around her and start to change it. I sensed some force in how she reacts to Kadro. Less of it in the convos with Sen Kulpa. Somehow, the character is developing, and I would see more of her in the future. I had plans for Aliss. I hope Joey will help me in making them real. Hope he consents.

CANON and ADDING TO THE CANON: Genesis is more in canon to itself than to the Andromeda setting. It could live WITHOUT any of the other games, apart from Dreaming. The Onieronautics (or whatever that’s called: is that an English word?) are a cool idea, a groundbreaking idea, in game design if you ask me. But they could have been used in Anchorhead and no one would have noticed. But I’m repeating myself. Something that, too bad, Joey didn’t succeed in doing. Repeating himself, I mean. Also: the scope of what Joey suggests with his finale(s) is so vast that it can severely disrupt everything already told in the Andromeda series. In Awakening, Apocalypse, Tree&Star, and even in Dreaming, facts were facts. Things were serious. Serious A LOT. Three galaxies have been wiped clean and we were questioning ourselves about the mortal spoils of three (erm: two) civilizations, about the scale of universal events, about our own survival. What Joey suggests is “and what if we could change everything with but a Y/N answer?”. I dunno if I like it. Of course, on a larger scale, it’s you, the players, who will decide. For me, it’s a No.

WRITING: Well, we are entering the realm of a god, here. Joey’s prose is incomparable. I think he is one of the BEST IF writers out there. The short, tense, perfect brushstrokes with which he colors a full universe are impressive. You get INSIDE the mind of the PC in a way rarely seen before. Joey never feels the urge to explain ANYTHING. Just by talking about something that is obvious to the PC he renders the same obvious to you too. Like you’ve been there, done that. The craft of the giants. I envy his skills and I’ll always will. Being there so few to describe, every word counts in describing emotions and the rest of the universe. A rare, rare talent, Mr. Jones.

GAME EXPERIENCE OVERALL: The game is too DAMN SHORT. If Ascending a “novella length”, Genesis is a 2 words hermetic poetry. Unbearable. When i started to feel fine with the game (at the very beginning; it was really COOL FFS), the game ended. More: there is a grand total of four locations, and one is completely optional. In the sense that, if you’d remove it, no one would notice. Another one exists just for the sake of letting us see “Jimmy the pointless NPC”. So, after a very intriguing first room (and beginning) you remain with a handful of nothing. What a waste. Although I sense there is a meaning to this game, I feel like it could have just been appended to Dreaming instead of being released as a standalone. There’s nothing actually new (we already questioned ourselves about the dream-affected reality: we didn’t need e rehearsal) and what is there is so ephemeral that you question if it finally exists.

ANDROMEDA SCALE: So, Joey didn’t repeat himself. This game didn’t leave me with anything much to reason about. Although I understand the points taken by Wade and Paul, I think that it needed more developing and more time. I hope Joey will address these things in future releases. I still love his characters and his ideas. And, more so, I love the way he writes.

Edit to add: Another thing that sent me mumbling. This game has another unfulfilled potential. The characters (again). We know them, we loved them. Just spending some time with them, chatting, interacting, doing THINGS, would have made up for a great sequel. How many times, let’s be honest, we read a book because we know the characters in it. Or a series on tv? Or a sequel at the movies? Do we really need to see MORE fighting from Neo in Reloaded? Do we really need to solve another mystery in CSI: Las vegas? Do we really care about the outcome of the Nth case by Kay Scarpetta? Nope. We want to pass some more time with those characters, and that’s all. That’s why the lack of content in Genesis is what sends it down the scale… Fortunately, this is a thing Joey (or anybody) can easily correct.

This is (one of) the kinds of superb writing I was babbling about.
I have explanations, Wade [emote]:)[/emote]

Han is Sen Kulpa’s parent or grandparent, if I’m not mistaken and mixing characters. One of the first 13 Councillors. Councillors have a heritage right on the election. Phelios is the satellite where the Knowledge is stored (along with all the super-secret Initatives). The MS12 technocracy knew about the hyerotropes (must check Ascending to catch Who’s living on MS12).

But then, read how he managed to give STRENGTH to this sentences, to make them LIVING. The comment (the kind of paranoic etc.) is VALIDATING all that’s around. And, finally, “Misa (who’s he/she?), in The Modernity of the Ancients…”. That’s a BOOK, Wade. We now have a BOOK in Andromeda. And you don’t NEED to read it. Just being there is enough!


Please, somebody make a new game on Andromeda. Now. [emote]:)[/emote]

Thanks for the explanations… though this time, I didn’t mean that I didn’t understand what the prose was saying [emote]:)[/emote] What I meant was that when I quoted it out of context to people only reading my review, it might not have made sense to them.

  • Wade

Thanks for the feedback everyone! Always there is a gulf between what I want to achieve and what I give myself time to achieve. This game was actually unintentionally a speedif, having wrote the majority of it on the day of submission. It’s a terrible habit that I’m trying to get out of. I’ve already got a serious amount underway with the postcomp version.

And that makes is happy!

So should I hold off playing Genesis before that postcomp version? You’re the author, you tell me. [emote]:)[/emote] I’m playing Ascending at the mo.

I’d say hold off. Should have a post-comp version out within a week or so.

Right you are then!

So, after some time, here is the roster of the Competition. Please say Gratz to:

  1. Andromeda Ascending by Jim Warrenfeltz
  2. Andromeda Genesis by Joey Jones

The top prize, € 200, go to Jim! Hurray for Jim!
The second best prize, € 100, go to Joey! Hurray for Joey!

Also, the “best supplemental materials” have no real winner, as Jim was the only one presenting (at least) a cover.
It is up to Zurlocker to determine if he has gained the rights for the prize he was offering.

Please, contact me and Zack Urlocker for your prizes!

And nice IFComp to all who will be playing this time!

Roger an’ out,

I enjoyed both games–and I look forward to replaying the post-release versions, too. I know both authors worked hard to make their games fun and meaningful.

Just remember, though, it’s not placings that are important, folks. It’s whoever used “cyanotic” best that really counts.

Congrats all both! [emote]:D[/emote]