Beta testers wanted for a medium length IF

Hey all.
Working on my first full length IF. Now, I’ve been around the block as a programmer and a writer, so this isn’t some confused virgin attempt at IF—or I certainly hope it isn’t. Only time will tell :wink: I think I have a firm grasp on game design and on IF and fiction in general.

WIP title is Zlike Dungeon though I may have to think harder on a better title :wink:

The goal: a classic styled IF, but not too classic. In other words, capture the fun of a game like Zork without the dead ends, mazes, and easy-to-make-unwinnable gameplay. Only the good parts. The mystery. The cool puzzles.

Since it is modular in its construction, with each layer of the world as you go deeper into these mysteries being its own little puzzle, I’d love to beta test this layer by layer to save on killing beta testers with some giant, unwieldy game. In other words, layer or level one is the old house, which has puzzles that need to be completed to go down farther and is almost a self contained mini game.

Some features, a few already implemented:

  • A normal and hard difficulty. Normal won’t let you make the game unwinnable by dropping important items or passing a one way threshold without important things being found. Hard is, well, you’re on your own.
  • 6 or 7 layers, each getting deeper, starting at your strange grandparent’s house, and ending deep in the heart of a long dead civilization.
  • Each layer has a puzzle to solve in order to continue.
  • Extremely limited use of diagonal directions or strange looping exits. Let’s face it. They aren’t fun.
  • No hand holding, but plenty of hints. And not the in joke MIT hints you have to have a PhD to figure out. Just, you know, hints.
  • Magic that is used for puzzles and worldbuilding. And getting these magic powers is done in a very odd way. Without spoilers, let’s just say one has to be very…hungry…for power.

So, the first level (an inaccurate word but maybe the best way to say it) is almost done. So if anyone is interested, let me know. I need you to break my game. I have faith in you! Break it, break it, break it!

Following is the opening text as it stands now:

[code]Your grandparents were always a little…strange.

Your parents always clammed up when you brought grandma and grandpa up. Secretly, you think your parents thought them mad, or maybe slipping into senility.

But oh the stories they told you as a child! You remember them fondly, as they were both dark and a little goofy. Deep caves teeming with people! And those very people eating very strange things to absorb magic properties! Oh how you laughed at that, these magical people eating little carved statues or crunching on rocks. And then some great fall…

So strange, now that you think about it on the long drive to their home—a trip you took since they stopped answering calls and emails—just how sad they seemed telling that last part.

It was almost like they believed it.

Your car crunches gravel as you roll up the driveway, and the first thing you see is their body little old house, lightless and lifeless.

They were stories, right.

Of course they were…[/code]


Update: 1/18/17
Beta v1.63 (hotfix of a hotfix, yay!)
Beta of first level

OK, for anyone who is interested in beta testing the first level (and thank you!), here we are. A shared zip file via Google Drive. Included in it is a web interpreter (play.html), the story file (the gblorb), a PDF with some beta notes, etc. Use the web interpreter if you want, or any Glulx interpreter of your choice (Lectrote seems to be a great one, and actively developed, and much better than anything else currently on OS X at least).

Take a look at the PDF for some of the new commands, like special beta testing commands. For example, the command ‘screen reader’ activates the special screen reader mode that turns code symbols into numbers so those who can’t see said symbols can still enjoy figuring out the secrets hidden in the messages.

And please type ‘script’ to activate a transcript, and send me that file at kris at klneidecker dot com. Feel free to reach out to me at any time at that email as well.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0By4XtP5_vJjsdUZJeGpjYWl3VEk/view?usp=sharing (updated URL with a few minor hotfixes, including a mistake that made it impossible to tell one can go “down” from the kitchen)

While you test the first level, I’ll be getting the second level ready, where much of the meat of the game starts to be seen.

Thanks again!

I tend to be a very lousy parser player (in the puzzliest pieces, I can hardly get a few steps without needing some help) but I would be happy to help!

Hello.

I am interested in testing the game.
It would be my first experience in testing a game not in my native language, but I would like to try.

Great, thanks my friends. Both of you would be great testers as I want the game to be accessible to all, including those who don’t like parser puzzles and non native speakers. And the visually impaired as well, so if anyone wants to beta test via a screen reader let me know.

In the end, I want this to be challenging but fair. Well written but not too literary. A game as much as a fiction, and fiction as much as a game. Sort of riding a fine line here but it’s the kind of game I like.

Actually, I am using a screenreader.
I am glad the game will be accessible.
Thank you for that.
I will be glad to help.

After reading the opening tekst… Do you have room for one more tester?

I sure do!

I am banging away on the first level as we speak. As soon as I have it in working order, puzzles, locations, etc. I’ll be letting everyone know. Maybe in a day or so, as I’m moving along pretty fast.

No doubt, that’s my main goal here. Working on a solution that allows one to turn on or off a screen reader compatibility mode that changes a few bits of play to make things smoother with screen readers. For example, the game has a secret alphabet (using cool Unicode symbols), for secret messages left by the strange civilization. Of course that won’t work super great with a screen reader.

As in, a circle with a line in it may be an “A”, and so on. So the player can slowly gather and note the secret characters and what they map to in our alphabet, and sooner or later be able to maybe get some lore or hints from encrypted messages.

For more information, Luel, please look at this topic: [url]https://intfiction.org/t/screen-reader-users-and-or-visually-impaired-individuals/10997/1] where I am throwing around ideas on how to make that work, so please drop me a line with what would work for you.

I would like to be added as well! Your intro was intriguing. :slight_smile:

Sounds really interesting. I don’t have time right at the moment to do testing, but maybe later on, when you get to the deeper levels and need someone to go through multiple levels at once for consistency and overall gameplay testing, I could be of more help then. I’ve done beta testing before and can be very thorough both in gameplay and in text editing.

I did notice something odd in the intro you quoted: “the first thing you see is their body little old house, lightless and lifeless.” What’s a body little house? I can’t even think what that would be a typo for.

Lol! I know. Already changed that in game a few days ago but not in here yet. Typed that intro on a phone so I blame autocorrect. Who even knows what it corrected.

The first level beta is up, link in the original post :slight_smile:

I get different descriptions for the Front Yard location with glulxe and with the web interpreter play.html that came with your package.

With glulxe 0.5.3.146 (downloaded from ifarchive.org)

[code]Front Yard
The front yard of your grandparent’s home slopes down steeply from the quaint two story abode into a two lane country road. The house itself, tan in color and covered in obviously new siding, stands to your north. The locked and closed front door blocks you from entry.

The driveway slopes gently to the west before emptying out onto the road, and the edge of the small wooden deck peaks out around the corner of the house to the west.

You can see a front door and a mailbox (closed) here.[/code]

And with play.html

[code]Front Yard

The front yard of your grandparent’s home slopes down steeply from the quaint two story abode into a two lane country road. The house itself, tan in color and covered in obviously new siding, stands to your north. The locked and closed front door blocks you from entry.

The driveway slopes gently to the west, your car parked a hunder feet down, before emptying out onto the road, and the edge of the small wooden deck peaks out around the corner of the house to the northeast.

You can see a front door and a mailbox (closed) here.[/code]

The difference is that play.html says something about the car and glulxe doesn’t.

Indeed! I updated the zip with the hotfix game file, but it didn’t update the special interpreter version of that file, and that’s the crux of the situation. Should be fixed now, thanks!

Do you have an ETA for part 2?

I’d like to test it.