Chlorine's short thoughts on games (and some questions)

Hi, I’m not a big player of interactive fiction, having played a little on and off over several years. I’m excited to have stumbled back into the genre just at the beginning of the competition!

As I see others do, I will post my impressions about the games I’ve played here. I was wondering if there was any interest in having a way to categorise posts according to the games they talk about rather than by author? Either having specific threads for each game, or creating tags for each game?

I also would appreciate some clarification on what is considered a fair attempt at playing a game before submitting a rating. In particular, in a game with several endings, should I try to reach several endings or is reaching one (if I don’t feel moved to try and find the others) enough? In a game that’s supposed to last two hours, if I fail after one hour and 15 minutes, is it OK to stop playing and submit my rating?

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The incredibly mild misadventures of Tom Trundle

I think I’m a slow player and that the 2 hours time limit gave me only a very limited experience of the game, which seems very vast. Also I got a bit stuck and reached the time limit at a point that seems to be a turning point in the story so maybe things change a lot after that.

I really like this one. I thought it was very well written and immersive. The main character is a teenage boy and I felt his motivation for helping or not helping his friend could be a bit more clear but that’s just a minor grumble. Up to the two hours limit I felt the game was more story driven than puzzle driven, which I really liked (but then I stopped playing when I was stuck on a puzzle so maybe that changes after that point)

I had a few frustrating moments with doors that seemed to lock themselves of their own accord, and a small navigation issue, but that’s very minor and I overall really enjoyed this one.

EDITED to remove an erroneous comment about turn counters.

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Chorus

This is my first exposure to a web choice-based game. I felt it was very original but maybe I’ll find out that it’s very cliché after I play more of them? :wink:

I found the premise very interesting: you don’t play as a single character but rather have to coordinate the activities of several characters in order to perform tasks in the most satisfying and efficient possible way. Unfortunately I had trouble telling the characters apart and relating to what they liked/didn’t like, which made my choice a little random. The part of linear story that followed each choice also seemed long to me, given how I had put little investment in my choices, so that spoiled my enjoyment of this one.

I feel like shortening this one and/or reducing the number of characters, or increasing the number of choices during the tasks’ execution would have made it more enjoyable for me.

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Welcome, and thanks for joining the review threads.

Re: what’s a fair attempt, rule seven says “Judges must make a good-faith effort to play, as intended, every game that they submit ratings for. Conversely, a judge who did not or could not make a good-faith effort to play a certain game must not submit a rating for that game. The competition organizers reserve the right to disqualify any ratings that appear to have been submitted under any other circumstances.”

I expect they don’t try and dissect this further because they want that idea of ‘good faith’ to be the fundamental level of understanding. Most of us can tell when we’ve tried something sincerely and therefore in good faith.

I think the fact authors now supply play time estimations does complicate things a bit. It gives you a sense of how much there may be in the game. Are you obligated to play more if you die ‘early?’ If you entered in good faith, the hard answer is no. So, you died quickly. If you don’t want to continue, you don’t have to. Some will have a nagging (or screaming) feeling this will affect the score they’re delivering, or they may want to see more of what they expect is there. But some won’t, and I think anyone’s OK if they started in Good Faith. (This reminds me of that Peanuts cartoon about a dog called Good Authority)

Did you like your fifteen minutes of your two hour game? If not, don’t continue. But mentioning that in your review is a good idea. If you don’t feel like rating it then, because of that, don’t. If you do anyway for whatever reason, you’re entitled to.

Act in Good Faith and the calls are yours!

-Wade

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Thanks for your clarification, that helps a lot! :slight_smile:
Just to be clear: in the case I mentioned I lost one hour and 15 minutes after starting the game. If I had lost after 15 minutes only I would maybe have felt that I needed to try again. :slight_smile:

The Call of Innsmouth

This story is set in the Lovecraft universe and the main character is a private detective invstigationg a missing person case. This was a bit linear for my taste, with long sequences in which there were few if any choices to make (though some choices do have great impact) but it was well written and the story was engaging.

In previous years, some people created threads for each review, or added to the existing thread if there was one. I honestly prefer this method for the hope of fostering more discussion about each game, and also because it will make it easier to find reviews of a given game by anyone searching the board in the future. However, the “one thread per reviewer” method seems to have definitively won out this year, so my plan is to start a thread for my own reviews, but also start a thread for any games I’m particularly eager to talk about with others. In any such threads, it couldn’t hurt to include links to all the reviews I can find. For other games, we’ll have to rely on the review spreadsheet and the board search (adding tag:ifcomp2020,ifcomp2020-game to the search might help).

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible to add tags to individual posts.

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Thanks for your feedback! I’ll be looking for your posts about the games you want to discuss then. :slight_smile:

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Last house on the block

This one had me so confused! It’s a puzzle oriented one in which you search a house for a treasure, going from room to room to find clues and items.
I enjoyed the exploration quite a bit. The game is supposed to last one hour and I was quite far from the end after one hour, and stuck over something, so I figured I would look at the walkthrough to speed me up.

The first thing that the walkthrough says I should do when I’m in the house really confuses me. It is something I can do (I checked in game) but I really don’t know how I was supposed to find out, as there is absolutely no motivation to do it. I think there’s something missing from the walkthrough, which is the thing I got stuck on. I think if I could have resolved that the motivation for following with the rest of the walkthrough would have become clear.

So all in all it seems like an enjoyable puzzler but it did not work out for me.

ETA spoilers now that someone explained how to do it:

Summary

The light is switched off in the house, and the storage room in which there is a trapdoor leading to the attick is so dark that I can’t see the trapdoor. The walkthrough intstructs us to do a number of things to reach the trapdoor, but I feel like it misses a line explaining how to switch the light on, otherwise how do we now that we need to bring all this stuff to the storage room?

Thank you for taking the time to play my entry, The Call of Innsmouth, and sharing your thoughts on your playthrough. This is the first IF I have ever written, and I am appreciative of any feedback so I can learn and grow as an author.

I’m impressed that this is your first game! Thank you for making it. :slight_smile:

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I’m glad you enjoyed my game! (Tom Trundle) :grin:

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I was lucky to stumble on this game as the first one I played! Do you have en estimate of how long it is in total? At the time I stopped playing I was trying to enter the school and I felt there was much much more content waiting for me. :slight_smile:

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I had a similar experience with Tom Trundle, and having played the author’s previous games I expect many tricky puzzles ahead. I just wrote a review of it here: Stian's IFComp 2020 reviews

By the way, the number after the slash in the top is not the total achievable score, but the number of turns that have passed. That one has confused me too in the past :slight_smile:

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Thanks for stopping by! The author of the Tom Trundle game indeed informed me that what I was seeing was a turn counter. I’ve now edited my post to remove the comment.

Thanks for pointing your review, I enjoyed going through your thread though I doubt I could finish as many games as you! In the end I also want to get back to Tom Trundle after the comp is over.

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Ghostfinder - shift

I would say this one is a mix between parser and choice based, as the core of the game is about figuring who the murderer is by using a database search on people or places of interest, so you have to figure out what to search.
I thought this one was well written. I was a bit overwhelmed at first when I realised I was supposed to go through all the evidence and then I quickly was sucked in and had a lot of fun reading all the entries and figuring out how things were related. I was quickly drawn into jotting down notes to remember what things I had already researched and which one I hadn’t.

The difficulty was very nice for my taste: I had some figuring out to do but I was never stuck. I really enjoyed this one.

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Popstar Idol Survival Game

How would you rate a game that doesn’t work? Though the main focus doesn’t appeal to me I thought this game was really interesting because of all the possible choices and the way you can improve your dancing, singing, etc. skills to compete with other contestants in this reality TV show.
Unfortunately, as happened to other players, the game goes into a dead-end at the end of the first main event.

Re: Last house on the block

You can turn on your phone to get some light in the storage room. However, the phone only works for a limited number of turns, and I think I made the game unwinnable by turning it on too early.