I guess most people do this sooner, but right after finishing the game I get to a point where I didn’t even want to think about it for a while! Now that a few months have passed, I’ve had some time to consider what I’d like to improve in the future. This was the first project I did in Inform and I was still learning a lot on-the-go. I’ve since learned about the extension ‘Hybrid Choices’ which allows you to switch into a menu-based choice mode at designated points, which is great for implementing NPC interactions and sequences with a lot of forward momentum. I’d like to go back and improve the game in a few areas by using it.
Something else I wasn’t too happy about in the final game was the ‘creation’ ending (as opposed to the ‘destructive’ one where you retrieve the solar gun from the trouble tank, which most people did) – that’s the one where you build the xylosphere. As I was making the game, I thought that since the station’s goal was to adjust the planet’s ecosystem, it would be fun to let the player actually create the environment in the lab, so I starting putting in the pieces with the intent of coming up with why it would be necessary later. (This is my typical process with puzzles–I kind of make a lot of stuff first and then look for ways it could be a puzzle). I had a general idea that the final stages of the game would require entering the xylosphere, but when I got to that point, I realized I didn’t have a way to make that make sense. In order to make that chain of puzzles not be pointless, I created a rather hastily, disconnected alternate solution where making the xylosphere gets you a different gun to use on the nockbeast, but I’d like to put in a way to make the xylosphere lead to a completely different way of dealing with the invader (maybe a nonviolent solution, based on some plants or life forms you can find in the sphere?)
Overall, I really enjoyed Parsercomp and it was fun working with a theme! I hope the contest is held again this fall.
I ended up solving that optional puzzle both ways, because I never realised that my reward for that little bit of terraforming was going to be the same thing that I’d already gotten by being destructive.
Also, there were plenty of hints about demerits, plenty of little things that had reactions - the first one I encountered was drinking the adult drink. By the time I saw the tank, it became obvious to me that here was a puzzle to be solved and I had to rank up enough demerits, even if I didn’t like it.
Which, incidently, I didn’t. The game is very well written and I was successfully immersed in it; I did not want to cause any trouble. But, needs must when your mother’s life is on the line! If I’d known about the alternative solution I probably would have gone for it.
(not that there wasn’t a thrill to wringing that placard off the wall!)
FYI. I also took the trouble to clean the little nockbeasties in the corridor before the docking bay. It didn’t seem to do much to the game, but it felt satisfying.
I really enjoyed your game, BTW. Seriously good. I’m looking forward to getting to your Quest games, but hope you’ll do more with Inform. It’s portable - I play it on my iPod anywhere I go, so I’ll be able to enjoy your games more.
EDIT - You’ll find this amusing, I’m sure - I was so immersed in the game that as soon as I’d rescued the PC’s mother I went straight to their apartment and put her on the bed.
Of course, then I found out I had to drag her somewhere else entirely. But that was my first reaction. When a game gets me doing these things, that game has, in my book, succeeded at all the right things.
Was this in the version I tested? I made the xylosphere but didn’t find a different gun or in fact a way to get into the xyloshpere.
Could there be a way of trapping the beast in the xylosphere, or would that completely ruin the xylosphere too much? Some way of teaching it to munch nonsentient plants?
One thing here is that there’s a clear goal in getting yourself into the trouble tank–it may not be obvious exactly what the use of the thing in the trouble tank is, but it’s clearly useful–and you’re likely to start down that path accidentally which gives you a good sense of what you need to do to get into the trouble tank even if you don’t know all the details of how to do it. Whereas the xylosphere was a fun thing to fiddle with but (at least in the beta version) there wasn’t a clear problem that was to be solved by fiddling with it.
In other words, what Peter said on preview–except that I had a fantastic time racking up enough demerits to get into the Trouble Tank. I was all about causing trouble. I felt bad about spending money though.
It’s nice to know that different people had different reactions to the demerits system and I’m really glad you found the world engaging! Having the xylosphere give an alternate gun really was a last-minute addition just so it would have a point–that’s why it seems to come out of nowhere, and why I’d like to go back and fix that part up a little.
I unfortunately didn’t participate in ParserComp in any way (other than sidelines-cheering), so didn’t play this before today.
My reactions echo Peter’s and Matt’s, including the fact that I went ahead and got the beam after getting the pistol, even though I had a sneaking suspicion that I was in fact looking an alternate routes. But, as they said, racking up a high score was irresistibly fun (the calendar, the sign!), and discovering the long confessional at the sorry-pad was a great payoff too.
Amusement 1: I first tried to put mom’s identisphere in the chamber, thinking that maybe she’d gotten mulched, and this would build me a fresh clone of her. It was covered with her sap, after all! Seemed as likely as anything else… plant-people, who knows!
Amusement 2 / Critique: The single place I felt truly stuck was the same spot that someone else needed a hint with, elsewhere on the forum. (https://intfiction.org/t/help-with-chlorophyll/8085/1) The fact that the cooling unit was a functional container (in the Inform sense) threw me off, I think. (I might suggest catching attempts to put things in it by suggesting the player just mosey on in, instead.)