Cyanotic reviews of SPRING THING 2012 Available

Hey peeps.

I started reviewing this year’s games.

Let me know what you think. It’s still a hobby to me and I’m quite the rookie.

There you go.


Thanks for the reviews! I’m a really lazy player, so I love it when someone else vets the games for me.

P.S. I can’t tell if this is what you meant to ask at the end of the Egg & Newbie review, but “red herring” is a phrase meaning something that the player/reader thinks will be important, but turns out to be meaningless and just there to distract from whatever the real important thing is:

Yeah, I know. What I meant was what with all those recurrences?

I may be wrong, but I recall a physical “red herring” in an ancient game (maybe by Steve Meretzky? Was it in LGoP?) which I can’t possibly remember the use. Maybe it’s just a kind of homage to that early game?

Anyway, now that a walkthrough is out I might be giving The Egg another try (after I’m done betatesting Spiral, and after I’ve done betatesting Lunar Base 1 and after I’ve done reviewing the other ST games…).

Never trust others’ tastes. Play the game by yourself. Reviews are something very personal, at least in my case given I don’t offer too much of an insight but plain “I liked/disliked it”.

No, it’s just that “red herrings” are as much a part of an adventure game as they are part of mystery novels and whodunnits: they’re not in all of them, but they are a fundamental part - for various reasons - of both genres, and can be expected to be found.

As such, a game can have tons of red herrings (see Sorcerer) and they’re not hommage to anything - they’re just red herrings.

An example of a useful red herring, though, can be found in Monkey Island - I suspect it’s one of the (many, many) things that put that game on the map.

I know what a red herring is, both in physical and in metaphorical form.
In this game, specifically, you can find tons of RH scattered all around. Not having finished the game I’m not sure about their use.

I’m sorry I didn’t make myself clear - they probably aren’t meant as hommage, and I assume this because of their long tradition in adventure games (more in IF than graphic adventures). They’re probably just there because the author likes red herrings, much like Meretzky. Reading things into it like “an hommage to Meretzky” is probably too much - yes, Meretzky used and abused and overabused red herrings, but that’s about it.

In fact, the way you’re scratching your head about them, wondering about what possible use could they have (or to avoid confusion: wondering why the author went to the trouble of implementing them)… means those red herrings were very, very successful. :slight_smile:

EDIT: On a side-note: would an item that is of no practical use (isn’t required, neither directly nor indirectly, for the solving of a puzzle or the advancement of the game) but provides non-critical background information (or just atmosphere) to the game… would it be considered a red herring?

Mmmmh. I don’t think so. Those are important objects. A red herring has to point you in the wrong direction, not tell you something that adds to the story, isn’t it?

But then again:

There is a coyote ingame I have to get rid of. Makes me think the herrings could be used against him… thus making them non-red-herrings.

You’re right, of course - I kept thinking about some red herrings in Sorcerer, which didn’t point anywhere, they just existed and sat there all but crying “Look at me! I can be very useful!”. I thought “well, those aren’t pointing anywhere”, but in fact they were, because of the open nature of Sorcerer: in a game like that (in other words: in a non-linear, open game), just seeming to be useful can be misleading and divert an entire train of thought by experimentation - experimentation which will all turn out to be a complete waste of time.

there was a ‘real’ red herring in monkey island, but it served a purpose.

You are right.
Infact I think a red herring must NOT point in the wrong direction but just distract you from the right one.

Anyway: that waste of time you talk about is sooooo 80s. Bad design, nowadays.

Yeah, I know:

Jamespking: I wouldn’t know about “bad design”. Red herrings make the overall game harder, generally speaking, but it’s not as tedious as, say, unoriginal mazes. Well-designed and implemented red herrings (again, Sorcerer) do stick in your mind, and you remember them as well as the main game itself.

Maybe we don’t see them so much any more because IF and adventure games have become much more linear (generally speaking). Red herrings don’t make sense any more, unless it’s to intentionally trick a player into going down a wrong path of reasoning when, if he chooses to explore further, he’ll be able to make the right choice instead (case in point: Heavy Rain, near the end).

Red herrings may be part of bad design, yes - in very open games with puzzles that don’t even look like puzzles, lots of red herrings will confuse to the point where one just can’t take it anymore. But the RH in themselves are hardly bad design.

Really, “waste of time” is par for the course in an open game with lots of exploration: you have to experiment, and waste some time, and flush a lot of good ideas that just didn’t pan out. RHs just made the matter a bit more devious - and more realistic - by forcing you to accept that not everything has to have a use.

sorry for not reading thoroughly and coming up with that monkey island stuff again…oops

The Monkey Island red herring was special because in order to solve a puzzle, you were told to use a “totally useless item that serves no purpose”. By definition, that’s a red herring. The funny part is the resulting paradox; since you now use that useless item to solve the puzzle, how can it be useless to begin with?

The red herrings in The Egg and the Newbie are in fact quite useful. You can sell them.

Again, you are right. Let’s say that it depends on the kind of story you are playing. If it is a puzzle-story then it is part of the game. If it is a story-story, then it would take away from the flow, and that is a mistake imho.

I think IF may be the right place (as opposite to a regular novel, i.e.) where to add things that are not part of the story and to that story don’t even add anything, just an additional course or diversion. Nowadays, tho, it seems that having just the right number of things useful to complete the game is rarely seen as a bad thing. But I guess this is no universal law…

My personal theory, for what it’s worth, is that a game should have (not MUST have, just, “it’s a nice idea”):

A single object that can be used to solve two puzzles.

A puzzle with two alternate solutions (preferably using different objects).

An optional puzzle – something you don’t have to figure out in order to finish the game.

An object that appears to be possibly useful, but that in fact does nothing useful.

These criteria make the solution “map” less linear. They’re a way of avoiding “find-X, use-X” syndrome.

Apropos of which, I believe it was John Barth who said that a novel should always have exactly one significant coincidence. If there are no coincidences at all, the fictional world will seem too rigid and deterministic. But if there are two or more coincidences, the reader will begin to suspect that the novelist is cheating.

The game Calm is actually designed with the first three in mind and includes the fourth.

Last game(s) reviewed.

I’d like some feedback (on the reviews themselves, not the games) cause I’m still dizzy with such a job. I don’t know if I’m fit to.

Although I don’t think any bad review of my reviews will make me stop reviewing.

Regarding my red herrings: I thought it would be fun to put physical red herrings in a game that were actually useful instead of misdirecting, a misdirection in its own right so to speak. That said, I am learning a lot by tuning into comments like these. Thanks.