Dark Carnival (game announcement)

Hey all, I made another game. Hope you like it.


You can DL it from this post if you don’t want to wait for the archive upload.

Dark Carnival.gblorb (1.65 MB)

For anyone familiar with previous MTW titles, it’s worth noting that this latest offering sets itself apart with a nicely off-the-rails exploration element and some carefully crafted NPCs.

Also, I’ve finally allowed players to “undo”. :stuck_out_tongue:

Dude, I can see the rails right there in the photo.

:laughing: I coasted right into that one.

“When he heard a loud snap and his roller coaster cart flew across the theme park unconstrained, Jack knew he was in for some nice off-the-rails exploration.”


Quick update: game is ready for download and online play on the ol’ IFDB.


edited to add: I have a pdf of the map for those interested.

[size=85]I couldn’t find any other discussion for this game (which I played yesterday), so I’ll use this spot.[/size]

A good game; your craftsmanship is improving prodigiously with each new effort. The incorporation of a “topics” indicator during conversation was especially appreciated. The areas I enjoyed most were the House of Freaks and the Funhouse; the latter reminded me much of a pretty cool roadside attraction/funhouse in Michigan called “The Mystery Spot,” though that was circa thirty years ago and I doubt the place is still there.

Though I enjoyed playing overall,

what ought have been a fast-paced climactic action sequence (confronting the villain) at the end turned into a boring and frustrating affair. Given the size of the map and Wyatt’s random movement, I wandered around for what seemed an eternity before finding him-- twice. When I first barged into his office to confront him (with evidence in hand) he teleported me to the Funhouse, and I had walk around and around a very large map to find him again. Then when I finally accused him, he teleported me to the underground. Again, I had to wander around to find him-- not too long this time, but still the point is this entire process was tedious when my excitement should instead have been incited to a fever pitch in these moments of high drama.

I saw two minor bugs:

[spoiler]1) The first time I rode the Ferris Wheel revealed a minor formatting problem in the output text, which appeared as (sic):

You hop in one of the seats and Royce cranks the machine to life. You lift into the air on the wheel until you are on top of the ride, looking over most of the carnival. Before the ride comes to a stop and you disembark, you take a look around from the highest point and see no one of note about.
no one of note about.
no one of note about.
no one of note about.
Janice Parker is near the Dunk-a-Clown Booth. Filmore the Clown is near the House of Freaks Entrance. Jonathan Boom is near the Thoroughfare. no one of note about.
no one of note about.
no one of note about.
no one of note about.
no one of note about.

  1. I slipped off the rock bridge into the river while my lighter was lit, but the lighter thereafter no longer provided light-- not entirely unreasonable. Yet the description of the lighter still said it was lit, and so I could not re-light it (nor could I find a way to extinguish it). I was therefore inherently lost in the caves (due to darkness) and had to reload from a saved game. On the second try I found the luminous mushroom (I hadn’t found it yet on the first try), which may have made the issue moot-- but still, the lighter’s behavior seems erratic in the original case.[/spoiler]

I have one further suggestion-- given the style of game for which you’re consistently striving, in the future you may want to consider incorporating a short (yet very simple and intuitive in terms of mechanics) action sequence at the start of play. Consider, for example, any James Bond film-- typically these begin with an exciting vignette portraying Bond in the climactic moments of a previous adventure. The title credits then roll (per the chosen medium always visually intruiging and accompanied by a catchy tune) and only after all this does narrative groundwork for the current episode commence. The point of this process is to generate immediate enthusiasm in the audience that will hopefully keep their engagement high during a potentially dry bit of initial exposition and character development (or, in the case of an IF game, during basic world exploration). Even if we’re completely unfamiliar with the character of Bond, within five minutes of the start of the picture we now know he’s a vigorous man of action who ruthlessly pursues high-stakes endeavors, and we eagerly want to pay rapt attention to everything that follows. In horror literature, HP Lovecraft (presumably you’re a fan of his) didn’t often use such devices-- however Arthur Machen routinely did use a similar technique, and Lovecraft himself very much admired Machen’s work. My point is, the traditional model of an IF game typically features a protagonist with de facto (if not explicitly stipulated) amnesia, and gameplay crawls along at a snail’s pace while passing off fundamental boundary exploration and preliminary fact-finding as the primary elements of the entire experience. The interesting bit of most games, however, should be the potential for interaction-- assessing facts to make value judgements, then acting upon those decisions and exploring the consequences. The traditional model is merely traditional-- not obligatory, and perhaps not even usually best. A desire to make a fun game is an entirely respectable goal (and does not in any way preclude literary merit); thus a narrow model developed by those for whom communicating some artistic or thematic message to an audience is a far more important (even singular) objective need not be used as a guide unless such is in fact one’s own purpose.

Again, you’ve done a nice job with Dark Carnival. Keep making the games you want to make, and don’t pay much heed to anybody hassling you about this or that.

Thank you for the kind words, bug report, and overall impressions of the game. I have no quarrel with anything you brought up; it’s all true. And I thank you for pointing out the anti-climactic feel to the end bit. I think I was more excited with finally having made a simple combat system complete with wandering NPCs to make replay fun to notice that, overall as a set piece, it might not come together literary-wise.

Currently, I’m working on an ambitious piece for Spring Thing 2014 and it is NOT in the same “nameless detective” series.

Thanks again! :mrgreen: