I launched this year’s comp season by playing “Fourbyfourian Quarryin’” by Andrew Schultz. Given the rhyme scheme in the title, I expected some wordplay, perhaps involving numbers or words which included numbers, or four letter words or somesuch. The game is, in fact, a chess simulator written in Inform. The simulator is put to use here to present a series of end game puzzles with four select pieces on a five by five board. My chess skill was at just the right level that I found the puzzles workable and fun. A more experienced player might solve them immediately. The game includes a light back story to hold it all together. Overall, a cool programming trick, and I suspect modular enough that it could be expanded to host more challenging problems.
Next I tackled Arthur DiBianca’s “Grandma Bethlinda’s Remarkable Egg”. This is a light puzzle involving (mostly) one word commands. The egg does indeed respond to a remarkable variety of commands, and there are a ton of “Easter Eggs” hidden in this egg story. I doubt I discovered even a fraction of them, as reached the most basic end state in a half hour or less. The fun of this will be going back to see what I missed.
Third game I played was “The Song of the Mockingbird” by Mike Carletta, which was my favorite of these three. Another parser game, this more traditional than Schulz’s chess simulator or DiBianca’s puzzle box. I liked the setting, a post-Civil War Texas western. There are puzzles are modestly challenging, but I managed to finish without the hints. The post-script notes are fun to read, full of interesting facts about the historical context and inspirations for the characters and the game.