Ectocomp 2012

So far I have entries from:

Mel Stefaniuk
Hulk Handsome
Wade Clarke and
Carolyn VanEseltine

I have to go to work now, I’m actually late, so I won’t be able to upload them to my website until later today. If anyone has sent an entry who isn’t on this list, please resend!



I am happy to add Taleslinger to the list; for some reason his game got spammed but has been recovered now making six entries. I will be uploading them to my website with the voting form this evening.

That gave me quite a scare, in keeping with the theme.

I’m assuming I should wait until the judging is over before releasing a new version to the public?

At last the witching hour is upon us! The diabolical Ectocomp 2012 games are now ready to download!

Here’s a link to the official page with a link to the games and judging form:

Have fun playing, and pleasant dreams…


Is it okay for me to post a newer version somewhere as long as I make it clear that anyone who intends to vote needs to vote based on the original entry?

If the changes are improvements you made outside the three hours then yes, you should make that clear. Personally I would leave it until after the competition. If the original is for some reason unwinnable or unplayable I’d be happy to substitute the new one, as it makes the competition more fun for players; I’m sure the other authors wouldn’t mind.

Hah, I’m just impatient to get the much more polished version out. I guess for now I’ll just circulate it among friends.

Oh, this was supposed to be an ADRIFT comp? Oops! Looks like I’ve lost any chance of not placing last. Still, as long as someone enjoys my game, I consider my entry a success.

Here are my comments on the other games (scores removed):

What Are Little Girls Made Of? | Carolyn VanEseltine |

Reminds me of Fear Street and Emily Short’s Glass. The writing was pretty good (and liked the story concept) but most of the game is just waiting in a line. A version with more interaction could end up being quite a cool little story.

Also, the warning at the start of the game made me expect much more gore.

Beythilda the Night Witch | DCBSupafly |

The poetic prose didn’t do much for me, but I liked the idea and the implementation was good for a Speed IF!

Ghosterington Night | Wade Clarke |

A simple but charming little treasure hunt game with some very fun writing. Also felt most like a game out of all the entries. Enjoyed this one a lot.

Parasites | Marius Müller |

I would have liked this a lot more if it was implemented better (or gave the player clearer directions), I kept getting stuck trying to figure out the correct commands, to the point that I almost just stopped playing. Despite this, I really enjoyed the story (and both endings), and the fact that you have a sheep companion. Was really close to being my favourite.

The Evil Chicken Of Doom 3D | Mel Stefaniuk |

The actual game is a bit naff, luckily it makes up for it with some very amusing writing and sweet 3D effects.

Ectocomp started out as an Adrift comp but has been multi-platform for a couple of years. If multi-platform is the word I want.

What are the rules about things like commenting on entries this month?

…because, well, it’s a speed IF. So there’s a lot of temptation to comment.

Ghosterington Night | Wade Clarke

A treasure hunt! Bad poetry! Cruel deaths that’d make people go berserk outside Speed-IF!

Seriously, though, I think this game shows good planning and also shows why Inform has an advantage over GUI-based programs in speed-if. You can type up a whole lot and throw it in–while source code with other languages is well-nigh impossible, from what I see. Quest having XML, and Adrift having XML and compression. I don’t know about ALAN.

I’d seriously recommend upping the time limit for non-text file-based programming languages to level the playing field, because it’s easy to see how an author could plan/type out the basics of any of the Inform or Twine games in this comp without ever starting an actual IDE.

[spoiler]I don’t know if this was my own thickness, but it took me forever to find the fourth poem, which is (super double secret spoilered)

[rant]in the mouth, provided you can answer a puzzle.[/rant]

I mean, I should and could have seen it, but I was busy looking for secret passages or maybe finding the 4th paper inside the painting. So that could’ve been clued, but that’s tricky in 3 hours. I will send the author a few other minor quibbles.

Having said that, I enjoyed the different endings for the # of poems found, the different ways to get rid of the clockwork girl, and the deathtraps.

The game is potentially unwinnable but you really have to do stuff wrong, and it’s not hard to restart and do things better. I like how it’s tougher to avoid the two monsters as you get more poem-pieces and how running around the mansion lets you know what’s where. Also, there are no safe rooms, only semi-safe ones. There’s a lot of puzzle for a little bit of code.[/spoiler]

The Hunting Lodge | by Hulk Handsome

Given the author, I was sort of expecting a mounted moose head that gave you a raspberry or wet willy when you weren’t looking, or perhaps a Big Mouth Billy Bass gone bad.

[spoiler]However, the game’s much more serious than that, and I think it does a pretty good job. I probably won’t be the first to point out some mislabeled directions, but the game seems about the right size, and if it railroads you a bit, the chase with the beast is nice. Bonus points for offering a score–though I think one fundamental problem is that the chase is a bit too easy with ‘listen’ and a bit too tough without it, and I don’t see a middle ground. It’s tough to implement this in 3 hours but I’d have liked some beast deterrent, maybe something that keeps it from a room, somewhere in the lodge.

But this is mechanical tweaking. It’s still well done and tidy, and I found how the plot unfolded to be effective.[/spoiler]

What Are Little Girls Made Of? | Carolyn VanEseltine |

I saw what the author did there after a couple playthroughs, and the game wasn’t hard, so, yeah, I was able to see a lot.

[spoiler]The game seems to break down into whether you agree with Jennifer or follow what she does or not, but it makes good use of that–do you give into her dare or not? There’s also some good quick establishing who your friends are, and emotional and social fears blend nicely with more traditionally Halloweeny fears.

Stuff that’s hard to fix in 3 hours includes my trying to punch Jennifer near the end, only to see that she wasn’t to be seen despite her talking to me.

This is a very good idea for a speed-if and a short game, and it was executed well.[/spoiler]

Beythilda the Night Witch | DCBSupafly |

I really like the poetry here. It’s a good idea (and similar to the more complex Danse Nocturne in concept if not in scope–again, back to the whole Inform>>Adrift for speed comps) and while there’s still some verb-guessing, this wouldn’t have worked as a more standard text adventure. And I don’t think it would’ve worked as a book. But it was fun as a succession of short puzzles. The walkthrough was helpful, especially since

I seem to have skipped over a step.

Parasites | Marius Müller |

This felt a bit bland and while I enjoyed being able to end the game two different ways, a few things went undescribed and it seemed a bit railroady. However, there’s no verb guessing–just an exit or two–so you shouldn’t have much problem finding where to go. I liked the uncertainty of whom you were fighting.

Big thing I’d fix for post-release would be

allowing the player to ENTER SHACK as well as going in.

The Evil Chicken Of Doom 3D | Mel Stefaniuk |

I got lost here. I tried brute-forcing but nothing worked. The writing gave me a few laughs, but I had no idea what to do. Also, I was unable to see the 3-d effects, but I’m interested.

I think I need to climb the shed, but I was unable to make any sort of ladder from the chicken wire and spade. I think my unfamiliarity with ADRIFT verbs has put me in trouble.


I found it to be pretty difficult not to constantly make stupid jokes, hah.

I tried to counter this in a newer version by deducting more points or listening. You can either try to finish the game with pure luck and get the highest score, or listen a couple times to actually survive and receive a lower score. There are ranks now, too.

I considered adding a gun that the player could use to slow down the monster, but decided that would make the game way too easier, plus I think it’s scarier if the player has no way to defend themselves.

I think the game needs one more key mechanic to make it a really good game. I mean, I think it’s a fun game now, but it needs something else. Maybe the monster can drop treasure randomly that the player can pickup for extra points, encouraging them to risk hanging around the lodge more for extra points.[/spoiler]

Awesome! I was thinking maybe

[spoiler]Listening would cost time, maybe 2 seconds, when the monster might be able to catch you after the 5th listen e.g. it would get too moves.

Also I agree 1 more mechanic would make it very tidy indeed. Actually, I think a secret passage would be awesome. I mean, there’s sort of one in the cellar, but one that would help you might work well.[/spoiler]

I’m having difficulty playing the ADRIFT entries on a Mac – I’m guessing because they’re v. 5 rather than the older version that Gargoyle for Mac knows how to interpret. A little searching around suggests that I might be able to use the current runner with Mono, but I find that a daunting option. Is there another option for playing these, e.g. a Webrunner version?

I used the links here, provided by someone at the ADRIFT forums:

As an aside, I wonder how long before someone points out how silly it is that the lodge’s bathroom has three exits.

EDIT: Oops, I posted the links incorrectly, Wade has the right ones below.

Yeah, as a Mac user also I copied the ADRIFT 5 games to my own webspace then ran them with Adrift runner. The links are actually: … ECOD3D.taf

and … _Witch.taf

  • Wade

Sorry if the comments were meant to be happening on the Adrift forum, but I got confused initially when I posted over there and no-one else did. So here I am over here with my own comments on the games. Behind the scenes I’ll send the comments with my scores (I assume authors can vote, just not on their own games… as per previous Ectocomps?) to JJGuest:

[spoiler]What Are Little Girls Made Of? by Carolyn VanEseltine

This game had the strongest effect on me of the five entries I could play. The setting is vivid, Jennifer is especially ghastly and I could barely look the first time we went through the tunnel, since frankly I was expecting someone to be decapitated. I guess the obvious problem is that there are very few actions you can take – you mostly have to go forward listening to Jennifer and occasionally making a choice. Almost every speedif has to throw its weakness in a certain direction, and this one favours forward movement over sideways. But the game freaked me out and is well written, which is great for speedif.

Beythilda the Night Witch by DCBSupafly

I don’t think I’ve played a game that was in poem form before, so huge props for novelty. And the verse also created an effective atmosphere, with night falling and the villagers approaching etc. And I felt very sympathetic towards Beythilda. My problem was that this was the game with the most guess-the-command problems for me. Even though the ‘I don’t understand you’ verse was cute, I encountered it more in this game than in any other entry. The last scene was also strangely abrupt (but maybe not so strange if I assume the author was running out of time). Inevitably people like Beythilda who think in verse come across as a bit cute and likeable, even if they’re night hags.

The Hunting Lodge by HulkHandsome

I found it weird when this game started off that I was wandering around this house without anything happening. And that the house was so big I needed to map it. Coincidentally, at the moment I triggered the Wumpus 2012-like game, I had already mapped the whole lodge, so I was about as well prepared as a person could be to wield strategy in order to avoid the monster. And I did enjoy using the sound cues in that part of the game. I feel like I’ve seen acres of Twine games this past month, and this one demonstrated more programming tricks you can do with the platform, even if they are tricks that we could do on mainframes in the 1970s [emote]:)[/emote] I don’t understand the scoring (undo-ing from a winning game, then winning again, gave me a different score to what I got a previous turn, I think?) but I had fun.

Parasites by Marius Muller

I liked this game best as a good, typical IF combining some forward story movement with the ability to move around at will in the environment, done at speed if scale. The sheep didn’t do anything except be there, but who’s got time to program a sheep on top of everything else? The atmosphere of being out at this lab in the countryside was effective, and the handful of locations were used well. Unfortunately I couldn’t work out how to win. I got the impression the good ending was incomplete or bugged. I kept getting vaporised by the aliens, in spite of me possessing the RPG, which I tried to wield or fire in numerous ways. But after the messages about my vaporisation appearing, then a starred *** You have won *** would appear.

The Evil Chicken Of Doom 3D by Mel Stefaniuk

A lot of prose in this one, but I couldn’t get anywhere, and then I felt stuck in 2D. Though the game understood ‘kill chicken’ when I was unarmed, it paradoxically no longer understood that command or any other violent commands once I had acquired the axe. Then I replayed and got the axe again and this time it understood ‘kill chicken’, but claimed I was still trying to use my bare hands. Forgive me if I missed something obvious, but also, playing on the Adrfit Runner is very slow. So without 3D of any kind and without knowing how much more game there was after what appeared to be a bug, I had troubles.[/spoiler]


Undoing, do you mean refreshing the browser page or pressing back? If so, doing that messes up variables in Twine. It SHOULD all work fine if you use all the in-game links.

And yeah, one of my aims was to show that Twine can do more than a simple CYOA game. It’s a lot more powerful than many seem to think. It would be entirely possible to make a fairly complex RPG with it, complete with NPCs with their own schedules and such. It would just take a lot of work!

That is the good ending, but I think you need to see the bad ending to understand why. I don’t want to spoil it because it was my favourite part of the game. I THINK the correct command for the other ending is “shoot at blip” or something along those lines.[/spoiler]

I’ve been running the competition from this forum this year because it’s no longer an Adrift only competition. So please continue to post your scores and comments here. Yes, authors can vote but as in previous years votes for your own game will be ignored (I seem to remember one previous entrant gave themselves a million points out of ten.)