Well, that’s no reason not to–I enjoyed this. I guess that’s what SpeedIF is for, to get things going again for bigger projects.

Re: postmortems, I can’t point the finger after my long IFComp bit. I’m interested in hearing what others have to write, short or long.

This certainly encouraged me to try a postmortem once I finish with some bug fixes in a current project. It’s hard to shift gears, though.

As an RHPS fan, I knew Brad was about to get caught in the rain and would need it.

Speaking as the organizer this year, this is something I’d love to see more of. Thanks for sharing yours!

Regarding the pervasiveness of the bride of the monster trope, I wonder if you have ever played “Marika the Offering” by James Webb? It’s an ADRIFT game where you’re in much the same role, but cleverly cast as an anti-escape the room game. Your goal is to prevent the monster from getting in before you fall asleep. James won the second ECTOCOMP back in '08 with “Drinks With Lord Hansom.”

I had a lot of fun making my games and am very happy with how they turned out (which is a first for me). In lieu of a postmortem, I’ll just post a walkthrough for each of my games in case anyone wants to take a second look.


[spoiler]The sequence puzzle can only be solved in the following order:

#1: Pump hemolymph - must be done at least three turns before Shed exuvium
#2: Secrete toxins - must be done two turns before Disengage cremastral hook and can’t be done first turn
#3: Charge propellants - requires three turns to become Detonate propellants
#4: Disengage cremastral hook - must be done at least two turns after Secrete toxins
#5: Retract proboscis - starts a two turn timer until death
#6: Shed exuvium - starts a one turn timer until death, and must be done after Pump hemolymph has cycled three turns
#7: Detonate propellants - this option won’t appear until three turns after Charge propellants, and all other choices must be completed or it will fail[/spoiler]

First Person:

[spoiler]This is the way I’d imagine it being solved:

x company
x bones
x take bone
x window
break window
out (there’s a bunch of synonyms for escaping… except for “escape”, which is really lousy on my part)[/spoiler]

Wow, is it over already? Somehow thought I had a few days left to vote. Congratulations to Caelyn Sandel and Carolyn VanEseltine, for their winning entry Candlesmoke! And a hearty thanks to Duncan Bowsman for taking over the running of the competition at very short notice following the death of my dad. In time I shall post some reviews on IFDB.

Ow JJ. So it was THAT bad. Sorry [emote]:([/emote]

I’m really sorry to hear that, JJ.

My first idea for my Ectocomp entry was pretty much First Person.

My second idea was to spookify some of the Inform 7 examples (think this) and put a couple together (like turning the picture in Slightly Wrong into the wight from The Unexamined Life, and making you teleport when you examine it), but I eventually felt that using so much already written source like that was against the spirit of Speed IF.

And I didn’t have a third idea, unfortunately. Maybe next year.

You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help out.

Regarding reviews, I’m realizing I still have to catch up with the past couple years of Ectocomp. I don’t even have a page up on ifwiki for my own game from 2011!

I don’t think I would disqualify a game like that, as long as you actually took the time to type it all instead of copy-pasting.

JJ, that is awful. Best wishes. I hope what can be taken care of, is.

As for my game:

[spoiler]I had another idea that never really panned out. Maybe I’ll use it next year. The puzzle came up some time around lunch on October 31st, which left not a lot of time to write in details. It arose from another story and idea pile which I junked, but I wrote some ideas for later.

However, what I -was- able to do was to look at the puzzle I got and try to make it robust and be sure it was solvable. I think I was real traumatized as a kid when I was given a 15-puzzle in an unsolvable formation. Or maybe I never really grasped the solution. Either way I was left feeling I wanted something simpler, and with a 3x3 map in my aborted game, I figured–what if, we could have a puzzle where certain people couldn’t run into each other? Originally, I had Republicans and Democrats, ridiculous even during election season, where if they ran into each other

(political ranting snipped)

Then I thought different types of warring undeads in a cemetery. But I decided on something that’d give a semblance of a story: big bullies vs little kids. I figured I could throw in some 80s nostalgia and silly quotes & so if people got stuck the kids would be fun to listen to.

Seeing if the puzzle was solvable wasn’t so tricky for me, as it’s the sort of thing I like to pay attention to. In my scratch I had reds and blues and


And the game wants


Now the reds probably should go down and right, and the blues should go up and left. Note there are only four moves, max, each move (three after the first, as there’s no point undoing,) and you want to make sure you leave a decent choice for the next one. From there I started pushing things around on scratch paper until I found a solution. Then I tried proving it was the best one, and I figured I could have a bit of fun with the ending if you got things done in 20 moves.

I figured it would take 2 hours to type the code, and I wrote in a bunch of edge cases and important rejects I had to test.

I had 15 minutes let when I submitted to Duncan just before midnight pacific time, I think (2 AM my time–so I got that procrastinatin’ rush in. I was both on time and not on time!) and he was gracious enough to allow me a few minutes to plug a hole I forgot with the time I had remaining.

I’m pleased with the puzzle as a puzzle. The story’s lacking, but I concentrated on the random talk-text and the mechanics, and I think that worked well, even if I could clue things better. The only bad part is, I can’t really use this puzzle in a bigger game, but I feel like it was a successful experiment, given the time I actually came up with the idea.

I should’ve alphabetized the streets to help the player. Part of me said dude, nothing fancy, go with 1st & Adams, 2nd & Bridge, 3rd & Canal, or something. But I do get distracted by cheap jokes–the names were especially confusing, as rock-paper-scissors sort of rotates, so you can’t tell which is at one end. Also, I’ll add scenery details post-comp. That’s even more important than clarifying the walkthrough/proof etc. (Oh, the incomplete sentence was a joke. I wrote the walkthrough first.)

Oh, one last thing: there’s a big hole in my game. I don’t know which kid belongs in which house, in which area! You can’t know that, and they’re probably wrong. I saw this around 9 PM. I hope it’s immersive enough nobody cared too much, but if anyone has a solution to help storify things, I’d love to give credit in my post comp release.[/spoiler]

I haven’t, but that does sound like a clever take on the concept! I’ll have to check it out.

Also, my condolences to JJ.

Thanks to the folks who threw this on and all the folks who participated. I found something to like in every entry (sorry for not doing notes on every game - I’ll do better in the future!), and it was really fun and collegial to participate in it. Some notes on some of the games and some post mortem-y kind of thing in some spoiler space:

Notes on entries:
I was really blown away by Lime Ergot. Evocative, creepy, harrowing theme, and I think the drill down technique really did much to contribute to a feeling of immersion. Touching up for a post-comp release would be most welcome. Devil’s Food was hilarious and ingenious (and the Porpentine homage was brilliant). It is Pitch Black was another great homage and alternately thrilling and grin-inducing to read. Never got to a winning state in Eclosion - I gave it two dedicated tries and I’d make decent progress… and then frustratingly mash links at near-random as I kept losing - pretty much my approach to any game really, but works great as a puzzle, economical yet expressively written. Also really liked Candlesmoke, Wedding Day, and A Fly on the Wall. I never watched Rocky Horror, the horror, so I failed at Carriage Returns (how far off was I? well, I tried to tell the waitress that this was damn fine coffee…). I would like to see an updated IDSPISPOPD, because that was 1) bizarre in a good way and 2) make me crack a smile more than once.

Post mortem on City of the Living Dead:

[spoiler]Okay, yeah, I was stretching the definition of horror as I expected others would define it for the comp, but I think that Curb Your Enthusiasm was the best horror series on TV in the past ten years. Less trivially, gentrification (and, as I now think I prefer to refer to that process, displacement) has been something that’s been completely in the forefront of my mind and my experience over the past few years. Pretty much every day during just the comp’s duration, I’d hear another story of people being displaced. Heck, last week, the city decided to label my neighborhood an “arts district”. The joke is that all the artists have been pushed out of it.

Yeah, I’d been thinking about Begscape a bit, being critical of it but admiring the attempt. I think City runs into some of the same problems - with the added negative that the directional mechanic is much less involving than the coin game. (There’s also a disconnect between the austerity and mechanicalness of first paragraph and the more poetic/descriptive nature of the other two.) In both, there’s something to mapping the cold nature of mathiness/moving in a cardinal direction to the cold nature of being homeless/being forced out of your home… but in the end, something with a story rather than a procedure would be a more immersive experience.

I tried to mesh a number of experiences of gentrification into a whole so that instead of reading one personal experience, you’d experience shifting scenes of being pushed out. The clearest expression is that sometimes you’d have children and sometimes you’d have an active nightlife more typical of a younger person who’s probably childless. This might not have wholly translated, but it’s something that I like about it.

Some of the causes for eviction (either forced or “voluntary”) come from real things that happened, particularly out here on the US West Coast. There is a seven story green yuppie commune being built right across the street from me. They hired a fancy architect and all bought in to their corporation and just had their groundbreaking. The place next door was the only family-owned convenience store in the area. It’s now a bunch of microapartments. If you look into their windows from the street, they look like prison cells. Right before the store was demolished, it looked like this:

“About” should be moved to the sidebar instead of residing only on the first page. I’ve figured out how to do this (CSS ain’t so bad after all!). There’s some more stuff there if’n you’re interested.

Responses to some comments (thank you for all of them! even the negative!):

  • No, there’s not a way to win. I’ve been a part of a number of discussions about how to combat gentrification over the few years. None of us figured out a way to win that game, either. Maybe that should have been clearer.
  • The direction that you came from was crossed off (you might not go back to where you just forced out of) - I was envisioning the directionals at the bottom not as a map per se but as a list of movement commands… which looked like a map. Sigh. Neither presenting it as a horizontal or vertical list were appealing, but the intent should have been clearer.
  • Yeah, it’s depressing. I had thought that the bleakness would be cut a little with occasional positive responses in the “this is what your life is like in your new neighborhood” section - life is complex and not all bad - but I also didn’t want to flinch from the despair. (On the bright side, the thing I’m working on now for the New Year’s event is much happier - celebratory, even!)
  • Flip is a fair cop, and I think there’s some awkwardness in some of the responses (I’m wincing at a few as I type). If I go for a second release (I might, but feel like I’d have to figure out significantly revising the entire first paragraph before doing so), one of my main intentions would be to ameliorate this somewhat, but some of it is also inherent in the structure of the piece.
  • Very heartening to see the positive comments about the increased font size! It’s also a serifed font, 'cause I prefer reading sans-sans-serif. I can’t deal with standard Sugarcane. I had just enough time to tweak this to where I was happy.
  • Sorry if feathers are ruffled at all the mentions of tech workers.
  • No, I’m not.
    I think that about covers it - though I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff I’ll have found out I forgot to add. Again, this was hella fun, and it’s sad that I’ve waited so long to start writing IF (this is my first entry into any comp, and only the second that I’ve released anything written with IF tools) - but then again, I’m more fond of the ideas I have now than the half-baked stuff I was thinking about several years ago. It may all be for the better. It’s great to be a part of this, so thanks for having me, and thanks for writing all these games and reviews.

Also, placing 13th in a Halloween comp is awesome.

It’s apparently better than 15th.

The post-comp release of It Is Pitch Black is up! [emote]:)[/emote]
The gameplay is mostly the same, but it’s got a fresh new look with nice CSS, a background image, and creepy background noise.

IIPB is an idea I’ve wanted to make happen for a while, though I didn’t know exactly how. I knew I wanted to set it in my Age of Corporations universe, especially since my upcoming Choice of Games story and novels are all set there, and I’ve already established that Grues are a dangerous but known urban pest. A lot of the feel was inspired by Chemistry and Physics, but I wanted the focus to be on limited light resources rather than a wumpus-style escape.

I was really thrilled to have been able to get all of the gameplay functional and satisfactory within the time constraints; I changed little about it for my post-comp release and focused on shine instead. Very happy with the results.

Expect a polished post-comp release for Candlesmoke soon too, and maybe a retrospective if Carolyn and I agree on one [emote];)[/emote]

Here’s the post-comp release of Candlesmoke! Be advised, also plays sound.

Hurray for both post comp releases! Well done!

This is great! Are any other authors planning post-comp releases?

Super glad I replayed Lime Ergot. I knew there had to be something to it that I was missing! Looks like I missed… yeah, actually most of the game. Wow. My score for this should’ve been way different. If only I’d looked at the foliage in my other playthrough!

If anyone still needs an Ectocomp fix, don’t forget there are two “failed Ectocomp” games up on IFDB: The Northnorth Passage, by “Snowball Ice” and Halloween Scarecrow II: Interview with a Scarecrow, by me.

I really should have put in a little nudge after some number of turns, about where to get started. Thanks for taking another look!

When I get home from this weekend I might put a little spit and polish on Carriage Returns and re-release the web version.

“Are any other authors planning post-comp releases?”

I plan on revising A Fly on the Wall, but I am trying to whip up something for Parser Comp first. I am also hoping I can find someone to help me make a Twine version of it.