ECTOCOMP 2015 Reviews/Impressions

Know what time it is? It’s time to sit down and play all these EctoComp games!

Are you excited? Because I am excited.

ETA: Doing these in my usual style, by which I mean “off the cuff reactions as I’m playing.” I may write proper reviews of some of these later, and certainly will if someone requests it.

Food, Drink, Girls

[spoiler]Um, what?

So, um, as near as I can tell, this exactly what it says on the tin. It’s Halloween, and instead of dressing in costume, you decide to spend your evening getting drunk and leering at women. The writing is…well. I’m not sure if it’s trying to make a meta statement that I didn’t quite grasp, or if English is not the author’s native language. Throughout you run into passages like:
“You go back for another beer. You are a bit unlucky, let fall the change. Mariaanne notices, that you are a ecent man, you are go to the store for her, not for the beer.”

Typos and odd syntax abound. It’s not quite clear to me what my objectives are and what effect, if any, I have over the plot, if plot is the right word, and it’s also not quite clear if I’m supposed to sympathize with this PC or if the point is that he’s a creep, or…?

+1 for the custom CSS, though, it looks quite sharp.[/spoiler]

I can’t get Halloween Dance or Heezy Park to open, presumably because I need an interpreter I think? Somebody point me in the direction of the file I need and I’ll come back for these (and any others in a similar situation).

In the meantime, I will play…


[spoiler]So, first, I have to give some props to Felicity for managing to get this sheer amount of text out in 3 hours. Speed-writing is its own special skill, and this is clearly the work of someone with lots of practice and competency under her belt.

But ok, so. This story. This is like: “My Shitty Apartment: Murderous Australian Wildlife Edition” which I feel earns kudos for managing to so perfectly embody the way a whole continent has turned into an Internet meme. +1

The plot is the kind of off-the-rails silliness you’d expect from speed-IF, I think. The plotline frequently bumps along without making much sense, but not exactly in a bad way. It has the feeling of something that was written totally off-the-cuff and made up along the way, but it’s charming and ridiculous and gross. Cleaning out my fridge was on my to-do list today, but it’s suddenly become much more pressing.

Unfortunately, because it seems most of the time in the 3 hours was allotted to writing/storytelling, rather than game design, it means there’s minimal interactivity. I can’t fault it for this, but I do wish I felt I was doing more with my choices, or at least that not-meaningful choices happened more frequently.[/spoiler]

Thanks for reviewing everyone’s games! You can download an interpreter for those two games: has a list about halfway down the page. If you can get Gargoyle to run, it will play the vast majority of games in IFDB, but if it doesn’t work, Windows Glulxe or Frotz should work. In a mac, there is also Zoom and Spatterlight.

Ok yeah so I can’t open most of these. But I have faith someone will take pity on me and sort me out soon.

ETA: Aha, Mathbrush, my hero! <3 I’ll go do that momentarily.

Until then, I’m going to play…


[spoiler]Ok this…this I like. I like this a LOT. The writing is tight and economical and I loved rifling through the stuff in my pack, getting bits of backstory and memory. I loved the way exposition is trailed out like breadcrumbs. And when it becomes clear what these enemies are, what they do – it’s chilling, and sad, and horrifying. And the game does such an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension, of being truly, genuinely horrifying. This is IF horror done absolutely right. I would play and recommend this as a game outside the context of the comp.

There are a couple of little glitches - when I took the sweater, for example, it stayed in the list for me to click. And later I got this curiosity:
[note: alt dialogue:
as you hurtle blindly through the woods the loss hits you all of a sudden and your breath catches in your throat but you don’t have time to slow down or to mourn there is always a cost]

But considering the nature of the comp, I’m totally willing to overlook this. And they should be quite easy to fix for a post-comp release.[/spoiler]

Ok, I think I’ve got the interpreter thing sorted out, so I’ll go work on those next :smiley:

But first, the last browser-based game…

Voice Box

[spoiler]I want to take note of the custom CSS here, which looks quite different from what I’ve seen before. It’s pretty slick. And I like the two-choice format – it hides a surprising amount of content, and invites you to go back and do more, to explore everything. It’s a very interesting design choice, although I’m not sure it’s exactly the right vehicle for this particular story.

As for the story. I am never a good person to review this type of game. It’s pretty clearly interested in gender issues, and it explores them in the sort of metaphorical never-quite-sure-whats-happening style of writing that I have such a hard time connecting with. This is, for example, why I have never connected with Porpentine. But anyway, whatever it’s doing, it’s doing it well (from a technical perspective).[/spoiler]

Hey, thanks so much for the review; I’m so pleased you enjoyed it.

That in particular means a lot to me: it suggests I’m doing something right.

Those glitches are so embarrassing, and have been fixed in the release. That’s what comes from Speed Editing as well as Speed IF. :blush: (Even worse: my beta caught the alt text one, and I took it out of one node but not the other.)

Oh. I didn’t know that.

You’ll want to advertise that. Maybe with a NEWS item on IFDB.

Heh, your Itch release has the same CSS I almost applied to Ashes :slight_smile: It looks slick, good choice.

And wheee I sorted out my interpreter situation, which means I can now play…

Nine Lives

[spoiler]I enjoy the twisted humor of this. It’s a little Exploding Kittens-ish, and I do love me some Exploding Kittens.

I had all the same struggles with this I frequently do with parser games, of the ‘guess the verb’ variety. I couldn’t find all the ways to die. Like, I could find where the traps were probably supposed to be, but couldn’t figure out how to trigger them (like the cabinet in the bathroom or the quantum box. I gave up, but I am super curious what happens when you get to the end.[/spoiler]

Thanks for doing reviews. The more the merrier!

On HomeSick:

I missed the parody of the Australian wildlife meme, which does make for a better reading of the story! I clearly need to Internet more.

I don’t know if it was the intent, but it was definitely the first thing that popped in my head.

And any time! I love doing these reviews/impressions, I learn a lot from doing them :3

Regarding Nine Lives:

if you told me which items you had trouble guessing the verb on, I’d be grateful. I plan to release an updated version of this game in a couple months, with more puzzles.

[spoiler]The bathroom cabinet doesn’t do anything. Yet. It might in version 2.

As for the quantum box trap, it’s a 50/50 chance of death each time you get in the box. If you want to trigger it, you just have to keep entering and leaving the box until it happens.

Actually, one of my beta testers also complained about that box, she didn’t know what she was supposed to do with it because it kept not going off for her. As soon as I sat down and typed “enter box” of course, bam, there it went. RNG is a cruel mistress.

I could have upped the odds of death, naturally, but I felt that would ruin the joke because the experiment it’s based on requires that the cat have an even chance of survival. If you have a better idea of how to make the box’s purpose obvious, I’m open to suggestions.[/spoiler]

Heezy Park

[spoiler]Curiously, I had not yet played an Andrew Schultz game, though I suspect I’ll enjoy them in the future when I play more. I’m such a sucker for bad puns.

Anyway, this is a quick little thing. I kind of wish I could have run in multiple directions, to make it at least feel like I was able to cut him off or be sneaky about it, but I did appreciate that it was always clear what I was supposed to do next. I even figured out the final puzzle eventually, though thanks to a hint in the other review thread <3[/spoiler]

Resurrecting this so I can find it when I get home. Someone smack me if I don’t remember to finish playing/reviewing these.

Doesn’t judging end in a week?

I believe it does, yes. Which reminds me, I need to submit that list of ratings/comments I did, like, three weeks ago.

one virtue of speed-IF: it does not take very long to judge.

Oh, that’s a really good suggestion! I just sort of tried to simplify things and make sure things were implemented. The post-comp release should have rejects for

moving diagonally and backwards.