Ectocomp reviews

[quote="matt w"That wasn’t my take on it:

[spoiler]
I thought it wasn’t “satire on Twine” so much as “goofing around without meaning to mock anything except itself.” I realize this resembles the “It’s only a game, why are you reading so much into it?” move, which is the most annoying move ever, but it comes closest to being justified with a three-hour game whose express purpose was to be really terrible in order to bolster the confidence of an eight-year-old who was submitting a game to the same comp.

Also FWIW I was able to get a grasp on the world in many ways. To do so I had to lawnmower the choice tree by trying and dying, but in a game of this length that’s a reasonable possibility.[/spoiler]
[/quote]
It’s entirely possible that I’ve become over-alert to this general line of argument (as a result of hearing versions of it a dozen times in the last few weeks), and am overreading.

The Profile

[spoiler]

Ah, yeah, I get it now. And that’s entirely my fault. I purposely kept that from happening, because I wanted the game to end immediately when exiting, afterwards. It’s actually more work to do what you tried, and no reason not to allow it. What must have failed in the recap is that the boots were left behind. I’ll just have the player auto-grab them on the way out. Shouldn’t affect anything else, assuming you go in through the back and take the boots off afterwards, so that muddy prints are in the kitchen.

The boots are muddy before the game begins. Looking at them reveals it, but yeah, point taken. I was trying to avoid too much explanation of the consequences of what the player does, though, because…

My original idea is that it wasn’t supposed to be immediately obvious that it was a play-through of a police profile. I guess that was silly thinking, given that it’s called “The Profile” and there are at least a couple pretty obvious profile-like descriptions early on. But that was the original intent. I also originally wanted the Chief to stop recapping at the first problem he finds, but felt that would be completely frustrating and call for way too much of a commitment to multiple replays, which would become increasingly un-fun. If I had just approached it for what it is, rather than trying to make it a surprise (which, obviously, it isn’t), then having commentary and NPC participation would probably have made for a better game.

Even using the loophole of pre-planning before coding starts, it’s still a nightmare trying to finish something in three hours. [emote]:)[/emote][/spoiler]

Headless, Hapless

[spoiler]It’s a tough thing to fix, I think. The more of that you support, the easier it is to win before fully exploring the area. Also, I would have expected the head to turn up just from taking inventory. I initially thought it might be right where it should be, and when X NECK said it wasn’t, I tried other body parts, including arms. I tried “search” also.

You could easily spoil the entire game just by supporting stuff that should work. But if you don’t, the actual solution seems unfair. Kind of a catch-22 I guess.

For a time, I thought maybe the game was tracking my efforts, and would put the head in the last place checked. I ended up taking all of Paul’s hints, which I thought was probably the point. In my mini-review, my take-away from it is that the game wants you to do as much exploring as possible because of a reluctance to spoil it with Paul’s hints, but ultimately, you’re supposed to do exactly that. Maybe that wasn’t it.[/spoiler]

Hey Angela. Honestly, they’re pretty good going for first releases written to a time limit - interaction is a tricky thing to wrap your head around, and not many people are any good at it without some practice involving live humans.

I was thinking that you’d only have the commentary start on the second play-through, and maybe get more detailed over subsequent playthroughs. Which would need a somewhat more sophisticated way of resetting the game, so this is definitely not a three-hour proposal any more. (And then if I was doing this, which I’m not, I’d spend most of my energies on developing the character and relationships of the comment-cops, and probably forget to actually put a game in the middle. Anyway, like I said, this is a thing with a lot more potential than you could get into three hours.)

The Profile

[spoiler]

You’re not far off from the original original idea. For this game, I pulled an idea from my “ideas.txt” (which, not too long ago, I actually posted here):

<a class=“postlink-local” href="https://intfiction.org/t/game-ideas-titles/4867/1

There’s an abundance of missed potential here, yeah. Among the reasons I chose it, though, is that it had a built-in explanation for sparse implementation, and having decided to enter it on the last day after finding out that the deadline was extended, I wanted something that was already at least partially thought out.[/spoiler]

Hi! I’m pretty new to the IF world, and though I feel I’ve picked up a lot of the lingo from my few months of lurking, feel free to correct me if I make any mistakes.
Here’s a quick round of reviews, though I’m leaving off the numerical scores. Also, I’m including major spoilers in each of the reviews, so don’t read if you haven’t played.

The Nessa Springs Slasher

[spoiler]This entertaining bite-sized horror piece took me about a half hour to play, despite only being comprised of a handful of tersely described rooms. I don’t feel that a formal commentary will do my level of engagement justice, so let’s take a look at the play-by-play:

Wow, this is clever and creepy and -
*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
WHAT!? Ok, restart.

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
Hmmm…

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
I think the last ‘me’ is a wolf. Maybe I can bite him.

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
Nope.

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
Ok, maybe everyone needs to chip away at him little by little.
HELLS YEAH! I managed to shove a mirror shard through his foot as the kid. Hopefully this will help.

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
Nope.

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
There just has to be a way to use everybody.

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
WHY IS THIS FAMILY SO USELESS??? FOR CRYING OUT LOUD JOHN JUST PICK UP THE STUPID KNIFE AND STAB HIM ALREADY ARGHHHH!!!

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
I WILL NOT GIVE UP! I WILL DIE AT MY KEYBOARD FIRST!!!

*** Everyone has died. You lose. ***
…………

I’m doing every kind of thing I can imagine with this soup and this pot (because they can be interacted with separately), but nothing is worki - WAIT WAIT OKAY I STIRRED THE SOUP AND THEN SPILLED IT AS I WAS ATTACKED. MWA HA HA HA HA SUCCESSSSSSS!

*** You have won. ***
I DIIIIIIIID IT. struts Funny how the answer was to pretend like nothing was wrong as opposed to finding ways to defend yourself. Oh, I was the family dog, and not a wolf, though I think the dog would have recognized its dead owners’ bodies.

So the success of this entry lies primarily in its one basic puzzle, which is to defeat the mysterious axe-wielding figure. The gimmick – switching family members as they were killed off – was rather clever. Everyone had an important role to play to the story, creatively subverting the prevalent horror trope of meaningless disposable victims. Not only was I connected emotionally to John and his family because there was no way to save them, I still needed their help to save the day. They became wonderfully tragic heroes.

I only wish the puzzle solutions fit with the player’s goals. Yes, the family was unaware of what was about to happen, but I think there was room for a more thoughtful execution. For example, I figured out early on that spilling the soup and creating a slipping hazard was probably the way to go. Yet despite my attempts at dropping, spilling, splashing, pouring, and whatever else to dump the soup all over the floor, nothing worked until I stood there and stirred it. John was mentioned by his wife as being clumsy, so perhaps the spill could have resulted when the player tried to pick up the soup and burned his fingers in the process.

There were no glaring technical issues to speak of, with only a few grammar/typo nitpicks. The writing was simple and efficient, and it shifted gears for the better when describing the various gruesome ways to die. I would have liked a little more atmosphere in the setting, but speedcomp, so meh.[/spoiler]

Crater Creek, 2113

[spoiler]After walking back and forth for an incredibly generous amount of time, I’m giving up on this one. I managed to get a bead, and I think the bead is connected to the dreamcatcher, but none of my attempts at guessing the proper syntax worked. I even did the old try-everything-on-everything technique, but that failed me too.

From what I played, there are no bugs or real problems, only lots of nouns that lack descriptions. The writing aims to be atmospheric, and while I like some of the descriptions (the candles are particularly elegant), I just wish there is more of it. The largest transgression is that it lacks a narrative – even a small introduction would have helped. All I know is that it’s Halloween, maybe in the year 2113. There’s a giant crater from a meteor or other Horrible Space Thing that caused the apocalypse. But who am I? What is my goal? Where is the window that this Aidan guy springs from, because I can’t seem to find it? It’s possible all this is revealed later, though it would have been nice if the author established some kind of goal or motivation early on.[/spoiler]

The Hallway Phantom

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here. There’s a cursed pumpkin pie, a musical swimming pool, a weird robot, an odd obsession with the number googolplex, and an absent fourth wall. No plot, no logical puzzles, no deeper meaning, typographical errors abound, and nothing even that scary.

Personality Rights

[spoiler]What an interesting title. Let’s open up this game and AHHHHH IT’S A REN’PY GAME!!! I LOVE THESE!!!

Ren’py aside, I liked this brief exploration on coming to terms with your own death. The writing was quirky yet thought-provoking, with a couple of touching moments tucked in nicely. The pictures, though not necessarily related to the script, conveyed the appropriate emotion. The music track fit the tone, but the lyrics tended to break my concentration when trying to read, so I ended up turning it off.

There may be an arbitrary bonus for using the word susurration, which will always remind me of China Mieville, which is always a good thing.[/spoiler]

You are a Blob!

Glub glubba blob. Glub blah blah other glubs. Glub lika lika Ba-Boom Ba-Boom bestbest cuz wub wub wub wub wubwubwubwubwubwub ha ha ha ha ha <3

Dead Pavane for a Princess

[spoiler]Now don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely delighted that a zombie game where you play as Impressionist composer Maurice Ravel exists in the world (which, by the way, should really be played while listening to its homage piece Pavane for a Dead Princess (piano, not orchestration), because it really does provide additional emotional weight). It’s just sad that it had to end so quickly.

I’m not very familiar with Inform (yet!), so I can’t say whether the length was justifiable within the given three hour time limit. However, the game is VERY polished, and my guess is this level of polish takes time. For example, every single command I typed into the parser accomplished something (searching for verbs is my biggest pet peeve of the genre)! The question is, does that warrant a high score?[/spoiler]

Trick Or Treat

[spoiler]Okay, this is the story by the eight year old. The goal of the game is to find a costume and then go trick or treating with your friends. I played through every option, though I’m pretty sure I made the best choices in my first play-through. I chose the pumpkin costume, then went to a dark house and earned myself a giant bag of candy and a sugar rush. Clearly Addie and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to the proper way to celebrate Halloween. High marks.

What I love most about this game is how genuine it is. The terrible endings aren’t getting eaten by a monster or enduring some other violent end. No, they instead involve having a miserable Halloween by not getting any candy, or being embarrassed by your costume, or damaging your friendships in some way, or getting poison ivy, or missing Halloween entirely. This is real scary kid stuff! I was instantly brought back to the year all my friends were being different color crayons for Halloween, and I just HAD to be a crayon too, and I ESPECIALLY HAD to have a COOL color, like blood red, but my mom made me plain old regular red, and I probably gave her the silent treatment and dirty looks for two whole hours out of spite before I completely forgot and had a great Halloween.

Trick or Treat would OBVIOUSLY be a 10, but I have to deduct points and give it a (redacted) for dad’s (ab)use of Comic Sans. It would be a SHAME for Addie to grow up not knowing the HORROR that is Comic Sans, so I encourage you to enjoy a brief educational video: http://youtu.be/ep-K_Xvq2zY[/spoiler]

Faithful Companion

[spoiler]In this short but high quality puzzler, your sole task is to put a ghost to rest inside a crypt. The ghost appears quickly and, after some playing around and probably restarting a few times, you’ll discover that the ghost is echoing every action you do, exactly two moves behind. Getting past the first door isn’t too difficult, and the second door gave me that glorious aha! moment once I figured out what I needed to do. The third room required that I undo what I did in the second room and work WITH the ghost instead of AGAINST it. Fantastic.

The writing was exquisite and all the descriptions and commands were polished. The length was very appropriate. I was even a bit frightened by the ghost in the beginning until I understood what was going on.

I think that there’s opportunity for emotion by adding a touch more backstory, and possibly giving the ghost a little more personality in its descriptions. In fact, having to use the word ‘its’ is pretty telling about how much I know about the ghost. It was more mindless robot than human, an obstacle to winning as opposed to a soul needing to be put to rest. The simple addition of gender would have made a huge difference in humanizing the ghost.[/spoiler]

Hill of Souls

[spoiler]This is a second entry by Angela who also did Crater Creek, and I encountered some of the same problems. All I managed to accomplish was putting the scrap and the candle on the altar and creating the blue light. So again, I’m stepping away from this one incomplete.

I did like this better than her other entry, probably because the writing was more successful in being atmospheric. But like Crater Creek, I still want a goal, and I found myself once again trying things on things, unsure what I’m supposed to do. I appreciate the extra touches with the failure messages and the nice descriptions of each object I searched, but there should be more to nudge me in the right direction.[/spoiler]

Blackness

[spoiler]Hospitals late at night will never not be creepy. Blackness succeeds in bringing this creepiness to a very short game, where the goal is to mop the floors without dying. The one main puzzle wasn’t very difficult, and the twist was a tad disappointing, like seeing the zipper in the back of the rubber monster suit. I tend to prefer monsters that are real without explanation than ones that aren’t real and attempt to provide one.

A small digression, but this is a huge pet peeve of mine:

[i]>i
You are carrying:
an uniform (being worn)
a key
a mop

unlock door
What do you want to unlock the closet door with?[/i]

If there’s no publicly available code that allows for automatic unlocking if you have the right key, then someone should make one. And if there’s already one out there, it should be shouted from the rooftops because clearly not enough people are using it.

I also didn’t like how getting out of the closet was unintentionally the hardest puzzle of the game. I could enter closet to get in, but exit, leave, out didn’t work. The right answer turned out to be north, but there were no directional indications that I could see.[/spoiler]

The Horrible Pyramid

[spoiler]I was excited to play this, given the author is a Name I Recognize. You play an archaeologist of some sort exploring a pyramid, which contrary to the horrible title, I didn’t find too horrible. There were a few puzzles to solve in order to collect all the jewelry. I appreciate that I didn’t have any trouble with the commands when solving puzzles.

The core concept of the game is that as you wear different pieces of jewelry, you gradually transform into a reincarnation of the Egyptian queen. The changing descriptions are a lot of fun and had me in giggles. An example below after each new piece of jewelry:

[i]Wheel Chamber
This room is unremarkable but for the presence of a large wooden wheel mounted in one wall.

Wheel Chamber
There is a big wooden wheel sticking out of the wall for some reason.

Wheel Chamber
For reasons you can definitely guess and in fact have already guessed, a wooden wheel is stuck in the walls and in fact is definitely stuck in the wall.

Wheel Chamber
Here in this room is where the wooden wheel that leads to adventure and death can be found, but it is of no importance to an immortal bride of Magic Incarnate such as yourself.[/i]

I wish there was a separate ending for not succumbing to the temptation of wearing of jewelry while managing to leave with all the pieces. Also, the stone slab door says it’s to the northeast when it’s really to the southeast. Other than that, a nice solid game.[/spoiler]

The Profile

[spoiler]In this puzzler, you play a cop reenacting the murder of an old woman exactly as described in a police report, except (as far as I know) you don’t know what the police report says until the end of the game. I did get stumped for a bit on adding a description of myself to the report, and thought it had to do with turning the porch light on so the neighbor could see me, but the solution turned out to be much much simpler (though a bit fourth wall-ish, even for a reenactment). I’ll also add I had no trouble with the boots!

The writing was terse yet effective, though objects like the stove and fridge should have been left out entirely or given descriptions of their own. Including them with the description “It’s not important” seems like a waste of precious minutes. I also ran into a couple of these moments:

[i]>smash window
You don’t need to use the word “smash”.

break window
Using your elbow, you smash the window.[/i]

I really wanted to sympathize with at least one of the characters. There’s not enough interaction with the cops to connect with them, and it’s even harder to connect with the killer. The victim was probably the easiest to sympathize with, but even then she seemed more like a plot point than a person whose life was viciously taken away. The quilting room was a nice touch that told us a little about the woman, but the photographs were a wasted opportunity:

>x photographs
Photos of people you don’t know. They’re difficult to see, but unimportant.
[/spoiler]

Jack

[spoiler]Poor Jack. All he wants is – actually, we’re not too sure what he wants, but all the townsfolk seem to want to kill him. So what is a pumpkin-headed scarecrow to do? Kill everyone he encounters, of course.

A Play-As-The-Monster game, though Jack does start out a sympathetic monster. Until I wanted to distract a man with a hubcap I picked up, as the game clearly hinted I should do. You know, make some noise and sneak by.

[i]The Edge of Town
As you come up on the edge of town, you see some movement ahead. You crouch in the shadows not wanting to be seen. Soon you see the movement again and you can just make out someone patrolling back and forth across the road. There is no way to get around him without being seen. Perhaps you could distract him somehow.

throw hubcap
You stand up quickly and your movement draws the attention of the young man. You quickly throw the hubcap in his direction. The hubcap flies quickly through the dark night and before he can even react, it strikes him square across his forehead immediately dropping him to the ground.

x man
The man appears to be just a teenager. A young teen by the looks of it. Embedded in his head is the hubcap you just threw.[/i]

Welp. Okay then, time to murder people. At which point, I was no longer engaged by Jack’s story. The ending let me know there was some kind of curse, and the town deserved the dead kids from the weight of some kind of past sins. But without any additional explanation, why should I care?[/spoiler]

Fish Dreams

[spoiler]Fish Dreams is another Play-As-The-Monster game, where you catch glimpses people’s memories when you eat them. Despite being a parser game, the interactivity is very limited. There’s only one room, and your only choice of actions are to examine, open the box, and eat the dead bodies. Why would you not make this a hypertext game? It’s perfectly suited for that format, and the additional CSS styling options could have really added to the mood. (Contrast this with the author’s other entry, Chemistry and Physics, which was a Twine game that could have easily been a parser game!)

That being said, this is probably my favorite thus far. It’s a story about a man and a woman, their vulnerabilities, and how they walked the paths of their own destruction. The creature feasting on their dead bodies is a great metaphor for their horribly tragic lives. In fact, the game is not shy about it:

>x man
Dead humans are interesting. You’ve eaten them before. Humans change the world, and the world changes them in return, and the result is a fascinating, satisfying meal.

The game also tugged at my heartstrings a little. The only puzzle requires you to let the woman drown before opening the box in order to view her memories. Yet it was agonizing to have to do that, because I really didn’t want her to drown. It’s such a awful way to go!

I appreciate all the attention to detail, the parser’s generous interpretation of commands, the custom failure messages, the elegance of the writing, and the subtle hints. Not to mention that the author included a different memory depending on whether you let the woman fully drown in the box or open it just before she drowns.

Some people might not like the vagueness of the memories and the unanswered questions (like who pushed the body and the box off the cruise ship? And why?) But not me.[/spoiler]

@busterwrites

The Profile

[spoiler]

Yeah, that’s right. Although it may not play out that way, the first time through you’re kind of not supposed to know what’s happening.

Alternately, you can look at the mirrors in either bathroom despite it being kind of dark, although I intentionally didn’t mention them so it’s probably not all that fair of an alternate solution. Also, the downstairs bathroom isn’t even obvious because in my rush, I didn’t mention additional exits from the hallway.

Now that I’m polishing stuff for a post-comp update, I can easily add that to the grammar definition. Aside from one additional verb I added, I pretty much had to rely on Hugo defaults to get the whole thing finished in time. I’m a stickler myself for wanting to see any verb explicitly used in a description actually work when tried, so that’s a nice catch. Thanks.

In fact, there’s no interaction with the cops. It’s just a cut-scene at the end. And the killer was by design an unknown, emotionless cut-out. Granted, that’s a lot less interesting than characters you can relate to, or at a minimum at least understand a little, so point taken.

It may be worth adding a little more there, yeah. It could probably be done without complicating anything else.[/spoiler]

And thanks for posting your reviews!!

And now, a short defense of my own entry, Boogle =3

[spoiler]My intention wasn’t to write a persuasive satire, but looking at it through a different lens, perhaps I was naive to think it wouldn’t be viewed that way. The idea came from how Google offers a suggestion (Did you mean?) when you make a mistake in the search field. My response is usually NO GOOGLE YOU DON’T KNOW ME but then immediately acknowledge my mistake, and then get a little creeped out that it knew what I meant. That had me thinking, what if Google was an evil AI that narrowed results down to what it wanted you to see in order to make you it’s little play thing? Yes, there’s Big Data references as well, but that’s creepy too, right?

I’m going to pull the “not what I intended” defense, though maybe it doesn’t have much weight. I mean, if I made a game where Michele Bachmann is actually a blood-thirsty vampiress of chaos and destruction, it’d be hard for me to argue the game isn’t a political piece and I just happened to think she’s creepy looking. But if it helps, I’m personally fine with big data.[/spoiler]

Jack

[spoiler]

My intent was really for the player to feel sympathy for Jack and I think it may have worked a little bit, but then I found the time constraints bearing down on me and the easiest way (at least the easiest way that came to mind at the time) was to have Jack become a murderous monster and the ending came way to fast and unexplained as I just ran out of time.

I hope to have a post-comp release that fixes much of this. I want you to feel the sympathy for Jack so will be filling in more of the back-story and giving ways around the barriers that involve more thought and stealth instead of just brute forcing my way through with the killing. The story floating around in my head that inspired this game is much deeper (and less violent) than I was able to show in the three hours, so hopefully I can improve upon that in a future release.[/spoiler]

Thanks so much for the feedback as it is much appreciated, a speed-if may not have been the best avenue to release my first game, but it did force me to release something (which was a bit of a barrier for me itself).

@busterwrites

Trick or Treat

[spoiler]

HAHA!!! Less than half-way through that video, she calmly told me that she didn’t really want to watch any more of it.

Distinctive standard fonts are kind of hard to predict, so other choices were either too plain or too unlikely to actually be available. If you’d played in Safari, you’d have gotten plain old Geneva or Helvetica or something, as a fallback. I’ve only ever used Comic Sans for one thing before this, but that was an online game where it seemed well-suited, and it was written in 1998 probably before it started getting a bad rap (a bad rap, admittedly, I didn’t know existed).

So thanks for that. [emote]:)[/emote][/spoiler]

@busterwrites

Boogle

[spoiler]

I guess I missed the point entirely. I was getting a lot of Twine errors after a search, where it looked as if there should have been links or something. Images that were mentioned weren’t shown. Twine errors on the sidebar too. As a result, I took it for a joke entry…[/spoiler]

To my surprise, I did.

Following the will o’ the wisp gets you nowhere.

Neither will running away from it.

You have another problem.

Check your inventory.

Eat the bread – yeah, that’s not it.

Look at the watch.

What does that suggest you need?

Won’t find your bed anywhere…

But you can sleep anyway.

And wake up.

Yeah, you’re definitely overreading here.

[spoiler]If there is a message to You are a Blob!, it’s that creatures (and people!) can see the world in ways that we might view as very strange but make perfect sense to them. Or something like that, it’s been a while since I checked my node and moral statement map.

Anyway, if I have a problem with Twine games, it’s that they tend to be too linear, not too arbitrary. If a Twine game is poorly made it can often feel like I’m being railroaded through someone else’s story, like all I’m needed for is to click the buttons to progress through the story. (There’s a lot of non-Twine games like that that I actually enjoy, so I’m probably being unfair here.) Still, it’s one of those cases where a little bit of gameplay can go a long way. And I have liked a lot of ultra-linear Twine games too. I dunno, really.[/spoiler]

Authorial commentary on Fish Dreams and Chemistry and Physics (two for one!)

[spoiler]It was rather serendipitous, actually.

When Colin and I collaborate, our typical process has been: 1) we come up with an idea, 2) we plan out our strategy, 3) I take lead on the code and 4) he takes lead on the writing. We wanted to swap roles this time, and since Colin knows Twine far better than I do, it was the natural way to go! That’s our original reason for writing Chemistry and Physics in Twine.

Then I got inspired for Fish Dreams, which I whipped off on the afternoon of the due date. Slowing down to learn Twine on the way by was not going to happen, so it was I7 all the way.

With that said - I actually think both games worked better this way.

As a parser game, Chemistry and Physics would be somewhere between 8 and 13 rooms big (depending on whether the intro/outro were implemented as cut scenes or as rooms). With only 3 hours to code the game… ouch. I like to think I’m good, but I’m not that good. [size=85](Side note: I’m super impressed by the people who are that good.)[/size] Ectocomp carries a certain forgiveness level, but a parser version of C&P would have been badly implemented to the point where I felt sad about it. Using Twine allowed us to pare the interaction options down to what we could feasibly implement in that period of time.

And, in Fish Dreams, I hoped that voluntarily typing ‘eat human’ each time would be creepier than clicking on an equivalent link. I always feel more complicit in my parser decisions than my hypertext decisions. Your mileage may of course vary.[/spoiler]

Disclaimer: I did no entry for this ectocomp. According to the competition rules, I already sent the official judging form to jj guest. Hope it’s ok to put my mini-reviews in this dedicated thread as well, as every post till now has been from authors [emote]:)[/emote]

The Nessa Springs Slasher
SCORE: 8
Comments: Playing multiple victims (a dog also!) is an interesting take on the serial killer subject. Well thought.
Overall I enjoyed it and the execution is not that bad (the hallway has not even a sparse description, for example, but some rough edges are to be expected, given the strict time limit).

Crater Creek
SCORE: -
Comments: Well, I must confess I wasn’t able to complete it.
It would be unfair to judge this entry because I didn’t see much of it.

The Cenric Family Curse
SCORE: 9
Comments: Very good one!
Although the story is a classic, the solution of the skeleton puzzle is quite entertaining.
I liked the difference in what happens when the PC tries and take the holy water with and without wearing the signet. Nice touch.

The Hallway Phantom
SCORE: 5
Comments: A really short CYOA featuring (very) juvenile humor.
Not my cup of tea, to be honest, although it’s an appreciable (author’s first one, I guess) try.

Personality Rights
SCORE: 6
Comments: A peculiar story, about the consciousness of being a ghost.
Not what I personally expected from an ectocomp entry, but related anyway; it wins a few points for being quite original.

Trick Or Treat
SCORE: 7
Comments: Some of the scenes show a good amount of fantasy (say, the monkey and Kate Perry). It’s not a bad work overall…indeed, it’s quite elaborate for the author’s age. Keep it up next year as well, young lady and dad!

Hill of Souls
SCORE: 1
Comments: According to “about”, this entry is supposed to be “An experiment in shifting light and setting”. It seems to me it is just that, indeed.
For example, if the PC goes to a given direction, and then comes back, the starting room has a different description for the omnipresent fog and lights.
I’m almost feeling bad for the low rating, maybe I’m missing the whole point or something, but I didn’t find anything that can, at least, be related to the spirit of the competition. The occasional web or gust of wind just aren’t enough, sorry, as they are part of the random messages and cannot be interacted with.

Blackness
SCORE: 8
Comments: The closet could have been implemented slightly better (say, “search closet” instead of “go closet”), but the vivid descriptions more than make for it. Quite scary!

Jack
SCORE: 7
Comments: The image of a walking scarecrow with a pumpkin head, wearing a machete and a shotgun sure is fascinating.
The end leaved me a bit perplexed, though.
Not a brilliant story, but not terrible either.

A Slight Problem with Zombies
SCORE: 6
Comments: A just-one-path-is-right CYOA, with some surreal moments (the old teeth-launching lady, the fantasy weapons).
Not a big issue in itself, the story being quite short, but be ready to start from the beginning again and again if you happen to choose a wrong path.
I feel the conclusion is arguably not effective enough, as it is in a sense “ruined” by the general light tone of the story (as said above), although the final explanation is more or less adequate.

ZombieDating.zom
SCORE: 7
Comments: Well, it made me chuckle. Both some response to player’s answers, and the dates.

You are a Blob!
SCORE: 2
Comments: Although I generally am open to experimental works, well, this game is just too much idiosyncratic for my taste. Sorry.

The Voodoo You Do
SCORE: 8
Comments: The writing is engaging enough, and the presence of a loa deity and his veve shows the author did some research.
I also appreciated the presence of at least two ways to deal with the doll to end the game. Puzzles with multiple solutions are always wellcome!

Ice House of Horrors
SCORE: 8
Comments: A different point of view on an usual human activity. Interesting experience.

Boogle
SCORE: 7
Comments: It’s a nice diversion for a few minutes; the theme is interesting: dating random persons may be frightning, as you never know who s/he really is, and the automated data collection phase of profile creation is a bit disturbing.
It has sufficient appeal to score ok, IMO.

The Horrible Pyramid
SCORE: 8
Comments: Judging by the title, I was expecting a pharaoh’s curse or something.
Well, I was pleasantly disappointed. Multiple endings, both are good enough for the PC.

Wisp
SCORE: 6
Comments: A false maze in a marsh, and an untangible companion. A dreamlike experience.

Chemistry and Physics
SCORE: 8
Comments: A survival CYOA. Bonus points for the being educative.

The Tale of the Cursed Eagle
SCORE: -
Comments: I have never been a fan of IFs with a very short in-game time limit to find the next good move. Others may find, with reason, it makes a game more engaging and/or challenging, but I don’t. I choose to not vote, for to allow a pet peeve of mine to penalize the author would not be fair.

Fish Dreams
SCORE: 4
Comments: Do fishes dream? If you think so, this game could disturb you; in this hypothesis, I’d give it a 6. The lower rating is due to the fact that the “interactive” part of “interactive fiction” has not been developed almost at all. A static short tale could have been a better medium for this particular
story.

The Profile
SCORE: 8
Comments: A mistery IF with an unusual point of view, the one of the murderer. Quite enjoyable.

Faithful Companion
SCORE: 8
Comments: The companion of the title is a ghost, who repeats the PC actions after a short delay. This mechanics is used in the few, although interesting, puzzles implemented.

The Argument-Winner’s Ghost
SCORE: 6
Comments: Revenge is a dish to serve cold, they say. This story features a (tomb)stone cold one. A decent plot, I guess.

Dead Pavane for a Princess
SCORE: 8
Comments: As the author states, anyone familiar enough with Maurice Ravel would find the title amusing. If you are wondering, Ravel’s original work is “Pavane pour une infante defunte”, which translates to “Pavane for a dead princess”.
In this one room game the player impersonates Ravel, unsurprisingly, who is trying to escape before a zombified collegue and friend catches him.
Fittingly, also the descriptions of the objects are filtered through musician eyes.
Nice game.

Headless, Hapless
SCORE: 7
Comments: A treasure-hunting game, where the treasure is…the PC head, who is an headless ghost horseman. The PC, being a ghost, can potentially go everywhere, although the possible world interactions are essentially limited to look at and open things.
An ironic little game, play it if you can spare a few minutes
.

Boogle is rather fascinating. One person has seen it as a cautionary tale/satire about the ever-present modern day Big Brother; another person has seen it as being about online dating and how frightening it can be; and I saw it as manipulation by a crazed Shodan-like AI.

Fascinating.

[spoiler]Oops. Yeah, the Bachmann analogy is a pretty good one - it’s difficult to say that Google’s creepy without implying that that creepiness might have some serious basis. (Particularly if you think that creepiness is a big enough deal to make a game about it.)

I sympathise! It’s distressingly easy to make a game that says something that you really didn’t intend. This is why, when making things without a three-hour limit, you get testers who you can trust to say stuff like ‘hey, so isn’t that kind of racist?’ or ‘you realise that the PC is the worst parent ever, right?’[/spoiler]

Boogle

[spoiler]

And I took it as just a joke entry, due to all the Twine errors and missing images. :-/[/spoiler]