Floatpoint by Emily Short (Glulx)

This was one of the first games I played during the IFComp, yet it took me almost a month before I got round to writing my review of it. In some ways it’s a trying game, but ultimately a very good one.

In the game, you are David Moskin, Earth’s ambassador to the Aleheart Colony, a planet on the verge of being destroyed. It’s your job to make arrangements to bring them home before disaster strikes. (Although as the planet’s population is a rather daunting two hundred and thirty-seven million, that’s going to take one heck of an effort to pull off.)

The setting of the colony is a wonderful one, and part of the fun in playing the game is just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere of the place. There’s an amazing amount of depth in the descriptions of many of the locations, although unfortunately most of the game takes place within the Aleheart Colony itself so the beautiful scenery that makes up the rest of the world is only seen briefly.

While the setting is impressive, the actual gameplay doesn’t quite hold up. While there’s nothing especially bad about it, it’s just that it seems more time and effort went into making the setting interesting, and less into the gameplay itself. Which isn’t to say that the gameplay side of things is bad in any way, shape or form, just that I found exploring the game world interested me more than trying to finish the game itself.

I had a few interpreter problems with “Floatpoint”. Gargoyle kept crashing at certain points in the game so I ended up playing it in Glulx where the colour scheme seemed a little buggy. I like playing games in white text on a black background but here the text I entered as commands was surrounded by a black block and at some points in the game, I’d be faced with an entire screen of text like this. Certainly made reading it a pain. However, as I don’t know whether this is a problem with Glulx or a problem with the game, I won’t mark it down.

There are a few nice touches in the game which deserve mention, the best being the THINK command which will list the things you still need to do and is handy for keeping track of your goals. Really, it’s no more functional than taking notes as you go along but it saves time and is a welcome feature.

Even if you don’t manage to finish “Floatpoint” without the walkthrough (guilty as charged), it’s still worth playing for the evocative setting if nothing else. Highly recommended.

7 out of 10

I guess I can count myself lucky that I decided to go with Glulxe from the very beginning and also I received none of the errors other people received. The game pretty much enchanted me from the moment I ‘saw’ the piece of the iceberg fall into the water (and I can still see it in my mind’s eye) right up until the end where I happily spent the better part of an hour trying out all the different combinations of dress/gifts I could.

That the setting itself would take major precedence over the actual gameplay is, for me, a hallmark of Emily Short’s games, almost her personal signature; so I came in expecting it, and it didn’t mar the experience for me. I actually wrote the author telling her I was disappointed I couldn’t do even more that wasn’t related to the story but simply to exploring the world itself (like for example, a mini Galatea-like sequence with the scientist-girl character in the lab would have been fantastic, if completely irrelevant to the gameplay), she replied something to the effect of the Competition boundaries affecting the size and possibly making a post-competition version along those lines (which I would enjoy immensely).

In the end any gameplay or mechanical faux-pas that I could come up with, while certainly there (like there’s really no clue that you left a black sweater in your shuttle), ends up feeling petty and trivial compared to the immersion and fantasy that the story and the world as a whole provided me with. And I think that’s a defining factor of a winning game.

You receive an email telling you that you left the black sweater in the shuttle (because, of course, the PC hadn’t realized it). You reply back, and make arrangements to go pick it up.

The problem here, for me, wasn’t that the clue was lacking (since I’m pretty sure that is the clue) – but rather, that I hadn’t realized I could/should check my email. If I recall correctly, I only did that after I reached an ending, and wanted to collect the others. I liked that it didn’t matter if you missed a few things, because you could still get an ending. It’s only noticeable when you look for more.

Oh really? woops! :laughing: I must’ve skimmed right over that. Im my defense that email-scene is pretty text-heavy :slight_smile:

The sweater also gets mentioned when you interact with the suitcase (or should – I suppose it’s possible this is buggy under some circumstances).

I might have seen that too, actually. I should really consult my transcripts before saying these things. Now, I’m not sure if I reached an ending and then found out about email, or used email earlier but didn’t realize I could reply.

I do remember, though, that all the puzzles seemed perfectly fine. It’s done in a way that I didn’t realize I had missed anything (the knife and drill, the sweater, etc) until I started trying to look for new endings and consulting the walkthrough.

Right, well, that was really just an off-hand anti-example to my other point, so no big deal really. Just insert whatever miscellaneous little gripe you read on some other review :wink:

I really wanted to replay this game (14 years later - yikes!) on my iPad. It was a bit challenging to figure out, so I’m sharing here for anyone who wants to play.

  1. Download Frotz to your iPad
  2. Download the Floatpoint file to a computer (not the iPad, unless you know how to change a file extension on an iPad): http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/competition2006/glulx/floatpoint/Floatpoint.zblorb
    If there’s a problem, try downloading via jayisgames https://jayisgames.com/review/floatpoint.php
  3. Change the file extension from .zblorb to .gblorb
  4. In Frotz on the iPad go to information/settings (circle i at top center), tap File Transfer, tap Start File Server (green on the bottom). A url will show up.
  5. On your computer browser, type in the url. Scroll down to browse and choose the Floatpoint.gblorb file, name it, and upload.
  6. On the iPad, you can now stop file transfer server (red text on bottom).
    Floatpoint should appear in your game list and be playable. I’ll update if anything goes awry since I haven’t actually played yet (it did launch just fine).


You can’t change a file extension on an iPad? Why does anyone put up with this kind of petty tyranny from a computing device?


Nobody has to put up with it. Use Linux all you like.

I’m not a free software evangelist or even (yet) a Linux user. I have Android on my phone and Windows on my laptop, both of which provide advanced features like a functional file manager.