First off, thanks to everyone who played, rated, and reviewed Improv: Origins — this was my first I-F game since 2002, my first comp entry of any kind since 1997, and my first Inform game of any kind (my earlier games were all done in TADS), and it was encouraging to find that while I didn’t end up accidentally creating any fewer game-killing bugs when writing in a new coding system, I didn’t create any more, either.
I’ve now been through most of the reviews, and have learned two main things:
• Most of you liked the writing and characters.
• Most of you found the game way too damn hard, and wanted more hints for what one reviewer called “brutally tough” puzzles.
Let’s talk a bit about the hints, and the puzzles. From the start (see above re: 1997) the entire joke of my Frenetic Five games has been that the puzzles are impossibly hard — you’re a superhero, after all, so it’s going to take superhuman puzzle-solving abilities to accomplish your mission. Not to mention that you’re part of a team, each with your own specific superpower, so most of the puzzles are solvable only by your teammates.
Since you, the player, do not possess a degree in Ingenuity, how to bridge the chasm between Improv’s skills and your own? With hints, tons of hints — not via hint menus, but seamlessly provided by the game text, mostly by comments and suggestions made by the other members of your team.
I wrote a mammoth amount of code dedicated to providing these hints at the right time, depending on which puzzles you’re currently facing. How’d I do with that?
“I’m solidly stuck in this game.”
“I can’t help bemoaning the lack of modern conveniences like a hint menu.”
“I eventually looked at a text dump of the game.”
Sigh. Note to self for future games: MORE HINTS. THEN EVEN MORE HINTS. DID I MENTION MORE HINTS?
In all seriousness, this is excellent, helpful feedback, and one reason I appreciate ParserComp’s voting system: It makes it easy to see at a glance which elements of a game worked, and which didn’t. Big thanks to Dan Fabulich for taking it upon himself to write Invisiclues so that those stuck have an escape route, and to those who noted remaining bugs; I’ll be issuing a post-comp release of Improv: Origins in coming weeks to fix some of those. And I’ve already started rethinking the next couple of games I’m working on (another in this series, plus one unrelated) to make them harder to get stuck in. (But not harder to get stuck in for those who want to beat their heads against puzzles. We I-F players are an odd lot.) Thanks as well to those who sat through my groanworthy puns (no, “PIN and Teller” was not actually sitting around for decades — that one, amazingly, I came up with fresh in the year 2022) and those whose reviews taught me new terms like “allostatic-interoceptive.”
Finally, if anyone wants to check out my old games, I’ve made a central page for them all at freneticfive.com. I make no promises for the quality of the hints, but I will try to make myself available here to provide help, assuming I can remember how to solve them myself.
Thanks again, and see you back here next year, I hope!