Introcomp 2023 reviews

I was surprised to find out yesterday that Introcomp is already going on! I was still wrapping up the Neo Twiny Jam games so hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

From what I can see, here are all the games and what I see when opening them:

-Black Street Market, a Twine game with at least one big image; author not listed.
-The Blossom, a parser game by Olaf Nowacki (who had the game Wry recently, among several others).
-The Chronicles of Kyrathaba, no author listed, a twine or twine-like game with a lot of player state (like a journal, inventory, etc.)
-Jimin, Ari, and Shush by Lance Cirone, a prolific IF reviewer and forum member who recently released their first 2 twine games as part of the Neo Twiny Jam. This game is a parser game, presumably their first!
-Loose Ends, by Daniel Stelzer (a resident Inform guru) and Elisabeth Tricou (haven’t heard of yet!). This is an Ink game set in the World of Darkness.
-Luna Gardens by Justin Kim, a parser game that seems to have a custom website. Author is Justin Kim, who I don’t see an IFDB page for yet.
-The Picton Files: The Peter & Paul Case by Strand Games/jkj yuio, who has released many Strand games and helps people on here a lot.

I haven’t looked beyond the opening of these yet, but I plan on it!


I thought that Introcomp was starting these days becouse some betatesting games had the intention of being part of this comp. Neverthess, that games haven’t been submitted and I lost the track of the date for this year’s Introcomp. So, thank you for the notice and the description of the games. It seems to me that there is a high quality level in the submissions.
I like this new and veteran authors mixed in the comp.

By the way, this is the link to Introcomp:
Introcomp page.


The Picton Files: The Peter & Paul Case

I’ve played several Strand games before, but this one has some interesting features: it’s a point and click adventure game.

You play as a detective with a perky assistant named Kit. Together, the two of you explore a house while she makes wisecracks. Just like older point and click adventures, you move your mouse around trying to find the right thing to click on.

It was fun overall; it reminded me of playing Under a Killing Moon on my dad’s pc as a kid (although looking that game up I can’t believe it was a sequel, I thought it was a standalone game). This game has more text though; historically, it’s similar to a lot of the games right on the transition from full-text with graphics to voice acted and/or animated graphical adventure games.


Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to say too much, but your points are correct. I would have liked to make the next scene, where you get to interview the suspects for the intro, but there wasn’t enough time. Perhaps later.

Regarding the point-and-click, you’ll have noticed that there is less than usual text descriptions of the scenes. This is an experiment to understand the dynamic trade-off between use of pictures and text. Nevertheless, as mentioned, i still want to retain text as the main driver.

Thanks for playing!


This entire time I thought Introcomp was another name for the TALJam, so imagine my abject confusion to hear that Introcomp had begun, when I was so certain that the TALJ happened maybe a month ago.


Luna Gardens by Justin Kim

This is an Inform game with some nice attention to presentation; the online play page is white on black, with a cool moon thing.

It’s very representational (if that’s a word); everything is symbolic. You end up in the garden of eden and can choose between paths of ephemerality or more physicality. There might be some branching in a way that’s unusual in Inform; I chose a path as a butterfly, and ended up as one. My total play time was around ten minutes, and I have a transcript below.

lunatranscript.txt (13.7 KB)

The biggest thing that made me think ‘this is cool’ is the unusual setting and characters, the richness in text that is often lacking in parser games (including my own). The most clearly unfinished area (besides the length of game itself) was the large number of items mentioned in the text but not implemented, like water.


Thank you for the review and for playing, Brian!


Loose Ends

This is an Ink game based on Vampire: The Masquerade.

Overall, there a few different levels of criticism you examine a game at, with the lower levels of problems obscuring higher ones, typos and bugs being the most glaring. This game is, as far as I can see, free from typos and bugs, has non-trivial mechanics and engaging writing. So I’m going to focus mostly on finer details.

The concept here is that you’ve been asked by a local vampire leader to take care of a major issue, a breach in the Masquerade (the rule that vampires must stay hidden to the rest of the world).

You get to choose a professional background for yourself, as well as a vampire clan, and then the game segues into a murder mystery of sorts, although it’s not just the murder that’s the mystery.

Gameplay always has branches, but the overall play style alternates between linearish (mostly in conversations) to free exploration with locations and inventory.

I enjoyed selecting Malkavian and being able to know many things. That was nice.

Speaking of choices in general, I think after playing that my choices definitely influenced things, but I could use a little more feedback for my personal tastes. I was hesitant when choosing my clan because the game had icons for the choices but it wasn’t clear what I was choosing or what effects it would have. After my choice, I found I could back out, but I would have liked a bit more info ahead of time, either in a side bar or in a tooltip when hovering over the icons.

Similarly, I felt like a lot of my choices were meaningful emotionally but had little impact on the overall game world, as I was free most of the time (as far as I experienced) to explore every nook and cranny as long as I wanted, to gather every bit of evidence and then to examine it at leisure. That’s pretty normal in parser games, but they tend to have puzzles to make collecting everything more tricky. Here I felt like sometimes I just needed to click every link in a scene before moving on. Not always, but sometimes.

I think the last think I’d like (and not everyone may agree) is to not only see what I’m capable of with my choices, but to see what I’m not capable of. Without a hint of what I’m missing by not being a more animalistic vampire, for instance, I wonder if maybe they would have similar options with just slightly different flavor text. Having something that looks cool that I’m locked out of to contrast with the equally cool thing I get to do because I chose it might be nice.


Thank you very much for the review! It’s much appreciated!


This is a parser game by Lance Cirone, and it’s the first game I’ve seen use my conversation extension, which is pretty neat.

You play as a group of three kids that are trying to get money to buy equipment to go on an adventure. You explore a ton, look at shops, and pick up odd jobs.

As is normal for an introduction, a lot of areas are incomplete.

What I like most about this is the free exploration of the city and the quirks of different parts. So many parser games (including my own) have a lot of areas you can’t enter (mostly because it’s easier to program that way, but sometimes to narrow the focus of the game). But here you can browse through multiple rooms in multiple houses, which is neat. I found Noxie’s customers really amusing, though that Kash and Cash were a fun concept, and was struck by the difference in the two houses I visited.

With things that I think could be worked on, I think of my conversation system the most, not the way it’s implemented here, just things that could improve it.

For instance, you get new topics sometimes but for a person who isn’t there. Then you look in your topic inventory, and it’s gone! But it’s just because the person isn’t there. Not being able to see that, though, makes it hard to know who it’s for.

That can be fixed by replacing part of the ‘To clear the flags’ phrase from the extension (this replaces the line about new topics):

say "[bracket]New [if currentquip is a clue]Clue [otherwise]Topic [end if][if the target of currentquip is not in the location]for [the Target of currentquip] [end if]- [currentquip]";

You’d have to change it for general topics (since you don’t have clues, you could do something like this:
say "[bracket]New [if target of currentquip is nobody]General [otherwise]Topic [end if][if the target of currentquip is not in the location]for [the Target of currentquip] [end if]- [currentquip]";

And you can make an action that shows all topics possible, in case people want to see them listed for people that aren’t there:

All-topicing is an action applying to nothing. Understand "AT" or "all topics" or "all topic" as all-topicing.

Carry out all-topicing:
	repeat with current running through quips carried by the player:
		now target of current is talkative;
	try topicing;

Besides that, the only other difficulty I had was with the bucket; it wasn’t clear if I needed to be by the bucket, holding the bucket, or somehow separating the bucket from the well to get the cups.

shushgame.txt (53.5 KB)


Thanks for playing this one! I think I did a good job with the writing, but the gameplay needs more work. I don’t have a clear direction for the plot to go, and I think it was a bit too ambitious for a first project. There’s also a bit that I messed up on with the coding, like not using private names. Interesting to see how the conversation system works – if I decide to finish this one, I’ll definitely use these fixes.


We played this game last season in IFMUD. A good game, rather incompleted, full of interactive topics to talk about (this kind of conversation remembered me a game I am testing right now :wink: There is an issue with ask about / talk about some new topics with people that is travelling through the map. I like very much the auto-activity of the NPCs.
The exploration part seems nice to me, I lilke exploration, but free entering into friend’s houses when they aren’t there seems a bit weird to me.
Deffinitily this game worths a try.

  • Jade.

We played also Luna Gardens last session in IFMUD.
This is a very original game, like Arabian Nights, full of lore and very inmersive due to its poetic descriptions. Is rather short, and fully extendable through more descriptive text about items listed in location descriptions and expandable with new plots and tasks.
I hope you go on improving the game.

  • Jade.

Thank you for the kind words, Jade!


The Chronicles of Kyrathaba

This is a pretty long Twine RPG game.

The idea is that you are sucked in from the world that we know to an videogame-like RPG world where you can see STATUS floating above another’s head.

You can equip equipment and have randomized combat and so on.

Overall it looks technically impressive: nice graphics, good fonts and margins and so on. The menus look good. It looks like a commercial game or a prototype of one. And it’s a hefty chunk of writing, too, longer than the median twine game (here talking more about the comp scene than the itch scene).

Writing is good; I had a high school student who spent years working on a setting just like this with several novels and D&D manuals. He had great ideas, but lacked the maturity of an experienced writer (which he definitely will get, and probably before I get it!) I felt like this had some maturity to it.

So what’s missing? For me, I don’t think any content needs removing, but I’d like to see more meaningful choices. The current demo has a little too many of the following kind of choices for my comfort:
-Choose something cool or don’t. Things like ‘take this diamond or leave it’, ‘accept a quest to get extra xp or don’t’. There’s no strategy here; it’s like if your work said, ‘this year, you have two options: you can have a Christmas bonus of $100, or not’. It’s great, but the option doesn’t really make it better than no option at all.
-‘Continue the story’. Long chunks of the game are straightforward exposition. Most of this is due to this being a tutorial, but the tutorial is already as long as many full games; if a player isn’t hooked from the beginning, there’s no reason to do the tutorial.

The latter example also includes combat, which consists of passively watching several screens of randomized hit/miss with 0 input from the player. You can equip different items before the match, but the match itself is played by the computer, not you.

Conversation has branches, for sure, but it often felt like ‘take this side track’ vs ‘continue pre-scripted conversation’.

Things that I thought worked well were trade-offs, like when I had a chance to barter a spell scroll for useful survival gear; deciding whether to eat my food now or conserve my strength; deciding which stat to buff with my improvement points; deciding to sell the emerald or keep it for later; deciding whether to kill the extra orcs or flee. None of them had a clear right answer and each had delayed effects so you wouldn’t immediately be sure if you chose right or wrong.

It might have been cool to go up a level early in the game, like selecting a class to go from Lvl 0 to lvl 1. It also might be nice to be able to either auto-run the combat (like now) or optionally stop and have some kind of agency during the combat (like when fighting a duo, focusing on one or the other).

Given the nice presentation and polished writing, I think this game could do well in a variety of settings, as long as it gets in front of the right audience (something I personally struggle with and can’t offer advice on).


The Blossom

This game is unusual and interesting, but I’ve had weird experiences with it.

The idea is that it is written in journal format, in Inform, which is a cool idea. Each action is an entire day, and the concept is that you keep ‘weird stuff’ out of there by not messing around with inventory, etc.

I attempted playing it 3 or 4 times, each time enjoying the writing and format but each time struggling to engage with it the way it wants. I’ve had similar experiences before (although no game is exactly like this) with Laid Off at the Synesthesia Factory, Mirror and Queen, and My Angle, which also seek to present the game as a seamless text.

What happened here for me is that I first tried a ‘test the boundaries’ game by just typing random stuff and seeing how long the game lasted. But it didn’t stop; it just kind of went on forever.

I then tried a few real games over about a week. What tended to happen is that I’d get good responses, but then I’d type something wrong and get an error. Errors take up an entire day, and things happen during that time, like your plant dying. So I felt like I was just wasting my game by typing the wrong things.

This happened in all those other games I mentioned too. For me why I struggle with this is that most commands I enter in most parser games result in errors; in a way, the errors are one of the major parts of the game. They instruct you when you’ve reached the edges. Getting an error isn’t necessarily ‘bad’.

I’m pretty sure I never got to where the main gameplay starts. After my plant had died in my final run (the only one in the transcript), I got a message about my blood trickling into the pot, which seems like the main plot point of the story. Has anyone made further progress on this?

blossomrush.txt (15.7 KB)

Edit: Actually, I found the transcript from my attempt to see how long the game lasted:
transcript.txt (28.0 KB)


Thank you so much for the kind review, Brian!

I’ll be happy to address the points as soon as the competition is over (that is, as soon as I’m allowed to).


Black Street Market

This game is written in Twine and is a kind of smuggling business simulator. You live in a town where monsters have been segregated and monitored by the police. You sell illegal items to monsers.

The game has a loop where you pick one of three areas to try to pick up loot, then have a customer who may or may not be undercover approach you the next day, whom you can sell to.

There’s some cute pixel art and fun sketches. I liked this, but it quickly became repetitive; after around 10-15 days I stopped. I had been arrested a few times. It’s possible there’s an ending but I couldn’t find one. Definitely could be fun with enough variation.


Here’s a summary of the game’s length, style, and level of completeness:

-Black Street Market: Can see most of it in ten minutes, illustrated twine scavenger game, main game loop seems complete
-The Blossom: 15-30 minutes, unusual parser game, seems like core game exists but edge cases aren’t fleshed out
-The Chronicles of Kyrathaba: 30-45 minutes, long twine rpg game, only introduction to a much larger proposed game
-Jimin, Ari, and Shush: 20-30 minutes, parser game with multiple PCs and NPCs, just the starting area with several subareas not finished
-Loose Ends: 10-20 minutes, twine RPG game based on Vampire: The Masquerade, just the intro/first chapter
-Luna Gardens: 15-25 minutes, trippy parser game with emphasis on aesthetics, feels like a complete story in a way but also seems like an introduction to a bigger game
-The Picton Files: 20-30 minutes, point and click combined with choice-based, has the first chapter of what promises to be a full murder mystery.

(These are just guesses on the times)


I want to write some words about The Blossom.
We played this Game last night in IFMUD untill New Year’s Eve.
There was some fun and a lot of frustration becouse we didin’t have a real goal. Tried all posible commands and instructions (there is a lot of stuff implemented) and all the ideas we through about.
We discovered some situations and some issues playing the Game. I encouarage you, Olaf, to improve and finish the Game due to it’s original development as a novel under construction. Furthermore, I hope you study our transcript.