Let's Judge the Comp Blurbs, why don't we

Another Comp, another chance to judge the Comp blurbs! Here’s what we got this year:

AlethiCorp: Satire of start-up culture, I’m guessing? Definitely has something to do with both business and technology at any rate. I like Simon Christiansen’s games generally, but his works that try to handle serious themes tend to be kind of iffy, so we’ll see how it goes.
And yet it moves: Another game in the Renaissance espionage genre. In all seriousness this does give me some Assassin’s Creed vibes, but in a more historical thriller vein, rather than… whatever the heck Assassin’s Creed is supposed to be. Might be one to watch.
Arqon: Speaking of assassins! This seems kind of… generic fantasy “Zork-esque”. Mention of “your sanctuary”, so the PC is supposed to be a wizard/druid? We don’t really get a good idea of what they were before they became an assassin, so it’s hard to tell why they’d be on the run. Illegal magicks, maybe?
Begscape: Eh, I’m sort of iffy on the concept, but it is Porpentine, so I’ll probably give it a shot.
Building the Right Stuff: I like how this one tells you something shady is going on without giving everything away. Concept kinda reminds me of Carolyn VanEseltine’s Homecoming.
Caroline: Speaking of Carolyns(/lines)! This one is pretty short and sweet. Nice horror vibe. (Unless it’s not going for that?)
Creatures Such as We: Is this the first Comp dating sim? No, because there was that one done in ADRIFT about 2004-ish. Also, it seems like the coincidental Comp theme this year is space! Anyway, I’m interested in this one, but mostly because Lynnea Glasser is writing it.
Eidolon: This… doesn’t give a whole lot of info to go on. I’m guessing it’s another space game? Makes me to fire it up just to find out what it’s about, so I guess it did its job.
Enigma: The cover for this one kind of stinks, imo. I hope this is more of an “escape-the-room” game, and less moral quandry-ism a la The Test is Now READY (bleh).
Excelsior: This feels overly simplistic, like 2012’s [url=http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=qfawv15gf50ev8yb]Castle Adventure/url I’m hoping “streamlined parser” means “we took out all the verbs we didn’t need” and less “we just didn’t care at all”.
Fifteen Minutes: I like this one! Conveys all the themes (time travel, paradoxes, academia) in three short paragraphs. Looks like a game to watch!
Following Me: This seems like it’s going to be like Saw (or well, Hostel, but everybody seems more familiar with Saw). That isn’t really my bag, so I’ll steer clear. Nicely put together, though!
HHH.exe: Ooh, a weird creepypasta video game-game! I’m a sucker for stories like that, so I’ll definitely be playing this.
Hill 160: I feel like I could use some more info on this one. Bills itself as a “World War I Adventure in Terror”, but does that mean it’s a horror game or just a game about World War I?
Hunger Daemon: AAAAUGH ZOMBIES! At least I think it’s zombies? Anyway I think this might be a game based entirely around that one adventure game puzzle everyone hates. You know, the one other than mazes? But mazes-with-a-trick-to-them are a common staple of IF puzzles; I think the author of this one might pull it off if he twists it enough.
Icepunk: Huh. Kinda buzzword-y. The concept behind it doesn’t interest me at all (something about robots and the last human, EVER and data and junk). I may give it a whirl to see what it’s about, but not much more than that.
Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes: Horror, I guess? The menacing blurb is good but the title could be more, I dunno, descriptive maybe. Unless it takes place at a bowling alley (or a skateboarding competition).
Jacqueline, Jungle Queen!: I think this one might be based on a webcomic. Jungle queens are a racially iffy concept, but the story feels cartoony enough that I’ll probably ignore it while I’m playing. I just hope it’s not too goofy or anything.
Jesse Stavro’s Doorway: Huh, Grateful Dead time travel game? Could be interesting, although I haven’t liked what I played of the author. Most of my problems seem to have come from testing, though; maybe Comp Culture mitigates that somewhat?
Krypteia: Goofy fantasy, I guess? Setting seems “primitive” enough to have wise men and warrior rites, but advanced enough to have trash receptacles. Well, they’ll address that point in game, probably.
Laterna Magica: Yeah, what is Lanterna Magica? Oh god wait, is this gonna be one of those new-agey spiritualistic evangelical games? Probably not, since the blurb doesn’t talk about it, but I scared myself all the same.
Milk Party Palace: Random-ish game about Alec Baldwin, looks like. Alec Baldwin is the yell-y Baldwin who was on 30 Rock, right? This game isn’t really catching me right now.
Missive: Ooh, murder mystery! Auto-biographical type works don’t really catch my attention that much, but I do like mysteries. I’ll keep an eye on this one.
One Night Stand: Eh, sex comedies aren’t really my bag. Cover art looks swank, though.

That’s about all I have time to review right now, but I’ll be back later and review the rest sometime this evening. In the meantime, feel free to post your own reviews of IF Comp blurbs!

Shockingly, I had much the same idea. Post over here.

Origins: This sounds incredibly dull and I feel like a tool for saying that. It, I dunno, just seems like an IF version of those incredibly dull short stories about alienation you come across sometimes in short story collections. Multipane view sounds interesting, but I think I’ll find it distracting in practice.
Paradox Corps: Um, did the comp website bug up here? It looks like this blurb got eaten, given there’s not even a “[i]Format[/i]: whatever” on the entry. Anyway! Title seems pretty cool. More time travel? I can handle that.
Raik: This one rubbed me the wrong way. Serious issues like mental illness and anxiety, only lightened by WACKY adventures with Scottish mythology, apparently? Ehh, I should probably withhold judgment on that until I’ve played the game.
Sigmund’s Quest: Ooh, I love the pixel cover art on this! And its take on mythology seems inviting. I’m gonna keep an eye on this one.
Slasher Swamp: Ehh, not a big fan of slashers, sorry. Although the blurb itself is okay. File this one under “I’ll play it if it gets good reviews”, I guess.
Tea Ceremony: Now here’s one that seems pretty interesting! A game about schmoozing it up with an alien snob. Plenty of conversational and/or etiquette puzzles here, I bet. Also this seems to continue with the space theme.
The Black Lily: Seems to be some sort of paranoia thriller. Well, that, or slasher horror, I guess. Some sort of horror/thriller thing. I don’t have any other impressions besides that; it is grabbing me, at least.
The Contortionist: This could be amusing! A comic(-ish?) game about a contortionist escaping from prison? I wonder how they got into that situation? Hopefully I’ll find out.
The Entropy Cage: Cyper-psychiatrist sounds neat (although is that an electronically enhanced regular psychiatrist or one who specifically treats computer programs?), but the rest feels too… goofy? Uh, po-faced? Generic cyberpunk? I’ll probably still play it anyway. (Sidenote, but I do find the items highlighted under the content warning really funny, in a mean way. I guess getting this sort of thing right for a heterogeneous audience is pretty hard!)
The Secret Vaults of Kas the Betrayer: Wow, this blurb is pretty long. I mean, I don’t really mind, but it is long. Wait, is this a Myst fangame? Practically the only thing I know about Myst is that it involves Ages, but I think those are actually places. If it is a fangame, it needs to do more to advertise that fact; if it isn’t, it could probably do with being a little less generic.
The Urge: Uh, wow. Cover art’s nice, blurb is very well done (I like the poetic structure!), but I don’t like anything it’s advertising. I really don’t want to play a game about horrific torture, even if it is presented in a Very Important Way. Might be good if you like your buttons getting pushed, though?
Tower: Ehh. (I say that a lot, don’t I.) “A short interactive fiction with surreal elements” describes so many games. This blurb isn’t doing a very good job of selling it, I don’t think.
Transparent: This, on the other hand, sell its game very well. The Inform-ese is a brilliant touch, I think. And all without telling us much about what it’s, you know, about. I’m guessing ghosts?
Ugly Oafs: Ooh, a wordplay game! Has Andrew Schultz submitted another pseudonymous game to the Comp? Well, whoever’s behind this needs to know their name is spelled differently on the cover and on the website.
Unform: Mysterious prisoners with amnesia aren’t very original, but they’re still capable of-- wait, hang on, did that blurb mention tests and judgment?? Oh no, I’m getting flashbacks to The Test is Now READY again! I guess that game has ruined my enjoyment of moral choice games forever.
Venus Meets Venus: This doesn’t really tell me much, other than it’s not a love story and there’s a mature content warning. I’m hoping it’s because they get into a bloody cage match!
With Those We Love Alive: This promises to be a Porpentine game, with music. Well, I did love CRYSTAL WARRIOR KE$HA.
Zest: Who was it that predicted “game with ‘x simulator’ in the title that actually means ‘game about x’”? 'Cause I think you might be a winner. Anyway, this seems to be some sort of take-off on Lemonade Stand. I loved Richard Goodness’s Fear of Twine exhibition, lectronice’s game was good, and I’m always sort of iffy on PaperBlurt’s work but you gotta admit he styles like nobody’s business; I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

Well, there are my reviews. More goofy spitballing than anything, really. I do hope nobody’s feelings are hurt by this. Anyway, I guess it’s time for a Games I Most Want to Play list:
Fifteen Minutes
Sigmund’s Quest
Tea Ceremony
The Contortionist

And then there’s Games I Want to Play, But Mostly Because I’m Familiar with Their Authors’ Body of Work:
Creatures Such as We
With Those We Love Alive

Aaand that’s everything I wanted to say. See you in the review threads!

Origins sounded incredibly interesting to me and it fulfilled what made it interesting beyond my wildest dreams! That is, it’s set in the city I grew up in and you can actually go past the house I grew up in. Hi, Mom and Dad!

Too funny!

I had this experience recently in a non-IF context with NEO Scavenger. The Allegan Fairgrounds present in the game are a real place about 45 minutes from where I grew up.

Overall I thought this was an above-average year for blurb/cover art quality. (If that was thanks to the IF Comp website actually recommending authors think about this, then yay! If it was just good luck, then also yay!)

Things I particularly liked:

The colors and composition of the art for Jesse Stavro’s Doorway. Wow. I haven’t played yet, but this image makes me expect something arresting and dreamlike.

The promise of 1630’s Florence in And Yet It Moves. I am a big fan of historical-setting IF. I’ve seen Life of Galileo on stage three times. I am having to consciously tamp down my hopes about this one lest I get unreasonably excited about it before trying.

Caroline: I like the type layout here. I have no idea what the game is going to be about and the blurb is pretty unrevealing, but the cover art hints at some level of authorial professionalism, so that’s cool.

Creatures Such as We. It’s by Lynnea Glasser! It’s a dating sim! It has an evocative and well-executed drawing on the cover! The main niggle I have is that I would like to move the text slightly in away from the margins because it feels just a tiny bit crowded to me. But that’s a nitpick.

The blurb and the cover for Following Me feel quite confident and self-assured. They both suggest that this is going to be a genre thriller of a certain style; that genre is not my absolute favorite, but I feel like the messaging is clear. And I recall enjoying the author’s previous work, but finding it longer than I expected from a choice game. I should probably set aside a sizable time-window to try this one.

Hunger Daemon: the blurb gives me a really strong feeling that this is going to be a parser-based puzzle-comedy game from the perspective of a devil or demon, with a lot of acknowledgement of classic IF tropes. Also, I liked Shore’s previous game. The cover art is less strong – the lettering feels crowded and unbalanced, the “interactive fiction by…” bit is a little too small, and overall I have the sense that the letterer was not quite sure how to make the text work with the available space in the photo.

Jacqueline, Jungle Queen has pro-quality art and a cheery, confident blurb in a particular voice. Like Sam, I’m a little apprehensive about the tropes it’s invoking, but it’s something I’m going to give a look, certainly.

Origins: “There are two available modes, a “myopic” view wherein the player controls a single character’s choices (but the consequences of both characters’ actions are still shown); and an “omniscient” view, where both characters’ choices are available.” I predict that the phrase “extradiegetic agency” is going to appear in some reviews. I am so excited about this.

Raik: the night before the comp games dropped a few of us were chatting on ifMUD about what games we would especially like to see if the universe were granting magic wishes, and “something based on Celtic mythology” was one of my requests. Thank you, magic wish universe.

Tea Ceremony: The tagline “alien etiquette simulator” pretty exactly describes my original concept for Floatpoint, before it went in other directions. This game also speaks to my interests.

But really, there’s a lot to like here. And while we’re on the topic, I’d like to shout out to jmac for making such a beautiful new IF Comp site. It’s nice having the games in such an attractive-looking showcase.

In other news, it is messing with my head that the game that describes itself as a streamlined puzzle game set in a tower is NOT the game named TOWER. I am also confused that there is a game called Laterna Magica, which I have a really strong instinct to autocorrect to Lanterna Magica. I notice a few other people have done that too. Possibly this will make more sense when I’ve played.

Also, this thread reminded me to go back and look at this post critiquing a bunch of IF cover art and what makes it work.

I also had thoughts about the blurbs. Laterna magica as a phrase didn’t bother me but boy can the same thing not be said about that Enigma cover. I genuinely don’t want to be mean here but I spent a lot of time just staring at it trying to understand the decisions that were made.