Merk's Review: Deadline Enchanter

The “official” version can be found at my website:

Of the games I’ve played so far, I’m tipping Deadline Enchanter for the Golden Banana of Discord. Like you, I was pretty impressed (though not blown away), but other reviewers seem to have found it too pretentious.

So do you think the underimplementation is intentional or not? I more or less assumed so at first (and it certainly makes sense). But considering the scene in the cell with the pitcher, I’m not so sure. To me, that particular scene is just badly implemented. All the text is clueing one particular action, but taking it results in a default message. (See the comments on Emily Short’s review for spoilery discussion of this particular issue, if you aren’t exactly sure what I’m on about.) I can understand that in the PC’s position, she probably wouldn’t bother to implement stuff around the edges (though in the first scene, she claims to have implemented a person “for ‘local color’”). But the actions you have to take with the pitcher are necessary to move the story forward. Shouldn’t she have made some effort either to accomodate standard synonyms or to push the player in the right direction here? This just looks like authorial carelessness to me, which undermines my readiness to believe that other underimplementation is deliberate.

Then again, it’s quite possible that the author deliberately underimplemented some parts of the game but left unintentional problems in other parts.

I’ve given this some thought. I think the story would have worked just as well with a better implementation. Perhaps the narrator could be technologically advanced enough to still “create” a rushed game with polish. A lack of synonyms does seem lazy, when I think about it. This narrator’s game could have been written based on a more advanced framework and default libraries, right? It’s apparently created “on top of” an existing game (there is a “Dragyr” or something – A dragon? I forget – that’s said to be a left-over from another game).

The walkthroughs given out in-game sure discourage any kind of experimentation. Is there any reason to implement alternate verbs and nouns when you’re supposed to just follow the instructions? So… hmmm. Is it underimplemented to support the story, or was the story devised to explain away the underimplementation?

Here’s one way of looking at it. Whatever the reason, the author was able to spend his or her time writing the story instead of programming complicated game logic. If you look at games like… well, all three of last year’s winners are great examples… there is a good story at work with a well-implemented, detailed game world. In a way, that makes Deadline Enchanter feel a little like… I don’t know… like it cheated. But still, I was really drawn into it, and so I rated it well.

I wonder who the author is? It could be somebody we’ve never heard of before, I guess. The style doesn’t seem recognizable to me (based, anyway, on the games I’ve played from the last few IFComps). I wondered if maybe Kevin Venzke was back, but he writes in TADS (and this seems too linear and underimplemented to be something I’d expect from Kevin). Sara Dee? Same doubts (except for the TADS thing). Or was it entered anonymously not so much to hide the author’s identity but to support the concept that this game came about as the narrator’s creation?

Without referencing my notes, isn’t the cell scene also in the walkthrough? Though as I recall it took me a few turns to find or look at the walkthrough to know what to do with the pitcher. I remember being a little annoyed at the ‘under-implemented’ pitcher as well.

You know, for authors, the first one I thought of was Plotkin. But now I’m wondering if it wasn’t Jason Devlin?

I talked to Jason in email a little before the competition, and he said he wasn’t entering this year. I don’t really have any reason to doubt it. I don’t think it’s Andrew Plotkin either – just doesn’t seem polished enough.

Has anybody’s review indicated they were a beta-tester? I haven’t checked a few of them (like Inky’s, which will list the “highly recommended” games first and I don’t even want to know that much yet).

Yeah, I can’t imagine zarf being that careless about implementing obvious actions. The writing isn’t quite his style either.

I do have a theory about who it is, but it could be wrong.

Well, since I’ve pretty much ruled out either of mine, it’s bound to be a better guess than what I came up with.

I guess this is a litmus test for how entrenched the IF community is…when something interesting and unique shows up, it obviously must have been written by an already established author, right?

Though I come from 4chan, a place where releasing one’s works as “Anonymous” is a sign of community pride, and not of preventing user-bias.

You have a good point there. Especially since part of I7’s mission was to make more writers into programmers and programmers into writers, right?

Not necessarily. However, I can’t remember there ever being an IFComp entry by a first-time author entered anonymously. I’ve seen pseudonyms – generally online handles – but never one purposely entered anonymously. Anybody here remember otherwise? I missed several of them over the years…

Is it entrenchment? Seemed like deduction to me. The biggest reason to enter anonymously is to avoid a bias. There are others – perhaps to see how well a game will rank as an anonymous entry. But sure, these reasons are still within the scope of what the IF Community understands about the IFComp. Now, if somebody were to bring some other community’s standards into it, as you suggest, then all bets are off.

If thirty ducks walk by, who’d expect the next one to be a chicken?

Are you – or do you know – the game’s author? Or was that a general observation? If the game is by an anonymous first-time author, then obviously guessing is pretty pointless. :slight_smile:

So was there anything to that, or was it just a hit-and-run advertisement for “4chan?”

It worked, because I had to google it to realize how huge 4chan actually is.

Me too. Or he might just be slow in making it back this way. I would think, though, that if he were the game’s author, he’d check back more frequently for new comments. So who knows. I’m making more assumptions, though, and it has already been pointed out that that can be a mistake.

Nah, I know the game’s author as much as you. I just like randomly musing :stuck_out_tongue:

And I didn’t mean it as advertising, just comparative study of internet-based cultures…or something like that.