ParserComp 2021 Review

I don’t know if you put in the work, but this can be Rad4 and Rfd4, or R1d4 and R7d4. Or just Rook1 and Rook2. But if it’s really chess, then i usually just call the square it’s on. So instead of R2d2, it is Rf2d2 or just f2d2.

I think it’s good that you’re being original, but I just don’t understand it, and the current tutorial doesn’t seem to do it for me. I’m willing to give it another chance. Please let me know if you update the tutorial. This doesn’t have to be in-game. A simple text file will do. Thanks.

Well, thanks for trying anyway =)

1 Like

I hope you will get better reception elsewhere. I really like the environment. The way you set up the player to cook a warm stew against the heart of cold winter is brilliant. It’s too bad the way the puzzles are set up is totally incompatible with me.

Don’t worry, I won’t be scoring you low. Knowing that the game simply isn’t for me means I will not submit the score.

Take care.

1 Like

I understand! Thank you for your comment!


The maximum score in ‘Waiting for the Day Train’ is 65. The messages at the end give you an indication of what you did that was scored. The most obscure one is that you earn 1 point if you don’t say XYZZY.

1 Like

I think your review of ‘Snowhaven’ was a bit harsh. Although it’s not perfect, I rated it very high. I’ve played both the pleasant and emotive versions and found that it has an extremely comprehensive set of responses to the examination of scenery and objects. You can examine just about anything and get a sensible response. That is where you will get most of your clues. I can only guess that you didn’t examine things well enough, if at all.

I have sent some retrospective test comments to the author and she has done some updates. I had a look through my test reports and I don’t think there was one example of a guess-the-verb or guess-the-noun situation that needed to be addressed, although I did suggest some synonyms.


Guess the Verb and Guess the Noun are two different things. I cannot handle the latter. If you can, then you’re a better person than me. I’m still entitled to my opinion.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

That said maybe you have to ask yourself why you were compelled to score something with a 1, given you’d pointed out things you liked about it first and given the obvious efforts the author had gone to. To me this suggests a problem with your approach because you are putting something well constructed but (in your opinion) flawed, in the same basket as things that had no attention given to them by the author whatsoever.

I score movies on IMDb regularly. There are lots of movies I find so awful and tedious, but I’d never score a well made movie a rock bottom score. In fact I’ve never scored anything below a two, although.i was sorely tempted sometimes.

There are definite “1” games out there but even if everyone acknowledges and concedes every point you made in your review, which up to the score reveal was (in my opinion) a bit on the grumpy side but also constructive criticism, the logical score is a 2, because the game was made with love and you saw good in it.

That said, there are people that score everything highly out there too, and gloss over the faults, so absolutely you have the right to score things your own way too, and maybe it all comes out in the wash.

1 Like

(emphasis mine)

I think you just answered your own question.

(Folded by Mod due to flag)

Perhaps you should be more emphatic and consider the full extent of “I suffered.”

You have to consider that if something looks totally foreign and unrelatable, it will turn people off. An obviously flawed implementation but good idea does merit a 2, as you say. An unobvious flawed implementation will be blamed on the platform. (1) In this case, Adventuron.

I can tell you that not only I suffered through this game, but also fear that there may be other Adventuron games that adapt the same puzzle structure.(2) That is worth negative point in my book.

Therefore, knowing that I am outside of the intended demographic, not submitting the score is the proper action to take. Edit: giving a work of art a low score just because it’s not to your taste is worse than omitting the score!

(Folded by Mod due to flag)

(End edit)

Maybe you should politely ask what my reasoning is, instead of rudely assume that I don’t know what I’m doing and demand that I should change my mind, without any justifiable reason to do so. (3)

(1) This implies that Paul Pank’s games will get higher scores.
(2) is it the library? Tutorial? Or both? Definitely not the writer because it is consistent.
(3) At least I have the decency to ask. Anyway, I don’t have to give a full reason. As long as Grizel understands, that’s all I care.

1 Like

A fundamental problem occurs when people cannot receive bad news, and attack the messenger. Part of the problem is how can you improve? A game built for children or introductory should be very forgiving and if the experience is bad, then a chance for inclusion is lost.

Think of how stupid the average person is. Realize that half the people are even more stupid than that.
– George Carlin

There is a rule that I follow in creating puzzles for Parser games: Don’t be clever.

There shouldn’t be any opportunity for failure. Guess the Noun violates the rule of unwinnable game, not because it is technically so, but because the instructions is lacking. This is where an experienced beta testers may yield incomplete feedback due to expert bias.

Maybe a more thorough implementation is needed. Or maybe a walkthrough suffice. The difference may be small. It may be that clues are dispensed only at certain items/location/time. “X EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE” should be a hint that maybe the game should be more accommodating to players.

To examine things in particular order or time, is just cruel, unless heavily hinted. Or have the game forcibly progressed by the narrative, yielding different endings.

Choice games may be a better alternative in such cases. And that’s an advice, not an insult, although many IF writers chose to take offense when I suggest, or even hinted, that their story may be better being implemented as Choice, instead of Parser. Why? Who knows?

Some stories are great in IF. Others may be terrible. Personally, I will never write Parser games where the player needs to be very clever. Or even as Choice games. Write the story, then choose the platform, instead of the other way around.

Here I will forward a personal belief that Choice games should be considered by everyone. If you’re the type of person who writes IF stories by first writing a walkthrough, I suggest writing it with Choice, before implementing it using Parser later. I have been promoting the process for a long time. Ever since HTML 2, in fact. You don’t need CSS or Javascript. CSS allows for compelling graphics, while Javascript allows for states. Those are optional extras.

I didn’t realize you were an author as well. I’d love to see a game from you so I can get an idea of how one implements your game design tips. Is it up on if archive or itch?


I’ll put up my ScottKit game in progress on itch, if all goes according to plan.

(post deleted by author)


‘Cask’ and ‘Human Resources Stories’. Both are available at the IF Archive. You can find the links at IFDB.


Wow, this brings everything together; it’s like watching a movie and finally getting a big reveal about the backstory of the mysterious character. I remember all of this, but it was so long ago!

@ramstrong, you can correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the backstory as far as I’m aware:

In 1997, Harry Hardjono entered the short Inform puzzle game CASK into the IF Competition, where it took 31st place. At that time, IF reviews tended not to hold back, and many authors wrote very cutting remarks about the game at the time.

The next year, Hardjono entered the game Human Resource Stories which was, I believe, the first choice-based game entered into the competition.* This game was a multiple choice job interview with 9 questions about programming habits. Giving all 9 answers correctly lets you win, most other combinations cause you to fail. Typing XYZZY gives a 1115-word response about a tough boss forcing a programmer to meet unrealistic deadlines and make code ‘idiot-proof’. It was met again with very harsh criticism, especially several people deriding CYOA games as ‘not interactive fiction’.

Having learned this as part of IF history that is now over 2 decades old, it is really interesting to see someone return like this and have exactly the same ideas I once saw recorded in usenet posts. I just finished watching Captain America for the first time an hour ago, and so the idea of someone who disappeared from IF reappearing unchanged 20 years later is really evocative to me. It’s nice meet you in this timeline, @ramstrong, and I think that your old games deserved more credit and less harsh criticism.

*I think the next one was the lesbian erotic choice game Desert Heat by Papillon in 2000, an author who is now very successful in the Visual Novel genre.


I also made an interesting discovery. I haven’t played ‘Cask’, but after reading the reviews, it started ringing bells for me.

I did a few checks and the story, objects and puzzles in ‘Cask’ (apart from swapping the elephant with a gorilla) are exactly the same as ‘Escape from the banana prison’ by Adam Lepczak. The latter was written as an assignment for course CIS 487/587 at University of Michigan-Dearborn in Fall 2003. So clearly, one of the students thought this was worthy of plagiarism. Hats off to Harry.

I remember being bamboozled by some of the puzzles in ‘Escape from the banana prison’ and the reviewers were clearly bamboozled by the same puzzles in ‘Cask’.


That’s correct. And it’s not a simple, rudimentary Choice either. It has stats built-in for scoring purposes. What is now termed “FSM finite state automata”. And of course the full capability of Inform6 is available should you wish. So, you can have sophisticated game as well.

In fact, it was so easy to do that I regretted of not keeping proper journal because researching the materials and game balancing took much, much more time than coding CYOA system.

Now, do you see why I keep saying that CYOA coding from scratch is so simple that it can be done in one afternoon? It’s because I did it that way! *

I gave up on the community, that’s for sure. I’m not too sure about this one either. AFAIK, the only good one is Google+, where I can invite those who value learning more than posturing. Too bad, it’s gone.

  • I also did a Myst type game using HTML in about 30 min coding. Sketching the drawings took the longest time.

Probably because it was designed to be a tutorial game. Believe it or not, I had designed 25 rooms game+puzzles, complete with backstory. I run out of time to learn how the library work. I think I mistakenly coded the chair as Container instead of Supporter, not realizing that you can only have one or the other. Still, exact puzzles means that he’s plagiarizing the assignment, didn’t he? Just because elephants don’t deal with banana.

Anyway, I like the simplicity of ScottKit. I’m building a walking simulator with it, with some puzzles. There will be 2 versions, just to see how the same story, location, objects, puzzles can be fun/frustrating depending on how the puzzles are presented.

Is that the Flip-Flop switch? A simple combinatoric puzzle. That’s when I decided to not be clever in my puzzles. The audience is clearly not there.

I have to say I’m finding all of this drama and intrigue quite fascinating! Great detective work @mathbrush and @Warrigal and welcome back from wherever you have been @ramstrong.

1 Like

I had been wrestling with the most difficult coding problem that it took me 5 years to solve each time, with computer systems I used going obsolete, and previous coding experiences rendered null and void.

Not a pleasant experience especially with everybody absolutely, resolutely telling me that what I was attempting is absolutely impossible!