Patrick's 2023 Reviews

I hope it was helpful! It was a fun play experience.

Yes it is! Glad you enjoyed it.

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Hi Patrick. Thank you for playing my game.

I understand a lot of the reviewers frustrations and do feel shame for pushing it through without having everything completed the way I intended the finished the game to be. The last week before submission, I was hammering away at it for 16 hours every day.

From the end result, I wonder if everyone thinks it’s because I wasn’t smart enough to make it right, or if they see the potential from what was completed and understand I would have made it a lot better if I had more time.

Coming from old school text adventures where no information was given about the objective, or what commands to use on objects and places; and everything was a blank slate for the player to discover, I figured I’d just leave it all unexplained and let the player solve everything. The object was to recreate the experience I had with the original games in the 80s. The long nights I’d spend alone trying to figure out what were useful items and what command would combine them to act together. The magic feeling of opening up new areas that were locked before. New text on the screen after seeing everything so many times, you knew it by heart.

The thing about gaming back in the day was that it was likely the only game you had. There weren’t a million other games readily available if you got frustrated. So even when you put the game down, it would still be playing in your head.

I’ve since tried to rekindle the nostalgia, playing on emulators, but the old games are now tainted with limitations that didn’t exist before newer games changed everyone’s expectations. I added a bunch of secrets to mine that I intended to bring the genre into the modern day, but it made the game a little too big to complete in time and some things ended up half assed.

A lot of other secrets were perhaps undiscovered because what was there might have given the impression that my priorities should have been utilized elsewhere and if little things weren’t done properly, other bigger things probably wouldn’t have even been implemented. There was just no accounting for what things broke when other things were fixed and the end feature result was random.

There is actually a way to load and save games. The command for it was LOADGAME / SAVEGAME GAMENAME. RESTARTGAME restarts it and EXITGAME to quit.

There is also an in game fog of war map that no one seemed to discover. type MAP

There was an alchemy section to the game where the user can craft items with elements transmuted from fallen enemies, which did work technically, though the use of the crafted items wasn’t implemented because of time limitations.

There were some clues written on objects, but the main character is sight impaired and cannot read small writing unless he equips something to aid him.

There are shops where you can buy and sell items and if you buy a shovel, you can dig every location to get a random treasure.

There are a few puzzles that rely on you knowing the time to within 30 minutes. There is a real time world clock that ticks every turn. You can estimated the time from the location description, but if you find the ghost watch, you will no longer have to guess.

A lot the procedural text was actually just debugging text that I had planned to replace with more relevant messages… Again, time.

I genuinely feel bad for your frustrating experience. I worked solo on the entire project from scratch and only started three months before the deadline. It would have been nice if the game had a better reception, but truthfully, I really just hoped someone would like it well enough to work with me on the next one I made. And pushing it out in its current state was a gamble that didn’t pay off.

I still plan to work on it more, as time allows, and hopefully it’ll yet be something that is fun and worthy of praise.

Thank you for your fair review of what was presented.

Responding to Handsome

These things! I began writing my Prince Quisborne game before joining this forum and discovering that people these days were eating “IF snacks”… basically it was like a disappointing revelation to me that so many smallish games were being churned out that the interest in large games to savor (like the ones you’re remembering) was all but gone.
So I feel your feelings there, and here I am somewhat awkwardly presenting one of the longest IF games ever made to an audience that is mainly just looking for a quick bite before moving on to the next one.
Sorry I couldn’t get your game loaded on my Mac!


Eleventh Review: The Little Match Girl 4

I drew a map:


Hello, McStranger!

I do remember the setup for those 80s games (and, coincidentally, was just writing about that on the forum last week). I also have a lot of nostalgia for them and think that trying to re-evoke that in a contemporary setting is a really tricky needle to thread. For what it’s worth, I meant what I said in the review:I think there’s the beginnings of a good game there, and I think that building and polishing it will be a worthwhile task. I hope I get to play a polished and completed version some day.

I hope you don’t mind if I respond to some of the specific things you say here.

Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but my own experience was very much that part of my frustration was seeing the potential and banging my head against the wall of not being able to figure out how to accomplish a task, or realizing it hadn’t yet been implemented. I suspect other people saw the game mostly as an early draft, rather than the production of someone who is incompetent or foolish. I think that the game you’ve sketched out is pretty ambitious and will take a lot of work to complete and polish, but I suspect that the end product will be worthwhile.

For me personally, a lot of my frustration with the game would likely have been ameliorated by a README or other basic-overview kind of document — even a page or two laying out some of this information and other information about basic game mechanics would have helped. No, not everyone will notice it’s there and read it … but some will. I would have: I went through the folder opening everything that looked like a text file long enough to see if it were a manual. (On a related note, I would have liked to see the distribution folder organized in such a way as to hide the game-implementation files from the user by putting them into a subfolder, and maybe having the manual-type document(s) put into a Documentation or docs/ folder.) And if you’re trying to evoke the nostalgic forms of early IF, documentation is one nice supporting feature that helps to polish that particular illusion.

For LOADGAME, SAVEGAME, RESTARTGAME, and EXITGAME, I hope you don’t mind if I suggest adopting the now-standard commands SAVE, RESTORE, RESTART, and QUIT, either as the primary commands or as synonyms for your longer forms.

Anyway: I mean it when I say I hope there’s a finished version, because the first public draft sure is promising. PM me when you release it, please?


Twelfth review: Beat Witch

There is a map:


Patrick, thank you for your thoughtful review and the map! (I wasn’t sure if Beat Witch could be fully mapped, as Polly is disoriented sometimes, but you proved me wrong.)

I’m happy the game at least partly worked for you, and that you enjoyed the writing, music, and premise.

A few people have asked why I bothered to make this a parser game instead of just writing it in Twine, and why it’s so much on the rails. I’ll attempt to answer in the post-mortem.

For now, thanks again for playing, reviewing, and mapping Beat Witch. It means a lot to me when people spend time and effort on something I’ve made, even if they don’t fully connect with it.


I’m glad you found the review helpful! And, like I said, I think there’s a lot to like about it.

Of course, as you say, sometimes Polly is disoriented, so it’s sometimes necessary to just pick an arbitrary direction to lay out one box next to another. It’s a similar problem as trying to map three directions plus IN/OUT onto a two-dimensional grid with more traditional parser IF.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the postmortem! Thanks for putting a really engaging piece of writing with a clean, effective soundtrack out into the world.


Thirteenth review: Have Orb, Will Travel.

I also produced a (not-quite-complete, as it omits the non-solution part of a maze) map:


Fourteenth review: One King to Loot Them All.

A map:


Hi Patrick,

Thank you very much for playing my game, the nice review and the map!

Some small things missing from the map (I don’t know if it is easy to update it):

dining room
    bottle of wine
throne room
  axe (fix typo)
hall of justice
    vial of holy water

As for alternate vocabulary, I am planning a post comp release which includes a list of these, because although implemented, they are not all mentioned in the online help or player primer. I allow for alts like look / inv / examine / get / take / search / show / give / talk to / attack / go and others.

Good point on mentioning the actual commands when doing the story mode. I preferred not explicitly showing them, but on hindsight it is better to include them, if only to satisfy player curiosity on what was the command they missed. I will add it into my post comp / post mortem release.


Thank you for the corrections! I’ll post a fixed version in just a few minutes.

EDIT. Fixed!

EDIT again because I meant to say: I actually did use most of the standard parser IF commands throughout most of the game, even though the unusual synonyms provided were more closely related to the game’s own diction. I tended to try them a few times and fall back on my old standards.


Fifteenth review: Milliways

I drew a partial map:


Thanks for the review!

I guess I’ll start off by saying that I have no idea why the interpreters aren’t working, since WinFrotz and Windows Gargoyle (and Parchment) also work as far as I have played - but that’s Windows, maybe Linux refuses to play. I’m sorry it had to end with bugs. That seems to be a very recurring theme with Milliways.

I agree greatly with you. Oven time is needed, and don’t worry, it’s gonna be some time before I can get a good version out there.

(Did Trillian become the love interest? I thought that was Fenchurch. I started book 4 but disliked it and found it very uninteresting and Mostly Harmless as well, even disregarding Adam’s usual standards. So, that could be it.)

Extra note (which I think I know the answer to): Do we get to see what our score was for your reviews, since you reference it at the start?


Hi, Max!

I’m definitely happy to help with additional testing, if that works out. (Alternately, installing a recent Ubuntu in a VM and then testing with its versions of Frotz and Gargoyle would maybe be easier, and I’m happy to help with that, too.) Problems seemed crop up (for me) when the score was updated or when the player was transported (as opposed to normal movement). Again, I’m happy to help if I can, though I don’t know ZIL and its toolchain.

It’s been a long time since I read the Hitchhiker’s novels, but IIRC, Trillain was the love interest at the beginning of the novels, back before Arthur goes to space; she was Tricia then. Arthur meets her at a party and is awkwardly trying to small-talk her when Ford walks up and boorishly pushes in front of Arthur ("Hey baby, ditch this loser and come with me; I’m from another planet); Tricia walks off with him, and therefore becomes the only other human to survive the destruction of the Earth. (Or maybe it was Zaphod, not Ford. Come to think of it, I believe it was Zaphod, whom Arthur recognizes in, I think, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Trillian is still traveling with him at that point.) Fenchurch comes along later (So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish?), but Arthur spends a lot of time mooning over Trillian first.

I agree with you, by the way: the series really goes downhill after the third novel. (Though So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish has its high points, especially if you’ve lived in southern California. I went to grad school near where Adams was living when he died, and he really does kind of nail the description of the So-Cal douchebag type with characters like Wonko the Sane.)

I made a conscious decision to hide my scores for the duration of the Comp period a few years ago when someone took a relatively low score and a review that boiled down to “meh, not for me. Dude needs to proofread his own writing” very, very badly. (Also, this is because I look back on my scores at end of the Comp and try to assess whether I still think they’re fair relative to each other, and that I haven’t drifted towards scoring harder/easier as the Comp progresses. Since I sometimes bump scores up or down a point during this process, I don’t want to publicize the initial score.) But I’ll unhide them after the Comp results are announced, is my plan. Milliways got neither the highest nor the lowest score I’ve given out this Comp, and its good implementation and funny writing helped to compensate for the bugs on my score.

Again, please let me know if there’s anything I can do to be helpful with testing a new release or with bugfixes, OK?


FWIW, this was not my impression AT ALL. My sense was that you made exactly the game you wanted to make, and more power to you!

This is insane to me. The game was deep and I didn’t even trip over crafting system, time management or excavation! Creating all that in only three months seems deal-with-the-devil type stuff!

I agree with this, and would further think about in-game nudging when you are making some logical leaps (like >GO UNDER STICK :] ) You definitely created a singular experience (like Carhenge!). Some nods or readjustments to modern expectations would go a long way… if you want. You don’t owe us anything though. If you want a cruel game in the world (and I use the term categorically, not pejoratively) by all means leave it be. Our world is RICHER because Carhenge is in it!


Sixtheenth review: Death on the Stormrider

Behold, a map:


Thanks for the review, and the map! The guess-the-phrase issues with hiding are a bit of an embarrassing bug that will definitely get fixed now that the comp is over, but the perfunctory endings were intentional, even if they didn’t quite come across as I’d hoped. Post-mortem coming soon!


I’m looking forward to the postmortem. It was a fun game!