Review: Cana According To Micah

(A straight, non-ironic account of the miracle of the wine.
Cana According To Micah - Details (tads.org))

Mmmhh, honeyed locusts.

Cana According To Micah is a very nice retelling of one of Jesus’ miracles from the viewpoint of a servant at the wedding in Cana.

In search of the last jug of wine that has gone missing, you encounter several characters from Jesus’ time and entourage, trying to get their help in understanding where the wine has gone. The puzzles almost all consist of talking to the right people at the right time.

I found the fact that there is no real theological depth to the conversations refreshing. After all, you’re a servant trying to solve a practical problem. Discussions about the deeper meaning of the dis- and re-appearance of the wine are for scolars in later centuries.

I really liked the setting. In spite of a really small map, I got the impression of a spacious house with a large number of wedding guests. There were some hints to the Jewish wedding customs at the time, but as you play a character from that time, most are only mentioned in passing.

After accomplishing one important task, a quote from the poet Coleridge pops up. Not only did this take me out of the time of the story, it also hid the game-text right after my last command. Annoying.

There are a few decision points where the story can branch. I did not replay to look at them as I was content with the one playthrough and the ending I got.

Nice historical/religious vignette.

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Hehe, interesting point. I have a feeling the practice of including quotes, usually at the start or end of a game, was of above average prevalence (if we say the average is the chance of picking up a random novel and finding it starts with a quote) amongst the Inform / 90s IF crowd. And so there’s a Z-Code Inform extension designed just for the purpose of displaying quotes prettily.

I just now went to IFDB, searched Christopher Huang’s games and opened the transcript of a 1998 one (Muse), hoping it would kick off with a quote to help this post. I was not disappointed. (It opens with Lewis Carroll… AKA JACK THE RIPPER!: AllThingsJacq.com - Interactive Fiction | ClubFloyd - January 10, 2021 - MUSE: An Autumn Romance by Christopher Huang)

-Wade

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Just want to add, that I once in a while have experienced that some text could not be read with one interpreter (e.g. Frotz) but it could be read with another (e.g. Lectrote). So perhaps it may not be the author’s fault but the interpreter.

I’ve played a lot of IF with quotes at the start of the game or interspersed throughout. I hadn’t noticed this was a period thing though.

Any particular reason why you picked an example from a Christopher Huang game? I haven’t played anything by him yet.

Good point. I hadn’t thought of that. Neuronal jump-to-conclusion-pathway has been given a stern look and a warning finger-shake.

Are you sure? He wrote Cana According to Micah. So my reason was – it required very few clicks and keypresses to go from there to his other games. And in the back of my mind, I had a feeling his games went back to the 90s.

I’ll plug his recent book, too, while I’m here. It’s good: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/39908555-a-gentleman-s-murder

-Wade

I’ve played quite a few Christopher Huang games, mainly his SpeedIf entries, and they’re usually quite good. I haven’t finished ‘Cana According To Micah’ and ‘Muse’, simply because they were too big to play on my mobile phone and keep the map in my head.

On the subject of pop-up quotes, Graham Nelson seems to have an obsession with quotes and this obsession passed on to other authors in the 90s and beyond. Personally, I hate them and can’t recall one that seemed to have any relevance to the game.

The main reason I hate them is that they sometimes cause the interpreter to lock up on mobile phones. Maybe that has been fixed nowadays, but there were many games that I couldn’t play on the train travelling to and from work, simply because they had pop-up quotes. Mind you, I had similar problems with some of those in-game help menus, too.

While I don’t mind the pop-up quotes now, I did almost all my IF playing for the first few years on a phone and I hated the menus that you’re talking about (or ‘press any key’ but it doesn’t work on mobile). That’s the #1 reason I don’t use menus for help in any of my games, I don’t want others to suffer.

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Ahem… I’ll get my coat.

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I tried to address some of the tech delivery and horrible-transcript problems of the venerable Menus extension with my remade versions, which are in the public library but not all that noticeable since the originals are still there, too. Around the time I made these, help menus per se went totally out of fashion. So my remakes have gone mostly unused, I think, and I never got any real feedback about whether they helped :slight_smile:

-Wade

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