I tried to play through this, but I could not figure out what to do in the second room, and since I figured I had probably examined everything in the room I just checked the source code and input the cheat code.
Okay, no, that’s a lie. I actually looked at the source in a good faith attempt to figure how to solve the second room, but then I saw there was a cheat code and thought, hey! I don’t actually need to play any more of this game!
So what led to this response? A couple of things:
* First off, the quality of writing in the game is… functional, but not much better than that. When your entire game is composed of text you need to pay that much more attention to the writing. There isn’t much flavor, for lack of a better term, in the current game’s text, and that’s a big problem. Also there were a lot of niggling grammar flaws, mostly sentences ending without a full stop of some kind.
* Second, the game’s puzzles (well, what few of them I managed to come across) came off as really unintuitive. For example, the first puzzle:
I thought it was really unfair how you had to examine the eyes of the photo, when they were not pointed out in the photo’s description. Yes, I know, the clue on the wall hints toward this, but there’s no reason to believe that the photo (or anything else in the room) has eyes. Yes, I know, photos of people generally have eyes in them, but it’s an IF convention that things left undescribed are unimportant, and therefore unimplemented. If your goal was a bit of obfuscation, you could have made the woman in the photo a second level object like you did with the words on the wall, and have the description of her point out her eyes.
* Third, this is probably going to be a little subjective, but I think puzzle games should almost always have some kind of built-in hint system. I’m never good at these games and need all the help I can get. Even something as simple as a WALKTHROUGH command would have helped. (The cheat command is a good start, but it doesn’t really count, seeing how it skips all the puzzles for you. HELP, HINT, and WALKTHROUGH also have the added benefit of being able to be advertised at start-up.)
* Lastly, and again this is probably subjective, I absolutely hated the limited abilities gimmick. Part of the problem, I think, is that IF already constrains the player’s actions a fair amount, e.g. hitting a person (or thing) usually results in a response like “Violence is not the answer to this one.”* When I found out my actions had been constrained even further, I wanted to scream. Where this hit me hardest, and made me want to give up, was figuring out what the hell to do in the second room. There were several items that seemed to point to some kind of calendar, or password entry maybe, but there didn’t seem to be anything like either of those anywhere I could currently go. I couldn’t open things so I couldn’t open the panels on the desk (or were they drawers? I think drawers would have made more sense there), and I didn’t think I could search things. After looking through the source code I think I COULD have searched things at that point in time, but I had no way of knowing that since the POWERS list didn’t mention searching as something I could do. And even then there was still the simple frustration of NOT BEING ABLE TO OPEN AN UNLOCKED DOOR. I think part of the story is you being some kind of weird ghost-guy; maybe if you played that up a lot more this would be less frustrating.
So, yeah, that’s my feedback. I actually feel a little awful ripping into your game like that, because it’s clear that you put a lot of effort into it, but even if you just wanted to make a simple escape-the-room game it still needs a lot more work.
*[size=85]Stupid sidenote: I always wanted to make a game with the response “Violins is not the answer to this one,” but I could never figure out what the best context for it should be.[/size]