The reception of Suspended over the years

In the course of researching Suspended this week, I’ve noted that it appeared in the Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All time poll for the first time in 2019 (recognizing that polls are less than scientific). It was rated 36th, a rank shared with other titles. I am wondering what has caused this rise in its stature.

Looking over older reviews (90s, aughts), I see discussion of whether it is fiction, interactive fiction, or both. Or neither.

Having been an outsider to the IF community for nearly all of its history, my uninformed speculation is that the definition of “Interactive Fiction” has broadened over the years. Is this accurate? I am interested in hearing about member attitudes toward Suspended and wonder if they have changed over the years.

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It’s certainly true that the definition we use around here has broadened. IF used to mean parser games, but choice-based games took over a few years ago. I don’t see why that should affect Suspended, though.

I classify Suspended as a parser-based strategy game, rather than a text adventure. It still has some traditional-style puzzles to solve, but getting all the robots to do the right things in the right places at the right times gives it a totally different feel from Zork II or Starcross. It’s still IF, though. The amount of fiction in it isn’t really that different from the thin layer over the Zork I treasure hunt. I’ve always liked Suspended, but I find it somewhat intimidating. Someday I’m going to really dig into it and spend some serious effort on hunting bugs.

Keep in mind that participation in those polls has probably varied wildly over the years.

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This is an interesting distinction to consider, adventure vs. [genre].

I did, too. The opening is unlike the start of any other Infocom game, and it has more of a learning curve than its contemporaries.