Welcome Home - A horror text adventure

I wrote a thirty nine room horror game that I hope you enjoy.
Feedback is always welcome folks.

Story -----

You are driving home to visit you’re family and decide to travel down the back country roads to avoid traffic. But alas the car breaks down and it starts raining. But wait, in the distance you can see the faint image of a house, maybe they’ll have a phone? But alas those who live within it are hiding a secret, a secret that they took to the grave.
Welcome Home.7z (275 KB)

Pretty much everything I said about “Into the Shadows of the Maze” applies to this one as well.

Inform port of Welcome Home.
Welcome Home.z8 (327 KB)

On top of what? I understand sort of what you mean, but the sentence is sort of gooey as to what the subject and verb are.

The halves of this sentence don’t have anything to do with each other and there’s a clunky tense switch in the middle.

There’s more of this, then:

Your car only ran once before?

Why does your room description show up before the banner text?

Okay, I played. Thirty-nine rooms sounds impressive, but there are only minimal sparse descriptions, and occasionally not even a room name. Nothing mentioned in the descriptions is implemented to examine further. Horror needs some detail, otherwise I’m just finding my way through a plywood halloween maze with a spider or a ghost painted on the wall that might as well not even be there. I found a skull, a bloody rag, and a doll. Then I died because…of a timer I guess? I’m only allowed to be in the house so long? I don’t understand why the story killed me off without explanation…just “you took took long”. Not even a “the ghost you didn’t realize has been following you for the last ten minutes attacks!” I just ran out of time. I’m not a bit invested to try again, especially with the nondescript kill-timer.

The special thing about parser fiction is you get to examine things. If there’s nothing to examine, this could easily have been done in Twine. But with Twine, they expect good writing.

Good effort though. I will always prefer six well-implemented and designed rooms over 39 mostly empty ones.

There is indeed an explicit and visible timer in most of his games. It’s actually in real-time, though I would imagine not in this port.

Just for the sake of clarity (and/or pedantry), I’ll mention that the original Windows game has “once running” (rather than “once-running”). And the duplicate room description isn’t in the original either – it only appears in the “unauthorized Inform adaptation”. But to be fair, whoever did the Inform conversion did correct a lot of the mistakes in spelling and grammar in the original.

As Peter just pointed out, the original has a timer that starts counting down, in real time, from the moment the game begins. The timer is always on screen.

Is there a reason for the timer? Am I freezing to death? This was not mentioned. I suppose if this is just a timed maze then some of my criticisms are pointless because you wouldn’t want to spend time on scenery.

I think the timer is a stylistic choice by the author. There’s a timer in all of his games, regardless.

…they all play pretty much the same, really, from the ones I’ve seen.

“On top of that” is a standard colloquialism.

I think I could argue that “once-running” would mean “ran at one point”, but It’s probably not an argument worth having.

On the other hand, the display of the room text in the prologue is an error, caused by a misunderstanding of what the “now” command does in Inform7.

Your description of D.B. Taylor’s work as a “Hallowe’en maze” is very apt, and is something of the impression he’s been attempting to evoke, namely that you’re rushing through a maze. He calls it “point-A to point-B”. I wasn’t satisfied with my implementation of the time limit – as other posters have said, the original game has an obvious countdown timer. I know that such an effect is possible (cf. Border Zone) but I am only a beginning Inform7 programmer. I do have a move counter in the game, which I suppose I could have made explicit (e.g. “You have 37 moves left!”). It might also be possible to have an active countdown timer via some form of Z-machine abuse, but I imagine it might not agree with every possible Z-code interpreter out there.

I thought that the counter was fairly generous, but I neglected to consider that the solution to the game is fairly obscure. I only know the solution from reading the source code. On top of that, D.B. Taylor did not implement an actual parser, so you would receive no feedback if you did not type exactly the expected command, so I had to make some decisions about whether to preserve the behavior or to “fix” it, which I wasn’t really willing to do. Releasing this work in its current state may not speak well for me, but fortunately, this is the “beta-testing” forum. Thank you for testing.

If you’re not otherwise familiar with D.B. Taylor’s work, he’s mentioned in his podcast that he wants to evoke the “retro” feel of the kinds of programs you’d find on a shareware disk or BBS from the '80s. He’s currently working with another programmer (the same person who’s given D.B.T. all the 5-star ratings on ifdb) on some of his new games and while the themes and gameplay are currently fairly similar, they have an attractive, “retro” user interface and there are the foundations of an actual two-word parser in the style of Scott Adams games.

It’s still in QBasic, though.

Regardless, thank you to ysphyxyatryx for the port! We’re all learning (:

Oh yes, definitely. Especially given the author’s Patreon thread, it’s wonderful to have a port of these games for people to see.

I remember him saying he wanted to be as good as Infocom… but it seems his inspiration lies elsewhere. Does “Scott Adams” mean gems like the verb UNLIGHT? And lack of disambiguation and pronouns?

I know those 80s games quite well, especially the DOS ones… and with the odd exception, I wouldn’t recommend they be anyone’s inspiration. Nor would I recommend a homebrew parser when there are so many good ones. I’ve seen Glulxe hacked into the resemblance of Spectrum/Commodore (Rod Pike’s Dracula), so it’s not that it can’t be done.

Although I can totally get the visual appeal of an old DOS game like that. It’s a nice retro look, it does look good. But it needs a solid parser and imlementation underneath… otherwise…