Search This Blog

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mite – A review

Believe it or not this is a stuffed dust mite.

Next on the docket, we have “mite”, and “might” I say I am a “mite” intrigued by the title. Are we playing a tiny spider? Is this in reference to size (a nice contrast to the other size related title “gigantomania” (which I haven’t played yet)? I don’t know. What I do know is that it takes a certain amount of confidence to give your story such a simple and homophonic name.

Note: Please remember I spoil things in my reviews. Mostly everything. That’s just the kind of guy I am: a big stinkin’ spoiler. Consider yourself warned.

Final Verdict: Beautifully told though trifling game that becomes somewhat marred by an off putting conclusion.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ninja’s Fate – A Review

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and guess we’re going to be a ninja in this one. Call it a premonition, call E.S.P. Maybe I picked up powers of “concentration” from the previous game (god, I hope not. I could live a nice long happy life without those kind of visions, thank-you-very-much). I just hope there’s not much combat. I’m not much of a combat-game kinda guy. I like to consider myself a pacifist. Most other people like to consider me a namby-pants sissy boy.

Anyway, on to “Ninja’s Fate”!

Note: There will always be spoilers in my always too wordy reviews. Please don’t read until you’ve finished the game. Thank you.

Final Verdict: A tribute game that is incomprehensible unless you’re very familiar with the games of the late Paul Panks(which I am not, by the way).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One Eye Open – A Review

Here's another thing with only one eye.

Another glulx game, eh? Well, the last one was pretty awesome so here’s hoping this one is too! It’s called “One Eye Open”. Hmmm… What are some things that have only one eye? Let’s see, there’s telescopes, victims of botched Lasik surgery, and pirates… Oh wait, no. Not another pirate game!! For the love of Graham Nelson, not another pirate game!

Don’t worry folks. It’s a Glulx game. It’s gotta be good, right?

Note: If you like having your game ruined for you via copious spoilers, I’d recommend reading the entire review. Or you could play the game first, like a sensible person.

Final verdict: Wow. Okay, so… I’m sorry about the pirate crack before. This is a really good game. Twisted, disturbing, and deeply uncomfortable but also really really good.

How to Write a Musical

So I've been talking with a good friend of mine and we've been discussing about possibly adapting a play I wrote a while ago into a musical. But I'm having a difficult time getting my thoughts together. If only there was an instructional video somewhere online to help me out... Hmm...

Oh! Thank god! I would never have thought of coming up with a "story", and it was very helpful to realize that a character who feels depressed can sometimes turn out hopeful in the end. What is the technical term for that? I also didn't realize that I would "need to create music" in order to write a musical. Thank you, lady-musician-and-performance-instructor-who-taped-this-mere-blocks-away-from-Broadway. You certainly seem qualified to give helpful advice on the craft of writing and musical composition. Thank you.

Oxygen – A review

At long last, I’m reviewing the first of many (nice!) Glulx games! Glulx games and Z-code games are actually pretty similar beasts, considering they both compile the same programming code. But Glulx has multi-media capacity and also allows for much larger (memory-wise) games than Z-code interpreters do. The larger the code, the more work one can (sometimes falsely) assume the writer put into the game. That or they have pictures and sounds! Either way, I’m looking forward to some good Glulxy action!

So get those lungs ready and join me for a big heaping breathful of “Oxygen”.

Note: My reviews give away everything that can be given away. Endings, solutions to puzzles, etc. If you have any plans on possibly playing this game at some point in the future, do that first before reading further.

Final Verdict: …And we’re back. A game that balances puzzles, story, and cool mechanics in a sinfully playable package brings us back to quality games I can whole-heartedly recommend.

Full review after the jump:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pen and Paint – A review

On to the next entry in the IF Comp! This one’s called “Pen and Paint”. Hmm… Are we an artist? Are we a writer? Perhaps we’re locked in a room with a set of water colors and big tub of Indian Ink. Obviously the correct solution is to embrace the sweet kiss of death by downing the entire contents of the tub. Why more escape the room games don’t take the easy way out is beyond me.

Note: A reminder. The review will contain spoilers. Please play the game before you read further.

Final Verdict: Game starts off wonderfully but then gets mired in unpleasantly tough puzzles.

Full review after the jump:

Your Public Service Announcement for the Day

You're welcome.

A Quiet Evening At Home – A Review

Well, frankly after reviewing four games, I’m placing my bets that we’re already past the slump. Actually the first two games were pretty good! And after the last debacle, I predict smooth sailing from here on out. So what’s up for today? Why it’s “A Quiet Evening At Home” by… well… I don’t know. Someone! But I like the title. It sort of reminds me of the title of this blog. I like Quiet Evenings At Home. Put on a bit of music. Snuggle up with a good book or a puzzle. Eat your own weight in cheese and crackers, am I right ladies?

Or maybe that’s just me.

Note: Be warned that the following review will be spoiler-ific. Proceed with caution.

Final Verdict: If you’ve always wanted to play a game where you were forced to do tedious house-hold chores by yourself, then this is the game for you!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

R – A Review

That’s right folks. Your eyes do not deceive you. The game I’m reviewing next consists of one letter: namely the letter R. I guess letters of the alphabet moonlight for IF titles when they’re not off sponsoring episodes of Sesame Street. Who knew?

What more: this is the only game of the competition using a home-brew interpreter, meaning it’s not written in one of the major IF languages. As someone who’s played through quite a few previous comps, this is usually a very poor sign. But here’s to optimism. Here’s to the hope that the letter R can break out of the mold. Fingers crossed everyone!

Note: As always the full review will have spoilers and eyes are like children: they shouldn’t be spoiled. So proceed only after playing the game.

Final Verdict: So much for crossed fingers.

Full review after the jump:


Just letting you know, I've got a new crossword up. I'm really proud of the theme, though the grid's not the greatest. But so far, no complaints, and usually when I do something stupid like misspell something or have an inappropriate clue my inbox is filled with emails letting me know. So far, so good.

The People’s Glorious Revolutionary Text Adventure Game – A Review

So… what’d ya think about that title, eh? Quite a mouthful. Either this game is an earnest piece of Marxist propaganda or it’s a scathing satire from the Tea Party crowd. Or maybe it’ll just be a fun adventure game. Here’s hoping for the later!

Note: As always, the full review will be replete with spoilers. I’d advise against reading it until after you’ve played the game.

Final Verdict: Haltingly amusing. The game is under the impression it’s much funnier than it actually is.

Full review after the jump:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cream of the Crop - "Elite" as an Epithet

There is a fascinating article over at Slate about the growing use of the word "elite" used as a term of abuse hurled around by the Republican party. He has a particularly telling segment in which he describes an interview during the 2008 campaign when both John McCain and Sarah Palin were asked the question "Who is a member of the elite?" While McCain went off about those rowdy academician, good ole Palin was a bit more to the point:
Palin responded first. "I guess just people who think that they're better than everyone else," she said.
That's one good lookin' Objectivist
The article goes on to point out how most of her own campaign staff would qualify as "elite" under that definition, according to her own memoir. But the whole article definitely made me think about the charge of elitism in a different light. In this light really; the emotional root of a political slur boiled down the feeling of rejection of a math-phobic kid in Algebra.

I mean, it's always seemed a strange thing to boil out. I mean, most of those republican guys seem to sure like the ole capitalism, don't they, and the whole idea behind capitalism (at least according to known cult-leader and snappy dresser Ayn Rand) is one of a meritocracy. Isn't the "elite" by definition, the best? Isn't the elite to what we all aspire? The elite group of athletes who get to represent their countries in the Olympic games, the elite group of writers whose work outlasts their careers, etc.

If the people are going to reject politicians because they're being too elite, then perhaps we deserve leaders like this. But don't listen to me. Go read the original article. It makes a much more interesting point.

Accidental Youtube - The Ironwood Horror

So I was thinking to myself: You know, what this blog needs to spruce itself up? Random crap! Luckily for me and you, the internet is practically made of random crap. It's like walking through a log cabin and realizing everything is made of wood. You walk around the internet and you say to yourself, "Wow! This all of this stuff is made of crap! Random random crap!"

So anyway, I've decided to start a new semi-regular blog post entitled "The Accidental Youtube Clip". Here's what I do: I take a random word, generated here, and then search you tube. What I find, I post, indiscriminately. I'm not a big fan of hopping on the whole viral bandwagon, but there's an awful lot of stuff out there, and why should the videos people have seen a bazillion times get all the love? So here's my first find: It's a pretty good high-school film project. Wait, did I say film project? I meant to say horror film project. I present to you: The Ironwood Horror.

Favorite quote: "I am doing something. I'm critiquing." It's funny, because it's true.

Fun fact: This video confirms that Stephen Sondheim's broadway smash "Into The Woods" should only be performed by professionals. High school theatre is a magnet for serial killers. True story.

Rogue of the Multiverse - A Review

Oh my. This is a little sad isn't it? Back in the day half the Comp entries would be in Z-code and the other half would be written in TADS, but this year there's only one entry, which is a tad (no pun intended) disappointing considering how much work has been done to create that vibrant and highly useful programming language. A lot of great things have been written with TADS and I hope that this downturn is only a minor hiccup in the history of Interactive Fiction. Though it could have been worse. We didn't see ANY ADRIFT entries this year. I can't say I'll be missing those awkwardly programmed games (no fault to the authors, the ADRIFT system itself seems unwieldy).

Anyway, our second game in the 2010 IF Competition is entitled "Rogue of the Multiverse". Hmm... sounds like Sarah Palin meets Fringe. Let's hope it reminds me a bit more of the later...

Note: As always, my reviews are filled with all sorts of spoilery goodness. I'd advise you not to reed it until AFTER you've read the game.

Final Verdict: Weird and goofy game with clever gameplay. I recommend.

Promised spoilery goodness after the jump:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Warbler's Nest - A Review

Okay! It's time to review the first game! I'm excited! I've decided to review the entries based on their folder names in reverse alphabetical order. First up: "The Warbler's Nest". Hmm... Looks like we're going to be dealing with song birds? Maybe stealing some eggs and cooking them? I love omelets! Let's see if I'm right!

Note: This game is FULL of direct spoilers. DO NOT READ if you have not played the game.

The Final verdict: Creepy and enjoyable. I recommend!

The spoilery review after the jump:

Creating Interactive Fiction With Inform 7

So before I go ahead and start reviewing all of the IF Comp entries, I've decided to review something else! A book! A book called Creating Interactive Fiction With Inform 7, by one mister Aaron Reed.

Warning: The rest of this blog post will be very boring if you are not interested in CREATING INTERACTIVE FICTION WITH INFORM 7. I don't mean the book, I mean the concept. If you're looking for crossword puzzles or amateurish cartoons, stop reading now before you lapse into a coma.

For the rest of us... follow me after the jump!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Four Square

Greetings puzzlers! With all of this Interactive Fiction talk, you might have thought I'd forgotten about you. But the crossword bug rises yet again and today I'm giving you a doozy.

I present to you four separate 5x5 crossword grids. Your job? solve them! I've even given you the middle letter of each grid. But, because I'm being so nice, I've decided to muddy the waters a bit. Below you'll find four groups of ten clues each. Each clue is to one of the ten five letter words in each grid. But the clues are in random order. Only on solution (I'm pretty sure) is available for each grid. Also, not only are the clues in random order, but each group of clues is also in random order. So the first group of clues do not necessarily correspond to the first grid. Keep an eye on those middle letters, as they're your only hint as to which group of clues belongs in which grid.

Don't worry, it's not as hard as it sounds... or is it...? I'll have the solution to this puzzle and the movie puzzle on Wednesday! Until then, good luck! I'll start the IF game reviews tomorrow!

Clues after the jump:

Interactive Fiction Pet Peeves

So I thought before I dive straight in to the games, I'd talk a little about the criterion I generally use when evaluating Interactive Fiction.

I know that writing an IF game is very hard and time consuming. Even a seemingly small and sparsely implemented game can be a herculean effort. But I also know that when writing my own game, there were certain obvious standards I tried to adhere to. I am not a programmer (half the things I learned in Aaron Reed's recent textbook were ENTIRELY new to me, despite having read through the manual pretty thoroughly (or so I thought)) and not an aficionado, but there were things even I knew to try to include. Here are things that I look for to determine immediately whether or not a game is worth playing (though I promise to try to play through ALL of the games):

List of pet peeves after the jump!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why I Love Interactive Fiction

Hello! I'm back! Yeah, I know. So much for blogging on a daily or even weekly basis, huh? But I've been pretty busy at work during the day and pretty busy working on this show during the evenings, so... yeah. But I promise for the upcoming month I plan to post on a regular basis and to focus my posts (mostly) on a particular topic which brings me to the subject of this post: 

I love Interactive Fiction.

What is Interactive Fiction, you ask? Well, mostly it's a particular medium of computer games originating in the late 70's early 80's that is entirely text based. Classic titles, like Zork, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and this awesome Sherlock Holmes Infocom game I spent MONTHS playing when I was in the fifth grade. The conceit is pretty simple: You're presented with a piece of text and then a prompt. Let's take an example from Savoir-Faire by Emily Short after the jump...