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Thursday, November 22, 2012

IF Comp 2012 Review - The Test is Now READY

Okay boys and goils, we're back in the realm of traditional IF! Parsers! Z-code! Blue background and white font! Ahh, the memories. And I like the title. It puts me a bit in mind of the Portal series, which despite involving some reflexes and the necessity of shooting a "gun", I deeply loved. Both for being wonderfully exciting puzzle experiences and also for being probably the funniest and most well-acted games I've played since Grim Fandango. (I love you Grim. I'll never forget!!!) Anyways, let's see what this game is all about, shall we? I have to say: love the title.

Final Verdict: Interesting experience. Not quite a game. More like an interactive narrative morality test. But definitely intriguing.

IF Comp 2012 Review - Transit

Uh oh, guys. It's another web one. I've got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. The last one... not so good... not so comprehensible if you catch what I'm saying. But I shall keep an open mind. Lord knows there's been a lot of dreck written for Z-code and TADS while obviously there have been many many great games written for those platforms as well. I can't generalize about a medium based on one sample. What would Nate Silver say?? Anyway, let's see if we find Transit a "moving" experience. Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.

Final Verdict : A fun if slight game. However much better than I was expecting. Definitely a decent example of competent CYOA.

IF Comp 2012 Review - Valkyrie

Hmm, a curious start to the competition. Now granted, I've been out of the loop for roughly two years now, but this I think this is the first entry in a comp that I've had to play online... (maybe I'm wrong about that... I'm trying to remember) More than that this game is not alone. There are seven games in the same category, easily besting Tads which only has one. (Sad face emoticon) Oh well. I really have no expectations about this one. Let's see what happens. Full review after the jump! 

Non spoilery Final Verdict: Only comprehensible if you follow a very specific tree line. Otherwise it plays like a game written in the style of E.E. Cummings with a 12 year old boy's imagination. 

IF COMP 2012!!! - Better Late Than Never!!

Hello friends! Long time no see. I know. I know. I'm super late to the game on this one. The competition has been over and done with for 22 days now. Not only that, but I didn't even play ANY of the games from last year's competition. But, in my defense, last year at this time I was in the middle of moving to Boston, and readjusting, and blah blah blah. Why didn't I review the games promptly this year?? Well, cause I was in the middle of doing a play and theater can suck up a lot of your time.

All of these excuses. They are of no interest to you. You just want me to get to the games. Luckily, I should hopefully have a bit more time in the upcoming month and a half. What better activity to stimulate my media starved mind than some calm and relaxing Interactive Fiction?

I'm sort of a flitterer. I flit back and forth between hobbies. It's been a while since I really got into Interactive Fiction, but I do love it, and despite my recent penchant to waste stupid amounts of time playing tower defense games, IF has always been and will always remain my greatest love. Gameologically speaking. I mean I'm not going to marry it.

But I just got a new computer and I went and installed the latest Inform 7 on it and I was looking at some of the awesome extensions people have written ( I'm particularly interested in this baby ). And it reminded me what an insane and crazy amount of work it takes just to build the most middling game. I'm going to try to keep that in mind during my upcoming reviews and attempt to tone down the snark should I feel it rise in my gullet. But NO PROMISES!!!

Here's to getting back in the game. I can't wait to start playing! (for those following at home, I'll do the same thing I did two years ago: review the games in reverse alphabetical order)

P.S. - I have not spoiled myself. I do not know which games won, which games took which place, etc. Please feel free to leave comments (not that it's likely) but please heed the words of Doctor River Song. Thanks!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Play #6 - Beginning. Middle. End.

I'm terrible with titles. I've written plays with such terrible titles as "Vice Play" (because it was a play about vice!) or "Drama" (because it was a meta-play about drama). And the title is always the LAST thing I come up with, long after I've completed a first draft. 

I think part of it is that I've just always been bad with the "names" of things. I rarely think about what I name my characters, I've gone for years knowing people without knowing their names, and I never pay attention to the names of streets, which makes me a terrible person to ask for directions anywhere. To me, the names of things always seems arbitrary and irrelevant when it comes to discerning the core of what something is, whether that's a person or a place or a play. Of course, with a creative work it is a bit different. The Sound and the Fury would still be a great work without that title, but the illusion that title points to helps to clarify the point of view of the book. 

I bring all this up because this is a play where I came up with the title first and let the play form from there. It's also ironic, because while the title inspired the distinct structure of this play, the play is actually probably the least structured of all the plays I've written this month. (granted it's early.) It's really just three snapshots of a relationship. But I like them. More character study than anything else. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Play #5 - Voluntary Conditions

I'm going to present this one without much comment. I'm not sure what I think of it and would appreciate any feedback people out there have.  So instead, here's a video showing exactly how I cook and eat ramen noodles.

The play is after the jump!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Play #4 - The Nanny

One of the reasons I like this exercise so much is that it provides endless variety. After the heavy subject matter of the last two scripts, I decided to go the opposite direction for this one by making not only a comedy, but making a scene almost aggressively absurd.

More of a "skit" than any kind of formal play (though that never stopped David Ives or Christopher Durang), this is also my first (though I suspect far from my last) Big Idea play. Not that it trades in philosophical grandstanding, but it's a play that can be easily summed up in a single sentence. Unlike the first two plays, I didn't start with an initial image or situation and see where it goes from there. The premise of this skit almost describes the thing from beginning, middle, to end. 

Not that the premise is necessarily good. Though I do think there are a few exchanges here that made me laugh and laugh as I wrote them. This is sort of Gary Larson kind of play. A Far Side cartoon come to life. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Play #3 - O Reason, Reason

The title of this play is taken from a quote from the preface to Modern Mythology by Louis Aragon: "O reason, reason, abstract phantom of the waking state, I had already expelled you from my dreams, now I have reached a point where those dreams are about to become fused with apparent realities: now there is only room here for myself."

As you might have noticed with the other plays, I tend not to be a very poetic writer. I like to think of my "style" as the lovechild between Strindberg and Noel Coward. I love to write riling melodramatic scripts with people being emotionally savage to each other, but I also like to have them talk in pithy clever quips that's never quite appropriate for the situation. We all have crosses.

This script was a deliberate attempt to try to get out of my comfort zone. It is also in the form of a long monologue. You might ask, what's the difference between this and writing a first person short story? And to that I'd say first and foremost: Shut up you smart aleck stinky head. And then I'd also add, that I think when it comes to work like these, the main difference is intention. This is a script that is meant to be performed. I keep it vague as it how it should be performed because I think that should be determined by the actor and director. But I definitely think of this as a performance piece. Hope you enjoy.

Play #2 - Welcome Home

Much like the first play, this one began with an initial picture of how the scene began, and then I just let the characters take it for here. The difference is that very premise demands immediate conflict and also insists on a resolution of some finality, as compared to "Men", which just sort of... ended.

Not that the play is perfect. It's way over the top melodrama, with extreme situations and gun play. (you can tell I wrote it immediately after writing the first) But I think it's a bit gripping and I sort of love how these characters communicate together. Definitely a Greek ending though. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Play #1 - Men

When I first say down to write the first play of this competition, I was really worried that with the short amount of time I'd have to write each of these scripts I wouldn't be able to wrap them up very well. So I came up with an idea of ending each and every script with the stage direction [ Character X Exits, Pursued by a Bear], the insane stage direction made famous by Shakespeare in his play The Winters Tale.

Now, having written several plays for the competition, I see that this was a stupid idea. Part of the point of this exercise is to try and get us to develop a complete through line, and I know for the other plays I've written so far, that type of absurd jokey ending would negate the atmosphere and story of what came before it.

But regardless, I wrote this play with that ending in mind. Two hunters in the middle of the woods. One of whom was a playwright talking about how he couldn't end his play, and the other an experienced bear hunter. That was the general idea. Instead, the characters took over and wound up spending the entire play arguing over where to camp for the night. It's slight but a bit funny. Hope you enjoy.

Just a quick note...

Wow. So... it's been officially a year since I've posted anything to this blog. And... I don't think I'm going to pretend anymore that I'm going to keep it up, etc. Things this past year have been in major flux for me. I moved from Cheyenne, Wyoming all the way to the (for me) big(ish) city of Boston. New friends, new life, etc. I would LOVE to get back to reviewing IF and I, if I'm not too busy this fall, I'll attempt to review the competition this October.

In the meantime, I'm engaged this NaNoWriMo knock off for playwrights. It's called 31 Plays in 31 Days, and the general idea is that you write a play a day. The rule: They have to be longer than a page. So I'm going to be posting those plays here to this website. Please feel free to leave comments about them, as the reason I'll be posting them online is to potentially get feedback from people so that after this whole affair, I'll know which scripts have potential to be polished or expanded.

Anyway, if you're coming back or are new welcome. I'll try not to post stupid videos and links. Because that's what Facebook is for. Thanks.