IFRO

I have not the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith. Work without faith is like an attempt to reach the bottom of a bottomless pit.
Mohandas Gandhi


Login | Register


Username:
Password:

Who is Online

We have 671 registered Members.

There are no Members online.

There are 11 Guests online.

7 Stars IFReview Rating Typo

IFReviewed by Paul OBrian on 2006-07-21 06:30 

Game Profile

Author
Kevin Lynn and Peter Seebach

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Inform6

Release Year
2004

IFR Overall Rating
7 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
The heart of Typo is the Frobozz Magic-- er, Flavorplex Psychic Typo Error Correction System, which in turn is apparently a jazzed-up name for Cedric Knight's mistype.h library extension. This innovation provides an extra level of player-friendliness by trying to catch unparseable misspellings and typographical errors and making a reasonable guess as to what the player intended, like so:

>push apadiing
[Flavorplex Psychic Typo Correction has divined that you want to
"push padding"].
Your entire hand disappears momentarily into the padding. Now THAT'S
soft!

This works, I'm guessing, by comparing the player's input to a list of dictionary words, then using some set of algorithms to decide what in its list is the closest match to whatever the player typed. This is a cool idea, and frequently it works very well indeed. However, a utility like this is only as good as the dictionary it's using, and if the game is underimplemented, typo correction can suddenly start wildly misinterpreting commands. Pushed further, its responses veer into the comical:

>x skyline
As you look out at the cityscape, your attention is drawn to a funny
little pizza delivery car as it cruises slowly along the street.

>x car
[Flavorplex Psychic Typo Correction has divined that you want to "x
cart"].
You can't see any such thing.

>[boy that can get irritating fast]
[Flavorplex Psychic Typo Correction has divined that you want to "buy
that an get irritating east"].
You can't see any such thing.

The goofier moments reminded me of that Simpsons episode where Dolph makes a note on his Apple Newton to beat up Martin, which the PDA translates as "eat up Martha." More seriously, the whole enterprise reminded me that everyone who writes software, including IF, must make decisions about interface. There's been a trend in the last ten years or so, particularly noticeable (to me) in Microsoft products, towards interfaces that take a paternalistic attitude towards the user. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about anything complicated," they say, "I know what you really meant to do." The problem, of course, is that at least half the time the "friendly" interface guesses wrong about what the user wants, and thus ends up thwarting good work rather than facilitating it. I've no doubt that these sorts of interfaces arise due to a great deal of feedback from people who want their computers to be simpler to operate. However, for both naive and sophisticated users, it's very frustrating when the computer thinks it knows better than you do. That's why it's critical that when you introduce a feature that overrides or embellishes literal user input, you provide a way to turn it off. In addition, such features are usually much better if they are customizable. A perfect example is the spell-checker whose dictionary can be expanded by the user -- if I can teach the software more about what I want to do with it, I can better enable it to help correct only actual errors. So if anybody is thinking of using this system in another game, remember to implement every noun you mention and to give me some control over how and whether the typo system operates.

As for the game itself, it's nothing too remarkable. Typo deploys the old reliable IF trick of literalizing some aspect of the medium, in this case the typo correction system. The PC is cast as a tester working for Flavorplex to iron out the bugs in its typo corrector. There's one substantial puzzle, a Rube Goldberg device for which the PC receives a set of instructions, but which is constructed so straightforwardly that I never needed to consult them. There's also one big plot twist, which in a more substantial game would move the action from prologue into the story proper, but which in this game serves only as an odd, abrupt, and unsatisfying ending. But Typo isn't too interested in telling a story -- instead, it just wants us to think about the implications of machines that make decisions on behalf of their users. For me, the game accomplished that goal.

Paul OBrian Profile

Name Paul OBrian
Gender Male

Also IFReviewed by

Andrew Plotkin

This IFReviewer IFReviews

- 1-2-3...
- 2112
- A Bear
- A Crimson Spring
- A Day for Soft Food
- A Day In The Life Of A Superhero
- A Good Breakfast
- A Light's Tale
- A Moment of Hope
- A New Day
- A Night Guest
- A Paper Moon
- A Party to Murder
- Aayela
- Acid Whiplash
- Ad Verbum
- Adoo's Stinky Story
- Aftermath
- Al Otro Lado
- Alien Abduction?
- All Things Devours
- Amnesia
- an apple from nowhere
- And the Waves Choke the Wind
- Arrival, or Attack of the B-Movie Cliches
- Asendent
- At Wit's End
- Augustine
- Aunt Nancy's House
- Babel
- Baluthar
- Bane of the Builders
- Beat the Devil
- Begegnung am Fluss
- Being Andrew Plotkin
- Bellclap
- Best of Three
- Bio
- Blade Sentinel
- Blink
- Bliss
- Blue Chairs
- Blue Sky
- BOFH
- Breaking the Code
- CaffeiNation
- Calliope
- Carma
- CASK
- Castle Amnos
- Cattus Atrox
- CC
- Cerulean Stowaway
- Chaos
- Chicks Dig Jerks
- Chronicle Play Torn
- coffee quest II
- Color and Number
- Colours
- Coming Home
- Comp00ter Game
- Concrete Paradise
- Congratulations!
- Constraints
- Crusade
- Curse of Eldor
- Curse of Manorland
- Death to my Enemies
- Delusions
- Desert Heat: A Romance Of Sorts
- Dinner with Andre
- Domicile
- Don't Be Late
- Down
- Downtown Tokyo, Present Day
- E-Mailbox
- Elements
- Enlightenment
- Enlisted
- Episode In The Life Of An Artist
- Erehwon
- Eric's Gift
- Escape from Crulistan
- Evacuate
- Exhibition
- Fear
- Fifteen
- Film at Eleven
- Fine Tuned
- For a Change
- Fort Aegea
- Four in One
- Four Mile Island
- Four Seconds
- Friday Afternoon
- Fusillade
- Futz Mutz
- Getting Back To Sleep
- Glowgrass
- Goofy
- Goose, Egg, Badger
- Got ID?
- Gourmet
- Grayscale
- Guard Duty
- Guess the Verb!
- Halothane
- Hell: A Comedy of Errors
- Hercules First Labor
- Heroes
- House of the Stalker
- Human Resources Stories
- Hunter, in Darkness
- I Didn't Know You Could Yodel
- I Must Play
- Identity
- Identity Thief
- In the End
- In the Spotlight
- Informatory
- Internal Documents
- Invasion of the Angora-fetish Transvestites from the Graveyards of Jupiter
- Jacks or Better to Murder, Aces to Win
- Jane
- Janitor
- Jarod's Journey
- Journey from an Islet
- Jump
- Kaged
- Kallisti
- King Arthur's Night Out
- Kissing the Buddha's Feet
- Koan
- Kurusu City
- Leaves
- Letters from Home
- Life on Beal Street
- Lightiania
- Lists and Lists
- Little Billy
- Little Blue Men
- little girl in the big world
- Lomalow
- Lovesong
- Lunatix
- Lurk. Unite. Die. Invent. Think. Expire.
- Madame L'Estrange and the Troubled Spirit
- Magocracy
- Maiden of the Moonlight
- Marooned
- Masquerade
- Metamorphoses
- Mingsheng
- Moments Out of Time: Explorer Type
- Moonbase
- Murder At The Aero Club
- Muse: An Autumn Romance
- Music Education
- My Angel
- My First Stupid Game
- Mystery Manor
- MythTale
- Nevermore
- Ninja V1.30
- No Room
- No Time to Squeal
- Not Much Time
- Of Forms Unknown
- On the Farm
- Only After Dark
- Order
- Out of the Study
- Outsided
- Pass the Banana
- Persistence of Memory
- Phlegm
- Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection
- Photopia
- Phred Phontious and the Quest for Pizza
- Piece of Mind
- Pintown
- Planet of the Infinite Minds
- Poor Zefron's Almanac
- Prized Possession
- Prodly the Puffin
- PTBAD 3
- Punk Points
- Punkirita Quest 1: Liquid
- Purple
- Ralph
- Rameses
- Ramon and Jonathan
- Rape, Pillage, Galore!
- Redeye
- Remembrance
- Rent-A-Spy
- Research Dig
- Return to Zork: Another Story
- Reverberations
- Rippled Flesh
- Risorgimento Represso
- Ritual of Purification
- Ruined Robots
- Sardoria
- Scary House Amulet!
- Scavenger
- Schroedinger's Cat
- Screen
- Shade
- Shadows on the Mirror
- She's Got a Thing for a Spring
- Silicon Castles
- Sins Against Mimesis
- Six Stories
- Skyranch
- Slouching Towards Bedlam
- Small World
- SNOSAE
- Sophie's Adventure
- Spacestation
- Splashdown
- Spodgeville Murphy and the Jewelled Eye of Wossname
- Square Circle
- Stack Overflow
- Stargazer: An Adventure In Outfitting
- Stick It to the Man
- Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country
- Sting Of The Wasp
- Stone Cell
- Stranded
- Strangers in the Night
- Stupid Kittens
- Sun and Moon
- Sunset Over Savannah
- SURREAL
- Sweet Dreams
- Sylenius Mysterium
- Symetry
- Tapestry
- Temple of Kaos
- Temple of the Orc Mage
- Terrible Lizards
- The Adventures of the President Of The United States
- The Atomic Heart
- The Beetmonger's Journal
- The Best Man
- The Big Mama
- The Big Scoop
- The Case of Samuel Gregor
- The Cave of Morpheus
- The Chasing
- The City
- The Clock
- The Coast House
- The Commute
- The Cruise
- The Djinni Chronicles
- The Edifice
- The End Means Escape
- The Erudition Chamber
- The Evil Sorcerer
- The Fat Lardo and the Rubber Ducky
- The Frenetic Five vs. Sturm und Drang
- The Gostak
- The Granite Book
- The Great Xavio
- The HeBGB Horror!
- The Isolato Incident
- The Land Beyond the Picket Fence
- The Last Just Cause
- The Lost Spellmaker
- The Masque of the Last Faeries
- The Meteor, The Stone And A Long Glass Of Sherbet
- The Moonlit Tower
- The Newcomer
- The Obscene Quest of Dr. Aardvarkbarf
- The Orion Agenda
- The Pickpocket
- The PK Girl
- The Plant
- The Realm
- The Recruit
- The Tempest
- The Temple
- The Test
- The Town Dragon
- The Trip
- The Water Bird
- Thorfinn's Realm
- Threading the Labyrinth
- Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me!
- Timeout
- To Otherwhere and Back
- Tookie's Song
- Trading Punches
- Transfer
- Trapped in a One-Room Dilly
- Travels in the Land of Erden
- Triune
- Unholy Grail
- Unnkulia X: Escape of the Sacrificed
- Unraveling God
- Vicious Cycles
- VirtuaTech
- VOID: CORPORATION
- Volcano Isle
- What-IF?
- When Help Collides
- Where Evil Dwells
- Who Created That Monster?
- Winter Wonderland
- Withdrawal Symptoms
- Wrecked
- Yes, Another Game With A Dragon!
- You Are Here
- You Were Doomed From the Start
- Zero One
- Zero Sum Game
- Zombie!