IFRO

I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.
Everett McKinley Dirksen


Login | Register


Username:
Password:

Who is Online

We have 671 registered Members.

There are no Members online.

There are 20 Guests online.

9 Stars IFReview Rating The Big Scoop

IFReviewed by Paul OBrian on 2006-07-21 06:40 

Game Profile

Author
Johan Berntsson

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Inform6

Release Year
2004

IFR Overall Rating
7 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
And so the Great Conversation System Experiments continue. The Big Scoop has found a way to combine the open-ended ASK X ABOUT Y system with the focus of Emily Short's topic-based systems -- the game still uses the ASK ABOUT command diction, but there's also a TOPICS verb available, which tells you most of the topics you can plug into the formula. As a bonus, it also tells you what you can plug into TELL ABOUT. This system intrigued me, but I ended up feeling a little disappointed with it. At first, I was excited by the prospect of not having to play hunt-the-noun, but my reaction upon seeing a list of nouns to try was that I needed to try them all. Immersion drained quickly as an exchange between two characters turned into an administrative task, and not a very rewarding one at that, since the NPC generally only had a line or two at most about any given topic. Moreover, Scoop was implemented deeply enough that the list included most of the verbs I would have thought of, but I never needed to try to think of them, which lessened my engagement with the game. In a way, Scoop's system is the worst of both worlds. It retains the cumbersome ASK ABOUT form but removes all of the feeling of mystery and possibility that comes along with thinking of new things to ask about; it provides Short's unwieldy TOPICS list, but loses all her handy abbreviations and her menu options for conversational gambits. In addition, the list sometimes shows topics that the PC has no way of knowing about yet, which effectively constitute plot spoilers. So in the end, I found Scoop's conversation system to be a failed experiment, albeit a noble one.

Happily, there's better news about the rest of the game. The Big Scoop has an engaging story that starts off with a dramatic situation that could have come right from a Hollywood thriller. The PC awakens, disheveled and disoriented, in a friend's apartment. Stumbling into the kitchen, she finds her friend's dead body, and a voice on her cellphone says that the police are on their way; she's about to be framed for murder. It's not easy to escape from this grim situation, but when she does, the perspective shifts: now the PC is a reporter investigating the murder, and it becomes clear that the first scene was simply a swollen prologue. This structure worked well for me -- the urgency of the initial scene carried over nicely into the rest of the game, and having played the victim of the framing, I never had any doubts that she was innocent, which helped me buy into the reporter's quest to clear the victim's name. In addition to a good story and an inventive structure, Scoop also sports some wonderfully deep implementation. It provides descriptions for most all first-level objects, and it frequently surprised me with what verbs those objects could handle. For instance, when the PC awakens in room with a red stain on the carpet, I tried something a little unusual:


>smell stain
The sweet smell makes you feel sick.

The game was completely prepared for that command, and used the results to further the prologue's ominous mood. Bravo. Finally, Scoop does some nice work with NPC interaction. This is perhaps no surprise from the author of The Temple, a Comp02 game whose best feature was its main NPC, who behaved like an actual person and worked as a team with the PC. The NPC in this game fills a similar role, and the added bonus is that since she serves as the PC in the prologue, her character comes that much more alive.

Sadly, there are a few things that mar the experience, the first of which is Scoop's sometimes wobbly English. This game was apparently simultaneously developed in Swedish, and there are some rough patches in the translation:


>ask cop about blood
"He bleed over the whole place," the policeman says grumpily.

Like most of the English errors in Scoop, this one could be down to a simple typo, which makes it much stronger than The Temple was, not to mention far better than some of the translated games I've already played in this comp. However, the accumulation of these blunders, along with telltale missteps like calling an office break room a "breakout area," make the writing feel just a bit off-kilter. Similarly, though the game has clearly been extensively tested, I still found a few bugs and missing verbs. The worst one, unsurprisingly, involves an object that functions as a rope -- the game has difficulty keeping track of just where this object resides once it's been tied to one thing. Finally, Scoop suffers from an occasional lack of clarity. The most glaring example is in the game's climactic scene, in which something critical happens that is never actually described, and must instead be inferred from subsequent events. It seems clear that this lacuna isn't part of some artistic effect, but is rather just an oversight, and quite a severe one at that. Still, the good far outweighs the bad in this game -- it tried something new in its conversation system, and it kept me interested with a compelling story and canny puzzles. I enjoyed my time with it.

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 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
- Typo
- 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!