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6 Stars IFReview Rating Constraints

IFReviewed by Emily Short on 2006-08-01 04:39 

Game Profile

Author
Martin Bays

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Inform6

Release Year
2002

IFR Overall Rating
7 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
Rating: 6
House or Office: House, but not in any important sense
Played to completion?: Sort of

Fatal error! Bad color!

This game crashed MaxZip on startup, at which point I wrote it off and gave it a 1.

A while later, I felt vaguely guilty about this blithe dismissal and decided to come back and have another look and see if it would run on Nitfol. It did, leaving me with a choice: penalize it for the problem of bad color-checking? Or grade it for the game proper, which I did eventually see?

Went with the latter, obviously.

Aside from that initial issue, this seems to have been more than competently programmed; it juggles its rather peculiar format quite well, including the z-abuse at the end. (If there was anything to discover there, which I doubt, I did not discover it. Quitting seemed the best option. [Also, thank you. I've occasionally contemplated writing a rogue-like z- or Glulx-abuse. This frees me of that desire.])

The game aspect is a little more problematic. This is not really that fun, except perhaps for the third segment; I like simulations that offer a range of approaches, and I enjoyed finding various ways to attempt to vandalize the truck. On the other hand, I wasn't allowed to interact with things that I think ought to have been there. In particular, the hints kept telling me to throw a rock at the truck body, but the game wouldn't let me. It didn't seem to recognize "truck body" or "tanker body" in any location, and just "throw rock at tanker" gave me an obviously erroneous message to the effect that I did not want to damage the tanker. So that could've worked better.

But anyway. This is an Experimental piece, which I appreciate. I'm not sure that what it says is very interesting, though. The conclusion I took away from it is that it isn't much fun to play a game in which you're not allowed to take any actions or affect anything — which I think I already knew. (When I was a child, some friends of mine had an utterly daft toy, which was a track around which battery-operated plastic penguins would process, making little click-clack noises. There was absolutely nothing you could do with this contraption to affect its behavior other than turn it off.)

I have no idea why the game needed to be in color. The effect was novel, but had the negative side effect of rendering it unplayable on several interpreters. My advice to authors about this kind of thing is: if you're doing colors or any other wacky behavior, make sure you test it (or have it tested) on a variety of interpreters, and if you can find any that don't work, include some instructions in a ReadMe file and/or the squib you put in CompXX.z5. This can make a critical difference between people playing your game and people giving it an instant 1. I know this is a pain in the ass, and I'm sorry — these things are supposed to be fully portable, but they're not, quite.

The scene is even uglier in Glulx, but let's not get into that now.

Emily Short Profile

IFReviewer Rating
10 Stars IFReviewer Overall Rating

Name Emily Short
Gender Female