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5 Stars IFReview Rating Getting Back To Sleep

IFReviewed by Peter Almin on 2007-06-29 03:39 

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Patrick Evans


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4 Stars IFR Overall Rating
After each IF Comp, I like to go back and toy around with some of the older games I missed out on.  Last month I dug up this bizarre creation, due to my interest in .Net as an IF platform.  I'll spend a bit of time talking about the story, the interface, and then a bit of time talking about the hidden platform inside (read on!).

First, the story: the game reminded me heavily of Planetfall. I have no idea if the author was suffering from latent memories of the original Infocom game, but there it is.  You are some sort of space hideaway in the closet of a spaceship destined to meet a fiery doom. The story isn't great, but it isn't horrible either.  It was sufficiently interesting and I was entertained to find the robotic doctor is like the old Eliza programs (for those of us old enough to remember such things). I was reminded of playing very old text adventures, with some mildly fun puzzles and rooms. I had mixed feelings about the "real time" aspect: while it is something different (although not really new, as the author claims), I felt rushed all the time and it was hard to follow the constant stream of messages when fighting characters. 

Second, the interface.  The text interface is bizarre.  It is like a half-cooked version of an Infocom game, but without all the bells and whistles.  With basics like save and load missing, you end up starting over each time.  As mentioned before, the streaming text (while you type) can be confusing.  I can see what the author was trying to do; compared to the other home-baked games, the interface is a step above the rest of the dreck.  But that isn't saying much when placed side-by-side with TADS or Glulx.

Third, the platform.  While playing the game, I realized that the author must have invested huge amounts of time in the code.  One can tell from playing the game there is a lot of machinery going on under the covers, more than just a simple command-response loop.  Out of bordem, I took the .Net Object Browser to the game and I discovered a well-planned metropolis of objects, including classes for regions, rooms, actors, etc. and a tokenizing parser.  From what I can tell, the author divided the program into two major components: this particular game as a module, and then a generic platform that loads the module.  Now here is where things get bizarre... the generic platform appears to be able to load ANY game module.  To test this out, I wrote a test class of my own (seems that you have to implement the IWorld interface to make a game module), and the game loaded and (sort-of) ran it.  I didn't get much further than that... but anyway, maybe the author should release code for people to use?

In summary, this Planetfall knock-off is something to try only if you are bored, and the real genius is in the nuts and bolts that don't really matter to the user.

Peter Almin Profile

Name Peter Almin
Gender Male

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