Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: The Baker of Shireton

Posted by Reiko on November 23, 2015

This is a review of a game from the 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

The Baker of Shireton
Author: Hanon Ondricek
Format: Glulx

Okay, this one made me laugh so hard. It’s an MMO parody! The PCs are dancing on the table and chatting about selling swords and buying mushrooms. Meanwhile, the game PC is actually a baker NPC who gets to endlessly bake bread and respond to “Name?” and “Job?” Hilarious!

There’s quite a bit more to it than that, though, and I never would have gotten anywhere without the walkthrough. It’s very much not intuitive. The baking bread has been made as painless as possible (make dough multiple times, sing a baking song, bake the bread to stuff it all in the oven, etc), but in an IF, there’s only so much you can do when you’re juggling multiple interchangeable pans and loaves of bread. On the other hand, the IF interface does a great job of using intangible inventory items, particularly for the classic name/job/quest responses that games like Ultima used for its NPCs (which was really what made me laugh the hardest the first time I triggered inventory and saw that).

The various responses to the baker’s unorthodox actions are very “gamified” but that’s to be expected from an MMO scenario. The random chatter from the NPC players is right on target (I’ve played a number of MMOs myself) and really increase the immersion. Somehow the game keeps track of milestones and uses “restart” to simply clear the slate without actually losing track of progress in the larger plot (it’s just like respawning!). Once you start making the baker do things outside of normal NPC parameters, the players’ responses are quite hilarious too. “That baker’s outside the bakery again!” “You said there’s bread here?” [while looking at an empty bakery]. And so on. Genius.

Time: 1.5 hours
Scoring: base 7, +1 for MMO humor, +1 for baking game
Score: 9

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