Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

Archive for November 29th, 2015

IFComp 2015 Review: Gotomomi

Posted by Reiko on November 29, 2015

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

Author: Arno von Borries
Format: Glulx

First impression: this author needs some more proofreading. In the opening paragraph, I saw “opportunely” (not really a proper word) and “shinjuku” (not capitalized). I’m pleased to see a game set in Japan, though. Even if it seems to be a fictional train station, it’s representative of Japanese stations. The Japanese words are all used correctly (and there are many of them, from greetings, to inventory items, to places). There are also greetings in Chinese (“nihao” is straightforward) and I think Vietnamese, which I’m not familiar with at all. It’s a surprisingly diverse area, actually. There’s even a Russian guy in one place, which makes me wonder how the 16-year-old Ayako identifies him as such. I assume he’s speaking Japanese since it isn’t mentioned, but I have no idea if there’s a distinguishable Russian accent.

The goal seems to be to make enough money to buy an open ticket on the shinkansen, which can be accomplished a number of ways. By the end, the reason almost doesn’t matter, but there’s a bit of exposition at the beginning about the PC running away from her family and her father’s hired goons. The process of acquiring the money mainly involves taking multiple short-term jobs in the area, some not so legal, and solving puzzles to complete those jobs.

Several items must also be bought and sold from merchants or even street people, most of whom will haggle to some extent. I apparently wasn’t very good at the haggling, though, because by the end, after I’d done all the jobs and sold back all the extra items, I was still 5000 yen short of the goal. Fortunately for me, there’s a serious bug that allowed me to receive my delivery service payment from Kei a second time, so I was able to see the ending. I would suggest a post-release that fixes this bug but also adds one more job opportunity so players can close the gap. Or maybe there was another job available and I just didn’t find it: I’d already done the fish-packing job, which wasn’t mentioned in the walkthrough, so there could have been something else.

The author made it a point to bold the exits, which helped a lot when retraversing the area, but that also made it a lot easier to overlook hidden exits. There were at least two places I missed early on because I didn’t know that there were enterable areas that weren’t in bold. It seemed that generally only cardinal directions were bolded. I did turn to the walkthrough less than halfway through because I couldn’t find anything else to do, since I hadn’t found the shops or the boat rental. One other oddity I noticed; at one point I had to go to “floor 104” of the mall, which seems rather inexplicably high. Japanese commercial buildings have on average several more floors than those in many other countries, but that’s rather excessive.

I got the impression that multiple endings were available, but I have no idea how I would go about achieving any other ending besides buying the train ticket, so I can’t bump the score up for that on this one. With a bit more polish, this piece could easily be one of the best this year.

Time: 1 hr 15 min
Scoring: base 7, +1 for optional jobs, +1 for haggling, -1 for delivery payment bug
Score: 8


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IFComp 2015 Review: Recorded

Posted by Reiko on November 29, 2015

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

Author: Nick Junius
Format: Glulx

The entirety of this little piece seems to be wandering around a mysterious complex reading mysterious messages, and ending up still trapped at the end. It’s quite short, but given that you have to actually read all the messages before anything changes, it’s easy to end up wandering around wondering what to do next (if you happened to miss a message, which I did initially). It would be far better if each individual room had an action to take and a visible change when the room is activated, so it’s clear which rooms still need action before anything will happen.

The prose tries to be evocative but ends up terribly vague instead. Plus there are a number of typos, it’s/its issues, awkward wording, etc, and a few minor bugs, such as the way there’s no confirmation message whenever you pick up the first item. To its credit, the locked door automatically opens when you try to go through it after having the right item. There’s just not much to this one; I would have liked to know more about why someone has to be the Recorder at all.

Another oddity is that the walkthrough is neither a plain list of commands needed to finish the game, nor an explanation of the actions needed, but a full transcript of a completed playthrough. You could just read that and not even play the game, and you wouldn’t miss anything.

Time: 20 min (5 min just wandering around rereading messages)
Score: base 7, -1 for shortness, -1 for grammar issues, -1 for bugs
Score: 4

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