As its name suggests, the idea of IntroComp is to write the beginning stages of a game, which will then be judged according to how much one would like to play more of that game.
First, let me say thanks to the IntroComp organiser Jacqueline A. Lott and to all the authors.
I enjoyed all of the intros (though to varying degrees), and I’d like to see each of them made into a full game (with certain caveats).
If you’d like to read other people’s opinions, too, then you can find a list of reviews on the comp’s IFWiki page.
So, here are my short, mostly non-spoilery notes, in alphabetical order by author’s first name:
Adrien Saurat – Plan 6 from Inner Earth:
The title hints that this one falls into the science fiction (parody) genre, and the alien in cryostasis in the first room confirms the SF part. Apart from that, the intro concentrates on picturing the protagonist’s hilariously dysfunctional workplace (TM), deriving humour from the contrast between the supposed importance of a top-secret government facility and the way in which it is actually run.
Both elements, the SF (parody) and the workplace portrait are somewhat clichéd, and I must admit that I’m not particularly enthusiastic about them, but that’s just my personal taste at the moment. However, I did find some passages well-done and funny, so if the author can consistently pull off his style of humour, I’ll also gladly play the completed game.
There are some annoyances which (more) beta-testing should eliminate in the full version; a few typos/spelling/grammar errors and unimplemented objects (the chair, the wall/gas bomb). Some descriptions could be a little more helpful in letting the player visualize things and in guiding him towards the right actions (spoiler, rot13‘d: vg jnf abg vzzrqvngryl boivbhf gb zr gung bar pbhyq FRNEPU gur pbzchgre, gubhtu V nccerpvngr gur ersrerapr gb gur yrtraqnel svefg pbzchgre oht. Fnzr tbrf sbe gur trarengbef.)
Doug Jones – For the Love of Ornery Blue Yaks:
This one is an old-school text adventure with little plot. The blank-slate protagonist enters a different dimension in a manner reminiscent of a certain British author. Various mythological figures make an appearance, without a justifying story.
This is not necessarily a problem. A game can be entertaining without a deep narrative, but it has to make up for that in other areas, with intricate puzzles or with beautifully written descriptions, conveying a sense of wonder as one explores the game’s world. However, in its present form, FLOOBY does not completely succeed in these fields. The descriptions are rather terse, the implementation could be deeper (some scenery is unimplemented; some actions, like swimming in & drinking from the lake, are not acknowledged).
A minor criticism: Some directions were a bit confusing; it seemed that several connections between rooms were (unnecessarily) asymmetric. Also, going east twice from the lamppost resulted in being at the lamppost again. (In contrast to that, the maze was very straightforward: no “twisty little passages, all alike”, just distinct rooms which were easily mappable, as I was relieved to see.)
Iain Merrick – Tourist Trap:
This one is about a time-travelling tourist who visits 1902 Paris. So, it has a very intriguing setting going for it, conjuring up images of gentlemen in chapeaux claques, bohemian artists and moonlit mansard roofs and garrets. I fully expect to make acquaintance with the fée verte.
The intro’s writing is very good, the NPCs are interesting, the implementation is thorough (e.g., it’s possible to NOD and WAVE; also, (rot13) gel gnxvat Rzzn’f ont). All of this bodes very well for the full game, which I’m really looking forward to. The only drawback of this prologue is that it’s not totally clear what the gameplay and plot of the completed game will be like (but the author gives an exciting glimpse into the possibilities in his afterword).
Kevin Jackson-Mead – Waker:
This is an interactive look into the history of a fictitious nation, framed as a museum visit with flashback scenes. It’s well-written, but I can’t say very much about it, because there’s not much to see scenery-wise and plot-wise. It got me curious, and I’d like to play a full version, but the intro was just a bit too short to let me have a well-informed opinion. We have the makings of an epic story, with hints at political intrigues and the threat of war. I’d have liked to explore at least one more scene to learn more about the background, and to see what the gameplay will be like.
I don’t know the author’s plans, but it would be interesting if the interactive scenes in the museum were not self-contained, but kept track of player decisions, so that the player would shape the nation’s history from one scene to the next. Later sections would acknowledge that the player had befriended ambassador X or alienated priest Y and so on. (Although having a lot of branching possibilities would become very hard to implement thoroughly, of course.)