IntroComp 2010 – Part 2

After playing the entries and jotting down some notes, I read the other reviews, and I think I don’t have much to add. For the sake of completeness, here are my thoughts on the remaining IntroComp 2010 games. In the meantime, I totally forgot about the awards ceremony on ifmud. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks again to the authors and the organiser Jacqueline!

Lea Albaugh – A Fleeting Case of Self-Possession, or, Memento Moratori:

This game’s protagonist is a poet(*) who interprets the player’s commands as utterings of a demonic influence, which (s)he tries to resist. Driving a wedge between player and character in this way is a great idea and enables the author to poke fun at genre conventions like compass navigation. The writing is good; funny passages abound:

>light candle
As you light the candle, the room instantly feels a little more gothic.

The implementation was good, too. I liked the “assortment of knickknacks” that gives a randomized selection of stuff when you examine it.

I’m looking forward to wreaking havoc at the masked fête!

(*) At first I thought of Hölderlin, one of the archetypal mad poets, who actually spent more than 30 years in a tower chamber (where he “would pace up and down every day with tremendous strides”), but that’s of course impossible given the existence of typewriters and Eiffel tower statuettes in the game.

M. M. Kathrel – Closed Circles:

The protagonist in “Closed Circles” regains consciousness at the scene of a hold-up. We learn that he was on the way to his new post at a lighthouse, before his stagecoach was attacked. It’s implied that a woman was travelling with the coach — what happened to her?
This sets things up for an involved plot, possibly with mystery elements — at least that’s what I hope the author envisions. I’d be somewhat disappointed if the final game was confined to, say, survival horror and the exploration of an abandoned lighthouse. Like other reviewers, I’m not sure that the abstract voice-over prologue benefits the game.
The writing was evocative, if sometimes a little overdone. The detailed descriptions painted vivid pictures of the game world.
The implementation leaves some loose ends like doors leading nowhere and a chest with an alleged but actually non-existent lock. These issues can certainly be ameliorated in the full version.

Mikhail Fiadotau and Evgeny Bychkov – Peanut Orchestra:

This quirky surreal/SF game casts you in the role of a robot who is thrown away and shipped to a garbage asteroid.
The game’s graphical interface works reasonably well. However, the portion of the screen that shows the current room could be a bit larger. Also, the number of available commands is rather limited at any given time, and it remains to be seen whether the authors will manage to avoid constraining the player too much, and whether the puzzles will be interesting. On the other hand, I like point & click adventures, too.
The graphics and the colour scheme were appealing, and the font was well readable. The trance (?) music fit the mood.

In the readme.txt, the authors apologise for their non-native English, but I can’t remember seeing any glaring errors that would distract from the story. The language might be a little off in places, but I enjoyed the writing.

I sure hope I can help the sad plush cat out of its depression!

Oliver Ullmann – Fang vs Claw:

This is the second episode of the developing space saga The Duel that Spanned the Ages. I was a beta tester for Episode 1, and in the course of that I got a glimpse at the larger story envisioned by the author. So, I did not experience this from the point of view of someone who played Episode 1 as a normal player. Consequently, I was probably less affected by the way the backstory is handed out in small packages through multiple viewpoints. Actually, I liked that, because it’s not often done in IF, as far as I can tell. I grant that it can be annoying when it’s handled Robert-Jordan-style, where it seems that almost nothing happens in a monumental 800-page tome, and when characters are separated by ill fate, you can be sure that they won’t meet again until two books later. In Oliver’s work, the pace is fortunately quicker, and I think that the game benefits from having more than one player character.
The descriptions helped me imagine the setting, and I liked how the “Lookout Point” with its beautiful vista gave an impression of things to come.
I definitely want to play out the story in the completed game.

Robb Sherwin – Cryptozookeeper:

Robb Sherwin writes with style and attitude; funny one-liners, surprising similes and a certain drastic vividness make the prose a joy to read.
I liked the “name” and “job” conversation topics, which were surely a reference to the RPGs of yore (e.g., the Magic Candle trilogy or Ultima); but I share maga’s criticism of the conversation system.

The intro ends with a bang and sets up an SF thriller plot and a clear motivation for the protagonist. It’s not totally clear what the cryptozookeeping will amount to, gameplay-wise (Emily Short links to an interview where DNA-collecting is mentioned as a central feature).

The ranking

So, here’s my ranking, in the order of how much I’d like to see the entry turned into a full game:

Tourist Trap
Memento Moratori
Fang vs Claw
Closed Circles = Cryptozookeeper = Peanut Orchestra
Waker
For the Love of Ornery Blue Yaks = Plan 6 from Inner Earth

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