IFComp 2017: return to form?

On October 1, 2016, the games were released for the 22nd annual Interactive Fiction Competition.

On October 1, 2016, I also went into labor.

So… I didn’t play a single comp game last year, let alone blog about them. I was a bit busy. (I did do a heck of a lot of crosswords in the last year, though. You can solve crosswords on your phone while holding a sleeping baby with the other arm!) I haven’t even played the comp winner, Detectiveland, even though the author is one of my favorites – his Hamlet – The Text Adventure was the very first IF I ever ever played, something like 15 years ago.

For that matter, I’m still a bit busy. Wonderfully, joyfully, hectically, stressfully busy. Being a mom is fantastic and also take up pretty much all previously-free time. But I miss IF, so I’m going to give this a go. I’m rather glad that there are 80 (wowza!) games in the competition this year, because that means that even if I was still childless I wouldn’t have a hope of playing all of them in the judging period – so I don’t need to feel bad about not getting through all of them.

I’m also not going to try for extensive, deep-dive reviews of the games I do play. But I plan to put something here. It’s nice to feel like I can be both a mom and all the things I was before.

So… see you soon?


[IFComp 2015] The Insect Massacre

The Insect Massacre is a short Twine work by Tom Delanoy.

Cover art of

This cover art doesn’t actually fit the game very well, in my opinion.

A short murder mystery set aboard a space station.

You can play it here until the end of the comp.

Review with spoilers after the cut.

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[IFComp 2015] Onaar – technical difficulties

Onaar, by Robert DeFord, looks like an interesting game:

Go to Onaar and become an Alchemist. Learn to make potions that allow you to survive and thrive in a dynamic, open-ended game world. Will you elevate your skills and vanquish the rogue wizard who threatens that world, or will you die trying? Download includes interpreters for Windows and Mac.

However, I can’t get it to work. The interpreter that was included is a patched version of Gargoyle, but my MacBook Pro couldn’t open it at all. (I didn’t get a more specific error than that, or any options – just “The application can’t be opened.” Changing my security settings to allow apps downloaded from “Anywhere” had no effect.)

I was able to open the game with the version of Gargoyle that I already had, but the game acted buggy when I tried to talk to the kindly priest, then crashed when I tried to tell someone my name. As I was only three turns in at that point, I gave up.

If anyone else out there with a Mac has managed to run this game, I’d love to hear how you managed it. Until then, though, I can’t review or judge it.

[IFComp 2015] The Problems Compound

The Problems Compound is a classic-IF parser-based puzzler by Andrew Schultz.

Schultz’s name is probably familiar to those of you who have been following the comp for several years. He is also the author of Ugly Oafs and Threediopolis, among others. (Those link to my reviews, which do have spoilers.) In the spirit of disclosure, I also beta-tested another of his games in 2014. The Problems Compound can be played online here while the comp is still going on. I downloaded the October 4 updated version and played it using Spatterlight.

Review with spoilers after the cut.

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Intermission: PataNoir on new platforms!

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled* 2015 comp reviews with this breaking news:

Simon Christiansen’s PataNoir, which took fifth place in the 2011 IFComp, has been released for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. I loved this wordplay detective game when I played it in the comp, and I’m excited to see how it’s translated to a new medium. I’m also excited to share it around with various friends who are more likely to play an iPad game than a parser-based text adventure.

I’ll stay focused on this year’s comp for now, but now I know what I’ll be playing on November 16.

*I won’t claim these reviews are in any way occurring regularly, but I do PLAN to write them regularly. So that’s like scheduling them regularly, right? Roads, good intentions, &c., I know.

October, at last

This afternoon was TOO LONG.

I made it through faculty meeting staying focused, but I did not stick around to tidy my classroom. I did not stop by the library on the way home (the books are already overdue). I did not stop by the pet store (I have enough turtle food for another couple days). I did stop by the grocery store to buy a few things I HAD to have, but I was increasingly put out by the fact that I was there. I have not made any dinner for myself even though it is dinnertime (there’s leftover brown rice in the fridge which I will eventually raid).

But finally, FINALLY, I am sitting in my green chair with my laptop. There’s a glass of white wine next to me. I have, literally, let my hair down. And I am ABOUT TO OPEN THE FIRST GAME OF THE 2014 INTERACTIVE FICTION COMPETITION.

At bloody last.

(You, too, can play the IFComp games – and judge them! Just wander on over here and you’ll find everything you need.)

Good writing is hard.

I have an ongoing quest to figure out how I feel about hypertext fiction . I admit that I was not thrilled to discover that so many of the entries were Twine or Twine-like pieces in this year’s IFComp. A number of those I wound up liking a lot, so I’m pleased to say that my opinions have been evolving. I’m still much more likely to seek out parser-based IF games over the next ten months than I am to look for more hypertext pieces, though, and here are some of my reasons why.

It starts from this: Good writing is hard.

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