IFComp 2007: Packrat   Leave a comment

Next up is Packrat, a satirical variation on Sleeping Beauty.

I know it’s early on here, but I think it’s time for a quick intervention. People don’t call you the Packrat for nothing. Your pack is already full, and your cottage, and you’re paying out a hefty pile of plate every month for two storage barns back home. You’ve been on plenty of adventures, and you always come home with a new pile of must-keep bizarro tools. The Great Cleansing and Yard Sale Gala never seems to come off. This is a big castle, and if you start off taking the beerstein, you’re never going to find the Princess, let alone get out with your back intact.

The premise is good. The writing has just the right amount of wit and sparkle. The puzzles are (conceptually, at least) sanely fashioned. The plot has a nifty bit of story symmetry near the end.

The implementation of it all fails miserably.

I see no beta testers credited. I don’t want to presume there was no testing at all, but most of the flaws were the sort of things a tester would pick up on.

Some are just little annoyances:

Guest Room
This guest room has suffered at the hands of a single-minded decorator. Someone in this castle is fond of teal. That’s clear.

You can see an oversized teak chest and a Castle Guard here.

>get chest
Someone knew how to pack their pantaloons. Apparently, you can’t lift this chest fully loaded.

As is, the “get chest” response sounds like a joke, and there is no actual object involved since “pantaloons” don’t show up in the room description. The pantaloons do exist, but they can only be seen by examining the chest.

Other problems are much larger, like a puzzle early on made unsolvable by doing things in the wrong order.

A tester likely would also presumably whine repeatedly until the ‘wait 18 times, then do it again later’ puzzle was trimmed down.

A tester would also point out which puzzles could use some more clues in the text.

My recommendation if you haven’t played it yet (and have no plans to vote): wait and hope for a post-competition bugfix version.

Posted October 19, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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