IFComp 2015: The Baker of Shireton   1 comment

By Hanon Ondricek. Played in browser with Firefox. Not finished.

Keeping with the “busting expectations” theme, The Baker of Shireton was what I expected from the blurb (fantasy universe game about a baker who turns into a hero) but there were two crazy wrenches in the mix. One is both terrible and genius while the other is just terrible.

The just terrible part first: the opening scene is a time-management baking simulation. Figuring out the appropriate ways to type the actions I wanted caused intense frustration. I still do not know the syntax for picking up just pans with dough in them; if you put pans in the oven without dough, they simply disappear from the game altogether. I kept having to juggle items in a meta-game sort of way that had absolutely nothing to do with the world itself.

Finally checking the walkthrough:

Baking bread is much easier than my testers made it. Don’t mess with the pans. Don’t struggle with specifics.

The people testing your game are there to inform you when something is wonky with syntax. Fix the thing they’re having trouble with. Your players will have the same trouble. There are multiple appropriate choices here, one being simply jumping in with [You don’t need to pick up the pans; just BAKE BREAD and the pan will get moved to the oven automatically.]

I kept having trouble. Trying to GET BREAD FROM OVEN doesn’t work. Type GET BREAD just would get one bread but not necessarily the one from the oven.

From the walkthrough I learned about TAKE ALL BREAD. Grr! I pretty much gave up on trying to communicate and started to rely exclusively on the walkthrough.

So that was the terrible thing. After the spoiler space I’ll into the terrible/genius thing:




So the baker is not just in a fantasy universe, but a massive multiplayer game in a computer; he or she is a bread-selling NPC.

The “world simulation” system needs to be exploited to make any progress. For example, it is possible to accidentally set the bakery on fire and die; after doing this, this message comes up on restart:

*Age of Aeons Patch Notes*V.12.017
*Fixed situation in which vagaries of the physics engine
*could cause some buildings in Shireton starting area
*to burn down unexpectedly, breaking multiple
*low-level starting quests. We apologize
*for any inconvenience over the weekend and request
*you contact Customer Service if you
*have any questions. Thanks! -o=O AoA Team O=o-

I fully acknowledge the brilliance of this; restart did not actually restart, because the events of the last life caused the programmers to change the world.

This is on the other hand terrible because I have no idea how I’d figure it out. I always save and restore, restart is an absolute rarity, and there is no clue to the special meta status of restart before seeing the message above.

Even with the extra advice from the walkthrough I didn’t get much farther at all until my 2 hours had elapsed. I’m fine with how character action was communicated, generally (I’m used to combat MUDs with people swarming in text all over the place) but I couldn’t stop picking up the wrong bread or dropping things in the wrong place and when I had something bad happen it was more often because my intent was misunderstood than anything else.

Posted October 30, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “IFComp 2015: The Baker of Shireton

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  1. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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