IFComp 2015: Pit of the Condemned   1 comment

By Matthew Holland. Played to completion using Firefox on computer.

This bridge is much younger than the solid stone constructions of the rest of the city, and isn’t built to nearly the same standard. It crosses a deep ravine, joining the city to the north with more natural rock passages to the south.

This bridge is just about serviceable, but with the right tool you could weaken it so that heavy or careless pursuers fall into the darkness.

Pit of the Condemned has neither impressive plot nor writing nor setting nor characters. What it does have going for it is a complete variant of traditional text adventure gameplay.

The player is condemned to die and dropped into a ruined city doomed to be chased down by a ravenous beast. Fortunately, there are some supplies left over so the player can fight back.

There are specifically various points on the map that can be made into traps, if the right item can be found. All the time this is happening the player is being chased. Careful attention needs to be paid to the sound of the beast and it’s possible to be chased into a corner. The only other puzzles are locked doors which have matching keys.

Partial map of the environs.

Partial map of the environs.

So far nothing of note, but:

While the locations stay the same from game to game, the location of the beast and the objects are completely randomized.

This drops Pit of the Condemned into the genre of the tiny roguelike, in the same category as works like 868-HACK and Hoplite. It doesn’t represent a fullly fledged roguelike like Kerkerkruip, but rather zooms on a particular interaction — evading a beast and setting a trap — and bases the gameplay around that idea.

Mapping what would normally be a dull layout because much more interesting when one is paranoid about being trapped in dead-ends. Also, the status of keys and locks are much different than a traditional IF game: while they’re simple enough to almost be a non-puzzle, when key locations are randomized they represent branches of game possibility. Perhaps the key to the barracks is hard to find on a particular run, but the barracks have the tripwire needed for the spike trap, so the spike trap is essentially out of service for the game.

Having said that, I don’t think the implementation was strong as it could be. On one run I found the item I needed to set a trap immediately next to the right location; this led to a trivial win. Probably it would be best if the item generation was such that the player was required to use at least one key to win; this would require enough back and forth that there would likely be several near misses with the beast on a winning run.

Also, once the game is mapped it isn’t threatening enough; it’s almost possible to just ignore the beast until ready for a win. I might also suggest something like “alarm traps” that would cause the player to generate noise that can be heard across the map, or alternate obstacles other than just the beast to worry about. As it is this is the stub of an idea for a possible new branch of interactive fiction development.

Posted November 2, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “IFComp 2015: Pit of the Condemned

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  1. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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