Archive for the ‘shufflecomp’ Tag

Shufflecomp reviews (50 Shades of Jilting, Mirrorwife, Groove Billygoat, Sparkle)   2 comments

50 Shades of Jilting, by Lankly Lockers

Surreptitiously, you somehow concretize the abstract (its appearance in your inventory was admittedly a great first step) and physically transfer your run-down relationship into the pocket of Sam’s coat under a smoke screen of small talk about the weather.

You have one move to break up with your lover, at which point the story rewinds and you can try it a different way. This is an excellent concept, and the writing goes down terrific when in small doses (as above) but there are some giant clumps which go on and on and on:

“Sam, I’m going to see if we can get these drinks to go. It’s a beautiful day and I just can’t bear to be inside.” “No problem,” says Sam, “I’ll put on my shades.” Five minutes later, you’re strolling down a pedestrian mall with paper cups in your hands. “Do you mind,” you ask, “if we head over that bridge? I’ve got a bee in my bonnet to get out of downtown.” “I’ll have to walk back here when we’re done,” starts Sam, “but I can do that.” Half an hour later later, you make a suggestion: “How would you feel about hitting up that big park at the edge of town? Something just rubs me wrong about being among all this asphalt and cement on a day like today.” “I can appreciate that,” replies Sam, “though I might need to have a rest break or two on the way there. It’s nice out, but I’m getting a little winded.”

Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood, but I admit to skimming some of the text. I also did not come close to finding all the endings. Does someone have a spoiler list?

Mirrorwife, by Virgil Caine

You touch one palm to the a wall. The stone is damp and rough and makes you think of salt. During your time underwater, you often wondered if it would have been worse to be surrounded by rock and left in darkness. If the queen was ever here, however, you find no trace, and you would know. Of all people, you would know.

From lengthy to succinct, and the effect is lovely. I played through multiple times, even though the interaction is minimal and as far as I can tell the structure is “linear with side descriptions and a final choice.” I want to see more of this world. I want to see what happens after.

Groove Billygoat, by Efrain Finnell

True confession: I picked the song here. The King of Pop is source for a truly odd music video, as well as suggestive lyrics (“So They Came Into The Outway / It Was Sunday-What A Black Day / Mouth To Mouth Resus-Citation / Sounding Heartbeats-Intimidations”). There were all sorts of threads I thought a potential int-fic could go on, but I was surprised to find Groove Billygoat took every thread imaginable and went crazy with it.

“It’s him!” shouts Rufus, pointing down the block, where an unearthly light as if from a hundred garbage truck headlights grows around the corner, casting the shadow of a thin man against the wall. He emerges around the corner, his white suit blinding in the golden light, surrounded by clouds of mist from a curb grate.

The sidewalk slab lights up as the man steps, and then the next one as he steps onto it, only fading after it his shoes have left the surface. This can’t be… you think, trying to blink the mirage from your eyes.

It’s like it invents a new genre: dance noir. It is wild and swerving. The lyrics in Smooth Criminal, are (to be polite) difficult to understand; this game turns that fact into a puzzle. There is a random easter egg reference to Thriller. MOONWALK is a verb. Go play it (although cling, somewhat gently, to the hints).

Sparkle, by Karly Di Caprio

“What do you seek?”

“I seek the truth, shifu.”

She hit me on the fingers with the head of her cane, like many times before.

“You say you seek the truth, but only lies come out your own mouth. What do you seek?”

You can turn a dog into a flute with the power of your mind.

Posted May 20, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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Shufflecomp reviews (Truth, Tea and Toast, Fallout Shelter [by Voss], Illuminate)   Leave a comment

So there’s this event called ShuffleComp where people sent in playlists of songs and received random sets of 8. The same people then wrote works of interactive fiction based on those songs; 33 came back with an entry. Voting for works that get a Commendation goes to the end of May.

However, there’s this extra rule where each review counts as an extra yes vote. It’s an experiment that I believe is intended to tilt feedback to more-positive-vibes-than-negative but it makes me anxious, because even on interactive fiction I enjoy haven’t been able to tell if it’s “worth” the bonus boost of a review. Also, in some cases I’d like to talk about interactive fiction I’d consider a “no” vote but still have interesting discussion points.

The only way out of this is to write a review for everything. So I’m going to do that, with the caveat that reviews near the deadline might be choppy sentences without grammar control. Mea culpa in advance.

(I entered my own work under a psuedonym, and since I don’t plan to review myself the reviews have a side effect of potentially giving away my secret identity early. There’s a rule of no-speculating-on-pseudonyms but that’s for public discussion and you’re welcome to play the home game. I also realize I reduce my own chances at Commendation by one vote by implicitly voting for everyone else, but c’est la vie.)

Truth, by John Earthling

The intrepid player here must stalk about a minimalist town in a mission to root out untruth:

The man leans close and, glancing about conspiratorially, whispers “Snakes are the only animals with opposable thumbs.” Then he slinks away into the shadows.

OK, that clearly wasn’t the truth.
[You have debunked an untruth!]

The game feels loose and uncomfortable to me; I don’t really have much to latch onto. Either than prose needs to be deeper or the interaction stronger or the comedy just funnier. I’m keen on the scoring system, though: [You have come across a fib!] or [You have exposed a prevarication!] or etc. occur every time another fib has been found.

Tea and Toast, by Maria del Pangolin

Does a story need conflict? I don’t think so, and neither does Tea and Toast:

It was at the bus stop you first saw her. The first week, you stole glances as you walked past. The second week, you tried to figure out if she was stealing glances back. The third week, you decided to start taking the bus to work… even though it’d be a bit of a walk back.

It’s simple: you prepare tea and toast and memories flow in. Except, hm, I must be bad at preparing tea, because I keep messing things up by turning on the teapot (which is a thing you can’t do?) or trying to put leaves in without a strainer (which I guess is bad?) or doing a list of other things that are apparently wrong.

Still, it’s the sort of thing you play to be happy, and it works.

Fallout Shelter, by Amadeo Voss

Dreadful scratching sounds, the kind that remind you of when you were a little girl, hiding under the covers so the monsters wouldn’t get you.

I think (other than a weird burst of autobiographical material in a notebook) that perhaps the shelter is a little too sparse, because I couldn’t visualize anything; this was just words. There’s a choice about staying or leaving that doesn’t make me feel like any kind of story progression happened at all. The ending I had to work hardest at was getting eaten by the monsters, so I’ll call that my VICTORY END and move on from there.

Illuminate, by Summer del Mono

The surface of the table seems to bubble even as the clear ball approaches, magnifies it many times over, cracks spreading across its surface, until it shatters with a brief burst of red flame, leaving no trace of the table.

You find you have the crystal orb and the blood orb once more.

What remains: An orange wall. A fruit tray lies on the floor. Deep scratches and pits mark the plain table.

This reminds me of entries from the IF Art Show (wow, the last one was 2007? we should revive that sometime) where the goal is to fiddle with things (in this case, four paintings with matching orbs) and see what they do. This would be more engrossing if the prose had more style; as is it’s a bit dry. Still, I was intrigued enough to play about for a while and I do wonder if there’s any secrets I have yet to unearth.

Posted May 20, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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