IF Comp 2011: It

“It” concerns a game we used to call Sardines — one person hides, and the seekers gradually find her and join her in the space. It’s a short but broad game with many possible outcomes.

There’s more going on in this game than one can reasonably hope to see in one or two playthroughs: it’s possible to win or lose the game, or to spend time talking to the other characters, or to give up and go away entirely. A lot of care has gone into the implementation: NPCs move around and act on their own throughout, behavior in adjacent areas can be seen from a distance, and the story includes hints and suggestions about what to do next.

So… yeah. I thought it was basically fine.

I didn’t find it hugely compelling, though, mostly because there’s so little obviously at stake. If you spend some time talking to the other girls, you can find out a little more about them, but the initial premise doesn’t seem to matter all that much (even though, as it turns out in the end, the loser of the game may be treated to a nasty bit of little-girl ostracism). Moreover, I have the impression that the most interesting discoveries and outcomes of “It” arise if you ignore or subvert the rules you’re given — but the problem is that the only real goal I have as a player is to succeed in finding the hiding place and entering it (a challenge that ceases to be challenging after the first playthrough, since the hiding place is not randomized). So I have the sense that there might be more interesting things that can happen in “It”, but I’m not sure what they are and don’t have a clear goal to go looking for them.

I’ve played other games that encourage you to replay for a different goal when you get to the first ending — Slouching Towards Bedlam does a masterful job of this — but that works because the first ending points towards the possibility of other endings, so that you’re spurred to restart immediately and try something new.

One thought on “IF Comp 2011: It

  1. Pingback: IF Comp 2011: Overview | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

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