IF Comp 2014: One Night Stand (Giannis G. Georgiou)

OneNightStand cover art FINAL (orange)

One Night Stand is a parser-based puzzle game in Quest, about a woman who wakes up in an unfamiliar apartment and needs to figure out the name of her date before leaving. I did not complete it.

I did not get on very well with this game’s narrative voice. The following snippet demonstrates several of the reasons:

Oh my! It is true. You have turned into a serial sex machine. You have been wasting yourself, from one night stand to one night stand, from coctail party to orgy, without a single clue about whom you share this experiences with. You have been consumming men like nachos, not giving a second thought about their feelings.

In one paragraph, we have typos and grammar errors, some awkward phrasing, and a highly unpersuasive self-shaming internal monologue.

Partly the issue is a lack of specificity. “From one night stand to one night stand, from coctail party to orgy” feels like a summary of the situation provided by an onlooker, whereas I usually remember events with some key details attached. Cocktail party: the one on the hotel roof? the one to which you wore the hot pink heels? the one right after your father died where you did eight vodka shots? Even if intentionally dodging any details about the other guests in order to drive home the message about being indifferent to your companions, one could still put in clues about setting, emotional context, age and social class, or any of about a dozen other things that would make the protagonist much more individual and thus more interesting.

The other issue, though, is a feeling that this woman was largely invented for the purpose of being lectured about her sexuality, and that was also a bit uncomfortable. This is not to say that the story of a woman who regrets recent life choices can’t be done well, but Bridget Jones this is not. Indeed, I have the sense that the author has contempt for all of his characters, since the male inhabitant of the apartment appears to be grotesquely slovenly and to collect souvenirs of his conquests without the permission of the women in question. We’re not, at least initially, shown much to make us like either of them, and if we encounter the one other person in the flat she yells at us for our disgusting promiscuity. Nonetheless, the female protagonist’s sexual adventures are portrayed as somehow more morally wrong than those of her partner.

I’ve picked one passage in order to be able to dig into details a bit, but it’s fairly representative.

Implementation could also have been stronger. Here is a bit where I am trying to clean the kitchen floor. Its immense greasiness is apparently a barrier I am supposed to try to resolve, even though I am not really sure what it is the protagonist hopes to find there, and I am kind of thrashing about with both verb and noun synonyms:

> i
You are carrying your high heels, a red shirt, your panties and a bottle of chlorine solution.

> wash floor
I don't understand your command.

> clean floor
I don't understand your command.

> use chlorine
I am not going to use this on myself.

> put chlorine on floor
I can't see that. (floor)

> use chlorine on kitchen
You pour some chlorine on the greasy floor. Some of the grease gives in, but nothing major happens. Wow! You haven't seen anything that dirty before!

There are ways to make Quest auto-suggest verbs, as I recall, but (perhaps to preserve the difficulty?) either the author chose not to use them or there was some mode setting that I was missing. At any rate, that option didn’t seem to be available here.

In any case, after poking at this puzzle a bit more, I decided to stop.

Other reviews: PaulS, Katherine Morayati, Sam Kabo Ashwell, Jenni Polodna.

9 thoughts on “IF Comp 2014: One Night Stand (Giannis G. Georgiou)”

  1. You’re not supposed to be able to clean the floor, just to get to the ‘joke’ about how dirty the floor is. The problem is that in several other places you try a thing and get told that it doesn’t work, then at some arbitrary time later you’re supposed to try it again and now it does work. I can discover no internal logic in any of this.

  2. Yeah, this was awful: The poor writing, the dodgy sexual politics, and the implementation itself. It clearly took some amount of effort, but I too was flabbergasted (upon using the walkthrough) to find how many times you’re supposed to try something, go and do something else, then come back and try that same task only to find it works this time. For no identifiable reason (save narrative railroading).

    This one will not place highly.

    1. I think you’re being too harsh on the puzzle. If memory serves (and, since I couldn’t make a transcript, it’ll have to), there are a few things you do more than once, but you do have good reason. Checking the photo repeatedly is precipitated by 1) the PC getting the telescope, so she can see it clearly and 2) the game telling us the photo has been flipped over, so the back is visible, for example. If you try some things too soon, the action will fail, but that’s somewhat justified, inconsistencies aside–the game is more likely to give you a sensible reason something failed than a sensible reason it succeeded (“why would I want a lamp?” vs. “never know when you’ll need some bleach!”).

      It’s by no means a great game, but (not having played many of this year’s entries yet) I’d assume it’d place someone near the middle of the pack, if only for lack of game-breaking bugs.

  3. Yeah, I’m not sure how I’m rating this one — it’s better implemented than many others near the bottom of my list, and I apparently ran through the puzzle sequence in the logical order expected, so I only had guess-the-wording issues once near the end. But it’s completely obnoxious, and not at all funny.

    Also, I couldn’t pet the cat. Not even to get some sort of puerile pussy joke. Mortal sin, IMHO.

  4. I didn’t get the impression that she was being lectured about her sexuality at all. Rather the opposite, in fact. The referenced paragraph was, as you noted, unpersuasive … but I thought it was meant to be so. I thought she was striking a melodramatic pose, and I fully expected her to forget her resolutions (and be justified in doing so) as soon as she stepped out the door at the end of the game.

    1. Regardless of the resolution it relied upon negative tropes surrounding female sexuality. I’d place a fair bet that it wasn’t the author’s deliberate intentions to do so: he’s just reinforcing stereotypes that continue to be normalised in society probably on a subconscious level.

  5. [b]”There are ways to make Quest auto-suggest verbs, as I recall, but (perhaps to preserve the difficulty?) either the author chose not to use them or there was some mode setting that I was missing. At any rate, that option didn’t seem to be available here.”[/b]

    It’s not difficult to set up failed states that return a suggestion in Quest rather than a simple “I do not understand this! Think again!”

    But even easier is to think of all the alternatives that people may try (beta testing helps here) and set up a function pointing to the same script. No need for guess the verb and it’s lazy programming leaving players frustrated in that instance.


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