Another IF Comp review, following my format for this comp. There is a cut, then any spoiler-free comments I have, and then spoiler space, and then more detailed feedback that assumes the reader has tried the game.
But first, we have some obligatory filler to try to make sure that the RSS summary does not accidentally contain any review. Filler, filler, la la la…
Okay. Here we go.
Continue reading “IF Competition: The Absolute Worst IF Game in History”
After recent RAIF discussion and the Gamasutra article on Far Cry 2, the rest of the world is also talking more on the question of how narrative can be constructed in games — out of what pieces, and in what sense it can be narrative.
A lot of the discussion comes back to traditional issues we’ve seen before: people re-discovering, for instance, the conflict between freedom, agency, and story. A lot of the techniques suggested (sandboxes where the player has to make his own story; branching narratives; narratives constructed in partial reaction to the player’s behavior, by some sort of drama manager) have already been floated a bunch of times.
For myself, I actually feel like I’ve talked out this topic for the time being, but it’s interesting seeing what everyone else is saying.
Jimmy Maher’s most recent SPAG editorial contains the paragraph:
Some of us who are very, very good are writing games like the generally acknowledged best game of 2007: Lost Pig. On the one hand, Lost Pig is nothing to disparage. It’s hilarious; it’s great fun; it’s honed and polished to the most beautiful shine… And yet, on the other hand, it disturbs me just a bit that, after twelve months and dozens if not hundreds of game releases, a game about a cartoon-style orc with pidgin English skills trying to recover a pig was the pinnancle of our achievements. Best comedy (if such a category existed)? Sure. Best game? That concerns me a bit. It’s not that the XYZZY voters were wrong. Lost Pig probably was the best game of 2007. But why was it the best game? Where are the IF games that, to paraphrase a famous old Electronic Arts ad, make us cry?
I disagree with the sentiment that comedy is a second-class form, with less potential to be Real Literature. Continue reading “On Comedy and Feeling”
Two applications in the new iPhone App store caught my attention particularly: an implementation of Advent (already discussed some on RAIF), and what looked like an educational Choose Your Own Adventure book (or similar) called “The Battle of Waterloo” (from TouchTomes, by Graham Perks and Elizabeth Jones).
They’re both seriously disappointing. Advent is, I think, basically a case study in how to do an interactive fiction interface wrong on the iPhone. There’s no scrollback. The background images (of cave interiors, your feet, whatever) are distracting. The creators haven’t leveraged the game dictionary to provide helpful autocomplete for commands — something that should be possible and would make command entry considerably less laborious on this platform. Overall, yuk.
“The Battle of Waterloo” is indeed a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and is as unpredictable and surreal as the original series. Some of the outcomes lead to swift military outcomes (so swift, in fact, that it’s hard to get a clear sense of what is going on in the battle). But there are also inexplicably horror/paranormal outcomes, which make it seem more arbitrary and less like historical re-enactment. Add to that an assortment of typos and punctuation errors, badly written dialogue, maps too tiny to read (but which you can’t zoom into), and a maze for pity’s sake — and what you get is essentially a mess, something that reflects almost none of what we’ve learned in the last several decades about interactive storytelling or multimedia education.
On the positive side: I do find the iPhone screen big enough to read comfortably. There’s room for good stuff to be done for this platform. It just hasn’t happened yet.
I posted this to RAIF, but since I know there are readers here who don’t follow RAIF closely:
Graham and I have been talking about a revamp of the Inform website, and one of the things we’d especially like to add is some support for teaching with Inform and/or interactive fiction in general. But since neither of us has any actual experience of presenting Inform in a classroom, we’d love some feedback about what it would be most useful for us to offer. Particulars follow the cut.
Continue reading “Soliciting suggestions about IF for education”
Posted an article on IF prose: this is an edited distillation of some things I posted in response to Jim Aikin back in January or so, so may not be new to dedicated RAIF readers, but I wanted to have a more general-purpose version available.