Reviews: IF Competition 1995

(Note: I didn't vote, being a competitor. Yeah, I could have voted for the TADSers, but I didn't.) (In this first competition, voters chose a first, second, and third place in separate TADS and Inform categories.) Warning: blunt comments ahead.

A Change in the Weather

Andrew Plotkin

Whoo hoo.

The Mind Electric

Jason Dyer

I ranked this really low, to be honest. I didn't like the puzzles at all. I solved almost none of them myself -- I kept thinking "There's no way to do anything with that," looking at the hints, and thinking "I was supposed to do what?" I felt like the author was leading me blindfold. Then again, the cyberpunk atmosphere didn't particularly do it for me -- that's a matter of taste - and people seem to have ranked the game highly because of it.

The Magic Toyshop

Gareth Rees

Liked it a lot. People seem to have ragged on it for not being a story-and-atmosphere piece, but that wasn't a requirement of the contest. Technically very tight -- you'd almost think the author had experience with writing a full-length IF game :-) The puzzles absolutely did it for me. Took more than two hours -- more than two days, in fact -- but my entry was at least as hard.

MST3K: Detective

C. E. Forman

I laughed a lot. A terrific idea. Was it a legitimate entry? Sure. And yes, it was an "original piece of IF." The story of the underlying game was not original, but the commentary was interactive and was implemented with the same programming techniques as the rest of us used. I hope more people stretch the boundaries like this (or -- I should say -- differently, not like this) next year.

All Quiet on the Library Front

Michael S. Phillips

I wasn't able to solve it. Felt vaguely skimpy.

Tube Trouble

Richard Tucker

Solved it, but again, it was small and thin. (Hush -- I'll address your comment at the end of this post.)

Uncle Zebulon's Will

Magnus Olsson

Liked it. Although it owed perhaps a little too much to the "classic" IF tropes of brightly-colored magical objects arbitrarily scattered around the landscape. (Yeah, yeah, but you know what I mean. Blue discs, black rods, violet pearls, green wires, red gems -- sometime I think IF is trapped in a Lucky Charms commercial.) (Uh, if you don't watch US TV, I'll explain later.) But that's too harsh; Zebulon did have a plot, which I liked.


Jacon Weinstein

Liked this the best of the TADS entries. Great evocation of a scenario -- you figure out what to do by understanding how the universe works. Plus, it's funny.

The One That Got Away

Leon Lin

Not much there; it didn't pull me in. (So to speak. :-)

A Night at the Museum Forever

Chris Angelini

Nice idea, but like other people have said, it didn't do much with it. Time travel puzzles are well-known and this had nothing new.


Stephen Granade

About even with Zebulon for second place in the TADS entries. A lot of careful design, consideration of multiple paths of action; this scores well with me. It didn't particularly advance the standard of mystery IF (you go around, ask questions, show things to people, and everyone's reactions are a little limited.) But it did a good job with what we have.


Neil deMause

Again, I laughed a lot. On the other hand, I wouldn't have ranked it very high -- it was very small. This brings me back to what you were complaining about earlier: I very much tend to like large games and dislike small ones. Well, it's true. I liked Undo as much as, say, any given scene in Toonesia -- but that meant there was more I liked in Toonesia. So I rank it higher. Should I try to normalize for that if I vote next year? Try to vote for quality per unit time, or quality per kilobyte of game file? Dunno. Such options don't even necessarily make sense for something like Detective.

Oh well. I'd hate to see entries like Undo being left out just because they might not win. I played it with a big grin, which is worth much to me. (Detective was the other one that did this.)

Whoo hoo. On to next year.

Last updated November 21, 1998.

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