Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Bibliophile, by Marshal Tenner Winter

I beta-tested this game...there was a lot of work and love put into it, and a lot of testing. The author has a good formula down for getting stories off the assembly line, but I'd like to suggest upgrading that assembly line. The "test X" command in Inform is valuable. So would expanding the "think" command to give hints every turn e.g.

section thinky - not for release

every turn:
  say "Current hint: ";
  try thinking;

Hints make a game more robust and also expose the more arbitrary or unclued puzzles e.g. "I did tell the player this, right?" & you have to go check. I've slipped, myself, forgetting to make an important hinting device visible, and hints don't prevent that, but they've made it less likely. They force you to pave over things. In a game this big and long, anything that can help the player keep on track is good, and I've also found that if my interest flags in my own game when I walkthrough, what does that mean for someone not as invested in it?

I really want to see the author throw away the Call of Cthulu-world style crutch he's relied on in previous efforts and to make the jump to write his own stuff, however crazy he worries it might be. Because I think that is what is most memorable about this game...the touches like the cat, or using the Psychognomy spell.

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