Saturday, September 6, 2014

1st and Last of the Ninjas, by nmelssx

Well, Spring Thing had 3 ChoiceScript games, and one included stats and pulled it off fairly well. That'd be the game that won Spring Thing, "The Price of Freedom: Innocence Lost." And I liked how Through Time used some relatively simple variables to track your progress through a time paradox. In fact, I thought it made the best use of the three games.

This game tried for full-blown RPG stats, and I probably got bogged down in the RPG too much. I found a lot of bugs--infinite gold (I think I bought ramen before doing anything,) unexpected death, and also not being able to use the map after typing in a password twice after getting killed. I didn't really have any idea how good I was supposed to be before starting out, and the clicking around got frustrating. The "previous page" option did not work so well. It's frustrating as I often had to click on items and work in a certain order just to get things going. I also got into semi-traps where my only option seemed to be to break into a shop--I wasn't warned they were closed--but I could just click on the inventory, instead.

So the game allows itself plausible ways out, but people don't play games to say "Oh, that was frustrating, but I can see how something simple would've worked if I really thought about it." And I don't think authors want to have their players saying that, but that's what happens when the game design doesn't fit the tool.

I think this sort of game would be better off in Twine, which handles variables better. But even so, the double text and typos and lack of incisive text didn't leave me optimistic. I have to admit, I enjoyed writing an RPG, myself, way back when--I recognize it might not be so fun to play, now, and I think it must be tough to realize that the excitement over tools that -can- do something doesn't mean that they are good at doing something. It's also tough to judge how players will react to something you found easy to program, or you think you programmed as best you could. As someone who doesn't like clicking around that much, I found the game exhausting, and it fell into the same trap that A Game of Life and Death did.

This feels like a beginning effort, and the author shouldn't feel ashamed. It's tough to know where the players find pitfalls.

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