Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mount Imperius, by Kaleidofish

This work establishes itself quickly as an adventure, where you climb one of seven of the biggest mountains on various continents. I don't climb mountains and never will, but I like the concept immediately.

The author then establishes conflicts between the player and their expedition mates--some plan poorly, some are too bossy, and the player themselves almost got killed. This is all more than adequate, but I'd like to see more of it. The player never gets to do anything, only see the footnotes, and I was disappointed that the first real choice, where you must chase after lost mates, gave 'TO BE CONTINUED' both ways. Even different paragraphs before this message would've helped--as it is, I felt, well, my choices don't matter. And even if they don't, the player needs to feel that they do.

Seeing this left me feeling a bit ripped off. I'd have liked to see some sort of timing puzzle, or using inventory, or even a way to negotiate between squabbling expedition-mates. The characters, situation and tension are all there. It doesn't have to be something big. But it shouldn't be limited by what seems like the author not wanting to make any mistakes. I think the writing I saw was good enough, another paragraph summarizing what was ahead would've worked well.

Speculative ranting is ahead--the thing is, I'm partial to 'text adventure' as a term over 'Interactive Fiction.' The term IF has its own pitfalls. You can just say, I'll write some fiction, and oh, I'll add a few options I guess the player would like, and wham! It's interactive! Unfortunately I feel that that is as interactive as a gimmick book with pockets or whatever in its pages. And this effort falls into that trap.

The term text adventure, to me, nudges the programmer to give the player an adventure, a set of real choices, and most importantly, not the temptation of a cop-out just to read footnotes if they feel like it, where in this case the footnotes are not immediately visible. Text adventure has its own pitfalls, as in, the author can make the choices too obscure. But they're ones I'd rather see, although I have to admit, I'd like to have a walkthrough handy in that case. You can see what the author was thinking, even if it was something crazy, and you can get something from that. But in this case, the otherwise solid writing is, well, just solid writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment