Thursday, February 19, 2015

An Adventurer's Backyard, by Lyricasylum

This is a short treasure hunt with a few small puzzles. It very much feels like a first effort, and while there's nothing to offend, there also isn't much to inspire. Still, I think we should all have the fun of writing a game like this.

It's also written in ADRIFT, and while I admire Campbell Wild's work on ADRIFT and ADRIFT programmers' focus on just having fun, I'm spoiled by Inform's robustness, and the simplicity of creation doesn't always match up with the simplicity of solving and navigating the parser (e.g. must say OPEN TOP DRAWER and not OPEN TOP.) That happened a bit here. It got in the way of a game that was intended to be just whimsical.

This is a "your back yard" game but thankfully without the messiness and squalor. You find a rare coin in a fountain (nice backyard! From some other quest, presumably) and a diamond collar from around a cat's neck (additional words to a logical command are necessary--Mr. Patient on the forums pointed that out, and the neat debug feature. This will help with other Adrift games that troubled me.) This is all okay and minor fun, and I think the puzzles with getting on the roof or in the treehouse are good enough to support a low-key game, though again the treehouse didn't like when I used (VERB) BOARD.

Between this and the surrealism of finding money in a toilet tank, and stuff like implemented household appliances and being able to drink water feel like someone just getting a handle on things and saying, hey, neat, instead of, how can I make this neat?

So I suspect the author was trying to have a bit of plain fun, with puzzles seem there for the sake of puzzles. And that's okay, but it's not terribly profound, and it needs to work all the way through. As it was, I signed off, restarted, thought I got a point for a certain treasure in THIS game when I got it in THAT game, and wound up doing a lot of tallying. There were a lot of extraneous items and I wound up trying to wear different outfits or even tempt the cat with various food before I realized the solution was probably simpler.

Some of this could've been fixed with a more general HINT message, or perhaps if SCORE listed the treasures found, and I think that's on the programmer if they are looking for ways to polish. Also, it's okay to spoil a puzzle with actual commands to type at the end--it may be a relief for the player.

This game is deliberately unambitious and just wants to be fun--different reactions to JUMP are nice--but a big problem for me was that the parser got in the way of simplicity, especially with the diamond collar.


  1. Last summer I took a pretty serious look at ADRIFT 5, porting my Hugo micro-IF "Waiting for The End." I was relatively impressed with it. It's about on the same level as a mainstream 2D game editor like Construct 2. I would rate it slightly beneath RPG Maker VX Ace on programming capability from the GUI, but I think it's still pretty capable.

  2. I'm really impressed with the work Campbell Wild put into Adrift. Also good job on porting one of your works to learn a language/system--I need to try that idea.

    I've never used RPG Maker but I wanted to. The thing is, I've broken RPGs into maps so often that I worry anything I make would stumble conventions too much. Plus I'm kind of bogus at non-8-bit graphics.

    (See the Sunburn thread for more on Adrift. I was too lazy/confused to delete comments.)