Saturday, March 14, 2015

Down, the Serpent and Sun by Chandler Groover

This game was rather quick for me, but I suspect that's because I didn't poke around carefully enough. Some of it seemed sparsely implemented, but I did find two cool ways to die. This was satisfying enough, but I'd still like to see the "good" end if there was one. An IFDB review pointed to that the ClubFloyd folks found it.

You're atop a pyramid when a giant worm swallows you after a few moves. You can't really help this, which makes sense. It's unclear (to me) what worm this mythology is from. The pyramid probably cuts that down, and also the lack of worms in Egyptian mythology that I know of, but I found I wasn't worried about what was what.

Thus begins a descent through the worm's body parts. It's immediately a bit tricky to figure what to do--HELP mentioned I didn't have to do much except U/D/ASK, and bumping into walls made me discover some lungs which seemed extraneous. Finding to ASK SKELETON FOR HELP was a bit tricky and I'd never thought to ask it without the verb-hinting. But once I did, I enjoyed getting burned up by the sun and exiting the worm's tail. It made no mistake the next time.

I think the game was a bit too sparse, but this looks like it can be fixed. The rejection messages are very atmospheric and non-generic and give a nice sense of impending doom, so well done there! That is the sort of thing parser games are good at, and without them, I might have been wondering why this game wasn't in twine.

The game also had only two beta-testers so it seems possible the author procrastinated a bit. I can't throw stones there, but this is exactly the sort of game where people comfortable with the parser could help a new writer to do the stuff they want to do, to give the game the right sort of sparseness. That's not to say the game was buggy--not even close. The two beta testers are smart people who've written good games of their own & I imagine they helped. But a game needs several views, or people saying "Maybe it's just me, but I'd like..." (Protip: maybe it's not, or maybe your idea will lead to something cool. And even if it is just you, it might still just make sense.) It's tough to diplomatically tell someone to clue something better, whether or not you have any ideas how.

I know I've left out a critical clue I thought I made visible, and I feel like this game has done the same. So I think that hinders it, but I suspect with a cheat sheet I'll groan and thump my forehead and enjoy the "good" ending.

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