Thursday, March 12, 2015

Terminator Chaser, by Bruno Dias

Terminator Chaser threw me off as I expected it to be timed. It wasn't. You need to shut down a mining base on Mercury before the sun comes up, but of course it is not that simple.

You're given a checklist at the start, and it seems straightforward enough. Close some shutters, flip some switches and leave. But once you get that done, you notice sabotage has occurred.

The hints--well, once I understood them, they were factually right, but all the same they left too many gaps. I got particularly confused by the ending where the game said you were in a vacuum, but the garage door on the west was closed. It's possible I missed a message, but the layout didn't make sense to me, and I don't think the crack was clued well enough for me. It was one of those cases where I thought there might be a crack, but the death message was too sudden. Having a clue there would be nice.

If you're not a science fiction fan (I'm not) this will probably still be okay. I think it has some unintentional user-unfriendliness, and my pedantic side noticed details like the LIST (a nice short command to have) not mentioning how many shutters you closed. For instance, it would be nice to toggle the center status from exits available to the current task, since the map isn't oppressively huge. And to me, the time left was too vague--I thought it was actually related to the number of turns.

So this feels pretty middle-of-the-road for all the ups and downs. It has some touches that are well worth putting in for a post-release, such as

That noun did not make sense in this context.

This seems unhelpful, but then

Currently on your mind is (x, y and z).

Since this is ParserComp, I'll try to point out at least one of these where execution falls short of intent. As a parser player, I know to try this, but newer players might not. So my recommendation here is to search for the text (or type RULES) and note that 17.33. Printing a parser error has a list of parser errors (WXPQ gives this specific example)--I find being able to customize them is a good catch-all, and here,

Rule for printing a parser error when the latest parser error is the I beg your pardon error:
    if word number 1 in the player's command is "remember" or word number 1 in the player's command is "think":
        try remembering-nothing instead; [behavior like REMEMBER]
    say "That noun doesn't work with that verb. Sorry for being a bit generic." instead;

Of course, this can be customized, but I was surprised how much customizing error-checking in a parser game took pressure off the player--and also focused me on how I want to funnel commands.

I conked out looking how to start the rover in the west, and unfortunately, time pressure meant I couldn't solve the game. However, I think Terminator Chaser passes the eye test & most of my observations are about tune-ups and not big-picture issues. Plus the X ME command is funny.

No comments:

Post a Comment