Sunday, June 22, 2014

Renga In Four Parts, by Jason Dyer

This game is an experimental, in the poetry type. The game says some lines, usually three lines, and then a prompt. The player must type in just a word at the prompt. Two or more words are not allowed. And then the game says some more usually three lines, and continues. Sometimes there is a dashed line, and sometimes there is a transition to the next of the four parts.

OMG just now I thought to do the Google search on "define renga" and it helps a little the understanding! Renga it turns out is a traditional Japanese poetry form, a collaboration between two of the individuals. In his public release announcement for this game, the author tells:
 Keep in mind that what you type is much a part of the poem as the verse.
This suggests that there is collaboration between the player and the parser.

The author of this game is also the author of More, which I like in the recently complete Shufflecomp. In his post comp release and reflections on More post, Jason asks people to download and give a try Renga In Four Parts. I was happy to do that. Unfortunately, I don't understand this game. I find it hard to "get" into.

I played a few times, using the "toggle script" option to save three of the poems. Game seems to make a frequent change of subject from the last verse and/or from the player's last word. I did not find that it sums to a story or vignette or tableau coherent. I tried to work with the game, for example typing in words in each part that correspond with the title of the part, but I still got this feeling of the leaping around subjects. There are interesting pieces (a he, a she, a tree, to name three) but I think more constraints are needed to tie them into a meaning whole.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I wish I had not played this game, by Galejade - Elise Trinh

See the IFDB page for I wish I had not played this game. I played and found it worthwhile. It is different from what the title sounds. It does not take long to playthrough and experience what it is about. It says an importance about the modern life worth reminding.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Cryptophasia, by L. Starr Voronoi

One-line summary: Saga of a spacefaring pastry trader with a tragic past.

Game inspired by: "Chrome Country" by Oneohtrix Point Never, "Didn’t You Kill My Brother?" by Alexei Sayle

Things I liked: The keeping a straight face about pastries in space. (Has there ever been a comp with this much quirky with a straight face games?) Randomized names and other details.

Things I am undecided about: The low tech look-and-feel. I am unsure what it added to the experience.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Tea and Toast, by Maria del Pangolin

One-line summary: Think of Lily while preparing tea, toast.

Game inspired by: "Tea and Toast," by Lucy Spraggan

Things I liked: Good-natured and sweet atmosphere. The fact that the couple is same-sex is presented as part of the story but is treated as unremarkable, as quotidian as the items in the game title--as it ought to be.
"Why does everyone say 'The best thing since sliced bread?'" she says. "Bread you slice yourself is so much nicer."
"Maybe they got tired of the crumbs?"
Omg that is me! I do not like the crumbs from slicing bread lol.

The game is a little bit one-note, but it is good for what it is.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Monkey and Bear, by the opposite of sublimation

One-line summary: A haunting fable, starring one bear and one monkey.

Game inspired by: "Monkey and Bear," by Joanna Newsom

Things I liked: A playful bleakness. The allegory aspects are a powerful meaning. Sad to know there are relationships like that at different scales (person-to-person, institution-to-person, community-to-community). Hard to explain without making the spoilers.

The game is a little bit one-note, but it is very good for what it is.

I did need the walkthrough to finish.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: More, by Erin Canterbury

One-line summary: Heartbroken robber explores broken appliance forest.

Game inspired by: "The Witch’s Promise" by Jethro Tull, "As Cold As It Gets" by Patty Griffin, "More" by Steven Sondheim and Madonna, "Broken Household Appliance National Forest" by Grandaddy, "No Cars Go" by Arcade Fire, "Five Minutes" by Lorrie Morgan, "Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths, and "Haunted" by Sinead O’Connor and Shane MacGowan

Things I liked: A most creative combination of many songs variety. The relationship felt like a real. Great location descriptions and flashbacks.

Things I might like to see different: The parser was finicky about the last command needed for the winning. Details, in rot13 :

QVT UBYR, QVT VA UBYR, naq QVT VA CYNPR qvq abg jbex, ohg QVT CYNPR qvq.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: An Earth Turning Slowly, by Mæja Stefánsson

One-line summary: Science filled with drama, dinosaurs on another planet we are visiting.

Game inspired by: "Fireflies," by Owl City

Things I liked: Well-written, looks like a literature. Use of the third person is effective. Characters have understandable motivations (though maybe a little contrived) and it felt like you were with them there. World building is made extensive in the game.

Things I am undecided about: The user-interface. A mini parser with autocomplete, this is like CYOA with some semi-hidden choices. Is this improvement over CYOA, or is it really just cosmetic touch-up of CYOA?

Things I might like to see different: Just one: Maybe a little more orientation for the player, and/or sense of scale of setting. How far away are each locations from the other? I'm OK with other things being left to the imaginations, such as how far away are we from Earth. But some news to link the individual scenes a little bit more closely together in space might be nice.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Sparkle, by Karly Di Caprio

One-line summary: Puzzle fest in a setting of Asia style. It is abandoned and dirty near the mountain top, but you can change things if you "put your mind" to it.

Game inspired by: "Equivalencies," by King Missile

Things I liked: Well implemented. Game has some surprise compared to what it looks like in the very beginning. Quirky story told with the straight face. The beginner puzzles were the right level of difficult for me, and I reached an ending "winning" without needing the hints.

Things I might like to see different: There was a little bit of letdown with the ending I got. I unlocked some Achievements, but the others must use some advanced puzzling. These seem too tough and I did not try them for long.

Also I had some problem at one point that made me feel bad for a NPC. In ROT13 because the spoilers (

V chg gur syhgr va gur yrsg qhzojnvgre naq gura punatrq vg gb qbt. Guvf znxrf gur evtug qhzojnvgre pbzr va. Ohg nsgre gung, V pbhyq abg trg gur qbt onpx! V guvax V gevrq PUNATR QBT yvxr gur uvag fnvq, ohg gur tnzr fnvq V jnf gbb sne njnl be fbzr guvat. V nyfb gevrq chggvat rirelguvat V unq va gur evtug qhzojnvgre, ohg vg jnfa'g urnil rabhtu. Cbbe qbt.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Holy Robot Empire, by Ralph Gide

One-line summary: A quest to meet the robot Pope, or Robopope. There are jokes relating the tech sector.

Game inspired by: (spoilers omitted)

Things I liked: The story is silly however, polished. Many little details help create a world, I won't call it "believable," but I'll say it leads easy to the suspension of disbelief.

Things I might like to see different: Some jokes were groaning to me. On the other hands maybe the bad joke is part of this type of games' "liturgy" lol.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Light My Way Home, by Venus Hart

One-line summary: Brief, poignant ghost story with some electrical equipments.

Game inspired by: "Light Up My Room," by Barenaked Ladies

Things I liked: The game understood what I asked it to do. The NPC did some little gestures that made it believable and real. The easter egg was lol. Words and effects created a quiet mournful feeling.

Things I might like to see different: The first device in Ruin seemed something of gimmick, whereas other devices seemed more "at home." Also a key item at the end seemed generic or cliche a little bit. Some words (the verb "listen," the noun "stump") should be implemented.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Illuminate, by Summer del Mono

One-line summary: Rearrange four paintings pieces in an unsettling ways variety.

Game inspired by: "Marble," by House Of Love. Thanks for picking a song I sent in!

Things I liked: A great variety. Smart combinations of items visual and story. Hints of all-ways more combinations. Sense of a hidden largest story uniting all the pieces.

Things I might like to see different: More orbs lol. More reason in the framing story, or more hints about what possible is in the game. If some ending is a "winning," I did not find it. I did not pay attention when first seeing "Toy" in the subtitle of game. When I saw that subtitle again by typing VERSION, I just quit.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Nothing but Flowers, by Crabby O'Crankypants

One-line summary: Some ideas on the consciousness and the language, also love/death, before/after civilization.

Game inspired by: "(Nothing But) Flowers," by Talking Heads. Thanks for picking a song I sent in!

I needs say that this work didn't "work" for me. Individual parts are interesting but I was failed to mesh them together. I did not understand the use of color background. There is a branching, but I might preferred it if the branching occurred at an earlier point in the story, with a little more substance in each of branch.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Invisible Parties, by Psychopup

One-line summary: Powerful women clash at a multi-world nexus social gathering.

Game inspired by: "Could This Really Be The End," by Emily Wells

Things I liked: There is so much going on, it's exciting. The writing is dense and confident. The sense of a fluidy unstable world is extremely convincing lol

Things I might like to see different:
  • More clarity all around please!
  • More implementation of the Three Rebeccas
  • More precise and understandable implementation of the GIFTS mechanic.
  • Some bugfixes, for example:
    • I would try talking to some NPC here and there but the parser would just show a blank line
    • There's a viking in one room but the parser didn't know that.
    • In Night Ride there's a stereo. I type LISTEN and get a blank line

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Dead Man's Party, by Morrissey

One-line summary: A junior associate grim reaper must puzzle through a deceased man's house in order to bring back his ghost.

Game inspired by: "Dead Man's Party," by Oingo Boingo

Things I liked: The balance between humor and poignancy. The body-soul connection, in one striking scene.

Things I might like to see different:
  • More of the party guests.
  • More specific detail, as opposed to generic, in the house locations. The back office locations feel more "real"
  • A little less reliance on one particular tool to solve puzzles.
  • Two z's in Hazzard. I learned far too much about USA TV lol

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Flotsam and Driftwood, by Conrad Elton

One-line summary: A surreal desert island nighttime puzzler.

Game inspired by: "Home By The Sea," by Genesis

Things I liked: Atmosphere. Spooky dialogue with shadow figures. The game felt like a nighttime.

Things I might like to see different:
  • Unlike with other Shufflecomp games where I want to see more realism, I think maybe I want to see less in this game. Make it more dreamy, less fiddly?
  • I could not intuit the first big puzzle, sorry. Maybe it should be simplified or even scrapped.
  • One technical thing, I had problems with instructions going in and out of the water.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Truth, by John Earthling

One-line summary: A treasure hunt for fibs.

Game inspired by: "Truth!" by Ruthie Foster. Thanks for picking a song I sent in!

Things I liked: The puzzles are understandable, intuitive. Some of the lies are clever......for me personally the internet terminal is favorite. There's a hint of a larger meaning, some thing that's also hinted at in the source song: "truth" is somehow not quite there in our major institutions.

Things I might like to see different:
  • Less sarcasm, less extra absurdity. These things in this game sometimes feel awkward and leave "bad taste in my mouth."
  • More credible place details. As it is, if you cut away the absurd lines, most of these locations tend to be--I think you say "stock."
  • More connections between the different people and places of the town. You could have the preacher saying something about the art museum for example. Or some kids from the elementary school are on a "field" trip in the natural history museum. Or show the fortune teller having a ciggy break in the vacant lot lol.

Shufflecomp 2014 Review: Eight Miles High, by Lambert Lambert

One-line summary: A nice odd short game about visiting a strange city.

Game inspired by: "Eight Miles High," by the Byrds. Thanks for picking a song I sent in!

Things I liked: The unsettled unfamiliar feel, this is faithful to the source song. The personnified limo. How vague are the directions early on.

Things I might like to see different:
  • More, please! A little extra atmosphere. I want to feel the rains more. I want the map to be some more large.
  • The ending has a key word in it that feels ironic and self-aware. This undercuts the feeling of the rest of the piece.
  • I needed to see RESTART, RESTORE et cetera made into links at the ending. I was playing in Windows Glulxe on Windows 7 and did not see these links, and the command line did not work at all.


Greetings. I have created this blog to post some reviews for the 2014 Shufflecomp.