Friday, 23 October 2015

IFComp 2015 review: Taghairm by Chandler Groover

All the mini-reviews of the Twine game Taghairm have been like this: 'Taghairm – it's the game for people who don't like cats!'

Well, I hadn't played Taghairm yet, I hadn't even met it, but I was starting to develop a manic pissed-off response to this repeated consumer advice. Don't tell me I can't enter into some fiction, presumably about maiming cats, just because I like cats!

After the teenaged part of my brain stuck its middle finger up at all those reviews, I went off to play Taghairm.

An all-spoiler review follows, and incidentally, it contains no user help about what a 'Taghairm' even is. I'm guessing enough other reviewers will have covered that by now.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Work in progress: CYOA Framework for Glulx

I've broken off my IFComp game-reviewing streak to take advantage of time and motivation opportunities to work on a new extension for Inform 7. It's called 'CYOA Framework for Glulx' and its goal is to help folks produce hyperlink/keypress-driven CYOAs in Inform. I want the results to be author and player-friendly, flexible and easy to publish online.

By coming off the back of Inform the extension also supports a lot of cool things that aren't always handled well by other CYOA producing systems: Proper UNDO, transcripting, game-saving (by named files with a save dialogue, or by a single-keypress quicksave slot; the author can decide which) and, if you want it, the full world model. But I'm also putting in a switch so you can turn the world model OFF. This way you can just connect nodes of prose to each other with choices if that's what you need.

With previously available tools, it's been difficult to stop Inform 7 running everything through its 'press RETURN' parser. As an author, that's exactly the thing I don't want it doing when I'm trying to collect and react to discrete keypresses or clicked choices. My way to get around this in the past worked okay, but was super-hacky, and certainly couldn't support the world model, genuine UNDOs, genuine time management or non-manually managed game saves. I should point out I have nothing against super-hackiness per se if it gets the job done for an individual, but if you're making a tool for other people to use, super-hackiness is neither portable nor user-friendly.

The background on why I'm making this extension now:

Before knuckling down to work on my planned big parser game set in the Andromeda universe (click this for my blog post about that) I felt I wanted to get another smaller IF out. I decided it would be a CYOA, because even a small parser IF takes me ages.

As I discussed my super-hack approach to making an Inform 7 CYOA over on, Andrew Plotkin mentioned that he'd made an experimental extension called 'Unified Glulx Input' which might be able to help with this project. I tried it and it really did. Then climbingstars chimed in with some extra UNDO help I needed.

After programming away at my extension for the past week, I've just shared a minor tech demo of the work in progress on intfiction. I have a thread open to get feedback on it (the first post has links to the demo). I'll report back on future progress with the extension in this blog.

* I've only released one thing with my previous super-hacky method, an Apple II CYOA game I ported to Inform 7 and put inside Leadlight Gamma as an easter egg. What's interesting about that one is that it also fakes some BASIC line numbers. Each node is identified by its original BASIC program line number from Applesoft.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

IFComp 2015 review: The Insect Massacre by Tom Delanoy

The Insect Massacre is a Twine hyperlinks game about which it's possible to expose little more than the blurb does if one is to avoid specific spoilerdom. That blurb is:

"A short murder mystery set aboard a space station."

The title is explained in a neat way which I will also not explain here. Actually, this review will be only non-significant-spoiler by my standards, so there is no text hidden behind a cut.

I found the game's mystery intriguing. The events of the story are concrete enough to provoke speculation, but blurry enough around the edges so as to ward off absolute explanation. Multiple plays are required to investigate multiple angles. Each session requires little time.

The game's aesthetic delivery was beguiling on the first playthrough, if a bit confusing in terms of indicating who was speaking in each scene. The speech is effected with colour-coded names matched to coloured lines of text. My proper gripe is that on the second and subsequent plays, the unskippable Twine delays, pauses and fade-ins that were enforced on material I'd already read felt pointless and tedious. Text is basically not a temporal delivery vehicle like music or film, especially text in a branching story. I don't know if Twine provides capabilities for authors to set options for this kind of thing (eg author-enforced pacing the first time material is encountered, material skippable with a mouseclick the second+ times?) but if it hasn't, it should. If it has, I hope more authors will start using it when it is appropriate to do so.

Fortunately, The Insect Massacre is short enough, even on replays, that it isn't too hurt by its eternally slowly-fading-in text. It is particularly good at making the player guess at the implications of the choices it presents, and not because the choices are at all vague, but because of carefully deployed elements of the game once again not discussed in this spoiler-minimised review. I continued to think about The Insect Massacre afterwards.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

IFComp 2015 review: Pit of the Condemned by Matthew Holland

Pit of the Condemned is an Evade-The-Wumpus-like game in which you play a convict sentenced to die at the hands of The Beast. The site for your intended death is an abandoned city that's now used only to host deadly spectacles. A bloodthirsty public watches your struggles from innaccessible locations overhead.

In the paragraph above, I just summarised a mixture of information from the game's blurb and from its opening scene. And the blurb component of that info is not even fully present in the game, meaning if you didn't read the blurb, you'd never know it. Unfortunately, the above summary is about all there is to the aesthetic of Pit. None of the implications of the game's setting or vaguely Hunger Games-sounding society come up during play. It's purely about the mechanic of moving through a large network of empty rooms and searching for a weapon or escape route while the beast chases you.

Pit is a short game to play, and in its simplicity it again ('again' in the context of my reviews of this year's IFComp entries) reminds me of the BASIC games David Ahl collated in books for the then new microcomputers of the 1970s. Unlike War of the Willows, the game I made this comment about the first time around, Pit doesn't have enough additional adornment or flair to sell its universe, to make its chase vivid or exciting like it needs to be.

Further reviewage with spoilers below.

Friday, 9 October 2015

IFComp 2015 review: Pilgrimage by VÌctor Ojuel

Pilgrimage is an atypically macro-scaled parser adventure which somewhat dazzled me with one brief-prose-vivid, new and geographically far-flung location after another. It's also a game whose finishability, as in the player's ability to complete it without being severely gated by a walkthrough, I would rate as close to zero percent. But then even with the walkthrough, I wasn't able to clear the game. Pilgrimage does list several testers, so I'm going to assume that I ran into some kind of circumstantial bug rather than that the game is literally unfinishable.

Pilgrimage's PC is a Roman woman (ancient Rome) of significant alchemical learning who leaves her hometown seeking further knowledge of an existential entity known as The Great Work. She is like Carmen Sandiego in that each move she makes in one of the traditional IF compass directions tends to take her to an entirely different country.

I was very interested in Pilgrimage's play up to a point, but its macroscopic strengths also turn out to be the source of its gameplay weaknesses. Aesthetically, it's an appealing game which seems to have a lot of erudition of research behind it, and one which keeps throwing surprises in the content and in the PC's behaviour.

What feels most novel about Pilgrimage is the way it scales the world it creates. I've hardly played any parser games that place a series of huge environments (cities, countries, et al.) in a series of single locations like this one does, and when I have, those games were more interested in the map connections between the locations rather than the locations themselves. So whether by not knowing conventions or by ignoring them, Pilgrimage sports a novel style. One I'd like to steal from at some point. In this regard I'd have to recommend the game to anyone who has a history with parser games. But have the walkthrough handy.

For full reviewage with spoilers, read on.

IFComp 2015 review: Ether by Brian Rushton (but not THAT Brian Rushton)

The 'not THAT Brian Rushton' quip is a minor joke you'll get once after you've typed CREDITS in this game.

Ether is a charming parser adventure in which you play a flying nautilus that must collect and manipulate objects in a world of pristine X-Y-Z elemental axes. Air pressure varies along one axis, weather virulence along another and temperature along the third. You can move up, down, west, east, north or south, or in combinations of these directions, to fly around within the virtual cube of the gameworld.

The nautilus has positively-tinged existential concerns and enjoys doing the things it does. The game's puzzles are uncomplicated and almost arcade-gamey in some ways. Also arcade-gamey is the manner in which the nautilus can acquire various power ups as it goes along.

Considering Ether's technical polish, its environment assembled from graceful, procedurally generated prose, its general ease of play and short playtime, I find it easy to recommend it to any compgoers – except perhaps those who find themselves boggled by spatial relationship problems. Nautilus's challenges are light by the standards of such problems, and there aren't even that many of them, but I suspect that some people simply can't handle this kind of 3D thing in prose.

Further review with spoilers beyond the cut.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

IFComp Thought Splatter: How/why I review

I'm writing this piece in a Mac program called Typed. It's one of those simple word processors whose goal is to minimise distractions. It has only a handful of features and no user interface; the window is just a faintly transparent square into which you type words. The program also comes with some zen ambient soundtracks, a cute feature but not one I ever use or which personally interests me.

When you open an empty Typed document, a random quote about writing from a famous writer sits on the screen until you start typing. For instance, today's quote was, "Writing is its own reward," by Henry Miller.

I'm about to write something about why and how I review things, for instance these IFComp games. (If you're an IFComp entrant and nobody's reviewed your game yet, you're probably thinking, 'Quit stalling, review boy, and get back to the bloody reviewing.')

I'm doing this because a network of blog mirrors is beginning to reflect some community conversation about the nature of IFComp and the nature of IFComp reviews.

Carolyn VanEseltine has written a good summary of why IFComp presents crossed purposes for numerous parties. And then Juhana Leinonen, or 'Junana' as I call him (* I called him that once. Twice now) chimed in on the history of criticism in the modern IF culture. I think what Carolyn wrote is all correct. If anything, I think it's even more complicated than what she wrote. However, I think only entrants need concern themselves with the complexities, and only if they're finding feedback on their game – or lack thereof – strange or annoying, or the reviewing culture weird or harsh or just confusing.

In the same way that there's a tradition of movie reviewers descending upon Cannes each year for that film festival, there's a tradition of IF fans/folks/reviewers/hangers-on descending upon their blogs to write about IFComp entries each year. For some of these folk, this will be all they put in that blog for the whole year. Then they'll pack up and go back to their rainy hometowns until the next competition. For others, this will just part of a continuum of stuff they write about IF.

Amongst both campers and yearly visitors, some just write down their gut reactions to games in the order the reactions occur. These can be all subjective and all disorganised, with no real judgements formed or passed. Just 'I like A', 'I hated B', etc. That's a valid way to come up with your scores for games in the competition, but without process or insight, it doesn't make for written criticism of any quality.

Further along the spectrum, you've got people with lots of reviewing practice, or experience, or educated critical skills, or some mix of any or all three. (I HAVE ALL THREE. YOU HEARD ME.) And still, all of these people have different personal interests and motives for reviewing. These motives are rarely or infrequently stated because everyone, most of the time, is just getting on with following their agenda, not constantly (or sometimes - ever) explaining that agenda. Hopefully the agenda will come through in the writing itself over time.

Agenda mismatch is one of the greate sources of reviewer outrage at some game, and/or entrant outrage at some reviewer's review of their game. To put my shoe back on my author's foot, the worst review I ever got was one in IFComp 2010 for Leadlight. It was written with what felt like ill-informed malice. While blowing off steam, I read more of the reviewer's reviews. I came to the conclusion that this reviewer and I were living in almost entirely different universes of concern. In turn I realised that such a person was never going to be a valid barometer of my game.

It's hard to remember such stuff when members of 'the press' seem to be befouling your work. But I did discover that if you go to the pub and read a terrible review aloud to friends over a drink, it may suddenly become high entertainment. This is a good perspective-restorer. (If you don't drink, you probably don't even need the drink, either.)

Because I'm here and talking about the subject, I will attempt to describe my IFComp reviewing agenda.

First, I like playing IF. Reviewing it doubles as a way of ordering what I think about it and recording my memories of it. I enjoy writing per se and I enjoy crafting reviews. I think I transmit a mix of personal observation, writing/programming craft and a degree of encouragement.

I definitely don't review these games with a primary goal of improving the state of all IF so that it can meet some sort of high bar that is constantly travelling away from everyone. I may do that in other contexts, but definitely not in IFComp.

This is partly because I'm aware of the zillion conflicting IFComp agendas already described. In IFComp reviews, I skew encouraging, but not with bland sugar-coating, I hope. And inevitably, as with any individual, there will be games I don't like at all.

It's also partly because of empathy for creators. I identify more with creating than criticism, though I claim to do both capably. In my case, it means I can rarely fully transform into 'the hanging judge', even at times when I would like to.

It's partly because I'm a positivist when it comes to story art. I have extremely highly tolerance for minor variations and I am attracted sometimes just to the part of something that gives it its taste, even if other elements are conventional or just not working. For instance, as a big horror fan, I've seen about 850 horror films, and I have soft spot for almost every one of them at some level. That doesn't mean I give them all 10s on IMDB – far from it. I can still score them in a ranking / semi-objective sense amongst all else I've seen while storing positive memories about elements of them. I am addicted to collecting the experience of watching horror films and films per se, and a related motivation goes into me playing a range of IF games.

The final 'it's partly because' is that it's partly because I'm aware that I have a knack for helping people to get where they're going with a creative project. I don't encourage people to make something the way I'd make it, but I concentrate on helping them to get it working along the axes that are of interest to them, or along axes I expect the creator's audience will benefit from. My IFComp reviews don't have time or interest for doing this at length (that's what playtesters are for) but I do touch on these subjects. Since this behaviour is an element of my nature, I don't go around fighting my nature in terms of the overall outlook of my IFComp reviews.

One other weird factor is that this community is sufficiently small that if you both make games and review them, other people who both make games and review games, and whose games you've reviewed, will be reviewing your games at some point. This is hardly ideal given the frequency with which it has to happen. Some people can review as if they're in a tower on the hill, and of them, some review like they live in the tower full-time, others as if they can at least move into the tower for the duration of the review. I'm crap at either in this close context. The more I interact with someone one-on-one, the less useful I am at reviewing their games for an audience. That's not a tragedy – I just don't review stuff for the outside world in any case where I don't think I can do a sufficiently objectivity-infused job for any reason. Other folk will step in to review such things.

So, I've taken a shot here at summing up here the interests, strengths and motivations of mine which describe how and why I write the kinds of reviews I write.

As you'll have seen, I'm also trying to write a non-spoilered intro blob for each IFComp entry. I do this for people who want a bit of a lead on a game and more info about it than the blurb gives, but without signficant spoilers. I stole this schtick off Emily Short as I like its goal, though sometimes I gnash my teeth with it because I tend to write better pieces overall if I can just spoil all I want. Sometimes I find the writing balance clunky, like when 75% of the review is the intro and 25% is the 'spoilery' bit. I just do what I can with it.

Obviously you'll encounter reviews completely unlike mine, and it's good that we have a range of styles and concerns and positions on various spectrums available. Somewhere inbetween all the output must lie some truths.

Note for authors – Just remember the pub trick if some review gives you the shits, and remember that this thing goes for six weeks and we're barely anywhere yet. Though if that causes you to reach for a straitjacket, maybe don't.

Monday, 5 October 2015

IFComp 2015 review: War of the Willows by Adam Bredenberg

War of the Willows is a combat game, requiring a Python interpreter to run, in which you must put down a giant, killer willow tree that's menacing your kingdom. Put it down mano a mano.

I doubt that anyone would have guessed this about the game based on the blurb –

"Did you see the clean air of the hilltops? Wind waves tumbled down through the trees, tore the drift of lavender smoke... Did you see then, in the cinder that glowed in the pewter cup, did you see how Death would wrap its roots around our throats?"

– except perhaps for the presence of that subtle pun about the roots wrapping around our throats. It's like that moment in the original Resident Evil when Chris Redfield, having polished off a building-sized carnivorous plant, says, "I think we got to the ROOT of the problem." (His emphasis, not mine.)

War of the Willows wraps a randomised combat game of obscure mechanics – one that at heart is not entirely unlike the kind of thing that appeared in David Ahl's 1978 book BASIC Computer Games – with a poetic and sometimes heavy-leaning text delivery. When a game starts by quoting a chunk of Edicts from the Bible, that's heavy. The original prose that follows flows in a similar, stansa'd vein. Poetry + combat = a highly novel entity, and once you get stuck in, you'll probably be hooked on trying to win at least once. But the game throws up tons of very obvious design issues. Primary amongst them: requiring the player to deal with way too much repetition of prose and key-mashing.

I discuss the game in more detail below the cut, but first I'll comment on Python installation after the asterisk.

* I chose Willows next in my playing because it looked like it required the most 'extreme' format (Python) relative to the other games. Well, Alan's never been a picnic either, admittedly. I relate to this situation, having asked players to tackle Leadlight on an Apple II emulator in 2010, but I did throw a lot more helpful setup material at players than this author has.

I'm playing comp games on OS X, so I'll share some setup info here for people who are also on OS X and want help running Willows. For PC and other formats, someone else will have to talk about that.

Apparently Macs with OS X 10.8 or later came with Python 2.7 preinstalled (the version Willows was written in) HOWEVER this statement may not apply if you reached 10.8 or later by upgrading from earlier OSes, as I did.

If you've got an app in your applications folder called 'IDLE', you've already got an installation of Python on your Mac. If not, you can go to this Mac Python page and get Python 2.7. It's only 22 MB. Just download the version applicable for your Mac and doubleclick to install it.

With Python on your Mac:

  • Right-click the War of the Willows game file you've downloaded ( and choose to open it with the app called IDLE
  • Two windows will appear, a shell and
  • Click on the window to make it active, then choose Run Module from the Run menu at the top of the screen (shortcut F5)
  • To restart the game, make the active window and choose Run Module again

IFComp 2015 review: The Sueño by Marshal Tenner Winter

For IFComp 2015, Marshal Tenner Winter (MTW) brings us his 656th game, The Sueño – or Here's Goo In Your Eye! as I like to think of it after considering the cover art by Gwen C Katz:

The Sueño (quoth the game: it's Spanish for dream) is a parser adventure in the mystery/thriller/Inception genres in which you play a broke uni student who hits up a sleep study for some cash, gets into lucid dreaming and finds disturbing stuff in there.

The game's slowish start feels necessary in retrospect in that it establishes a game environment in which the PC is able to bring some subtle dreaming tricks to bear on puzzles. Interest and mystery increase significantly in the game's latter half set in a deserted town, but the end text felt disappointingly rushed to me. There's a fair bit of low level tech/grammar polish wanting throughout, but by the same token MTW again demonstrates that it can be OK to let Inform's default messages blot up a lot of obligatory crap that most players won't be deeply interested in. I'm too anal retentive as an IF author to try to live out this idea, but I'd say it's one of the reasons MTW's been able to produce at least 13 parser-powered IF games in just a few years. He's been in almost every kind of IF comp that's going (Ectocomp, IFComp, Introcomp, Shufflecomp, Spring Thing) plus he's got a series featuring a coarse, nameless hardboiled detective, which kicks off with The Surprising Case of Brian Timmons.

The Sueño's oneiric game mechanics feel open-ended enough that if anything, I think the whole could benefit from going bigger to exploit more of their possibilities, at which point it might get too big for IFComp. But one knows what is commonly said to one: Better to leave 'em wanting more than less. I certainly recommend this game to parser mystery/thriller/Inception interestees.

It took me about 80 minutes to complete The Sueño. I used the nifty and diegetic (meaning 'present in the game's reality') hint device a fair bit, and I turned to the non-diegetic walkthrough file about 2-3 times.

For extended reviewage with full spoilers you can

Saturday, 3 October 2015

IFComp 2015 review: Darkiss Chapter I: The Awakening by Marco Vallarino

This is how I like my vampires: Solitary, dangerous and with vile motivations. As opposed to ubiquitous, shiny and Mormonesque (Twilight).

Admittedly the anti-hero of Darkiss isn't as powerful as a vampire usually would be, but that's because the good guys previously killed him, leaving him with the inconvenient side-effect of weakness. The player's job in this classically styled parser adventure is to get vampire Martin Voigt back into fighting, biting shape.

I think this might be the first time a game has ticked the IFComp rule that a previously released game is OK to enter if it's been translated into a new language. Darkiss was originally released in Italian in 2011. That word 'Darkiss' did stir recognition in my brain when it showed up in this year's game list, and that's because I've previously trawled IFDB for all games tagged or labelled as 'horror'. There, I'd seen in passing the listings for Darkiss, its sequel and its spinoff.

With some help from the location-sensitive hint system, I completed Darkiss in about an hour. It's puzzly, solidly implemented and relishes the protagonist's intent of evil vengeance. As might be expected, it's also just slightly off in some of the translation, but the core translation is resilient. The off notes don't affect game mechanics or player understanding, just the ideal reading of the prose. I only had one comprehension problem in one room, and it doesn't seem impossible that that problem was present in the Italian original.

Darkiss may skew a bit traditional for some. I enjoyed it a lot.

One word of advice: This is a game in which you have to be extremely thorough in searching and re-searching everything you see. However, you don't have to guess at the basic presence of stuff. Just peruse the room descriptions carefully.

For a few more details on the game's trajectory and how it plays – more specific than what I wrote above, but still pretty free from specific spoilers in Darkiss's case – you can dare to

IFComp 2015 review: Paradise by Devine Lu Linvega

UPDATE: Paradise has been withdrawn from IFComp. I am surprised (and mildly embarrassed) that even as I noted it had been online in public for so long, I simultaneously didn't recall that this was against the entry rules. As a player-judge I'm not disturbed by its loss, as it simply wasn't a very scoreable entity in the context of this competition. But I tried it and I think a lot of IF folk will find it worth looking into as a creative tool:

Paradise is a text-based online world/system for any number of players/users in which anyone can create, walk around in and inject simple programming into textual objects. The objects aren't modelled to be anything in particular, but typical uses for them include making locations and putting choices and objects into those locations. Interaction is via a mixture of parser-like typing and clicking on hotlinked words.

In my first session in Paradise, I created Cafe De Los Muertos, placed it in a location recommended by the implementors and put something inside it. If you get into Paradise and want to visit the cafe, use the command WARP TO 8020

As an open-ended project which began four years ago, and one which may not contain any goal-oriented adventures that are easy to find, Paradise was likely to have scored poorly in IFComp. However I think that whether you like parser IF or clicky IF, or both, Paradise might appeal to you as a creative tool. There's nothing to stop you building a game or experience in Paradise and then linking others to it. Another big plus is that neither creators nor players (and technically, the two aren't distinguished from each other) require accounts or passwords to log in or to protect their creations. You can just visit the website and start doing stuff.

Text objects in Paradise are called vessels and operate on a concept of enclosure. Such basic concepts are explained in tutorial vessels you'll encounter soon after logging in. Basically, every vessel is inside another vessel. So you could make a location (one vessel) by typing 'create grassy meadow', then put an object inside it (a vessel in a vessel) by typing 'enter grassy meadow' then 'create chest'. If the object has compartments, they could be vessels in the object vessel. But there are no actual programming rules about the nature of vessels. You could stick a whole new world inside an object if you like – after all, it's just another vessel. You can also pick up editable vessels and put them elsewhere, or embody them, the latter being the means by which you create an avatar. You wouldn't want to be driving a default object like the teapot forever.

The most basic kind of programming lets you attach any useable Paradise command to a vessel through a 'use' link, which can also be activated by typing 'use such-and-such'. You can then repaint the word 'use' as something else – read, press, etc. – whatever word you want the player to type to use (enter) the vessel. You can nut this stuff out by following tutorial topics which consist of locations and dialogue, not boring old instruction files, or by just typing 'help'. More advanced programming is available, but it would be possible to put together an adventurous structure or CYOA adventure with the basics alone.

I suppose what's annoying about the interface is the fact that you can't get away from having to keep switching between clicking links and typing things. Or clicking a link and then having to hit return to execute it. My other gripe is that allowed punctuation in creator content is quite limited. No apostrophes take, no capital letters take in some circumstances, no exclamation marks take (actually, maybe that last one is a plus), etc. For the more literate-leaning, these things might bug.

I still think Paradise is pretty cool. I'm personally interested in exploring more focused material than what I saw here thus far, but I don't even know how big the place is or what's already in there. I could easily have missed tons of stuff.

Friday, 2 October 2015

IFComp 2015 review: Arcane Intern (Unpaid) by Astrid Dalmady

Arcane Intern (Unpaid) is a clickable Twine CYOA about a young woman (I think? Sex not definitely specified that I saw) who loves the magicky Rebecca Butler books and who gets an internship with Praecantatio Publishers, the publishers of those books. The internship is curiously boring... OR IS IT? (actually not boring.)

With its dues to Harry Potter and some commentary on young adults' possible relationship to Harry Potter books, the game is probably a must play for people who are, uh, interested in Harry Potter. It also has something to say to people who look at non-child people who like Harry Potter and think: 'What are they thinking?' It's got clean presentation, some suitable writing and sports lightly modelled adventure gaming in its middle stretch.

Having said all that, I didn't like it for a fair while, then suddenly I did. My full review of this game explicitly talks about an ending. My non-spoilery summary is: it's a fantasy narrative that folks who like young adult fantasy material will likely dig. There are a few swear words in there, otherwise it would merit a G rating.

IFComp 2015 review: 5 Minutes to Burn Something! by Alex Butterfield

5 Minutes to Burn Something! is an incarnation of the most staple of staples of the IF Competition: A parser game in which you have to solve an impractical physical problem in a closed environment using a disparate bunch of props before a time limit runs out. Other staple factors include the environment being the player's apartment, a wack approach to humour and the prose's fixation on the PC's crummy ex.

IFComp 2015: Wade's overspiel

The Interactive Fiction Competition of 2015 has begun. There are 55 entries. I want to congratulate the entrants for entering and I want to thank Jason McIntosh for organising.

The purpose of my overspiel is to say that I will be reviewing some of the entries this year. I will be doing it here in this blog. I will be reviewing titles which specifically appeal to me from the outset or which serendipitously take my fancy. Learn more by continuing to read this post.

* The cut below this line is a test to test whether Blogger's Jump Break feature prevents information from appearing on the Planet IF blog feed. If you've enjoyed this post so far, please click 'Read More' to continue to enjoy further informational reading on the topic of my overspiel –