IF Comp 2012 – Howling Dogs

Continuing with the web-based stories, I tried Howling Dogs, which is written with Twine/TiddlyWiki. I can comment on the medium before the spoiler cut, and leave story-specific details to the side for a moment.

The presentation feels very natural. The typography is modern and clear, and links are obvious. Navigation works just like you’d expect, including the browser back button. I was surprised how well the story conveyed a sense of different rooms and of objects in the current location. The story makes good use of several locations that become familiar, which is a welcome anchor when the story otherwise rockets off into surreal spaces. The author has put to good use the ability of this system to remember prior player actions and to alter text in successive accesses. Because of this, the story does not come across as a flat hypertext document, but a narrative that progresses in time.

Havoc! Now for some spoilers.

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IF Comp 2012 – Living Will

Now to try my hand at a web-based game. I suppose that almost all the games are now web-based in the sense that some excellent online interpreters are now available.

The first one I tried was Living Will, and reading the fine print at the bottom of the browser window, I see that it is written in Undum, a client-side (i.e., in the browser) engine for presenting linked text, keeping track of state, etc. I’ve played a bit with Inkle, and it sounds like it has some features in common.

My first impression of this work is that the graphics are top notch: a textured leather background with a gradient runs down the page in the background, while text is presented in several boxes with lighter backgrounds with classy typography.

And now for some spoilers beyond this point…

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IF Comp 2012 – A Killer Headache

Well, the first line certainly draws the player in, “Ever since you died, the migraines have been getting worse.” Sounds like my kind of game.

I always record a transcript as I play through games, both for my own record and because I am a dyed-in-the-wool betatester and can’t play a game without part of my brain (brainns!!!!) thinking about the medium itself. I usually try to send these transcripts on to the authors even if there are no problems because I’ve always appreciated receiving transcripts. As an author, receiving a transcript lets you know firstly that someone cares and is playing the game, but also gives some insight into how others apprach the game. After writing a game, an author is so close to the game that an external perspective often turns up surprising twists.

Anyhow, when transcript recording starts, the version information scrolls by, and I was stunned to see the number of extensions that this game uses. It’s nice to see that this author has built upon work by others and furthermore that he’s managed to get all the extensions to play nice with each other, which I know can be a challenge.

Okay…from here out, spoilers…

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IF Comp 2012 – The Island

Ricardo_Montalban_Herve_Villechaize_Fantasy_Island_1977IFcomp 2012 is suddenly upon us. Last year, I played a bunch of games, assembled comments and never put them on the blog. This year, I’ll try blogging each game as I play it. I may not get through them all, but at least there will be some record of my impressions of the games.

I downloaded the zip file of games and did a quick overview. Looks like some are meant to be played on the web, so I’ll play those later. Some seem to work best under windows, so likewise, I’ll put that off for now. I see only one game, The Island, written with TADS, so I’ll somewhat randomly start there. No maps, feelies, or READMEs in that games directory, so I can hop right into the game, which suits me fine. From here out, expect spoilers.

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