IF Comp 2012 – Valkyrie

Alarm bells went off in my head as soon as the first screen of Valkyrie had loaded into my browser. Where the story title normally appears in the upper left hand corner, my screen read, in bold characters, “Untitled Story.” My brief hope that this was an intentional stab at irony was deflated immediately as I waded through the first paragraph. The sentences were seemed awkward and short, perhaps indicating lack of language fluency on behalf of the author. This in itself is not a show stopper. Plenty of non-native authors express themselves in English much better than I’d be able to in their mother tongue, and with some helpful beta-testers and a good plot, they can produce some excellent works.

This is not one.

The first page is full of minor grammatical annoyances, poor word choice and unnecessary abbreviations. Why write “approx” rather than “approximately” in the introductory paragraph? The first paragraph, above all others, is the one you have to get right in IF to draw the reader in and make a good first impression. The more I read, the more I realized that the problem is just lazy writing. There is not a hint of proofreading, not even by the author.

I got two more screens into this story before I crumped. I’m willing to try playing through anything: parser-based, CYOA, steam-driven machine code, whatever, and I’ll even try out games that don’t explicitly list beta-testers, but I have to draw the line with this game.  It is disapppointing that this author put in so little effort, even when relieved of the programming overhead that a more tradition IF engine would require.

The fat lady has sung: my rating for this work is 1.5 (on a scale of 1-10). I’ll reserve 1.0 for works that intentionally troll the comp. I don’t have the sense that poor writing was the goal here.

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