Saucers of Mud

November 20, 2011

The Coming of the Mirthful Messiahs

Filed under: IFComp — matt w @ 9:55 pm
Tags: ,

I wrote a really short IF game! It’s called “The Coming of the Mirthful Messiahs” and you can find it here, or if you want to go straight to the play online version it’s here. (The first link contains a bit of a spoiler, so if you want to approach it untouched you might just want to go to the “play online” link.)

I wrote this in under three hours, so it can be considered a belated Ectocomp entry; my actual belated Ectocomp entry went way over budget and may not show up for a while. Mirthful Messiahs. is massively unfair, though it’s also small enough that you may hit on the solution anyway. Everyone whose game I complained about can have their revenge on this! But seriously, I think it’s kind of funny.

If you need a hint, go here.

November 19, 2011

Bechdel-Testing the 2011 IFComp

A couple years ago, when I reviewed the 2009 IFComp, I Bechdel-tested it. That is, I asked of every work in it, does it have two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man? IF tends to have fewer conversations than a lot of other media, but it’s still illuminating to see how many — or how few — works meet the Bechdel test criteria.

(I don’t want to say “pass the Bechdel test” or “fail the Bechdel test” here, because I don’t want people to feel that their work is being judged. For me, the illuminating thing is how rarely the Bechdel test applies across a body of work, not whether it applies or doesn’t in one particular small work. So I’ll say “Bechdelian” or “non-Bechdelian.”)

Anyway, my memories may be hazy, but here’s the works that I recall as unambiguously Bechdelian:

Six
It
The Play (Henrietta and Erica talk about the dress, in many playthroughs)
How Suzy Got Her Powers
Awake the Mighty Dread (I think the little-girl PC can talk to a robot queen or something; I couldn’t get much of a handle on this game)

There are some works that explicitly let you choose your protagonists’ gender, and are Bechdelian if you choose to play as a woman:

The Hours
A Comedy of Error Messages (I think; I didn’t play very much after the update that introduced gender selection)

There are some works where the PC’s gender isn’t specified, which would be Bechdelian if the PC is a woman:
Calm
The Ship of Whimsy
maaaaayyybe Playing Games (some members of the gaming club may be women, but the main NPC is definitely male)

There are some that probably fall into that category, but where I got a fairly strong vibe that the PC is male:
Keepsake
Kerkerkruip
Taco Fiction
Beet the Devil

Yow. That’s not very Bechdelian, I think. I get the sense that last year’s Comp was more Bechdelian, and it certainly had more games by women (“Pam Comfite” is a man, so there are only four five games that I know to be by women in this comp). Disclaimer: There were a few games I didn’t play, my memories may not be entirely accurate (for instance, it’s possible that there’s a conversation between female bureaucratic demons in Beet the Devil), and some of my judgments about PC gender may reflect my own stereotypes and preconceptions.

In case you’re wondering about the gender-reversed version, I count at least ten games that definitely had conversations between men; all the ones listed above as conditional on the PC’s gender had conversations with male NPCs, and there are some others with a PC of unspecified gender that had conversations with male NPCs but not with female NPCs (for instance, Andromeda Awakening and Escape from Santaland).

[UPDATE: On second or third thought, this year wasn't much worse than the previous two, I don't think. It might just seem that way because the only two games where interaction between definitely female characters was really the focus were about little kids, and also had very similar scenarios. Last year The Blind House stuck out as a game that was about the relationship between two women, but there may not have been that many more Bechdelian games; though there are a lot of games from last year that I haven't played.]

IFComp Reviews, Part 8 and Last

This is my last batch of reviews for the IFComp! It’s not my final thoughts, though, which are here. More reviews are here. And though the comp is over, you can still play the games here! If you need an interpreter to run them, look at this page.

Last reviews: Taco Fiction, Cursed, and Ted Paladin and the Case of the Abandoned House.
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November 17, 2011

IFComp Reviews, Part 7

The 2011 Interactive Fiction competition is over, but the games are still out there! Look here. Many of the games can be played online; for others you’ll need an interpreter (playing offline with an interpreter may improve your experience with some of the off-line playable ones). Other reviews here

In this post: Reviews of Tenth Plague, Six, and Cana According to Micah.
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November 14, 2011

IFComp Scores

The deadline for IFComp voting is tomorrow. I haven’t finished posting my reviews, but I’ve played all the ones I’m going to vote on, and I’ve submitted my scores. So here’s the scores, with a brief non-spoilery explanation.

My base line is that a solid, substantial game that I generally enjoyed playing and that sent me to the hints a few times gets a 7. As Sam and I said, there doesn’t seem to be any clear front-runner this year; I thought a lot of the games were either very short or hugely ambitious but flawed. Anyway, scores and mostly spoiler-free explanations below the jump; full reviews here for elaboration on what I’m talking about.

A word on the two-hour time limit. Unlike the other year that I thoroughly played the comp, this year a lot a lot of the games were long enough that I couldn’t finish them within two hours, or even close. I don’t time my playing (partly because I tend to play for a few minutes, leave the game open, do something else, come back for a few minutes), but I made a good-faith effort to discount everything that happened in my playthrough after around two hours of play. Some of those are noted below. If a game gets me to play for two hours, that’s generally something of an accomplishment.

Games are listed in order of their score; games with the same score are not listed in any particular order.
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November 13, 2011

IFComp Reviews, Part 6

The 2011 Interactive Fiction competition is on, with lots of games in lots of different systems. Interactive fiction is generally the kind of game where you read things and then type in commands to do things, though not always. People used to get eaten by grues in these games, but that’s rarer now.

Here is the list of games, many of which can be played online; for others you’ll need an interpreter (playing offline with an interpreter may improve your experience with some of the off-line playable ones).

If I played a game online, my review will include a link to the online-playable version. I’ll start with mostly spoiler-free discussions, though I will talk about general themes and the like; some spoilers may be rot13ed in the main discussion, but if I extensively discuss something spoily it’ll be at the end of the entry below a spoiler space.

In this grumpy edition: Andromeda Awakening, Death of Schlig, The Life (and Deaths) of Doctor M, Professor Frank.
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November 12, 2011

IFComp Reviews, Part 5

The 2011 Interactive Fiction competition is on, with lots of games in lots of different systems. Interactive fiction is generally the kind of game where you read things and then type in commands to do things, though not always. People used to get eaten by grues in these games, but that’s rarer now.

Here is the list of games, many of which can be played online; for others you’ll need an interpreter (playing offline with an interpreter may improve your experience with some of the off-line playable ones).

If I played a game online, my review will include a link to the online-playable version. I’ll start with mostly spoiler-free discussions, though I will talk about general themes and the like; some spoilers may be rot13ed in the main discussion, but if I extensively discuss something spoily it’ll be at the end of the entry below a spoiler space.

In this episode: Escape from Santaland, Calm, Beet the Devil, Last Day of Summer, and It. More reviews here.
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October 13, 2011

IFComp, Part 4

The 2011 Interactive Fiction competition is on, with lots of games in lots of different systems. Interactive fiction is generally the kind of game where you read things and then type in commands to do things, though not always. People used to get eaten by grues in these games, but that’s rarer now.

Here is the list of games, many of which can be played online; for others you’ll need an interpreter (playing offline with an interpreter may improve your experience with some of the off-line playable ones).

If I played a game online, my review will include a link to the online-playable version. I’ll start with mostly spoiler-free discussions, though I will talk about general themes and the like; some spoilers may be rot13ed in the main discussion, but if I extensively discuss something spoily it’ll be at the end of the entry below a spoiler space.

In this entry: “How Suzy Got Her Powers,” “Vestiges,” “Keepsake,” and “The Hours.” Previous reviews here, here and here.
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October 9, 2011

IF Comp 2011, Part Three

The 2011 Interactive Fiction competition is on, with lots of games in lots of different systems. Interactive fiction is generally the kind of game where you read things and then type in commands to do things, though not always. People used to get eaten by grues in these games, but that’s rarer now.

Here is the list of games, many of which can be played online; for others you’ll need an interpreter (playing offline with an interpreter may improve your experience with some of the off-line playable ones).

If I played a game online, my review will include a link to the online-playable version. I’ll start with mostly spoiler-free discussions, though I will talk about general themes and the like; some spoilers may be rot13ed in the main discussion, but if I extensively discuss something spoily it’ll be at the end of the entry below a spoiler space.

In this entry: Sentencing Mr Liddell, The Elfen Maiden, Awake the Mighty Dread. Previous reviews here and here.
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October 8, 2011

IF Comp 2011, Part Two

The 2011 Interactive Fiction competition is on, with lots of games in lots of different systems. Interactive fiction is generally the kind of game where you read things and then type in commands to do things, though not always. People used to get eaten by grues in these games, but that’s rarer now.

Here is the list of games, many of which can be played online; for others you’ll need an interpreter (playing offline with an interpreter may improve your experience with some of the off-line playable ones).

If I played a game online, my review will include a link to the online-playable version. I’ll start with mostly spoiler-free discussions, though I will talk about general themes and the like; some spoilers may be rot13ed in the main discussion, but if I extensively discuss something spoily it’ll be at the end of the entry below a spoiler space.

In this entry: PataNoir, Blind, and Playing Games. Previous reviews here.
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