IFComp 2009: “Earl Grey”

This is a game from the 2009 IFComp.

It starts out looking promising, if a bit over-ebullient and
flowery (that’s a style that grates for me, but I must admit it’s a
style that is not intrinsically wrong). And then things start going really weird with the parser.

I only understood you as far as wanting to look the inside.

That’s not a verb I recognize.

As the game progresses, the reasons for the parser-brokenness
become obvious, because this is, heaven help us, a wordplay
game. Making the wordplay-style surrealism work in IF is difficult:
it’s often opaque and far from obvious to anyone except the author
(Ad Verbum worked, but it also implemented an absurd variety of
alternative solutions and a fairly complete grammar). Indeed, that
seemed like the problem here: although the writing is clever, the way
to progress is rarely clear and the best words to seize on often
actively unclear. I’d like to encourage envelope-pushing, and this
game is certainly inventive and interesting, but as it stands this it
feels way too insufficiently clued most of the time, and that I’m just
trying to fiddle with words without any goals in mind. I would like to
think this is a fixable problem, and that this game has
potential. This work definitely exhibits technical talent, so I’d like
to see that turned into something which is less of a
walkthrough-consulting slog.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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