IFComp 2009: “Resonance”

This is a game from the 2009 IFComp.

I have something akin to a hangover. I am not just now waking
up. I’m not in a cave. I think all eight possible combinations of
these three elements may have been achieved in this Comp now.

That may be a bit unfair (how could the author know that this would
be waking-up-with-a-hangover-Comp the way 2004 was
waking-up-in-a-cryotube-Comp?). This is not a terribly bad
game. Steve’s dialogue has a weird disconnect with reality; it’s the
“As you know, Bob” speech without the “As you know” part. I’d likewise
question the choice of having a character pre-empt the parser’s role:
that can be done, but it might need a bit more subtlety and purpose
than is displayed here. It’s a bit rocky, but I was starting to get
into it, although I was a mite distressed that my house didn’t have a
bedroom in which I might find a closet with a less gamy suit. And then
I looked in the medicine cabinet:

*** Run-time problem P7: Too many rulebooks in simultaneous use.

It picks up as I try to leave my house, but it’s spelling things
out too much. This feels, especially with the parenthesized cues, like
a game for beginners, which is not necessarily a bad thing, inasmuch
as it removes guess-the-verb, but between this and the excessive
hand-holding of the plot, the overall vibe is a bit patronizing.

All in all, this feels a bit too cliche-ridden and textdumpy. It is
mostly fine on technical issues, (although, see below), but it feels
like it’s not actually bringing much to the table. It’s trying hard to
be hard-boiled but stylistically it never quite gets there. A
stylistic punch-up might freshen this a bit. It doesn’t have the
narrative voice necessary to make this interesting.

A few technical issues: since the state of my hair matters and is
mentioned, I’m surprised it’s not implemented. There are a few odd
default messages not properly prevented or anticipated, and
world-states not updated. For the most part it’s pretty seamless on
technical points, with nice bits like the direct building-to-car
movement, although the heavy-handed cluing on verbs mentioned above
feels a little bit like cheating to avoid technical complications.

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

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