IFComp 2010: Gigantomania, by Michelle Tirto

This is the third game I am reviewing in the 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. There needs to be some text here so that when Facebook links to it it doesn’t include bits of the actual review. And thus it is that I say: two and two are four, four and four are eight, eight and eight are sixteen, sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two.

Moderate language issues; plowing and harvesting are different
things. I ran into serious early bugs giving grain to the collector
and had to restart. There are also a few minor but non-game-stopping
bugs in the second section, although, more problematically, a lot of
obvious actions aren’t implemented in the bakery line in a way which
suggests the author thought of them (the actual solution to the
bakery-line issue is offensive; yes, it’s historical, but from a
gameplay perspective it’s catastrophic). Some text in the third
chapter appears to be repeated, and then, in the fourth chapter,
random angle-bracketed text which eventually replaces actual
conversation and… er, there seem to be major bits missing.

I wanted to like this. It catches a historical period in a manner
which is effective if somewhat cliched, and has some strong narrative
voices. And at the end it kind of all falls apart. Apparently the
bracketed text is chess moves, which is OK as that goes but looks a
lot like a bug to those not expecting it. Plus the conversation tree
is fucking long, and I think I didn’t actually need pages of
conversation to convince me that Stalin was a shit.

There is promise here, some of which is badly derailed by the
choice of theme. Atrocity writing always seems manipulative, even at
its best (compare Buried in Shoes, for a well-done but still
troubled piece, or Blink for a more ham-handed attempt). In
addition, while time-management is a good way of depicting the rather
frenzied pace of the first and third scenes, tedium is not, I’m
afraid, acceptable for depicting the repetitive and monotonous
character of life in the second scene. Add in the moderate bugs and
the insufficient cluing and pacing of the fourth chapter, and we have
a work which isn’t quite living up to its promise, but whose intent I
(grudgingly) respect.

Rating: 6


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

2 Responses to IFComp 2010: Gigantomania, by Michelle Tirto

  1. Anonymous says:

    “..the actual solution to the bakery-line issue is offensive; yes, it’s historical, but from a gameplay perspective it’s catastrophic..”
    How so? What would have been a better solution?

    • jackbishop says:

      The solution I found, FWIW, was waiting for the bakery to close and going home hungry. It didn’t occur to me I could even talk to the baker: I’m way back here, he’s up there, and I doubt my comrades would appreciate me jumping the queue — much less jumping the queue and then handing the baker a fat stack of cash over the counter. I tried a more circumspect approach, paying cash to the comrades who had already bought bread, but unfortunately neither ‘BUY BREAD’ nor ‘GIVE CASH TO COMRADE WITH LOAF’ worked.

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