ADRIFT Forum


The place to discuss the ADRIFT Interactive Fiction toolkit

Four Quest games

A forum where new and old games can be reviewed - an alternative to the reviews on the Adventures page of the main ADRIFT site. Also the place to ask for any assistance if you are stuck playing a particular game.

Postby David Whyld » Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:55 pm

Quest 4 recently came out so when I saw a number of new games had been uploaded to the main site, I decided to try them out and see what the new version had to offer. Unfortunately, two of the games are written with the previous version of Quest so whatever jazzy new features version 4 brings with it won’t matter much to them. Oh well, I’d downloaded them so figured I might as well give them a bash and see what was what…

The first one I tried was Escape From The House which gave the indication from the very start of being just as bad as every other Quest game that I’d played. The introduction was:

You need to find a way out of this house

Hardly inspires you to play any further, does it? From there it went from bad to worse. The first location description is littered with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and weird capitalisation. At the end of it, I'm advised

There exit Norh take you to the Small Hall

And this is at the very start of the game where people are most likely to quit if they don’t see anything very favourable! Now I can understand being new to the scene and not really knowing what things are standard as far as text adventures are concerned, but even the newest newbie of them all should realise that terrible spelling at the very start of their game doesn’t give a good first impression.

Playing a little further, I noticed Escape From The House suffered from the usual array of faults which seem to blight almost every Quest game I've ever played. There's a desk with a drawer in it, but the OPEN command isn't recognised; another location has a lavish table that can’t be referred to as TABLE or LAVISH TABLE but only as DINING TABLE; many items mentioned in room descriptions can’t be examined and those that can have short, uninspiring descriptions often littered with spelling mistakes; there are items that should be readable but the READ command isn't understood… (1 out of 10)

I went on to another game by the same author – Where’s Annabel? ¬– not really expecting much and, yes, not really getting much either.

This one had an introduction at least, though the author’s spelling and grammar haven't improved much since Escape From The House. Nor has his ability to know where capitals are and are not needed. And he’s still a long, long way from writing something even vaguely playable…

Quest has the strange habit of displaying the items (both ones you can pick up and immovable ones) in bold type before the main body of the text in the room description, which is a bad idea to say the least and compounded here by the author then going on to repeat most of what you have already been told. So the first room description reads:

You are in the main Garden.
There is a closed Well, some Yellow Flowers, some White Flowers, some Red Flowers and some Blue Flowers here.
You can go west.
You are standing in a small garden. There is a large well here and it is overgrown with colourful flowers

As I've already been told there's a well and some flowers here, is it really necessary to incorporate them into the room description as well?

What age the game is in set I couldn’t say. At one time you are given gold coins, which led me to assume it was way back in the Dark Ages, but at the same time you're given a photograph so it’s clearly not a medieval game. Unfortunately the author doesn’t seem willing to elaborate on things. Then again, little about the game is clear. For a start: who is the player? The background to the game is that someone called Annabel has gone missing (this is detailed in the remarkably clumsy introduction) and you have to find her, yet whether you're a police officer, a freelance detective or something else altogether is never indicated. Part of me suspects even the author doesn’t know.

I didn’t last long with Where’s Annabel? Mainly because it was just so bad I was on the verge of quitting before I’d even finished reading the introduction, but also because of the remarkably small amount of commands it understands and the frequent bugs. Not to mention some of the worst guess the verb problems I've ever come across. A good example of this would be:

You're given a photograph of Annabel. Now with a photograph, the logical thing to do would be to SHOW it to people, right? Ah, but the game doesn’t understand the SHOW command. It does understand GIVE funnily enough but won’t let me give it away because I need to keep hold of it. USE PHOTOGRAPH when speaking to an NPC called Baggie produces an unhelpful message that I can’t use it here. At this I got stumped and started typing in silly things just to see if I could hit upon the solution by sheer luck. And I did. The command required?

USE PHOTOGRAPH ON BAGGIE

Ah, of course. What an amazingly obvious command. USE PHOTOGRAPH ON BAGGIE is so much better than SHOW PHOTOGRAPH.

Okay, enough with the sarcasm and enough with the game. Avoid this one like the stinker it is. (1 out of 10)

So onto the next one – Nami Adventure¬ – one of the first ever games written with Quest 4. As this was a brand new text adventure system, I wasn’t really sure what to expect other than it being an improved version of the old Quest. Improved? Well, in theory…

At first glance, the interface appears the same as the old version. The side panels are still in place (although why they're even there in the first place beats me as they add absolutely nothing to any of the Quest games I've played), the text entry line is still minimal and… that’s about it. Whatever other changes have taken place aren't immediately apparent, with the only obvious difference being that some of the buttons now have a nicer box around them than before.

As for the game…

Oh dear god.

For some reason that probably seemed like a good idea to the writer, but sure doesn’t to this poor player, the game clears the screen after every single command. Yes, every single one. So if you examine an item, the screen clears. If you try to open something, the screen clears. In fact, even if you make a typo, the screen clears just to tell you it doesn’t understand what you mean. Now while I quite like screen clearing for moving between locations – it keeps the interface looking nice and tidy – for every command it’s just the worst idea possible. Seriously. By the time I quit the game, and it wasn’t long believe me, over half the commands I’d typed were LOOK just so I could see where I was.

Unfortunately, this made playing the game a real chore. Location descriptions are as painfully brief as they generally are in Quest games, usually a line or two at most, and Quest has still got the peculiar habit of preceding room descriptions with a list of the items that you can see in bold type. Funnily enough, one of these items is the player character, though why the writer felt the need to list the PC as one of the items in the room is beyond me.

What bit I played of the game didn’t impress me one bit. Yet again, it seemed to be a Quest game written by someone without a clue what they were doing, hadn’t been tested, didn’t have any clear storyline and, burdened by the screen clearing after every command, was just more trouble than it was worth. (1 out of 10)

I then moved on to the final game, Something ‘Bout A Hex, which certainly had a better blurb than the previous games but which crashed with an error message whenever I tried to play it. After some experimentation, it seems that this is another Quest 4 game but the error message never indicated this and so I’d blindly assumed it was still the older version. But I fired it up in the new Quest 4 and tried it. Hey presto! It worked!

To begin with, it didn’t seem too bad. The first location had an actual honest to god description which was more than a few lines long. It even listed a huge array of items. Wa-hey! Something to examine, I thought. Unfortunately not… as while there might be items listed in the room description, the writer hasn’t bothered providing descriptions for any that I could find. A sample from my transcript went:

> X MANTLE
I CAN'T SEE THAT HERE.

> X PISTON
I CAN'T SEE THAT HERE.

> X FISHTANK
I CAN'T SEE THAT HERE.

> X FIREPLACE
I CAN'T SEE THAT HERE.

> X DRIED ROSE
I CAN'T SEE THAT HERE.

Etc…

If one of those had been missed, I’d probably just chalk it down to simple carelessness and leave it at that. If two had been missed, I’d wonder if the writer needed to get himself a better set of testers. But with all of them missed… well, if this game even knows what a tester looks like, I’d be very surprised.

(As a side note, Quest now has a transcript command. I figured this out pretty much hit and miss as it doesn’t detail it anywhere in the game and the WHAT’S NEW section under the HELP options button doesn’t work. On the down side, the transcript is a remarkably poor one as it doesn’t display any of the text generated by your commands, only the commands themselves, rendering its use as a transcript tool pretty much non-existent. You also don’t receive any confirmation when starting or stopping a transcript and no indication of where the file has been saved. You're not even able to name the transcript which is another failing.)

Leaving the first location presented me with a slight problem: namely that I couldn’t return. The exit had, apparently, gone missing. Other locations presented other problems. One had a door which couldn’t be opened as the OPEN command wasn’t recognised (up to version 4 and Quest still doesn’t understand many of the basic IF commands that every other system has had for years); another had a desk which I needed to GO TO DESK before I could do anything with it (although even when standing right next to it I was told I CAN’T SEE THAT HERE when attempting to examine it). Many locations lacked anything more than a line telling you where you were and the exits, so any attempts at depth the game might have been going for were quickly lost.

In fact, there were so many things wrong with the game that I was itching to quit it before five minutes had even gone by. For a start, there's no storyline. The intro hints at something about time travel and a hex, which sounded vaguely interesting for a few moments, but the game begins with you pottering around your apartment and won’t let you leave because… well, it doesn’t say why. Most of the locations are sparsely implemented (and that’s being kind) with nothing at all to do in the majority of them. Interaction is mainly done via the side panels and involves you clicking one thing then another. Which is a pain. I’d quite like to see Quest lose the side panels altogether or for them to at least be a little more user friendly. Or for someone to write a Quest game that doesn’t require their use at all.

It might seem a little harsh to give yet another rating of 1 out of 10 for this, but there's nothing about it I could recommend so that’s the rating I'm going to give it. (1 out of 10)
##################################

In progress: Shadows of the Mind 87k and counting. ETA: sometime in 2018.
David Whyld
 
Posts: 6726
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:15 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Points: 25

Postby J. J. Guest » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:36 pm

"Nami" review - MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!














"Nami" is truly incredible. Starting out in a teenager's bedroom like many a fine game before it, the game tells you that you need to CHANGE into your school uniform, but examing Nami reveals that she is "sitting on her bed, having changed into her school uniform". Despite this, she is still carrying (not wearing) her pyjamas, whilst the school uniform is in a drawer. I decided, on a whim, to drop the pyjamas and go to school naked. Ms. Ribble, the teacher was angry when I arrived, presumably because I had turned up in her classroom in the buff. But no, it's not that - she's presumably too preoccupied to notice because all she's concerned with is the fact that I haven't brought a candle to class. Not knowing that a candle was required, I had neglected to bring one. (The schools I went to all had electricity. Perhaps the lack of illumination explains Ms. Ribble's not noticing my nakedness.) No problem - I'll just head off home and get the candle. Oh no I won't - this classroom doesn't have any exits. There is now no way to finish the game! I quickly restart.

Second try: Quickly discarding my pyjamas I take my naked bod off to explore the rest of the house, which I hadn't bothered with the first time, in search of a candle. Fortunately there is one on Nami's bedside table, (presumably her house doesn't have electricity either) along with a roll of toilet paper (always useful if you feel the need to wipe your butt in bed.) I shimmy off to the bathroom where once again Nami is listed in the room description. Examining her you are posed with a question -

- Please select which nami you mean:
1: Nami
2: Nami
Please enter your choice:


Two Namis! I am spoilt for choice. Examining Nami 1 reveals "You're in the bathroom, looking around. There's a twinge in your stomach." Examining Nami two tells me "Well, you're currently sitting on the toilet with your underwear 'round your ankles." Funny, I wasn't wearing any underwear. Well, presumably that's the ablutions taken care of. But let's just see if this is a functioning toilet anyway. GO TOILET doesn't work, neither does "USE TOILET". Examining the loo reveals the correct wording: "GO TO THE TOILET". Good grief - Quest's parser makes Adrift's look like the HAL 9000 supercomputer by comparison. Never mind. GO TO THE TOILET it is. I am treated to a blank screen. Well, perhaps those sort of activities are best left undescribed.

Heading south (without wiping my butt; the game won't let you) I quickly find a burglar ransacking the kitchen. This burglar is obviously known to Nami because he's referred to as burglar George. Amazingly he fails to notice that he is all alone in a house with a naked teenaged girl. Presumably he is either a perfect gentleman or bats for the other side. Talking to him reveals that he is ransacking the kitchen in search of a poster of the band L'Arc-en-Ciel for his daughter. Daughter? A perfect gentleman then. By an astounding co-incidence, the unlikely item of his search happens to be in that very room. These aren't the most observant PCs I've ever encountered. On giving him the poster my perfect gentleman theory bears out - he gives me ten dollars for it. Somebody needs to give this guy a crash course on the principles of breaking and entering. Or just direct him to a poster shop.

Armed with my candle, I take my au naturel butt off to school on my scooter. Upset, miss Ribble? Aha! This time I have the benefit of foresight. Here is your candle, oh unobservant pedagogue. I rub my hands in anticipation of progressing to the next stage of the game. But what's this?

"Wow! Thanks, Nami!" Ms. Ribble says. "For remembering, I'll give you an A++ for the semester."
So, Nami gets an A++, and the school day finally begins.
You've won the game. And gotten an A++. Not a shabby day, eh?


And just when I'm getting into it! What a swizz. A game of this quality should go on and on forever. I haven't had such a laugh in ages.

10/10




Edited By The Amazing Poodle Boy on 1171125795
In Progress: Alias "The Magpie", The Numberless Knots of Fohat

Visit my website:
http://www.jjguest.com
for Escape from the Crazy Place and The Visitation
User avatar
J. J. Guest
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 8:55 pm
Location: London, England
Points: 10

Postby David Whyld » Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:07 pm

I wish I'd gone to that school. The girls show up naked and you get exam passes for bringing a candle with you.
##################################

In progress: Shadows of the Mind 87k and counting. ETA: sometime in 2018.
David Whyld
 
Posts: 6726
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:15 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Points: 25

Postby J. J. Guest » Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:21 pm

Something 'Bout a Hex review
Played online at [url=http://quest.servegame.org/?hex\hex.cas]http://quest.servegame.org/?hex\hex.cas[/url]

After the opening text has scrolled off the screen before I can read it, the following instructions are displayed:

"This is a mouse-driven game. You will not need to use your keyboard except to occasionally unpause the game. Use the "compass" directional arrows to move through the game or click the "GOTO" icon. You can "LOOK", "TAKE", and "SPEAK" to objects in the rooms."

So, no guess the verb here then. I look forward with anticipation to a fun-filled half hour of looking, taking and speaking to objects in rooms. (The last time I stood around talking to objects in rooms my boss generously recommended I take the rest of the week off - I seem to remember it was a Friday.) For the first time I notice that that noxious non-verb "use" is actually built in to the Quest engine; unimaginative game play is actually encouraged by the authoring system!

So, to my fun-filled half-hour.

It gets off to a bad start when the screen instructions entice me to "press any key to begin". Starting with Q I work my way down to M, then try all the number keys and finally the punctuation marks, all to no avail. Only then do I notice the "click here to continue" at the bottom of the page. Hey ho.

Five minutes in, my fun-filled half-hour finally begins in earnest. The opening location as has already been noted contains a huge array of unimplemented items. I strongly suspect that the author, after napping on the black leather sofa described (but not implemented) in his game, simply turned on his laptop and wrote a description of what he could see around him. Not the most encouraging opening.

>x me
I can't see that here.

An invisible protagonist then? This should prove an interesting game. I could wander all over everywhere and do what I want and nobody would even notice if I was naked. Oh, wait - I already did that in the last game. So let's get exploring then. I am feverish with excitement. The only direction is OUT which takes me from the lavishly described living room to the middle of the living room, which is described thusly:

You are in the middle of the living room.


So much for the lavish descriptions then. Northeast takes me to a foyer with an unimplemented fish tank and a front door which only exists if you use the gui on the right of the interface. Serves me right for using the keyboard. This game might as well work with a joystick for the amount of interactivity it allows. Having been told that I'm not ready to leave yet, but not why I'm not ready to leave yet, I head off to a very long hallway. A hallway so long in fact that it the author felt it neccessary to split it into four locations. Off this are various rooms of the sort normally found in real apartments and also in boring games written by morons about their own apartments. All of these contain items of an ordinary sort most of which are not implemented. One of these, an amplifier, is implemented. Starved of anything to do for the last ten minutes, I examine it hungrily. The game crashes. Since I'm in a generous mood, I restart it.

*** Error sending data to server ***


I breath a sigh of relief. I don't mind bad games, if they amuse me. This game did not amuse me, it was thuddingly, crashingly dull. It offers almost no interaction, has no atmosphere, and I can't even find anything funny to say about it.

0/10, with bells on.
In Progress: Alias "The Magpie", The Numberless Knots of Fohat

Visit my website:
http://www.jjguest.com
for Escape from the Crazy Place and The Visitation
User avatar
J. J. Guest
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 8:55 pm
Location: London, England
Points: 10

Postby Shuarian » Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:34 pm

The Amazing Poodle Boy - your review of Nami is hilarious! :-)
User avatar
Shuarian
 
Posts: 338
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 2:46 pm
Location: Switzerland

Postby David Whyld » Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:52 pm

Not quite as funny as the game itself, though :)
##################################

In progress: Shadows of the Mind 87k and counting. ETA: sometime in 2018.
David Whyld
 
Posts: 6726
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:15 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Points: 25

Postby J. J. Guest » Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:00 am

Shuarian wrote:The Amazing Poodle Boy - your review of Nami is hilarious! :-)

Thanks! I really enjoyed writing that one. I didn't expect to enjoy writing a review, and I may do a few more, specialising in the worst games I can find. If anyone has any recommendations, let me know!
In Progress: Alias "The Magpie", The Numberless Knots of Fohat

Visit my website:
http://www.jjguest.com
for Escape from the Crazy Place and The Visitation
User avatar
J. J. Guest
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 8:55 pm
Location: London, England
Points: 10

Postby phkb » Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:14 am

I'm sure David can point you to a few clangers!
My IF-related stuff can be found here
User avatar
phkb
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:27 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Postby phkb » Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:18 am

David, still got a copy of "Death Agency" hanging around somewhere? I seem to recall it being a fantastic example of... well, something anyway.
My IF-related stuff can be found here
User avatar
phkb
 
Posts: 376
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:27 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Postby David Whyld » Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:44 am

Alas not. It was taking up such a huge amount of space on my hard drive (3 KB or thereabouts) that I just couldn't justify keeping it any longer. Pity really. I always laugh myself silly reading about 'zombees' and the like.

As for recommendations for truly bad games: you can't go far right with everything written with Quest or anything by Paul Panks.
##################################

In progress: Shadows of the Mind 87k and counting. ETA: sometime in 2018.
David Whyld
 
Posts: 6726
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:15 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Points: 25

Postby ralphmerridew » Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:48 pm

Traditional awful games:

- _Space Aliens Laughed At My Cardigan_, by Andre M. Boyle (AGT)
- _Detective_, by Matt Barringer (AGT)
- anything by Rybread Celsius (Inform)

OTOH, those games have already been savaged. (There's even been an MSTing of Detective.)
Bloodhounds can make you laugh and cuss in the same breath. They are endearing, faithful, and can sling drool ten feet in any direction. -- Virginia Lanier
User avatar
ralphmerridew
 
Posts: 2533
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2002 11:56 pm
Location: Missouri
Points: 10

Postby David Whyld » Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:41 pm

Arent't the Rybread Celsius ones deliberate joke games? In which case, not half as funny as the ones that are supposedly proper games.
##################################

In progress: Shadows of the Mind 87k and counting. ETA: sometime in 2018.
David Whyld
 
Posts: 6726
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:15 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Points: 25

Postby ralphmerridew » Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:24 pm

I think the early ones were honest attempts; the later ones were deliberate.

(Though one of his games had a "neo-mime" at the beginning who wasn't involved in the rest of the game; I thought that character was worth a good laugh.)
Bloodhounds can make you laugh and cuss in the same breath. They are endearing, faithful, and can sling drool ten feet in any direction. -- Virginia Lanier
User avatar
ralphmerridew
 
Posts: 2533
Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2002 11:56 pm
Location: Missouri
Points: 10

Postby J. J. Guest » Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:43 pm

David's right - deliberately bad games are not half as funny as unintentionally bad ones. I've got a few old Adrift ones on my hard drive that probably deserve a review...
In Progress: Alias "The Magpie", The Numberless Knots of Fohat

Visit my website:
http://www.jjguest.com
for Escape from the Crazy Place and The Visitation
User avatar
J. J. Guest
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 8:55 pm
Location: London, England
Points: 10


Return to Game Discussions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest