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(OddComp) I Am the Law - by djchallis

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 alsnpk » Sat Sep 27, 2008 1:50 am

Of course your review doesn't have to include all, or any, of questions, if you don't want it to. This is meant to serve as a basic template.

(Keep these restrictions in mind: The author had to pair up each one of these numbers: 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11, with one of these: rooms, objects, tasks, events, and characters, and have and use exactly the particular number of each that they chose for their game; no more, no less.)



1. What was your initial impression of the game, when you first opened it up, and how did the game compare?


2. How did the author do within the restrictions?


3. How were the puzzles and/or storyline?


4. What did you like best about the game?


5. What did you like least about the game, and how could this be fixed?


6. What stood out most to you from/about this game?


7. How did this game compare with the others in the competition and/or what set it apart?


Any other comments?
Released:
For competitions: Business As Usual; Oh, Human; Existence (intro); Motion
Shared names demo: "Guys, Guys"

Works in various stages of progress:
Y'know, things and stuff...
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Postby alsnpk » Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:22 am

I Am the Law, by djchallis (7 rooms, 9 objects, 11 tasks, 3 events, 5 characters)

1. What was your initial impression of the game, when you first opened it up, and how did the game compare?
I thought it might be fairly involved even though the restrictions kept it a small game. It was, to a point, as far as asking characters about things. It was begging to be more involved as far as objects, but, as we know, it could not be, for this competition.

2. How did the author do within the restrictions?
The game suffered from not being able to have enough objects to cover all of the ones in the story. It's not very fitting for a detective to refuse to examine something that could lead to a clue. However, that makes it quite convenient for players because it means we know what to focus on more than the objects. Everything but the objects was fleshed out very well in keeping with the restrictions.

3. How were the puzzles and/or storyline?
The only "puzzles" were saying clearcut subjects to characters. Simple. Aside from some typos, the storyline was very well-written and made me curious to find out more. I kind of liked the ending and kind of didn't, because something seemed partially unfinished. But it made sense and was described very nicely.

4. What did you like best about the game?
Somehow my favorite part was finding out what the mystery was that I was supposed to solve. It was a downward spiral from there. No, just kidding! The rest was good too. The explanation of what happened was what made me switch from passively interested to actively interested in hearing more of the story, though.

5. What did you like least about the game, and how could this be fixed?
The paragraph/sentence spacing, or, rather, lack of line spacing. It would be much easier to read with one blank line between every line/couple sentences/whatever instead of long and short lines strung together into a long sort-of-paragraph. Also, there were too many screens before the game started. No wonder the author asked if intro/title screen tasks would be included in the task count or not. It would have helped the game to have them.

6. What stood out most to you from/about this game?
Wow, that's a lot of text for a small game.

7. How did this game compare with the others in the competition and/or what set it apart?
Most in-depth mystery.

Any other comments?
Djchallis, you shouldn't worry so much about disappointing us with blandness or emptiness! Your story carried the game well.
Released:
For competitions: Business As Usual; Oh, Human; Existence (intro); Motion
Shared names demo: "Guys, Guys"

Works in various stages of progress:
Y'know, things and stuff...
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Postby djchallis » Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:22 am

Thanks for the review, Abbi! :-)
I think it's a very good analysis of the game. As you rightly assumed, I was frustrated myself at the lack of objects to use and the many screens of text at the start of the game.
Adding blank lines here & there isn't something I'd thought of, so maybe I need to do some experimenting about that soon.
As you could tell, I enjoyed writing the story most of all. Is there any chance you could expand on some of your comments about it? You said part of you didn't like the ending because it felt partially unfinished, but you also said the ending switched you from passively interested to actively interested?

I don't know if I'm allowed to ask questions like this in my own review thread. Hope that's ok!
Game in the works - Project Clocks - on hold for a bit.
Game finished - I am the Law for the OddComp. Looking forward to finishing Clocks so I can show what I can really do!
Current focus - Some microIF. Short experiments to test ideas and actually release something!
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Postby alsnpk » Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:12 pm

Sure you can ask questions here.

The thing that switched me from passively interested to actually wanting to find out what happened was when I first found out what the mystery was.

What seemed kind of unresolved about the ending was that one of the characters seemed like he was very strongly implicated as the guy, and the ending didn't address that at all. I'm trying not to be too detailed so that it doesn't ruin the game for people who haven't finished it, so if you need a better explanation, feel free to email me about it.
Released:
For competitions: Business As Usual; Oh, Human; Existence (intro); Motion
Shared names demo: "Guys, Guys"

Works in various stages of progress:
Y'know, things and stuff...
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Posts: 523
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Postby revgiblet » Wed Oct 01, 2008 12:15 pm

I AM THE LAW
-----------------

I saw that coming...but not that.

AWARD: The "Would Make the Best Full Game" Award

An independent investigator called in to solve a murder that takes place on a space station? I started designing a game with exactly that setting. No really, look! Here's my notepad. I made about six pages of notes - maps and everything. And now I can't use it because someone else beat me to it. I was going to make it conversation driven as well! It was going to be about finding clues in the things that people said! But, I never really figured out how I would make that work. I suppose that using text formatting to highlight important clues is not a bad idea. Well, OK, it's a pretty darn good idea actually. I wish I'd thought of that.

This was another entry that surprised me with the amount of game fitted in around the limitations.

The author is clearly a fan of story-driven IF, so we have that in common. There's a shed-load of text to read in this game, and as someone who watched all of the cut-scenes for Metal Gear Solid I get quite excited thinking about the prospect. The story is also pretty decent. I don't want to give too much away, but I guessed the identity of the killer quite early on in the proceedings - though the motive for the killing was not something that I predicted and I thought that it tied things nicely together.

It would have been nice if the notepad you carried around with you kept a list of all of the 'blue text' that you had discovered, as there was quite a lot to keep track of. I also found that a couple of topics I tried to talk about didn't get the responses that I thought that they should. I would put both of those down to the limitations of the competition.

One thing that I found distracting throughout the game was the fact that I was invited to put myself into the shoes of Joshua Kent, but was then forcibly detached from the character by being told what I should be feeling. For example, a couple of times I was told that I 'admired' the responses from some of the suspects, though I confess that I didn't really feel it. My immersion in the game would have been greatly improved if I had simply been told what was said and left to explore my own emotions about it. Am I Joshua Kent, or am I an omniscient observer? If I am him, then don't tell me how I feel about the situations that I am encountering. Let me feel it for myself.

Despite this, I would be lying if I didn't say that I enjoyed playing this game. I'm a sucker for story-driven IF, and this was probably the most solid example of the genre in the whole competition. It's a very good game, and a great example of what can be done with ADRIFT within a very tight set of restrictions. I expect many more positive reviews, and hope that the author finishes Project Clocks and goes on to write more IF.

This entry seemed fairly ambitious, and I think that the foundations are here for a great full game. Well, of course I would think that. I had the same idea after all.
"He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies."

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In Progress:- Watch This Space...
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Postby djchallis » Wed Oct 01, 2008 1:15 pm

Thank you for the review, rev! :-)
I'm so glad people seem to like the story. As you guessed, the story's the main focus for me.
I admit the notepad was designed with something like that in mind, and then had to be scrapped when I remembered the task-limit.

The comment about Joshua's own thoughts was interesting. As a writer of static fiction I push myself to develop personalities for my lead characters so they turn into interesting Bilbo Baggins' instead of always-perfect boring Harry Potter's. But do you think that in IF it's best to leave the player's character un-written?

I'm glad you said it'd make a good full game, because it uses dumbed down versions of quite a few ideas I'm working on for Project Clocks. Let's hope your prediction's accurate then!
Thanks again. :-)
Game in the works - Project Clocks - on hold for a bit.
Game finished - I am the Law for the OddComp. Looking forward to finishing Clocks so I can show what I can really do!
Current focus - Some microIF. Short experiments to test ideas and actually release something!
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Postby revgiblet » Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:06 pm

djchallis wrote:The comment about Joshua's own thoughts was interesting. As a writer of static fiction I push myself to develop personalities for my lead characters so they turn into interesting Bilbo Baggins' instead of always-perfect boring Harry Potter's. But do you think that in IF it's best to leave the player's character un-written?

I think so. For me it's one of the clearest distinctions between Fiction and Interactive Fiction.

I find it hard to do myself. My fear is that the player won't get the emotions I'm trying to communicate unless I spell it out for them - which shows that sometimes I don't have much confidence in my writing, I suppose. In a game like yours, however, there's not really a right or wrong way for the player to feel so you don't have to worry about that.

I think it works fine to describe emotion if the player is observing/listening to someone else's story (if you write in first person, for example) but if you're putting the player in the game then leave internal musings to the player.

Re-reading my review I think I was quite specific about the negatives but a bit vague about the positives, which is poor form. It's probably OK for me to say that I wouldn't be surprised at all if you place in the top three with this entry.




Edited By revgiblet on 1222898826
"He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies."

Tertullian

In Progress:- Watch This Space...
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Postby djchallis » Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:31 pm

That was the conclusion I came to. If the game is in second person, the player should be the one making the emotional decisions. They decide the way the story plays and they live with their consequences. So I wrote my game in first-person to try and separate them from the player.

But Snake has his own personality and character in Metal Gear Solid. If he was a blank canvas his interactions with Liquid & Meryl would be very different! Similarly, the player-character in Clocks plays a very important role in regards to some of the other characters. He becomes tied emotionally to some of the other characters in the game, so to write it second-person with a blank-canvas character wouldn't make much sense.

I dunno, what're your thoughts?
Game in the works - Project Clocks - on hold for a bit.
Game finished - I am the Law for the OddComp. Looking forward to finishing Clocks so I can show what I can really do!
Current focus - Some microIF. Short experiments to test ideas and actually release something!
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Postby helgathehorrible » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:57 am

1. What was your initial impression of the game, when you first opened it up, and how did the game compare?
I thought I wouldn't like it, that it would be a small game that wanted to be a big game, but I was pleasantly surprised how concise and satisfying
it was.


2. How did the author do within the restrictions?
Better than I thought. They managed to do a lot with the restrictions by making the point of the game about the "conversations" and pushing the game forward and telling the story that way, thereby making it easier to make a larger game with few events and objects, since no restrictions were made on the conversation subjects. Being a detective game, it might have been nice to examine objects etc. for clues, but since the author made it clear that that wasn't necessary, I knew I didn't have to waste my time with that.

3. How were the puzzles and/or storyline?
Quite good. I'm sure it was inspired by 2001, and being familiar with 2001 I was able to work out the murder suspect early on, but it was still enjoyable getting the whole story put together by conversations with the characters, and those not familiar with 2001 may find the discovery even more enjoyable.


4. What did you like best about the game?
Discovering the personality and relationships of the characters, the act of "figuring out" in your mind how it happened.


5. What did you like least about the game, and how could this be fixed? There was a lot of dialogue which I don't think was set out in the most aesthetically pleasing way. I also don't think the writing was as "tight" as the other entries, either, although it was still good.


6. What stood out most to you from/about this game?
That they managed to make a fulfilling, concise game with the restrictions, and the way they pushed the story ahead with conversation and dialogue instead of trying to do too much with the restrictions on objects and tasks.


Any other comments?
If it were me, I would not have given away the answer to the mystery once you reached a certain point in the game; rather, I might flag that you should have enough clues to make a guess by now, and then see if the player was smart enough to work it out themselves.
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Postby djchallis » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:18 am

helgathehorrible wrote:If it were me, I would not have given away the answer to the mystery once you reached a certain point in the game; rather, I might flag that you should have enough clues to make a guess by now, and then see if the player was smart enough to work it out themselves.

I did seriously consider that option, but I can't remember why I decided to do it this way in the end. Oh well.

Thank you for a precise & accurate review! :-)
I find it interesting how everyone guessed the murderer pretty early on but nevertheless seemed to enjoy the ending!
Game in the works - Project Clocks - on hold for a bit.
Game finished - I am the Law for the OddComp. Looking forward to finishing Clocks so I can show what I can really do!
Current focus - Some microIF. Short experiments to test ideas and actually release something!
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Postby Dan Blazquez » Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:06 am

I Am The Law by DJChallis

A meaty whodunnit with an obvious nod to an old classic. I Am The Law makes great use of ADRIFT's built-in conversation system, highlighting possible subjects in a blue color. While at first I found this a nifty idea, during play I realized that this color-coding just lessened the impact of the game and made it a little *too* easy. The lengthy introduction does a fine job of easing new players into the fray, but also comes off as annoying or overbearing. These two points make up the bulk of complaints against this interesting work and are ruthlessly stomped by its gauntlet of strengths:

First, I Am The Law is big, considering the restrictions. Weighing in at double the size of the nearest contender and quadruple the size of the average entries in the comp, there is a lot of dialogue in this game, most of it well written and integral to the progression of the story. Ultimately that is what I Am The Law does best - it tells a story, and a good one at that. I saw the twist coming early on, as did other reviewers, but that did nothing to bar my enjoyment of this detective romp.

The setting, characters, and events are fleshed out and the writing, although long and plentiful, is interesting... I never found myself wanting to skim over the text dumps, although the bright blue subjects contrasted jarringly with the rest of the text and kept catching my eye while I was trying to read! I played through this in one go and was enthralled by the plot's linear, logical progression. I felt that inner fire that you can only get from reading a good piece of literature.

The implementation of few objects made the game feel bare in that respect, although with the focus on narrative and characters this is a minor quibble. The game practically plays itself. Between the barrage of info screens at the outset and the color coding of important subjects (which is the only way to progress in this game) the adventure is over way too quickly and with too much hand holding. Obviously the author strove to wring a good story out of meager restrictions (and did so brilliantly... this is excellent as a narrative driven story) and while the story shines brightly the game struggles as a highly interactive work.

Arguably the best use of the restrictions as a good yarn unravels here. Very polished and professional feeling, if a little too easy. I'm eager to see what the author has in store for us next, as this game demonstrates a level of cohesive professionalism that would thrive in a full length adventure. Although I wished it were a bit more challenging, I thoroughly enjoyed this game from start to finish.




Edited By Dan Blazquez on 1223371768
Released adventures :
- A Witch Tale (OddComp)

Currently working on :
- The Lighthouse (a horror story collaboration with Quantumsheep)
- A Witch Tale (expanded version)
- Clepsydra
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