ADRIFT Forum


The place to discuss the ADRIFT Interactive Fiction toolkit

The Curse Of DragonShrine

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 Cobra1 » Wed Jul 07, 2004 7:04 am

Being a fan of dragons of any kind, I was drawn to this game immediately. However, what I found were merely disappointments, awkward text, cumbersome tasks and an overall ill feeling...Shall I continue?

The Curse Of The Ruined Opening

The game starts you off as riding a horse-drawn vehicle. These two farmers spot you, have a few words, then threaten you when they notice you with the necklace that their child used to have. Imeediately you disband and run for the woods for a hiding place...Pretty quick...for just three "screens" of text. In an effort to make it seem realistic, the designer has added two "songs" and one picture...The latter is a badly sculpted head of a dragon over a castle with red text over the scene and that's it. The music is either a loud thunder storm(outside castle) or a softer storm with a few low and long notes played(inside castle). Sorry, I'm not impressed. The outside of the castle seems like a desperate attempt for an early area. Nothing to grab, nothing to find...not even maze-like. In fact, head onto the MAIN ROAD and wait as long as you please...the farmers will just let you take your sweet time getting into the castle, despite being a murderer. After you get inside, the idea is semi-obvious what to do next, of which you reach the main part of the castle. And so, the debacle begins...

A quest of pointless-ness

After the first few steps, you are suddenly in the kitchen, with little reason other than you had "followed a ghost". This ghost will then proceed to talk your ear off...and while <waitkey> was wisely used in the intro, it's strangely missing here. You must instead use the command "wait" or "z" about 5 or so times until FINALLY the game allows you to proceed by the ghost letting you know she left a candle for you. So where's the candle? You have to examine the many items of the kitchen to find it...and so our real quest emerges. Our author expects us to examine EVERY last item in this place, 75% or more either repeat what was just said in the room's description or they give us one of the three-four clues provided through the entire game! So you therefore must check even the kitchen sinks...why? Because somehow you cannot find a LARGE WOODEN SPOON in a bare sink without "x-ing" it first. I can understand the cupboards...and even the shelves...but in the sinks? Even more so, how can you miss one of the potions sitting on the tables? Just sitting there...not buried or anything. Shouldn't that be accessable right away?

Of course, the vocabulary options for this game don't help either. "X-ing" a desk in the game didn't provide any more info other than standard responses when I was stuck. Desperate, I checked the file and found that you had to "look under desk" to get the desired response. If that's not enough, I found a floor in particular is needed to be looked at to win the game. This floor is neither hinted at and must be looked in two different places AND those two places must be looked from in the correct order...Is it just me or does that read as "bad planning"? One time, I knew what to do but the game refused to let me do it. I knew I needed the wood on fire and in the spit to make a fire for the cauldron. Well, I tried to light it first : no good. I followed by typing "place wood in spit", whereupon it told me there was no room. "Light wood"?...Nope. "Make Potion"...Nuh-uh. Finally, I stumbled across the right phrase..."Put wood pit"...either that's a typo or they expect us to drop a piece of wood a couple of feet to light it. THEN, you may "light wood"...

The clues are no real help either. As said, you get about three or four hints throughout the game which are "What to mix", "What rooms to do it in", "Where to put the body", and "Background". Only two notes actually provide some decent idea of depth....WHY and WHEN. Everything else is left for grabs...even the in-game hint system barely works. Being in the proper room I understand, but not mentioning the cloak(a required item) under the hint "Is there anything I need in (here)?"...Instead, it points out a journal which gives you the same text and info you can get over and over again from about 6 or so other items. There's also a glass-stained window in a chapel later on, of which the game gives you no hints as to what to do with it. Furthermore, it is possible to complete the game without defining its purpose!

That's another point...The lack thereof. I first completed the game with only 70 or so out of 100. I later found that useless journal, boosting my score by an insane amount. Why provide points for tasks that don't concern goals for the end of the goals? Finding the secret passage to the last goal is worth 2 points...2 POINTS! Meanwhile, our dear journal is worth 5 or more. After the journal and other meaningless tasks, I brought my score up to 95 out of 100...wanna bet that chapel window has something to do with it?

Dragon-bait

As I watched the end of the game, our villian is spotted by the town and is quickly accused by our now ressurected heroine. They quickly have him executed...a potions-master and attainer of near-immortality is killed by a public execution. This is a death sequence befitting the master behind all of these schemes?! I expected magics to be unleashed from the shrine or energies to be released from him...but just a quick accusation and it's all over?

In short, I am extremely disappointed with this game and feel like the author owes me three hours...

3/10 (Burning in its ashes...)
Chameleon : The more human you are, the less human you are forced to be...
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Postby Mystery » Wed Jul 07, 2004 4:14 pm

I’m sorry you did not enjoy the game. What is for some is not for others. I found your review quite amusing because though it gives your honest opinions about it, it also points out some areas you did poorly at. The music was composed by a professional, and I suppose is a matter of taste. Some like it, some don’t. The same goes with the sound effects. I did make the title image myself (not the model of the dragon). I wasn’t particularly pleased with it myself, but then I rarely am with my own work.

The ghost gives a wealth of information and you do not have to wait as you suggest. The player is free to continue surveying his surroundings and move throughout the castle. I didn’t think that finding the candle would be that hard, because it is in the most logical place. You wouldn’t usually find a candle in a sink or fire pit.

The spoon, quite interestingly enough, is located in a very logical place. I’m not sure how familiar you are with ADRIFT, but objects that are in or on other items are not marked as seen by default, therefore you must examine an object to find out if it holds other objects. This isn‘t something of my choosing. (I do understand things on tables would likely be visible upon entering a room, but it is equally arguable that other items on tables can prevent others from being seen. Such as the rats that covered the table in the Great Hall.)

Though the journal isn’t detrimental to finishing the game, it was located under the desk as an Easter Egg, and does provide more information for the player, and the score is adjusted to reward the player for discovering it. The floor is a very important part of the game and there are several clues within the game that direct you to look at it. If it was missed, it was an oversight, and likely missed by failing to fully read the text. I had to chuckle a little when I read that you had typed ‘place wood in spit’ and were annoyed that it didn’t work. But you later discovered that put wood in pit worked. Pit and spit are two different things, and are treated completely different.

I thought it interesting that you felt there were only 3-4 hints throughout the game, and there were not any sufficient clues given. Clues are given in more places you can shake a stick at, and I’m sorry you missed them or were unable to cogitate their existence. I especially find this ironic since one specific room is filled with nothing but clues, and a skilled, or even novice player would take notice of. You might consider having a closer look at the paintings in the gallery. All but one of them provide a telling clue within the game; from which book to have a closer look at in the library, to examining the floor, to the body by the lake, to discovering the secret passages. If it were any more obvious, you’d just have to come out and tell the player the commands. There are also several more clues within many descriptions, along with use of the built in hint system. Had you read the ending carefully, it does explain why he was able to be killed by public execution.

I wouldn’t normally comment about a review, but this one just kind of nagged at me because several areas you mention are the result of being a unobservant player and the inability to use logic, and to a very tiny extent, how the parser works. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see what is inside my sink when I walk into my kitchen. Simple logic would direct me to look in the sink if I wanted to know what was in it.

So all in all, I’m sorry you didn’t care for the game much, but do know there was more there than you were able to ingest. Thanks for the review. I’ll try to be more thorough in the future and will try a little bit harder to not confuse the player so easily.
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Postby Cannibal » Thu Jul 08, 2004 2:08 pm

I find replying to a reply of a review an odd thing to do but, in the same way that this review nagged at Mystery, her reply has nagged at me. There cannot be a game writer who doesn't want the odd review of his or her adventure and will cringe when the review is bad or unfavourable or whatever. I used to write reviews for a music site under a different alias and often found that bad reviews led to the artist throwing many a tantrum because I had constructively pulled apart a tune for failing in certain basic key areas.

Anyway, I digress...

I’m sorry you did not enjoy the game. What is for some is not for others.


Indeed, reviews can mostly be a matter of taste.

I found your review quite amusing because though it gives your honest opinions about it, it also points out some areas you did poorly at.


I would find that type of comment quite patronising.

The music was composed by a professional, and I suppose is a matter of taste. Some like it, some don’t. The same goes with the sound effects.


Who composed it is unimportant. I didn't realise the game had sound. I had speakers off at the time.

I did make the title image myself (not the model of the dragon). I wasn’t particularly pleased with it myself, but then I rarely am with my own work.


Admirable, but then do not be too surprised if someone is critical of said work.

I’m not sure how familiar you are with ADRIFT, but objects that are in or on other items are not marked as seen by default, therefore you must examine an object to find out if it holds other objects. This isn‘t something of my choosing.


Then I would craft a game in this fashion. You can choose whether or not to take this approach. Not everyone is in favour of object states. Variables can also be used to allow greater design freedom.

It's good to see a review written by someone else other than Davidw and, of course, we're all entitled to respond to reviews of our work, but there were a few points I wanted to comment on as well.

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Postby davidw » Thu Jul 08, 2004 2:42 pm

I actually think it makes a nice change to have a few comments about reviews – though I have to admit the first thing that went through my mind when I saw a reply to a review someone had written was “uh-oh! Flame war about to start! How dare you say such things about my game?” Nice to see Mystery restrained herself.

I found your review quite amusing because though it gives your honest opinions about it, it also points out some areas you did poorly at.


That was a bit patronizing though. The implication seems to be clear that the reviewer didn’t do very well at the game and there's something wrong with that. Maybe the game was unfairly hard?

The music was composed by a professional, and I suppose is a matter of taste. Some like it, some don’t. The same goes with the sound effects.


I suppose it brings up again the question of whether sound has a place in a text adventure. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. I've never heard anyone review a game and say anything positive about the sound effects so whether sounds have a place in a text adventure or not, it seems to only be the writers of games with sound effects that think they're relevant.

I played with the sound off as well. I never knowingly play available text adventure with the sound on and if tinny music starts blaring out of my speakers when I'm creeping down a corridor, I quickly turn the sound off.

I did make the title image myself (not the model of the dragon). I wasn’t particularly pleased with it myself, but then I rarely am with my own work.


I suppose the question begging to be asked is: why bother including it then?

I’m not sure how familiar you are with ADRIFT, but objects that are in or on other items are not marked as seen by default, therefore you must examine an object to find out if it holds other objects. This isn’t something of my choosing.


But it’s a very easy thing to fix. Anyone who’s been using Adrift for years will know enough about it to allow for showing up the items in question.

It's good to see a review written by someone else other than Davidw



Definitely agree. We ought to be seeing reviews popping up every few days.


we're all entitled to respond to reviews of our work, but there were a few points I wanted to comment on as well.


There have been a few times when people have written reviews of my games that I've been tempted to comment on them but it’s always been an issue I've tried to avoid as much as possible. After all, it’s a kind of reward in itself when someone takes the time to play your game and write a review of it and taking issue over some point they missed or how they played the game just didn’t seem worth it.

Anyone going to comment on any reviews I've written?




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Postby Mystery » Thu Jul 08, 2004 4:39 pm

I don't have a problem at all with the fact that someone didn't like it. Some will, some won't.
I found your review quite amusing because though it gives your honest opinions about it, it also points out some areas you did poorly at.

This comment wasn't meant to be insulting or patronising. There just really isn't too nice of a way to say, by your own words, you screwed up. Take the wood for example- putting the wood in the spit makes no sense whatsoever. There is both a spit and a pit in the same room-A spit is skewer, while a pit is a hole in the ground (and in this case used to build a fire). By the player's own admissions he said putting the fire in the spit wouldn't work-but putting it in the pit would- I don't know how else to say it, but it was poorly done. Whether intentional or not, doesn't matter, but shunning the game for silly mistakes the player should be pointed out so others are not given the wrong idea about it.

I'm not knocking him for it. Hell, I'm a terrible player and not ashamed of it.

As far as the objects go, yes they could have been fixed to marked as seen. But after much debate, I decided that I shouldn't have to change it and the big one, objects on or in objects could be obscured from view by other objects. Unless you have x-ray vision, it made perfect sense to leave them as it were.

So my opinion on that is the author-not just me-could be anyones, shouldn't be get the short end of the stick for the design of ADRIFT.

As far as the sounds, I have received several comments from people who enjoyed it. And it isn't really important who composed it. And it also isn't important if someone like it or not. I didn't make any snide remarks about the reviewer liking it or not. I merely stated it was a matter of preference. Some like it some don't. I included them because I felt it added to the ambient of the game. Easily said, if you don't like it, just turn the music off. The music isn't forced upon you, and you do have options in the runner to turn all media off.

For the image, if some like it, fine, if they don't, oh well. It's a matter of taste. It isn't a big deal one way or the other. To each his own. I included it because I enjoy making graphics, and hope create a game someday that is filled with images and sound that I have created myself.

I in no way set out to attack the reviewer, and am no way bothered that it isn't a shining review. It wasn't his cup of tea and that is perfectly fine with me.

But in all fairness, the reviwer missed so much because of an oversight on his part, so I thought I would point out that the things he claimed were non existant, are infact present, and present abundantly. And I am sorry he didn't care for the game, and I don't expect everyone to like it. I'm happy that he reviewed it and do appreciate his comments. The feedback will help me improve on certain things, and hopefully my reply will also help him and other players be a little more observant.

It is so easy to skip over text and not bother to read the descriptions that could hold important information. I'm sure we all do it at some point or another. I'm not saying that was the case here, but something must have been up for the player to have missed an entire room with nothing but clues to solve the puzzles in the game.
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Postby Cannibal » Thu Jul 08, 2004 6:08 pm

Hell, I'm a terrible player and not ashamed of it.

Don't fret, I don't know many good ones.

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Postby Cannibal » Thu Jul 08, 2004 6:10 pm

There have been a few times when people have written reviews of my games that I've been tempted to comment on them but it’s always been an issue I've tried to avoid as much as possible. After all, it’s a kind of reward in itself when someone takes the time to play your game and write a review of it and taking issue over some point they missed or how they played the game just didn’t seem worth it.

It's very tough when someone does take the trouble to pen a proper and well written review because part of you is pleased and chuffed but another part sometimes wants to take issue with stuff.

It's a mute point.

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Postby MileStyle » Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:28 pm

davidw wrote:I've never heard anyone review a game and say anything positive about the sound effects so whether sounds have a place in a text adventure or not, it seems to only be the writers of games with sound effects that think they're relevant.

When Panic was on the board there was some decent comments about the music I chose. Probably because it existed throughout the game as a soundtrack rather than music on a per room/event basis.

I'd never do a Peter and the Wolf variety of music. :D
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Postby Woodfish » Fri Jul 09, 2004 2:17 pm

So my opinion on that is the author-not just me-could be anyones, shouldn't be get the short end of the stick for the design of ADRIFT.


I don't agree - I think it should be up to the author to get the game exactly how they want it, even if that means working around ADRIFT's shortcomings. If ADRIFT is making your game work in a way you don't like, then it's down to you to change it, and this is possible in nearly all cases - if you don't go to this trouble, then it's your fault.
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Postby davidw » Fri Jul 09, 2004 2:31 pm

Agreed. Anyone who knows enough about Adrift can easily overcome its restrictions. Knowing how to overcome these restrictions, and then deciding not to, is more a design fault on the part of the writer than with Adrift itself.
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Postby ralphmerridew » Sat Jul 17, 2004 11:32 pm

Has anybody ever taken the time to write up a list of common pitfalls for ADRIFT writers, as well as how to work around them?
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Postby davidw » Sun Jul 18, 2004 4:47 pm

Not as far as I know but it might be a good idea.
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