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Tears of a Tough Man by Bruce Humphrey - Warning: Contains Rambling

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 Woodfish » Thu Aug 26, 2004 9:32 pm

This is the first game I played of KF's Summer 2004 Minicomp - I thought I'd work my way up from the lowest filesize. The Minicomp this year had three divisions, and this game was written for the timed section - its criteria being that it must make use of specified opening and closing lines, and a 'fire extinguisher' object.

Now, these criteria put me right off entering a game of my own into this section - I seriously couldn't see myself wanting to write a game which had the closing line "Suddenly the world seems a brighter place, and you feel there is a good reason to carry on". It just seems too cliche and complete. I was seriously dubious about the games entered into this category.

And now it seems I was correct in my suspicions - timed criteria aside, Tears of a Tough Man, is a seriously flawed game which I found to be greatly disspointing from one of the forum's recently active drifters.

Tears of a Tough Man's take on the given opening line is to have the player as the author of the diary. This in itself seems a bit contrived to fit in with the wording. We then find out, during the course of the game, that the player has been accused of murder. And I am a bit confused about the rest. Bear in mind that as I type this, I have just finished playing the game, so its events should be fresh in my mind. But the game was so hard to make sense of - its storyline being revealed in fragmented chunks that adds to confusion already piled high with rambling diary entries which are close to incomprehensible - that I am honestly not sure what it was all about.

The actual gameplay does nothing to improve matters. The game consists of simple, generic "get object, do X with object" puzzles, unimaginative locations, and the usual case of handy objects lying about vital to the puzzles, and ONLY THOSE VITAL objects. Here's an example of a puzzle (spoilers abound). A length of rope and a piece of rope just happen to be lying on the ground as you come close to a pit which you have to scale down. Now I find myself in front of the pit. I can't see anything to tie the rope to. I try to tie the iron to the hook but it won't let me... I check the hints, and it says to bend the iron to make a hook (bear in mind the game gives no indication that you might need to hook the rope onto anything). So logically, I try to "bend hook". It won't let me. I try several various variations, and after some problems and walking about and looking in the generator, I see I need to "work iron" in the garden shed. So I now have a hook, and I try lots of variations on "tie hook to rope" but it still won't let me do it! By this point, I'm getting tired, so I look in the generator on final time, and see I need to type "tie rope to hook", not "tie hook to rope". Once this is done, just by holding it (not hooking it onto anything) I can manage to descend into the pit (where, to top it all off, a fire extinguisher is randomly waiting for me to put out a fire nearby). It's that kind of game, unfortunately.

After these kind of puzzles - another one involved a tree which although being dynamic and free to move about (the player really must be a tough man) can only be cut with an axe in one location, then used to make a canoe - the game is then damaged even further by lack of object and task implementation, and severe GTV as I have mentioned already.

The author (I am almost certain) is Spanish, but his English is actually quite good - there are few spelling errors, but a couple of grammatical ones. The writing has to be the best feature of this game - I'm not saying its good, but its passable. Okay, I'm being too harsh, the game is "passable", just not that good. The writing is often jumbled and ugly, but at times, it's pleasant.

This game is unconventional in the fact that it doesn't have a single winning command. The game only ends once you have read all the pages of your diary, measured by a nifty meter at the bottom of the Runner. Another interesting feature is the Karma-meter at the bottom, which just seems to be an alternate scoring method.

All in all, Tears of a Tough Man is not a terrible game. But it's not a good game. GTV, uninspiring puzzles, a confusing story, plain writing, and lack of interaction all add up to something which can't really contend in a competition such as this. I've heard the author say that he is aware this game isn't too good, but with comments, maybe he can improve it. My advice is DON'T. Spend your time on a better game, I think this one is a lost cause.

Sorry if this seemed harsh, but it's what I thought of the game. Hopefully the other entries will be better.

4/10




Edited By Woodfish on 1093556103
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Postby NObodyNOWHERE » Thu Aug 26, 2004 11:55 pm

Is it kosher to publish reviews of comp games before the end of the comp?
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Postby brucehum » Fri Aug 27, 2004 1:51 am

I am very thankful someone did! I couldn't wait until the end of the competition to get my 'adventure' reviewed. 4/10? well, lets be frank, I was expecting less... if the 'adventure' was fleshed, ok, 4/10 (or ** in a 5 star scoring, as was the objective) would be what I expected. How it is at the moment I was expecting 2 or 3...

When I said improve it, I meant add more tasks to avoid guess the verb... like your tie hook to rope (I programmed only "tie rope to hook" and "tie hook with rope"), never thought of the other version. You mention you tried to put the hook somewhere in cave, well, that was the original intention, and once again, never implemented. So, next time I need to put subtle hints at least for this kind of things. And include some useless objects... This is why I meant by fleshing or improving the game. The last rooms and tasks are just a skeleton. Talking about skeleton, there should have been a skeleton at the bottom of the pit, with broken hand fingers due to someone having stepped on his hand whilst he was holding for his life... but... ehem... the skeleton never made its appearance.

About the karma method, well, the original intention was to have 2 endings, one good and one bad according to karma, but, didn't manage to implement it.

Reading about your adventures with the tree made me laugh at myself... I thought that by making an object very heavy and big it couldn't be moved around! So instead of my usual restriction "if object X is visible to player" I used "if object X is in room..."

The ramblings in the diary, they where intentional... confusing... but seems I didn't express that as well as I hoped. They try to be the ramblings of a mad man. If the man is mad or not is left to the player to decide at the end. But probably it is too unclear.

I am thankful of the comments about the problems it has. It will allow me to avoid them in my next project... Well, except for the writting, which needs a lot more time to be improved (to be carefully written and re-written). The new project will be betatested some day in the far future (november-december, probably).

The main reason of 'completing' the game is as the half-finished thing is out in the public now, and it is mediocre/bad, at least be a completed mediocre thing, a bit more polished. It is too unpolished. But, of course, there is not much that can be improved. But, at least get rid of most GTV. And to implement a few tasks for the end part of the game, where there is nothing... well, except one or two tasks to allow the game to have an end.

Best wishes, Bruce Humphrey
http://www.humpsoft.com

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it."
--Mark Twain
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Postby davidw » Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:19 am

NObodyNOWHERE wrote:Is it kosher to publish reviews of comp games before the end of the comp?

I wouldn't have thought so. Reviews should be posted after the comp deadline so as not to influence anyone else's votes. Seeing a negative review of a game posted is likely to change the way other people vote.




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Postby Woodfish » Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:21 am

I looked at the rules on KF's site, and looked up the End of Year competition by mistake. Oops.
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Postby davidw » Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:25 am

Maybe you should delete the review and re-post it once the deadline is past.
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