IFComp 2007: A Fine Day For Reaping   1 comment

I started playing A Fine Day For Reaping using Agility, but switched to the ADRIFT Runner when I was worried about a compatability problem.

“Ith your name Ernetht Buthet?” you intone.

Thomas Brewer looks at you blankly. It’s hard enough for a man to be on the verge of humanity’s greatest scientific breakthrough and then to suddenly be confronted with the possibility that he might be dead, let alone to find that the Gatekeeper of the Afterlife has a speech impediment.

The writing in this game is brilliant enough I could recommend it to everyone. This is true even though there’s a giant list of implementation headaches. Here is a sampling:

  • The hints specify noticing something in Death’s diaries. The diaries are in the “read a random entry” format that requires reading repeatedly to check every entry. I checked (I am not exaggerating) 100 times and couldn’t find the entry that I needed. I had a guess that it might be a problem with Agility, so I switched to ADRIFT Runner and came up with the right diary entry very quickly. I then switched back to Agility and it took me only 25 times before I found it. Moral: if something depends on the random number generator triggering, at least one player is going to never trigger it.
  • Related to that, there’s a old-Sierra-game setup where you have to enter a location repeatedly to (randomly) trigger a certain encounter. This is bad form for the reason I mention above. What makes it worse is in the same location you can randomly trigger a second encounter — what player would even think the encounter is there?
  • Exits: North, South, East and West. >GO WEST You can’t go in that direction, but you can go north, east and south. (It turns out there is a locked door, but the message is misleading enough to make me wonder if the direction was bugged and unenterable.)
  • Which uniform do you mean, the uniform or the military uniform? (I had to drop the military uniform in a different room to examine the uniform.)
  • There’s an inventory limit. (It’s not even a realistic inventory limit — you can carry a whole bundle of items before the game arbitrarily decides you can’t fit one more.)
  • There’s an item I could only get to work with the verb USE. If the player has to be as vague as USE, something has failed in the verb implementation.
  • There’s an item you supposedly can’t pick up until you really need it for a particular puzzle. (This is bad enough in itself.) However, in my case even though I had the proper setup and all the correct items I *still* couldn’t pick the item up. Later, I worked it out: you don’t ever pick up the item, you just do the ATTACH verb to solve the puzzle. The problem is, this verb in other locations gives you the message “That didn’t make any sense to me.” In other words, the game pretends the verb doesn’t exist at all.

Still, I’m willing to forgive all that, because:

  • An alternate solution to one of the puzzles is so astonishing I’m still giggling about it. (In the walkthrough, it’s the second solution to the Kenya puzzle.)
  • There’s the occasional moment that just glistens. The humor crosses with the seriousness of death and something new is formed.
  • The ending is one of the best I’ve seen in any IF game.
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Posted October 20, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

One response to “IFComp 2007: A Fine Day For Reaping

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  1. Pingback: Adventure 500: RNG | Renga in Blue

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