IFComp 2007: A Matter of Importance   3 comments

This review is a two-parter: first I give a general review without spoilers, and then after some space I comment on one puzzle and specifics of the ending.

On the other hand, selling you out to the police, as Ms. Touchmeenaught did (sure it was her – who else could?), is against any rules – official or unofficial, and cleaning out her uncle’s shop would be an act of just vengeance. And imagine the face Alice would pull if you succeeded! Away with all doubts – you’re gonna do it.

The gimmick here is that the main character is good at pulling out what is important or unimportant to his mission by sheer intuition. This is essentially a variation on the “that’s not important” message on scenery objects, except the objects are genuinely implemented and the PC simply knows not to bother. There is, for example, a garbage bin, which in any other game would contain a hidden item — or perhaps more than one, and it’d take multiple EXAMINE commands to find them. A Matter of Importance dismisses the can as irrelevant and if you try to examine it anyway it tells you “You’re not a tramp!”

I enjoyed the trick here because it was reasonable to assume a thief would have developed a good sense of what to focus on in a room with 500 objects. I am uncertain it would work as well in general; the constant admonishing to avoid touching certain objects might get irritating.

The writing is top-notch, although the characters who show up near the end could have used a little more development. I don’t see how that could be fit in though — perhaps it’s merely the limits of the IF short story.

(Spoilers for the end are below, as well as the one puzzle I got frustrated with. Don’t go on if you want to find out the ending for yourself!)

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The betrayal at the end, while theatrical, was meaningless in terms of character — I barely remember Fogby existed at that point. The only way I can think of to add any emotional tug to the event would be to include some previous adventure with Fogby-as-friend, and then another scene which would become in retrospect the turning point for the relationship. Alas, this would make the game push long past the 2 hour limit.

The absurdly hard puzzle (for me) was UNTIE LACES. One could claim examining the PC’s shoes gives a sufficient hint, but because the the shoes were at a second level (only seen in the inventory after examining the clothes) I didn’t realize that I *could* examine them. Also, examining a second level into a description seems to be the antithesis of clearly distinguishing items as important or unimportant.

An easy fix to this would be to list the clothes individually in the inventory (as is traditionally done when clothes are used in a puzzle).

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Posted November 1, 2007 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

3 responses to “IFComp 2007: A Matter of Importance

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  1. There is actually a solution that avoids the boy altogether. Once you obtain the broom, push the block out from under the truck that’s northeast of the fountain. It’ll roll into the wall, providing a secondary way in.

    And no — even though this occurred to me at the time (although without knowing what the result would be), I didn’t even try. Once I got the broom, I got the ball, then proceeded into the kick-off with the kid. And I got stuck on the same puzzle too.

    Did you notice that the kid accuses you of using hints when you untie the laces? I tried again by undo’ing out of it, and if you *don’t* get hints, he doesn’t. Simple, but pretty slick.

  2. Hey, it’s another occurance of the rule Baf came up with: if there’s two solutions to a puzzle, the more obscure one will be the one given in the hints.

  3. Ha — I hadn’t seen that rule! Nice.

    Actually, though, the solution with the truck is in the hints too, once you’ve been behind the building. Then it appears as “what do I do with the truck?” or something similar. I tried it a bit ago (which is how I figured it out) — but if you haven’t gone back there to find the truck, it won’t show up. Maybe that’s what it was.

    I also remember Fogby being mentioned several times — including when I tried to swim in the fountain (I think). I had a better sense of who he was by the end, so maybe it depends on some specific optional actions. Dunno!

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