IFComp 2014: Transparent   2 comments

> flash
The camera flash reveals, for an instant, a pale arm reaching out of the dirt.

Transparent by Hanon Ondricek is a parser game that involves exploring a manor while wielding a camera. There is supposed to be a second unit helping take photographs, but they seem to have gone missing.

Exploration games live and breathe on their words, but the room descriptions here were pretty dry:

Elevated Window Passage
This high walkway extends the length of the entire east wing of the house. Tall leaded windows alternate with wall niches where various statues stand out of the way of passers-by opposite columns choked with thick vines and foliage spilling off of the roof that mostly blocks the view of the courtyard. The manor entryway is west, and and the tile walkway eventually drops off down a set of stone steps to the east.

Marble statues reside in recessed niches between four windows along the front of the house: a soldier, a male statue and a female statue.

This is the sort of prose I have a hard time reading. Everything is mere straight description; any kind of beauty or elegance or loneliness or horror is not conveyed. Oftentimes I ignored the description altogether and just tested north/east/west/south to find the exits rather than go through the effort of pecking through the description trying to find them.

The camera mechanic was pretty neat: you specify what to shoot and it gets saved on the camera. Sometimes after a picture there’s a “tingly sensation” meaning that there’s more to the picture than apparent to the visible eye. If you choose a straightforward ending where you return and get paid for your pictures, there are bonuses for unusualness and quality.

According to the (admittedly snazzy) hint booklet, there are three more in-depth endings involving the mystery of the missing unit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the main power for the house until the very end of my 2 hours of judging time. Hence, I wasn’t able to get farther than the “interesting photo sim” portion of the game.

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The directions to the circuit box given on a note in the Foyer Gallery were straightforward, but using the camera flash resulted in seeing everything but a circuit box. I presumed (after a few incorrect noun guesses) there was no box there and I had the wrong location. It turns out you are supposed to OPEN CIRCUIT BOX even though the PC cannot see a circuit box there and somehow it works anyway.

I’d very much like to return to this game after the competition with the luxury of time, and perhaps a more thorough set of hints.

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Posted October 28, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “IFComp 2014: Transparent

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  1. I ran into a bug where after restoring power and turning on the lights, turning off the flashlight irrevocably plunged everything into darkness.

  2. …oh hang on, no, it wasn’t the flashlight, it was that there wasn’t a transition/message for the power going out again. RIP me.

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