IFComp 2015: Second Story   1 comment

By Fred Snyder. Completed. First attempted on iPhone, then played on computer with Firefox browser. Used walkthrough once to overcome a parser issue.


Hector smirks. “I seem to remember you were an okay second-story man.”

“I was never a man.”

“You know what I mean, lady. You wanna see your brother again, you got a job to do. The workprint for your brother. What do you say?”

Second Story is a parser game with a web interface. (See: Gamefic.) It doesn’t work on iPhone (“‘Examine’ is not a verb I recognize.”) so I switched to computer.

The interface does one nice trick with menus: they are displayed as a popup and you can click on the option you want with your mouse.

secondmenuinterface

You play a retired thief who gets pulled in for one last job.

Unfortunately, the parser isn’t as powerful as the typical Inform/Tads/Hugo game. >EXAMINE BED in the protagonist’s apartment gave me a blank response, and “get” is unrecognized as a verb (I had to use “take”). There are also a fair number of unrecognized nouns.

There’s very little character to the room descriptions. After a scene with distracting a guard and breaking in a room, the player is rewarded with:

A windowless room with a desk. Suitable for student conferences and not much else.

You carefully shut the door behind you.

All the lengthy prose is reserved for the “cutscenes” with conversation; this drains out the atmosphere.

The puzzles were straightforward (simplistic, even) until I reached a point I needed to use a ladder to progress, and I could not figure out the appropriate phrasing to place the ladder where I wanted. After about 15 minutes of struggle I resorted to the walkthrough.

There was a clever trick at the end with ensuring a safe ransom exchange, but the verb problems and minimalist prose had yanked me out of the story’s reality enough by that point I didn’t really get to appreciate it. It feels like author made some dialogue cutscenes and built a world around it, rather than the other way around, leading a flat parser experience.

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Posted October 2, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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  1. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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