IFComp 2017: A Castle of Thread   3 comments

By Marshal Tenner Winter. Finished on desktop using Gargoyle.

This parser game is technically standard-issue fantasy, but still has a cool premise: you are one of the few people who speak the obscure language Ixteesh, and due to your talents you have been invited (for mysterious regions) to the distant town of Badushizd.

Polt-
Don’t be a damn fool while you are away from the village. Remember, you are representing House Kober. Also, be sure to stay near Venkath Mock. He is there to protect you on this errand.
As for that, when you reach Badushizd, seek Deviah at the Vulgar Unicorn tavern. She is the go-between and will take you where you need to be.
Be swift in this task and return home safe, son.
-Headman Phandaal Kober

The opening has you on board a vessel bound for your destination when you find a note slipped under your door that says you are in danger.

This is ambitious: there’s all sorts of NPCs to interact with, including major action scenes where they try to kill you. Unfortunately, the technical demands here exceed the author’s capability; each NPC has only two or three things to say, and it’s fairly easy to run into issues that break the solidity of the world. (Get used to seeing “There is no reply.” quite a bit if you’re not using the walkthrough.) The puzzles are difficult enough that it’s unlikely a player will simply zero in on the right solutions, but there is very little helpful feedback when taking the wrong approach to things.

Even when you have the right solution the parser can be a struggle. Here’s two examples:

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You need to get water at one point from a sink to put out a fire. You have an empty jar. Various actions like “fill jar” and “put jar in sink” don’t work. “Take water” claims you don’t have a container. It turns out you need a bottle from a completely different room as a container.

Then, to extinguish the fire: “throw water” doesn’t work. “Extinguish fire” doesn’t work. “Pour water” doesn’t work. “Throw bottle” (which is the command given in the walkthrough!) doesn’t work. Only “throw bottle at fire” works.

There’s a bit later where you need to translate Ixteesh words on a rock. “Translate” doesn’t work. “Decipher rock” doesn’t work. Only “decipher words” works.

It’s possible if all of these types of issues are cleared up and the NPCs are made a little more conversational this might turn into a solid game. The interaction kept getting in the way so often I wasn’t able to focus much on the story. I really do appreciate the ambitious ideas; it’s too easy to make yet another adventure with sterile environments that have no characters or characters that serve as mere information-dispensers, but this game needs at least another two weeks of shake-down testing to be play-worthy.

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Posted November 6, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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3 responses to “IFComp 2017: A Castle of Thread

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  1. Thanks for the review!

    Marshal Tenner Winter
  2. Pingback: IFComp 2017: Summary and Mini-Reviews | Renga in Blue

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