IF Comp ’08 Review – xyzzyman’s The Lighthouse!

October 5, 2008

The first thing I’m going to do is to check and see if xyzzy’s been implemented, and if it hasn’t, I’m docking this game half its marks. Let’s get right up in there.

[spoilers are not healthy for children or other living things but they do begin here]

Dude, we’re switching verb tenses already, and I haven’t even typed anything yet. That is not the best sign. On first impression this game reminds me of freshman English class, and how the bitter tweedy man they paid not nearly enough to teach us godless reprobates would write on the board things like:

You walk up to the lighthouse. It’s large wooden frame creaking in the wind.

“How many errors do you see, oh banes of my existence?”
“Very good, you little shits. I might not have to eviscerate myself today.”

Oh, right, I was going to check xyzzy. Let’s do that.

> xyzzy
That’s not a verb I recognise.

Seriously? You are the goddamn xyzzyman! Man made outta pure xyzzy! That’s like getting your name wrong on the freaking SATs! Half marks! Half marks and no cookie!

There are three things listed in the room description, all of them are doors, and I can see nothing special about any of them when I examine them. Starting to think this game was written in the space of a lunch break via text messages and semaphore. Time to start looking for something that does anything.

Okay, excellent, GO THROUGH WOODEN DOOR works, ‘cause there don’t seem to be any directions, not even custom ones like my friend Velvet’s clever four-directional system of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and up.

Nothing seems to have a description, either. I am not going to bother examining things anymore.

> go through iron door
You can’t, since the iron door is in the way.

Waitwha- oh, I forgot to open it! Still, that is a weird and I very much suspect default way to phrase that. Also, since we are in this kinder gentler age of interactive fiction as opposed to text adventures, I would like to see automatic door-opening become standard. Most of the time in real life I find myself opening a door and going through it in one fluid gazelle-like motion that causes men to swoon and women to drop their handbags, and I see no reason it should not be this way in IF as well, except, I suppose, the women would get tired of constantly typing TAKE HANDBAG.

> climb stairs
I don’t think much is to be achieved by that.

You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll just go up, then, shall I? Right-o!

Oh wow. Okay. If no one minds, I’m just going to throw in another spoiler warning and copy-paste the ending of the game verbatim and comment-free, because it is hilarious. If you have not yet played The Lighthouse and would rather discover it for yourself, the time is now. It shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

Also I think I’ve played enough games now that I can start thinking about numerical scores. This game would get a two, one point for existing and one extra because at least the doors and keys all worked, except I already took half marks for no xyzzy, so it gets… it still gets a two.

Note to the author: I’m assuming you’re quite young, younger than xyzzy itself, and that this is your first attempt. Next time you submit a game I would like to see actual things in it, preferably with descriptions. Thank you.



You push the button. Silently the giant light inside the room comes flashing on. The light is so great that it knocks you out. You fall to the floor. Silence.

You Win!

***THE END***

Update: Oh. I’d been reading this as “the light falls on you, you are knocked to the floor, you win.” It was very funny when misread that way. Some of the funny has gone out of my life now. Isn’t that sad?

Second update:  I think I’ve identified the problem!  Someone found xyzzyman’s blog, which, completely apart from reminding me of Phillippe from Achewood, contained these words:

Yes, back in the 70s and 80s text games were the standard in computer entertainment but over the many years text games have gained a lot of ground and have become much more sophisticated. People now can make better text phasers and a person can sit on his/her computer for a couple of hours and finish a short text game!

Except it’s probably not going to be very good!  Also I am thinking now that this game is about God.


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