Spring Thing ’09 – Richard Otter’s Vague!April 4, 2009
This year’s Spring Thing features four games: A Flustered Duck, the Milk of Paradise, Realm of Obsidian, and Vague. I’m starting with Vague because it’s a word I you-know with. Thinger. Identify.
But first, without further ado, the RSS buffer (yay!):
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Also I’m starting to think there’s something seriously wrong with Babelfish you guys.
[spoilers begin here]
With amnesia it is quite possible to have a complete or partial loss of memory, but this isn’t like that.
I had heard that a complete or partial loss of memory often accompanies amnesia, yes.
It is not that you can’t remember who you are or anything about your life, you have no thoughts what-so-ever. Your mind is totally blank, as if it has been completely wiped clean. You have no personality, no memories, no feelings; nothing. It is almost as if you do not actually exist and are just an empty shell.
There is a modest but spirited debate over whether it’s better to present the player with a fully realized PC or to let them create their own, but I’ve never seen the issue just plain skipped before, and I’m not sure yet how to feel about it.
You are also not wearing any clothes, but far form being worried by your own nakedness you have no thoughts about it at all. It is just part of the nothingness.
A typo in the introduction does not instill confidence that a game was thoroughly tested.
How did you arrive? You do not know. Where did you travel from? You do not know. What do you need to achieve? You have no idea, no idea at all.
This is my usual state at the beginning of a game actually.
Yet more badly written interactive fiction or does it all have some meaning?
Wow, breaking the fourth wall to self-deprecate. Believe in yourself, Richard Otter! If you’ve made a game you’re happy with, and other people don’t like it, that’s their deal. If you haven’t made a game you’re happy with, don’t release it until you do like it. It sounds like you’re saying “I think it’s got some meaning, at least, I meant to put some in there, but I’m worried it’s going to get just absolutely slammed.” Also, why are you asking me? I haven’t even started playing it yet.
Let’s do that now!
A trainspotter dressed in wet weather gear is watching you.
I must be a train, then. Mystery solved! Time to go home!
Oh, wow, there’s some sort of auto-complete happening when I type things. Is that an ADRIFT deal?
Oh, wow, I also get a little right-click-style menu when I click on “drunk” with potential actions I could take involving the drunk! Schmexy!
> ask drunk about me
Leave him alone, he is a sleep. He may also have been drinking.
Drinking? The drunk? I suppose it’s possible, sure…
> take pencil
Taking the pencil shakes a memory loose. You are Charles Glass, a salesman with a stationary company. You are trying to find someone called David Tailer and need to get to a place called Grantby by train. Could any of this be true?
Wow, that was a lot of memory for one pencil! Also, minor nitpick, the stuff people write letters on is stationery, with an E. A stationary company would be one that doesn’t move around, making it much easier to go into work every day but much harder to call in lost.
> x magazine
The cover article is about Interactive Fiction, with the details of an author called Richard Otter-
Oooh, the new issue of Shameless Plug magazine? I love Shameless Plug! And so do the good people at Pepsi!
There seems to be a lighthouse west of this train station. How unusual. I wonder if this one will have descriptions?*
You do not recognise the individual but feel it could be the soul of Tosh Graham, one of the keepers at the lighthouse. Although you have no memory of any lighthouse or the names of the keepers.
Why do I get the feeling I’m being deliberately difficult with this amnesia bidniss?
It is your trusty rucksack, which has been with you on many a fishing trip. Not that you remember fishing trips.
See, this is exactly the kind of shit I’m talking about!
On the leaflet is written, “We Are Coming To Get You! As a small germ your instinct is to infect. Why fight your instincts!”
Well, that’s an odd thing to be written on a leaflet.
> infect drunk
I don’t understand what you want to do with Drunk.
I want to infect him! As is my instinct as a small germ! Right? No?
There’s a lot to make fun of in the individual sentences of this game, but I’m having fun with its gimmick, that every room is somewhere completely different and I am someone different in all of them, yet they are all somehow connected. Also, huh, I am apparently naked and male. I’ve always thought that if I found myself in this position I would run around hitting things with my penis, but I doubt that’s been implemented.
> infect tonsils
They are now infected!
You can hear the germs cheering.
Whoo I got to infect something! I like this game.
Should I be worried that I am a senior technician in the engineering team for these teleporter thingies and I do not fully understand the science behind them? Am I the one in charge of making them yellow?
Someone has scratched, “Unauthorized Termination by Richard Otter was garbage”, into the side of the crate.
What is the world coming to, that a person isn’t even safe from negative criticism in their very own game?
The lab assistant tells me this location is from the game Pestilence, and is adamant that it be written down on something. Write down what exactly, and how? I have both a pencil and a pen, you know. And a mansion and a yacht.
I wouldn’t be naked if the game would let me wear these overalls, you know. I’m just saying.
So, wait a minute, these are all locations from previous Richard Otter games? No wonder Shameless Plug magazine did a feature on him!
I feel rather bad about this, but I’m stabbing that tramp. Sorry, tramp.
Oh, apparently I need the right weapon to kill the tramp. After I fail to take his life he asks me if I’m up here to look at the air conditioning. Yes. I’m up here to look at the air conditioning. Hold still.
…why tell me I can go north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, and down if I can only really go down?
Although the beast is quite obviously dead, it appears to be watching you. In fact you are pretty sure it is alive.
Make up your damn mind, me!
The sight of the germs jogs a thought in your memory. You remember that it really is fun being a germ.
So far infecting those tonsils has been the funnest part of this whole game. I was all “HEY TONSILS GET THIS” and they were all “Oh no now we are infected” and I was all “Score!” It was a lot like a Kate Beaton comic really. I wonder if she’d draw me a sausage if I asked nicely?
Richard Otter is very fond of exact measurements. I generally assume a thing is going to be about thing-sized, and if it is larger or smaller it will tell me. Not that he can’t provide numbers with little Ms after them but man are they wasted on me.
Hopeful that you will gain more information from him you comment, “This place makes no sense, no sense at all”.
Not really listening he replies, “Yep, sounds like a typical game written by him”.
Richard Otter is self-deprecating again, Mommy. Make it stop!
Wow, that poor Tarc beast was only keeping itself alive until it could verify I knew which game it was from. How sad!
Oh, I see, I needed to complete some tasks before getting the things I needed to complete some others.
Oh no, the cat died!
What does “the mobile phone part of town” even mean? Also, if I were being paid to kill someone, I think I’d insist on seeing a photograph of them. I would not want to make that mistake again.
Okay, I’ve completed ten tasks out of ten. Where is my ticker-tape parade?
Ah, had to go back to the station. And now I have a ticket to ride a train and I’m riding a train and oh, it turns out this whole time I was a person playing a game and someone behind me has made me dinner. I am going to inform Riff that he needs to make me dinner now as my reward for finishing this game.
For other games by the same author visit http://www.delron.org.uk
I think I’ve just played every other game by the same author in a handy condensed format! I might need to pick up that one where you’re a germ and you infect things, though.
Final verdict: silly. And shameless. Honestly, though, I found it sort of entertaining, in the same way a children’s placemat at a chain restaurant is sort of entertaining (hey, kids! Help Richard the otter navigate through his back catalog of interactive fiction! Crayons provided!) Also, I’m bemused by its very existence, which is always something, right?
Watch this space for some sort of score once I’ve played everything else.
…wait, why did the cat have to die?
* This is a reference to the 2008 IF Comp entry The Lighthouse, for those of you joining us from space. It didn’t have descriptions. Many people thought perhaps it should have. My review of it is here.