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IF Comp ’09 – Chris K.’s Star Hunter!

October 3, 2009

As I said before, I like gathering treasure, and I like doing it in space.  Another thing I like is playing the same games Riff has so I can read his blog, and he’s already played Star Hunter.  I didn’t read his review, but I read as far as the pre-spoiler buffer, which is a picture of a donkey’s head exploding.  “That’s gross,” I said.  “You’re gross.”  He claims that not every pre-spoiler buffer will be a picture of a donkey’s head exploding, and that the donkey had to be put down anyway because it had some sort of donkey medical condition, and that having your head blown up with dynamite would be a pretty good way to go, all things considered, but still. Poor donkey.

I try not to put much stock in gender stereotypes, because I think they’re gross too, but I simply cannot imagine a group of females saying “Well, we’ve now got the technology to take really high-speed photos, what should we use it for?”  “Let’s blow something up!”  “Like what?”  “Oh, man, let’s explode a fucking donkey’s fucking head.  With dynamite.” “Oh, dude, I’ve totally got a sick donkey.  Let’s do this shit.”

Anyway!  Star Hunter!

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: This game reminded me a lot of last year’s Ananachronist, in that both took an exciting premise and diluted the shit out of it with sparse implementation and a lack of any clearly presented goals or motives (like, I dunno, what the fuck you’re supposed to be doing).  I got a weird sense from both of them that there was a really cool game happening in the author’s head; he just hadn’t written all of it.  Not unfinished, more like only hearing one side of a telephone conversation, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, I didn’t care for it much, and it’s got at least one real douchebag moment (implementing a climbable tree for no other reason than to mock you for having climbed it – man, Riff’s not even that much of a dick), so I’m probably going to score it one point lower than whatever Ananachronist got.  Out of spite.  Spite and grrr.  Grrrrrr.

This seems like a good enough time to go on a rant about something I like to see in games, namely density.  Rooms are like babies.  Well, they’re not much like babies.  Mainly what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t go cavorting around your editing software impregnating women with rooms and then abandoning them before they even have their tiny fetus teeth.  Wow, what a terrible analogy.  Actually, maybe it’s not the best time for this rant after all.

[spoilers begin here]

>x gizmo
This metallic device is small enough to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.  It can be pushed like a button.
I have a gizmo!  Let’s push it!
> push gizmo
Nothing happens.  What were you expecting?
…something?

Not a lot in the way of room descriptions here.  I get that it’s just a corridor, but is it cramped?  Rusty?  Brightly lit?  Four lanes wide and lined with sentient fruit trees?  I like to know this shit.

Oooh, I trial-and-errored my way onto the surface of a planet!  That’s sort of exciting!

The camp itself is to the east, and a prominent hill rises a little way to the south.
> x hill
You can’t see any such thing.
Apparently the hill is not quite prominent enough.  Also, people are going to try to look at every noun mentioned in the room description, and if it’s not there when they do, they tend to shake their heads sadly, click their little tongues, and dock your game points for lack of polish.  (Of course, they don’t generally get excited and give your game points when something they try to look at is there.  This is because people are bitches.)  Anyway, it’s a good idea to go through your game and implement all the nouns mentioned in room descriptions, is what I’m getting at here.

In the Nylon tent you can see a Stat chip.
> take chip
(the Baza chip)
You already have that.
Holy wow that’s annoying.

I would like to mention here that I do not feel as though I’m hunting treasure in space.  I feel as though I’m walking around sparsely implemented areas finding components for puzzles I have yet to encounter while the parser does battle with my rapidly diminishing goodwill.  That is, like, the opposite of hunting treasure in space.  How disappointing.

A large plant, treelike, sprouts up out of the dusty ground right here.  Though clearly dead, its trunk and branches seem to still be quite sturdy and it can probably be climbed.
> climb tree
You’re sitting perched up a dead mesquite tree.  Are we feeling at all foolish yet?
…are you just being a dick?

Rocks have been set up as bench seats, and a few scattered tools are in evidence.
> x tools
You can’t see any such thing.
Oops, I made the mistake of thinking the fundamental importance of the word “tools” (especially in a game like this, where you’re gathering mechanical-type shit to use on other mechanical-type shit) overrode the uselessness of the room descriptions and the non-existence of any noun therein.  Guess I know better now!

Oh, man, one more, just for fun:
From this lookout point, you can enjoy a great view of a treacherous rocky canyon.
> x canyon
You can’t see any such thing.

Hmm, to get back to the ship, I have to push the gizmo.  Good thing I picked it up, then – not that it isn’t standard practice to pick up everything you possibly can, and the thing was in the very first room, but still, the potential of an unwinnable state propels my scrotum.

> put tape in receptacle
That can’t contain things.
THEN IT’S HARDLY A VERY GOOD RECEPTACLE NOW IS IT

Okay, a cheerful voice just told me my course was locked in.  Now what?  Am I supposed to go back to the teleporter room, or do something else with this console thing, or what?  I am bored and confused.  This is nothing like hunting treasure in space.  There’s not even any indication that this tape I found on Boring Underimplemented Planet is going to lead me to treasure in space.

Man.  Disappointing.

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