IF Comp ’09 – Almost Halfway Mark’s Scoring Bonanzathon!

October 12, 2009

I haven’t been scoring these as I go, and I feel I should get some numbers on them before my opinions get too mixed in with other people’s.  I’ll try to keep these relatively spoiler-free, but scores themselves can be considered spoilers if you’d rather have no prior knowledge, so you might prefer to save these until you’ve played all of these games yourself.

Games being given scores after the jump:  Trap Cave, Yon Astounding Castle, Star Hunter, Gleaming the Verb, Condemned, Rover’s Day Out, The Ascot, The Hangover, Beta Tester, GATOR-ON!, and The Grand Quest.

I will be eating delicious squiddies while scoring these games, so if you’re wondering why something dreadful got a seven, you may assume I was merely blissed out on kosher beef franks and five-cheese spaghetti sauce, which Riff refuses to accept is fundamentally any better than three- or four- cheese spaghetti sauce even though it has more different cheese in it.

Oh, and my scores tend to skew a bit high at the end of the day, in inverse proportion to my angry-epithet-per-sentence ratio.  I try not to blow my wad on tens, but I have yet to see a game I could look in the face and give a one to.  I figure I am probably balancing out someone somewhere who makes games jump through flaming hoops backwards for a lousy eight, so it should be all right.  I’m hoping.

[spoilers begin here]

Trap Cave (no score):  Ich könnte dieses nicht zählen. Er war auf Deutsch.

Yon Astounding Castle (7):  I feel I may not have given this one as much play as it deserved, because the ye thing drove me nuts.  It was a pretty solid little old-school puzzler with a decent amount of implementation, and it was sort of funny in places, but man, the ye thing was a poor design choice, and you should take that seven before I change my mind.

Star Hunter (3):  I didn’t play this one for very long either, but I don’t feel it deserved very much more.  Its few actually-implemented objects were spread over way too many rooms, there was little to no direction or story or worldbuilding, and I was bored.  Super bored.  I simply can not forgive it for being so boring after billing itself as a game where you hunt treasure in space.

Gleaming the Verb (4):  This game wasn’t bad, per se, it was just so… tiny, with almost nothing beyond its central puzzle.  The puzzle itself was not bad, but, I mean, put a game around it next time, or at least fake it a little.

Condemned (6):  I would probably give this game an eight, definitely at least a seven, but it fucked my shit up hardcore for two full days; we are talking two whole days of “everything is terrible and I’m not opening this cabinet because there’s no guarantee it isn’t full of severed heads,” so I feel I’m allowed to dock it some points.  Granted, my particular blend of easily-triggered crazy isn’t the game’s fault, but it’s not fun, either, and I’m probably just going to avoid Mark Jones games in the future.  Other than that, though, I liked it.  Not even kidding.

Rover’s Day Out (9):  This one’s my favorite so far.  It had some ish and lost some steam, but I liked the first half and the overall concept so much that it still averages out to a nine.

The Ascot (6):  This has “first game” written all over it, but the decision to make it a CYOA instead of an underimplemented standard IF, thus camouflaging the lazy implementation, was actually a good one, and its heart is in a charmingly goofy place.  I would play a longer piece by the same author any day.

The Hangover (2):  This game had everything going for it except for everything.  Two.  Just two.  I can’t imagine this not being a first game, and the author must be very young, so here is my advice:  don’t stop making IF games, just stop submitting them to competitions until they’re actually ready to be there.  Oh, and get some friggin’ testers already.  Yeesh.  And learn what the singular form of “women” is.  And um experience some life.

Beta Tester (5):  A completely different kind of first game from the previous two, this one, like The Ascot, shows some promise.  You’ve shown that you can do stuff, now do something cohesive, with like a story and a series of logical actions and a consistent world.  It’ll be fun!

GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands! (5):  Way too many rooms.  Way way way too many rooms.  Seriously.  Way too many rooms.  I liked that one puzzle, and I fricking loved the end bit, but I was very close to giving up before I got there.

The Grand Quest (4):  Eh.  It was all right.  With a good integrated hint system, I would have been more likely to attempt the puzzles myself, and probably would have enjoyed the game more.  Also, a couple of the puzzles are sort of bullshit, and one that might have been fun was sort of ruined through sub-ideal implementation.  Would get a five, if it weren’t sort of lacking in joie de vivre.  Would probably have gotten a six, if it’d had a hint system.  Have I mentioned yet how much I wish this game had a hint system?

Is that it?  Man.  I need to play more games.



  1. For a moment — well, until I read all the way to the jump — I thought some dude named Almost Halfway Mark had written a game called Scoring Bonanzathon!

    It’d be a game like Achievement Unlocked (if you play online games). You’d get points for something simple like taking your inventory. It either would be pretty cool or absolutely unbearable.

    • I would play the shit out of that. Someone get Almost Halfway Mark on the line!

      • Hrm. If you’ll be Almost Half, maybe I’ll be Way Mark.

  2. I’m at least somewhat serious — I have some ideas for this game, but I’ve done no IF programming beyond a little thing to simulate moving a big couch with another person. It’d be important that the game be actually funny and not suck. You’re funny and you care about games not sucking, so if you would like to write this game together, at a very leisurely pace, drop me a line. (My e-mail shows up with my comment, right?)

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