CGDC #7 – Kevin Mintmier’s Containment!February 4, 2010
Oh, man, where to start? Gonna save the Jim Munroe game for near the end… why does Drama Queen 7 sport a vaguely Amish-looking man with an umbrella as its picture? The blurb for Paint is amusing (“Destroy a painting and save lives!”) I Expect You To Die makes me giggle just, y’know, as a phrase. Party Foul looks promising. Hmm, here’s one by that guy who did The Grand Quest. No shit, Stephen Granade? I thought he was a myth to frighten children with. (“Eat your vegetables or Stephen Granade will explode your skull with his bare hands! No, I don’t actually know anything about Stephen Granade with which to have made that a funny joke instead of a mere absurdist reference to his picture on IFwiki! Shut up and eat your goddamned vegetables!”)
(He does look like a dude what could explode a skull if you put it in there, though. I would be all “am I right?’ but frankly I feel no need to pose a question you’re just going to answer yes to. What the hell was I talking about?)
Oh, huh, here’s one about somebody who works the night shift and takes lots of naps. I can relate to that.
[spoilers begin here]
So, okay, full disclosure, I used to work night shift and take lots of naps. At a hotel. I did not do this at a nuclear reactor, unlike the star of this game. I feel better about myself already. Thanks, game!
Looks like a puzzler… I should get used to saying that probably. This is a fricking interactive fiction contest with “escape” as the theme; I’m sure I’m in for a lot of puzzlers. Which is fine. I like having loud opinions about puzzle design.
PUZZLE DESIGN IS A BUCKET
Oh, right, nuclear reactor about to whatever the fuck it is they do. Should investigate my options. Oh good, a map. Hmm. I could go east and fuck around with ladders and shafts and something called “feedwater,” or I could go west to the staff parking lot and get the hell out of here. How much you want to bet that second one isn’t really an option?
Oh, if I do that one, thousands of people die. Now I feel bad. Feedwater it is then.
> x roster
Apparently only you and a maintenance tech named “Jones” are on duty tonight.
I wonder if “Jones” is hot. This is no time to be wondering whether “Jones” is hot. This is no time to be thinking about post-barely-averted-nuclear-incident relief sex. We can think about that once we’ve barely averted nuclear incident.
You can’t open this door. Something is very wrong here — your security badge should provide unrestricted access to all areas of the facility. Perhaps a closer look at the door is in order.
> x door
You aren’t yet sure what lies beyond this nondescript door. Maybe you can find a map.
Um. Okay. I guess this is the sort of door you can’t examine to find out why it’s not opening unless you’ve looked at a map. I remember these being everywhere in the 90s. (“What’s up with this door? I need a froyo dammit!” “Here, look at this map!” Also, remember slap bracelets? Those were awesome.)
Okay, I give up, game, what’s up with this door? I’ve tried looking at it, but all you’re telling me is that the failsafe mechanism lies behind it and that I am severely fucked because I can’t open it. What I would expect in this situation goes more like this:
Perhaps a closer look at the door is in order.
> x door
It’s broken because blah and you’re totally gonna need like a bleurgh.
> thanks game
Do not even sweat it.
Fortunately, I have more rooms to screw around finding things in. Oh, hey, an unlubricated toolbox! That’s dirty for at least three different reasons!
A vertical column of three lights is mounted on the wall at eye-level.
There are four lights! (Hey, am I allowed to reference that? I’ve never actually seen the episode.)
There the hatches to your east and west.
Also there the typo. Destroy a painting! Touch not a fruit!
What does “fate has conspired to place high demands on survival” even mean? I think it’s going for “fate has conspired to make survival especially hard,” but it’s sort of confusing. “Fate has conspired” is probably a phrase you want to be sort of careful with in general, as it’s giggle-inducingly dramatic in many contexts, to say nothing of raising the question as to whom fate is conspiring with exactly.
For geographical tightness, you could eliminate the empty ladder room and just have the player travel directly from the catwalk to the bottom of the (*snicker*) shaft, unless there’s something I haven’t seen yet that makes its existence necessary. (It’s really hard in IF not to make more rooms than you need, and going back through to make sure each one has a genuine purpose helps keep your game nice and tight like a horrible innuendo I’m not even going to make.)
Okay, I keep getting hurry-up messages, but I don’t think the game is actually timed. This is fine by me, because holy crap do timed puzzles make me nervous. They are sort of invaluable for creating a real sense of urgency, but I think they’re generally best used in short bursts for fairly simple things (see The Duel That Spanned the Ages.) Unless you’re doing the IF version of Majora’s Mask or something. Actually I would play the shit out of that; that sounds awesome.
You open the rusty toolbox, revealing a wrench.
I love that when toolboxes only contain one tool, it’s the only tool you’re going to need. Never do you and a thousand other people die horrible deaths because a toolbox only yielded a screwdriver when what you needed was a sledgehammer. Hmm, if you and a thousand other people all die in a nuclear explosion, is it considered to be a single death or do you all still get your own? What do the grammarians think?
(first opening the east hatch)
That’s a tad janky. Probably best to differentiate these hatches without referencing their direction, if you’re expecting people to be stupid enough to try to walk through them from another direction even though there isn’t any floor and they’ll fucking die what the fuck were they thinking. (Rule of thumb: always expect this.)
One end of the rope is permanently attached to the wall.
I was really hoping to be able to cut this rope. Then I was going to scream “WHERE IS YOUR PERMANENTLY NOW, MOTHERFUCKERS?” It was going to be awesome. Stupid toolbox, not having a knife in it. What’s this rope for, anyway?
Man I suck at water-level puzzles. I turn the thing, and the other thing, and the thing goes there, so I can turn the third thing, and then what? Huh?
Oh for fuck’s sake. This should be easy. There’s even a little light panel near each valve to tell you what the water level is. Maybe I should write this down.
Um. Shit. Did I break these valves? I can’t seem to get the water level higher than 1. Lemme restart.
Oh, and it turns out the empty ladder shaft is necessary after all, so rock on Kevin Mintmier.
Okay, sure, all the valves have to be closed for the water level to rise to 3, so I just need to open the east valve so I can close it last. There we go. Writing things down on paper is awesome.
The failsafe device sits in the center of the room, silently beckoning to you.
> x device
You can’t see any such thing.
> x failsafe
Which do you mean, the failsafe door or the failsafe mechanism?
Mechanism? I guess? Oh look, this plant has a magnet in it!
> x failsafe mechanism
This device has one purpose, and you’re wasting valuable seconds by looking it. You can inspect it at length after you’ve activated it.
> activate mechanism
I didn’t understand that sentence.
Well, I have a large horseshoe magnet and a locked aluminum cabinet. You would think I would be able to accomplish something with that combination. I would think that too. Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to involve USE MAGNET. Guess-the-verb time!
> rub cabinet with magnet
I only understood you as wanting to rub the cabinet.
Don’t play coy with me, parser. I know you’ve been around the boardroom as often as I have. I shouldn’t have to spell things out in words that would make a whore blush, although frankly I do sort of enjoy doing that.
Oh, hey, remember when the game said a closer look at the door was in order? It totally meant from the other side. I feel as though that could have been mentioned.
Maybe I am supposed to tie this useless magnet to this useless rope? Huh. Yes. That is exactly what I’m supposed to do. Well all right then.
> take badge
You’d better leave so that the body can be identified.
Or I could just, y’know, stay here and… wait, no, the cops will never make it through that water level puzzle. I better go meet ’em in the parking lot. Hopefully one of them will have sex with me, since “Jones” is clearly not feeling up to it.
Well, that was pretty solid. I would have liked clearer feedback in some places (trying to examine the door, trying to schloop the key out of the cabinet like some crazy magnet wizard, which you can’t at all do), and some more flavor bits (my security badge is referenced but I don’t seem to have one, and I wished ending 5 revealed more of the story — although I didn’t find ending 2 or 4, which maybe did?) All in all, though, this was a good little puzzler in keeping with the scope of this contest, and there were a couple touches I particularly appreciated: the panels everywhere to check water level were awesome, and the auxiliary hatch staying open after you’d gotten to its other side (although not doing that would have made the water puzzle unsolvable, but still. I’m a huge fan of shortcuts as a reward for solving a puzzle, especially in games that require lots of back-traveling.)
The multiple endings were pretty neat too. I’m going to go have sex with a cop now.