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CGDC #7 – Mark’s Virtuality!

February 20, 2010

A two room escape game where you have to… escape. However, there are no doors, no windows, no secret-trapdoor-hidden-under-the-carpet! A dangerous, *tedious* game awaits you!

I think this is the first game I’ve seen proudly advertise itself as “tedious.”  (Wait, I mean “*tedious*,” with asterisks and everything.)  This is an interesting marketing decision, to say the least.  Generally, your blurb is intended to entice, tantalize, and even – yeah, what the hell, it’s a good word – titillate potential players of your game, and under most circumstances, “tedious” is a word you would want to avoid using.

This particular blurb, however, raises an intriguing question:  just how the hell can something be tedious and dangerous at the same time?  Doesn’t fear for one’s life override tedium?  I must know!  I have to play this game!

[spoilers begin here]

Oh my goodness look at that top bar.  There is a lot of information happening up there.   Time:  6:00 AM.  Points:  20/2926.  (Wow, I’ve got 20 points already and I’ve barely even read anything yet!)  Room:  Grassy Field???  Optimism:  34%.  (That must mean the glass is 17% full and 33% empty.)  Objectives blah blah achievements blah blah holy shit I have hit points?  Well all right.

Grassy Field
It is a warm day. You are in a beautiful grassy field that seems to extend forever in all directions. A cool breeze refreshes you. Flowers decorate the place with bright shades of pink, blue and yellow. You feel relaxed and happy.
Freaking fantastic.  How long until it all goes tits-up?  Two turns?  Three?  At least this game doesn’t seem to have a small child who’s going to die horribly.

> x flowers
You can’t see any such thing.
I’m going to assume this is the author’s first foray into IF, mainly because I have hit points.  (Which is awesome.  There is nothing wrong with an infusion of fresh ideas.)  So, here is the thing about interactive fiction:  the player experience is to a large extent determined by the responsiveness of the parser.  The more commands we type in that are met with sense-making answers, the happier we are with the game, and vice versa.  When there are things in the room description, we want to be able to examine them, and being told we can’t see them puts a tiny frown in our hearts.

Oh, hey, I achieved something?  I’m’a view my achievements!

ahahahaha that achievement was for examining myself, and I earned another one for checking my achievements.  Maybe I shouldn’t care whether I can see flowers or not.

Yeah, now that I’m out of the simulation, I can see all kinds of things.  Which makes not being able to have seen those flowers even less excusable.

I’m enjoying the setup here.  Apparently someone’s locked me in a room with a virtual reality machine, an AI who keeps telling me how awesome the virtual reality machine is, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t really care about because it isn’t the virtual reality machine, but if I futz around with it I might get to go back into the virtual reality machine.  I think.

“Can you get me a bowl of baked beans, please? I’m a little fat, but I’m also really hungry,” says the King. You listen in doubt.
This is a weird-ass game.  I think I like it.

…well, I’m enjoying the strangeness, but I’m also starting to feel the tedium.  Maybe it’s because I’ve only got the nebulous goal of escaping and the more immediate and exhausting goal of Achieving Them All.  Plus this encoded password looks like it was written for a Mystery Hunt puzzle and the computer uses DOS.  Seriously, there’s a C:\> prompt.  I feel bad for lifelong Mac users and people younger than I am.  Wait, screw that, I feel bad for me.

You plug the thumb drive into the slot marked “j”. The computer whirs as it struggles to process such a modern device.
Did computers back then have such things as USB ports?  Mine had dual five-anna-quarter floppy drives.  This was really exciting because you could make copies, although I forget why you wanted to.

Man, I resent having to google what the extension for Powerpoint files is.  And what the hell is a fishpark?  Sea World?  An aquarium?  Wait, I think the author’s British… a place where you park your fish?  Oh, no, just an aquarium.  (Password is OTU51 for those of you with no patience.)

Oh, hey, I now own 308 cents worth of stock in the BeanMaster company!  That’s pretty cute.

Okay, normal ending was amusing.  I lack the impetus to go through all that again trying to find the happy one.  This game was… this game certainly was.

One comment

  1. assword is OTU51 for those of you with no patience.

    It’s randomized, actually. And yes, I know that I accidentally left off the first letter when I copied that, but I’m going to leave it that way because I like it better.

    …yeah, lifelong mac user here, and I did not enjoy the “Navigate your way through an old-school DOS system” puzzle. It’s the sort of thing I’m playing games in order to not have to do. Well, it would be, if it weren’t the sort of thing I’d adopted a different OS 25 years ago in order to not have to do.



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