IF Comp ’14 – The Judging of the Blurbs!October 3, 2014
Happy 20th anniversary, IF Comp! We’re doing this super-loose-free-association style because my brain decided to go hypomanic instead of sleeping last night so mental-status-wise I am somewhere between Shia LaBeouf and Philip K. Dick at the moment. Hypomania is pretty awesome and I recommend it to everyone. You get a ton of shit done and all of it is awesome and you are brilliant and your hair looks great. You just don’t get a lot of sleep, is the thing.
Anyway! On to the blurbs!
If you were a bear, would you be an American Black Bear or a Siberian Brown bear? If the answer is Yes, apply today!
I’m starting AlethiCorp’s score at 8 based entirely on this pair of sentences, which is my new favorite pair of sentences.
It is 1630’s Florence, and you are an assistant to Galileo.
DON’T TELL ME WHAT TIME AND PLACE IT IS OR WHO I AM
And thus your adventure begins.
In conclusion, Arqon: A Criminal’s Journey is a land of contrasts. Thank you.
Highly randomized fantasy begging sim
What I like about this blurb is that it reads like it came out of a generator along with “Flame-retardant Okinawan vampire RPG” and “Context-sensitive horse-based rope bondage simulator.” I really want a generator like that now and I also want a robot to write all of those games.
Nobody likes to mention that space is boring, that’s why the OC are willing to pay so much to send you into the great black to press a few buttons.
I got way too distracted imagining a reality TV show in which Orange County California sends people into space. I bet they would wear flip flops. I bet they would leave flip flop footprints on the moon.
Let Caroline take you by the hand.
Okay that cover art is terrifying and I don’t think I want to let Caroline take me by the hand. I don’t care if she’s got a cute little heart. I don’t want my face to get eaten, is all. My face is doing a very important job (hiding my skull).
A dating sim about how humanity connects through art, even out in the vastness of space.
That sounds really cute. If I ever find myself on the moon I will be sure to use my flip flops to make art.
When you wake up, something is passing through the night sky.
I’m glad this game’s blurb was really short because I was super distracted by misreading its title as “Eidocolon,” which would give a whole new context to “passing through the night sky,” if you catch my drift. If you need my drift picked up and handed to you, I am talking about poop.
Eyes can see, and a mind can think. Insanity is just one step away. You are in a room. That’s where you are, and you know exactly what is going on. But the truth is hard to take.
Lot to unpack here. For one thing, this font does not pair well with a pool of blood, and I suspect the person who made the cover art does not have a graphic design degree like Riff does. I just googled “free creepy fonts” and found pages upon pages of better options. Then I downloaded one called Kerberos’ Fang and spent some time making this:
I think at this point I have more emotional energy invested in the cover of Simon Deimel’s game than Simon Deimel does. Let’s move on. Let’s move on with our lives and stop being upset about font choices. There was some other stuff I wanted to say about how “You are in a room” is a basic tenet of any Inform 7 game but I need to just walk away from this blurb before I wind up rewriting the entire game to my liking.
Edited to add: No, actually, I can’t stop staring at this, and I think the thing that’s bothering me is that the five circles making up the pool of blood are really attractively placed. Graceful. The perspective is consistent, and that one little dot sets everything off so perfectly. The artist clearly has an eye. They just didn’t use it anywhere else in the cover. Why? It’s a secret to everyone.
Explore a strange tower and solve puzzles, using a streamlined parser.
I like a strange tower and I like some puzzles, although frankly this blurb could express way more in terms of theme and flavor. What does “a streamlined parser” mean? Is it aerodynamic? Instead of a > does it have a spoiler?
You have fifteen minutes before the Principal expels you from the cosy world of academia and into the cold harsh reality of the real world. You really should do something about it.
A time-travelling tale of paradox management.
This is a good blurb, if a little judgy. I’m intrigued by the premise and then “time-travelling tale of paradox management” just seals the deal. It’s one of those inherently desirable phrases like “adorable puppy” or “lesbian sex.”
Intended for mature audiences, contains violence and language.
I wish people would say “strong language” or something because every time I read “contains language” I think “well of course it does, it’s a text game.”
The disk drive uttered a sickening crack as you tried to access it. Somehow, you were able to run the single program installed on it, ＨＨＨ．ｅｘｅ. It’s a game, apparently. By turns unfun and familiar; foolish and haunted.
I was really into this blurb and its creepypasta vibe until the very last sentence. “Familiar” and “haunted” are good words to describe a mysterious game, “unfun” is not really specific enough (is it unfun because it’s kind of boring or because nails are being pounded into your genitals?) and “foolish” makes no sense to me as a thing that a game can be. That’s two words I took issue with out of an entire blurb, though, so good job!
Hill 160 has no blurb, doo-dah, doo-dah.
It’s not the end of the world, and you’re to blame. Better get on that. But man, it sure would be nice to get a bite to eat first.
This blurb plus the fact that the game is called Hunger Daemon suggests that it will heavily involve one of the most annoying mechanics in interactive fiction. That sort of chutzpah impresses me. Bring it, Hunger Daemon!
A feral child raised by robots[…]
Yeah I basically didn’t even read the rest of Icepunk’s blurb because this idea was just way too cool. Also if Jazzpunk is anything to go by I like games whose names end in “punk.”
Before we begin, we have a sharp– I mean short intake form for you to fill out.
Everything about this game looks bizarre. I’m into it.
You are Jacqueline McBean, modern woman for the Thirties and intrepid international correspondent for the Fresno Bee.
I love the phrase “modern woman for the Thirties” and I love that Jacqueline is a BBW. As a differently skinny female I get really excited about representation.
Go out alone at night, face monsters and wear stuff you find in the trash!
“Wear stuff you find in the trash” is the part of the blurb that made me interested in this game, which makes me worry about myself a little. (Also, the cover art is nice. This is someone who doesn’t need me to google fonts for them.)
As you seat yourself and turn toward your inner light, you ask that one burning question.
“What is laterna magica?”
Laterna magica is an elfin ghost that lives in your skull. Next burning question! (This cover art is nice too.)
Alec Baldwin gets what Alec Baldwin wants, and when he wants six gallons for a Milk Party, you better believe he’s getting six gallons. Includes 3 Endings.
Ending the First: Alec Baldwin gets what Alec Baldwin wants.
Ending the Second: Alec Baldwin, in a shocking twist, does not get what Alec Baldwin wants.
Ending the Third: ???
It’s your birthday today. Your ex-girlfriend brings you a present, and inside are a series of mysterious letters that tell the story of an old love triangle that ended in murder. Solve puzzles, solve the mystery, or get wasted and do neither: it’s up to you.
The reason this is less compelling than it could be is that the PC has nothing at stake in this scenario. The central mystery is probably pretty interesting, but without a hook like “and now your girlfriend is acting like the woman in the letters so you better solve them quick or she’ll murder you,” it’s hard to care very much. Honestly, I read this blurb and thought “enh, that first one sounds like work, I’ll just get wasted.” Which, if you’ve put love and time into creating the central mystery, is not really what you want.
After a night of vodka and vague acquaintances, Sandy wakes up in an unknown bedroom, unable to remember the name of the man sleeping next to her. Too proud to leave without a proper goodbye, she will get into meticulous detective work, in order to discover his name and redeem herself. With your help, of course.
Man. Don’t get me wrong here, I really like sex. It’s just that, because of some mild alcoholism and other personality problems in my early twenties, I have been Sandy a lot, and even when nothing outright rapey was happening it was still ecch, you know? And this is a comedy game. And, like, maybe I can imagine that being okay, if it’s real and honest and written with compassion for the Sandy character, but I am cringing just thinking about all the other ways it could be written.
“Origins” is a story of the individual, potentially convergent paths of two people making their way through Pittsburgh.
What I want to know here is who are these people and for what purpose are they making their way through Pittsburgh. That is what is gonna get me excited to play this game, not the exotic multi-lane hyperdrive experimental format bidniss.
Paradox Corps has no blurb as far as I can tell, but “paradox” is an inherently cool word/concept, so it might be okay. Who knows.
A scots fantasia about anxiety. Battle kelpies, watch TV, avoid your emails and find the magical Staff of the Salmon.
This sounds like another one of those games like Couch of Doom that resembles my actual life problems way too closely and is also rather zany. How is this a genre? Should I be dealing with my life problems by being zanier?
Wait, crap, just this week I went around the house putting googly eyes on things, then I put “Person Who Eats Most Ham” as my official job title on something. Zany as charged, Your Honour.
It tells the first part of the story of the Völsunga saga, a Norse myth similar to King Arthur in some ways, albeit with more incest and werewolves.
THIS GAME SOUNDS AMAZING
ALSO THE COVER ART IS ADORABLE
The only thing I have to say about Slasher Swamp is that someone moved the R and the P on the cover art so that they… wouldn’t obscure a particular tree, I am guessing? And then they didn’t line them up vertically with the rest of the letters and it is really bothering my OCD.
Which is how you got stuck here, schmoozing with a snooty blob-alien with her panties in a twist about etiquette.
This is the sentence that makes me want to play this game. I clearly have problems. (Look how charming the cover art is though!)
If you think you are being watched while playing this game, keep telling yourself that it’s all in your mind.
That wasn’t terrifying when I read it earlier today in the afternoon sunlight before everyone else in the big spooky house went to sleep. What was that noise? (I’m not even kidding about that noise you guys. No. Seriously. Send help.)
Prison Escape Plan:
1. Squeeze through the bars. 2. …
I love this. Those few words and the fact that the game’s called The Contortionist tell you everything you need to know right there.
You, the first cyber-psychiatrist
I have issues with missing commas and apostrophe usage elsewhere in this blurb but I’m willing to let them slide because I am the first cyber-psychiatrist how cool is that.
Earthquakes have been reported in a region south of the city.
A good way to get me to glaze over when I read your blurb is to start it off with passive voice and make it sound as much like a news bulletin as possible.
Oh God I’m not even quoting the blurb for The Urge because something about it is incredibly disturbing to me on a level I don’t even understand. If no one minds, I think I’m going to skip this game. Actually I think I am going to skip it whether anyone minds or not.
Out of the blue, and into the blue. And there you are, in a chamber, trying to find out what is going on.
I actually like the “And there you are” construction for beginning sentences but I think it needs to be followed by something more surprising, like “setting orphans on fire.” Maybe not exactly that. Please don’t set orphans on fire and say I told you to.
There is a house.
There is a room in the house.
There is a door in the room. The door is locked.
Some people are in the room.
Some people are transparent.
I like that this blurb reads like the creepiest possible piece of Inform 7 code. Wait, no, I can imagine creepier. I’m going to stop thinking about that now.
Push back the Wrath Pulse–or find the Fry Gun to destroy it for good!
This is a thing I’ve seen before, people using proper names to sound evocative when they really aren’t because the reader has no context for them. Actually I got called out for doing this exact thing in poetry class. So don’t do that I guess?
Waking up with no memories sucks. Waking up in a prison with no memories is even worse. Welcome to your life, Prisoner 11012.
I feel like you gotta be careful with the word “sucks,” because it’s a bread-and-butter slang term used for everything from “I dropped the last french fry on the ground” to “Everyone I know has cancer.” It’s a range, right, things can kind of suck or they can super suck or they can suck donkey balls. Therefore, it’s kind of meaningless and should probably be replaced by something more specific (“sucks donkey balls” is technically more specific.)
Venus meets Venus. This is not a love story. (Mature content warning.)
This blurb leaves me with nothing except the vague feeling that I’m not going to enjoy the game very much. Also what kind of mature content? Does it contain language?
Hello young Limonista!
It’s the hottest week of the year, and ordinarily this would be a problem!
But you work at the most popular lemonadery in Sufferette City, and the citizens depend on you to keep cool!
I love basically everything about this, especially the fact that it sounds like a Lemonade Stand game.
In conclusion, IF Comp 2014 is a land of contrasts. Thank you.