, but then I showed her why prime numbers aren't fit to such tasks, and the conversation ended.

Anyway, I don't think I should bother you with such quarrels any longer. Let's move on to the next IntroComp game.

Closed Circles, by M. M. Kathrel

All Things Considered...
Confession: I like settings with this kind of mood. I know, I know, they're easy intros that can go anywhere. This one doesn't go very far, to be honest. It's a lonely walk on a strange setting. There's a guy with a sliced throat. There's a broken wagon. There's a very broken lighthouse. And all of this gave me no idea of what the game is about.

[+] I liked the initial mood and the detailed descriptions. The random environment  messages gave it a nice touch. I'm also a sucker for lonely, abandoned and broken settings, so this started off fine.

[-] It's buggy like hell and in a way that really clamps the enjoyment. Objects that sometimes are there, and other times are not; rooms that go into the nothingness and won't let you out of it; boots that have something inside, but no obvious way to get it out. It also doesn't even start to sketch a story -- well, as far as I was able to play it, anyway.

So, how bad do I want to play the full-game?
I don't know. A tiny bit. Not much. The truth is that even if the story unfolds into an interesting architecture (a time looped universe? I'm guessing from the title and the dream sequences, but it's only a guess), the intro itself gives no warranty such story will be told in a exciting way.

Notes while dancing at this tune:
[1] After an intro to the general guidelines of how to play the game (which was not as boring as it could be), we flow on edited narrative. We don't get to chose anything, but the [press SPACE bar to continue] technique paced my reading in a plesant way. The writing has good imagery, but sometimes I got lost in the frasing ("comma in the wrong place" sort of thing).

[2] I like the setting so far - lost, beaten up, memoryless guy (so far) in a strage place - but the first oniric intro could be shorter and slowly tucked into the game itself. The implementation seems solid (the moon is there, so are the mountains and the clouds, which is great), the first description was moody and detailed, with some good images, but - again! - confusing sentences. In spite of this, I think I want to know who I am and what do I have to do with that sliced throat, so that should count for something. BUT: I hate wagons. I also hate peacocks. I hope that if a peacock arises in this game, may it be in much the same condition as this wagon: broken, with a weel missing and a dead guy hanging outside. Have you ever seen a dead man hanging outside a peacock? Nasty thing to watch, nasty indeed.

[3] Well, I'm confused. I've entered the coach and left, and now the description changed to include a dead horse, but no body hanging in the window. If I enter and leave the coach again, the body is back, but I see no horse. Bug or feature? And if feature, why?

[4] So, we have a dream sequence after I'm warm and cozy. Speaking of dreams: just went to see Inception the other night. It over explains itself, but otherwise cool and clever stuff.

[5] Strange thing: I can't take the umbrella, I can't take the bag, I actually can't take anything, but I can carry around a chest with a heavy padlock with me. Being able to carry it is about the only clue I have that it means something.

[6] So, the lighthouse. I never did like buggy ligthouses. How can fisherman trust them? And, Oh boy!, is this lighthouse buggy: run-time errors, declarations on repeat, places that do not exist. The story itself is not holding the hook, since is not going anywhere.

[7] Well, this is a joy-stopper bug: I opened a door that goes... nowhere; and once inside this nowhere I can't go... anywhere. The look command gives me a "Nothing obvious happens" response. Trying to go n or s or e or w results in nothing. I'll have to restart. "Just quit it", said an irritating voice on my frontal lobe.

[8] But quiting I didn't do. The astronomy reference did it. I like astronomy. I once read a book about astronomy. I liked it alot. The idea of stars and constellations and the position of planets having such an important role in our personality and our future fascinates me! [sigh]

[9] So: inside the lighthouse I have a stairway up that leads nowhere, two doors that lead to a loop-bug-heaven, and a boot that has something inside and no clue as to how to take it off. I quit. I'm sorry. So sorry. Like in that REM song, The Apologist. I liked Up, by the way. I know, I know, I'm aware of it, but I liked it nonetheless. Sew me, REM purists.
I don't have Windows. There, I said it.

Not that I'm a freetard-Microsoft-blind-hater or such: the thing is one day I started on Linux and I liked it.

The only way to run Windows apps in my place is either by using Wine or by running the XP Virtual Machine installed on my desktop computer. This last option is a no go at the moment, since I washed my motherboard the other day, with water and soap, then put it to dry on the microwave, minimum power, because I didn't want to cook it. Result: now it doesn't work, so I must have done something wrong. Still don't know what.

I've tried Wine, but both Peanut Orchestra and Creepmemisterzookeeper (or whatever it's called) failed to run on it. This episode made me think about the discussion around the way games are deployed, the pros and cons of interpreter vs stand-alone, about pdf files and mp3 files and flash games, about this and about that. I even thought of writing an intelligent post about it, but gave up on first draft. First, I'm not an intelligent person; second, I am an intelligent person, but I'm lazy, so I use the I'm not an intelligent person excuse to remove myself from the obligation.

Anyway, I now have two games left to play. One is already done and I'll post my opinion about it in the next few minutes or days. The other is forcing me to read a short introduction of one billion pages about the previous installment, so I guess I'll have to play episode two without knowing episode one. Luckily, no one will be around when I do this, and I won't bother a soul constantly asking "Who is that guy? Is that his father? Are they lovers? What did they steal?"

Loneliness is an unlucky guy.
I'm hungry, so before I begin this post I'll have to do something about it. Which means you'll have to wait a little as I get a yogurt and some cookies. Not home-made. The cookies, I mean. The yogurt neither.

> z
Time passes. A peacock takes a dump nearby. I hate peacocks.

Ok, I'm back. Here it goes.

A Fleeting Case of Self-Possession, or, Memento Moratori, by Lea Albough

Unlike the others before, this game won't have a boring set of playthrough notes for the simple fact that, upon beginning it, I simply wasn't able to pull myself out to write anything else. Yes: I got that hooked.

Memento Moratori is one of the most clever things I've played so far. In it you are a daemonic possession, but you jump into the body of someone who has grown accustomed to such possession episodes, so this "host" of sorts already has a set of defenses against you. Your job is to go around them. You'll have to prove the host that your commands are rational and sane, otherwise him or her won't obey. Clever setting, very well implemented, fine fine writing, and a smart cliffhanger.

There are two more things I would like to address:

The first one is the marvelous way the game manipulates us. As one starts, one is clueless as to what is happening; the host knows more about it than we do. But then things progress: first one discovers that he will play this daemonic possession; then one feels awkward about it; next one finds out how the host can be manipulated; finally one grows into the idea of bringing caos and havoc to the party. Marvelous.

The second one is the nature of this possession. This is not your regular The Exorcist possession, Oh! no it is not: this is the possession of an Interactive Fiction character. This main character represents the frustration of every main characters in the IF world. At the beginning the character writes this in a sheet of paper:

«I know not exactly what has transpired, but recent events have left me experiencing urges – strange urges, as if I suddenly wish to journey in a compass direction when I myself hardly know the magnet’s bearing.  At other moments, I find myself ceaselessly examining previously familiar objects.»

Bloody clever, I'll give you that.

So, how bad do I want to play the full-game?
Disclaimer: I absolutely adore Ed Wood's master-piece, that slice of cinema that reigns over the so-bad-it's-good kingdom. I own the DVD and all. When I saw Tim Burton's biopic in the movies I clapped at the end, and at the beginning, and every 15 minutes or so. What I'm trying to say is: I'm scared by this one. To be worthy of such a title, a game has to be perfectly awful, otherwise:
     if the quality of the game is just bad, say "It's a shame!" instead;
     if the quality of the game is good, say "It's an insult!" instead.

But let's move on...

Plan 6 From Inner Earth, by Adrien Saurat

All Things Considered...
A lightweight set, sometimes humorous, almost always poor in the richness of the environment, about a boring fellow with a boring job in a place that we tend to place alongside with mystery and excitement - and this is, as far as I'm concerned, the strong point of the game.

[+] A setting around the boring stuff one has to do in "exciting" places amuses me. It made me wonder about the poor bureaucrat alone in Area 51 and all the America's Got Talent episodes he must have watched. Poor thing.

[-] The implementation is beyond the grave (Get it? Plan 9 From Outer Space? Beyond the grave? AH AH AH!), and the puzzle was... well, puzzlish. It turned out to be as boring as the job itself.

So, how bad do I want to play the full-game?
Not much, but I confess I would love to see the concept (guy alone in ultra-secret government facility, doing ultra-secret boring stuff near an ultra-secret alien in captivity) better worked on, but this intro didn't sold me the idea that this game would be anywhere near accomplishing it.

Notes while playing:
[1] Well, I think I'll have to get used to this, since I've found it abundantly in all the games so far. The description of the room talks about buttons, panels, even "my favorite chair", but it all gives me a You can't see any such thing response to the examine command. It's my favorite chair! C'mon!!!

[2] In the same mood as the note before, I've found this to be interesting:
They are red. Doesn’t look like a “Don’t touch me” warning?

You feel nothing unexpected.

I also feel nothing unexpected if I touch the alien, in spite of all the security devices around him. It's a Government place, so that's sort of expectable.

[3] As a positive note, I'll have to mention the light humor of the writing. Not that the prose is brilliant in any way, but it has some good moments, like the bug really being a cockroach. It annoyed me, though, that the answer to that particular puzzle relied on verb guessing. I've tried X COMPUTER, OPEN PANELS, SAY HELLO WORLD TO COMPUTER, OPEN COMPUTER, SWITCH COMPUTER OFF, etc. I don't even know how or why did I got to try TOUCH COMPUTER.

[4] "!!ALERT!! !!ALERT!! !!ALERT!!
Ok... you made me sketch a smile. Anyway, now I'll have to go to that room where I couldn't enter before, even when I had nothing else to do here but watch TV! Actually I find it boring for the games to decide I can't go explore something because I don't feel like it. I'm thinking of Waker again.

[5] And that's it. I'm stuck with the Second Generator (I even tried touching it, really!) and without motivation to go on. Goodbye Plan 6. You were almost a 9.
I'll start this one by reading the ABOUT, and it turns out the author had this in his mind since the 80's. This plungers me in both fear and excitement: fear, because it is the 80's after all; excitement, because it is the 80's after all.

For the Love of Ornery Blue Yaks, by Doug Jones
As with the preceding entry, I'll start with the conclusions and then go on to the As I Play notes.

All things considered...

A minimal introduction sends you off to explore a minimally described cliché-house that is a portal to a minimally described cliché-forest with cliché-creatures and no story.

+] It has a maze. And a forest.

-] No context and no strong concept. We start by exploring an old house with very sparse description and many non-important things. Then we enter a wardrobe and off we go to a magical forest with magical creatures, like a Cyclops and a Minotaur. All very un-original. The text is poorly written and formated (some lines juxtapose, some paragraphs should be there and are not, etc.)

So, how bad do I want to play the full game?
Well, I gave up in the intro itself, so you should be able to guess the answer.

And now let's see how the playing went:
I'm off to discover the mysteries of an abandoned house, which, along with the player, owes very little to the efforts of context or description. It's a house. He is a player. The house has mysteries that some friends told him about. The player looks "about the same as always", only he has a backpack.

[2] Entering the house gives me a "nicely decorated" hallway that has absolutely nothing to look at. It's like a nicely painted blank canvas that has all the art in it, or a white piece of paper which encloses all the letters in the world. The cellar is empty, only cobwebs, but "the cobwebs is not important"; the kitchen has some old food that "is not important"; the living room has sofas and chairs that "is not important". Whatever I do to anything gives me a "is not important" negative reply. Well, last stop: the bedroom. It has a nightstand by the bed. I'll surely want to examine that nightstand:

The nightstand sits by the bed.

Hmm... ok.

[3] The description of the bedroom also tells me that "the only piece of furniture is a big wardrobe", so I'm guessing the bed and the nightstand are in my imagination. I like this sort of concept. It's a Lynchian world, where the object and the idea of the object blend in a world of darkness and confusion.

[4] The Lynchian world proceeds and my head aches! I don't know if this is a bug or a feature, I don't know if the "old school" games wrapped the players in such, so bear with my ignorance if you will. The wardrobe turned out to be a magical entrance to a forest, in which one gets lost. North and then South won't return me to the same location; East and then West and then East again an then West again made me travel through four different places. Well, I like to travel to be honest, I'll be driving in Bosnia this year! Urray! I'll visit Sarajevo and Mostar and I'll also have a swim in the Adriatic sea. Oh, such days never hurry enough, do they? The planes of... oh, the game. Sure. Well, in the last West turn I found myself bloated in the head by a Cylops who wants to cook me and eat me. Speaking of which: I'm off to make myself a sandwich.

[5] Ok, so I stopped playing the game. I killed the Cyclops piercing him in the eye with a hot stick. Then I entered a maze that had a Minotaur which I killed by a random fight: every time I typed "ATTACK", either I would miss or hit, the same for the poor creature. After a few hits, I died. Tried again, died. Third time, Minotaur falls. Urray! I gain nothing with the slaughter and succeed in exiting the maze.
Kills: 2. Context: 0. I give up.
Off to my second IntroComp game.
Right before clicking the publish button, I decided to invert things: first you'll find my final thoughts on the game, spoiler free, and then the thoughts and insults I wrote while playing the game, spoiler heavy.

Waker, by Kevin Jackson

Wrapping it up...
[+] The idea of a museum that throws the visitors into a simulation of (fictional) historic events is a good one and should be explored.

[-] The implementation is very poor. Most of the objects inside the descriptions aren't there. Also the game always pushes you into a given direction without actually going for the trouble of making it feel necessary, and I dislike this kind of forced guidance in a game.

Al in all, it doesn't feel as this is a finished intro to an unfinished game; only a (very early) sketch of a game.

So, how bad do I want to play the full game?
Only a tiny tiny bit, and that's because I liked the simulation concept.

Playing the game and eating:
[1] It's a museum. I'll be exploring a museum. Exploring a museum with lots of stuff. Result: I want to stop playing already! Calm down. Sit. Maybe the author will spice things up in the next few turns.

[2] In it's first lines, the text promises a world of exploration, but the gameplay has a different agenda:

This life-size statue of a person appears to be made of wax. It is of a bald, fat man on the far side of middle age, and it is wearing a plain robe and
slippers. It is standing on a pedestal and is motionless, although it appears to be built to allow its head to swivel. The pedestal has a large red button on

You can’t see any such thing.

You can’t see any such thing.

You can’t see any such thing.

You can’t see any such thing.

Violence isn’t the answer to this one.
(Oh... but it will be! Oh yes it will! Ah Ah Ah! AH AH AH! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!)

[3] Hmmm... I can't ignore the statue, it seems. I can't also go to other parts of the museum because... I don't want to? Let us examine the diorama: "you find yourself unable to concentrate on it with that fascinating statue". I'm actually more interested in the diorama. Why won't you let me be interested in the diorama? You are so much like my father! Curse you!

[4] Well, well: we have a twist.

By looking at the weird box, I ended up in another game, a game from the Museum itself. It even mimics the beginning of any IF game. Smart. Ok, I'm slightly more interested. Let's see where this goes.

[5] Before exploring this kind-of-nice twist, I decided to restart and push things around to see where it breaks - I just love bugs.

Here's a fun one: If I try to examine the box right at the beginning (when the player doesn't even know it exists), I'll be rewarded with it's description nonetheless, even without pushing the button that activates the statue and switches the light on. Also: if I examine it two times, I'll end up with the text that mentions the statue's speech and enter the Museum's Game.

[6] Inside the diorama I have another forced set of actions. I have to wake the God-King, but before I do that I can't explore anything. All of my actions give me a "you have to awake the God-King first" response - but I want to fail, yes I do, I have no need for success! Why won't the powers that be let me fail? If it's urgent, then why can I just stay here and wait all the time I want? You let me sit on my lap forever, but you won't let me peek inside the wardrobe - you're just beeing mean to me!

[7] As for the puzzle itself, I kicked it in - literally. The God-King is protected by a code that I'll have to insert into a keypad (this seems to be set in the past, but they have keypads for some reason). Here I am, trying to push random numbers into it, which always fails, of course. Then, just for fun, I typed "kick the keypad" - and it worked! The chamber actually opened. So now you know: go to a bank and take a small hammer to smash the keypad.

[8] Anyway, now that I've awakened the God-King, maybe I can do a little exploration, right? Well, no: kicking the keypad in kicks my own self out of the diorama and back into the museum. Well, at least now I can go to other part of the museum to check it out. Let's see: the exhibit goes on to the north.

That’s all for now.

    *** You have won ***

Err... what?

(Next game from the random-game-chooser machine: For the Love of Ornery Blue Yak, by Doug Jones)

So I decided to play some of the entries in this year's IntroComp. I've also decided to write a few lines as I play along. Kind of a review. I never reviewed anything in my life. Well, maybe just the choice for a kind of soup in a dinner party once (that wasn't nice), and the dress that a friend of mine brought to a wedding (she never called back); but apart from that, not one thing, not one thing at all.

IntroComp is an Interactive Fiction competition for Introductions to games. It was created by Jacqueline A. Lott. Hands down to such a neat concept! I'm a movie trailer addict, by the way, so I I'll be liking this.

The first one I picked up from this year's bunch was Iain Merrick's Tourist Trap. A random choice, of course, or not so random, since the brain is - I heard - incapable of such . For my next choice I'll give each entry a number and have my TexasInstruments 81 (or something) give me a random output. I'm all for fairness, actually.

So, let us see how well I play this thing.

[oh... by the way, it will contain spoilers, but it's an Intro; how much spoiled can it get?]

Tourist Trap, by Iain Merrick

[1] Oh, Paris. A Paris start is a good start. Mainly when I'm in an... Élevé? What a... Well, I'll have to admit I'm a sucker for very big passages over very big cities. They remind me of an old adventure game called Universe. And of Halo. But I liked Universe better. I was younger. Back to the Élevé. A girl is with me, Emma, a hipsterish gall. I'm a sucker for hipsterish galls. Have you ever heard Pamplamoose? So lovely. A gentlemen is in front of me. Let's talk, shall we?

[2] Well, the conversation with that gentlemen went smooth, very smooth indeed, as smooth as a baby's bottom: I hardly had to do anything at all. Most of the time I had only one option on the dialog, which kind of seemed that I was just pressing any key to continue. There was also no obvious consequence or lost of information in any of the choices, since I was able to go through all of the options given the first time around.

[3] So I restarted it and tried not to talk to the gentlemen, to see what happens. Tough luck: Emma jumped to the dialog and I got (almost) all of the info I got from him myself.

[4] So I'm a Time Tourist! Cool. And there will be Time Customs! Even cooler! And I can't disrupt the fabric of time and space, otherwise... fashion will be off by a century and shrinks from the future will have to be sent? What the hell?

[5] Ok, so the gentlemen is off the Élevé and Emma thinks he was a such a crazy character. Giving the context, I actually found the old man very sane.

[6] Now is our turn to exit the amazing vehicle and the intro ends. I get to read a message from the author, saying that the full game will be like this and like that, but sadly, although the premise is neat and the writing is fine - very formal, but fine - we never get to feel how the game is going to be. The voice of the author promises great chunks of culture and adventure in Old Paris, but the intro itself doesn't really give a scent of such chunks.

Jacqueline wants the voters to vote having this question in mind: How bad do you want to play the full game after this?

So, how bad do I want to play the full game?
I'm not going to loose any sleep over it, but I'm curious as what is to become of this, yes I am, although it striked me as potentially boring and over-the-top descriptive.

[+] The concept of time tourism, as it was presented, was interesting.
[-] The one option dialog was a turn down.

As for voting: I guess I'll wait until I've played some more before I do that. All for fairness, all for fairness indeed.

(TI 81 told me just now that my next pick will be Waker, by Kevin Jackson Mead)
I thought of giving my first post a more first-post look, but to hell with it.

Today I worked a bit on a tutorial game to introduce IF games to non-IF players. The idea was to create a game that could be called inside another game if a player was a first-timer. I don't know if this is going to work, but I'm going to propose it to the IF community anyway. Well, not the game, but the idea: maybe they, has a community, will change and enhance the file so it can be better and usable by many people.

The game's name is Hotel Tutorial, but beeing an open-source game it can change at any time. Check the files in the IF Works tab.

Thanks for all the feedback.