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What not to play when studying Interactive Fiction

At the start of the interactive fiction unit, I thought I would have a ball with it. I mean, I love to role-play, and it takes up a lot of my time. You can probably comprehend my love for role-playing through my blog entry all about it. One of the reasons that I love to role-play, is getting the chance to be someone that you are unable to be in real life. It's all about imagination.

Unfortunately, my experience with interactive fiction lacked imagination and creativity. At first I played a game called Pick up the phone and die, which I was a bit skeptical about at first. I guess I had a right to be skeptical. The game just sucked. It was frustrating, and didn't allow me to expand on my open-mindedness. I hated the way that there was only *one* single way to win the game. I'm the kind of person that likes trial and error. I can never get anything on the first try.

Next up, I played 9:05. I also greatly disliked this one. I was chugging along, doing my thang, and excelling in the game. Out of nowhere, Dr. Jerz tells the class that this game could be won in the first few moves. Again, I hate that. I want depth out of a game. I don't want to play a game that has a stupid gimmick to gain popularity. Grr.

Up next on my playlist from hell, was Galatea. From my analysis, you can infer that it was the most confusing game out of the ones I played. I think that it could have been good, had I known what was going on. I know that I was talking to a statue the whole time, but that was kind of a turnoff. The game wasn't very interactive, on a physical note. I didn't get to move around or anything, and that was what made it boring.

Just as I thought I things couldn't get better, they did with Photopia. I played, and played some more, and gladly wrote about it. I actually made headway in the story. It didn't involve a "magic-word" theory, where there is one word, and one word only to progress the story. It let my open my mind a bit, and free my thoughts. I felt that it wasn't overly restrictive. Photopia also had dialogue that I could relate to, as an 18-year old male. When role-playing, I am not afraid to use modern dialogue. IF games should be modernized as well.

Lastly, I constructed my playlist. To start off, I played a Castle Adventure. It was different. Instead of writing responses to situations, there was an overhead view of your character. You would use the arrow keys to move him in and out of situations. For instance, there was a situation where the candle-holders on the wall were all one color, except for one. I went over to it, touched it, and it revealed a spiral staircase. It was interesting in that you could actually see what your character was doing, but it also had its drawbacks. The author created the game so that the only way to win, was to follow one direct path. If you strayed from this path, you would die. Again, I can never solve anything on the first try. I use the trial and error method. In this game, if you made an error, you would suffer the ultimate consquence: death!

I advanced to my next game, called The Four Symbols. It created an atmosphere like no other interactive fiction game I had played. I actually felt like I was the character. Now that is role-playing. The story wasn't half bad either - investigating the deaths of some witches that drowned. Scary!

The Golden Wombat of Destiny was like driving a car with a boot on it. I couldn't get anywhere. I can't really say much about it, when every move that I took, I would die. I can't play an interactive fiction game that doesn't allow the player to interact.

So there you have it. My experience with these interactive fiction games has been less than enjoyable. From playing these few games, I am under the impression that the IF genre doesn't like to let players have complete freedom. I think I'll just stick to MMORPG's, thank you very much. They seem to be much more interactive, and just plain fun.


Hmm... I don't know that you can "win" 9:05 in a few moves. You can learn a detail that changes everything else, but that's not the same thing as "winning" it. (You can win "Pick up the Phone Booth and Die" in one move. Perhaps I was talking about that instead.)

Complete freedom is not exactly easy to code, as we'll see when we continue the authoring component. Even the MMORPGs have limitations, but you're right that in-game chat makes role-playing much more natural.

Corey, I'm glad you like to explore your options in games. Haha, I actually like Pick up the phonebooth and die. The title was way too easy for a hint...and I wont lie, I like cake-mode games. As for 9:05, I thought it was too complicated. There were too many options to thoroughly examine. I like to keep things simple. So I guess it's ok we both disliked the game, but for different reasons. Awesome blog though!

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