Sunday, November 5, 2017

IfComp 2017 - 8 reviews

The Interactive Fiction Competition has many entries this year. Here are short reviews of those I've been able to play so far. You still have until November 15th to play and vote on games if you are interested.

By Marshal Tenner Winter

 A lot of games that involve “ships” whether they be in the sea or outer space have always confused me a bit as far as map layout versus the area I’m picturing in my head. This was kind of the case for me in this game too, but not as bad as others. I’m not sure how difficult of a time I would have solving some of these puzzles without a walkthrough because some of them seem kind of abstract. The 2nd part of the game you are off the ship and in a city called “Badushizd” where you’ll find a humorously-named inn. It went by pretty fast for me in contrast with the 1st part. Pretty cool game overall. Some technical issues and a few nags here and there. The pacing of the last part and ending of the game seemed appropriate.

*** GRUE ***

 Short game. Cool concept of being able to play from the perspective of a grue from the Zork series, but there just isn’t much to it. I was not able to finish the game; I think perhaps I didn’t get a timing puzzle right or something. Glancing at the walkthrough, there’s not much to the ending either.

By Matthew Pfeiffer

 I start in a crappy apartment. Apparently I’m a mad scientist. The game calls itself a 1-room escape game. There is no walkthrough and I couldn’t figure out how to escape the apartment.

*** MOON BASE ***
By Andrew Brown

 A short, creepy web game. I don’t think I reached the best ending, but seeing the consequences of apparently bad choices as a result was satisfying. Web games that seem to just go around in circles to reach only 1 or at the most 2 endings always seem to fail to keep me engaged or care to replay the game again. I would give this game another play if I wasn’t in the middle of all of these entries at the moment.

By Naomi Norbez

 This is more of an “interactive essay” than “interactive fiction”. It's not a game at all. I don’t identify myself as Christian or queer, (the 2 main elements being compared in this entry) so this really didn’t hit any nerve with me one way or the other. The conclusion is basically a “The Jesus I know is a cool dude that isn’t mean to people.” theme.

*** The Richard Mines ***
By Evan Wright

 A parser game in which you need to search through some old tunnels and make your escape. Short room descriptions. Short game for that matter. Fairly easy puzzles. Not a lot of story here, but not a lot to complain about either.

*** A Walk In The Park ***
By Extra Mayonaise

 In this parser game you play a punk wandering around a city. It had a couple of lines that made me chuckle, and the setting was nicely put together. However, I got stuck trying to follow the tutorial at the step where I should “say uhh”. Uhh…

*** Will Not Let Me Go ***
By Stephen Granade

 Another web game. Here you are an old man dealing with alzheimer’s. This is another one where I don’t feel like I have any real choice here but to just keep clicking links to keep the story chugging along. What makes up for it though was it actually was a good story. I think it could have been a bit shorter though and still got the same effect across.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

These Dreams

  Getting time to work on the DPRK game again lately has been nice. I've had to bug Roody yet again for assistance lately, but he's always happy to help with Hugo related issues.

 I've been focusing on the 2nd PC of the DPRK game over the past few months.. random stabs at the story and code. Taken many steps back when starting to code and realizing I don't even have a proper flow for the event written yet, but that's part of what makes creating games like this so fun; play-testing and adding things that are not implemented yet, testing them, and repeating the process. The third PC won't take too much longer finish up, but tying all three PCs together with decisions made by each, inventory changes, etc will take a while to clean up. The "alpha" test was released some time ago, and I plan on releasing the "beta" around November of the year..

 Not getting my old interactive dreaming Inform7 project properly updated with all the graphics window and other fancy screen effects extension stuff basically shit me out of IntroComp this year. I was a bit disappointed but will shoot for next year. This is worth revisiting..

 It's really neat that my friend Irfon told me about the "modern IF scene" around 2008-2009.  I'm still really thankful to be introduced a new world of "text games" I figured only existed in my own head and a very select few of others back then and before then. I've met some really cool people along the way both on the internet and off.

 I've also got ideas about creating some sort of dream share API or website lately..

Yukihiro Takahashi ("It's Gonna Work"): "I had a dream. You gave me a sign.. and put me on a new track."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spring 2017

 Today I relaunched to clean up old hacks I had used to get my Ultima Online server emulator chugging along. I'll be leaving that and my Quake II server down for a few months to come. If anything, for the purpose of just having 2 less things online that I have to worry about that I've barely had any time for lately. I'm trying to focus on working on the DPRK themed game, as well getting back to actually playing a few games such as Resident Evil 7 and my arcade games. Some good progress has already been made on the last third of Days in DPRK, but I slowed down considerably with the second third. I don't want the player to feel like any of the 3 slices of the game feel "rushed".

 The Guerilla War cabinet I previously talked about is now completely gone with exception to the marquee and bezel. The PCB and control panel were sold for enough money to break even for buying that cabinet and the Double Dragon cabinet. After cleaning up the Double Dragon cabinet with a lot of Lysol cleaner, magic erasers, and other means, it looks and smells a lot better than when I first picked it up. The monitor was removed from Guerilla War and installed it into the Double Dragon cabinet after swapping the wood panel connected to the frame and replacing the molex connector to the wires that were originally just grounded to the monitor frame to the isolated transformer inside the cabinet. The monitor that was originally in Double Dragon had severe burn of the game logo burned into it and had to go. I hope to do a tube-swap on it in the future. This setup is working well for playing Robotron 2084 and other games on a 19-in1 multi PCB. The Double Dragon PCB is still on the shelf for audio repairs.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gutting Guerrilla War

 Last week a friend of mine who knows me as an "arcade guy" gave me a tip on a couple of cabinets that some people wanted to get rid of. The owner of the house the machines were in used to run his own business out of his house but had since had serious health issues. The state of the house had become pretty run-down and family members were in the process of clearing stuff out. The basement where the machines sat apparently had a leak or had been flooded at one point.

 Initially, I replied that I wasn't really interested in them because Guerrilla War looked like it was about to fall apart right there (despite the fact it magically still turned on and played!) and the other cabinet, a Double Dragon, wasn't of much interest to me as I'd probably not play it much.

 The next day it dawned on me.. if they only want 100-200$ for these, I could probably get that out of parts from the Guerrilla War alone. I also didn't realize that Double Dragon is a JAMMA-standard game with an 8-way joystick. That makes Double Dragon a great candidate to throw other game PCBs or even a multi-board into. Plus, it sounded like these people really wanted these machines out of there but didn't want to just give them away via a Craig's List ad or whatever. It's rare you see even a total piece of non-working junk sell at an arcade auction for less than 200$ anyway.

Picture texted to me of the game running in the basement of doom.

 So, the next day I rented an appliance dolly for 11$ and headed over to the residence with another friend willing to help for beer & pizza. Luckily, it was only 8 miles away. I preferred to take them one at a time so I could lay them down in the bed of my small truck. Moving them was not easy by any means. I've moved machines before, sometimes without even using a dolly.. but these were fragile and Guerrilla War was very heavy. Maybe because it had soaked up so much water (heh-heh)? The path from the leaky basement out to the yard where my truck was parked was covered in old wood, carpet padding, and other sorts of fun obstacles. After a lot of straining and a bruised arm, I got Guerrilla War home and onto the carport without it exploding into a hundred pieces.

The paintball splats on it give a bit of character!

 I don't consider this salvageable. The bottom of it had been so wet it was starting to separate.. as well as the top of it. Thankfully, things in the center and sides look like they stayed dry.

Front panel all busted up but control panel looks OK.

 At this point I have already taken out the marquee, but it was in good shape. The graphical bezel around the monitor was also in good shape.

With the plexiglass and bezels removed.

 This is the first time I have messed with a vertical-mounted monitor like this, so at first I tried to take the 4 screws out of the frame and pull the frame out. Nope. Stuck on something. Then realized "Oh duh, those are handles" in the wood around it. I put the frame screws back in, removed the 4 screws from the corner of the wood, and it came out very easy; a lot less scary and heavy than handling the 25 inch monitor in the Neo-Geo MVS2. I had already removed the wires to it from the PCB. I couldn't get into the back yet because it was locked and I didn't want to mess with drilling it out if I didn't have to.

Now I've just about got full access to everything.

 The monitor looked bright and colorful with the game playing before it was moved, just a bit of burn-in in the tube from the credits and score text. With that out of the way, I was able to open the back door lock easily from the inside and peer in. It was just as horrible as you would think, but honestly I'm surprised it wasn't worse.

Haha Oh, man.. yeah, I'll pass on even touching this.

 Good thing the main plastic circuit board is mounted half-way up the wall of the machine.

Nice and shiny PCB!

 The monitor has a Wells Gardner chassis (score!) and mild burn-in on the tube from the score and credits text. This will make a good backup replacement 19 inch monitor.

Backside of monitor sitting on t-shirts to prevent scratches.

 After removing the control panel, few more wires, and the JAMMA connector, I'm done rescuing all the good stuff with this. Tomorrow the cabinet will be busted up into smaller pieces for disposal. Next up: a bit of Double Dragon cabinet restoration!