Design and documentation journal for my interactive fiction (text games); also reviews and other miscellaneous stuff.

Friday, October 8, 2010

IF Comp 2010: Oxygen

I am pretty sure I have strep throat, which means I can barely swallow unless I am doing so with a mouthful of tea.  On occasion I indulge my masochistic side and swill orange juice, bathing the recalcitrant S. pyogenes in acid.  This burns like fire, but is still better than dry swallowing.  I have consumed approximately 60 liters of fluid due to this need, and can barely sleep because it means that I am not drinking.  The last time this happened, I ended up wandering delirious through the electronics section of the nearest superstore, completely disoriented and unable to remember how I'd gotten there from the hospital two miles away.  So if I start mentioning things that aren't actually in the game, someone drop me an email or something.  Let's see - that'll do for a segue.

Right.  Spoilers.  Possibly for things not in the game, unless my expired Tylenol have kicked in.  Also, non-reviewness.

--- Oxygen ---
"Deprive a person of oxygen, and you kill his body; deprive him of self-respect and you kill his spirit."  - Thomas S. Szasz

There are actually things out there that can't survive in the presence of oxygen.  I wonder if some people are like that - they actually thrive on self-hatred.  Also, I really want my last name to be Szasz.  In addition, it looks like all online games are on a cream background with a peach status bar.  I am not sure I approve, but it could be even more hideous.  At least it's legible.

Oooh, I get to enable sound!  You know, the weird thing about sound is that the explosion sound lasts for 1-2 seconds, while me reading about the explosion lasts for longer.  Thankfully, though, the author did not implement an alarm siren or anything, so I can continue reading in peace.

. . . I think Jefferies tubes are capitalized, and only live on Star Trek.  Am I wrong?  Maybe I'm wrong.  Too sick to google them now.  Googling takes precious energy that could be spent sucking down liquids.  Also, run-on sentence in the first description: "It isn't plugged into anything at the moment, however there is an outlet nearby."

Hey, the ABOUT command includes email and a web address.  Kudos.  Also, kudos for not making me type a bunch of commands to do things: >OPEN PANEL means automatic unscrewing and opening.  This makes me all giddy with good will.  I'm also apportioning a small quantity of good will for the inner monologue voice and attempts to make it interesting, but removing points for incosistency: "The display console gives a beef in response as if to acknowledge your success" is crisp and enunciated, but two paragraphs later we're "gonna be outta luck."  It's not awful, but it is a little distracting.

. . . is it standard operating procedure to leave override cards scattered throughout the ducts?

Oh, man, I can't deal with all these colors and Greek letters right now.  Is there a cheat sheet?

I can't tell if I'm doing things right or not.  There doesn't seem to be much feedback.  There wasn't any affirmative message when I thought I got the oxygen right. 

Oh, I was supposed to talk to the man.  I thought he was critically injured.  Hmm.

. . . and then I got sucked into outer space.

Really promising opening, but the setup was not described well enough for me to have any idea whether my actions were appropriate, which made the whole thing sort of like flailing in the dark.  And I still don't really have a good idea of what I'd do differently on replay.

After reading the walkthrough, I'm only a little more enlightened.  Apparently, I needed to spend more time reading the book (which is what I always do when the oxygen is running out).  Also, apparently I missed the status bar info, because the online interpreter scrolled down too far and it was hidden.  So that was sort of a critical confluence.  In addition, though, I just didn't have a good understanding of the mechanics.  Nitpick: Some combination of card insertion in different parts of the ship decides where the oxygen goes?  This seems like a pretty weak fail-safe system.

A fun game, and pretty well polished, although something of a single puzzle, trial and error game.  I don't feel any urge to replay, though.  It's not really my thing.  I think for players that enjoy this sort of thing, it's probably pretty sweet. 

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