Sunday, October 6, 2013

IFComp 2013 Reviews--9 Lives

 IFComp is an annual competition for short works of interactive fiction.  "9 Lives" was published under the name InformStorm and provides the following blurb:  "This IF was created as an assignment for ENG 437: Project Management, taught by Prof. Stuart Moulthrop at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.  The authors were Bill Balistreri, Hal Hinderliter, Sean Klabough, Luke Michalski and Morgan Sokol."
My reaction to this blurb: "OK, so now I know this game was a team effort for a class project.  But would I be rewarded for clicking play?"

Final opinion:  Several different and largely unrelated scenes in this story reflect the “collaborative” effort behind this work.  The unifying theme is a transcendence through several levels of being, based on a Buddhist or Hindu understanding of reincarnation.  The concept is an interesting one, but challenging to execute in IF because of the number of scenes that are required.  The world-building in this game is broad (seven levels!) but the implementation is shallow. “Examine me” gives the default response on every level I tried.  It pays not to push the limits of the simulation, but just stay on the path you've been clued to follow.

The writing quality here is adequate for the purpose, but nothing special.  Difficulty level varies.  In some worlds, a player can complete the level by just waiting around.  But the last world requires the player to fly to several different locations which were not clued or mentioned.  For me, unsolvable without the walk-through.  Over-all, I'd expect this game to finish near the fiftieth percentile in the competition.

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