Sunday, October 2, 2016

How to win at rock, paper, scissors (review)

"How to Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors" is a Glulx game by Brian Kwak entered in the 2016 IF competition. This game was not at the very top of my first randomized shuffle, but it was the first to catch my attention with its intriguing blurb, and simple but clever graphic.

I've been playing the IF comp since 2003, and have written two well-received games myself-both published in 2008 ("Pascal's Wager" and "Afflicted"). I had a child in 2009, and in the years since my only contribution to the IF community has been a number of reviews, often scattered over the internet under different pseudonyms. Looking forward I plan to keep all reviews on this blog.

2007 was the first year judges were allowed to post comment during the competition. That rule change had a hugely positive impact on the competition, generating more buzz than it had seen before. Over time, that buzz has lead to a greater number and variety of games/stories displayed in the competition in the years since. 2016 will be the first year in which the game designers themselves can participate in the conversation. Most reviewers are polite and most designers have a thick enough skin, so I am cautiously hopeful about the rule change.

I realize that many of my links to last year's games are now broken, pointing to the 2016 competition page instead of the 2015 games. I will try some new ways of linking to this year's games that should be more permanent.

If you came here for the review: "How to Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors" is a function parser game, with a few funny moments. Implementation is sparse but adequate. There are several puzzles, with a repeating puzzle dynamic reflected in the title. I completed the game in under two hours, with a single reference to the hints, which I probably could have gotten by without. The external walk-through file is formatted in ROT13, which I like for preventing spoilers. Recommended if you're looking for something light and inconsequential.

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