Friday, October 03, 2008

[IF Competition] Recess At Last

This is a spoilery post about Recess at Last by Gerald Aungst. Please do not read on unless you have played the game! (And in fact I have to add some meaningless words here so that the real review doesn't show up on feeds; although frankly it's not the words that are meaningless, and indeed, not even the sentences; I'm reading Carnap at the moment, and he is way too quick in saying that a sentence is meaningless; for instance, "the moon is a city in Germany" seems to me false, not meaningless; but I guess that's what happens when you apply Russell's theory of types to our language about the empirical world.)

As I explained in a previous post, I want to write these comments on the form of advice to the author; not as reviews that end with a numerical mark.

What is good?
  • The implementation is clean, bug free, responsive. This makes the play experience smooth and pleasurable.
  • There are some good hints within the game, and I always had a clear goal.
What could be better?
  • What did the author want to accomplish with this game? The story is trivial; by itself, it cannot keep us interested. Other things that might pique our interest are mostly absent.
  • I suspect that the author wrote a game that taps into his own nostalgia, since it features people and locations based on those he knew as a child. But for us outsiders, such nostalgia is absent. The setting, the characters and the story are bland if they do not come pre-infused with meaning; consequently, the game is rather boring to play. I fear that this piece was a lot of fun to make, but that this fun doesn't translate well to others.
Post-competition release?

Maybe. My main complaint cannot be addressed through anything less than a complete revision, and I'm not sure that is a good idea. I would advise the author to take a more player-centric approach for his next game, and make the leading design question: What will keep the player interested in my game?

Such a question can have many answers (the unfolding of a gripping story, solving devious puzzles, having to make difficult choices, interacting with interesting NPCs, and so on); but it should have at least one clear answer that informs design at every step.

The author certainly has enough technical and writing competence to make a good game, so if he follows this advice, I eagerly await his next work.

No comments:

Post a Comment