Sunday, October 18, 2009

[IF Competition] Eruption

Only six more games to go! I have seen very good things about some of them, and I am secretly saving the ones that are probably best for last. Hm, was that a spoiler about Eruption? No, of course not.

Spoiler space, spoiler space, la la la. Did I already tell you that there are at least two games in this competition that mention a platypus? One of them has the platypus marry you to someone. (I gather, from the walkthrough. I don't think anyone has actually reached that part of the game, since it is apparently unwinnable. So this is not a spoiler.) Trivia question of the day: which song compares marrying a platypus to being a certain mythological figure, and prefers marrying the platypus?

Right, on to Eruption, by Richard Bos. For all I know, he might be Dutch: he certainly has the same last name as our vice-prime minister. It means "forest".

My expectations for this game were incredibly high, because Conrad had written this:
We see here the self-portrait of a man who wanted to make a work of art, who looked into his soul for something to express, for a story to tell, and saw – (nothing).
To look inside and see nothing, that is surely at least the beginning of wisdom, and perhaps even the end point of enlightenment. Tell me about it, Richard Bos, tell me about how all is one, how the individual is merely an illusion, about how we can escape from the horrid grasp of the principium individuationis! And if you destroy the idea that art is self-expression while you're at it, that would be even better.

Unfortunately, I am not ready for enlightenment. I even refused to let myself be consumed by the volcano (which would after all only be a change of state, not real death, and if you haven't read the brilliant scene in Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before where the protagonist identifies himself with a rock melting to magma, you should do so now). Richard Bos, I know your soul is so full that it wants to overflow, I know that you read my review and cry to yourself:
They take from me: but do I yet touch their soul?
And I can only weep the bitter tears of those who are unable, through their own ignorance and vice, to take the infinite richess offered them.

I mean, either that, or this game is incredibly boring.

Richard Bos incensed a lot of people by writing:
The way I see it, one of two things can happen, and both are good for me. Either half the games entered are the usual junk, in which case my game, being small but at least well-crafted, will score roughly around the mid-point, which is good for my ego; or it will end up where it belongs, which is firmly near the bottom of the scale, but that is only likely to happen if the Competition has a very good year, without the normal collection of duds. Either way, I’m happy.
But, you know, this argument is so bad that it has to a joke. Nobody is going to get an ego boost from placing higher than a real crap game. And obviously, a lot of things can happen which are not good for Richard Bos, such as him becoming a despised figure in the community.

The way I see it, there are two possibilities. Either Richard Bos is incredibly wise, and has written the above as an exoteric text in order to drive away those who wouldn't be able to understand the esoteric message anyway. Or he has written it as a bad joke while he was tired and had to go to the toilet from drinking too much tea (which is certainly my present state). Either way, I can't get very excited about it.

Conclusion: boring game, but I've read some of the reviews with enjoyment.

Also: this competition has very few duds, actually! There are only two games I have rated lower than Eruption.


  1. Utkonos is apparently Russian for platypus, so that's three. Unless there's a platypus somewhere in Duel in the Snow. In which case my memories of Duel in the Snow are somewhat deficient.

  2. Dammit, I should've known the answer to the trivia question without googlin.

  3. There is mention of a platypus in Duel in the Snow, though I have no idea which command creates this response. (Duel in the Snow was the game I ran ZTools over, since I wanted to know whether I had missed any of the story. I did find a good easter egg and a platypus reference.)

    Is the person who sang that--let's not spoil it yet--well-known in the US? He is not well-known here, but I do from time to time meet people who know him.

  4. Perhaps more among older people, and nerdier people of my generation. The song for which I claimed my 10 bonus points is extremely well known among people of my generation, or at least among me.