[IF Comp 2019] Randomized Escape, by Yvan Uhlmann

Randomized Escape is a game in which you have to escape from a randomly generated area of vacant lots, unnamed streets, discarded junk and, worst of all, ghostly apparitions. To do so, you must find several clues and items that are also randomly distributed, and then go through a rusty door. This is a sound set-up. With the right design, one could create a game that offers fresh challenges on every go; or that at least offers some variety while the player attempts to stitch together the solution.

Unfortunately, the actual game is all but unplayable. The first thing that we notice is that the prose is very hard to follow. The chosen style is disoriented horror: the protagonist, losing his or her mind, thinks in extremely disjointed sentences and has highly disconnected experiences. Achieving clarity while using this style is hard even for a talented writer of English. But Yvan Uhlmann is clearly writing in a second language here, and the prose is hard to get through. Here are two short samples:
You walk forward until a brighten spot. It is almost like if you felt reassured for a moment.
A heinous shock breaks you in half as you saw an horrifying figure smiling at you in the shadow.
After a few rooms like this, I decided to quit the game and check out the source code instead; intentionally or not, the download link just gives you the entire Inform 7 directory. From this I gathered that the city consists of nine locations, as well as the information about the rusty door given above. Determined to give the game another try now that I had a slightly better idea of what was going on, I started it up again. I soon found a parchment with a poem copied from H. P. Lovecraft, except that it contained the password to get something done in a particular location. From the source code, I knew that this would reveal the rusty door. So I went to the location and said the password. Nothing happened. I studied the source code, studied it some more, turned on debugging commands in the game, and finally realised what was going on.

> scream B'gnu-Thun (to yourself) There is no reply. >scream rusty door As you say these terrible words, the wind [and so on]
A clear coding mistake that makes the intended solution to the central puzzle impossible to find without delving into the course code! Clearly, then, this piece was never even tested.


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