Sunday, 17 December 2017

Captain Piedaterre's Blunders

I have released a short CYOA game called Captain Piedaterre's Blunders. It's a spin-off from Ryan Veeder's IFComp 2013 game Captain Verdeterre's Plunder.


Blunders was attached to a longer term project of mine that I don't know will ever get done. So, because lots of time was passing, I decided to snap it off and release it rather than leave it in the cupboard of uncertainty. This way we can all enjoy it.

The game has a quicksave slot (that is barely required!) I only mention this because the quickload works sub-optimally if you play online. When you reload your game online, the current node's choices don't reappear. You can give the machine a kick by entering and leaving the menu on the spot; this brings them back. It's some quirk of Quixe and this tech.

(You know you're back in your IF blog when you find yourself writing a paragraph about some technology that's not working across the board, and you then feel compelled to describe in detail how a player can deal with the non-working case in a fairly irrelevant context – in this case, how to deal with saved games in a game that's so short you don't need to use saved games.)

Link 1: Captain Piedaterre's Blunders play/download page

Link 2: Captain Piedaterre's Blunders IFDB page

PS - Obviously my IFComp playing/reviewing went nowhere this year. Next year I won't write a prelude blog entry; I'll save that for a situation where I know I'm not going to disgrace myself!.. should one ever arise again, and I'm able to tell it's arising. There are many overlapping circles of time and interest that all people deal with, so I don't think mine are worth elaborating on specifically. But where I'm at, the number of entries to IFComp is getting too big now for how I like to try to handle the comp.

Monday, 2 October 2017

IFComp 2017 review: The Living Puppet by Xiao Lin (web browser)


The Living Puppet is a creepy and classically styled horror IF about a pupeteer’s mysterious relationship with the doll that is the sole source of income for he and his wife Li Shaoxian. It’s delivered in a web browser as long passages of click-scrolling text broken up by several major decision branches that the player can choose for Shaoxian. I downloaded it to play it because the ‘Play Online’ button wasn’t working at the time and I’ve written the IFComp organiser about this issue. I played Puppet several times to different outcomes in 40 minutes. I enjoyed the game and recommend it generally, and to horror folks specifically, accepting that a couple of its presentation choices may be too irritating for some players. The game sports horror themes and one explicitly violent scene.

IFComp 2017 review prelude (Wade's)

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart,” said William Wordsworth in some context, at some point in time. These words from Wordsworth comprised my writing software’s randomly chosen quote for today. If it had to be Wordsworth, I’d rather it had been, “But she is in her grave, and, oh, The difference to me!” but that’s the point of randomness, to force people away from their stupid preferences.

Last year I reviewed few IFComp games because I chose to proceed in a random order, though I had little time. I don’t have any more time this year so I won’t proceed in a random order. I will pick something I want to play, and play it, and then seek to review it. I like outright horror best of all in subject matter, and there doesn’t seem to be much of that in this year’s comp. I have no disclaimers this year because I think this is the first year in my IFComp experience in which I haven't tested, supplied art or music for or otherwise helped make any of the entries.


The first IFComp 2017 entry I will play/review will be The Living Puppet because it has the cover art that most stirred my horror waters. It doesn’t have a blurb, but it does have a good title. Note that I’m not judging a book by its cover, just choosing one to read ahead of the other seventy-something.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Leadlight Gamma now working on Sierra (macOS 10.12)

In February 2017 I reported that my horror IF Leadlight Gamma wasn't working in Sierra.

Just this week I caught up with one of Andrew Plotkin's updated builds of Gargoyle which has eliminated that problem.

So now Leadlight Gamma is playable pretty much across the board again, including in Sierra, and I've also done a general refresh of all the links, Read Me's and downloads.

Leadlight Gamma :

Leadlight Gamma Desktop screenshot


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Six goes to release 5

I've just done a bit of maintenance on my 2011 Interactive Fiction Competition parser game Six, resulting in version five.


Did you know that Six, a game suitable for all ages about children playing hide and seek at a birthday party, came second in its year and won the Best Implementation award at the 2011 XYZZYs? It behooves me to remind you of these things. You can visit the slightly refurbished Six website and/or the game's IFDB page for info, propaganda and downloads.

Now I'll tell you what's changed in version five of Six. Summarily, the game content itself hasn't changed, so if that's all you care about, you can stop reading.

THE CONFIGURATION STAGE

I made version five primarily so that I could remove any 2011-centric tech talk from the game's configuration stage. It's now got a more general outlook that means it can sail gracefully into the future, no longer telling people to do or not do things that may only have been correct in 2011. (Those things were important at the time. I was trying to get people to play the game in a fashion ideal to me during the Interactive Fiction Competition.)

If you ever pine to be pushed around like it's 2011, don't worry, the IF Archive will always carry the original version of the game. Better yet, now that the archive can store multiple past versions of games, you could just retreat slightly to version four, thereby benefiting from all the bugfixes and improvements that had occurred since version one while still experiencing the 'classic' configuration stage of 2011!

THE GAME MANUAL

To accompany the config stage changes, I've tweaked pages four and five of the PDF game manual to match. Page four of the manual now has a hyperlink to the Six website – a site I will try to never, ever move – where I can maintain a simple-as-I-can-make-it interpreter download grid. It's a kind of triage: Just read through the three options until you find one that matches your OS and feature concerns. This aspect of playing parser games has not gotten any easier. This is why such a page is helpful.

THE VOLUME LEVELS!

The default volume setting in Six is now 3 out of 5 (for both music and FX) instead of 5 out of 5.

Summarising why I made this change from under my music producer's hat: Some players have reported that they experienced the soundtrack as being louder than they expected it to be. Such a judgement only exists in relation to how loud they perceive other sounds they're familiar with to be at the same volume dial position.

Part of Six's loudness is down to the soundtrack having few elements in it. As an example: In the world of recording, a single violin playing can easily be perceived as louder than the whole of Metallica playing, at one volume dial position, if the violin and Metallica were both recorded to peak at digital zero (beyond which only distortion is recorded) and delivered that way to listeners. Six peaks at digital zero, and though it wasn't made with an explicit goal of loudness, its few synths are filling the same volume bandwidth as, say, a pop or rock artist's whole band.

The second issue is that, given the nature of the game and the cute-leaning music, people just expect this kind of music to not emerge too loudly. We don't blast children with loud music (do we?!).

So I'm using Inform's volume amplification stage to moderate the default volume of Six to a lower level. You can still turn it up and down inside of your IF interpreter within the same range as before. The upshot is that for someone playing for the first time, the music won't debut as loudly as it used to.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

La Crapule (The Villain) detective adventure game – new on the Apple II

French parser-driven detective adventure game The Villain (La Crapule) was originally published on the Macintosh by Froggy Software in 1987. Thanks to Brutal Deluxe Software, it's just been released commercially for the Apple II in both English and French versions.

La Crapule Apple II title page
La Crapule Apple II title page
I haven't played The Villain yet. I'm very likely to, being both an Apple II head and an IF head, but Brutal Deluxe are mostly publicising the game in Apple II circles. That's why I figured I'd share its PR info here in my IF blog.

First, here come the press release and purchase links. For now, the game is being sold only on physical Apple II media. I asked Antoine of Brutal Deluxe if a digital (disk image) will be sold and he said probably, but that there is no definite plan. You'll also note that the press release promises that the game engine will soon be available separately:

"You sip your daily Kir in the dilapidated place that serves as your detective's office when the phone starts to ring. Your reputation as a detective has already crossed the boundaries of the Republic district, yet a little work would not harm your bank account.

The anxious voice of an elderly woman echoed in the handset: "Sir, I need your help, I am the Countess of La Fêlure, and my husband and I live in a manor house at the end of the town. We live there with our servants and our cousins, the Dumoulin de La Fêlure. I am really worried because my husband has disappeared for two days...

Would you like to go to investigate, please? As soon as you find my husband, wait for me in the living room and try to solve that mystery. I will be able to show myself generous!"

Of course you accept and you are on the way to the manor of La Fêlure to elucidate the mystery of the disappearance of the Count..."

La Crapule was writen by Jean-Louis Le Breton for the Macintosh only in 1987. It was released by Froggy Software, owned by Jean-Louis Le Breton. Jean-Louis is the author of the first Apple II adventure games in French and has released more than ten games through Froggy Software.

Brutal Deluxe Software is proud to make it available for the Apple II computer line in French or English with the agreement (blessing ;-)) of Jean-Louis. The first three signed copies by Jean-Louis will be auctioned on eBay. We have special offers for the KansasFest and Apple II Festival France attendees.

The game engine is powerful, you can enter a full sentence, eg. "I go north", "I talk to the Countess". There are more than ten rooms, plenty of characters, the dictionary is huge and the number of play hours is high.

The game engine development kit will soon be available through the same channel. Let your imagination wander to create your adventure games in text only or with pictures: from 40-col text, 80-col, GR, DGR, HGR (mono/color where supported), DHGR (mono/color where supported) to SHR pictures.

Get your own copy at http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/store/

Jean-Louis Le Breton
Antoine Vignau & Olivier Zardini

The Google English translation of Froggy software's French wikipedia page says that their goal was to 'sell French, amusing, and out-of-the-ordinary games at a price of about FRF 150', and that the company's choice of Froggy as a name (an English word connoting Frenchness) was a deliberate one in the context of how Apple II software was sold and perceived in France in its day.

There are two YouTube videos showing the game starting up in the Sweet16 Apple IIGS emulator and a few commands being entered. One video is for the French version and the other for the English version. The game looks attractive but in terms of showing the quality of the parser or much gameplay, these 60 seconds videos are not very helpful. I figure their main purpose is just to show the tech of this Apple II version of the game:

Link to the French version video
Link to the English version video

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Parser Power Summer Double Sale!

I've teamed up with Andrew Plotkin for an itch.io summer sale which has been going for a few days and which ends in 4 days, 0 hours and 59 minutes as of me publishing this post:

The Parser Power Summer Double! (sale!)

For US$9.00 you get Hadean Lands (sci-fi) by Andrew Plotkin, you Leadlight Gamma (horror) by me, you get a hi-res version of the Hadean Lands map and you get a Bandcamp voucher for the Leadlight Gamma soundtrack. That's more than 50% off both games plus the extras.

If you're not familiar with Hadean Lands, the non-mine game in this bundle Where have you been for the past two years? Hiding under a rock on Mars? Waiting for someone to randomly turn that rock over when there are about a zillion rocks on Mars, and they're all the same colour? If so, your behaviour was fool behaviour. You were bound to remain stuck under that rock, unaware of the existence of the game Hadean Lands, unaware of its nature. That's everything that was wrong with your behaviour.

Now that I've thoroughly described the non-mine game of this bundle, here's the link to the sale page:

THE PARSER POWER SUMMER DOUBLE SALE LINK

It's an attractive page and I'll miss it when it's gone. itch.io make it very easy to set this kind of thing up.

Names for this sale we rejected include

  • Hadean Light
  • Leadlands
  • Got Alchemy?
  • Literacy Night Out
  • The Sinful Schoolgirls of Hades
  • Where's My Summer? I Live in the Southern Hemisphere