Hangover review

Alright.  This is a terrible game.  It’s written in Adrift 3.9, which is free of charge, and given the quality of the games it produces it costs too much.

_Hangover_ is almost as bad as my own game, _LAIR of the CyberCow_, which was also written in Adrift 3.9.

_Hangover_ is badly programmed, it’s badly spelled, it’s insulting, and it falls apart as a game.

Even so, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t think anyone else will.  In fact, I don’t think anyone else *can* — about two-thirds of the way through the game, I *think* it becomes unwinnable.  But, as a consequence of my CyberCow experience, I know something about Adrift, and I hacked the file to make it playable.

I had gotten to the part where I was in the Bank of America, trying to convince a platypus to give me the forms so I could file a name-change I didn’t need on my debit card, and, well, I wanted to see how the story turned out.

Although I would gladly lay the game’s unsolvability at the feet of Campbell Wild, who has continued to inflict Adrift 3.9 on the community despite its hideous bugginess, honestly I think the programming problems in this game are the author’s fault.  I mean, programming errors are always the author’s *responsibility* — but in this case, it was due to inattention on the author’s part, and failure to beta-test, rather than Adrift 3.9’s problems.

The author makes a number of coding errors.  In your apartment, your bedroom and your living room are both west of each other.  Objects are described in the room description, with a suggestion that you pick them up, and then after you pick them up they’re still described in the room description.  There are unsolvable puzzles (the bit with the pigeons).  It can very easily be rendered unwinnable.  Sometimes you have to type commands in very precisely.

–But this last one starts to shade over into Campbell Wild’s domain, and the terrible parser he created.  Looking over the game file, I can see that Red Conine, the author, put a great deal of effort into matching many different framings of the same command.

Meantime, the spelling is bad, the grammar’s often faulty, and the author frequently falls into cliches and then flails around while trying to get out of them.  For example, “seems to be” is used even when not appropriate.  Red writes, “The door you just walked through seems to be a false wall and it was one.”

None of that bothered me — I’m into Shakespeare, which is a good way to overcome any ideas of spelling — and instead my ears tuned into certain turns of phrase, such as “hard sleeper” (for “sound sleeper”).  In short, in every way the story is the inverse case of _Eruption_:  it has very poor production quality, but the author is really communicating something.

The story follows an all-out loser in his journey to a kind of redemption.  It’s a journey that he bumbles through, largely despite his best efforts, while he runs a self-loathing internal dialogue in his mind.

This game will do terribly badly in the Comp, and honestly it deserves to — Comp games are held to the highest possible standards, which is what we all want — but nevertheless I thought it was fun and I enjoyed the author’s dynamic storytelling.

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Published in: on October 9, 2009 at 8:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I take it you do not unreservedly recommend Adrift 3.9 as a development system then?

  2. No, not unreservedly and not at all. You *can* make a game with it, but it’s unstable and insulting to the user.

    There’s another one, called SUDS, which I’ve been keeping my eye on as something that would allow non-programmers to write a game. See http://sudslore.org for info. It appears to be stable and nice. But, there’s currently a bug, so that it displays all examinable objects (like the sun) in the room inventory window.

    I encourage people to write the organizer and nag him, nicely, to fix that. At which point, I think it’ll be possible to write as good a game as anything Adrift can do, with greater stability and reliability.

    Also, it’s free.

    What we really need is one of these that compiles to Z-code.

    Conrad.

    ps – Ofc, most folks in the IF community will tell you that writing games for non-programmers is what Inform 7 is for. I won’t argue with that, but a few years ago I found I7 very difficult to grok. Happily, many grok it fine.


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