Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thoughts on 2014 Minicomp

Well, I've just made my rounds of all the minicomp games and this is, briefly, my thoughts on each. Overall, I was impressed by the general quantity and quality of the offerings. It certainly says something hopeful about AIF in general. In alphabetical order:

Amy the Slut
This is one of the three games I failed to finish in this year's minicomp. It's technically impressive in that it's basically a dating sim using Twine, but I just felt no motivation to help Lance get with Amy. The prose is rather spare and to-the-point, as well, leaving very little meat. In the end, I wasn't curious about their relationship and there wasn't enough going on to keep my interest.

Dinner Plans
Wow... where do I start? I loved Dinner Plans. It may be, actually, the best minicomp game I've ever played. The snappy dialogue, excellent writing, interesting concept and well-realized characters all combined for something pretty fucking memorable. The pacing was just excellent, and the transition to the final sex scene in the end was very smooth. That made the game exceptionally hot. AOneHitWonder, I hope not.

Friday Afternoon
This was clearly the best of the various Twine offerings this year. The writing in Friday Afternoon was great, with elegant readable prose, unfortunately marred by a few spelling errors ("cocktails", not "coctails"). What particularly stood out for me were the descriptions, which were very well illustrated. Where it suffered, perhaps was in structure and pacing. I felt a little like I had been dropped among a bunch of different characters I really hadn't been introduced to. I'm told my character is chasing after a girl, but I don't really get a chance to know her before Sex Scene happens. Being a snippet of a larger game, I suppose this can't be helped.

Fucking Monster Bash
Full disclosure, I helped beta test Fucking Monster Bash... and then I ruined it by updating Simpler AIF 1,000,000 times. The best part of the game was the documentation, which called me a genius, something that was sorely lacking in the other offerings this year.

...Ok, on a serious note, I'm not quite a coding genius, since I7 is the only programming language I'm any good at, but it is flattering all the same.

Hanon Ondricek's writing is hilarious. I really thought Briar deserved to win last year's minicomp. Admittedly, I can't say FMB quite deserves that distinction, though I think Hanon has it in him to make an excellent game. I still question the use of Threaded Conversations. I'm not a big fan of the extension myself. As a player, it's very weird and it's effectively a menu-based system without the convenience.

Lark Rise
Unfortunately, I couldn't make it through this game either. The number of errors and run-on paragraphs made it very difficult for me to read through. There is one section where you find some papers, and out pops a massive block of text I immediately glazed over. Eventually, I got stuck after calling Evie to dinner and that was that. Which is unfortunate, because clearly the author is trying to tell some kind of story, but it ends up just getting lost. There could be a good game in here, but it is in such desperate need of proofreading.

One Last Pay Day
Wow. Another mind-blower. This time we're put on an alien planet with a firebrand warrior merc babe, and we need to do exciting shit like pop alien heads. The writing was awesome, dialogue snappy and characters bursting with personality. Some puzzles are a bit easy, by the end of the game you end up making some very headscratchy decisions and serious moral quandaries. The amount of polish approaches absurd. It plays great. Period.

*minor spoilers* Another curious thing about this game is that this is the first game I've played where the main female interest is pretty damn evil. It's definitely a different take. By the end of the game, I really didn't like her very much, which spoiled an otherwise excellent ending sex scene. That's the only bad thing I can say about this game, and it's most a personal taste thing.

Slim Spady Detective
An interesting concept that, unfortunately, just wasn't executed well. The author was clearly going for a traditional IF feel while sticking with Twine. I think the author would have been better served learning how to use one of the traditional AIF authoring systems (TADS, ADRIFT, or my favorite, I7). The rather strange inventory system put me through a loop. Eventually, I kinda just stopped playing.

An AIF game set during a snowstorm is an excellent concept. But this is more a truth-or-dare game, and the challenge here is to get your partner comfortable enough to have sex with you. The descriptive prose is unfortunately very sparse, but the dialogue is better.

Unfortunately, Emily is a bit odd. She takes it very personally when asked to twerk, for example, and I kinda of felt dealing with her was a bit like navigating a minefield. When the sex does come, the descriptions are very spare. Had they been a bit more padded I think the game would have been more compelling.

Personal Rankings

(NOTE: This is NOT the official results. These are just the games that I think are the best.)

3rd: Friday Afternoon by Shannon O'Donnelly
The writing was excellent and the concept hot. I can't wait to see it expanded. Unfortunately, it didn't have the same sort of depth of interaction as those that were higher.

2nd: One Last Pay Day by Louys Bilitis
Between the excellent writing and the stunning amount of polish, this game could have very easily taken 1st place for me. Unfortunately, it didn't quite have the level of eroticism as the first place game.

1st: Dinner Plans by AOneHitWonder
It's a bit formulaic, but the great characters, quality of the sex scenes, and outstanding pacing and writing made Dinner Plans the best game this year. I loved it and I can't wait to see if there will be more.

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