Reviews by Andrew Schultz

IF Comp 2012

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Kicker, by Pippin Barr

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Being Mark Titus, the game, November 18, 2012
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2012

American football is tough to write a simple game about. Many early computer game tries stunk as One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird soared. Even other Americans are baffled by the men in motions, the Wildcat formation, bubble screens, illegal procedure, or what's the point of extra points, anyway, since people make them most of the time except when they don't.

Kicker doesn't really deal with any of this. It doesn't try to. It's more about observation, without any direct humor. You're probably the least macho player on the squad--a placekicker. His good kicks are taken for granted and expected. He sees even less action than the punter, who is an NPC in this game and who looks down on the kicker less than the linebackers, the special teams coaches, and other people. And it's not recommended he try anything fancy.

So most of the game is spent observing, except for the time your team scores a touchdown or their drive stalls within field goal range (that's the last third of the field) and you're called into action.

The game even has a nice little scoreboard in the upper right, with the field position in the upper left, but the game text doesn't actually show this. I suspect it's a comment on how you're probably wrapped up in yourself.

The game seems totally random as to who wins or loses, but it's more interesting how your teammates try to ignore you or put you down. So actually, instead of going through the game, you're better off just hitting Z.UNDO to see what everyone is doing.

Sometimes the game is a bit too light on detail--it's not even clear if you're a pro or college kicker--and unfortunately there aren't enough scenarios that might make the game more interesting. Merciless undoing seems to show the game accounts for safeties and also makes long field goals tougher and even lets you incur a concussion, and the plays account for when there is little time left. The mad libs for the plays are pretty good, too, although sometimes a (slow) linebacker successfully covers a (fast) wide receiver.

I've probably said more about this game than the author intended, and it's an amusing curiosity. But given how the game started--my team went down 9-0 and I kicked a field goal--I sort of expected a dramatic end. And I think it would be amusing if someone could rig together a string of fake field goals, two-point conversions and so on to try to capture a game's feel and do more than this observational piece.

Given the author wrote a game about waiting in line, I think his game gave the intended effect. Nevertheless, there's the possibility for more, with maybe giving, say, the special-teams coach a turn, though I don't think a text game from a more active player's perspective could be effective.

Also, I really want non-default responses for (Spoiler - click to show)score and any sort of swearing, both of which are integral parts of the game, for better or worse.

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