Reviews by RandomExile

Spring Thing 2011

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Bonehead, by Sean M. Shore

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent Concept, Uneven Execution, May 13, 2011
by RandomExile
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2011

Bonehead is an interactive exploration of an historical moment and it's clear the author invested time and care into the game's design, but it's hindered by some moment-out-of-time scenes which may be more jarring than illustrative, puzzles both cliched and obscure per the subject matter, and in my case, an inability to defeat my apathy toward baseball minutiae.

I wanted to enjoy it because I think empathy and the ability to learn from a time and place are great strengths of the IF medium (and I'm still firmly on the author's team, as it were), but having to participate in certain character interactions felt like a chore, there came points where it's necessary to perform specific unintuitive actions using unfamiliar language (the bag situation, specifically), and while the early puzzles were straightforward (distract Person A to retrieve Item B), the walkthrough carried me through the awkward final stage which I felt was unplayable otherwise.

Baseball aficionados or historians may feel differently, and there are two deeper and altogether more complementary reviews available by Emily Short and Jimmy Maher at the time of this writing. For the rest, there's always Wikipedia.

Hallow Eve, by Michael Wayne Phipps Jr.

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Look for the Author's Second Game, May 13, 2011
by RandomExile
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2011

...but don't play this one.

Hallow Eve aspires to be a campy 80's slasher romp, but falls apart on weak technicals and poor design.

Problems include: finicky verbs ("saw [object]" doesn't work while you're holding the saw but "cut [object] with saw" does); sit-and-wait plot trigger; an area you're cautioned you could get lost in and have no reason to explore, but which contains a critical item you'll discover you need while on the opposite side of the map, although there's still no reason to think the boring maze-area might have such a thing; occasional plot-on-rails despite superior alternatives (someone's dying right now but you have to walk someone else to her car); poorly responsive NPCs; and the game's entirely unplayable without the walkthrough.

It's the author's first work, and considering that, it's far more substantial as a game than many learning pieces. I was torn between leaving 1 star out of 5, which seems harsh and discouraging, and 2, which seems slightly generous.

There's a good lesson here about seeking feedback early in the development process while puzzles and plot are still being sketched out in even the briefest of design and puzzle documents. Also a great opportunity to check out the IF Theory Reader (edited by Kevin Jackson-Mead and J. Robinson Wheeler), and Jimmy Maher's Let's Tell a Story Together (A History of Interactive Fiction).

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