Whitefield Academy of Witchcraft

by Steph Cherrywell profile


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Sorcerer+Potter+Nancy Drew, May 11, 2014
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)

NOTE: I have not completed the game yet due to hardware limitations (Mac, online only) but I wanted to call attention to it.

This is one of the best examples of a non choice-based Quest game I've seen in a while. Even though the story obviously pulls inspiration from several sources (Infocom spell-fests, J.K.Rowling) the writing is clever and at the level where it feels like one of Infocom's old-school fictions, perhaps aimed at the WISHBRINGER crowd. The female protagonist returns to her not-Hogwarts magic school a day late to find everyone missing, frozen, or worse. The game touts five re-usable spells and from the section I played seemed tightly coded...

Except I *ached* for this story to be in Glulx or Tads with a more robust parser. I'm on a Mac, and therefore cannot play Quest games offline, so each turn takes from half a second to about five seconds to register, and while that doesn't sound like much, it's like walking through sticky mud. Also, many of the standard modern conveniences such as word synonyms (READ BOOK? Nope. READ SPELLBOOK) and some pronoun handling (TAKE BOOK. EXAMINE IT sometimes failed to catch what I was talking about) are noticeably absent from the interface. Fortunately Quest provides an inventory list and a list of exact items in scope so that's not a huge deal, but it felt clunky to type TAKE CAKE. (whoops) TAKE CUPCAKE frequently. I did enjoy some Quest features, such as a colorful automatic map and a compass rose showing viable directions at all times.

The author is quite on the ball (loved the trashy romance novel excerpt) and has included some original art as well. I'm almost certain she would be conscientious about synonyms and the like if Quest made it easy. I'm not vastly experienced with Quest, but I know creating a parser-style game on the order of one this fully-implemented is quite a huge task involving advanced scripting concepts despite the language's "easy" trappings which is why many of the games that come out using it (unlike this one) are relatively simple or CYOA.

I hope to continue this, which means I'm going to have to register for the Quest site (I'm sure I have before, just don't remember it) in order to save my progress. Definitely worth a look if you are on PC and can download the off-line Quest runner, or have a lot more patience than I do.

Comments on this review

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Zoe Victoria, June 28, 2020 - Reply
Wait, you can save on the web? I tried it and only got an error.
Steph C, May 13, 2014 - Reply
Thank you for your review! I'm glad you enjoyed the parts of the game you were able to play, and I'm sorry you weren't able to play offline. The game isn't really 'done' yet (although it is finishable) and still needs much of the scenery/unnecessary-but-should-have-a-description stuff added in; I'm working on both that and making sure that all the logical ways of doing something give a response! I'm quite new to writing IF and enjoyed using Quest because it was very concrete (no having to mess around with actual code); if you know about another program with that feature which you'd recommend over Quest, I'll give it a look!
E.K., May 14, 2014 - Reply
I had almost exactly the same reactions to the game as Hanon, so much so that the review I was going to write I abandoned as it doesn't add much - your writing's great, the story's great, the spell functionality is really fun... but argh, not Quest! I'm not an author myself so I can't comment on comparative ease of use for writing, but as a player I tend towards Inform games.

Knowing you're working on synonyms and scenery etc, I very much look forward to seeing the finished product. You've got a really good start here already.
Hanon Ondricek, May 13, 2014 - Reply
You should definitely at least take a look at Inform 7. The code is very readable and understandable, and usually is easier for "non coder" people, although there is specific syntax you need to use.
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