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His Majesty's Royal Space Navy Service Handbook

by Austin Auclair profile

Science Fiction
2023

Web Site

(based on 8 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

A text adventure of paperwork, office politics, and sci-fi space battles.

It's Friday night and Sheryl hasn't yet left the office. That isn't unusual; she's a dedicated service member of His Majesty Smurg IV, the Decisive's Royal Space Navy, and she spends far more time at the office than her tiny apartment. Just as she is packing her bag, however, the phone at her desk rings, she answers, and discovers her boss on the line. He has a special assignment that only Sheryl Swift, Sub-Lieutenant of the Human Resources Command, can accomplish.

A parser text adventure written in Inform 7 and made for the 2023 SeedComp game jam. The seed that inspired this game was created by Pinkunz.

The estimated completion time for this game is about one hour.


Game Details


Awards

2nd Place, Best Overall; Entrant, All Games - SeedComp! - 2023

Winner, Outstanding Worldbuilding of 2023 - The 2023 IFDB Awards

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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 3
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
All Hail Smurg IV !, March 7, 2023
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

Meet Sub-Lieutenant of Human Resources Command Sheryl Swift.
Sheryl is punctual, tidy, scrupulously hygienical, and conscientious about her work. All good personal qualities, no?
She diligently organises and leads the weekly staff meetings, preferably during friday-noon lunch break. She sternly believes those beneath one on the societal ladder should be cared for with a firm guiding hand. Thatís important work, no?
Recently, Sheryl was promoted to the free-standing cubicle closest to her boss 's Lieutenantís office. Even though he never asks her in, it's a sign that sheís worthy of her position, no?
The Lieutenant himself even calls her to take care of an urgent matter in the office. On a friday evening. Minutes before she would leave her desk, put on her coat and go home. Thatís firm proof of his trust in her, no?

Against a tumultuous futuristic backdrop, we follow Sheryl as she searches the Human Resources Command offices for a number of missing chapters for the new draft of His Majesty Smurg IVís Royal Space Navy Service Handbook. Lieutenant Fernandez wants them sent through that same evening. A menial clerkís job it would seem, but Sheryl performs it with pride and ingenuity. While we see glimpses of the Space Navy fighter fleet in action through the window, Sheryl just as dutifully does her part for the smooth operation of the Human Resources department of His Majestyís Space Navy.

His Majestyís Royal Space Navy Service Handbook utilises a limited and efficient verb set, which it vehemently insists upon when it is strayed from. In contrast, the surroundings are richly implemented. Descriptions of objects provide deeper layers of detail and they often include nuggets of characterisation for Sheryl or clues about her co-workers who misplaced the missing chapters of His Majestyís Royal Space Navy Service Handbook.

While at first it may seem that there is a bit too much handholding in solving the problems, we must realise that His Majestyís Royal Space Navy Service Handbook chooses to exchange some player satisfaction or puzzle-glory for a smoother flow of the story and better control of the tempo. This makes for a more engaging story.

Sheryl is a beautifully drawn character. I will remember her for the next XYZZY Awards.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
As a bureaucrat play hide and seek with documents, March 25, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This was a refreshingly well-designed game. There were a couple of things that didn't work out for me, but this game had the kind of smoothness I'd associate with experienced authors like Ryan Veeder or Zarf.

The conceit is that you are a space bureaucrat in a future technocracy. You are in charge of delivering a technical manual, but it's after hours and every chapter of the manual was assigned to a different subordinate. You have to track down each person's personal copy.

There was a lot of light office and space-bureaucracy humor, some fun romance, and a lot of little niceties (like the 'press anything' button being an ascii art anchor and having exits listed).

One nice feature was having all verbs listed, and once you found something using that verb it was crossed off the list. This was very satisfying.

The author seems to have found the lack of verbs a weakness instead of strength; typing the wrong thing too many times gives you a big apology about how they didn't have time to implement responses to everything not on the list. But constrained verb games are their own genre and are fun, and having the player get repeated errors isn't negative, it's just a fact of parser games; the errors are the 'boundaries' of the world, and having firm boundaries can make a game better.

I had a great experience with this. The main thing I disliked is that 8 cubicles are mentioned but you can only ever interact with two, despite learning the names of the others. I'd prefer it if it recognized, say 'Becher's cubicle' and just said 'that cubicle is boring' or something.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Why pay attention to torrid space romance when there's paperwork to be done?, September 14, 2023
by pieartsy (New York)
Related reviews: seedcomp

This is a charming game about a very stuffy and uptight woman whoís probably very unpleasant to work with, but who is fun to see the inner thoughts of. The puzzles are relatively simple and logical (though I still needed hints because parsers are difficult for me). I liked how the game had verbs assigned to solutions and removed them you solved things, just to lighten the load; very clever design choice for the limitations of the deadline. Most mentioned things were examinable and that always feels nice. Also bonus cookie for torrid, exciting, daring romance that you only incidentally see through a window while you gather paperwork.

As a short SeedComp game, it wastes NO time trying to do a prologue, backstory, or exposition thatís not directly in the game world-- thus I think this is an excellent example of how to exposit heavy setting details in an efficient way. The incredibly biased views of the protagonist showcase the rigidity and expectations of the society via her very thoughts, and all other worldbuilding is delivered through dialogue, items and tchotchkes, and windows into the not-so-empty vacuum of space.

I did find the authorís notes proselytizing about not using verbs not in the verb list a little annoying.

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His Majesty's Royal Space Navy Service Handbook on IFDB

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Polls

The following polls include votes for His Majesty's Royal Space Navy Service Handbook:

Most Sequel-worthy game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the most sequel-worthy game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members....

Outstanding Worldbuilding of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the game with the best worldbuilding of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB...

Outstanding Science Fiction Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best Science Fiction game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members....




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