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Traveller's Log

by Null Sandez


(based on 7 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

Content warning: please do not use file upload or cheats

Game Details


70th Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)


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Number of Reviews: 5
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Minimal python game, October 12, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

I teach computer science at a high school, and we use python (and, in the past, Java). At the end of last year one student really enjoyed making randomized D&D combat scenarios and weapon creation tools, and did that as his final project.

This game is very similar in nature and quality, the same as a final project for an intro python course. It has a randomized character creator that can give you magic abilities, a cat, or neither, among other things. You have the option to walk around, trade for better items, or warp to a new area.

Walking around is the main feature. Often it would describe me finding something and then something happens. The most variable was chests; having a sword and finding a chest, you slash it open, and it can kill you, give you an entity that follows you, or give you money.

Dying has no real effect; you instantly respawn and you keep all your items, so it's the same as nothing happening.

I was able to buy a sword, a shield, a map (which I think helps you pick where to warp), and some magic arrows. The game ends when you get 100 coins.

Overall, if this were a student in my class, I'd give them an A for excellent work. As an IFComp entry, though, I think it lacks polish, is not very descriptive, has somewhat unsatisfying interactivity, and doesn't lend itself to emotional impact. The game achieves, I think, its author's goals, but my personal tastes weren't aligned with them.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Beware the snadwick, my son, November 21, 2022
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2022

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2022's IFComp).

The ur-philosophy of video games was surely Existentialism. Regardless of whatever thin veneer of plot was spangled across the decals of early arcade cabinets – Space Invaders, Asteroids, what have you – in practice the player found themselves in an endlessly repeating world, set to some cryptic task that would finish only when their patience, or quarters, ran out, the myth of Sisyphus transformed by the alchemy of late capitalism from a punishment to an amusement. True, the ever-increasing score in the top corner provided some indication that progress was possible, but assigning meaning to an arbitrary number surely takes an act of will – and while, as overclocked apes, we’re wired to be susceptible to the draw of competition, even Camus couldn’t have come up with a vision of conflict more absurd than vying over a Pac-Man high score table. And even video games’ nerdier cousins weren’t especially different: the early treasure hunts of Adventure and Zork are just more score chases, albeit with gestures towards genre tropes to provide a bit of texture. The player is nothing but the sum of their choices, starting with the choice to assign a value to success at all.

We’ve gotten better at evading this dynamic over the years – with strategies ranging from leaning into the competition angle, drawing meaning from imagined dominance, to cloaking fundamentally empty, endlessly-abnegating gameplay in ever-more-elaborate narrative disguises, and maybe every once in a while creating something that can stand alongside the best music and novels and films in claiming to get as close as possible to inherent significance as anything can in this fallen world. But ninety-nine times out of a hundred, scratch the surface, and we are confronted with absurdity.

To bring this around to the point: one must imagine Sisyphus happy, sure, but after playing fifteen minutes of Traveller’s Log I’m definitely not.

What we’ve got here is an RNG-heavy RPG, implemented in Python, with as far as I can tell no goals, plot, or characterization beyond a randomly-generated backstory that wins points for silliness but has no bearing on the game itself:

You are impulsive, precise and mysterious.
You are a dragon
Your name is Zureom.
You were born and grew up in a fairly rich family in a normal village, and lived happily until you were about 4 years old. But, at that point, your life changed drastically.
You lost your parents when they left after a government takeover and are now alone, miserable and abandoned.
You now have to survive in a rough world, filled with magic and mystery.

Hopefully dragons age in like dog’s years, or Zureom’s enemies could bring their adventures to an untimely end with one call to Child Protective Services.

You’re set loose into one of half a dozen different regions, with the options to “walk” – which basically means trawling for encounters – trade with some invisible, omnipresent merchants, or try your luck in a randomly-picked different region. Random encounters can be with foxes, who just provide a bit of atmosphere, handleless doors that can’t be opened, treasure chests that alternately provide a couple coins or kill you without explanation, inns that don’t do anything, and two different kinds of fights: against bandits, that never give any reward, or against the game’s one monster, a “snadwick”, which I kept misreading as sandwich maybe because I was hungry. Death has little sting, since you instantly respawn, though this sometimes will zero out your accumulated riches – that’s what brought my most successful run to an end, with 49 coins vanishing into the ether because I typed “s;ash” instead of “slash” when I attempted to attack a monster (you need to type full commands, as far as I could tell).

There’s a little more to the game than I’ve outlined – there’s a labyrinth region where you can unlock successively deeper levels, though they all seem to behave exactly the same, and there’s a map that allows you to choose which region to warp to. I also did a little bit of source-diving, and seems like some characters are born with the ability to wield magic (so much for existence preceding essence) which enables them to use spells to open those unopenable doors and occasionally zap baddies. But there’s nothing that changes up the basic mechanical gist of the gameplay – wander around, slash baddies (well, baddy), get a couple coins, repeat and repeat. As a demonstration of Sartre’s conceptualization of anguish, it’s gangbusters – and, to speak seriously for a moment, it’s competently programmed enough that the author does have the spine of what could turn into a solid RPG once more variety, story, and engagement points are added. But as is, it would take more nous than I’ve currently got handy to choose to push this particular boulder up this particular hill any longer.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Monster grinding in Python, parser version, December 24, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Python? Well, it feels like Python has possibilities for a simple-stupid parser that people can figure easily. With its "split" function (divides a string into an array with spaces) and so forth, it avoids the pitfalls of a lot of homebrew parsers in C or whatever. You see the verb, and you see the object, and you know what to do with each. You don't have to worry about Inform's custom verbs. (And hey, I wrote one last year because it fit what I was trying to do. Someone pointed out JavaScript would've worked better. They were right. But I don't know JavaScript.) With my own Inform games, Python might work better, because I really abuse the regex matching, which slows Inform. The potential is there. Unfortunately, Traveller's Log (TL) doesn't do much with parsing or plot.

It's a relatively small Python game. It's a bit confusing at first in that it asks if you want to read a file, and either way, it then asks for a 3-digit code, which affects what you start as. Looking at the source, there are several options, and I only wish we'd had some nudges as to how to start. I don't mind the randomization per se, but I was flying a bit blind. Perhaps on ending, if I were given some clues how to proceed and replay, I could and would.

You're given commands to type (e.g. walk, trade, exit or warp) with the goals of either gain money to live comfortably or find a king to ally with to live happily. There are some fights, but nothing too stressful, as dying resurrects you quickly. You also get random gold for staying at inns which pop up randomly, which is counterintuitive. The main goal is just to TRADE enough for the best weapons, then kill enemies as needed.

The writing and mechanics are don't have much to distinguish them. The game's title feels a bit generic. It's technically sound in terms of gameplay, though I'd have liked "y" and "yes" to be synonyms along with "n" and "no." Nevertheless, there's a good deal of effort put into the entry, as I can see from all the possible characters you could play as, and I enjoyed looking at the source because I tend to skimp on programming classes, and after some play time, I had a much better feel for them. They're something I've used more and more as I try to to script-testing of my Inform games, and I had a few aha moments.

It's good to see people are trying to use Python. There was one game in particular I meant to look at from 2016 that also placed last, though Chandler Groover said "Hey, there's a lot here." And there are advantages to Python--less worry about failing to implement default verbs and so forth. Everything is laid out well enough in Traveller's Log, but there's not much to do and not much reward for the grind, so it misses the mark. I'd like to see more Python efforts. TL doesn't do anything to change my views on this, from a functional perspective, even if the story and imagination are lacking.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
FRPG Lite. Like, Helium Lite., December 5, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

I don’t know what to make of this entry. It presents as a super light, highly randomized FRPG kind of thing. You get an apparently randomized starting character with a name, race, some traits and background. None of those come into play again, except maybe magic use. Then you walk, trade and warp until you either win, decide you’ve had enough, or a bug ends the game. I achieved two of those in 45 minutes of pretty repetitive playtime.

You have a short list of items, effectively a status screen, that tells you what you have or don’t (helpfully pointing out you can GET them). Walking and warping lets you navigate the world, such as it is, but there is no map per se, just an endless series of terse, repeating random encounters that kill you, give you money, or neither. When I say no map, I mean your location has no discernible effect on your encounters, or even your relationship to other areas. You can still find Inns and Houses inside a Labyrinth for example.

And you can die. Either because you randomly encounter foes you are not yet equipped to beat, or you just open a box. It’s not really that big a deal, as you immediately respawn with most of your stuff, but is that fun?

In practice, gameplay is just as repetitive as the encounters. You walk (dying as often as you need to) until you have enough money to get stuff (some of which has game effect, others do not as far as I can tell). Or you warp to some area you’ve been before, but if locations don’t matter not sure why you would. Repeat many many times. I don’t think I’ve ever typed the word ‘walk’ that many times in 45 minutes before.

I did hit a small bug - I would lose money if I couldn’t afford an expensive item but already had a sword and tried to trade. I hit a big bug — an ‘out of range’ crash on something called TT. But the game asked so little of me, neither elicited a reaction. Ultimately, I stopped playing when I jerked awake to see that I had typed ‘wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww’ on the command line.

So yeah, what is this? Is it art, a wry commentary on FRPG gameplay? A zen mindfulness exercise? An impressionistic IF that you bring the story to from your head? I don’t think any of those things are for me.

Played: 10/10/22
Playtime: 45min, 1 crash, 1 quit, so many respawned deaths
Artistic/Technical rankings: Bouncy/Notable
Would Play Again? No, not my cuppa

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Most played person of this game, April 18, 2023

There is 2 ways to beat the game. As a warrior we don't have to other chance to walk around in the "labrinth" and collect the money on the ground. But as a mage, we can find the king and fight him. Unfortunatelly a (or more) bug in the game don't allow to find this ending. What we can do according to win to double (or triple) the number of time of days, and mend the function which can lead us to the king. Maybe I am the most played person of this game, while playing, I have continuously rewritten the code, and finally get the maximum out of this buggy game.

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This is version 5 of this page, edited by JTN on 3 January 2023 at 6:46pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page