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An Alien's Mistaken Impressions of Humanity's Pockets

by Andrew Howe


(based on 12 ratings)
5 reviews

Game Details


63rd Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)


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Number of Reviews: 5
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Not Alien Enough, November 22, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

This was a small game, showcasing Alien scientists excavating modern human artifacts, and being mildly bewildered by them. It felt like a working prototype in a lot of ways.

It is small, 6 rooms not counting hallways? There are NPCs with limited and unvarying interactions. There are puzzles to solve, interacting with objects the player has (mostly) no issue recognizing, but amusingly befuddle the aliens. They are pretty linear and mostly obvious. It does incorporate state awareness, opening up options naturally as you play through. It is all pretty bare bones though, narratively and graphically.

Graphically, it's not very interesting - the font and color selection have no particular resonance. A lot of sentences and choices are all lower case which is a stylistic choice I assume, but serves no real purpose. Options are stacked vertically, but not ordered so that if an option is not yet available to you it looks like a stray blank line between other options. There is no consistent organization of choices screen to screen - sometimes it is a complete-or-not vertical list, sometimes it is integrated into the descriptions themselves. There are spelling errors, including in the title screen. It incorporates pictures, but incompletely. There is some light humor in the contrast between how the aliens describe the objects, and the academic photo of the actual object. This does bite the game where the object with the most obtuse description does not have a picture like the others. While I guessed at its use, I never did figure out what it was supposed to be.

The text descriptions also left money on the table, as it were. For one, the lab space, hallways and other rooms are described in suspiciously human terms. If there was an alienness to the setting, it would have much better reinforced their bafflement. As such, I kind of pictured Star Trek aliens - one prosthetic but otherwise human - when so much more was possible. There were technical glitches as well - the game did not seem to recognize when you were carrying something and let you pick it up repeatedly. Even your ultimate goal is not well signposted. While its never unclear what needs to be done next, the end screen came as mild ďoh I guess thatís it thenĒ surprise.

None of this was fatal, just unpolished. The graphical presentation was unpolished enough that it never really faded from my consciousness, and that feels Intrusive to me. The text could use some rework. The framework is there for a diverting game, just needs a bit more to start Sparking. The introductory text suggests this was a class assignment of some sort. Makes sense - as a time-constrained assignment its completeness is to its credit. The polish can come later.

Played: 10/27/22
Playtime: 20min, finished
Artistic/Technical rankings: Mechanical/Intrusive
Would Play Again? No, experience seems complete

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

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Quick and easy, October 9, 2022

Here was a quick and easy text adventure with a somewhat whimsical feel to it. There are several puzzles and they all have in-game explanations for how to solve them. Unfortunately, some readers will find that too many grammatical errors were left in. I hate bringing this up, but I know there are players who would want to know how pervasive they are. The amount of run-on sentences alone will be too much for some, as they occur in nearly every paragraph. At one point, the author spells the name of the main character differently for several lines. I appreciated the information included on the credits page, but the impression I was left with was that this entry was written quickly and that no edits were done.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An enjoyable, if done-before, "Humans are weird" diversion, December 25, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

AMIHP is a short and purposeful game about, well, aliens discovering things in humans' pockets and guessing what they're for. It's labeled as a class project in the "about" text, and it does feel like a first work of sorts. But though it's very rough, I liked the humor a lot. Often these are not very successful in IFComp, and this wasn't. I'm not sure they need to be, for students' goals. They are often jumping off the deep end and trying something new. Teams of students have run into headwinds, too, submitting stuff to IFComp. In AMIHP the proofreading is certainly uneven (this may be a case of the author just not knowing where to look for help.) So it had a few strikes against it.

Plus people have probably seen the general conceit before. I was exposed to Horace Miner's "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" back in my freshman year of high school, and it left an impression on me. I know it's been done before, but it's a good template for someone who wants to write something creative without getting too crazy. It's a theme you can riff on without getting burned or seeming too dull. And AMIHP largely does that. There are some minor puzzles, too, such as getting someone to fetch a box or getting by a maintenance person or mixing fizzy drinks in the cafeteria to make an appropriate substrate. The last one felt speculative, but I suppose constant "humans are backwards and odd" riffs might've grated.

There's enough humor and insight in here that I had no problem seeing things to the end. And I'm glad the author didn't beat the joke into the ground. I hope this doesn't come off as "they don't have the talent to go on for an hour," because the story felt wrapped up well, and often I'd like to see more shorter entries that don't feel like they have to transcend everything. You can tick it off and move on and recoup from the bigger ones. I had no problems sticking with AMIHP until the end, despite the distractions with grammar and style. There are about seven locations to visit, so there's not much to hold in your head. I think I'd have been quite happy to write something like on this level in college and to have the opportunity to share it with the world. I wish I'd tried more back then.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A gag-game that could use more polish , December 13, 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).

Credit where itís due Ė itís hard to come up with a good game title, but ďAn Alienís Mistaken Impressions of Humanityís PocketsĒ is a doozy. Itís slightly awkward and wordy, true, but thatís consonant with the comedically-rich premise it encapsulates, of over-earnest scientists drawing over-confident and overly-detailed conclusions from inadequate information, generalizing about our society based on the random detritus thatís happened to fetch up in our pockets. Iíd seen the name when I first skimmed the list of games in the Comp, and I was excited to see it come up relatively quickly in my queue.

Now that Iíve reached it and played it, does it live up to its name and my expectations? Well, yes and no. The plot and premise are exactly as it says on the tin; thereís some extremely light choice-based puzzling as you help an alien named Gaffor (he refers to his people as ďaliensĒ, which is confusing!) do experiments on ordinary household objects to identify their purpose, with their inevitable incorrect guesses played for laughs. But once I was in, I realized two things: 1) there are a ton of typos, including lots of misspellings, inconsistent capitalization, and missing spaces, and a few small bugs (nothing game-breaking, but several sequences that seem like they should only fire once are repeatable ad infinitum) that make the experience less pleasant than Iíd hoped, and 2) Iíd radically misapprehended how the humor would work.

This is on me rather than the game, I suppose, but going in Iíd assumed that this would be a work of satire Ė like, the aliens would think that our smartphones were religious icons we hold in high veneration to remind us of our connection to transcendent reality Ė why else would we never let go of them Ė and conclude that 2001:A Space Odyssey was a documentary about the monolith in whose image they were created. Thatís a not very clever gag, I admit Ė but still, given this setup it seems like you should be able to do something with some teeth in it.

Thatís not really part of the authorís agenda, though Ė the aliens just confuse things by e.g. thinking clicky pens are used for tattooing or maybe as hole-punches, or that credit and debit cards were pieces in a dominoes-style card game. These confusions are played for laughs (as well as being the basis for a desultory puzzle or two) but the jokes are at the level of the Little Mermaid calling a fork a dinglehopper and trying to comb her hair with it. I didnít find them especially funny, I have to confess, though partially thatís because I was distracted by the omnipresent typos and awkward grammar, which would have made even the funniest gag hard to land.

This is an inoffensive game Ė and the ending credits suggest it was made as a class project Ė and as I said, my disappointment was largely about me going in with incorrect assumptions. The few puzzles are reasonably designed and pleasant to solve, boasting at least a little variety so you donít get bored with them even though theyíre all quite simple, so thatís a solid base to start from. Thereís nothing wrong with a short gag game that isnít going for social comment, and the authorís clearly mastered the art of coming up with a grabby title! Still, the game desperately needs a fair bit more spit and polish to get the prose up to snuff Ė itís hard to enjoy what is here when the reader is wincing at a typo or grammar error every other line.

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A short Twine game with a few puzzles about aliens inspecting humans, October 20, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a brief Twine game that has some complex parts to it. You play as a alien technician or researcher working in a lab with a professor, going through a pile of human artifacts and trying to figure out what they're for. It's kind of like Little Mermaid, when Scuttle tries to guess what human artifacts are used for.

The game is a little unpolished; I found several typos and capitalization errors. It's pretty descriptive though, and it's funny when it shows the items it's been describing. The author does a pretty good job of thinking of objects from an alien point of view, but sometimes it's too on the nose (for instance, some human keys are described as possibly a physical form of an encryption key).

The puzzles can be pretty interesting (a color one threw me for a loop), but some segments that seem like they should be puzzles actually are taken care of as cut scenes.

Overall, I found it generally amusing, but didn't feel a strong desire to play again.

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