by Ondrej Odokienko and Senica Thing

Fantasy, Slice of Life

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Number of Reviews: 4
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall", April 7, 2023

"Organizer's note: This is a special entry, with four games presented as one. These games come from a classroom in Slovakia that encouraged students to enter a 'mini competition' called the Senica Thing. These students are looking to learn and grow, and would benefit from constructive feedback."
— From the game blurb of Mirror.

I have henceforth decided to write my review in the form of letters (if it's not too inappropriate).


Dear Lilian Lalonder,

Your game was very imaginative. The language is very evocative of touch, feeling. e.g. (Spoiler - click to show)I liked that you took the time to describe the feeling of the glass under the protagonist's fingertips, or how the unnatural weather affected them. The endings were very creative and branched out, which I appreciated, if a little abrupt at times. Sometimes I had a little bit of trouble following the storyline, so you could work on strengthening the links between the events that occur in the story and maybe even some elements of the worldbuilding. It might also be nice if the reasons behind why certain things were happening (e.g. (Spoiler - click to show)the unnatural weather in the middle of August, the empty street and cars) were explained more.

Thanks! I had fun clicking through your game!

P.S. I really liked the titles for the endings you came up with! They were funny to read and generally encapsulated what had happened perfectly!

Dear Mihi,

(Spoiler - click to show)The idea of forcing your readers to stop when they pick a 'wrong' decision is ... a novel one. Generally I didn't really understand why an option was there if we couldn't really go through with making that decision. On the other hand it was funny to read how the narrator / the situation constantly changed to try to throw the reader off from making those particular choices, which despite reading as ridiculous, always had just enough logic to make it believable. If I'm honest, the ending was a bit infuriating because it really made it feel like the player had no agency at all throughout the course of the game (especially if you consistently chose the 'wrong' choices in the game).

I don't think you need to dispense with the idea altogether, but I do think you might want to try exploring scenes where the action is allowed to take place? What happens if the player does make the wrong choice (i.e. instead of the narration just going (Spoiler - click to show)"nope! you can't do that!").

Good job and keep on going!

Dear James,

Yours was the most alike to the traditional "parser" that I'm accustomed to seeing in the IF (interactive fiction) community. (Except, of course, that it was in hypertext.) Hence it felt very familiar and consequently was my favorite among the four (just as a matter of personal taste, nothing more). Your game really reminded me of (and I encourage you to check out these games if you haven't already, they might help you expand on the ideas you've had thus far) mutiple-ending Twine games such as 16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds by Abigail Corfman, or even Insomnia: Twenty-Six Adventures After Dark by Leon Lin, which was one just entered in this year's Spring Thing (in the Main Festival)!

(Spoiler - click to show)It was nice that we had a checkpoint to go back to so that we wouldn't have to start from the beginning a bunch of times to explore all the endings. However, I'd advise against including things such as "You look around and find a secret trap door under the carpet. Do you want to explore it? YES / NO". Who wouldn't want to explore a secret trap door they find hidden under the carpet?! This is a very small nitpick, but perhaps try giving the player more realistic situations to romp around in.

Looking forward to more of your work!

Dear Dr. John,

I'm sorry, but I found your game very confusing. (Spoiler - click to show)Who is IXI? (An alien?) Why are we observing him through a GLASS WALL? What's the deal with the light? It seemed like we were supposed to turn it on, but I couldn't understand the game enough to figure out a way to do that. It sounds like you had a pretty ambitious idea, which got lost on the way because of poor execution. (Spoiler - click to show)It was also a bit annoying having to type in something (your name?) to the box every time I went back to that point to try and solve the game.

I'm not sure how much the language barrier played in making your game hard to understand, but perhaps try to go through your game from the position of a player — how much does each step make sense? Even better, get your friends or family to test your game for you. Or people you can be beside as they play your game, so that you can get feedback real-time on what's exactly not working each step of the way through your game.

I'm not sure how much help I was, but I'd like to see you take this game further (the idea seems really intriguing)!



* All four games would've obviously benefitted from better handling / editing of the English language. But we can obviously also be understanding in this case, as the authors are in Slovakia and aren't expected to have a perfect handle of English. (I wonder, were the works originally in Slovak and then translated into English (the most likely case), or were they written in English in the first place (not likely)?)
* I wonder if the students have been introduced to multimedia (graphics, audio) IF yet? Obviously it's fine to have work in just text, but I'm curious to know what they would've done with images or sound if they had access to / knew how to incorporate such things.
* The whole idea behind this bundle of works is very exciting. And novel, because I haven't really seen anything like it in the IF community before (I haven't been made aware of any if there is). There are jams, but they're grouped more under systems or a general theme or by creative process, how it should go, instead of, for example, a single object, a single thing, as was in this case. e.g. I'm curious to see, if we throw the theme 'Mirror' to the IF creation community, what they would come up with? In fact now I'm thinking about an annual comp, where a rather tangible thing is selected (different each year) and the participants have to make works spinning off that one 'thing' — no restriction in system or type of game, so parser and choice-based and all the in-between or outside-the-box games are all welcome. But this is just a thought, I don't have much realistic know-how or abundance of time, energy, skill behind it to back it up. There are already so many comps throughout the year anyways, and I'm not sure how much value this one idea would add to the mix. Anyways. It was just really interesting to see how differently each of the students' games turned out and how varied their approaches were, in regards to a single thematic subject (which is an object). Some interpretations were quite creative, even if the gameplay was lacking. All were very personable. Endearing, even, perhaps.

And that's the end of it! I don't know the ages of the students exactly, but I hope I didn't sound too patronizing with my words here.

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