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Evidence as to Man's Place. . ., July 20, 2010

If you look up "ecdysis" in the OED, which I hope that most people would, you may notice the following illustrative quotation from Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature: "A skin of some dimension was cast [by ‘the human larva’] in the 16th century..a new ecdysis seems imminent."

Lovecraftian IF is an important genre. The Lurking Horror, which I played on an Amiga, was (I think) the first IF to introduce sound, but it was more of a whimsical game than a creepy one. (The chanting I seem to remember as rather disturbing, come to think of it.) Anchorhead is the perhaps most well-known contemporary IF in the genre, though I haven't yet played The King of Shreds and Patches. All of those games, If I remember correctly, involve gradual discovery of the unspeakable horrors. Research puzzles, in other words, which are pretty much the best puzzles ever, but which do not, in my estimation, lend themselves well to a sensation of terror. A pleasant sensation of being able to add a useful or piquant footnote to an ongoing treatise, sure. But not cosmic horror.

Ecdysis, however, reminds me a bit of Thomas Ligotti. The "twist," such as it is, barely warrants the name; but that does not diminish what I would call if I were attempting to be particularly pretentious the "holometabolic uncanny" of the work. I would like to solicit psychoanalytic interpretations from all the major schools. Another, passing criticism, is that the eusocial nature of the insect-becoming could have been more strongly emphasized.

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AmberShards, July 23, 2010 - Reply
You expect people to look up a game title in the Oxford English dictionary? Why would you expect such a thing?

Lovecraftian IF is a common genre; what makes it an important genre?

"Research puzzles," as you term them, use a gradual unfolding, that combines both foreshadowing and flashbacks, to create an inescapable feeling of doom and terror. This approach is common in fiction, and works especially well in horror stories. The problem with this approach in IF is that there's nothing unknown anymore; you know everything in advance because nearly every horror game is Lovecraftian.

As for The Lurking Horror being "whimsical" -- just stop. Stop reviewing horror games now. You have no capacity to appreciate or understand them. You're wasting your time over something you just don't get.
joncgoodwin, July 24, 2010 - Reply
If the game title is a rare word, the most comprehensive dictionary of English is a good place to look it up. (I also think all words, rare or small, should be looked up in the OED. . .)

I actually meant something a bit more specific about research puzzles, in that the gradual unfolding is revealed through document discovery of some type and which doesn't necessarily involve pro- or analepsis. And The Lurking Horror is a whimsical game. The ID card, the hacker, the microwave, the assorted MIT in-jokes--these do not contribute to an atmosphere of cosmic horror but rather to the eclectic and nerdish humor typical of Infocom.

You final comments strike me as perhaps a bit too strong. Couldn't you suggest that I had only an undeveloped capacity to appreciate horror games rather than none at all? Perhaps then give me some list of materials to study rather than simply consigning me to the outer darkness?
AmberShards, July 30, 2010 - Reply
Sigh. Horror is something that grabs you instantly on an emotional level, or it never does. There is no point in studying it, because you can't appreciate it by means of intellect. Not everyone will appreciate such games, and that's ok. All I wanted to do, really, was suggest (strongly) that you'd derive more enjoyment by playing something else. Horror IF doesn't have the effect on you that it should, so you're missing 90% of the fun of it.

And if I had to suggest a game, I would have suggested The Lurking Horror.
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