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The Bloody Guns

by Stuart Allen profile


Web Site

(based on 1 rating)
1 review

About the Story

Second runner-up in the IntroComp 2008 competition.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: August 21, 2008
Current Version: Unknown
License: Freeware
Development System: JACL
Baf's Guide ID: 3165
TUID: b5i8wgvoe786apza


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 1
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
“Come on you daft bugger, we’ve got a war to fight!”, April 19, 2010

So shouts one of your mates as you dash to fulfill your role as a WWII anti-aircraft gunner in Australia's Pacific theater, and up until then, everything was running quite smoothly in this "second runner-up" of the 2008 Intro Comp. Shortly thereafter, the interaction essentially fell apart.

Although I would normally give a game with this many functional problems only one star, when considered purely as an intro (and imagining it in a much more functional state), this piece is compelling enough to earn two. After all, it did beat the honorable mentions on some sort of merit, which I have to assume was rooted in the scenario and the writing. The author makes light use of multimedia (graphics and sound) to add a touch of immersion over and above what could be achieved with text alone, and it seems that with some additional investment of time and effort, this piece could really shine.

Let me preface the remainder of my review with a chunk of the transcript from my playthrough:

(Spoiler - click to show)
The gun emplacement
Crew members scramble to their stations around the tall anti-aircraft
gun mounted here; the drone of the approaching single-engine
Japanese “Val” dive bombers sharpens to a distinctive strum.

Your heart pounds as the routine of countless drills races through your
mind: get a shell from Smith, set the fuse on it to the appropriate time
for the height of the aircraft then pass it to Jenkins for loading.

You wait nervously for Smith as he disappears into the armoury to fetch
a shell.

> look at bomber
You can’t see any such thing as “bomber”.

> look at plane
You can’t see any such thing as “plane”.

> look at sky
You can’t see any such thing as “sky”.

> look up
You see the Japanese “Val” bombers approaching Darwin Harbour from
the northeast at between fifteen and twenty thousand feet. Depending
on air pressure, humidity and wind speed, experience tells you that you
will need a fuse setting somewhere between four and five seconds.
ERROR: In function “eachturn_gun_emplacement”, reference to
undefined container “FIRST”.

Smith returns from the armoury with another shell and stands beside

Smith ducks back into the armoury.

> x shell
You can’t see any such thing as “shell”.

> ask jenkins about shell
Gunner Jenkins doesn’t have anything to say about the brass
anti-aircraft shell.
ERROR: In function “eachturn_gun_emplacement”, reference to
undefined container “FIRST”.

Smith returns from the armoury with another shell and stands beside

> take shell
You take the brass anti-aircraft shell.

> x shell
The shell is about one foot long and made from brass. Around the nose
cone of the shell is a series of rings that form a complex powder fuse.

> x fuse
The fuse is composed of a series of three rings, each filled with
gunpowder and separated by felt. The lugs on the fuse setting tool are
designed to engage with small holes in the top ring in order to rotate it
to the required time. Markings around the fuse ring indicate the time in
tenths of a second, starting at 20 and finishing at 100. The fuse on this
shell is currently set to the disarmed position.

> arm shell
You can’t use the word “arm” in that context.

> arm fuse
You can’t use the word “arm” in that context.

> set fuse
To set the fuse you need to specify a length of time to set it to. For
example, to set the fuse to three and a half seconds, simply type “set
the fuse to 35”.

> set fuse to 45
You will need the setting tool to set the fuse on the shell.

Shockwaves and dissonance as a bomb explodes nearby.

> i
You are carrying a cricket ball, a steel helmet (being worn), a brass
anti-aircraft shell and your dog tags (being worn).

> x tool
You can’t see any such thing as “tool”.

> x setting tool
You can’t see any such thing as “setting tool”.

> l
The gun emplacement
The floor of the gun emplacement is a circular concrete pad almost ten
metres in diameter. Sandbag revetments, back filled with earth on the
outside, form the perimeter of the pit. The 3.7 inch Vickers anti-aircraft
gun stands bolted to the concrete, its barrel protruding through
fragments of camouflage netting suspended high above your head. The
only exit from the emplacement is a gap in the revetments to the
northwest, while a small room set into the south wall serves as an

Gunner Jenkins is standing on the gun by the breach.

Sergeant Thompson is standing on the gun.

Smith is standing beside you holding an anti-aircraft shell.

> ask jenkins about tool
Gunner Jenkins doesn’t have anything to say about the setting tool.

> ask thompson about tool
Sergeant Thompson doesn’t have anything to say about the setting tool.

> ask smith about tool
Gunner Smith doesn’t have anything to say about the setting tool.

Another bomb falls too close for comfort just beyond the camp

> find tool
You can’t use the word “find” in that context.

> search for tool
You can’t see any such thing as “for”.

> look for tool
The sentence you typed was incomplete.

> s
You try to push your way past Smith who drops the shell he is carrying
and grabs you, pinning your arms to your side. “What are you doing,
Davis?” he yells in your ear, confusion and concern in his voice.
Fumbling desperately he relieves you of the fuse setting tool and
recovers the shell from the ground as another bomb explodes nearby...

*Sigh*. There's a spoiler of some sort in the above, all right, but not the type you might think.

The spoiler is definitely not the quality of the writing or the intended structure of the interaction, both of which seem to be significantly above average. Is it something wrong in the Gargoyle layer? Some issue with the JACL 2.5.2 interpreter it uses (which has been updated since the last integration with Gargoyle in August 2009)? Basic problems with the code for The Bloody Guns or with the JACL system itself?

I can't tell. I'd like to know. Because if it's something easily fixable, then it's a true shame that it stood between me and the intended experience.

It seems quite clear that the author, Stuart Allen (who invented the JACL system and is apparently the only one who ever uses it), has something valuable to offer to the world of IF, even if it is not the wonder of a new IF programming language. [edit: I've since come across at least one other game, Prison Break, which uses JACL. Also, the author assures me that the functional problems I encountered were likely due to interpreter incompatibility, making my comments in this and the following paragraph unwarranted.]

My gentle suggestion to Mr. Allen is that he come in from the cold and give another development system (e.g. Inform 7) a try. It has to be less work to build whatever custom extensions you want in Inform than it is to create and document a new language from scratch all by yourself. Releasing the source for a successful work in Inform (along with a JACL version) might even stimulate more interest in your brainchild.

If this piece is fleshed out into a full-length entry, I would definitely give it another go.

This is version 4 of this page, edited by Petter Sjölund on 15 November 2021 at 7:10pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item