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Trick or Treat or Trick or Treat or Trick

by Stewart C Baker profile

Seasonal, Science Fiction

Web Site

(based on 5 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

This is your first year trick or treating alone. Will it be your last? A short parser game about time loops written for Ectocomp 2022 in just under four hours.

Game Details


18th Place, La Petite Mort - English - ECTOCOMP 2022

From the Author

Now that Ectocomp is over, I made some tweaks and updates based on comments here:

* Clearer room descriptions, including a full list of available exits in each room
* Made the opening more forgiving, with multiple ways to (Spoiler - click to show)say “trick or treat”
* Reduced the number of (Spoiler - click to show)actions you have to take in the first iteration of the time loop
* Slightly increased the number of (Spoiler - click to show)actions you can take in subsequent iterations
* Added an in-game hint system
* Fixed a few small oversights

This brings the total time I’ve spent on the game up to about 5 hours.


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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A fun time loop and an unfortunate number of bugs, November 21, 2022
by Draconis
Related reviews: Ectocomp 2022

From the description, this one seems to be a parser puzzlefest written in Inform 7. You’re a 12-year-old trick-or-treating on your own for the first time, and perhaps inadvisably decided to knock on Old Man McGuffin’s door. He chose “trick” and left you with a strange device that traps you in a time loop: after seventeen turns, you’re reset to the start of the game.

Unfortunately, I think this is the first Petite Mort I can’t solve on my own. I like the idea a lot, but the implementation just confuses me too deeply. I started making a map, and ended up finding a loop that I can’t reconcile: going north, west, south, west, west from the front yard brings you back to it again. I found a way to leave the device behind (put it in the box, close the box, drop the box) but it keeps being described as in my hand. “Fields of rustling corn” are an impassible barrier, while “an impenetrable line of trees” is an exit you can use.

With hints, I managed to solve it. I like the puzzle, but the implementation gets in the way frustratingly often. Some important actions persist across time loops, like (Spoiler - click to show)PULL ROPE, and give confusing error messages if you try them after already doing them on a previous loop. McGuffin expects you to say “trick or treat” when you find him later, and prints the same text as at the beginning, but doesn’t reset the loop. Using commands that are slightly off, like (Spoiler - click to show)SHOW BOX instead of GIVE BOX, does nothing. I like the game, but the implementation issues keep me from really recommending it.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Mad scientist time-loop game written in 4 hours, November 11, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a game with a fun little idea for the speed-IF portion of Ectocomp. It's hard to write a parser game at all in 4 hours, let alone a time loop, so this one is pretty impressive.

I thought at first it was set in the world of Gravity Falls, since there's a guy with the name Old Man McGuffin that sounds like the gravity falls scientist guy, but the names aren't entirely similar (McGuffin vs McGucket). Either way, the game has the old scientist offload a weird time-loop device on you as a 'trick' during trick-or-treating.

The game has a pretty big map for a small game, but a lot of it is red herrings. Once you find the areas that are 'real', you can piece together what to do.

This game wasn't polished or fully descriptive (which is usual for speed-IF, including my own), but was fun and the puzzles were neat.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Groundhog Day for kids, November 15, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: EctoComp 2022

One of the things you have to face when you are writing a SpeedIF is, what should I leave out? It's stuff you'd rightly get destroyed for leaving out in a more robust piece. ToToT makes the right choice here, as what it leaves out only adds to the brief timed puzzle. (Plus, UNDO blocking is left out. Strictly speaking, it should not be, but for me, it added to the feeling of being stuck.)

It can't be the first Groundhog Day style game, and I've probably played one and forgot, but it fits the format well. You're knocking at the door of Old Man McGuffin, because your friends dared you, and when he answers, he sticks you with a weird-science item that sticks you in a temporal loop. You need to dump it on some poor unsuspecting soul. You have a fixed amount of turns, or you'll wind up having to do things over again.

And here's where the puzzle gets interesting. Stuff like directions to exit and so forth aren't revealed, because this game was written in 4 hours. So you wind up bumping around a lot, and in fact it's probably more efficient to avoid finding the items you might need first to make a map! This would be a poor design choice for IFComp, but here, it reinforces you're a little kid who's walked out well past where they should, and you're pretty lost. (My technical side notes it'd be neat to have a post-comp release that slowly fleshes out the directions you tried. That could be a programming exercise that takes well over four hours!)

There aren't many items, and if there were too many, things would be a mess. However, I always enjoy a good candy joke and seeing the box of L&L's (REAL candy! But you don't have time to eat it!) reminded me of the box of W&W's that the Suspicious-Looking Guy gave you every Halloween in Kingdom of Loathing, back when I played that game too much and enjoyed it.

I admit I disassembled to see the text of what happened at the end. I'd come up one move short, and I had trouble actually finding the person to give it to, though I knew they must be around. One feels sorry for the poor schlep.

ToToT reminded me of Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree by sort of being its opposite in many big choices. You're alone in ToToT, but HT has a whole group of kids. In ToToT, you're in essence getting free time as a kid and extending your Halloween beyond what you thought possible, while HT takes a year off the end of each kid's life. But I think each, if it actually happened, would provide a kid with a bunch of neat weird stuff to share for years. As for the end, I enjoyed thinking about why your friends may've poked you to see Mr. McGuffin. The possible motivations can vary greatly depending on how much they actually know about him.

There are spoilers I want to add and spoiler-fy, because they gave me a good chuckle going down some mental back-roads, but I don't want to add them into the review until after EctoComp, if at all. Part of the fun is being in that area of optimal confusion-versus-progress I think ToToT hits well.

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This is version 2 of this page, edited by Stewart C Baker on 30 October 2022 at 3:48pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page