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Tower of Plargh.zip
Contains Tower of Plargh/plargh.gblorb
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links. (Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.)

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Tower of Plargh

by caranmegil profile

2022

(based on 10 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

Title: Tower of Plargh

Year: 2022

Genre: Puzzle


Game Details


Awards

68th Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)

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Number of Reviews: 4
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Not a lot rhymes with Plargh, December 23, 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).

(With apologies to Leonard Cohen)

Well, my friends are gone, and my hair is grey
I got to the end but Iím not sure what I just played
Iím crazy for IF but Iím rating this one blargh
The cover picís Big Ben but Iím talking about the Tower of Plargh

I asked Andrew Plotkin, ďare these puzzles tough
Or is it just that theyíre not explained enough?Ē
Andrew Plotkin looked at me like I was from Camargue
Itís all trial and error in the Tower of Plargh

First you drop an egg in rooms with funny names
Then a voice from above has you playing silly games
I looked up the list of Inform actions and ran through them in a slog
To solve the monkey puzzle in the Tower of Plargh

The scenery is implemented never
And you are as good-looking as ever
If you like descriptive detail, you will say ďarghĒ
'Cause thereís not much to look at in the Tower of Plargh

Four times you need to get to the next floor
The mapís always the same and the clueingís rather poor
Thereís one typo that shows up in almost every room
Who put us in this place, and why are we collecting golden cruft?
Whoís the voice on the other side of that big red button we push?
Pondering these questions puts me into a mood of gloom

Now Iím closing down the game, and I wonít be back
There are 70 other Comp entries, and Iíve got to stay on track
Iíll remember this one though, even through a bit of fog
At least it wasnít a dumb apartment, it was the Tower of Plargh

Well, my friends are gone, and my hair is grey
I got to the end but Iím not sure what I just played
When critiquing first-time authors, I donít like to flog
Still, I hope your next game will be better than the Tower of Plargh

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A "my first game" in Inform with some charm, November 21, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

The Tower of Plargh is a short puzzle game where you must do stuff and then push a big button in a center room to advance, once youíve done what you needed. There are jokey bits in here, too. The room names made me laugh a bit but also wonder if there was a fifth room, since the initial 4 rooms differed by which vowel was in the 3rd position. I spent time wondering if there was some head-fake ending where I'd missed a clever detail, though disassembling the gblorb changes nothing.

Also thereís a bit of trickery with the game map--the tower is bigger than it seems at first glance. The jokes may be a bit flippant to stick in your memory, but on the other hand, there are no mind-reading puzzles. There are a few items and you can figure what to do just because the author didnít try to overwhelm you with details. Apparently the author wrote it for his daughter, so there were serious limits on how complex he wanted to make it, but then these limits ran up against IFComp expectations.

The puzzles feel relatively straightforward, though the final bit in level 4 was kind of tricky, and a "why" is missing beyond "because it is there." In level 4 it took me a while to realize an NPC left right after you saw them, even though they pretty clearly were a jumpy sort, so there was a lack of description. With minimal verb-guessing, I figured what to do. Thereís a small bug where the NPC from level 4 is wandering around in level 5, so I chased a red herring there. Perhaps ToP was simple enough I was sort of hoping for one.

The rooms didn't change names as I went up the tower, I suspect as an attempt to reuse code. However, the end result is that it feels like a programming exercise more than a game. So although thereís no walkthrough, youíre probably not going to get stuck if you resort to trial and error, likely the sort that needs only minimal knowledge of parsers. This made Plargh a nice whimsical diversion before playing far darker games with content warnings, although since its focus is simple-to-trivial puzzles, it doesn't establish a super-strong identity. So it sunk to the lower end of IFComp. But as a first work it is nothing to be ashamed of.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A decidedly undercooked parser game, October 26, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Almost any game can be polished up and made great. This game needs a lot of polishing.

This is a parser game that puts you in the middle of 9 rooms, 8 of which have the same description that includes a typo. None of the standard responses are changed, ABOUT, CREDITS, HELP, etc. have no response. There are only two items.

It seemed like there was absolutely nothing to do. I eventually decompiled the code and used it to finish the game; the following set of rules may serve as hints to others:

(Spoiler - click to show)When Floor 1 begins
After dropping colored egg when the location of the player is flod room and Floor 1 is happening
When Floor begins
After jumping when the location of the player is pled room and Floor 2 is happening
Every turn during Floor 2
When Floor 3 begins
After inserting something into something
When Floor 4 begins
After touching monkey during Floor 4
Every turn during Floor 4
After pushing when the noun is Ye Shiny Red Button and Floor 5 is happening and player has golden egg and player has golden seven and player has golden octagon and player has golden monkey
After pushing when the noun is Ye Shiny Red Button and Floor 5 is not happening


According to my rubric, this game is not polished, descriptive, has obscure interactivity, did not have an emotional impact, and I wouldn't play it again in its current state.

But I don't think the effort is wasted or the author is bad. Clearly there are some good ideas here; this just needs more stuff implemented. I would recommend the author to pick the source code of one of the games you find when you search IFDB with the tag "tag:I7 Source Available", and look around to see what kind of things authors can do to make games more polished.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Cancer Cure, the Game, November 26, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

I sometimes forget about pure puzzle IFs. I do a range of paper puzzles, but tend to be biased to think of IF as narrative, and so scratch different itches. Which is kind of wild, because Ďclassicí IF are so much more puzzle than narrative. Is the narrative framework, however rich or thin, really that important to the experience? Intellectually, shouldnít have to be, but emotionally I guess it is for me. We are a species of storytellers and some of our most popular media suggests the stories donít need to be that sophisticated or even novel. Sick burn, culture!

Now, I do like logic puzzles, but the ones that engage me are ones that jump straight to application of deduction and/or knowledge. It is a fair point that no-rules puzzles do in fact require this, they just require the additional prerequisite step of discovering the rules as you go. Puzzles donít need frameworks of wordplay, trivia knowledge, spatial cues. Nor do they demand hint systems, either buried in clues and prompts or to the side as a reference for the stuck. Cure for cancer is famously a puzzle with no clues, prompts or hint system.

So what does this have to do with Tower? The game is a no clues/no rules/no hints puzzle. You need to divine the rules from literally nothing but experimentation. Like cancer research! It also seems to change its rules with every level (of the tower, presumedly?) It seems to deliberately provide no fail feedback other than the fact of the fail, meaning it becomes a guess-the-verb, guess-the-rules exercise. Your enjoyment will depend directly on 1) how energizing you find that sort of thing and 2) how mentally nimble you are to not drive into a mental cul-de-sac of Ďno idea whatís left to try.í

I canít tell if the game is buggy or just obstinate in that it doesnít always give you immediate feedback even with success. For review purposes, I am treating both those cases as Bug - either coding or psychological. In an early notable instance I left a room where I tried something to no apparent success, only to return later and see, ďWow, I guess it did work after all.Ē Objects have names you recognize, but donít really behave like their real world counterparts. Autonomous objects disappear from your sight, rather than move through observable space. Reasonably expected functions of everyday objects donít work. To the point where their names are just familiar sequences of letters whose behavior is its own puzzle. Continued failure is frustrating, and achieving brute force solutions to seemingly arbitrary puzzles provides more ďsure, I guessĒ than cathartic rush.

If opaque, experimentation-type puzzles are your jam I would recommend you join the fight against cancer! If your schedule doesnít allow that, Tower is for you. For me, a narrative justification would be one way to increase engagement. Medical research isnít motivated by the super-opaque trial-and-error puzzle solving. Its getting the cure! Narratively, maybe it could be getting the treasure. Or freedom! Love Interest! Magical Rune that apocalyptically eliminates selfishness from the range of human behavior! Another way would be to craft clues/hints/experiment feedback to learn more than simple fact of success-or-fail with each experiment. Without either of those, its too Mechanical an exercise for me.


Played: 10/11/22
Playtime: 1.75hrs, 3 floors complete.
Artistic/Technical rankings: Mechanical/Notable
Would Play Again? Doubtful, not my kind of puzzle

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

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