Episode in the Life of an Artist

by Peter Eastman

Zorkian/Humor
2003

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Number of Reviews: 9
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
After the first two, I expected the third widget to be green... widget wasn't., November 7, 2017
by turthalion (Winnipeg)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2003

This game begins in a bedroom, and has you get up, get dressed, make breakfast... lest there be any doubt, let me emphasise: I do not want to do this in a game.

I find getting up, showered, finding clothes to wear, making breakfast and so on a pain in real life. I do not want to spend the first 20 moves doing all that. Especially when, after struggling with the pain of making the breakfast, the game renders all my struggles pointless by having me grab a heretofore invisible pop-tart and leaping out the door.

I don't have a whole lot to say about this game. The writing was competent, and I didn't spot any errors that I can recall.

The use of first person perspective took some getting used to, especially as, when I died, the game still printed the "You have died..." message.

Overall, the game was enjoyable, with a quirky little story. I thought the end-game portion was a little out of tune with the spirit of the rest of the piece, lending a somewhat incongruous dark tone to what had been very light-hearted until then.

One problem with the game was that, right at the end, after going up the stairs, a paragraph of text was printed, and then cleared off the screen by the start of the letter, not even making it into the scrollback buffer. I had to turn on scripting and then check the text file to see the paragraph in question. This was with HTML TADS version 3.0B on WinXP. I didn't check it on the Linux box or with another interpreter.

One other minor annoyance was the circuit breaker. I grew up with the knowledge that circuit breakers can be open or closed, thus was a little frustrated upon trying to close, open, pull, push and flip the breaker. I soon figured it out, after examining the breaker and finding it was described as "off". I have no objection to this terminology, but it would have been nice if some of the other verbs had worked as well.

The outtakes were a neat idea, but they shared the problem of the final letter, in that they printed agonisingly slowly. I'm a fast reader, and I don't like slow-paced reading where I... feel... I... have... to... actively... wait... for... the... next... word. Oh well. I ended up giving up on the outtakes, due to the printing speed.

All in all though, I think this (along with shadows on the mirror) is the best of what I've seen so far.

Author Encouragement:
I don't think there's really much to say here. It was a well-written little story that I got a kick out of. In some locations, the writing seemed more simply workmanlike, but well, how much can you do with hallways and the like? Still, there's some room for improvement, which isn't always a bad thing.

The biggest suggestion I can make is not to start in the bedroom.

And on that note, on we go to the...

Bedroom Notes:
This game didn't really need to start in a bedroom, did it? Much less one which required me to perform all the associated tasks.

You might be better served by starting the story "in medias res", or in the middle of the action or events.

Would the story suffer at all if it opened on the bus, with the main character excited about being off to another day of work? Okay, you'd miss the little jokes about hygiene and leaving the stove on, but it's a better hook... the player immediately wants to know what this exciting job is, and sticks around to find out. Better than having to slog through showering and getting dressed, something which most of us do every day, some of my relatives excepted

Scoring:
W: 4
The writing is clean and well-presented. No jarring awkwardness to the phrasing or conversation to lift me out of the story.

A: 3
This game appealed to me in a neat little way, but the appeal category suffers from the initial bedroom and kitchen chores.

B: 4
A few missing synonyms and verbs that would have made the whole thing a little more complete, but a commendable coding effort.

E: 3
I had fun with this one, and it would have been a 4 for entertainment value, but for the opening "getting dressed and doing the cooking" scene.

WABE score: 7