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The Bright Blue Ball

by Clary C.

2022

(based on 7 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

You are Max, a beloved golden retriever, and you have to find your bright blue ball with only your sense of smell and your wits amidst danger and peril.

Aimed at beginners. Kid friendly.


Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: Inform 7
IFID: Unknown
TUID: kcvhjut44t3p8e6k

Awards

Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2022

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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Charming game about a dog, May 12, 2022
by EJ

I tend to find IF with animal player characters very charming, especially if the author really sells the idea that the character’s perception of the world is different from that of a human. The Bright Blue Ball does a good job here – I like that the PC experiences the world mostly through smells, as many dog breeds do. The descriptions of scents were simple, but well chosen, and since smell is a sense that IF usually does not do much with, it gave the game a fresh feeling. Parlaying this into a game mechanic of tracking objects by scent was also a fun and unusual idea, if a little under-used here. I also appreciated the hint system – something a lot of first-time authors don’t think to include.

(On a side note, I was delighted that “bark” was a recognized command, but my childhood dog would have been disappointed that “chew [noun]” was not.)

Unfortunately the game does have a lot of the problems common to first-time parser authors, such as under-implementation, missing descriptions, and accidentally unlisted exits, the latter of which led to a few instances where I had to figure out how to progress by repeatedly bumping into walls (which, to be fair, is not out of character for many Golden Retrievers I have known). But these things are fixable, and I think the fun concept and endearing writing speak to the author’s potential.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Animal protagonist, unusual verbs, smooth experience, May 16, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

I didn't get to look at nearly as many Spring Thing games as I'd hoped, but all the same, I'm glad I got to The Bright Blue Ball. It's surprisingly cheery for something with the topic BBB has, and I don't think I was the only one who needed that. I'm more a cat person than a dog person, but I wound up being quickly invested in the protagonist, who escapes from their safe home to look impulsively for, as the title suggests, a bright blue ball. It's their favorite, and they know they should know better, and they feel bad the moment they're out the door, but they have to find it. And they have quite an adventure before coming home.

It's no spoiler to mention that, yes, you do find the ball, meeting people along the way and solving the mystery for you-the-player without you-the-character fully understanding what's going on beyond their own needs and the needs of humans they meet in a deserted town. This is hardly new, but here it doesn't feel forced, and so I had the impression the author had good command of the story side of things. For instance, if you went back home too early, your family would say different things based on how far along you were in the game. As to why they can't or won't go outside, while others are, that makes a good deal of sense quickly. The constraints, such as being able to carry only one thing at once because you are a dog, aren't just there as a nuisance. They add to the realism, and here the inventory limits are complemented by not having a lot of useless items.

As an example of the strength of the game world, I ran into a game-state problem where I was locked out of a win (I took a circuitous route that missed a few clues and thus stress-tested things rigorously,) and it was pretty clear, because a room description conflicted with the narrative built up. But it was easy to remember what to do, and I enjoyed seeing clues I'd missed, and so forth. When something potentially disastrous like that works out okay, you know you have something good. And if this is fixed in the latest release, so much the better!

While it's dreadfully unfair to compare a first-time author's work to something like Toby's Nose in detail, I think it carves out emotions and story that Toby's Nose doesn't, and it offers promise that there are others. I'd like to see more games where SMELL is a prominent command. And I think the technical mistakes I saw were that of a first-time author, so if they have something else to share, I'm looking forward to their next work. They seem to have the important and harder-to-teach things right.


A cute but dramatic story about a dog and his ball , April 27, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a story intended for beginners, and I believe may be the author's first published game.

It's a brief parser game with a dog protagonist. You have been hurried away from your regular home and, in the tussle lost the ball.

There is a larger overarching plot, where (very early spoilers) (Spoiler - click to show)the reason you are shuttered away is because bombs are dropping in Ukraine. This makes for a dramatic storyline, and what started as a personal search for a ball becomes something more selfless, urgent and important.

The game uses a fun mechanic where 'smell' is as important as 'look'.

There are some errors, mostly things that are difficult to deal with in Inform (like extra punctuation and capitalization). Other than that, this is a surprisingly smooth game with a story that ended up feeling nice.


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