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She's Got a Thing for a Spring

by Brent VanFossen

Slice of life, Travel

(based on 30 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

It's been a hectic year, and it's time to get away. He told you that, and you agreed. Now you're here, in a grove of aspen, and long for a good, long bath in the nearby hot spring.
[--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]

Game Details


Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best NPCs; Winner - Bob, Best Individual NPC - 1997 XYZZY Awards

4th Place - 3rd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1997)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

You've agreed to meet your husband at a hot spring, but you have to get everything ready before he shows up. The game is set in the Rocky Mountains, with lots of attention to natural detail--and a handy NPC named Bob has a response for just about everything in the game, and many things that have nothing to do with the game as well. The author clearly loves the setting and the various experiences in store for your character, and by the end of the game you may feel the same way. The game itself is simple, and the puzzles uncomplicated, but the setting and general atmosphere are so well done that it's almost more fun just to take the game in than to work toward solving it.

-- Duncan Stevens

Bob is worth noting because he's the rare example of an NPC who is much more developed than he needs to be; in fact, he's a relatively ordinary character with an ordinary life which you can even witness in all its glory. The failure to really fill out Bob's background is a weakness, yes, but even so, he does such a remarkable amount of things and reacts to such a remarkable amount of stimuli that one can only wonder at the amount of code that went into him.
-- Duncan Stevens a.k.a. Second April
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

She's Got a Thing For a Spring (hereafter called "Spring") is one of the most delightful and well-written games I've played in a long, long time. Its author is one of the few professional writers who has created interactive fiction, and his expertise shines throughout the game. Spring is set in a mountain wilderness with no magic spells, no high-tech devices, in fact no fantastical elements of any kind. Yet this game imparts a sense of wonder that is matched by only the very best interactive fiction. I found some of the scenes absolutely breathtaking in their beauty. Living in Colorado, I've spent a fair amount of time is settings similar to those described by the author, and I felt that the prose perfectly conveyed the both the tiny joys and the majestic grandeur of the mountains. In addition, the game's code usually dovetailed neatly with its prose, creating at its best a seamless experience of walking in nature.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful writing, May 12, 2021

My favourite kind of IF as I think I've said before on here are games where I feel emersed in the game world, and, on the whole, this is one of those games.
The writing is exquisite. For the most part I could ignore that I was typing in commands and listening to my screen reader jabbering away. I could imagine that I was there, looking for this spring, albeit being very inept at outdoor survival. I wouldn't have a clue what to do in that situation.
My lack of skills had me resorting to the hints, only to discover that more often than not I was almost there and just needed that little nudge in the write direction.
Then of course there's Bob. I've tried playing Spring a few times before, but never spent too much time with him. During this playthrough I spent nearly the whole in-game day in his company. He was wonderful to be with. The only thing I will say is that (Spoiler - click to show)he would have dealt with the wasp nest in his shed for me. There's no way I'd be going near it for anything. I felt that mortified that my disastrous attempt of getting rid of it burn his shed to the ground I restarted from the beginning. Sorry Bob.
The guidebook is a brilliant touch. I loved learning about the wildlife I encountered.
I would've given the game 5 stars if it wasn't for a couple of things. One is the (Spoiler - click to show)eucalyptus. The game doesn't mention any growing in the environment and I thought they only grew in Australia. Nothing appeared in the hints menu for that puzzle, so I had to resort to the walkthrough to find out that it was the pika's job to get it for me. There's nothing to indicate that it was fetching eucalyptus from anywhere.
The other thing is that (Spoiler - click to show)While reading the walkthrough, it mentioned about taking the egg from the nest. Maybe this was a throwback to Zork, but this was a game set in the US not the Great Underground Empire, so I felt uncomfortable taking the poor dipper's egg, so I didn't. Leave eggs where they are, people.

So to sum up this long ramble, go and play it, if only just for the writing and Bob. It's a treasure.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Flip flop. Flip flop. Flip flop., February 24, 2021
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Slice of Life

What an atmosphere...

I've spent the last few hours finishing this story and I feel like I'm slowly waking up from a dream.

She's Got a Thing for a Spring is a beautiful, beautiful game.

You're on a camping trip in a nature park with your husband. You wake up in the tent and find a note telling you to go find the hot spring by evening and wait there for him.

I pay a lot of attention to the handling of space, the feel of the map in IF. Often, that means I prefer big, sprawling games. She's Got a Thing for a Spring does something else entirely.
It has got a small map, about 25 locations. These are described so lovingly that you can almost smell the herbs in the midday sun, or hear the gurgling of the rapids in the stream. Birds flutter by unexpectedly, or sing unseen in a nearby tree. Other wildlife crosses your path, and when out of sight, their proximity is hinted at through sounds or smells.
Not all exits from a location are explicitly described. This gives a sense of freedom and accomplishment when you find another path or a gap in the bushes, and it adds to the spaciousness of the story-world.
In response to a directional command, the game describes the terrain you walk across, giving a sense of real distance travelled. The "flip flop" in the title of this review is what you read when you are walking with your flipflops on. Take them off and it changes to "splish splash" when walking in water. Not out-loud-funny, but one of the amusing details that pulled me smiling deep into this game.

To enjoy She's Got a Thing for a Spring to its fullest, do not think like an adventurer. Get in character and play your surroundings. The puzzles are fantastic example of the common sense type. No intricate, improbable machinery, no spells to try out on every part of the scenery. Just do what you would do in these circumstances. This type of puzzle is actually harder than you might think for text adventurers. We're conditioned to look for complicated solutions.

Your biggest help and source of amusement in the game is Bob. Bob is an amazingly well characterized NPC who can give you practical help with some puzzles. Much more than that though, he's a delightful old man to hang around with and talk to (and maybe haver some lunch with...)

Not all puzzles are mandatory for finishing the game. Do try and find them and solve them though, just for the fun experience.

And do try to remember to stop and enjoy nature frequently. Maybe look up that species of bird you just saw in the "Hiker's Guidebook" you're carrying, or those aromatic herbs...

She's Got a Thing for a Spring is a beautiful, beautiful game.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Simply Beautiful, March 22, 2021

This is a lovely, much-acclaimed game that seems to have been slightly forgotten. It's a shame, because outside of a few frustrations, it's a stellar work. You have great implementation. Writing that is atmospheric without ever being florid. A complex NPC with tons of interaction. Fun puzzles that fit into a complex structure. Optional puzzles that point-hunters can look for. There's a little bit of something for everyone.

I love hiking, and this game feels like a hike in the woods. This is the author's first published game, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. Yes, they're writing from experience, but they're not just coding their house. They've lovingly sketched a section of the Pacific Northwest, filled it with new detail, and avoided every first-game mistake. Most of the puzzles (barring one optional one, but hey, last lousy point) are clued well. There's good variety of actions, multiple solutions to problems, and a puzzle structure that puts everything on a timescale. I enjoyed solving something and then figuring out how to schedule it so I could accomplish all goals.

I highly recommend this, which is why I've been so vague. Play it for yourself.

Spoiler discussion below.

(Spoiler - click to show)Okay, so I did praise the puzzles, but there was one I needed a hint for. The pika. I had gotten to the end and the PC was insisting on having eucalyptus for the bath. Annoying, as that's hardly life or death, but fine. Where is it? Obviously, I know it's native to Australia, which the guidebook confirms if you consult it. Okay, let's go ask Bob. He misleads me by saying his wife loved the leaves too. Okay, so now I assume they're in his cabin or something. Nnrt! Wrong! Instead, you have to give the herbs you find to the pika. What? This doesn't work. I know the guidebook says they go into the tunnels and deposit the herbs they find. That doesn't make me think that giving him herbs will let me trade what he finds. And why would I think he could find a non-native plant? Maybe if I could see the eucalyptus trees when on that node, or smell them, or something, but there's no indication that they're growing anywhere. This is a silly puzzle in a pretty normal game. Also, like Andrew Plotkin and Paul O'Brian before me, I have no idea how that egg works. I couldn't get it to appear at all. At least it's not necessary. Blah.

Some funny/odd interactions I came across.

(Spoiler - click to show)If you type "kick bucket", you get the following message: "Bob may be a doctor, but his name isn't Kevorkian."

Typing "give note" to Bob gives this response "He politely refuses. 'I wouldn't miss the chance, if I were you,' he says with a wink."

If you type "sing", it say: "You sing a few bars of 'I Love to Hate Men.' Even if you don't really mean it, that song always lifts your spirits." - this is not an actual song, according to Google, so I'm guessing it's some weird in-joke. Really out of place in a romantic game.

Lastly, a response to O'Brian's quibble about a particular out-of-character PC action.

(Spoiler - click to show)The puzzle he mentioned, where you smoke out the wasp nest. He found it odd that she would burn his toilet paper, so he got stuck not knowing what to burn. What's funny is that you don't have to burn the toilet paper - it's an alternate solution. The solution I found was much more sensible, actually. At any location where there are trees, just "get leaves"; you'll end up with a pile you can put in the bucket and burn under the nest. Same points, same move count, and I think it makes more sense than waving a tiny fire on a stick around anyway. So don't worry. In my game, Bob didn't have an unpleasant surprise when he visited the outhouse that night :)

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She's Got a Thing for a Spring on IFDB

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The following polls include votes for She's Got a Thing for a Spring:

IF with a sense of wonder by blue/green
What interactive fiction would you recommend that evokes a sense of wonder? These could be games that capture wonder or beauty in ordinary things, perhaps by viewing the world through the eyes of a child. Or they could be games that...

Highly atmospheric and immersive games by Cryptic Puffin
I'm looking for games with effective use of location, language, etc. to really immerse you in the locale and the story, no matter the genre-- any game which you felt really taken with the atmosphere would be great. Thank you!

Influential Games by Rose
As a historical exercise, I've begun compiling a list of IF games that have either done something ground breaking with the medium or otherwise influenced it; and I've turned it into a poll so everyone can have input on the expansion....

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This is version 8 of this page, edited by Paul O'Brian on 5 May 2022 at 4:30am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page