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About the Story
A state-of-the-art job interview for a position as computer programmer.
27th Place - 4th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1998)
A simulation of a job interview in the form of a multiple-choice test. Not really "interactive fiction" as I understand the term, and definitely not a text adventure. Not particularly entertaining, either.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
Aside from whether HRS reflects "real life" or not, it's not much of a game. It's more like a test than a game, and more like a rant than a test. I can't really say I found it fun, though it certainly did provoke a strong reaction from me. I guess that in all honesty, I'd have to say that I really disliked being subjected to both the rant and the test. The game makes me glad I'm not looking for a job right now, but it makes me even more glad that I'm not looking for an employee.
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There are some kind things I can say about this game. The first is that it works and has no spelling mistakes that I found. Another is that it could be described as an adventure game reduced to its elementary form; a series of choices that have to be correctly chosen to proceed to the completion of the game.
The last kind thing I will say is that the game can be described as a "failed experiment," one of those novel ideas that just don't work.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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So on the surface this game is a 9-question interview where you are graded on your answers. Survive, and you're graded on teamwork, leadership and technical skills, and you get a salary, too.
It's not entirely that simple, though. XYZZY gives background--too much--and gives pages of ideas what the author was trying to do.
While (Spoiler - click to show)one easy "win" is >3's all the way through, the game gets interesting when you twiddle one answer to see what happens. And it's pretty clear that if you're too lousy in one area, they'll thank you for an excellent interview and "the phone never ring."
Unfortunately there's no cluing from the interviewers if you're in trouble or doing well. You're left reverse engineering the answers. Change one and see what happens with your grades, and soon you can figure which answer doesn't just trade one grade for another. It's a cute learning exercise but, like crazy IF mazes, more technical than imaginative. Some answer swaps show scorched-earth approaches are penalized, and computer industry people who look into it may find heart and a touch of irony.
They won't find a good game, though. It could be an interesting side puzzle, and if he had put some of the energy from the XYZZY response into describing the interviewers and cluing when you are in trouble, it would be more than an elimination puzzle. As it is, I got all A's and $100k a year after spending two five-minute sessions that felt much longer.
This game may have inspired me to write my own multiple-choice vignette as a sort of therapy. Perhaps I will suggest such an activity to the next ranting co-worker. But the playing experience also made clear that something like this is not seriously publishable as a stand-alone work.
This game was last place in 1998's IFComp, and has an average rating of 1 star (out of 12 ratings) on ifdb as of this writing.
This game consists of 9 multiple choice questions presented as a job interview. There are several paragraphs of intro, a huge response to XYZZY, and a final score in three categories as well as a salary.
Why was this game so poorly regarded? CYOA in general was looked down upon until Twine and Choice of Games took off. Also, the author has a bitter tone, and includes lines like "That's not how life works" if you try to restart.
But the game is polished. The author spent a great deal of time creating a workable CYOA structure, and it looks good.
The writing is descriptive, and does an excellent job of representing the author's feelings
The game communicates an emotion of frustration, bitterness and helplessness.
However, it is difficult to know how your choices affect the outcomes, and disabled restart is obnoxious. Also, there is not much replay value.
I found this game extremley repetitive! You only had to make one mistake and you would "never recieve the phone call". I said game in the beginning but it is more of a quiz where you select the response which you think is most likely going to get you the job...