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22nd Place - 9th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2003)
The main idea behind this work was creating a game without even a single room definition. I've never coded in Inform, but from my TADS experience I can tell it must have been quite a feat. For players less versed in programming it's probably not as interesting; still, the only puzzle in the game (of the "find a light source" type) is worth the approx. 10 minutes it takes to solve it.
-- Valentine Kopteltsev
>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
In a cheeky display of one-upsmanship (or maybe it's one-DOWNsmanship), No Room trumps the one-room game by having no locations whatsoever. The author explains in a brief note that the PC resides in "the Inform Library itself, which is the most sense Inform could make of my game." No rooms were harmed, or even created, in the making of this game... The gimmick is fun, but doesn't make for much of a game, of course. So No Room is a piece of micro-IF that basically consists of one puzzle.
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Yes, I get it. It is an experiment. Create a game without an actual room. It sounds impossible, but obviously here we have an example of what can be done. It is surely interesting in terms of programming, but does it contribute to the gameplay? Well, it hardly does. The game starts nowhere, in darkness; for the player it is actually like a room without a lightsource and without any exits; I could not see a difference.
The game itself consists of one puzzle which is not difficult to solve with some experimenting. The implementation of verbs is okay, I did not have to do any guesswork. There are no storyline and no characterizations at all -- the player is confronted with the problem, has to solve it, and that's all, folks.
(Spoiler - click to show)I played (and solved) the puzzle on my mobile phone for the first time, using ZMPP (which does not show the cover pictures). So I saw the picture later, and I really wonder why it was designed in such a way. It actually gives away the complete solution of the only puzzle. The picture is not only giving a clue, but shows the final objective of the game. Honestly, you would not put the picture of the arrested murderer on a film poster of a mystery thriller, would you? It would spoil the whole plot. In this case, carefully spoken, the choice of the game cover is slightly inconsiderate.
For me this was a short puzzle, nothing more. I cannot say that it is bad, but there is not much content. It may be a great experiment, but a player will probably not experience anything special. Referring to general gameplayers, it is recommendable if you like a short diversion that focusses on one puzzle.
This game consists of no rooms at all. The author has exploited some set locations in Inform to remove the need for rooms.
Instead, we have some fun responses to standard commands, plus a fairly well known science experiment. It's almost too plain, but then there are clever bits that redeem it.
A short game.
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