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The Water Bird

by Athan Skelley


(based on 4 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

"A text adventure based on the folklore of the Miwok Indians of the Yosemite area." [--blurb from Competition '99]

Game Details


29th Place - 5th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1999)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

You're a Native American boy charged with saving your village from a monster. Well-researched and nicely done setting, but buggy--the competition release had a bug that made it unfinishable, and while the latest release cleaned up that particular bug, it has lots of others, including one that, again, makes the game unfinishable. It would be nice to see this cleaned up, since it's a setting that's never been done before in IF. As it is, however, it's too buggy to be worth trying.

-- Duncan Stevens

>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

From the update on the comp web site, I already knew that The Water Bird had a game-killing bug in it, so I wasn't surprised when I found it. What I was surprised by (though maybe I shouldn't have been) was the number of other, extremely basic, bugs I found in it. This is unusual for me -- usually once I see or hear of one bug in a competition game I expect them to come in droves, but the opening text to The Water Bird is so good that I allowed myself the belief that the critical bug was just a really bad-luck oversight, one of those things that makes you just about swallow your own tongue as an author the second a player finds it and it's TOO LATE to change a thing. But no, actually, there are bugs throughout the game. In fact, in only the game's second location, attempts to walk in an unavailable direction are met with "[TADS-1023: invalid type for built-in function]". This extremely fundamental omission is emblematic of the unfinished feel that the entire game has.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Frustrating Beyond Belief, January 21, 2009
by Andromache (Hawaii)

This game was so unplayable I never bothered to finish it, even though somebody went to the trouble of writing a walkthrough. The author said they didn't favor hints, which is unfortunate because this game really needed them. There were so many bugs, and I'm not even the type who tries wild experiments just to see if the game deals with them. You could only carry a limited amount of items, and if you had multiples of the same item, you couldn't examine them. The game would ask which item you mean, when there's only one choice. Puzzles were obscure and there's at least one instance I know where you have to guess the verb.

Basically, bad mechanics ruined what could have been a very interesting story. I was so disappointed I couldn't finish the game.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A great game plagued with many bugs, about Indian folklore, July 16, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This large game tells a wonderful native american tale. Set in a large village, and in the world of the dead, you have to hunt food for a village while the warriors prepare for the arrival of a deadly giant.

Big and ambitious, this game was massively buggy during the competition and placed in the bottom 10. It was updated later, fixing many but not all problems. I recommend playing with the walkthrough to see the great story.

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The Water Bird on IFDB


The following polls include votes for The Water Bird:

Lost Treasures of the IF Comp by Molly
It seems that for every Comp game that's still talked about today (e.g., Slouching Towards Bedlam, Shade, Photopia, etc.), there's ten or so that have been almost completely forgotten; some of them even placed in the top ten or higher....

Games with Native themes by Chad Comeau
I've been wondering if there are any IF games dealing with Native American or First Nations themes. I have yet to discover a game that meaningfully deals with this topic. Thanks!

This is version 4 of this page, edited by Paul O'Brian on 6 May 2022 at 3:08pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page