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Lazy Wizard's Guide

by Lenard Gunda


Web Site

(based on 14 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

It is time to take the final exam in your magician studies. The only problem is, for all the years you have spent in this prestigious school of magic, you have been really lazy. Really, really, "you don't remember a single spell" lazy. As you enter the examination room, you wonder how on earth you are going to pass this one, and become a licensed wizard?

Lazy Wizard's Guide is a parser based text adventure that runs in your browser.

Game Details


22nd Place - tie - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)


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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A satisfying off-brand Hogwarts adventure, January 9, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2022

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2022's IFComp. I also beta-tested this game, but didn't do a full replay before writing this review).

The question of generic knock-offs is deceptively complex. Sure, some of it comes down to dollars and cents: you can save some money by getting store-brand Coke, and it all tastes like malted battery acid anyway, so might as well save a buck rather than pay for the label. But when it comes to an experience rather than a product the label, isnít just an afterthought, but can be an inherent and important part of the texture Ė in some sense it shouldnít matter whether or not we think Pericles, Prince of Tyre is an authentic Shakespeare play, but given its clear status as a lesser work, in a larger sense thatís the only question that matters.

All this is well-trod ground, but the Lazy Wizardís Guide poses the issue in a curiously inverted form Ė in offering up an off-label Hogwarts, the game loses much of the richness of detail, and the positive associations some players might have lingering from their first encounters with the books and movies. But it also cleanses this Brand X Wizarding World of the lingering stench of Rowlingís loud transphobia, clearing space for more players to enjoy it in good conscience.

And whatís here is enjoyable, even leaving aside all questions of authenticity. The parser-based magic test is a study formula, and tends to live and die by the strength of its magic system, so the choice to de-emphasize setting and characters by invoking direct Harry Potter tropes with their serial numbers filed off is entirely defensible. Admittedly, said system is also not going to win any awards for novelty, since it uses a traditional mix of spellbooks Ė to permanently learn new spells Ė and material components Ė which can be consumed, putting a limit on the number of times you can spam certain enchantments. Similarly, the hoops your fledgling wizard needs to jump through in order to graduate can feel a bit arbitrary Ė some are clearly ridiculously dangerous, like summoning a vampire, while others, like finding a lost magic rock, are a tad underwhelming.

These authorial choices mean that the overall framework of the game isnít especially compelling; youíre solving a test because youíve been told to solve the test. Fortunately, the actual gameplay and puzzles themselves are pleasantly moreish. Thereís a canny mix of difficulties, with a gently-sloping curve that successfully builds familiarity with the system and gives the player some early wins while introducing some more challenging obstacles. Alternate solutions are implemented for many puzzles, some of which work around resource constraints in fairly clever ways. And the custom parser is up to the challenge Ė it doesnít recognize ďitĒ, but it does have a well-integrated menu-based conversation system for when you want to talk to not-McGonagall, not-Dobby, and not-Ron, so that feels like a fair trade.

As I played the Lazy Wizardís Guide, I wound up unconsciously comparing it to an entry in 2019ís Comp, Winter Break at Hogwarts. That game really leaned into a recreation of Hogwarts, boasting a sprawling map that largely coincided with the official plan of the school, with book-appropriate set dressing everywhere you looked. But between some iffy puzzle design and the authenticity generating some bad Rowling vibes, I didnít wind up enjoying it that much. Lazy Wizardís Guide flips both those elements and comes up with a much more successful formula Ė sometimes itís good that youíd never confuse the generic brand for the real thing.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Welcome to Notwarts, November 28, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

Old School Parser IF, like yr momma used to make! The setup is fun: a lazy wizard student trying to fake his way through finals to graduate from not-Hogwarts. Notwarts? Notwarts. He is 100% a not-Hufflepuff. (sidebar - Hufflepuff is totally the party house right? The other three houses are wrapping themselves around the axle with ďevil returnsĒ or whatever, these guys are doing keg stands and bong rips. Thatís just canon.) It is super light in tone, puzzle solving and narrative. Itís components are consistently light in a satisfying way - no part seems out of place, it is a unified experience.

There are some really nice touches too. It has a components-based spell system, adding spell component quests (and often creative use of spells) to the puzzle tree. In particular it does what many satisfying puzzle IFs do: (Spoiler - click to show)require you to use an object or spell different ways for different puzzles. That is inherently more satisfying than one-and-done items that just take up pocket space after their only use. There are one-offs as well, to be clear, but I always appreciate the effort when theyíre not ALL that way.

The implementation is solid - no glaring bugs, lots of scenery to examine with short, amusing blurbs. Not a huge map, but not cramped either. A character-based hint system thatís a step up from mimesis-breaking commands or menus. It makes some smart gameplay choices too, for example restocking expendables automatically rather than having you slog across the map to replenish every time. The NPC conversation menu tree is effective (and snappy!) and often context aware, adding discussion options as you learn about them. It really is a very complete experience.

So why does it peak at Sparks of Joy and not into Engaging? There are some text burrs to be sure. One spellís description explicitly notes it will only work on (Spoiler - click to show)people of lesser intelligence then proceeds to work on a character that does not answer that description. The Hinting Jinn who is your sometime companion will randomly beam into the room to say Ďhií. Some of his Ďarrivalí and Ďpresentí text bump against each other in weird ways. Characters will still try to give you things youíve already got, and seemingly not remember they gave them. The game sometimes thinks you have expendables you have, well, expended. These kinds of things happen often enough that it is notable without interfering in anything. Unlike other Notably Buggy entries though, these present as really minor - either because the light tone of the text lets them slip past without fanfare, or because it does SO much without these glitches that they are diluted with volume. I think I have to split the difference and round up here. Its not mostly seamless, its not, but its Notable bugs somehow intrude less.

Thatís kind of dodging the question though. The above paragraph asked about Artistic Response, and answered Technical Intrusiveness. Notwarts just seemed to be missing something. There was a soucance of wit in the text but it was a light sprinkling, not a consistent feature. The setting, for all its interesting map was word-rendered kind of lacklusterly. There is nothing of those crane shots in Harry Potter that pan over the magical majesty of the dining hall, or the slippery stones of the underground rivers. Notwarts is kind of low rent that way.

Hogwarts has classrooms suffused with elaborate antique woodwork, rough hewn stone, iron candelabras and a palpable sense of ancient mystery. Notwarts has a bunch of desks in front of a chalkboard. Hogwarts has sumptuous holiday feasts, magically preparing themselves on the table in a festival atmosphere. Notwarts has an overworked gnome in a cramped kitchen making sandwiches. Now this is actually an amusing contrast, but the text does not sufficiently mine it for laughs, just lets it lay there. I donít want to imply it was free of humourous Sparks, it definitely was not. The puzzles were fun, the tone was pleasant. But it couldnít crest into Engaging because it didnít draw me in. I donít need Notwarts to be Hogwarts. I actually kind of like that it isnít. But I would like to enjoy how MUCH it isnít a good deal more.

This is a rock solid entry I enjoyed spending time with. Thatís cool, right?

Played: 10/31/22
Playtime: 2hrs, almost finished, 74/93 pts, 7 achievements
Artistic/Technical rankings: Sparks of Joy/Notable rounding up to Mostly Seamless
Would Play Again? No, experience seems complete

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Charming and fun, January 2, 2023
by Lance Cirone (Backwater, Vermont)

(Adapted from intfiction.org post)

Lenard Gundaís Lazy Wizard's Guide was one of the first IFComp entries I played this year; the charming premise made me interesting in what it could be.

One of my favorite styles of IF game is when you have a magic system that just builds on top of itself, starting with simple spells and then moving on to more advanced and interesting ones. Itís not that common, but itís always a joy to play; compare Junior Arithmancer. Even beyond this mechanic, Lazy Wizardís Guide amazed my with its varied characters and non-linear goals.

The plot: Youíre a senior student at a magic academy, taking your final exam to be a licensed wizard. The problem is that you donít have a clue on how do to any of it! Armed with only a Beginnerís Magic book, can you explore the school and its surroundings to figure out how to complete all five of your exam goals?

I love the atmosphere of this game. Youíll run into all sorts of fantasy creatures Ė tree people, ghosts, gnomes, witches, vampires, among others Ė and itís fun to go around the school. The characters you can interact with are unique and memorable, and Iíd always liked checking back to see if they had anything new to say as I progressed. Room descriptions are kept concise, and everything youíll need to know is mentioned. The game also uses a special web parser that makes conversations easier (you get to click numbered options) and highlights certain important verbs or notifications, which improved the ease of play and makes it easier to recommend to people who are new to IF.

The spell system is easy to understand: learn a spell, and you know it forever. If you have the ingredients you need, go ahead and cast it (on something if needed). Some of these are as simple as lighting up dark rooms or unlocking doors, while later ones include entering paintings and summoning vampires. You also have to brew some potions to complete your exam. The versatile spell system also leads to some puzzles having multiple solutions, which I liked.

Thereís one area I would like to see improved: if youíre stuck, you can call an ďexam jinnĒ to give you hints. However, most of his hints are vague and thereís points where he didnít even have anything to tell me. I ended up beating the game without any of his help. Itís also a minor nitpick, but at first, I ended up (Spoiler - click to show)drinking the tea that was meant for Mirlena. She kept asking for it, and I was wondering if I made a mistake, since I couldnít get any more. I ended up going back to an earlier save to give it to her, but nothing new happened; the dialogue seemed the same and there didnít seem to be any achievements related to it. It was a bit of confusion that stuck out, considering how good the rest of the game is at giving feedback and ensuring I canít mess up puzzles.

Lazy Wizardís Guide is a lighthearted and imaginative IFComp entry with strong gameplay and great worldcrafting. I liked it a lot, and Iíd definitely recommend it.

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Lazy Wizard's Guide on IFDB

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The following polls include votes for Lazy Wizard's Guide:

Outstanding Game in a Custom System in 2022 - Author's Choice by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best custom-system game of 2022. Voting is anonymous and open only to IFDB...

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I'm looking for games that offer hints in any way, except for printing them in sequence on the screen. For example: characters that offer hints; objects that, when examined or used in a certain way, suggest actions to the player; etc.

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Homebrew games don't get a lot of love here, but some of them are pretty good. What is your favorite homebrew game?

This is version 7 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 25 April 2023 at 12:42pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page