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IFComp 2015 release
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.

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Ether

by MathBrush profile

2015

Web Site

(based on 30 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

"For the first time in centuries, something is different. Your tentacles tingle as you float to the east past icebergs and whirlwinds. You skirt a pocket of hot air, bounce through a field of ice, and finally come upon a massive stormcloud filling the sky to the east."

A game about a flying cephalopod and its airy world. This short adventure recreates the feel of exploring a world in a graphical game, and uses a 9x9x9 cubical grid. Navigate the world in 26 directions as you collect items and use the properties of your environment to unlock their power. An in-game walkthrough is included, as are instructions for those new to parser interactive fiction, where you type in commands.


Game Details


Awards

10th Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)


News

The game now has new cover art.
Reported by MathBrush | History | Edit | Delete
I've added the source code to the game page. It's not the best code, with a lot of 0/1 variables, but I thought it might be interesting.
Reported by MathBrush | History | Edit | Delete
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Editorial Reviews

Emily Short's IFComp Review Collective
Lucian Smith on Ether
IF has two traditional axes on which it is judged: story and puzzles. Even Graham Nelson’s old description of IF as ‘a narrative at war with a crossword’ breaks down the genre this way. Ether’s story is simplistic, and its puzzles are trivial. And both are almost beside the point, because Ether concerns itself with neither axis, instead delighting in a third: exploration. Even here, it departs from most exploration-themed IF where the point is to explore a location: here, the point is more to explore movement within an environment, and to explore the abilities of the PC.
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Old Games Italia

In Ether ci ritroveremo ad impersonare un cefalopode volteggiante in un mondo d'aria alla ricerca di alcuni oggetti che ci permetteranno di viaggiare verso un nuovo mondo. Bene: la trama finisce qui. In questa avventura, infatti, non c'è praticamente nulla da fare se non raccogliere queste strane sostanze; il problema è che non è presente il benché minimo ostacolo o enigma, inoltre molto spesso per proseguire nella narrazione basta solo aspettare qualche turno per far accadere un evento. Via via che si raccolgono gli oggetti il mondo attorno a noi cambia secondo un ben preciso schema, ma, purtroppo, il modo in cui questo è giustificato è abbastanza fragile.
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Renga in Blue
The main novelty is the world is entirely open on a three-dimensional grid, where the edges invoke different opposites (windy/calm, for instance). Puzzles generally involve floating to particular objects and maneuvering them to a particular environment.

The chunk of red ice bobs upward. It now lies far to the north and far below you.

A lot of work was put into the directions and the fact objects float about, but in practice I found myself typing >GO TO OBJECT a bunch and eventually I was there. I imagine the author spent months getting to code to work correctly to get to the point where it could mostly be ignored by the players (which is both good and sad at the same time).


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
This cephalopod is user-friendly, November 18, 2015
by CMG (NYC)

You're a nautilus, but not a normal nautilus. You inhabit an airy world and it is yours. You are its overlord. You've lived in other worlds before, and now you've mastered this one too. It's time to move on to yet another world. Gameplay is about assembling the necessary magical/metaphysical elements required to open the next "great doorway" in your journey.

Movement in this game is three-dimensional. You can travel in all the cardinal directions, and also up and down, and combine directions, i.e. down north. This seems like it could be overwhelming, but it's not. All the directions have different qualities (less pressure in the upper atmosphere, for example) and you've always got a clear sense of where you are and where everything else is in relation to you.

I feel like this would be a great game for beginners. It gives you simple challenges, rewards you with new powers when you complete the challenges, and rounds itself nicely off at the end by throwing you into a situation where you have to use all your powers in combination.

Your nautilus character isn't completely fleshed out, but has a definite personality and memories from its past worlds, and the game gradually resolves itself into a kind of epiphany for the nautilus on a grand scale. Everything is blended together: the story, the mechanics, the exploration, they're all the same thing, and it feels effortless.

(Spoiler - click to show)It's also really neat how you slowly realize that, hey, this game has an NPC, and the entire world is the NPC.

I don't think that Ether will appeal as much to experienced players who want more difficult puzzles, but that's not the goal it's setting for itself. It wants to be casual and uplifting and it succeeds.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A floating fancy, April 28, 2023
by Rachel Helps (Utah)
Related reviews: Mormon IF

You play as a cloudlike entity who gradually forms into a creature and gains powers as it shows mastery of the world it is creating. You are opposed by the world itself, because it doesn't want you to leave. "Evil" enters the world. There are some puzzles that take advantage of your ability to move up and down, but they are not the focus of the game. The mood is impressionistic. You are a god-nautilus, and you are exploring your capabilities and making sacrifices and enjoying being in the world.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
My first enjoyable parser experience, November 19, 2015
by Felicity Banks (Canberra, Australia)
Related reviews: IFComp 2015

I was nervous about the parser experience, because I generally end up frustrated (sometimes to tears) within minutes. My brain doesn't work that way, and doesn't want to learn.

This was literally the only parser game I've ever enjoyed from beginning to end - mainly due to the very friendly walkthrough (which I consulted at every single step, after a few attempts at doing stuff on my own).

It's a fantastic game for true beginners, and works well as a teaching tool (my attempts at other parser games now last twice as long before I quit) without being even a tiny bit patronising, or breaking away from the story.

A downside in terms of personal taste is that the nautilus is (as you may have guessed) not human. It feels fairly human in personality, but I just don't relate to the epic and impersonal goal.

I was able to just barely understand (for the very first time) why people like puzzles in a story, even though I don't personally like them. Really grateful for the whole experience. It changed the way I see parser games.

If you love parser games and you're trying to convert a n00b, start here.

If you like parser but don't feel like staying awake trying to figure out a nightmarishly difficult puzzle... this game is for you, too.

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Ether on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Ether appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Doug's Top Ten of IF Comp 2015 by Doug Orleans
I played all 53 entries in IF Comp 2016. These were the top ten games on my ballot. Note that I rate games on slightly different criteria for the IF Comp than I do for IFDB; in particular, as per the Comp rules, I select my vote after...

Polls

The following polls include votes for Ether:

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible implementations of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Implementation in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here will...

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible settings of 2015 by verityvirtue
This is for suggesting settings from games released 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Setting in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not...

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible games of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for suggesting games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Game in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here will...

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