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About the Story
"Three Dragons," based on a European folktale about two brothers and an old man with a white beard, was a personal game design challenge by Tim Samoff (http://samoff.com).
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Three Dragons was designed as a micro-RPG, and is a technically polished Twine with slick text effects. This game has several of the hallmarks of a usual RPG: there's an inventory system, combat, and a completely characterless PC.
Two things of note: stats are presented qualitatively, not quantitatively, meaning you see "You are in good health" or "The dragon is stable" instead of numerical values for health, or any other stat. This, for me, kept it from being a numbers game - it signalled that trying to keep track of health lost and damage dealt was not the point. What you have are tactics: do you feint, or swipe with your weapon, or retreat?
Second, combat is in realtime. This lends a sense of urgency to the fight: if you delay, your options dwindle. In IF and text-based combat games, this is a rare thing indeed.
So far, I haven't found any way to get anything resembling a 'successful' ending, though it's not actually clear why. Three Dragons feels like an introduction more than anything, but it introduces some interesting system which I wouldn't mind seeing in future works.
This is a very short game where the player, upon meeting an old man on the road, is randomly tasked with going on an adventure. The "adventure" itself happens immediately when dragons attack and need to be dealt with. But the old man appears to have shifty motivations behind enlisting the player's help, and perhaps the adventure isn't as random as it seems.
As far as storytelling goes, the ground covered here is basic, which is the point. This is a simple fable with a simple setting and simple characters. I only came across a few spelling and grammar mistakes, although there was one jarring programming error involving an elixir. Otherwise, on the programming side, the interface is nice and glossy.
What stands out is the combat. When you fight a dragon, it happens in real-time, with links appearing for you to launch an attack, defend yourself, or retreat. The dragon will continuously attack, and the text will progress, whether you click these links or not -- meaning that it will progress even faster if you do click them. Even though it's difficult to die, this mechanic gives a real sense of urgency to the battle.
The good thing here is that the combat feels like it has stakes, especially when your health, listed in the status bar, begins to deteriorate and flash red as the dragon deals damage. But the bad thing is that, in a text-based medium, this gameplay style encourages you to click links without pausing to read the text, since pausing might allow the dragon to hurt you.
The game also gives the appearance of branching at some points, but most of the branches I picked were dead ends. For example, when you're given the choice to speak with the old man, rob him, or just walk away, only speaking with him will advance the story properly. I see this a lot in CYOAs, where the player will have multiple options to select from, but only as a kind of illusion to suggest there's more choice than there is. In reality, the game has a linear path it wants you to take, and if you don't take it, you lose.
I had to restart this game quite a few times when I picked the wrong option. Since it's so short, that wasn't a hassle exactly, but it did detract from the experience when I found myself wondering why this was necessary to finish such a simple story.
This game is very short, but it's not bad while it lasts. You have a chance to purchase a variety of equipment, and then you must face a dragon. There isn't really that much here, but then again, randomized combat is hard to find in IF games. I can only think of 3-4 games off the top of my head that have any randomized combat, including Zork, Adventure, Kerkerkruip and RPG-ish (another twine game written using constraints).
So I have to give Tim Samoff credit for implementing this.
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PollsThe following polls include votes for Three Dragons:
Child-friendly CYOA (or other interface that's not traditional parser) by blue/green
Most of the games I see on the "appropriate for children" lists are pure parser IF. Are there kid friendly games that have a more accessible interface? CYOA, hyperlink, hybrid parser--any interface that offers some help in figuring out...
This is version 24 of this page, edited by timsamoff on 28 January 2016 at 12:30pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item