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DuckMe-20221205-Beta17.zip
Release 0 / Serial number 010101 / Inform v6.​41 PunyInform v4.​1 (beta 17, Dec 05 2022)
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
BBC Micro Image
SSD image of release 1 (Oct 16 2022) suitable for use with BBC Micro emulators, powered by Ozmoo 9.​21.
Defaults - All Systems Installer
Play Online (BBC Micro Emulation)
Play via a public BBC Micro emulator. (Release 1 / Serial Number 221016 / Inform 6.​41 PunyInform 4.​0)
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DuckMe.z3
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.

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Duck! Me?

by EdwardianDuck

Episode 1 of Fowl Play Adventure
Fantasy
2021

Web Site

(based on 1 rating)
1 review

About the Story

You are awakened by a violent shaking sensation. It feels like an earthquake. The bed is moving from side to side so much that you are thrown from it onto the floor. After a while the earthquake subsides and you stand up. Even allowing for being thrown out of bed, you don't feel very well, but you're steady enough to move about a bit. Oddly, you don't recognise this room or remember why you are here. Even your own name eludes you, which is a bit worrying...

You appear to be a cuddly toy duck.
You are hungry and weak.
You are thirsty and dehydrated.
You have a nasty tear in the side of your head and some of the stuffing is poking out.
Because of your condition, you may not be able to complete some actions.


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 1
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Cute premise, but basically nonsensical gameplay, December 1, 2022

The author of this short adventure bills it as "an old-fashioned 1980's style text adventure" and notes: "[T]his isnít modern IF, itís an old-fashioned puzzle game with a wafer-thin plot and dated concepts like darkness, And, yes, there are a couple of things you can do to make the game unwinnable, although Iíve tried to make these somewhat obvious." It was also apparently produced as a first attempt of using the PunyInform library (version 4.0), and officially left beta status last month.

The premise seems intentionally absurd: You are a duck -- a toy plush duck -- living in a world that seems to be made of a combination of toy building materials, natural caverns, and occasional technology ranging from antique to futuristic. If that bothers you even a little, then you will find little to enjoy about this game. If the idea of a mashup between "A Bear's Night Out," "Planetfall," and a generic Scott Adams game sounds fun, however, then keep reading.

The PC wakes with amnesia and does not seem to understand why he/she is a plush duck. The "wafer-thin" plot consists of trying to escape an abandoned research complex by summoning help from the associates that left you behind while evacuating. To do this you will need to solve a series of arbitrary puzzles. So far, so good.

The gameplay experience rapidly breaks down, however, because many of these puzzles are significantly underclued. This is aggravated by the fact that there are numerous red herrings. It is further aggravated by the presence of what look like serious bugs that can lock out a win state without explanation or warning. (Spoiler - click to show)I don't know for sure what is causing these, but they seem to be related to lighting conditions. Key objects and object components can "disappear" either intermittently or permanently. Make sure that you have light when conjuring vegetables, and try turning the torch on and off if anything seems to be missing an essential component.

The essential flaw of the design is a failure to provide feedback to the player regarding partial progress on puzzles. This is absolutely critical for any complex puzzle requiring an extended series of actions, so that players can understand that they are on the right track. The most egregious example here is the puzzle involving retrieval of a piece of paper wedged under a heavy desk. Despite understanding the basic idea of needing to lift the desk to free the paper, this was not easy to accomplish even with a found item that seemed perfect for the task. (Spoiler - click to show)The actual solution requires use of multiple objects stacked onto one another in order to get the jack high enough to work, but there is no indication that the reason it doesn't work is that the jack is not high enough on its own. Multiple items must be stacked under the desk to get it high enough. (NOTE: The first version of this spoiler said that the need to turn one of these items over was "inexplicable," but it is in fact quite explicable and consistent with a similar item. I just wasn't paying very close attention to the default game output about this object. My apologies to the author!) There is no indication that the player's plan could work if conditions were adjusted. I had to resort to decompiling the game file to get the solution here.

Another flaw, arguably one that is stylistically appropriate for 1980s works, is that certain events occur "off-screen" as a result of your actions without any indication that this has occurred. The key example here involves obtaining a head of celery; the player simply won't know when this puzzle has been solved. In fact, the feedback given when the correct action is taken implies that the task failed. The player must wander to another part of the complex to find that the celery can now be obtained (with a little more work).

The last serious flaw involves a failure to communicate important in-game information to the player. I'm thinking here of a snake that prevents access to certain areas. Although the PC claims to remember something about the species, the essential information (Spoiler - click to show)(what it eats) is not provided, even after a puzzle has been solved that the game states should improve your memory. Good luck finding the solution here via anything other than brute force.

This game is littered with what look like author in-jokes, or possibly references to sources (like cartoons) not made explicit. A mysterious "ethereal" voice that harangues you every so often has no explanation, but it seems to be linked to a red herring that can be found. An even more mysterious event that happens at move 37 seems to have no bearing on the plot or in-game explanation. The ending makes no sense at all, as far as I can tell.

Despite the above, I basically wanted to like this game. The author clearly put a significant amount of work into the implementation, and the main set piece puzzles (involving a blender and an automated surgeon) are competently executed. There are some clever bits here (like a light puzzle not based on batteries running out), and the oddball humor appealed to me where it was accessible. The two-star rating that I'm giving it means "almost there" in my ranking system, and it would rate three stars (aka "good, not great") with better focus and the cleanup of game-threatening bugs. I'll keep an eye out for a release 2.

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This is version 7 of this page, edited by David Kinder on 18 September 2023 at 1:58pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page