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About the Story
As a student with an IF assignment looming, you need to get a biography out of the library - however, it is a very rare book, and surely you won't be allowed to take it with you... [--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]
5th Place, Inform Division - First Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1995)
A small game set in a future in which adventure games are considered high art. You're a college student writing a paper about Graham Nelson, and must retrieve a book about him from the library. Packed with references to other games. Features gentle built-in hints.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
It is possible to create good interactive fiction based entirely on everyday experiences if the writing stands out enough to carry the game on atmosphere (see A Change in the Weather, below). It is also possible to make a good game out of a fundamentally unpleasant situation (Theatre, for example, or Bureaucracy) if the game provides gripping drama or offers a fresh perspective on the events in question. Library does neither, offering a fairly routine scenario executed in expository but uninspiring prose.
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All Quiet on the Library Front by Michael S. Phillips is a 1995 interactive fiction game, entered in the first annual interactive fiction competition. The premise is that the PC is a student enrolled in CS 441 - Interactive Fiction who has been slacking off for the entire term. To save his grade, the PC must navigate the university library to acquire a biography of Graham Nelson, to use as a source for a term paper.
Phillips's first (and, to date, only) contribution to interactive fiction, Library has the hallmarks of a first game: it is set in a fictionalized version of the author's workplace; it contains many references to the IF community; it has a rather thin premise. That said, it's competently implemented and reasonably well written.
Library's main sin is that it's too simple. Its puzzles are very straightforward, its NPCs don't seem to do anything but serve their very limited purposes, and there's little else to do but what's required. I only finished with 26/30 points, and I have no idea what the other points could be for, but I don't have any particular urge to get the rest.
Most of Library's scenery is implemented, though some actions, like x me, give default responses. On the other hand, you can (Spoiler - click to show)kiss alan for a response that's both humorous and useful as a hint--well done.
Overall, Library is just mediocre, and there are too many better works of interactive fiction for me to recommend it. If I were rating it for the ifcomp, I'd give it about a 4/10.
Play time: 30 minutes to win, plus about 10 more of exploration.
This review is based on Release 2.
This game was entered in the very first IFComp, which was originally intended to provide examples of code for the then-new programming language Inform. It didn't actually work out that way, because few people released code and many TADS games were also entered, but that's how it started.
This game came in 5th of six in the Inform division. It is about a library that you know contains a copy of a biography of Graham Nelson. The library also contains the Infocom games, Christminster, Avalon, Curses!, Balances, and references to interactive fiction servers.
The gameplay is fairly light, just searching and trying basic NPC actions. Many of the points are bonus points for bizarre actions.
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