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Perilous Magic

by David Fillmore

Zorkian
1999

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Number of Reviews: 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Useful case study for would-be writers., December 29, 2012
Calling this work a game seems to miss the mark; instead, the overwhelming impression I got was that it is the result of the author's studied effort to learn Inform 6.

In a beginner's shop class at school, the focus is on learning to use the tools to create something basic and functional but not necessarily aesthetically pleasing. This thoroughly pragmatic product is in exactly that style -- a simple scenario, solidly constructed.

I would like to add "with no frills" to that description, but that would be inaccurate. There are, in fact, several frills -- a built-in hint system (which is ridiculous overkill in this context), plus several hidden items and joke responses to non-obvious behavior. The thing is, unless you are perusing the supplied source code, you are unlikely to encounter most of these details; clearly, they were implemented more for the author's amusement than the players.

Even though I don't believe this was a serious attempt to create something entertaining, Perilous Magic is instructive for the aspiring author and worth reviewing simply as a case study to compare the playing experience vs. the code supporting it, especially when it comes to deciding which interaction elements matter enough to be worth the implementation cost. That's a design skill (not a coding skill) that seems hard-won for many authors, but which quickly makes itself evident in the best examples of IF.