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About the StoryThe call comes through. Of all the dicks; you get the call, sitting in the front seat of your car, hands shaking on the steering wheel. An urgent call; but all you were thinking of was the bottle in the liquor store and so that's where you went first.
Now you're pulled up outside the house. The rear mirror's showing two steely eyes. You adjust your hat, stiffen up your collar and grab your badge off the dash. Here goes. You've one last chance so...
MAKE IT GOOD
An Interactive Detective Story, by Jon Ingold
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2009 XYZZY Awards
Play This Thing!
Make It Good is a dark detective mystery from Jon Ingold: there's been a murder, and everyone who was in the house at the time is a suspect. The protagonist is a cop whose drinking career has all but eclipsed his career on the force. His sidekick doesn't bother to conceal his contempt at having to serve such a useless master.
On this description, Make It Good looks like a classic style of interactive fiction, in the tradition of Infocom's Deadline and Witness. Those early commercial mysteries involved some of Infocom's most innovative character work: the non-player characters in Deadline give a strong impression of independent purpose as they move about on their own schedules.
Make It Good improves on this tradition.
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Make it Good is a game whose red herrings are more fascinating than many other games’ primary plotlines. The reward is high for persistence and attention to detail so long as one enters with the necessary experimental spirit, per a scientist with a labful of mice and an evolving hypothesis... or a troopful of lemmings and a malleable landscape.
Mr. Ingold has created a well-written, cleverly designed, technically proficient, devilishly hard work which, by dint of sheer over-arching competence, participates in the ever-rising standard of expectations for top-tier IF. Yes, he’s gone and made it harder for everyone else.
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Jay Is Games
Make It Good is a superb piece of interactive fiction on many levels. It manages to create a world that seems so alive, so independent of you, the player, that if you never bothered to play, no one would seem to mind. Each non-player character moves about the house on their own, has their own motives, their own knowledge of the situation.
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
That feeling only deepens as play goes on. What starts out seeming like a fairly straightforward mystery of looking for evidence and interrogating suspects quickly turns into something more: it's easy to begin to assemble a case, but a lot harder to know what you want to do with that information. The protagonist needs to make a careful plan and stick to it in order to bring the investigation to a satisfactory conclusion -- and that includes manipulating just what all the NPCs know, and when they learn it, and how they feel about him and about one another.
Ambitious coding underlies this design. There are five NPCs. Two of them walk around and perform somewhat complex tasks; all five talk, observe, and remember. This is not the sort of game where you can blithely carry evidence past someone and have him not notice. They will even, on occasion, talk to one another in your absence-- a dangerous matter. There are still some bugs in the implementation I played, but the astonishing thing is not their presence but how well most of this enormous machine does work.
The need to plan around these NPCs makes for an intensely difficult game. Like "Varicella" or "Moebius", "Make It Good" needs to be played over and over to be solved; and there are times in this process where the design is not quite as helpful as it needs to be, and it is hard to figure out just exactly what should change in order to make the next iteration more successful. It can, especially in the late-middle section, become a very frustrating play -- though releases after the first have become more generous with clues and somewhat fairer in scoring what the player has done.
Nor is the result of all the careful NPC code anything like a naturalistic portrayal of character. It would be more accurate to say that it is in support of allowing the characters to behave according to certain genre conventions, in which everyone has a secret and the best people are often the weakest and the most easily destroyed.
The PC, too, is an odd duck. "Make It Good" definitely uses what Paul O'Brian dubbed the accretive PC (in reference to "Varicella" and "Lock & Key"): the player starts out not knowing much about the protagonist or his motives, but after many playthroughs is playing a very specific role to specific ends. And yet even then, there is a touch of distance and strangeness; corners of the protagonist's mind that are never quite illuminated, trains of thought that are intentionally ambiguous.
In the end it all does come clear, in a breathless, vivid epilogue, and the player is left victorious, exhausted, and alienated all at once. But then a mystery of this genre never leaves everyone comfortable.
So: a little imperfect, but nonetheless brilliantly conceived and ambitiously executed.
So the ingredients are all there to make the plot of Make it Good a real noir, sophisticated and engaging.
The game design is innovative and well-maintained. Let’s forget about a story with a simple linear sequence of commands or actions. Make it Good is a story alive with dozens of items to consider, different rooms and locations to be visited and some riddles of low difficulty rating, but definitely good and affordable through various strategies. This is the highlight of this text adventure, which leaves ample room for the player. The NPC’s artificial intelligence is really nice and there is a distinction between the interaction with the mere dialogue, with which you can inform an NPC about your latest developments on the crime investigation, and interaction with interrogation applications, which can be used to collect the suspecteds’ alibi and modus operandi. It is worth also to say a few words about the intensity of the betatesting which has undergone the game in the first period of public release and the considerable speed with which the author has fixed some bugs, more or less heavy, afflicting the first version. All of this has made the current version of the game, namely the ninth, very pleasant and more enjoyable.
I would really like to note the hinting system which automatically comes to the aid of the player by suggesting the appropriate commands for some situations (this system can be deactivated by the most hardcore gamers!). Good and concise documentation in the game.
I would like to return a moment on the quality of the work’s plot (some spoilers below!).
As with his other work, in fact, the author tries to reflect on the deep dichotomy between the player in flesh and bones and his digital alter ego, making the discrepancy between their knowledge a fundamental point for the ending revelation of the main plot storyline. This analysis is an excellent springboard to think about the importance and significance of the information’s medium and the timing of notification. Not only because this trick, we can find that in fact our task is not merely to investigate a crime so savage but to try to understand, through a few bold descriptions, the ironic and grotesque violence of the likely events prior the crime.
Final Vote: As a result, Make it Good ranks as a timeless classic, having the veins of the mystery stories and the verisimilarity of daily life. It offers an extreme interactivity and vivid characters, although in some sections they are a little ’stereotypical’ but always functional to the plot. Watch out, because their behavior will be certainly plausible and exciting! My final vote for Make it Good is 9.5.
PS: I'm sorry for my badly managed English, it is not my main language. The italian version of this review can be found here:
Really, all the characters were like this in the story; each with something to hide (except Joe who would rather do crossword puzzles) which made this mystery a classic. What was even more interesting was trying to find more information about yourself to see what was happening in the house. No other detective stories (encountered to date) has this, instead completely focusing on the other characters. In short, the characters were beautifully crafted.
The story was so original. It took me 4 tries to finally see what I had to do to win the game, because before, I was chasing a million red herrings. That's the beauty of the game though, I think. You will run through the game with no result several times before you get the feel of the characters, setting and plot, and the solution just slams into your head. Really, the whole game is a massive puzzle, designed to keep you on your toes and to anticipate every future move, as well as adapting quickly when you find yourself stuck. to those who did it on their first try.
I could talk almost all day of how good and entertaining and puzzling the story was, but I'll leave with one more point. The story was not just a good piece of work on all four cylinders but also the people (not referring to their personalities at the moment). Like many mystery adventures, you had to be at the right place at the right time to win in some parts, but the characters were really sophisticated in the programming side of things. A lot of effort was put into them to make them know a variety of topics to ask or tell them about, and I found discussions were easily carried out.
I'll just say this: If you are interested even a little in mystery, play this.
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PollsThe following polls include votes for Make It Good:
More than it appears to be... by dacharya64
I'm looking for games that aren't exactly what they seem. Perhaps they come across as simple or romantic or anything really, the point is that things take a turn for the worse (or perhaps the better) and everything begins to change....
Games that inspired you to MAKE a game. by MyTheory
Whether it was the witty dialogue, the charming atmosphere, or the cleverness of the puzzle - you played "this" game and it inspired you to write your own. Selfishly, I'm looking for my own inspiration, but I am also very, very curious...
Mystery games, murder or otherwise by Peter Pears
Playing the 1989 Tex Murphy game "Mean Streets" made me realize what a great thing a mystery game can be, if it manages to tell a good story *and* let you make the connections yourself. I'm looking for such games. Games in which I can...
This is version 10 of this page, edited by Carlo on 20 June 2010 at 5:40am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item