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Make It Good

by Jon Ingold

Mystery
2009

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(32)
4 star:
(21)
3 star:
(7)
2 star:
(0)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Ratings: 62
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- karlnp (Vancouver, BC), August 22, 2017

- Cory Roush (Ohio), June 3, 2017

- BinkleyBeardman, August 4, 2016

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Another gem from Jon., June 21, 2016
A very well- and carefully written game, one of the most intricate I've played. You are a not-so-perfect private eye who is called to investigate a murder, and (Spoiler - click to show)finds himself involved in more ways than one! I say carefully written, because this is one game where the NPCs are not only aware of each other when in the same room, they are also aware of some of the items that you are holding, so you have to be careful! Their actions are strongly influenced by these facts. Veteran IFers may be put off by this, if they are habituated to games where the NPCs are rather discreet with respect to each other(=confined to certain areas of play), and indifferent to what the player is holding, unless the IFer has played Infocom's The Witness, or Deadline. I would recommend this game to a beginner, because the beginner would play with beginner's eyes--EXPECTING the NPCs to interact with each other and to be curious or observant of what you are holding. Also, I would recommend it to them because the game is brief compared to many others--I would call it an appetizer. If you are focused on finding the evidence, analyzing it and interviewing characters, you should quickly uncover (possible) motives and get a rough idea of who did it(or COULD have)--but this is just part of the game! Another part is how to manage the investigation--and keep pertinent details to yourself, what to analyze and what to divulge--and when to divulge it. This is why you may need a number of replays to 'get it right'(which may have you tearing your hair out). One character suggests that it's like a chess match((Spoiler - click to show)and I thought the chessboard was another little touch of genius--see if you can liken the characters to the pieces on the board) Then there is the endgame, which I felt was a masterstroke.
I really have nothing but the usual complaints regarding Ingold's games--the Britishisms(not a real complaint from me, but others may be put off--for example, in the US, we don't call 'em 'vicar', we make coffee, not tea, a car has a hood, not a 'bonnet'), the-one-thing-I-could-do-but-didn't-realize-I-could-do(found this out from a walkthrough--and yes, I did consult a walkthrough, after hours of beating my head against the wall trying to accuse someone who I was sure did it), and there are at least a couple of places where you play 'guess the verb', or you get a different result using two very similar verbs(look at vs examine). These are also the reason why I gave only 4 stars(instead of 5), but again wanted to give an additional 1/2 star, for 4 1/2.
I want to also stress that this game is excellent. You'll get laughs talking to Joe(the officer on duty who assists you with the analyses and questioning). He does not trust you, wants you fired(he knows you're a (Spoiler - click to show)shady alcoholic, and (Spoiler - click to show)possibly even suspects you from the start. If you give him just any object to analyze(that isn't direct evidence), sometimes, without even looking at it, he'll call you a cretin and walk away. But sometimes he's nice and will let you look at the crossword in his newspaper(which I may go back to the game and try to work completely--it's a neat little puzzle on its own, and even has an allusion to the one in The Mulldoon Legacy, another Ingold game I enjoyed).
I found only one bug in the release I played(#13), but even that gave me a laugh--(Spoiler - click to show)you aren't supposed to be able to take Emilia's ceramic water jug without breaking it, but when you go to the Kitchen sink, where the jug is, and say 'FILL JUG'--and the game usually would automatically say (first taking the ---)at any object you choose--the game will then say 'You filched her jug, BUG BUG BUG--I think the author put this in as a joke, once the bug was pointed out to him, and of course, you are not allowed to have the jug, you will have to use the whiskey bottle as a container. If you can hack the aforementioned gripes, then you will thoroughly enjoy the game and appreciate the conclusion. One tip without spoiling anything--when playing a game like this, always search the house and collect evidence, before interviewing. Like a lawyer in court, know the answers before you ask the questions.
Great game.

One of the most well-developed mystery games. A very strong style of writing., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game has really grown on me. When I first played it, I found the atmosphere a bit depressing and the puzzles underclued. However, after revisiting it, I've realized that this game is a true classic. Especially when compared to other mystery games; this one really stands out.

The writing has a very strong style; for instance, we have the following:

"This room is long and thin, like a jailhouse corridor, from the doorway in the northeast corner to the large bay window opposite which stretches the length of the room, overlooking the street outside. The colours are your eyes on a Sunday; red like blood, red like the leather of the over-stuffed chair, which sits a cheap trophy by the main desk. A bookshelf fills the east wall."

The whole game is filled with a feeling of inevitable loss or failure; not of the game itself, but for life in general.

The puzzles are difficult to figure out. For more casual players like me, I recommend exploring until you feel you've seen everything; trying to solve every puzzle at least once; revisiting it after a day; then using a walkthrough. The ending surprised me twice, and even now, I don't really understand all of its implications. For me, this game only improves more and more with time.

- Aryore, December 13, 2015

- hoopla, November 28, 2015

- mixscarlet, October 14, 2015

- Ivanr, October 11, 2015

- Audiart (Davis, CA), August 14, 2015

- Harry Coburn (Atlanta, GA), August 2, 2015

- RichO (Newark, NJ), June 11, 2015

- Adam Biltcliffe (Cambridge, UK), May 22, 2015

- Thrax, March 11, 2015

- lisapaul, January 25, 2015

- Snave, December 10, 2014

- Xon, May 6, 2014

- shornet (Bucharest), March 23, 2014

One of my favorites., October 17, 2013

by streever (America)
This incredibly clever noir-style detective game casts you in a familiar trope--a down-on-his-luck alcoholic investigator who has one last chance to keep his job.

The game is very detailed and clever, technically quite an achievement: NPCs can observe you and note your (openly carried) inventory.

You'll find the clues easily enough, but probably have no idea what to do with them. I recommend not spoiling this one, even if you feel stuck. Come back later and look at the game with fresh eyes, try crazy things, and really observe the characters. Save often & be prepared to restore old games.

This is a great game with a novel ending, and an original plot. It borrows heavily from tropes and concepts you'll be familiar with from other noir fiction, but still presents an entirely original and creative story.

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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- Adam Myers, September 19, 2013

- Steven Watson (UK), July 5, 2013

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Challenging, ambitious game, July 4, 2013
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: jon ingold
Play it if: you want a difficult, voice-heavy playing experience in the tradition of Varicella.

Don't play it if: you'd prefer something more in the vein of Anchorhead, which sacrifices some challenge for ensuring greater flow in the player's experience.

It's a small shame that the most interesting aspects of Make it Good are not ones it can advertise openly. As such, the blurb suffers a little from being a bit too parodied: a very conventional preview to a rather unconventional game.

Make it Good is an impressive piece of detective fiction, not just in the sense of trying to figure out who the killer is, (Spoiler - click to show)but of course in trying to figure out what you evidence you need to destroy and plant to shift the blame from yourself. The moment you understand the big picture of what's going on is a shiver-inducing moment like something out of Spider and Web(Spoiler - click to show) - though in gameplay terms I do think this is a more complete, if not as unconventional, exploration of the narrative twist. It is written with the economy characteristic of any good mystery: no object, character, or detail is truly superfluous. It pulls off a rather neat trick, as well: details which I thought were minor bugs actually turned out not to be!

In structural terms, this feels much better than All Roads, which in my opinion was a more disorganized experiment in this sort of basic story idea which ended up being more of a noble failure.

Smoothing out the gameplay experience is a generally good sense for synonyms (the game doesn't call for too many exotic actions in any case), a TOPICS command to make dialogue as painless as possible, and a GO TO command to assist with navigation, which is welcome if not strictly necessary for a map of this size.

There are flaws, though. The first is the voice. I got the strong impression that this was a story set in the US, yet for a pulp noir protagonist, our hero uses a hell of a lot of Britishisms. Was this a calculated effect? Did I misinterpret the setting? We may never know. But it did feel jarring, and this is coming from me, a multi-national English speaker with little intuitive sense of dialect. It's a stylistic complaint, but there you go.

Second is the mid-game. Rarely have I felt more at a loss for what to do. Chalk it up to my non-puzzle-expert mind, but while I had a fairly straightforward idea of the goal I needed to accomplish, I had absolutely no idea of how to go about it. One of the problems with something like detective fiction this detailed is that you find yourself over-thinking the effects even mundane actions will have, only to miss a fairly obvious opportunity. The cruelty of the game demands a number of re-plays to compound this difficulty. It simultaneously feels fair - because of the detail-oriented nature of this sort of plot - and unfair, because we don't necessarily know as much as we have a right to. I still haven't made up my mind about this sort of gameplay being requested of players. Time will tell.

Even with these frustrations, though, it's a fantastically engaging game. It really does succeed in delivering the sort of excitement and challenge you'd get from investigating a mystery in the tradition of Agatha Christie or Columbo. Just don't expect it to feel particularly fair.

- Stier, June 18, 2013

- decourf (Norway), June 14, 2013


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