Home | Profile - Edit | Your Page | Your Inbox Browse | Search Games   |   Log In

Reviews by Sam Kabo Ashwell

sports

View this member's profile

Show ratings only | both reviews and ratings
View this member's reviews by tag: abuse adverbs aesthetics afghanistan aif alice anatomy ancient rome animal protagonist animals anime april fool's art atrocity baseball based on songs bdsm boardgame body parts bondage bureaucracy casual games character portrait character stats childhood children's Christian christianity classics collaborative combat comedy coming of age compulsion conspiracy constrained writing conversation cooking cryptology cyclic cyoa darkness dating sim detective developing world dinosaur discordian dracula dream easy games easy puzzles ectocomp education educational emotion environment epilogue eris ethics experimental fairytale family fan fiction fanfiction fantasy feminism fictionalised flashback flight folktale food frame-story freud frustration gender genre gimmick gods graphics guilt Harry Potter heroic fantasy historical historical fiction history hoax holocaust homeschool horror how not to do it if comp 2010 incomplete institutions intertextuality jesus kink large large map leonora carrington lesbian linear love magic magic system make-believe marriage medicine metaphor minicomp minigame miracles movement MUD multimedia multiple narrators multiple protagonists mystery myth narrative narrative structure narrow verb set noir non-genre nostalgia nouns NPCs old-school oldschool one-trick pony oulipo out-of-comp palindrome paranormal persuasive games philosophy platformer poetry polemic political politics pornographic pornography postmodernism psychology PTSD puzzles quest random religion religious remix rhetoric rhyme roborally romance rpg satire science fantasy science fiction setting sex SF simile simulation simulationist smell smut speedIF spelling sports spring thing Spring Thing 2011 spy steampunk stiffy makane superhero surreal surrealism survival horror teenage textuality theatre theology theory therapy They Might Be Giants time tone tragedy train transposition treasure hunt trial and error trophy case urban legend vampire varytale Victorian videogame adaptation Vorple wacky war wedding weird wordplay words young adult Zorkian
...or see all reviews by this member
1-2 of 2


The Quidditch Final of 1954, by Joseph Miller

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A Single Pensieve Strand, October 23, 2012
As is made very clear by the title, this is a sports-sim game set in the Harry Potter universe, many years before the events of the novels. Very short, it relies heavily on fairly obscure knowledge of its oeuvre, and makes little effort to supply it to outsiders. While the player has more influence on the match than in most recent sports-based IF works, the game-like elements are not deep, and non-enthusiasts are unlikely to find very much here. (As someone with only glancing knowledge or interest, I can't speak to how it treats its subject matter.)

The game shows pretty strong evidence of being written by someone without a strong familiarity with IF. Almost no descriptions are written, so EXAMINE is near-useless. The verb-set is limited to a small number of mostly specialist verbs during a short intro sequence, then even further limited during the game itself. The events in the game itself are heavily random. As the Gryffindor Seeker, you're responsible for catching the Snitch and ending the game; but victory in the tournament requires that you wait until your team is ahead by 30 points first. A few commands allow you to disrupt the opposing team, with random success, or avoid being disrupted. Otherwise, it's a matter of waiting until the right moment as the match plays out, then using the SEARCH FOR SNITCH command and hoping it works. With a little application of UNDO, victory is not difficult.

Much of the action takes place independent of what you're doing, and is not always very clearly explained. (Someone familiar with IF conventions would probably have included the game's score in the status bar, and made SCORE work as well as X BOARD.) Quidditch involves a lot of aerial acrobatics, so the interaction necessarily takes place at a fairly abstract level; thus also the description of events, and I never got a very strong sense of the physical state of the game; and character-wise, it relies upon the reader having a good established sense of who most of these people are, or who they will become. So I suspect that the game may be fairly unsatisfying even for Potter fen; as Emily Short has written of Ron Weasley and the Quest for Hermione, and as I've experienced with some of the movie-based Harry Potter videogames, a lot of the appeal of this kind of thing is about immersion in a familiar fictional environment. This is the sort of thing that IF is really well-suited for; instead, Quidditch Final brushes past environment exploration and character interaction, and aims straight for something that IF is traditionally very weak at: a complicated action sequence. So, while the author has definitely done their homework -- the thing bristles with throwaway references -- I'm not sure that it's employed to best effect.

Given the narrow verb set, I had the strong sense that this would work better without a parser interface... except that most CYOA systems wouldn't offer enough control over complex random events. (Undum could do it with enough Javascript on top, but that would be really challenging for a casual coder; I7 + Vorple may turn out to be a better prospect.)

Bonehead, by Sean M. Shore

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Rounders + Nostalgia + Statistics =, May 16, 2011
An impressive piece of work: although its core appeal is probably limited to nostalgia-addicted baseball nerds (a category which, as far as I can tell, makes up about 99.95% of baseball's fanbase) it succeeds in emotionally engaging people who don't know or care about baseball and are never going to.

The game recounts a famous 1908 screw-up that defined the career of Fred Merkle. From the outset, in no uncertain terms, you're informed that the disaster is coming and that it will scar your life. Yet you still keep working towards it, through a difficult commute and an indecipherable morass of baseball terminology. The game is broken up by flashbacks that imply the main story is just a flashback. There are obvious debts to Photopia and 1893: A World's Fair Mystery; one could choose worse models. It seems diligently researched.

Bonehead has a number of conflicting, emergent morals, some of which the author certainly didn't intend. The point could be that Merkle was a clueless blunderer, only barely holding on moment to moment, and some horrible mishap was inevitable; this comes out of gameplay, and contradicts statements that Merkle was actually pretty savvy. Another is that Merkle is a sort of sticktoitive hero, unable to give less than his all even when it leads to his destruction; this feeling hangs around the story even though it makes no chronological sense. Another, probably closer to the intent, is that even solidly competent people fuck up all the time; whether a fuck-up goes unremarked or haunts you your entire life is largely a matter of luck.

Bonehead's main flaw is a tendency to cheesiness that it can't quite sustain; there's that historical-fiction thing where you always meet significant historial figures who are just now thinking about something that will ring down the ages, and there's a Hollywoodish moment of Touching Redemption. Overall, though, a really strong debut.


1-2 of 2