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Ailihphilia

by Andrew Schultz (as N. Y. Llewellyn) profile

Comedy, Adventure, Wordplay
2018

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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Be amazed by the wordplay, July 6, 2019
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
In a sense, I am not the ideal player for a game that is filled with as many palindromes as the author could device. First, I am not myself an ailiphilist, I mean, a tsiliphilist, nor do I suffer from the darker and more kinky cousin of ailihphilia, ailihparaphilia. Second, and more to the point, English is not my first language. For a game based on wordplay, and especially a kind of wordplay with constraints so severe that it necessitates the use of many obscure and slang terms, this is decidedly a negative. I remember banging my head against Goose, Egg, Badger because my English language skills were just not good enough to realise the nature of its main wordplay puzzle. This could certainly also have happened with Ailihphilia.

But it didn't, and that is because the author has taken great care to ensure that his game is accessible and free from frustration. He has indeed expended immense efforts to achieve this, giving us an almost -- but not quite -- bewildering amount of ways to get reminders, hints and solutions. The player who wishes to solve all the puzzles herself can do so, while the player who is mostly along to revel in the author's inventiveness can relax and enjoy the trip. (I myself fell somewhere in between, taking pride in solving most of the first half of the game by myself, and then using the hint systems to speed up my play in the second half.)

Revelling in the author's inventiveness is indeed the main draw of the game. Christopher Huang complains that there aren't enough puzzles in which the player has to come up with palindromes, but I don't think the aim of the game is to challenge the player to be as smart a wordsmith as the author. Rather, I imagine Andrew gleefully making up and combining palindromes into a (somewhat) coherent fiction, managing to cram in more and more as he continued to refine and expand the game -- and I, the player, am invited to laugh along with him while at the same time being in awe of what he's doing. Playing Ailihphilia is like watching a juggler: it's amazing that somebody manages to do this, and being amazed is where the fun of the experience lies. Or perhaps an even better comparison is this: playing Ailihphilia is like reading a rendition of Poe's poem The Raven that contains not a single 'e'. Fun and awesome, because it is both difficult and done well. Of necessity, it is not the greatest of literature; but it doesn't have to be to be really enjoyable.

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Andrew Schultz, July 10, 2019 - Reply
First, thanks for the review! It reminded me of things I wanted to fix for the second release, which I originally meant to put out in January. There was a hang in the hinting code, Yawn Way gets a new name at the end (Spoiler - click to show) (a palapa), and NY Llewellyn now has a pretentious new co-author(Spoiler - click to show), Sir Apollo Paris.

Some thoughts I didn't address in my postmortem...

Your guess about me just sort of putting together USE X ON Y puzzles based on what amused me is right. I figured a few palindrome guess-the-verbs, but there weren't enough. And the game really picked up steam once I figured the puzzle to get west of Dumb Mud, which made me giggle for longer than I care to admit.

This was originally going to be a side part of another game for IFComp 2018, but it eventually grew into a full game. And I think that thinking of it as a side game for so long helped me not take things too seriously and worry about if I had enough.

I did a lot of technical experimentation in the game to run (python scripting, github) to run all possible palindromes dry and plan bug fixes/features etc. I wanted to see how big I could make the game.

And I'd like to think I fit some really nice groaner jokes in there. People don't have to see them all, but I hope they enjoy what they see.

I've also been inspired in general by weird books like William Steig's C D B. When I was a kid, I wanted to write something like that. And I hope I sort of managed to, here.
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