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Surreal sci-fi lark, October 6, 2012
by OtisTDogAfter recently playing The Ghost Train by the same author and noticing the announcement that this work, too, had a recently-revised release, I decided to give this story a try to see how the author's craft had improved. My opinion is mixed.
The structure and flow of the story is very similar to that of the The Ghost Train: a catastrophic opening, followed by a fast-paced journey of exploration along fairly strict rails, followed by a chase, a time-limit sequence, and a couple of strongly-hinted "puzzles" (in function, light-duty obstacles) barring the way to the final conclusion. Less reliance on formula may benefit future works.
The implementation focus is somewhat better, with fewer elements that appear to be vestigial remnants of coding experimentation (though some(Spoiler - click to show), such as the food machine in the ship's kitchen, persist). The writing quality also seemed improved. Imagery was more subdued, and there were many fewer instances of repetition than can be found in its predecessor. However, like its predecessor, this story suffered from a fairly high rate of grammar and spelling errors, so additional proofreading efforts are warranted.
The coding quality seemed to have slipped a notch. I ran into several minor bugs that got in the way of the story, especially situations where two nouns could not be disambiguated(Spoiler - click to show), e.g. as occurs when trying to install the unburned circuit board during the lifeboat escape sequence. Also of note are those cases where critical objects are not mentioned in room descriptions and must be learnt of via other means(Spoiler - click to show), e.g. the CPU "circuit" object in the flight deck, which seemed to have no indication of its existence outside of the response to asking the computer about the CPU, even though it would have been plainly visible to the player character. In addition, synonym sickness is more evident(Spoiler - click to show), as when the lack of the word 'fuselage' as a synonym for 'ship' kept me busy for 20 minutes wandering the jungle and trying to enter through the implemented canopy object because the hatch can only be discovered via examining the 'ship', a word not used in describing the crash scene.
There is a famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." This is advice that any new author can benefit from, and it seems to be the single principle that best sums up the difference between this piece and its earlier cousin. Applying this maxim more diligently would surely continue the trend of improvement in future works from this author.
The incidence of first-timer foibles is about the same as in The Ghost Train, with #2, #8, #9, #10, #12, and #13 evident (this last being found mostly in out-of-place Microsoft and McDonalds humor sprinkled throughout).
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This is version 7 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 23 June 2015 at 3:35am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item