in Comp96

Punkirita Quest One: Liquid by Ryan Stevens as Rybread Celsius [Comp96]

IFDB page: Punkirita Quest 1: Liquid
Final placement: 25th place (of 26) in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition

Well, this is without question the worst writing I’ve ever seen in a piece of interactive fiction. The only thing I can think is that the author is 1) not a native English speaker and 2) incapable of or unwilling to find a fluent speaker to proof his work. The result is a piece of work which is only barely understandable. The piece also had a number of other weaknesses including incomprehensible in-jokes, a confusing magic system which drives the game’s sole puzzle, and the fact that the majority of the world’s features are unexplained except in the solution file.

Prose: The mangled grammar and spelling in the writing are so severe in this game that they are nearly inseparable from the content. The author’s inability to write clearly in English obscures whatever good ideas he may have. This is a work that could only have been published on the Internet — any medium in which editors keep the gate for published work would have sent this prose back for major revision — even a spell-check would have done a world of good.

Difficulty: The most difficult thing was discerning meaning from the tortured writing. After that, the greatest difficulty arose from deciphering the logic behind the game’s baffling magic system and world rules. I went for the hint file right away, but I confess I didn’t try very hard on the puzzle before doing so; at that point I felt quite sure that the writing was bad enough that it would block my ability to figure things out on my own.

Technical (coding): The game was small enough that not much coding would have been required. There were very few objects to interact with each other. In the portions I played, the coding was creditable. (One exception was the fact that the game referred to footnotes without providing them — there should have been a response to the verb “footnote” or “note” which explains that the notes are to be found in the solution file.)

Technical (writing): As I said earlier, the only word is atrocious. Unbelievably poor spelling and grammar — so bad that it made the work almost totally incomprehensible. Apparently the author either didn’t have a spell checker or an English dictionary available, or had them available but didn’t care to use them.

Plot: From what I could make out, the plot was fairly minimal. However, there may have been more than I could figure out from the writing.

Puzzles The only real puzzle didn’t make any sense to me, but then again that could also have been the writing. The solution requires a knowledge of the “glow” power of the hero (which apparently generates not only light but heat as well) which may have been conveyed by the text in a part I skipped over as unreadable.


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