Nobody has entered the IF competition every year for all five years of its existence. Only one person has entered every year for the last four years. That’s right: Rybread Celsius. When he entered with two games in 1996, he was a mere 15 years old. Now, three years later, you’d expect his work to have grown along with him. In a way, it has. Last year’s Acid Whiplash was much more fun than anything he’d released before, though I suspected at the time that much of the difference was due to the presence of Cody Sandifer as co-author. L.U.D.I.T.E. confirms that suspicion. I don’t mean to suggest that there haven’t been some signs of improvement. This most recent game is free of misspelled words, which is quite a milestone. Actually, I should be more clear: it’s free of words that don’t exist. Rybread still has some trouble with homophones, as in the following sample phrase: “The room’s loan feature is a big door on the eastern wall…” I tried “BORROW DOOR”, but it didn’t work, so I can only assume that the door is really the room’s lone feature. Perhaps I should ascribe this problem to the “Ten Thousand Monkeys on Typewriters” to whom he credits the text, but after playing Pass The Banana I feel like giving the monkeys a rest.
So yeah, things are spelled right. And probably there will be some people who love this game. But me, I just don’t get it. None of it really makes much sense to me, and its hallucinatory qualities only hold my interest for a few minutes. I thought at first I was just stuck on the door puzzle, and I was going to present L.U.D.I.T.E. as Exhibit B for the argument in favor of including walkthroughs or hints with comp games. Then I noticed that Rybread had left the debug feature on, so I just looked at the game’s object tree to see if I was missing anything. Turns out I wasn’t. I tried jumping to a couple of other objects that looked like they might be rooms, but those objects lacked description properties. So what you see is, more or less, what you get. And what you get is not much, and what there is of it is really weird.
So hats off to Rybread for his persistence. I admire that. A game like this probably doesn’t take long to put together, but at least he’s still out there trying, and experience has shown that he does have a fan base. As usual, I’m not part of it. Oh well — there’s always next year.