Lists And Lists by Andrew Plotkin [Comp96]

IFDB page: Lists and Lists
Final placement: 11th place (of 26) in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition

Well, Andrew Plotkin is nothing if not inventive. The implementor of Z-Machine Tetris brings us another novelty — a programming language and interpreter set up entirely within the z-machine run-time. Andrew’s Scheme implementation is interesting and even, to a point, fun. I definitely look forward to sitting down with it for a longer period of time and working at learning what it has to teach. (I never thought a text adventure could help me build my resume!) However, after a certain point the problems stopped being fun and started being work — I’m already working at learning two languages; learning a third is definitely worthwhile, but not my idea of leisure time. And thus I discover a criteria I didn’t even know I had for the competition entries — I want them to be an escape from work, rather than (pun intended) “Return to Work”

Prose: Very little of it, but of course it conforms to the high Plotkin standard of quality.

Difficulty: I found Lists to be quite difficult going, but then I’m just working on learning C++ and Inform now, so Scheme was a bit of a leap in abstraction for me. The feeling was reminiscent of just beginning to learn UNIX after years of working on DOS (and, to a lesser extent, Macs and Windows).

Technical (coding): Andrew is the god of Inform coding. All hail Andrew.

Technical (writing): Well, of course the main place this came up was in the online manual for the language, which naturally had no errors in spelling or grammar, and in fact was written in a fun jocular style.

Plot: No. No, not really at all.

Puzzles: Well the problems were definitely puzzling, and certainly not your standard Interactive Fiction type of puzzle, either. Lists certainly gives a mental workout, but then again so does Calculus I.