IFComp ’09: Eruption

Eruption by Richard Bos is not a long game. It’s not an imaginative game. It’s not an interesting game. If not for its controversial ABOUT text it would hardly exist at all.

In it you play a guy who wakes up a cave. It seems his island home is about to explode and he must escape it. This involves finding a boat (it’s at the dock), some oars (they’re near the boat) and some food and water for the trip.  The game only has a handful of rooms. Its puzzles are easily solved. And, despite a potentially fun and interesting setting, there’s nothing that really distinguishes the island as unique (or even realistic. Eruption smacks of not doing the research). The writing is unrefined and unwieldy.  Room descriptions are complex and confusing without any innovative descriptions. Consider this description:

Secluded Beach
This beach lies between two large outcrops of rock – foothills of the volcano to the west – and the sea to the east. In the rock to the southwest is your cave; the north-western ridge stretches all the way to your north, where a shack stands on a promontory. The Island Path runs from the south, around the foothills, to the northwest across a cut in the rock. There is also a path north up the cape, and a staircase ascending the volcano.

This sure is a convoluted way to describe what amounts to be a simple geography. I played a bit of Delightful Wallpaper recently and was amazed by the sparseness of the text and how effective is was at painting the scene. Eruption proves that more is often less.

But it’s hard to get too down on the game for being too short, too simple, and not well written. Bos admits that Eruption is his test game, a place to test out code and learn. This is all well and good, every one needs to make one. But as is so advised often by IF experts “don’t enter your first game in the competition.” It’s either going to be buggy or boring. Bos makes it very clear in his ABOUT rant that his game is free of bugs and spelling errors but that doesn’t save it from being slight. I have nothing against test games, but I don’t want to play them. Entering this game into the competition is an insult to all the judges (by making them play though his practice code) and the other authors (by assuming just because his game is lacking in spelling errors it’s automatically better than them). Interface had some spelling and grammar problems but it was infinitely more interesting and fun. I admire that game. I don’t admire Eruption. I can’t. It exists so Bos can learn to program a locked door. I’m glad he learned how. I just wish he had kept it to himself.

Also, what did the Hamlet quote have to do with anything except containing the word “eruption?”


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One response to “IFComp ’09: Eruption

  1. Pingback: [IFComp 2014] Tower | Elizabeth, if…

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