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IFComp 2009: "Grounded in Space"

This is a game from the 2009 IFComp.

My initial sense is of trepidation: stories of children reacting to parental punishment or perceived injustice tend to be some manner of heavy-handed. To my pleasant surprise, the initial tangle with parents is just a frame story for what appears to be a standard space-adventure story. This game does more to explain our unfamiliarity with ship controls (and force us to train ourselves in them) than "Star Hunter", and is a not too bad if over-explicit way of making sure the player has a clue.

Even that, alas, didn't help me much. I had to use a couple of nonstandard verbs, some more heavily hinted than others, to even get into the adventuretastic part of the story.

And in the end, there was less to it than I expected. One moderately annoying puzzle (and I can appreciate how fiddly it must have been to code, but, seriously, solving geometrical chestnuts without visual aids is pretty annoying), and a showdown which depended on my knowledge of how various ship systems work. It might've been nice to get the feel for some of the rhythms (autominer probe/beacon activation/station deployment) before having to use them in combat. This is actually, come to think of it, the anti-"Rover". In "Rover" we got practice with the systems to the point of tedium so that when things went weird we could be expected to know how to work with the system. Here we get roughly halfway through a single version of the procedure before we're expected to use them in time-dependent situations.

This was a pretty solid piece technically, with well-thought-out writing and good implementation depth (with a few in-jokes, even), but in terms of actual content was a bit thin. A bit more prologue might help, both in terms of acquainting us with the ship's systems and in fattening up the story a bit.

Tags: if, ifcomp 2009
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