Bullhockey!

cover (9)

This is the second game already in the comp that advertises the fact that it’s ‘more than 2 hours’ long. Again, probably not a great thing to advertise up front in a competition specifically for sub 2 hour games – it’s guaranteed to put players backs up. Spring thing is a showcase for longer IF games. And this game is definitely longer than 2 hours. It’s huge.

Oh no! My girlfriend has left me and, to add insult to injury, has taken all my clothes and scattered them around town. Now I need to find them, and all might not be as it seems. Why is the note so hastily written? That’s unlike Natalie.

A puzzly parser game set in a huge map, Bullhockey! is an ambitious project. The text is light and humorous – I spent 2 hours exploring this World.

Implementation at times is spotty. Synoyms and objects are missed – if something is in the text, the game must allow the player to at least examine it, and have a default action for trying to do something else with it. ‘You can’t see any such thing.’ just doesn’t cut it. Yes I can!  Some common alternate action commands are also missed. For example you can’t ‘climb down rod’, you need to ‘get on rod’ – especially at the start the game needs to make sure it is helping your players by giving them alternate ways of interacting with the world.

One of the other things that is confusing is the mapping. It’s not clear from some of the room descriptions which are the correct ways the player can go. At other times, the mapping seems incorrect in the game. For example, I go southwest into Natalie’s room, but then to return to the living room, it’s Northwest instead of Northeast.

Also, it would be useful to cue some actions. As an example, one that sticks out is that ‘look through binoculars’ results in a standard message ‘You find nothing of interest’ – it would be extremely useful for the player to get a message like. ‘You probably need to look AT something THROUGH the binoculars.’ or similar.

I’m going to stop now – but these sorts of issues are prevalent through the game. I think it needs a couple more rounds of Beta testing to give it some real polish and shine – this stuff is easy to fix and would improve the playing experience massively. The game doesn’t include a response for ‘about’ or ‘credits’ – it probably should.

And despite the issues, I am enjoying this game. It’s a scavenger hunt, but there’s more to it than that – I’m not so sure that Natalie left me anymore – there’s something else going on. But this game is massive! Properly huge – I’m 2 hours in and I’ve solved a couple of puzzles and got a few points (not even close to the maximum of 218), but, basically, I’ve just finished mapping it. I think I know where I need to go and what I need to do, but I’m out of time. It feels like 5 or 6 hours might be the right amount of time to complete this game. I would be interested to see whether other players disagree.

I will definitely be returning after the comp to play a, hopefully thoroughly tested version of this. At the minute, it’s a big, ambitious game, well written and interesting, but needs a clean-up. It’s also too long for the comp. Spring thing might have made a better showcase. 7/10

 

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One thought on “Bullhockey!

  1. McTavish, I am B F Lindsay, the author of this game–thank you for your review–I sent you a PM on the Intfiction.org site, in response–my handle on that site is IFaddicted. Thanks!

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