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IF COMP 2004 - Escape from Auriga

Game #6: Escape From Auriga, by Florin D. Tomescu
Played On: 10/07/04 (12:00 PM to 1:30 PM)
Unofficial Score: 6.5 (6.5 base with +1.0 and --1.0 skews)

     Going by my randomly generated COMP04.Z5 now, "A day in the life..." would have been next. I already played and ranked it, so this sci-fi adventure follows. Early on, it felt familiar; the setting, the descriptions... particularly the story. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I love sci-fi, and the familiarity helped make the setting seem more alive.

     However, it became obvious that this wasn't just a lack of originality, nor a colossal run of coincidences. This game is set in a well-known sci-fi franchise, using well-known references (by name, in some places), telling an "unseen" portion of that well-known story. This puts me in the strange position of rewarding a bonus point for bringing me into an entertaining sci-fi setting, and losing it again for questionable copyright status. I'll let the comment stand at that, though, and say nothing more of it.

     I'm going to have to curb my newfound tendency toward crankiness if I'm going to get through the remainder of the games. What I mean is, I'm starting to feel more like a beta tester and less like a fellow competition author trying to enjoy (and size-up) the competition. Lord only knows the kinds of complaints I'll get about my entry (my to-do list has already doubled), but with luck, I'll be criticized for typos, scenery with blank descriptions (sigh), unimplemented scenery, and not nearly enough conversational recognition. What I'm finding in games like "Escape from Auriga" includes quite a few typos, grammatical mistakes (everybody does this, but these just seem obvious), and more substantial bugs. Still, I continue to make notes, so if any of these weren't already reported, the author will have a better chance of releasing a post-competition update.

     I would have completed this game without any hints. I came very close, although with a total score of 95 from the possible 250. However, I had trouble using the auto-pilot, because I had already turned it on before performing the required action later. You have to perform the action, then turn it on. Except for this, I pride myself on winning without the walkthrough. As it turns out, the same thing was the source of my frustration in using the self-destruct system. The walkthrough does mention that, but I just never thought to try working it the "right" way.

     A longer bug list will follow, but the two of most importance are the two I'd like to mention separately. First, I found the access code puzzle to be pretty clever. I actually solved it. However, I didn't need to. Entering a blank number will get you in just as easily. I had actually carted my crewmates into the shuttle before finding the access code. Second -- and this might be more important -- it is possible to put the viewer inside the consoles in the flight control room. When you do this, and after taking it again, your ability to hold "general purpose" items is decreased by one. Do this five times and you won't be able to carry any of the extras.

     Additional problems are as follows: "...to fit it a wall..." ("into" a wall?); "state of shock and semi delirious" (something's just not quite right -- you can't be in a state of semi delirious, as "delirious" is an adjective); "...near one of the beds, sends a chill..." (no need for that comma); "...you can't help not realize the irony..." (just reword it); "...as if awaken from sleep..." (ditto); "...there is 2 of them in the middle..." (although it's doubtful I have much room to talk, this segment is bad in three ways -- try "...two of them are in the middle..." instead); "...normally used keep handy..." (missing word, maybe?); "x crates" in hangar results in "you can't see any such thing."; "...prepare for all available craft for emergency..." (drop the first "for" and you're in good shape); "It release the..." (releases?). Also, the hints.txt and walkthrough.txt appeared to be the same document.

     The walkthrough (which I used at the very end) does cover the additional ways to earn the extra points. I was impressed that the game wasn't overly difficult, but that a deeper challenge exists. I couldn't figure out how I was meant to battle the creatures with only three bullets! I'm going to get through as many competition games as I can, but this might merit a replay at a later date. Overall, this was a fun game. Sudden death was a way of life, but I'm starting to get used to it.

     FOLLOW-UP: Once again, I play a game, and then it drops out; this time, disqualification because of rule #1. But, I'll go ahead and post this review when the time comes. I feel like a heel, though, because I mentioned the movie connection. Maybe others did, as well; it wasn't my intention to eliminate the competition.

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